Friday, October 28, 2011

A little bruised

Finding it hard to smile this morning, so when I saw the lovely comments from new visitors - about my last post - it made me smile. Cheered me up more than anyone could know. So, thank you.

Why so glum this morning? I fucked up my driving test. Yay me.

Everyone has their Achilles' heel, and mine would appear to be tests - no matter what they're for. So many of the exams I had to take in school and university resulted in temporary chunks of memory loss, where words and names danced on the tip of my tongue without fulling revealing themselves, until after the exam was over. I was one of those students whose true capabilities were only clear with ongoing assessment tasks, rather than exams.

Driving tests have kind of been the same. When I was eighteen and did my first driving test, my nerves got the better of me. Going down a hill in a 60 km/h zone, I went slightly over the limit. Oops. My driving teacher knew all the local testers, and when he saw who had tested me, he reassured me that this particular tester was notorious for failing most people on their first test, and that next time, odds were someone different would test me and I'd be fine. I felt a little better, then two weeks later... same tester. Thankfully, I showed him. Pride can be a pretty powerful motivator.

These experiences have been a huge factor in why I kept putting off going for my test here in LA. Having an Australian licence isn't enough, and the Californian DMV makes everybody do the driving test to get a Californian licence, even people who have only moved interstate. Technically, once a person becomes a Californian resident, they are supposed to get their licence within ten days - unless they happen to hold an international diplomatic drivers' licence. Which would be rather convenient, right?

I've been a Californian resident for nineteen months now. Oops. I have my work permit. I have my Social Security number. I even got around to taking the written drivers test back in July, which I actually passed first go.

(When I took my Australian 'knowledge' test, it was on computer. Instead of being referred to as 'the written test', it was referred to as 'the computer test'. Because it was on computer. Duh. Back in 1993. The written test at the Californian DMV I went to? Pencil on paper, with a real live human being to mark it in my presence. It's 2011 now - they might want to have a look at what technology is available these days. Just sayin'.)

So, with our current visas up for renewal in a few months, J pointed out to me the other day that I should take the test soon, before we have a mountain more of paperwork which could hinder the process. I could put it off no more.

And I fucked it up. Not monumentally, but my nerves got the better of me. Surprising, right? Little things here and there, which in general are not an issue. Today, they were.

My ego has taken a bit of a bruising, because I know I'm a better driver than what I was this morning. If I thought I wasn't a decent driver, I would not be getting behind the wheel - most days - with my treasured girls in the back seat.

Hell, I know I'm a better driver than many of the drivers here who seem to frequently ignore that thing called an indicator. I don't cut people off, which also seems to be an accepted practice. Bitter, moi?

But I have no one to blame this morning except myself. I am mad as hell at myself, and embarrassed. I had no intention of even writing about this, but then I realised I always feel better when I've had a verbal or written vomit, which is kind of where blogging comes in handy.

Until today, I was feeling pretty good in general about how far I've come with my driving here. Okay, so I still avoid freeways, but I was a less than confident driver when we moved here, and the thought of driving on the opposite side of the road filled me with terror until reality of life in LA stepped in. I didn't want to be stuck at home all day, every day, and LA is such a sprawl that to get just basic errands done, a car is pretty much a necessity.

That drive-test horse shall be ridden again, soon (I've already made my next appointment). Stay tuned.

For now, I'm going to have a small pity party. Just for today. I shall blame PMS, and I shall pity myself in style.


  1. Damn - just so long as you know you're not alone. And I really think it's okay to have not passed this the first time. It's still new to you in many ways. I think you've done really well to be driving over there. As I recollect, you've been doing that for a while too. That's pretty awesome.

    Famous tests I have failed include: Learner's Permit 10 question test 1985. That's right - the written test. Failed by one point.

    Online test at work for appropriate use of corporate card (which I had to have in order to do my job). Failed ten times as perfect score was needed. Each time, failed by one point. One afternoon wasted and confidence severely dented.

    So better luck next time - I just know you'll ace it.

  2. Thanks, Mel. It's awful, isn't it? Damn nerves. And damn dented confidence.

    But it doesn't mater how one tries to rationalise those nerves away. They still get in the way.

    I experienced further humiliation today, so in the name of catharsis, I decided to also write about it. Here's hoping something in me stops giving a shit soon.

  3. Oh, boo! That sucks.

    But you know what? I consider myself to be a very good and confident driver. In fact, when we go places as a family, I often opt to drive. Bren lets me - mostly because the lovely, quiet man he is becomes possessed by a road-raging demon from hell when his hands hit the steering wheel.

    Hang on, I had a point. Oh yeah, so I love driving, am a confident driver and when I think about driving in LA traffic on the wrong side of the road? I.SHIT.MY.PANTS.

    So seriously, this is a minor blip. And if the movies have taught us anything (License to Drive, anyone?), the DMV are notorious soulsuckers from hell.

    Back on the horse, lady. You can do it!

  4. Yeah. I will do it... but I can't believe how this has dented my confidence. Un-fucking-believable. Hate it. So looking forward to just getting the damn licence so I no longer have to stress about it (dreams about car brakes failing while I'm driving? Not fun).

    Thanks babe x

  5. Yep. Will be nice to have it behind you. I'm sorry your confidence has been so shaken, yucky dreams included.

    Driving tests are NOT easy. I don't give a fuck what anyone says.

    That said, you've passed one before and you'll pass it again. On the wrong side of the road. Legend.

  6. There is no way I would EVER drive in LA! I think you are brave to even try! Good luck!!