Phase Change

August 28, 2007

Nothing especially witty to say today. I’m going to mostly focus on the day’s events. But to summarize today, I must also describe some events of the prior two days.

I felt entirely miserable from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening, presumably due to food poisoning. I have a theory:

My dad called me Sunday morning in a bit of a panic. His PC wouldn’t boot due to corrupted system files. This couldn’t have come at a worse time (for him), as he was on a deadline for certain Masonic deliverables.

But I’m used to being my parent’s IT guy, so I brought my PC over there and spent a few hours getting things set up satisfactorily. Disaster averted.

During all this, Mom made me a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Sandwich attempt #1 involved horseradish and spicy mustard. I caught this error just in time! Thus I began explaining that while that formula had been entirely satisfactory with roast beef a few days prior, the change to ham had impacted the condiment situation. This should be basic knowledge. I happen to take my ham and cheese with mayo. Sandwich #2, while seemingly correct, may have brought about my downfall. Perhaps this was some sort of karmic retribution for chastising my mother.

Mom keeps a jar of mayonnaise on hand just for me. The parents are Miracle Whip people, while I had always viewed that substance with some degree of suspicion. To me, Miracle Whip always seemed like one of those wartime scarcity foods that only the properly indoctrinated could enjoy. It’s vaguely like mayonnaise, but adds excessive amounts of sugar and paprika in a naive attempt to confuse one into not missing whichever critical mayo ingredients are being used for the war effort. I am a modern American; I will not be denied my war materiel.

Anyway, I suspect the mayo had been aged for quite some time. Mom claimed over the phone to not being able to read the expiration date on the jar. The evidence has now been eliminated, so I will likely never know the truth. This conspiracy runs deep.

Thus it was: Sunday night was thoroughly miserable and Monday was a totally down day. By this morning I had largely recovered and was finally able to go to the automatic carwash with my dad.

Julia has asked about my car, so I’ll provide the details for those interested parties. I purchased a somewhat new (it was the dealer’s demo) 2007 Infiniti G35x AWD sedan in Liquid Platinum (silver, I love car color names). So far so good; it’s a nice car.

My father is tremendously more excited about the car than I am. This is why he drove over to my place this morning so I could then drive us the three miles to the automatic carwash and get my car washed for the first time. Dad then wiped down the rear of the car a bit as I had failed to “optimize the drying cycle by distributing air evenly across the vehicle”.

My appetite finally restored, I went grocery shopping in the afternoon. I’ll talk about the overall grocery shopping vibe around here in a future installment. Anyway, I resorted to buying grocery store sushi. Yes, I know I deserve your scorn. But with enough soy and wasabi things were made bearable, perhaps even enjoyable. I really miss Bay Area food convenience.

It was shortly after returning from the grocery store that I realized my metamorphosis is beginning. I am adjusting to New Hampshire speed. The Zen-like level of relaxation is taking over. If I don’t accomplish something today, I can do it tomorrow, or the next day. New Hampshirite time perception lies somewhere between that of Silicon Valley denizens and the Inuit. I’m starting to think of time in terms of seasons. I’m seriously tripping balls without any drugs whatsoever. The Keanu says “whoa!”

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Why the hell?

August 21, 2007

The last few days have been somewhat busy and tiring. That’s my excuse. But I have been collecting material for future updates:

  1. Local author book reading, signing, and discussion at the Barrington library.
  2. Barrington NH Antique Truck Show.
  3. Visit from cousins Royce and Keith, who I haven’t seen in almost 20 years.
  4. Lots more interactions with and observations of the natives.

There no way I can cover all that ground tonight, so I’ll dwell on a trivial observation instead.

As a consequence of the move, I’ve spent quite a bit of time signing up for new services and taking care of house, car, and personal tasks that require interaction with my fellow New Hampshirites. I usually begin these interactions with an explanation of my situation. I greatly prefer to buffet my conversational adversaries with context. In the event of any misapprehension by my opponent, I will have generally provided sufficient information to release me from blame. Of late, the typical prelude to interaction goes like this:

Me: I just recently moved back to New Hampshire after 10 years in California.
Not me: Why the hell would you do that?

The first time this happened, I was a bit confused. I’ve now gotten this response about half a dozen times. On previous visits to New Hampshire the interaction was:

Me: I’m here in New Hampshire for a couple weeks visiting family. I’ve been living in California for the past few years.
Not me: Why the hell would you live out in California?

or, from the more witty adversary:

Not me: Looks like they’re feeding you pretty good out in California.

So you might think I just can’t seem to catch a break here. Actually, I view the new response as a huge step in the right direction. Many people from NH have now a) visited California rather than just seen it on TV and heard about its evils from their pastor, and b) identified some number of positive qualities in California that just might make it liveable. I think this new attitude speaks volumes about NH and its place in the world. People recognize that it’s possible to choose where one lives. And some people even choose to live in New Hampshire.

Summer Pictures

August 15, 2007

Beautiful day today so I took a walk around the property and snapped some pictures. No tractor or compound pictures yet. Don’t worry, they’re coming.

Picture of the meadow facing southish.
meadow01.jpg

Picture of the meadow facing southwestish.
meadow02.jpg

Picture of the (Bellamy) river across the north of the property. Water’s running low and slow this time of the year. I basically took this shot from the middle of the river, which would be quite difficult in the spring.
river01.jpg

Rehearsing for Springer

August 14, 2007

Continuing a bit with the ambush by talker theme of my last post…
There is a certain class of talker that revels in sharing very personal details and stories with complete strangers. My non-scientific polling indicates that the majority of such talkers are women. I’ll divide these talkers into two groups:

  • Unburdeners. Some people just want to vent and garner a bit of sympathy or approval. Or maybe just commune with someone who hasn’t learned to shut them out. I have a pretty high tolerance for this behavior.
  • Storytellers. Fascinating and baffling, these are the people who are honing their stories and presentation for an appearance on a daytime trash talk show. Or maybe they’re just working on the backstory for a country song they’re writing.

Of course I’m going to focus on the storytellers a bit more because I totally don’t get it. Maybe these folks should just get involved in community theater? Take the following interaction with a storytelling waitress:

Waitress: Hi. How you guys doing today?
Me: Pretty good. And you?
Waitress: (Sighs) Well, it’s been quite the day/week/month/year. The kids have been sick with polio/tuberculosis/spinal meningitis, so my sister had to take the day off work to look after them since the owner is such a hardass and made me work my shift. Now, normally, their father would have been around to look after them anyway, but since he split it’s been more of a burden. But I was cheating on him with the neighbor, so I guess he doesn’t share all the blame for the situation. Of course it didn’t help that the car broke down on my way to work today and they’re saying that the transmission’s shot and I’m probably better off getting a whole new car. But it might be for the best anyway, since I have some bad memories from a few years ago when I had to spend the whole winter living in that damn car.
Me: Uh, thanks. I think we’re ready to order.

I’m reasonably convinced that actors don’t make the best waiters/waitresses.
The first time I traveled to (southern) California, I noticed that the wait staff at restaurants sometimes put so much effort into acting the part that they weren’t especially functional or efficient at the more mundane but necessary tasks. Like bringing missing utensils. Or getting the orders right.
Overall, an amateur storytelling waitress is likely preferable to a professional actor in the same role. It’s an issue of priorities. Professional waitress/amateur actor trumps professional actor/amateur waitress.

(Shared) Culture Club

August 13, 2007

To me, one of the most striking things about the rural/suburban Northeast is the pervasive willingness to strike up conversations with complete strangers. I sometimes refer to this as the Secret White-People’s Club. For the past 11 years, I’ve lived the quasi-urban, multi-cultural experience. So now why are these (seemingly non-homeless) people conversing with me? What’s their angle?
Now I’m pretty certain this is largely a side-effect of the initiators’ expectations of shared culture and context. There is an automatic assumption that I am an English-speaking American and, most probably, a local. I’ve wondered if I would get a similar amount of conversational attention as a “person of color”. Now add urban streetwear or maybe a turban. Hmm?
There’s nothing especially insightful in my observations here. I’m just a bit amused whenever I’m ambushed by a talker. I’ll probably get over it.

Welcome to the Hotel New Hampshire?

August 12, 2007

I’ve been back in NH for about 10 days now and am just starting to have some time for myself. Before I left the Bay Area, I promised all sorts of people that I’d start a blog to chronicle my adventures. But I’m not particularly an adventure writer, so I’ll probably spend more time deconstructing the New Hampshire Experience from an expat’s point of view. My parents will not approve.