Hello, Voyages in America readers! My name is LP (my friends actually just call me Lauren) and today this blog will not be the writings and musings of
James Robinson, devoted New Zealand expat and American enthusiast.
In honour of this being the 200th post of Voyages in America, this blog is from the standpoint of the devoted American wife and unemployed sidekick of the aforementioned and esteemed J. Robinson.
Having a blogger for a husband certainly has its perks. For one, he's pretty much famous... in certain circles. Which is a plus for me, because I feel swells of pride when I see people whose names I do not recognise comment on his posts on Facebook. It also makes me feel like all the hours I spy him writing and researching are really worth it when I see how engaged readers are through their comments.
Along with this general fame comes occasional free bounty. Like the time James got two free tickets to see the Naked and Famous in Boston (which, unfortunately, I had no interest in going to). Or the walking tour of the historic bars of North Beach that we were on recently here in San Francisco, which gave us a surprising amount of conversational ammunition. I think James really undersold how interesting a scene it was to pack into a scuzzy strip club in the dying daylight with a visibly uncomfortable part-time tour guide and ten over-40, slightly tipsy female tourists (with their backpacks, three-quarter-length pants, and athletic shoes).
James swears he was eyed the whole time by one of his fellow tourists, he guessed, to see how he was handling the nudity. I didn't know what he should do. I think in a strip club you're supposed to look at the strippers, right? Show a little respect.
We also get to go on fun outings for the blog. Guilty pleasures seem less guilty when they're under this guise of "for the blog". Suddenly, for James lunch at the 7-Eleven isn't derelict. It's for the blog. And what better excuse is there to buy Twinkies? Or spend way too long at Costco? Or purchase seasonal new donut flavours at Dunkin' Donuts? It's a pretty good cover-all.
Despite my status as a blue-blooded American, I had never before purchased, or even mentally explored the benefits of purchasing, a Twinkie. Having gone through that experience for this blog, I can confirm that it should never be done. There is no need to even consider the Twinkie. You'd be better off just throwing it away than actually eating it. Don't even try it. It's not how you want it to be.
(Although I suppose, if we're being completely truthful, the Twinkie Experience did get me thinking about a "Twinkie" if it was actually made properly, with ingredients that weren't created in a test tube. But this can be something I invest far too much time in. I call it "theoretical product optimisation"; what something could be if done well.)
This blog lets us indulge in all of those Americanisms that while frequently talked about, few people I know have ever actually done.
Sometimes I get protective of the US in the face of Voyages in America. While there are many mass-cultural American stereotypes that are reinforced through hard facts (obesity, anyone?) there's a whole lot of American culture that isn't like that.
Like anywhere, there's good and bad (and highly offensive, certainly) but compared with a lot of countries, people seem to have pretty hard opinions of the USA.
America brings people in and it alienates them. James loves America, despite a current preoccupation with Mitt Romney's surge in the polls. A friend of mine from London (which I consider one of the very best world cities) is ready to commit to a PhD at Stanford to buy himself another five years here.
But other people, and plenty of Americans, disagree because of the economics, the wars, and the entitled demeanours. To me it seems that one way or another people have their minds made up. But I encourage you to shake off the stereotypes, the gun control laws and the politics. Underneath that here it is just people, land, and some heavy concentrations of concrete. (And lots of wide, straight highways.)
Like anywhere, America is what you make of it, the choices you choose, and who you happen across. I, for one, was pleased to come across a New Zealander to marry. But I'm sure we'd still be where we are if he happened to be from Oklahoma or Maine.
Conversely, I feel fortunate to know New Zealand as I do; for the chance I had to live there for two years, and get to know some of the finer points of life on the small islands at the end of the world. New Zealand will always be a special place to me. I continue to be impressed by how practical and pragmatic everyone is on the whole there. I often tell even the most disinterested of passers-by just how many of James' friends not only knew how to make, but actively made, bread by hand. I feel fortunate to have a lifelong connection to such an inspiring place. And for the coffee, of course.
So, I - and maybe I'm biased - wish for 200 more posts on Voyages in America. I've always enjoyed James' penchant for cheap-Photoshop graphics, musings on amazing American food and his new perspectives of New Zealand culture, as an outside-insider.
Personally I'd like to see more fashion, cooking and parenting tips here, but maybe I need to accept that Voyages in America isn't actually my favourite Mormon-mommy blog.
What would you like to see more of here?
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