It's been a year since we stumbled bleary-eyed through the gates at LAX and arrived here. In the spirit of this milestone, I thought I'd list some of the good and bad about life in La La Land so far. Not in any particular ranking...
Things that amuse me
1. The advertising for prescription medicine
I'm guessing there are federal guidelines which state that medication can't be advertised on TV, radio, or in print media unless the risks and side effects are clearly stated. All the commercials I've seen for various anti-depressants, contraceptive pills and so on have a large portion where the negative risks are mentioned. Call me crazy, but when I've just listened to 30 seconds where possible nausea, blurred vision, diarrhea, incontinence and worse are mentioned as possible side effects... I'm not really tempted to buy or ask for this product. Also, given that prescription medicines aren't advertised in Australia or the UK, the fact that they are even advertised here has always struck me as odd: Doctor, I don't want that brand of anti-depressant, I want this one that I saw on TV. I may not have a medical degree but I'm sure I know better than you because I saw the ad for it...
2. Commonly used euphemisms
Bath tissue = toilet paper, nursing = breastfeeding, restroom = public toilet
Toilet is an embarrassing word to use? Or maybe it's considered distasteful - I haven't figured it out. And breastfeeding? Really? This makes me laugh because there's a stereotype of Brits as being prudish, yet they have no problem using these words - and Australians definitely don't have a problem with them. But then, we can be a crude bunch.
3. Drive-through ATMS
I stalked them obsessively in London parks when we lived there - feeding them by hand - and I stalk them here when I see them, too. Which is often.
5. Nickels and dimes
I can never remember which ones are 5c or 10c coins, so I'm always thrown when someone refers to a nickel or dime during cash transactions (it doesn't help that the 10c coins are significantly smaller than the 5c coins). I know I'm not stupid, so I'm going to use the old - and convenient - 'baby brain' excuse. Let's overlook that fact that Miss Pie is now a toddler.
Things that will make me grumble
1. The health care system
I don't have the space here to rant about it, but simply put? It's woefully inadequate. The paperwork involved, and the time spent finding the appropriate doctor who actually accepts the health plan you're on is frustrating at the very least. I wouldn't want to be a person on a low income in the US. Free basic health care should be a given. For everyone.
2. High fructose corn syrup
Sure, food is really cheap here, and there's a reason for that - high fructose corn syrup. It's BAD for you, and in most of the food - unless you take the time to seek out the food that hasn't got it. Annoying.
3. Los Angeleno drivers
They seem oblivious to what an indicator is, they really do.
4. The coffee
Thick, tasteless foam in lattes and cappuccinos - yuck. I prefer my lattes creamy in texture - and with actual flavour - but my standards are gradually slipping and I'm becoming more accepting of how it is here.
5. American date format
Month/day/year? Sequentially, so illogical. After a year, I still have trouble writing it this way, and on more than one occasion I've had to tear up cheques I've written because of this.
Things that I love
We had access to Amazon in the UK as well, and I missed it when we went back to Australia. In those days, it was mostly books and music that were sold; these days, it's everything. Good prices and fast, cheap - if not free - shipping. What's not to love?
2. Trader Joe's
This grocery store is right up there with Whole Foods in my book, and their staff are so much friendlier. Their service is genuinely cheerful, and their food presented so appealingly. An early morning weekend visit there is always a happy start to the day.
3. Inn-N-Out Burgers
The tastiest fast food. EVER. All made from scratch on the premises, too.
4. America's love affair with peanut butter
A year ago, I'd have said that there's peanut butter found in places it has no business being in, but I've now embraced this. Peanut butter cookies, peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cups, peanut butter-filled pretzels... I am a convert. My most recent discovery is the Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties (Girl Scout Cookies). To die for.
5. No more freaky creepy crawlies
I saw my first American cockroach only last week, and it was tiny. It may just be that our apartment building is fairly new - so the pests have yet to move in - however, going a year without seeing a cockroach in Sydney would be unheard of. In the old terraced houses that we'd rented there, cockroaches were a fact of life. As were hideously fat stripy slugs, and an assortment of nasty spiders. Just the memory of brown huntsman spiders that gallop is enough to make me shudder. I'm not saying that Los Angeles hasn't got its own nasties; I just haven't encountered any yet. Here's hoping I don't!