(Republished August 2018. Originally from 2008.)

Umm… so I’m being completely evil with the downloads. I need stuff to do to keep from watching MTvEurope, ok?

I meant to buy “I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away” by Bill Bryson a million times. Well, I downloaded it instead and it sounds like a seriously interesting read. I just skimmed through the pdf and I spotted a funny little bit where he’s talking about choice & too much variety (35 varieties of Crest toothpaste?), and he’s standing in line at a coffee shop at 5:45 am waiting for his flight to board:

When at last my turn came, I stepped up and said, “I’d like a large cup of coffee.”

“What kind?”

“Hot and in a cup and very large.”

“Yeah, but what kind? Mocha, macchiato – what?”

“I want whichever one is a normal cup of coffee.”

“You want an americano?”

“If that means a normal cup of coffee, then yes.”

“Well, they’re all coffees.”

“I want a normal cup of coffee like millions of people drink every day.”

“So you want an americano.”


“Do you want regular whipped cream or low-cal with that?”

“I don’t want whipped cream.”

“But it comes with whipped cream.”

“Look,” I said in a low voice, “It is 6:10 am. I have been standing for 25 minutes behind 15 seriously selective people, and my flight is being called. If I don’t get some coffee right now- and by right now I mean right now- I am going to have to murder someone, and I think you should know that you are on the short list.” (I am not, as you will gather, a morning person.)

“So does that mean you want low-cal whipped cream or regular?”

It’s true. I haven’t had any of these choices in like… how long have I been here? I get coffee. Or espresso s mlekem (with milk). Or I get an au lait.

And going back to the States… I really do feel like a stranger. So I can’t wait to see how the rest of this book goes. (I have a whole long post started about “going back” and if I think I ever will. At this point, I don’t think so.)