Loud Americans

I used to say, in a derisive way, that whenever you travel, the loudest and rowdiest group at any restaurant or bar abroad is filled with your stereotypical red blooded Americans. Other cultures are loud, but there was something about those boastful arrogant Americans that made me want to distance myself from “them”. And they weren’t always frat boys. They weren’t always Republicans. Sometimes they were Asian Americans but whoever they were, they were always the loudest (and often times the most disrespectful) fucks no matter where you went.

But honestly, I sometimes (and that’s “sometimes” underlined and italicized) miss the bluntness. The honesty. The unapologetic “being yourself”. Okay, not the arrogance that we are the best mother fucking country in the fucking world with the best most fucking beautiful chocolate cake you’ve ever seen and eaten by a deranged lunatic with small hands. Not the disrespect towards other cultures, including the ones within our borders. Not the hate we’ve been preaching lately and the anti-gay, anti-women, anti-baby elephants and anti-saving the environment nonsense (wow–that doesn’t leave much left. Yay, White Men! You win–again). I mean, on an individual level– to be yourself even if you are a loud, arrogant twat. (I feel like America bore the nightmare that is the “millennial”).

I do miss how Americans tell you where you stand. And I miss being able to be blunt and telling others where they stand (especially the latter–you’ve got me). With the obnoxious arrogance, there is a refreshing amount of honesty. Who knows why–maybe because we are the arrogant school yard bullies that we can say whatever we are thinking with no filter. Or maybe because politeness didn’t get us our independence but telling some island dwellers that their tea sucks and we won’t pay their taxes anymore did (well, not my relatives–mine we busy tending to rice patties and petting pandas–those unbelievably cute yet mean little oversized Oreo rodent bears).

Don’t get me wrong. America is like that loud, bright television blaring at 4am at night when you’ve woken up from passing out because you’re piss drunk but you can’t find the remote and desperately want it to shut the F up so you can get some sleep…but I do like just being told straight up if I’m being a twat (and even more so the ability to tell someone else that). I find the honesty of Americans refreshing, especially when I meet them abroad (it’s like, thank you! Someone’s finally saying WTF they actually mean. Though our level of inebriation may have something to do with it.)

Im honestly not a fan of the neighbor who brings chocolates as an excuse to tell you that your party last night kept her up and she’s going to lodge formal complaints against you if you do it again but hey! here’s some sweets so we can all be fake and “civil” (she’s trying to kill me with diabetes and cavities–which may be a probable sinister plan–who knows? And that’s my point. Why don’t I know?)

Why not just come over and tell me to turn the music down? Hell, why not tell me in real time you need me to STFU? Whats with all this politeness veiling the fact you plan on effing me over? (I’m looking at you, Brits).

I sometimes prefer the drunk and rowdier-than-a-group-of-old-Asian ladies at a mahjong table in any corner of the world with no care in the world because…’Mercia. Fuck yeah.

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Oh Canada!

I know I may get some criticism for this but my first impressions of riding the bus to city center in Liverpool, UK was that it looked like west coast Canada. It looked differently familiar. Yes, people drove on the other side of the street, but the houses, the streets, the trees with red and orange leaves reminded me of British Columbia. Even the circular street signs reminded me of Canada. I don’t know if this makes me seem ignorant comparing Liverpool with British Columbia or if it’s human nature to want to find similarities in different/new experiences with old familiar ones to make us feel more comfortable but I felt like I was on a bus in the northwest.

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Portland and my childhood was filled with crisp fall air with beautiful red leaves that my mom and I would arrange in butterfly or flower shapes between to sheets of wax paper that we would iron and then hang up on my windows (very much resembled stained glass– at least that’s what the 5 year old me can remember). I also went back to Portland to attend Reed College for another four years of what was probably the most transformational years of my life. Four years in that strange yet compelling institution was just enough. A bit longer, I know I would have grown to loathe it. A bit shorter, I would have felt I was missing something.

Anyway, back to my story, I remember going to Vancouver, BC with my parents and walking around the tall buildings. I walked those same streets with noticeably more taller condos as a wide eyed, wild, naive and over confident (and extremely obnoxious) college student. Done with Portland, I lived in Seattle with frequent trips to BC. Even when living in NYC, I made a trip to Vancouver and Whistler for a few weeks (and that was after an entire state bar association actually decided to license me–I’m as confounded as you). Something about Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest always felt like “home”. Who knows– maybe because the first memories I was old enough to remember are of the Pacific Northwest and every stage of my life has seen me in PacNW or BC.

And so it was very striking to me that Liverpool reminded me of Vancouver, BC. With its side streets and hipster neon bars, its large sports bars, cheesy clubs and outdoor drinking areas…And the quiet chilly politeness of the people also reminded me of the Pacific Northwest. There is a reason people refer to the “Seattle Chill”. Don’t get me wrong, a drunk group of dock workers shared their hookah with me but the down home gritty real friendliness or connection I felt from locals in Beijing or Latin America taking me (pushing me, really) into their homes, feeding me, asking invasive questions about my marriage status and reduced child bearing years was lacking.

I can see how I probably sound: Texan goes to Liverpool and thinks it’s Canada. Sounds like a King of the Hill episode. But I kind of like it. It’ll be our little inside joke when we talk about going to Liverpool, Canada (and there actually is one in Nova Scotia).

Not clean

I wouldn’t say I am unsanitary. My place looks like someone lives here and with the hardwood floors and tiles, you can see more life particles than with carpet. But there’s no health threats, mold, rotting food or anything like that. But I can’t stop but think about cockroach congregations in my kitchen and/or bathroom while I’m gone. What kind of dust will settle on my bed linens that they won’t be that clean even if I wash them. When I was in law school, my idiot landlord did some renovations to the house I was renting and workers slept in my bed, watched my TV and, of course, drank all my alcohol. That was a terrible experience.

Imagine how I felt coming back from being away during the summer on a 3 month interview we like to call being a “summer associate”.

While, hopefully, there won’t be any drunken workers lounging in my bed and I’ve moved everything that is of value out of my place, I’m still not super excited about the dust and cockroaches I envision hanging out while I’m gone.

I also wonder what kind of smells I might come back to. My old horse stuff, dog stuff, childhood crap, and whatever spills I haven’t cleaned up and forgot about are all hanging out while I’m gone.

Blagh. It makes me want to cover everything with a layer of 409.

T minus 4

Leaving in less than 4 days. Most of my carry on and check-in suitcases are empty. I guess I travel light even with my sweaters, work-out clothes (aspirational thinking), and my endless collection of Sephora samples so I don’t have to lug around bottles of creams, serums, etc. The one heavy thing is my backpack with my work laptop and personal laptop and all the peripherals, wires, batteries, etc.

Embarking on a “Digital Nomad” (I’m starting to find that phrase annoying) life for the next few months.

How am I feeling? Excited? Adventurous? Yes…but more like “it’s about time”. Been stuck in a Houston, Tex-ass rut for too long. Vowed I’d only try living in Houston for ONE obligatory year to show my parents that I’m trying to live close to family. It has now been almost FIVE long, hot, muggy, gun toting, strip mall filled years. Before, I took off to the Pacific Northwest age 17, then to Asia,  NYC, Miami…then Houston? That can’t be right. But it is. But not for the next few months…!

Here goes nothing…!

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(The picture above is a canned photo from WordPress and I was too lazy to change it. It is kind of fitting. Whatever. )