Friday, 8 May 2009

Six hours behind

1. The best thing about America is the amiable way in which it is familiar and strange at the same time. I suppose that's true of most foreign countries, but particularly America. It's familiar because quite similar to England, and also because it's constantly on TV. Driving into Chicago the whole cityscape with its odd geometric shapes was glistening in the sunset with an oddly large moon above. I wish I could have got a picture but you can't really from the back of a taxi. (The picture here is from the last time I went to Kalamazoo, when I also stopped at Chicago. The wheel is a half-sized replica of the famous one from the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, as featured in Against the Day.)

Contrarily America feels strange because the similiarities are constantly undercut by random little differences, and also no one understands a word I'm saying even though we theoretically speak the same language. (I'd forgotten that this happened last time I was in Chicago too; it's wierd because I don't think of myself as having a hugely different accent from the people here.) I realised last night that my toothpaste tasted strange because it expired in March 2008, so next I get to go to a drugstore, which is an excellently typical American thing.

2. The worst thing about America is the time difference. I wouldn't really mind being here if it weren't for that, but I have had so much trouble with insomnia over the last year, and I always have a lot of trouble getting over jetlag. I feel quite sick right now, and that's only from the easier westward journey.

I forgot to smuggle any milk powder through US customs, so this morning I was at the mercy of non-dairy creamer. ("Contains Milk", apparently, which I thought was a non-dairy fail, but I suppose it could be goat's milk. Other contents: dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminosilicate, sodium tripolyphosophate, etc etc.) But what I had forgotten is that Americans drink their coffee very mild and thin, so milk isn't necessary. Hurray!

3. The flight was delayed, but otherwise OK. I watched: Hotel for Dogs, which made me cry because I cry easily over dogs; Easy Virtue, which had just the right ending -- quite British rather than Hollywood; and Anchorman: the Ron Burgundy story, which I enjoyed much more than I was expecting, especially the bits with Baxter the dog. There were upsetting dog moments in all three, actually.

4. Also: hurray for proper Chicago pizza pie!

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