Thursday, February 18, 2010

2 Things I hate (yes hate) about America

There are many many more things I love about America than dislike. So don't think I'm about to write a blog post about how much I hate America - because thats not the case. Its not a love/hate relationship I have with this country. Its mostly love, 90% dislike and 0.05% hate. The two things I am on the verge of hating in America are the DMV and USPS.

Government run businesses so dirty and cold here. Places are understaffed, which means the employees are mean and grumpy a lot of the time (and sometimes scary).

Wait time USPS: 1 hour. There is always a line out the door and only 2 clerks serving. If I want to pick up a package or post something, it usually takes up my entire lunch hour.

DMV: 4 hours, 20 minutes. I'm not kidding. Yesterday was my day off and I needed to get a temporary drivers license until my new Green Card arrives. I have letters from the Department of Immigration saying I'm now a resident for the next 10 years (yadda yadda yadda). I get to the front of the line at 10:30am yesterday and am told by the lady that the DMV will not accept my documentation, they need a Green Card. "But... I've been approved as a Resident, I have the paperwork. It can take 60 days to receive the card in the mail. These letters explain the card will be arriving." "No... thats not good enough. Next please". I didn't know what to do, so went outside and rang my husband. He told me to go back and speak with a Manager. I had to wait an hour to speak with a Manager. The Manager told me that my documentation is fine, and the lady was wrong. Ok. I went back into line to get another ticket. Wait time: 3 hours. 3pm my ticket gets called and it takes 2 minutes to get a temporary drivers license.

Murphy's Law: I get home and my Green Card arrived in the mail!

The good: I had time to read my 2010 yearbook so that gave me some peaceful thoughts :) In between waiting I walked to Starbucks for an hour. Came back to the DMV... still had another 2 hours to wait. So walked over to a Japanese restaurant for sushi & miso soup. I told my husband to log it in our expense account as "Visa Expenses".

So, that was my day off. The DMV is an interesting place. Not in a good way. I felt like I was in prison while sitting in there. I went outside, but there were lots of smokers and gross old men checking me out. Next stop... Starbucks.

I don't like to compare Australia to the US often. Sometimes I miss little things though, like Australia Post where its colourful, nicely carpeted, usually fully staffed and the staff are nice and friendly. Drivers License: I've never waited more than 45 minutes to get it renewed.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Last night my husband and I got back from a weekend in Los Angeles. He went to a boardgame convention and I did **whatever**. It was just what I needed, a getaway, to help me appreciate where we live. It was nice having a change of pace and scenery. I took the day off on Friday to sleep in and take it easy in the morning. We left for LA at 2pm Friday... got to our hotel and chilled for a while. We had a nice big king size bed which was a treat. Sometimes we talk about getting a king size bed one day, but then we wouldn't get so excited about hotels. I suppose it sounds pretty juvenile getting excited to stay in a hotel and having a king size bed, but I like my space. I like to roll over and still have room either side of me. Its nice not to have everything sometimes, then you can still get excited about the supposed little things.

I was on a pretty tight budget in LA which I stuck to (just!). I spent a lot of it eating out. Friday night Daniel and I went to this beer/sausage restaurant in downtown LA. Its become our new favourite haunt. Between Belgian and German beers... gourmet sausages paired with hotdog-rolls and a choice of onions/bell pepper/sweet peppers and sauerkraut - it makes for a wonderful meal.

Saturday morning I took it easy and drove over to Santa Monica for a morning of fresh air, people watching and a nice stroll on 3rd Street Promenade. I had breakfast at Starbucks of all places. After the beer & sausage shenanigans the night before my stomach could only handle a small breakfast of oatmeal and a latte. I just love Santa Monica. That afternoon I joined my friends in North Hollywood. It took me an hour to battle traffic from Santa Monica to North Hollywood! Usually it would take 30 minutes max (according to the trusty GPS). We went to lunch with a friend in Studio City for the most amazing sandwiches. The name of the cafe is "Aroma Cafe". The cakes, muffins and pastries looked divine. I'm definitely taking Daniel there! That night we hung out with friends Larramy & Letty and went to a Tiki bar for drinks which was nice and relaxing.

Sunday was Rose Bowl. Unfortunately my heart just wasn't in it. It was hot and crowded and I wasn't really in the mood for shopping. I was more in the mood for going for a bikeride or visiting a museum. Oh well, you can't plan your general mood for the day huh:) Nevertheless it was fun to look at different things. After Rose Bowl we got somewhat lost and finally made our way to old Pasadena and had a late lunch at Barney's Beanery. By that time we were tired and good beer helped some.

So, that was the weekend! It was nice to hang out with friends and see some different spots. Today I'm back at work. Its beautiful here in Southern California today. Its warm and sunny with only the slightest hint of crispness in the air. I went for a long walk on the beach at lunch and am now nursing an iced coffee which serves the purpose of cooling me down after power walking. My power walking was much less impressive than it sounds, believe me.