Every day (all seven of them so far) I’ve had to remind myself that I have lived in this Great Lake State before. However, my experience as a primarily ridiculous college exchange student bares almost zero resemblance to this new life as an unemployed trophy wife living in the far north of the state in a town where five cars on the road is considered heavy traffic. While life in the USA is ostensibly the same as Australia – western lifestyle, English-speaking, same TV shows – the little differences crop up fast, and have wreaked some havoc on my sanity.
Let’s begin this riveting rundown of my emotional journey in Michigan with car firsts. In this first week, I first and most importantly had to remove about 10cm of snow and layers of ice from my lovely new Honda Pilot, which I’ve fondly nicknamed the Tank. Before I undertook that chilling process I had to turn the car on first, so that I didn’t just go from the balmy outside temperature of 14 celcius to an inside temperature of 2 celcius, but instead get to enjoy the sensation of a toasty butt from my seat warmers. Now I mostly remember to turn the car on after doing a casual lap around the Tank to get to the driver’s side, prior to de-icing, and I feel like a boss with a warm butt.
Very impressively (might I say), I have driven, on the wrong side of the road, while literal snowflakes fell from the sky. My first solo trip was a grocery run to Meijer, a mighty six minute drive from our door (not including mental and physical preparation for leaving the house in single-digit-fahrenheit weather). I successfully turned on the car BEFORE I de-snowed the front windshield, conquered my long-lefts and short-rights, I looked every direction, I skidded not once! on the ice, and I even parked mostly in a car bay. The whole experience was more thrilling than the one time I went on a roller coaster, as I navigated like a bloody legend on the extra wide northern Michigan streets amongst fellow mega-car drivers and demon-sized snow drifts.
Other relevant car firsts include reversing into the snowbank on our driveway, remembering to walk to the correct side of the car first go, handling a four-way stop without a meltdown, and purposely not going inside because the seat-warmer was too toasty.
The aforementioned trip to Meijer involved some serious food firsts upon walking through the door. I had a nice list all written up, and it took me over 90 minutes to find twenty items, most of which were vegetables. Where the eff Americans store hummus in their oversized stores I cannot tell you, but I can tell you that I found every conceivable cereal that could ever be created, and spent 15 minutes trying to get out of the freezer section, where I became convinced that Americans are afraid if they don’t freeze all of their food first it might run away.
There was a very distressing moment in the beans aisle where I could not find chickpeas, and ended up buying them in the foreign foods section next to the tahini at the extremely unnecessary price of $2.50/can. Honestly. It’s a bloody bean. I was so outraged at the price that I turned to Amazon Prime when I got home to stock up, only to find out that in the land of the free, chickpeas are called garbanzo beans, a fact which was only a mere google away the entire time. This made me very embarrassed about my extreme cryfest that occurred in the car on the drive home.
However, there are some redeeming factors! As an obsessive bargain-hunter, I’ve always been fascinated by the extreme coupon world, and can finally partake in the US-only cashback app world. I armed myself with the various apps all the cool kids are using, and had the thrilling experience of making back $1.25 on my $77 spend. I’ve been assured that coupons can ‘stack’ and some savvy multi-coupon activity can result in even more dollaz back in your pocket. The only downside, in my humble opinion, is you only get the good cashback if you buy extraordinarily unhealthy and overpackaged brand-label food that you wouldn’t want to eat too often anyway. Anyway, I have my $1.25 and nobody is taking that away from me. Lastly, there are caramel M&Ms for purchase, and there’s really not much more that needs to be said on that.
All this takes me to life firsts. I had my first almost painful meltdown after a relatively simple phone call to the post office gone wrong. The rhymes-with-witch on the end of the phone flat out refused to understand that I was saying the word ‘photo’, so I hung up on her and cried in the shower for 15 minutes. After that, I did the mature thing, got back on the horse and called one of the pharmacy stores in town, which had an autobot that also refused to understand that I was saying the word ‘photo’. The husbo copped a beating (he had a cushion to protect him) as I let out a lot of frustration of not being understood.
But, I did have my first day watching the husbo run our new business, which was really awesome. I saw my first construction project taking place as the snow literally fell around us, and the poor buggers were hammering in nails to the roof trusses. We painted in the freezing cold. I went to my first Habitat for Humanity store, which was super fun, and also for such a great cause. I made my first loaf of bread in our amazing breadmaker, and lost my first scrabble game to the husbo, which is blamed heavily on the wine. I also snuck up the thermostat to the 70s, but let’s not bring that up.
Hopefully next report is more firsts and fewer meltdowns. Until then.