Becoming a Midwest Girl

After a few trips back and forth, and making some new friends over in Michigan, I’ve noticed some striking differences in general fashion style, life pace, attitudes, etc.

I’m trying my best to adjust to the fact that I will be moving to Michigan. It’s been taking awhile, but it’s getting harder as the time till the move shortens.

One thing, is Midwest peoples move at more a leisurely pace. Which I think is wonderful! Seems like they really take their time and enjoy moments in life.
However, unfortunately, I’m a person who thrives in the fast-paced lifestyles of international metropolitan like NYC, London, and Taipei. When walking on a sidewalk, it is truly more of a human motorway. It’s like cars, but you’re on your feet. If a person behind you starts coming up faster (we don’t have rear view mirrors, but you can hear by the footsteps, coughing signaling, and breathing), then you need to let them pass. If you’re rearing up to a person at a slower pace in front of you, then you “switch lanes” and pass them. This is the patterns and survival techniques in a city.

When one person comes out of Grand Central station or 30th Street Station, and large streams of people merge or diverge, you need to keep your eyes straight, high alert mode, to get to where you’re going without bumping and hitting or tripping on anyone, and there will be many many people walking in opposite directions, horizontal directions, 45 degree, anything.

In these hyper cities, if you’re just a little bit slower, they will honk at you, and if you’re not being honked at, you will assume that all is fine. Honking is our way of communicating, “please move forward; wait, I’m here; please move up so I can turn; please move more to the right so I can pass on the left; please move, just move.”  In the Midwest, most people don’t utilize the awesome horn function on their car, except for emergency situations (which I think is the proper etiquette… however, in hyper cities, everything is an emergency…)

I’ve also noticed that people speak slower. No joke, I’m completely serious. They take more time between words, pauses, sentences. They add more tones and additional ad-libs and information (most of the time just small talk and/or stuff), etc.

When I’m there, I stick out like a sore thumb. I talk to fast. I get to the point, I want them to get to the point. My voice isn’t soft or gentle. I’m straightfoward. I pair my “Hi, How are you, ” immediately with  my next sentence, “I was wondering/ I had a question/ Can I order”.

I remember when I used to live in Pittsburgh, I was a different person. I think I used to be one of the Midwesterners. I used to talk slower, walk slower (just a bit though, I was always a fast walker), I used to not feel like every second of my day was delaying the next seconds of my day. I used to add small talk and ad-libs and random non-important information…

I changed, into something slightly different when I started living in Philly. I don’t mind it, I fit right in.

But now that I look at the difference… I think there’s going to be a lot more adjusting that’s coming up.

But alas, as with most Third Culture Kids, this is nothing new.

But the million dollar question is: Who am I really? And what style is my preference or fits me better? I have the ability to morph into any international or local culture necessary, but what is MY style?

Am I East Coast? or am I Midwest?

Maybe I’m East Coast. I think I’m east coast (or hyper metropolitan, whatever you want to call it). I think I will always feel like I’m in the right place when I walk at high speed. I think I will always have a small sense of excitement when I’m living in the high paced life. I am re-energized and I feel alive when I’m zooming around.

Or maybe I’m Midwest? I do look forward to the time I can finally buy my SUV in Michigan (a staple item of the suburb/midwest lifestyle…), and have large areas of parking, a driveway, and the ability to drive everywhere, instead of learning all the complicated public mass transit systems in all different cities (Boston, London, Taipei, Rome, SF, Philadelphia, NYC, New Jersey Transit, Hsinchu, woot!).

But I don’t know… because I love knowing (and memorizing) all the mass transit systems and maps…

We’ll see… We have to move again in 3 years when his residency program is done. Maybe we’ll get to try the south next… (omg…)

My Beloved City

This weekend, I went to Michigan for 4 days, Friday – Monday. My fiance is a doctor in the midst of trauma surgery residency… he gets one day off (which he usually uses to catch up on sleep) and the other days he works 5am – 9pm.

So a few weeks back, he’s already  moved into our new apartment, however, two days after the move, he started back on trauma day team. So he’s been living out of boxes (the few that were half unpacked) and plastic forks and paper cups.

This weekend, I brought my data and my work, but in the down time, I was planning to do some deep cleaning (of the kitchen and bathrooms) and also unpack as many boxes as I can. (He somehow has more things than I do, although I have not packed up my Philadelphia apartment, I know I will not have 70 boxes, which is what his old apartment packed up to be…) Before I got there, the boxes were just all around the living room, hallway, master bedroom, guestrooms, stacked up 3-4 boxes high… I don’t know how he lived in that place for a month…

I spent some time putting down contact paper in the kitchen cabinets and drawers, then I moved on to working on the bathrooms. Later, I started unpacking the boxes, I think I unpacked all the boxes except for maybe 4 boxes. (Ones with labels like Tech, or Motorcycle, etc… his guy stuff… I figured I shouldn’t try to unpack or reorganize them… )

He came back and was overjoyed!! Overjoyed that he can drink out of glass cups now! Instead of being so careful not to lose his only 2 paper cups that he’s been depending on for the last 4 weeks….

We also got to look at some of the wedding reception sites that his parents had suggested, for when doing the 3rd reception in Michigan

We are living on the 26th floor of our apartment tower. The view is gorgeous, and we can see Canada (Windsor!) and a full view of the river (not sure which one it is yet… I’m sure I’ll start learning the names…)

I love our new space!

I fly back into Philadelphia on Monday, and as I’m walking down the streets of Center City, I take a deep breath and smell the cars exhaust, the pollution, the heat, the Septa buses, and I still love my city, Philadelphia. I know in the next few months I will start packing, and saying good bye to some of my favorite restaurants and streets and parks.

I know Michigan has parks and restaurants. I know they have museums, I know they have a large city, Detroit. But it’s not the same. It’s not an East Coast crazy city like Philadelphia. It doesn’t have short walkable blocks lined with overpriced retail stores and overpriced and undersized gourmet food. It doesn’t have Rittenhouse parkview restaurant. It doesn’t have a festival (some crazy ones, too) that happen every other weekend.

Yes, I took a deep whiff of the Philadelphia City air, and really missed it. Someone think we’re dirty, some people think we’re rude and mean. Some people vow never to live on the East Coast. Well, I only left Philadelphia for 4 days, and when I was back, I couldn’t wait to step right back into my little beloved city.

Yes, bad air and mean people and all, I’ve missed you.

Latest technology: Guys, it’s obsolete to wait, texting on the same night is the new trend

So we’ve all heard and used the strategy of waiting 1, 3 or 5 days before calling a girl (or guy) after a good date or after exchanging contact info them.

However, I’ve just received new intel saying that the above strategy is obsolete and the latest technology is to text on the same day/night.

Wait, really?

Yes, they answer, so you can capitalize on momentum right after you met them; you want to contact that them while they’re still thinking about you and when you’re fresh on their minds.

“But doesn’t that seem a bit desperate? And I thought guys and girls nowadays loved playing this ‘game’?” I asked. Remembering watch some TV shows or movies, when guys give other guys advice on NOT calling the girl immediately. And same thing with girls, her friends are telling him not to call him until he calls, and if he doesn’t call to wait up to 3 days before calling back? What happened to all these waiting days?

Their answer: “Back in the day, without text messages (or perhaps it was less popular and widespread), making a phone call to a guy/girl the same night or immediately the next day was too aggressive. And such a aggressive move may scare off the ‘target; as coming off too strong and forceful. So back then, we would advise each other to wait a few days. But now, texting is available! We’re not telling people to call that night or the next day. We’re just saying, ‘Send a text.'”

“Now, texting IS an option. Texting is now a great in-between method to stay in contact but not scare off your ‘target’. A phone call is too much, but just having no contact (silence) is also too little. Texting is the perfect option, and it should be used immediately after to jump on the momentum and the fresh image.”

At this point in the conversation, the usage of the word “target” was so disturbing to me, that I switched topics…

The Gentleman is a dying breed

My friend just came out of a date… a first date…

“How was it?” I asked.

“The conversation was good, everything was fine. Until when the bill came… And then he put down cash… for his portion of the bill,” she answered.

“What?! Didn’t you guys just go for happy hour?” I asked.

“Yah, I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe I did something wrong?” she mumbles.

“Whatever, go get dinner, you must be starving, he didn’t even feed you. Go eat. I’m sorry, I can see why you’re disappointed and a bit confused.”

My friend started wondering if perhaps the conversation went bad, or if she said something wrong. No, girl, it’s not your fault, you didn’t do anything wrong.
My friend was so caught off guard that she just quickly pulled out her credit card to pay for the rest of the bill. After this whole chaos, the guy actually texts her telling her he wants to hang out again, etc etc, and calling her “hot” which she sees more as a trashy term than a compliment. And no, she hasn’t responded yet.  (Good going, girl!)

When I took this call, I was in mid-call with my fiance. And when I told him about this date, he just said one word… repeatedly, “Douche.”

I understand that there is this controversy about who pays… but around here, in a city, when you’re a young professional in their late 20s to 40s, usually, on the first date (at least), the guy picks up the bill. It doesn’t have to be dinner, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive restaurant, but to put down cash only for yourself is truly an awkward, rude and confusing gesture.

Ok, maybe you realized you’re not interested anymore, maybe she burped in front of you or picked her teeth/nose… regardless… Be a MAN and pay for the lady that YOU asked out. YOU chose the time, place and date. You were the one who determined the budget for this meal.

You know this whole situation is just a series of terrible moves when another man upon hearing this laments, “The gentleman is a dying breed.”