CULTURE SHOCK

culture shock, family, friends, personal essay, photography, small town life

Good morning! A short post to start the day, and then maybe like eight more posts because the internet has decided to upload pictures? We’ll see.

I thought I’d show you a few of the things that have inspired culture shock in the last two weeks since I’ve returned to America. There are always things…not the ones I expect…that throw me for a loop. Sister and I often discuss how we are back in our own country, but having spent so many years overseas, we don’t quite fit in. There are…apparently…many things that we should just know, but we don’t! Such is the life of a third-culture-kid.

America is BIG. The big-ness of it hits me in different ways. When it comes to driving somewhere, you have to drive FAR, and that doesn’t faze anyone. Any place within an hour’s drive in any direction is considered do-able and local. The hills and the meadows stretch on and on and on. This is the big-ness which I love. I like that it makes me feel like a small part of a huge thing, and I like that the roads are overgrown with wildflowers and more trees than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. I like that our history is so upfront and personal, that America is still fairly wild, that there are far, far more birds that fly past my window than cars.

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This is a giant bear claw mark on my Aunt’s house, about a mile from our house. Bears are making a come back around here!

And then there is the big-ness that I don’t like.

Our area has a population of 5,402 spread out over a lot of land. Two miles up the road from us is the grocery store, which used to be a small-ish, manageable, slightly run-down place. Then they replaced it. With a fortress. It is the size of a small airport. For all I know, it is ALSO a small airport. It is open 24/7. There is just no reason that anyone around here needs to run to the local store at 3 AM and I have personally only been able to bring myself to go inside it a couple of times because it is just SO OVERWHELMING.

There is a big-ness in the book stores, the grocery stores, the construction stores, the clothing stores, the stuff stores, the more stores, the even-more stores that I can’t tolerate. Things are cheap. If you want cheap, there is cheap. Walmart is KING of the cheap, but this is what happened to me when I made the mistake of venturing into Walmart.

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Sister found me here, on the verge of a panic attack, hiding behind the cooler.

There are so many options. The options sprawl out in front of me and I–who am not good at making decisions–find myself paralyzed.

Here is how you buy a loofah in Europe: You go to the store and if they have a loofah, you buy it. If they don’t have a loofah, that is to be expected, and you will be fine.

Here is how you buy a loofah here in a small town in the middle of nowhere:

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Yes, the following options are available:

  • textured
  • net
  • scrubbie dubbie
  • delicate
  • exfoliating
  • charcoal-infused
  • and men’s, which are not different from the other ones.
  • on a stick
  • on a different kind of stick
  • on a stick that is ergonomic
  • on a wooden stick with a sponge
  • on a wooden stick with a different kind of sponge

And Target. Oh my goodness, let’s not go THERE ever again. Behold what Target hath wrought:

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Poor Sister. All we wanted were chips!

And then there is tipping. Let’s save that one for another day. But America, just pay people a living wage! It would make everything so much easier!

 

The other day we met Aunt K thirty minutes away for dinner and WONDER WOMAN. (I loved Wonder Woman!) We went to a place called the Recovery Room, which made the following bold assertion:

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It says: EVERY GAME EVERY DAY.

While you’re eating.

Here is what that looks like, and pretend you’re not good with sensory overload:

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SCREENS EVERYWHERE. This was just from my seat at the restaurant. Some of the TVs had four different screens within the screen. Every sport imaginable! Lots of people talking at me! SO MANY DIFFERENT SCORES.

The menu did not have any vegetable untouched by cheese or meat, haha, and because of the decision-paralysis discussed above, this is how my ordering went down:

Waitress (SUPER PEPPY): Have you decided what you’ll be getting tonight?

Me (paralyzed from the menu, points to childhood favorite): The chicken strips?

Waitress: GREAT CHOICE. Okay, will you be having that with a special shake spice blend?

Me: …what?

Waitress: Will you be having that with a special shake spice blend? We could do ranch, or adobo, or habanero, or–

Me: No.

Waitress: And what dip will you be having?

Me: …I…thought it came with the honey mustard?

Waitress (positively chipper): IT SURE DOES, but you can get another dip, too! Ranch? BBQ? Sweet and sour? Or maybe–

Me: –HONEY MUSTARD IS FINE THANKS

Waitress: SURE THING. Okay, and would you like regular fries, onion rings, sweet potato fri–

Me: –JUST THE NORMAL THING. JUST THE THING THAT EVERYONE GETS. THE REGULAR ONE.

Waitress: SOUNDS GREAT. Okay, and to drink?

Me (going crazy): Iced tea.

Waitress: Regular, lemon, raspberry, sweetened or unsweetened?

Me (puts my head down and begins to sob uncontrollably).

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I think four chickens had to die for my meal.

In no particular order, a few other culture shock moments:

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The deer ate ALL THE FLOWERS. Ughhhh.

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There are yard sales everywhere.

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Finding the car battery and figuring it out made possible thanks to Uncle M.

I can hear Brother T and Sister in the other room cackling over Parks and Rec, I am drinking coffee with half-and-half, and later I plan to go and buy the best burrito I’ve ever had in my life. There are beautiful things here. It’s just better for everyone if I don’t go into a box store ever again.

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We are coming for you, Taste Box.

Mish-Mash Catch Up

dirt on my face, garden, gardening tips, mish mash, photography, small town life

So, where did I leave off in recounting my garden exploits? This past week has been so busy with actually getting plants in the ground and trying to beat the impending four-day rain storms that I am pretty far behind. Here is what we have covered thus far:

  • Tilling the ground
  • A promised post about rototilling which I can sum up briefly like this: it’s like walking a giant, huge, slobbering dog that likes to throw rocks at you and is pulling at his leash for about three straight hours. It made me feel ACCOMPLISHED.
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Work gloves! Machinery! Ahh!

  • Hey, I started Pilates last week! It was hard! Apparently, I have something called a “core”?
  • This blog is nothing but a meandering stream-of-consciousness, isn’t it? Ah, well.
  • Fence posts and fencing. Update: Claire and I finished putting up the last “wall” of fencing and tidying it up, then a few days later I decided we needed another fence post and we used our newly-created post-hole digging skills to knock it out of the park. Also: ow. See above: “having a core”
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In preparing the soil, we removed approx. 7 tons loads of rocks. Insert emoji with the nervous smile and a lot of teeth that looks kind of like a grimace and kind of like it’s wearing braces.

After all that, I decided it was time to learn about soil additives. Now, that is a thing that really intimidates me about gardening because it involves words I haven’t heard since high school Chemistry and I didn’t really understand what they meant then, either.* In fact, the morning on which I said, “I need to learn about soil additives!” was also the morning that I woke up, brushed my teeth, went downstairs, poured a coffee, had something to eat, sat on the sofa, opened a crossword book, and then Claire woke me up three hours later.

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Yup, there is dirt on my face in this picture, too. Do you sense a theme?

Okay.

I am talking, of course, about:

  • nitrogen
  • phosphate
  • fish emulsion (?)
  • potassium
  • and other things

assume the correct way to get potassium in the ground is to mash up bananas and go scatter them around?

As we have previously discussed, gardeners are so excited and happy to share advice. One nice lady, after filling me in on why the local bagel cafe is now CLOSED*** also offered me the advice that Neptune’s Harvest Fish Oil was the way forward if I wanted the best plants ever. Obviously, I promptly bought it on Amazon. (Related tangent: In this best of countries, you can order ANYTHING on Amazon and it is delivered within 2 days for free!! Anything! Milky spore powder to kill grubs**** or a book on how to paint flowers or an entire bag of worm castings, which is a nice way to say the refuse that worms leave behind after gorging themselves on organic material.) (Which brings me to my next point.)

Worm leavings.

Evidently, they are magic for your garden.

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Yes, I have a gardening blog. Interested?

Anyway, this post is kind of not that useful for anyone else trying to figure this stuff out, because I have not figured it out. I am confused about fertilizer, also about worm castings, also about milky spore powder. In the end, I just used…a little bit of everything that was not a very harmful chemical substance.*****

And then there is the question of mulching, which I also don’t understand. It turns out that gardening involves a lot more than just sticking some seeds in the ground. And yet, it also mostly involves sticking some seeds in the ground and letting the rain and the sun do most of the work. It is a beautiful mystery.

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Back yard majesty.

Other mish-mash catch up:

Remember that fun game I invented about finding a home for the worms instead of mangling them until they are “beeding” is still super fun for the toddlers in my life.

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This girl loves worms.

And speaking of the toddlers in my life, this illustrated epic story tells the tale of a girl who held onto a rainbow even as a ‘rupting volcano shot rocks at her.

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And that is all for today’s post…not because I have run out of words, but because the country internet is so slow I can’t possibly stand to sit here another moment! Until next time!

* Nitrogen, for example. Yeah, yeah, it’s an “element” but what does it mean when one thing leaches nitrogen out of the soil, and another thing puts nitrogen in the soil, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out and FISH EMULSION is the way forward, a Knowledgeable and Wise Old Gardener at the Garden Center** wrinkles her nose at you and volunteers the information that she would never add nitrogen to her garden.

** Otherwise known as a KWOGGC

*** TAX EVASION, GUYS! CARBOHYDRATE-RELATED TAX EVASION!

**** I DON’T EVEN KNOW

***** How many asterisks are too many asterisks? But what this footnote is really about is that Sister and I went to the store to buy grub killer because grubs are bad, but all the grub killers said things like, “THIS KILLS GRUBS AND 150 OTHER CREATURES” and we looked at each other and thought, “How is that not going to kill us?” so the grubs stay for now. Until I figure out what milky spore powder is.