Oregon Again

Published 2007-07-06

We’ve been back in Oregon for 24 hours now, most of them occupied by sleeping or running errands like crazy people. I’m too wiped to pour a lot of thought into a post, or to recap the return journey (Cliff’s Notes: it took 35 hours, 20 of them of on planes, there were no major complications and we arrived in Oregon haggard but OK.)

But while I’m fresh, so to speak, here’s my impressions of America after a year in China:

  • Damn, people here are fat.
  • The buildings are reeeeeally far apart.
  • It feels like Monte Carlo or some other Land of Millionaires. The cars are so new, the buildings are so clean, the clothing so expensive. There are so many things.
  • But seriously, Americans are fat.
  • Things that should be fast (freeways, checkout queues, service, the Internet) are fast. Things that should be slow (residential traffic, enjoying a cup of coffee, sunset) are slow.
  • Hipsters are unbelievably transparent. Attention people who spend all day trying to look like you don’t spend any time trying to look like anything in particular: it’s not working.
  • The human diversity is staggering. This was especially apparent at LAX. We find ourselves staring.
  • You can see the stars.
  • That tram thing running over the freeway is the stupidest looking thing ever.
  • Everything is orderly and runs smoothly.
  • Boobs.
  • We feel distinctly unspecial. No one stares at us. Everyone understands everything we say, and vice versa. I wish I had a hat that said “I just spent a year in China and it blew my mind. Ask me about it!”
  • I had a Real Beer finally (Deschutes Brewery’s Twilight Ale) and it was better than all the beers I’ve had in the last year, combined.
  • Ditto for Stumptown Coffee.
  • You know, not so much fat as big. Like with big arms, big heads, big feet.
  • We can eavesdrop again.
  • American cops (and border agents, security guards, etc.) are somehow a thousand times friendlier and a thousand times scarier than their Chinese counterparts.
  • People here acknowledge one another’s existence. Strangers say “hello” to each other. They hold doors for each other. They make eye contact. They don’t spit or litter.
  • I can see now why foreigners’ first impressions of America are universally “Americans are so fat.”