I alluded to it in my previous posts, and it’s true. These past few weeks I have done many a new thing. A lot of them were small, mundane things. Some, a little bigger. I’ll just go ahead and make a list of the ones that made an impact, shall I?
- Checks. Before coming to the United States I’d never so much as touched a check before. I received (and cashed) my first one a few months ago, but now I’ve even progressed to writing them (albeit with a fair bit of anxiety). It did take Beloved a good fifteen minutes of exasperated explaining that – yes, yes, emphatically yes – it is totally safe to send checks in the mail. I still think it’s weird and uncanny, but with 10 dollars in wire fees (those things are free where I’m from) I guess I better get used to carrying my check book.
- Writing under my own name on the internet. Funny that that’s such a big deal to me, somehow. I mean, I’ve made my print debut a few years ago (which a lot of people find a much bigger deal, I think). But to me, these recent little articles with my own, actual name on them have a much bigger (possible) audience. Perhaps all the ‘media literacy’ training has worked a little too well, to have me be so awed and impressed by a few bytes on some anonymous webserver.
- Self-branding. Not the one with hot irons. but the one with business cards and a domain name and a portfolio. Under my real name. With links to the aforementioned blog posts. It’s an interesting change from always worrying about remaining anonymous, to suddenly worry about being ‘known’. To really present myself as a professional. Someone you hire to come and consult on your language matters. And I know, I know. At some point someone will find the nickname – real name connection and then my personal musings will be tied into my professional persona. It is likely inevitable, but then again, maybe it won’t be a bad thing. In line with the branding thing, I may have to have some portraits taken. People have been requesting pictures of me to put next to things and I don’t have any. Eek! This whole ‘self employed’ thing is going pretty well.
- Ocean. I talked about it in my previous post, and somehow it was just such a powerful thing to go and see the Pacific. I’ve always lived relatively close to sea and I’ve been in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the very edge of the Atlantic, but the Pacific is just a wholly different critter. I need to go and hang out with her more – she’s good for the soul.
- Whales. I went and saw whales! I went on a boat onto the Pacific Ocean and I saw grey whales and even a hump back, as well as a whole pod of dolphins with their babies (for real, I saw baby dolphins and I still have a hard time believing that I did). Also: sea otters, sea lions and sea elephants. In a single 24 hour period I think I saw more wild life than I’d seen in the 30 years before. I brought a camera, but was too enchanted to really take pictures. It was such a wondrous thing. Also: it was great to be out of suburbia, even if only for 24 hours. The best part about this country is its nature, I swear.
- American Christmas. And wow, it’s quite the event. Beloved and I kicked off the holiday season with an invitation to go to the opening night of A Christmas Carol in a fancy theatre with plush purple (!) chairs. Our host then took us to the opening night after party which had an open bar full of Scotch (and Scotch is my Favourite Booze). On Christmas Day, my in-laws (whom we visited) let me watch The Christmas Story as part of my introduction to Proper American Christmas. I also got around to eating a Real American Turkey Dinner With Stuffing and All the Trimmings (y’all, how could I have gone without stuffing for so long, It is the food of the gods). Last, but not least, people sure do know how to string up lights around these parts. Can I just say that lit up palm trees are a special shade of ridiculous, though?
- Halloween. Okay, I admit, its an oldie :) All other items on this list date from the last few weeks and October is long since past. But for realsies – I carved a pumpkin! Carving pumpkins is fun! I had no idea! And we decorated the front door (a little) and bought candy (waaaayyyy too much) and gave it to (surprisingly few) kids. We also invited over our very first New Friends and played Cards Against Humanity with them.
- Pendleton blanket. Not something I _did_, so much as something we were given. But ever since first sleeping under a Pendleton blanket I determined that this was an item I really, really hoped to have for our new home. It was my one big New Country & New Home Wish. And so when the in-laws asked for a suggestion for a big present to give to us, we told them about the blanket. And so they picked one and now we own one and it is a glorious thing. In keeping with the rest of our *ahem* “Interior Design Philosophy”, we asked for a bright and multicoloured one. The one our in-laws picked for us features a Native American motif. They didn’t know, but the same motif is currently spray painted on many of the streets in our town as well, in what I think is a reminder by the present Native community that – hey, you know – , it’s their land we live on. I’ve not been able to find a definitive source on the intent behind the medicine wheels on the sidewalks, but that’s what it reminds me of whenever I see one. A little heads-up: Hey! History present under asphalt!
Receiving that blanket and seeing the symbol lead me deep down the rabbit hole of pondering cultural appropriation of designs and Pendleton’s relationship with Native communities and the tradition of blankets as significant gifts to mark special occasions, and… Well. I think it’s fair to say that the blanket and its design teach me another valuable lesson about being a newcomer in America: this place has a history fraught with tension and horrible events and you – newbe – are out of your depth and likely to mess up. Proceed with caution. Probably not at all in line with the original significance, but perhaps also not the worst message to take away from the entire matter. I look forward to many more decades spent with its warm and comforting presence as a symbol of the founding of a new household.
This is what I’ve been up to. More than six months in and things here still manage to blow my mind at least once a week. It’s a special country, for sure :)