Thursday, October 4, 2012

The "Norm"

I have had a few people ask me when I am going to write another post. The reasons I haven't written for a while are two-fold:

1. I realized that all I am doing is whining about how everything is so different here. Nobody likes a whiner.

2. It now seems like everything is not so different anymore, so I don't have anything to whine/write about!

Okay, so things are still very different here, but I find that I am getting used to my new "normal". It's kind of like getting desensitized; I hardly remember what is "supposed" to be normal anymore. And then a few things pop up that remind me that I am living far away from any normal I have ever known. Let me give you a few examples:

Last week, I drove by some roadkill. The sight of roadkill, although gruesome, is very normal for those of us from a "rural" area like Cache Valley. However, in this case, the unfortunate creature was something I have never seen in Cache Valley (or anywhere in the United States, for that matter) before. It was a giant Gila monster or iguana or something. It had a green-grey camouflage pattern on its leathery skin and was about the size of my cat (Do you know Popcorn, the cat? He has a bit of a weight problem. He's not overweight... just under tall--and he's a little sensitive about it, so, let's not mention it again.)  I thought it was SO cool, that I drove by it three times just to get a good look at it. Had it been on a less busy road, I would have gone in for a closer inspection and a photo--I was that excited about it. But, alas, my memory will have to suffice.

And speaking of lizards, we have seen lizards of all shapes, sizes, and colors in the wild here. I have seen a few lizards back home, too, but never cruising around inside my house (I'm just glad this particular little guy was crawling around in the office, and not my bed!) And, I have never before witnessed a lizard changing colors right before my eyes--that was WAY cool! I like lizards!... (from a distance).

There are other creatures that I don't care to see at ANY distance. Like cockroaches. Here, I pause to send up a prayer of thanks that we don't have cockroaches in Logan. Thankfully, to date, I have only found one cockroach (and a partial cockroach) inside the house. I am just grateful that the one that I found on my BARE SKIN!-- in the SHOWER!-- was the partial cockroach (a 3 inch antenna [I swear it was still wriggling!]), and not the entire live cockroach (which I bravely made Tom dispose of, thank you very much).

There are lots of cool exotic birds here. We have a pair of bright green parrots who live on the telephone wires above our house. They are always together, and they are LOUD; fighting like an old married couple. I really want to catch one and keep it as a pet--how cool would that be?! Unfortunately, the only bird that has flown into the house is just an ordinary little song-bird, and he turned around and flew right back out. The windows and doors here don't have any screens, and it is very common to leave them wide open for the breeze, so we still have a chance to acquire a pet before we leave...I'll keep you posted.

And then there are the horse/pony drawn carts that you see occasionally clomping down major avenues, or slowly making their way straight through the center of the city. It's kind of charming, in an Amish sort of way, unless you are behind one on a very narrow road, and you are late to pick up the kids from school.

I'm getting used to the fact that a big mac costs more than a nice steak dinner; that when calling on someone, you ring the bell at the end of the driveway, and wait for them to call you up to the house; that you kiss everyone hello and goodbye; that lunch is the big meal of the day, and dinner is just a few snacks late in the evening (hence, many restaurants are closed for dinner); and, that when you stop by to see someone--for whatever reason--even if it is just for a minute--you are always invited in and offered a snack and a drink (note to self: add cake and juice to the shopping list, to keep on hand for unexpected visitors).

So, while I wouldn't say that I am fully adjusted to life in a foreign country, I am becoming more accustomed to this temporary life, and it doesn't feel so foreign anymore. But the fact remains that I am a "Foreigner". I'm not from here. I do things differently. And that's okay. Right? This brings up an uncomfortable point; something that I have struggled with my whole life: I'm 38 years old, and I still want to be accepted. I want to do things the "right" way. I want to please people. I want to "fit in". Living in a different culture adds a whole new level of difficulty to this already impossible task.

But, people have been so understanding and accommodating here. They don't even flinch when I bump into them awkwardly with a greeting kiss. Nobody whispers when I forget to dress up for a nighttime party.  I haven't been corrected when I have knocked directly on someone's door. I am finally learning that there are lots of different "right" ways to do things; lots of different "normals".  I'm beginning to become a little more comfortable with MY normal--realizing that I am who I am, and people can accept it or not. And realizing this, I'm starting to feel less ashamed about driving through my affluent neighborhood in our old beater car, sounding like a B52 Bomber coming in for a hot landing. Nobody seems to mind. I am slightly more courageous about trying to speak in broken and grammatically incorrect sentences. Nobody laughs at me. I am a little more daring about ordering things at the counter in the grocery store (except for beef--Tom isn't even fluent in beef). And, I am a little less embarrassed when the other girls come over to the house and see the barren wasteland that is my huge, minimally furnished, undecorated, sterile white abode. And if I forget to offer them drinks, I know my true friends will feel comfortable enough to ask.


  1. Oh Kathy. I love your posts, your honestness, your wisdom! That we could all be like you! Big freeze tonight for Cache Valley and we still have over 1,000 bushel on the trees...uggg not what I expected for today. You give me courage! Daina

    1. So sorry about the freeze! Are the apples ok? And, BTW--I don't have a lot of courage--I whine and cry and tantrum--THEN (and only THEN), I sit down at my computer and put it into perspective. Someday, I hope to skip the weeping and wailing part and just go straight to the introspection part ("What am I supposed to learn from this?")I hope that everything turns out ok for your crop. Sure miss those apples (and cider)!

  2. I am so proud of you Kathy! I also had to drive a B52 bomber down the street of a affluent neighborhood.....remember! I am sure yours is not THAT bad! Have you been shown what is on your front yard....I have and I live in ND! It made me laugh....the guts of some people:)

    1. What?! Does it have to do with the election? He probably put up something that we agree with, but are too chicken to advertise. haha! I need a picture! Who do I talk to?

  3. Ah Kathy, I miss you! This post made me cry a little and laugh out loud. Truly you must understand that your normal is AWESOME! I seriously am jealous that you get to be on such a grand adventure and I too would have done many a drive by of the roadkill! Enjoy this year! It'll only happen once!

    1. Let's hope so...cuz you've got your work cut out for you when I get back! Thankfully you will only have one year of damage to repair. haha!