Sunday, July 8, 2012

Punk rock, avocados, and provincial hipsters

In two weeks, I will no longer be a Californian. I'm not really sure that I'm one now but I'll be giving up my only claim to being a Californian: my California driver's license (which I'm looking forward to since it's a horrible picture). When I started this blog last fall, I was trying to figure out how to live here and be me at the same time. I think I've figured out a few things so I thought I'd revisit the list I made right before I started writing from the Island. This list was really the start of the blog so let's see how these things look another year later.

Things I've Learned While Living in California
  1. Date off island. Alameda is an island and according to a friend who has lived here for 20+ years, the only way to date is off island. His theory is that if you date on island everyone will know and talk about you because everyone knows everyone else's business. I'm not sure that this is an Island thing or a small town thing. If I lived in a small town the same thing would be true so I've decided that this is not so much a California thing as a "live in a larger city if you want more privacy" thing. 
  2. I will never be local. I actually wrote about this not too long after I started the blog. I've been here just about 2 years and that still only equals a nanosecond to some people. As I wrote previously, it doesn't matter that I'm involved in the community, shop local, and tell everyone how awesome Alameda is. Still not enough to be a local. I was willing to work to be a local but I don't know to how here. This is one of the reasons I'm not terribly sad about moving back to Virginia. I'll miss my friends and certain things about Alameda, but I don't really have an anchor here.
  3. Double parking. I still don't get this. I know people double park everywhere but it's like a sickness or an addiction here. It's not a safe practice - streets are fairly narrow so it's not always possible or safe to go around someone who is double parked. It's also not safe for pedestrians who might be getting out of the double parked car or are trying to get around it. And don't even get me started on bicyclists (in general and when they're trying to go around a double parked car too).
  4. Provincial hipsters. It's difficult to be both provincial and a hipster haven but Alameda seems to be able to pull it off AND do it well. I went to the Alameda Fourth of July parade this week and it's the perfect combination of both. A parade that features the Girl Scouts, the NRA, and a group of organic backyard farmers is pretty much the epitome of provincial hipsterism. I still don't want to deal with your ironic statement babies but thanks, hipsters. Without you there probably wouldn't be any cute coffee shops, local art stores, or good pizza places in Alameda. I appreciate your efforts, I just prefer my men without scarves and wearing non-skinny jeans.
  5. Food judgement. Two years has not changed the fact that I like bacon and chicken and I am okay with them not being organic, free range, or local. I'm cool with it if they are but I'm not going to go out of my way to make that happen. I also like cheese (fancy and processed) and I occasionally like to eat Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (it's the cheesiest). I'm not ashamed of any of these things and I am finally able to say that within this state and not care if someone judges me. If you want to be a vegan or raw foodist or whatever else, be my guest. You stay out of my shopping cart and I'll stay out of yours.
  6. Humidity, heat, and cold. I wore a sweater the entire time I was at the parade on Wednesday. And I was comfortable. If I had taken it off I would have been cold. That just doesn't feel right to me. As much as I love the fact that I can sleep comfortably with my windows open most of the summer (it's really more like most of the year) and am not currently melting, I miss seasons (particularly fall). Get ready leaves, I'm dying to see you change colors. 
  7. Punk rock and cheese. I just reread Gordon Edgar's book Cheesemonger. If you like cheese, you should read this book. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. He's a punk rock cheesemonger. I totally understand how the two are linked and I like his honesty about being in the cheese business and all the snobbery that comes with it. I'm not entirely sold on collectives but that's okay; I think he would understand. Gordon made me feel better about food judgement and dealing with it like a grown-up instead of like a petulant child. Also one of my favorite quotes is in this book: "A lot of punks say they hate everyone, but a wise friend once said to me that punks are basically nice people pretending to be mean, whereas hippies are mean people pretending to be nice." (page 205)
  8. Buy "local". I'm a loyal local shopper. Even if I no longer live in the immediate area where your store is but I like your products, I will buy them online or stock up when I'm back in town. Being a New Orleanian, I fully support the idea of buying locally (and I still buy locally even though I no longer live there) but I still feel that people here too narrowly define "local" or "locally made." Sorry, I have a much broader definition of local and it doesn't mean grown in my backyard (because I don't have one). I also think that there's too much negativity placed on shopping at non-local stores. I'm tired of feeling bad about going to big box stores or chain restaurants. Trust me, I get it but sometimes I just want to get stuff done instead of having to go to more than one place or I want to eat a burger where I don't have to hear about how the cow was treated or that the tomatoes were grown 5 feet from where I'm sitting. It doesn't make me a bad person - it just makes me practical. And that's not always a bad thing. 
  9. Adding avocados = California. This may, in fact, be the biggest myth of California. Slap an avocado on something and it's instantly healthier and more Californian than it was before. I didn't notice this much before I moved here but now I notice it all the time. The funny thing is that it happens here too (at all types of restaurants). My friend, Erin, recently pointed out that most of the avocados (or avocadi - I prefer this version of the plural) consumed in the US actually come from Mexico so it's not just a myth, it's false advertising.
  10. Everything's pedestrian. I love walking in Alameda. This might be what I will miss the most when I move. It's so easy to walk places here and it's always a lovely walk. A year ago, all I did was drive and it was annoying. I still drive to work and the grocery but I find myself walking to a lot more places theses days. I still have some issues with pedestrians when I'm driving (don't flip me off because I have the right of way and you're not paying attention - DON'T WALK applies to you too) but overall, I've gotten used to the pedestrian nature of Alameda. 
Bikers, well, they're another story. One day I'm sure I'll understand them too.


  1. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese rules. End of sentence. End of fact.

  2. My first month here I had a run in at a Safeway with a woman I didn't know about there being chicken and turkey in my cart. She didn't think I should be eating meat. It was bizarre and the cashier had to get involved so she'd back off. People are crazy.

    You know what else is good? The homestyle version Kraft has out now (if you're feeling fancy).

  3. Erin,

    Alameda and we at the Oakland office will miss you! If I had known about your issues with bikes I would have invited you to ride with us at the East Bay Bike Party. It would have blown your mind and changed your perception about bikes :)