Sunday, October 04, 2009

Changes in the U-S-A

The last time I was in the US, they were advertising 3-blade razors. Now, apparently, what you really need for a close shave is 5 blades. This makes me laugh since I've been making do for the last 4.5 years with crappy disposable 1-blade razors with no moisturizing strip and a plastic handle that will crack if dropped in the shower.

Apparently bamboo is now the popular, eco-friendly choice when it comes to wood. From furniture to flooring to chopping blocks, it seems every store we've been in has some sort of bamboo product to push. We actually bought some of the kitchen stuff - very cheap, good design - and drooled over a high-end catalog with marbled "espresso finish" bamboo chaise chairs when shopping for our basic furniture needs. Sadly, the beautiful deck furniture didn't make it on that list...

It seems America has discovered açai since I was last here. I've seen signs of this in my spam folder for several months, interestingly with açai being toted as the next big thing in weight loss aids. Funny, because in Brasil it's known as a high-calorie, high-energy snack that jiu-jitsu guys eat with granola prior to training. Also, here it's sold mainly in juice or pill form, while in Brasil I've only ever had it as a frozen pulp that's blended with banana and honey and eaten with a spoon.

Granted we are in California, land of the recycling fanatics, but it's clear that if you don't walk into a supermarket or shop armed with your own canvas bags you will get VERY disapproving looks from the cashier and your fellow shoppers.

For the first time ever I am living in a place with organized recycling that is collected along with your regular waste on trash day. It takes some getting used to (each item in the bin is preceded by a question: Can you recycle plastic clamshell packaging? What about corks?) but I'm very happy it's an option.

Organic is clearly the only choice around these parts. Vegetarianism and veganism are mainstream. I feel like the odd man out buying oxtails and non-organic butter in bulk at Costco, although some of my "guilt" is offset by the fact that we have been gorging ourselves on 100% organic apples and meyer lemons right from our own backyard that are the definition of Local Produce.

Leggings are in. Knee-high boots over jeans are as well. Neither look particularly good on me. :(

I am out of date with slang. I speak like an overly proper school marm compared to the way kids these days sound. I wonder how long it will take for my regullllrrr English to come back, if it will at all.

Apparently you now get tax credits for buying a new car, not just for first-time home ownership. Looks like Rico and I hit the jackpot on this one. There are definitely small silver linings to the recession and to climate change.

It's been fun noticing all these small changes, taking stock of what my first baby steps of reverse culture shock turn out to be.


darlingdamsel said...


I look forward to hearing about you reconnect with the states, seeing the pictures of your decorating ventures and get all creative in school.

Its all kind of a prep of what I may encounter should I ever decide to go back.

Ah ... and pictures (before, after, during!)

nola said...

Too funny.

And yeah - you're definitely in the Bay Area. No recycling here at all, and clerks in grocery stores that aren't Whole Foods refuse to use the bags I brought in myself (or "forget" or just stare at me HIGHLY disapprovingly).

And organic? Even at the farmers market people laugh at me for wanting that. My favorite response to my typical "Do you spray your produce?" question is "Baby, we're right across the river right downriver from the nuclear power plant. You're worried about spraying? Hell yeah we spray, but it looks this good because of the radioactivity."

laundrygirl said...

I love you! You never cease to amaze me with your versatile spirit and your stories. I was waiting to hear how the transition would go. You have a way of story telling that makes me appreciate life more.

Meg said...

apparently in some parts of CA, if you throw away something recyclable you get fined.

One time I was asking my Long Island/Palestinian neighbor (here in NC) if our garbage collectors took recycling. He said, yeah, just throw it in there. I looked at him a few seconds before asking "But do they recycle it?" No. At least we have easily accessible recycling centers.

I forgot my reusable bags today and felt terribly guilty, even though I recycle my plastic bags. And I don't even have Bay area pressure like you!


Anonymous said...

The acai thing cracks me up. I always think of it as a high fat energy breakfast before surfing! I really wonder how that leads to weight loss...

Glad you are back and can't wait to see in in a couple of weeks!

telfair said...

I've been meaning to pop by and welcome you back. Been reading you faithfully but am a shockingly poor commenter these days.

Can't wait to hear more of your impressions - I remember feeling like an alien for the first 6 months we were back.

Good luck with school!

Renaud said...

Hi Ali,

There's just one catch with the 1st time home owner credit: You need to pay it back...

So it's not really a credit, it's more of an interest-free loan.

I guess that's not a witty or uplifting comment but we just woke up :)

All the best,