Can I vent? Can I vent about small, insignificant, mildly annoying stuff, that nonetheless IS mildly annoying? Like my shower just now. And my last several showers actually. It's my own fault, because every time I get in the shower, wash my hair, and then reach for the conditioner I start to curse, because once again I have forgotten to, at some point since my last shower when I'm not inside the shower and dripping wet, look up online exactly what is in the bottle that I bought thinking it was conditioner. It could be conditioner I guess, although it certaintly doesn't act like it. It could be shampoo, which means I'm shampooing my hair, rinsing, and then applying more shampoo and letting it sit while I bathe. It could be hand lotion, although it didn't seem to absorb into my hands when I tried it. When I tried moisturizing my hands in the shower. My wet hands. Hmmm.. Wait here...
OK - I just went to Wikipedia and typed Balsam, which is the only word on the bottle I can read. Here's what Wiki says:
Balsam is a term used for various pleasantly scented plant products. These are oily or gummy oleoresins, usually containing benzoic acid or cinnamic acid, obtained from the exudates of various trees and shrubs and used as a base for some botanical medicines
Huh... gummy, shrubby exudates. It describes my hair pretty well at the moment.
Here's another Mildly Annoying example: I need a robe. Well, I would like a robe. When you have two suitcases for a year's worth of clothing, "need" tends to get redefined. Still, when I get out of the bath wringing the water from my straw-like hair I would like a robe to put on. Where to buy a robe? Why - Galeria Krakovska of course! The massive mall just a tram ride away. So I go to the mall, and it is, in fact, MASSIVE. Three stories, and it's, like, a double-wide mall, with two aisles on each floor. It dwarfs Krakow's Central Train Station right next door. Already I'm overwhelmed. And I have no idea where to go. Who sells robes? I start to call Bob and get him to look up robe in Polish. Then I realize that "Robe Store" is not likely to be all that helpful to me either. If I were in Los Angeles I'd know the lay of the land. Fredricks Of Hollywood? They have robes, but not for me. L.L.Beane? They have robes, but again... The Gap. Macy's. Victoria's Secret. Even Nordstrom with a sale. The world is my oyster at the Westside Pavillon! Target! My kingdom for a Target!
But, as it is, I'm in a Polish mall with a slew stores, and miles of aisles. I can't read anything, and I have no idea which is Poland's Forever 21, and which is Garnet Hill. I'm defeated. I am robe-less. It's Mildly Annoying.
Here's another: At the local market where I go Every Day, and sometimes twice a day, because Owen drinks a LOT of milk, there is a lady who yells at me. She yells at me when I'm weighing my vegetables if I take too long and she has to cut in. She yells at me when I don't weigh my vegetables before I get to her check-out counter. She yells at me when I don't know the name of the sausage I want. It's gotten to the point where I brace myself before I go in, waiting to see what I'll do wrong this time. We had the most fascinating conversation the other day concerning a slab of bacon-like meat: I point to the meat. It is sitting among 30 other pieces of meat that also look slightly, but not entirely, like bacon. Glaring at me, she takes it out of the case. She says a lot of things in Polish that I do not understand. I smile and make slicing motions with my hand. She says Noooooo! and holds hold up fingers, about two inches apart, asking if this is how much I want. I nod yes, and make slicing motions with my hands again. She says NOOOOOO!, and turns to the woman next to her to tell her, evidently, how stupid I am. I hold up both palms up in defeat, and she hacks off a two-inch slab. By this time I'm feeling a bit mischievous. I ask why she can't slice it using the universal "Why?" shoulder shrug. Is the meat too hard, I wonder? She pulls out a hunk of meat that obviously IS bacon, and says lots of words to me very fast, then lots of words to her friend, who just stands there shaking her head at me. My angry lady lets me know that she can slice the bacon. Do I want the bacon sliced? I shake my head no - I don't want the bacon, just the meat she's already cut for me. At this point she throws up her hands and walks away.
Now -- all of this is of course my own fault for not knowing very much Polish, and by very much I mean any at all. But the truth of the matter is that I'll be in several countries in the next year, and as much as I regret it, and as much as it makes me feel like an Ugly American, I simply won't know the language in most of them, including Scotland. The best I can do is learn a few words to get by, smile a lot, and depend on the kindness of strangers, and there is so much kindness, among so very many strangers. Just not in my market.