{balconies with dwarfed citrus trees}

wishing to be as indistinguishable from the scenery, i staked out a table, cracked open a book, sipped tea, and vacuumed up all proffered carbs. having traveled 7.5K miles, i sadly made an unfortunate evaluation regarding weight vs books and consequently had not brought enough books. even worse, my variety was zilch: rousseau's the origin of inequality & john stuart mill's "on liberty" stunk of what i felt i must flee, viz. 11/8/16. i ended up borrowing from husband's roving library (he errs on the side of books, not weight) d.f. wallace's collection of essays a supposedly fun thing i will never do again.

from my fortifications of book, tea, carbs, in situ on not-american soil, i thought i could further mire myself. instead, my reading arrested my attention inward at my american-ness. i ended up convincing myself that 1) the primary reason we chose DT as the next POTUS is because he is the embodiment of our love affair with TV and, by extension, social media and 2) my impulse to fade into my surroundings and not engage with others tete-a-tete but enjoy the fruits of a one-sided, highly edited, remote connection with another via words on a page is the root of what makes TV and social media part of the fabric of american life.

in a foreign city in a foreign country, whose language i neither speak nor read and whose customs i find comically mystical, i made a point of trying to not seem "other"--blending into a sartorial sea of black, grey and white was, for me, no small feat. (colored clothing = tourist) the jig was up, though, when i opened my mouth. in a city that felt like a twilight zone version of a gentrifying LA neighborhood, where graffiti as art and social commentary supplants advertising, where no one thinks to fix up a building unless its been bombed, where chain restaurants and grocery stores don't exist, and where everyone walks with friends or family, nary a cell phone in hand, the scales fell off my eyes. it doesn't have to be like it is at home.