Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Welcome to the United States of America

I have lived in upstate NY for a little over a year now. I haven't travelled within the US all that much, so clearly there is a lot I still don't know about this country. One observation I have made, though, is that this is truly the country of many faces, odd parallels and contradictions.

1. You can quite easily get lost and confused in a supermarket, but the people at the farmers' market will tell you exactly what type of potato you are buying, where it was farmed and how you can get the best taste out of it. The same country that has allowed salmonella-infested egg farms to break the rules time after time, has also produced farmers that truly care.

2. People toss out an awful lot of garbage from their cars while driving, but the recycling system (at least in NY state, I have no idea how it is elsewhere) is incredibly efficient and easy.

3. The seats in a multiplex cinema are never fully occupied (a quarter of them at the most), but the same applies to a small art theatre.

4. One neighbour might leave his truck running in his driveway for an hour at a time, but another will feed you cherry tomatoes while you are wearing rubber gloves and cleaning your windows.

5. Speaking of windows, I know I have mentioned this before, but they have made window cleaning extremely difficult in this country. The windows don't open to the side, and you have to remove a huge chunk of the window to get to the inside surfaces. But they do have unbeatable cleaning products here, many of them environmentally friendly.

6. People have opinions like nowhere else, but many of them do not vote. People talk about community, but many tend to barricade themselves at home in their own space.

7. Concrete and four-lane highways are everywhere, but people seem to really miss and appreciate nature.

8. The same country that made James Patterson and his co-written factory of literature possible also inspires Jonathan Franzen.

9. Some spouses of American citizens are required to take part in a detailed interview about the validity of their marriage before receiving their permanent residence status, while others are not. The land of freedom is also a land of suspicion and fear, and the same rules do not apply on everyone.

In other words, human life occupies this country in the same manner as it does any other country. It seems that fundamentally people are the same everywhere. We don't care, we appreciate, we love and we hate, we take part and we withdraw. We look at ourselves and our neighbours, we make comparisons, we become afraid of the differences we see, we draw conclusions and often judge. We also aim to enjoy ourselves, be it with the help of a roof over our heads, music, nice weather, good food or television. A lot of us believe that good resides in every man, but many of us will rather be safe than sorry. We aim to leave a mark of our existence in our environment, but equally fear standing out. We try to make sense of our surroundings, and we live our lives to the best of our abilities.

Oh, and before I forget, I received my Green Card in the mail yesterday.

Top: Gsus, bought last year
Skirt: second hand, UFF, bought this summer
Sandals: Trippen, bought last summer
Pendant: Petrune Vintage, bought last year


Modesty is Pretty said...

This outfit does wonders for your, particularly your legs look so good with this skirt and those shoes, the skirt just flatters your silhouette, it's definitely gives you some nice curves!
Congratulations on the green card! It's been a year? Gosh time flies!
It's also a country that talks against discrimination and prouds itself on trying to be just and accepting one another, goes out of it's way to include people and offer good school programs (like the bilingual program in some states) and yet tries to pass laws like the SB 1070 in Arizona or discriminates because of color or race...including in style magazines, you don't see many hispanic, african american, or asian models on the mag's pages or even more covers. I love the U.S. though, because I've lived in a country (Mexico) were women are more dependent on men and still under men's shadow, and politics are so corrupt you cannot trust anyone anymore and whatever politicians talk is just non-sense, and where people wake up and go to sleep hungry and a microwave or a 2nd pair of shoes is just a luxury. This is the country of the "the american dream" but it comes with it's disadvantages. Thank God I was born in the U.S. but even then I've been discriminated against because I look too Mexican and I have a slight accent. I wonder if Mexican's with blue eyes and blonde hair go through that? Anyways, as always your posts always inspire me to think outside the box.

Charlotte said...

Waves, congratulations on receiving your green card! Splendid news.

Your observations, as usual, are spot on. People are much the same all over the world. Windows are not. And neither are, as we heard recently on another blog, flush toilets.

Your outfit is one of your best. The top is so unusual, and looks great with that skirt.

Again, congratulations! I hope you celebrated.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the green card!

Your observations are very true, and made for very thoughtful reading this morning. :)

Milla said...

I love your new hair and also congrats on the green card. Which isn't even green and no one is officially calling it that.

I love these little idiosyncrasies abut Americans and their way of life. They (we!) truly are a wonderfully varied people.

Personal favorite: In the West (Best ;) Coast many people consider themselves environmentalists and nature lovers, yet drive absolutely everywhere, including their most beloved pieces of nature.

Henna said...

Congratulations on the green card!

Becky said...

I think that's just how it is. It's really popular these days to hate on the US, and we definitely have some pretty crappy things here, but you could really say the same for all countries. It's kind of frustrating to have to defend yourself against the rest of the world - like everyone's attacking you because you're American and you can't really defend yourself because it feels really mean to say, "Yeah, I'm American, but at least I'm not THOSE Americans." I can't change where I was born, and I feel a little bit sad when other people hate on me for being an American, or hate on Americans in general because I think a lot of us try to do our best. Anyway, thanks for understanding that we're all just people and every country has a mix of good and bad.

And congratulations on your Green Card!

a cat of impossible colour said...

Yay for your green card!

I've found the same with the US - it's pretty much the same as any other country I've lived in, with as many contradictions, absurdities and wonders. And I love it here!

A xx

abby said...

I LOVE this outfit, it looks great!

Congratulations on your green card too! Have you been able to talk with others about their experiences with getting a green card? Have you found them very different? I've got quite a bit of anxiety about what it will be like to move back to the states with my English husband. They made me jump through a lot of hoops in the UK, but I'm sure he'll have to jump through more in the US. I put it down to being a bigger country -- haha.

I like to this all of those contradictions is what makes the states good. The landscape is so vast and so are the people. Everyone can find their own little bit to be exactly who they want to be. That said, I feel a lot more like myself in London. Go figure.

Congratulations again!

gina said...

Congrats on getting your green card! Love that top on you.