23 June 2009

Home. Ish.

Temperature: 32c/94F (feels like 38c/102F, according to weather.com)

Well, you are no doubt saying to yourselves, where are you? Are you back in the States? Is it weird? I can answer these questions. Yes, I am in the States. And...kind of.

First of all, I stayed up until I left at 4:50 in the morning, got to Heathrow at 8, then got on the plane at 10. I then went to sleep for five hours. As a result, the sense you get while on the plane that you're going somewhere, that you're moving from Place A to Place B, was missing. So when I landed in Newark it somehow wasn't as odd as it might be. You will no doubt be pleased to know that there was no weeping this time.

Some things, though, are very odd. For one thing, American paper money is weird. It's all the same colour! And it's really long. I have to crumple it to fit it in my wallet. You guys need to fix your money.

For another thing, everyone speaks in this very strange accent. I realise, of course, that to some degree this is my accent, but since I haven't heard my accent pointed at me in person in many months, it's odd. And the accent here in WhereIlive is very odd: I never heard a Southern accent sound so...Southern before.

For another other thing, everything seems hugely expensive. My lunch today cost $6! That seems very expensive to me. Perhaps, I thought walking back from the bank, everything seems expensive because now I'm used to thinking how much things are worth in pounds? In other words, I know that eighteen pounds is very cheap for a dress, and that 75p is a good price for a packet of biscuits, but I have no notion of whether $6 is a reasonable amount for lunch. My axis of comparison has altered. Or shifted.

But the other odd thing is the one I anticipated (which is nonetheless odd): being here is perfectly real and normal. First of all, nothing in WhereIlive has changed. Okay, a car dealership closed down (hurrah!), but that's hardly a giant alteration to the fabric of the town. And aside from that truly nothing has changed. When I walked into my department this morning, it felt as if I'd only left yesterday. My office was a bit of a shock, since I'd forgotten that I'd left boxes of books piled in it, but that was easily adjusted to. I ordered a hoagie from my favourite hoagie place, and I'm eating it right now. In five minutes I'm going to go off to the bank... Even the tango music I'm playing in the background feels perfectly normal, despite the fact that I've never played tango in this office, or this state, or this country, before.

Nonetheless, there are a couple of odd blips at the moment. First, I've already had an Issue That Needed a Boy: I can't transfer the sound files from the usb I got to the ITunes on my PC. Panic! Outrage! Sulky irritation! I thought, A Boy would know how to do this. But there was no boy around! Still, the only result is that I'll sort it all out tomorrow. So I guess the only real blip was when it turned out that, after I agreed to substitute in and teach a course on very short notice, they refused to accommodate my request that the time of my other course (enrollment: 6) be changed to make room for a standing appointment I have. Very surprisingly, I took a stand. I think I may even have told them that in that case I would refuse to teach it. You would have to know me very well to know how unusual this is: I am terrified of alienating people, so I almost never stand up to them (although most people assume me to be quite different, because I have very clear opinions and beliefs. But an opinion is not an assertion, is it? And I suck at assertion). But stand up I did. So I suppose I have changed. Or else I'm so joggled by jetlag that I'm a different person.

And what's more, I got the change I wanted.

My friends here are glad to see me. And I them. So that's lovely.

I've decided that each day I blog while I'm here I'll post a photo of something from my life here. Here is the first one, a sign for a restaurant I saw in LaGuardia airport in New York. For private reasons, this sign made me laugh; more publicly, I admire the wit of the neologism. Way to stick together (I assume) running and burrito!

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