moves to Wisconsin and learns not to be terrified by the locals.
[Note: the following was written weeks ago, but I only just got around to posting]
I've been on the ground now for a month (less two days, but whatever) and have been busily acclimating myself to life outside the NY metropolitan area. So far, I've successfully cultivated the habit of saying "Hi!" to the bus driver when I get on the bus and "Thanks!" when I get off. But I'm still working on the less hurried social exchanges - say, ordering coffee at the Starbucks down the street from my apartment:
One recent Sunday, I went to Starbucks for a NY Times and breakfast. They were out of newspapers, which annoyed me, but being hungry and caffeine-deprived, I set about deciding what to get anyway. While I was staring blankly at the pastry case trying to make up my mind the barista quizzed me about my plans for the day, juggling (I was wearing a festival t-shirt), and my research (having somehow determined that I was a grad student in physics). During this five minute chat I was too distracted and freaked out to decide what I wanted, so I ended up ordering the first thing I could think of just to be able to get my caffeine and leave. Then, as if that wasn't disconcerting enough, the following week I went back one afternoon to find the same barista... and she remembered me! WTF?