I have two volunteer opportunities that make me smile:
- Retail for the Madison Public Library on Saturdays, and
- Transcribing / editing / making sense of interviews with Wisconsin Veterans for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum!
So. Things could be worse.
Certainly picturesque towns can be found in New England or California or the Pacific Northwest, but I can’t shake the sense that they’re too picturesque. On the East Coast, especially, these places seem to me aggressively quaint, unbecomingly smug, and even xenophobic, downright paranoid in their wariness of those who might somehow infringe upon the local charm. I suspect this wariness is tied to the high cost of real estate, the fear that there might not be enough space or money and what there is of both must be clung to and defended. The West Coast, I think, has a similar self-regard—all that talk of proximity to the ocean and the mountains—and a beauty that I can’t help seeing as show-offy. But the Midwest: It is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on. It is the place I am calmest and most myself.