Thursday, January 13, 2011


Settling into to our new place just north of Santa Fe was much more labor intensive than I'd expected. It took some work, attempting to shoe-horn our possessions into our little casita. Despite paying the same rent, we have about half the size we had in Kyoto. And although we got rid of perhaps 70% of what we once owned (a fact that still depresses me a great deal), it still doesn't fit. Whereas in Japan, I longed for a house with lots of wall space for decorating, here I miss the clever way that the Japanese filled those little nooks and crannies to hold last year's omiyage.

Space saving devices were the answer. But again, being new in town, we wasted a lot of time simply figuring out who sold these things. We hoped to find shop a little closer to home, but we grew to accept the fact that everything was at the south end of town. So we'd often head down Cerrillos. If Santa Fe's downtown is seen as a lovely desert wildflower, then Cerrillos is the stem that nourishes it. If Santa Fe is considered "The City Different," then Cerrillos is the "City Distant," for that seems to be the general consensus in the moneyed homes up in the hills above the plaza. Cerrillos is outland, far from the faux 17th century stylings of tourist sites, with the box stores, strip malls, fast food, and the usual trappings of 21st Century Anytown, USA. It is also where the less moneyed (read: original inhabitants) live, since they can no longer afford anywhere else.

It seemed we did a trip down there daily for the first three or four weeks. I grew to loathe it as every journey took at least three hours there and back, most that time wasted sitting in traffic at too many red lights.

But those trips served as a re-introduction, of sorts, to the current state of US, as it is presented by retail. I began to look at Walmart as a modern take on Breugal. I was surprised that tattoos and piercing seem normal on staff. As was their laziness and surly nature. Official policy was little better. Attempting to sell books, I was most frustrated at Hastings buy back policy. I'm referring to their 'If an item won't scan, we won't buy it policy.' Literally judging books by their covers. Strange irony in that this was exactly what I too had been doing in my first few months in the States, writing off an entire society in frustration at a single example of bad behavior. Hmm, didn't I do this too in Japan? Ever the amateur anthropologist...

On the turntable: Jimi Hendrix, "Voodoo Soup"
On the nighttable: David Abram, "The Spell of the Sensuous"

1 comment:

  1. Oh no ... this is all very ominous as I think of my own return to the States soon. Maybe we can start an "amateur anthropologist anonymous" club together.


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