Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Fellow American I Am

Today I was at Starbucks getting my morning coffee (yes, although I live in Spain where there are thousands of quaint coffee shops, I prefer anything dehumanizing, industrialized and mass-produced).

While I was in line I was eavesdropping on a conversation taking place between two American men about Phoenix, where I’m from. They were obviously both from there, talking about streets and places I knew.

And I didn’t even say hello.


Because if I have to withstand one more conversation that resembles this, someone´s gonna have to put my ass down:

"Wow, you live in Spain???? Wow, HOW NEAT. You must love it! So what brought you here? Oh, that is a DREAM. That is so AMAAAAZING."

These are the same conversations my mother gets me into when I’m home and we are at the sushi bar or at the supermarket when she starts bragging about her daughter right here that LIVES IN SPAIN, OH MY GOD, I´M GONNA CUM. And then the person says,

"Spain, WOW. You must just LOVE IT! What a life, what a DREAM! Do you__________________(complete the question with any one of the following phrases that make me want to head-butt any hard object within the vicinity):
  • go to bull fights?
  • go to the running of the bulls?
  • speak the language?
  • get homesick?
  • just love it there?

Why do these conversations bother me so much? I guess because for a few moments my life becomes a caricaturized version of itself, an abstraction of itself, and it implodes in its own simulacrum.

And that’s annoying.

-Bluestreak, sometimes I’m a scarecrow of myself.


Emily said...

YES I understand. This is why it annoys me when study abroad students speak to me at the gym (my gym is like 50% gringo). First of all, I just don't like talking while I'm working out. And second of all, I know I'm only 3 or 4 years older than you, but do I really look as lost/enthusiastic as you do? Yes, I live here. I know it's amazing. I know it's SO COOL. I know that despite all the people you see running around Santiago every single day, you can't believe that someone could actually live here on a more permanent basis than a 6 month exchange program. But I do, and it's just kind of normal, and I would like to stretch without being bothered now, so please go away. And then I feel like a bitch. Thanks for this post, at least I know I'm not the only one.

among found objects said...

Do we live the same life. I just tell everyone I am from some village around here and then I try to give them a look like please dont ask. The other day I told an American girl who asked me, so what is your story, how did you get here, how long.bla bla bla arent i sweet for asking.... I turned to her and just said the truth, "I am so fucking tired of that question, Why dont you just make 'my story' up. I guarantee you it is more exciting" She looked at me dumb founded. And asked me again and I said, "I am not kidding, make it up. Shall we talk about sex?"

Same thing at home. WHy do they do that? and you tell them please dont do it and they still have to bring it up. I make it seem so not glamorous and crappy so they stop telling people.

People in the Sun said...

I know what you mean. When I lived in London I enjoyed playing in to the caricature. I was sex drugs and rock'n'roll.

But then, after a while, it was just a place where I lived and worked, and I hated my boss and people were idiots and TV was dumb, and people back home were getting excited, asking me what it was like to live in London, and all I could say was, "Expansive."

miss hell said...

afo: LOL; you make me proud.

i also feel like a fucking cliche. yet, i so comfortably put it on and string it along. i must be masocistic.

Gypsy said...

I can understand this. It's kind of a lot to live up to, that overwhelming "wow" and interest and swoon, when it's just your life, just what you do. Especially after you've been doing it for a while.

But I can also understand a sort of converse situation, a sense of pride (perhaps misplaced or misguided) about being somewhere others want to be.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Muchos nods and Mmmm Hmmmms.

Fned said...

When people ask me how is it I ended up in Paris my answer is always pretty much the same:

I got off my fat ass and DID IT.


A Free Man said...

Not to diss our countrymen, but most Americans have about 5 cliches firmly in their mind about foreign countries. And that's all they know to ask. I just turn off these days and answer questions in the way that they expect. Makes life easier.

the cubicle's backporch said...

While I always think it's neat when people live overseas, I usually ask the "Do you like it?" thing and then drop it. You're so funny!!

Rachel said...

Poor you. And here I am living my life away in the city I was born boring. And everyone always says to you are the only sister in your family that didnt travel or learn a new language...why??? How the hell do I know? Um, I was stupid? I got married to a douche bag at the ripe old age of 22??

karey m. said...

do you have a little room in my brain?!

sometimes i read your posts and realize that i've been feeling the same way...without even realizing it!

most times, that's good. xoxo.

Bluestreak said...

@Emily - hahahah, love the story of you being hassled at the gym. I just avoid the conversations all together because even if I act nice I know I´ll be cringing.

@Among Found Objects - I haven´t tried telling people I´m from the next village over but I might. Your mom does that to you too? Ughhhh.

@People in the Sun - oh yes, the first year or so I lived here I loved the caricaturized version of my life. But when quickly you realize life is just life, as you say, with the same kinds of difficulties you experience everywhere, you stop feeling all cool and lucky that you live abroad.

@Misshell: you must be mascocistic? you doubted that you were. I could have told you that within the first five minutes I met you.

@Gypsy: the reverse situation happened initially, but wore off quickly and now I just get embarassed when my family tell people that we´re here ALL THE WAY FROM SPAIN. I just want to be normal. And I´m not normal here and I´m not normal when I´m home either. I just want to blend in again...

@Xbox - so glad to see this is an expat thing and not just weird crap in my head.

@Fned - you only realize how unimpossible it is when you do it.

@AFreeMan - I do the same, while cringing and feeling really weird and awkward inside.

@Cubicle - Now you can say, "you must hate it when you come home and everyone makes such a big deal about the fact that you live there". You will instantly connect with them probably.

@Rachel - yeah, he was a total douche! At least you have traveled a lot once you got rid of the douche.

@Karey - I´d like a room in your brain. Any for rent? Really, I can imagine the kinds of comments you get from people at home when you say you are living in Jordan. I can think of a few questions you must hear repeated that probably make you cringe along the "is it scary?" lines.

joe said...

While on the immigrant track, you should try being an indian with a visa. We are treated like golddust back home (diversify your questions into a 1000 and add a repeat of each qus by another 1000 people and you'll see what it could be like), and lepers everywhere else. The drama is scintillating! I doubt i'd have half the crazy shit that goes on in my life as an immigrant, if I were sitting my ass at home.

I dont know what i am trying to say here so i'll stop now!

My Way said...

Who the fuck are you? Get out of my body and give me back my mother!!!!!

Clarissa said...

Oh, my mom tries so hard not to put me in that position; but she just can't help herself sometimes. So she slips it in slyly, but just enough for people to know I live in London. And I deign to visit the colonies.

I'd do (I do) the same as you.

Duck said...

When I was in India my worst was when people asked things like 'How do you find India?' Which do you like better, America or here?' 'Whare are the differences between your country and mine??'

And I'd have to lie. I didn't want to say 'we actually use toilets. We have working electricity'.

And about the differences, I'd say something like 'in America, we don't even know our next door neighbors. Here you have such a great community spirit'.

Which was true, but I cringed every time someone asked.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Only having been here 17 months, I am still in the phase of hearing an American (or Canadian) accent and immediately wanting to buy them a Big Mac. Just kidding, I haven't even been to a MickyD's since I've been here--

Who cares, anyway-- I would seek out Americans to converse with. Maybe next year I'll be looking at them and thinking --poor schmucks, just get away from me.

Am I rambling?...Yes. Sorry.

Bluestreak said...

@Joe - that really puts things into perspective. I shouldn´t complain so much. DAMN.

@Myway - I´d love to hear the kinds of dumb questions you get from people about Mexico. Maybe instead of "Do you go to bullfights" they as "Do you go to cockfights". People are ignorant.

@Clarissa - I wish my mom slipped it in slyly. She practically wears a sign on her when she´s in public with me that her daughter lives in Spain. What´s worse, my dad tells people I´m FROM Spain. And I´m like, WTF????

@Duck - you just reminded me of another question that people ask that make me want to punch someone "Which do you like better, America or here?" UGHHHHHH.

@Floridagirl - yeah, I think these feelings do change over time. I guess I´m in the annoyance phase.

Dirty Pirate Hooker said...

Do very many people ask if Spain has great Mexican food? I would think that would be a common question asked by morons.

Duck said...

OMG yes. I hated that question too! I got it ALL the time.

Um, America. You don't have to squat to pee.

Or need a bucket.

But I couldn't say that. Obviously.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

I've been meaning to ask you...

Do they have good Mexican food in Spain?


Maggie, Dammit said...

So how AWESOME is living in Spain???


Formerly Fun said...

A woman who uses the word simulacrum, I think I have a hetero girl cush on you.

Rassles said...


Bluestreak said...

@DPH - yes, they ask that question all the damn time.

@Duck - I´m gonna start making shit up. When people ask me what Spain is like, I´ll say "It´s alright, but you know they don´t use toilets over there".

@Florida Girl - I would KILL for some good mexican food.

@Maggie - It is just so Amaaaaazing.

@FF - the feeling is mutual.

@Rassles - ughhhhh. my mind is a wreck right now and nothing comes out right. I´m sure as soon as I get ma shit together I´ll have something to say.

Yo Momma said...

You know I get a lot of that sometimes from my in-laws in the midwest. doing the whole 'wow, California? do you see celebrities? what celebrities have you met??' or when I was in europe for a time, they kept asking me if my husband (boyfriend at the time) was a cowboy?? wtf? HAHA!

I understand the fascination and how people can romanticize other pasrts of the world but I can see how it could be totally annoying for you after a while.

RTL said...

Totally. If my mom was pscyched to see me once every 2 or 3 years I would totally get pissed if she bragged about me.

Grow up wanna be American Euro Trash

Hi BLUE. Miss ME?

RTL said...

And to all the other bloggers.... people ask you shit not because they are interested in you and your experience(unless its mom), they are trying to make normal, everyday conversation. Starved for it, or is every conversation a a sub-point of a life disertation? your brain saw things that we cant understand or shoulda been there for. puh-lezzz.

Try this once. Sincerly answer the questions in the length the question deserved. That's it. Answer the question. You will have the room asleep in about 5 minutes, and you will constantly keep raising your voice to keep them awake.

Dont be dumb. Those questions dont mean anything. Its trying to start chatter. Most people contend that thats how most people talk.

Anonymous said...

It happens a lot!
I am Global GAL DH.
I just hate Chit-Chat if you are gonna ask,ask something meaningful.
May be the human mine is THAT feeble! and everyone has the same questions.
I get this in China.
Hi where are you from..
yes really
Oh your Chinese is so good
No Is not
Yes really
I do not speak Chinese
I am whatever....

I feel your pain... but like the movie says, You are American " but we do not hold it against you"

Your head is weird like my wife I do not know how you girls are so complicated!
And for heaven shake do not go to FOURBUKS!