I Going Nuts Here in the USA as My Quality of Life Nosedives by Andy Lee Graham

I have been in the USA now for 18 days, I am going crazy. I have traveled the world perpetually for 14 years, the idea of living in the USA is scary.

This Blog started out as a travelogue, a daily report about where I am at, more or less an on-line diary explaining my travels. However, and I want to apologize, it more or less is now just it a way to entertain readers with the hope I make money. I have learned, readers get angry if not entertained, and one reason I will soon publish books.

I will try... to return, at least for a day to my old style of writing.

I checked the calender, I returned from the Dominican Republic more or less 18 days ago, I think it was March 18, 2012, today is April 15, 2012. Truly it is not important, just trying to take a bearing on my progress at acclimating to the USA culture. Hmm, I think the word is not acclimate, it is probably adjusting.

Went to my Microsoft Encarta dictionary, it is more relevant than Wikipedia, it does not included unneeded extra tweaks, they have editors with brains to limit nerds.

I think the best word is "habituate."

"Habituate Defined: to make somebody used to something: to accustom a person or animal to something through prolonged and regular exposure (formal) People living in cities become habituated to crowds.

People living in the USA become habituated to the culture.

I am trying my best to be happy, my primary goal in life is happiness. And, the secret to being happy is simple. I need to do more things in a day that make me happy, and avoid all the things that make me unhappy.


Here I am typing on my computer in bed, and the radiator starts to make noise, that little stainless steel valve on the side was releasing some air. It is like a conspiracy to remind me I am not in the tropics. That radiator is screaming at me,

"Andy, it is cold."
"Andy, it is cold."
"Andy, it is cold."

Gee thanks, I cannot avoid thinking,
"I am not in the tropics, it is cold here in Indiana, and the stupid radiator is determined to make me remember."

Hiding in my room, waiting for spring.

I am in an absolutely wonderful room, I have went from a free room, I am now paying. and for 12.50 USD per day, I have WIFI, Color TV, etc, all utilities paid, and radiator heat, which is better than forced air.

But I know my behavior, I know I am hiding in the room and waiting for spring.

Big Bang

I am hiding here in my room, and I downloaded 4.5 seasons of "The Big Bang Theory," and not sure what I am going to do next --- I am on Season Five and the end is near. I am happy to say, that Penny the girl in the show is hope for the American man.

Withdrawal from my morning walk...

I want to be happy, and for 14 years I have woken up, worked on my computer, then went for a walk. On the walk I snag a piece of bread, a banana or an apple, then maybe a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Because it is cold, I have had problem going for a walk, it does not make me happy to walk in the cold.

I went out two days ago, bound to take a walk, but the cold wind blew at me, there was nobody walking near me, only cars, cars, and more cars.

Welcome to America, where the car isolates it's people, and everyone hides, I want to see people walking around, I do not want to live inside a car. My biggest exercise so far seems to be walking around in Walmart, either in search of food, or something to buy for the Van.

I went down to the Mexican area of Fort Wayne off of Broadway, went inside the International Grocery, and sort of felt at home, in my own country.

I am worried about this USA Road Trip.

When spring has sprung, I will take off to travel American in my Chevy Astro, I think it will be cheaper than living abroad, or about 500 USD per month, but all in all, about the same cost. Same as always, the slower I go, the cheaper it is for travel.

However, I am worried, how am I going to meet people in the USA?

When I am traveling abroad, the foreigners or expats clump together in groups, they want to talk to each other. I am not a foreigner here, there will be no groups forming naturally. Here I am an American citizen, none of the locals will want to talk to me. Striking up a conversation can be much more complicated, and too transient, I know them, they are too busy...

I called a State Park close to Bloomington, Indiana, and the lady said I can primitive camp for free. I hope there is no cost to enter the park? But, it looks like maybe I could meet people in the park, that would be OK. At least, I know where I can take a bath next to my van, without getting arrested by the police.

I can meet people in bars and restaurants around the USA, but that would be like an endless bar hopping experience.

Where do people meet people in the USA?

I think they are all in their car, saying the American mantra,"
"I am too busy."

I admit, I am not hopeful, I think it is a nosedive socially to live in the USA, I enjoy being a foreigner living in another country.

I think there is nothing more stupid than living in cold climates, it is the same for deserts. When I was in Niger Africa, an NGO was helping the people to grow food in the desert. I said,
"Help them, give them money to move South out of the desert."
"It is stupid to try to grow food in the desert, move away."

Well, to pay money to fight the weather seems crazy, to pay money to heat a home seems nuts. Think about it, the people in the tropics save money on heat, it is a cold weather tax, an extra fee paid to live in an uncomfortable climate.

This is one reason I seldom go to Europe, it is far too cold. Europe is like Canada, it is always cold there, they only have a two month window of warm weather, while the USA at least has four months.

OK, I am on a rant, my life has become more complicated, I cannot take my daily walk, I am having withdrawal, and I am not fond of the women here. Penny on the Big Bang Theory is great, but she is not real.

I got on the elevator at the Lincoln Tower the other day, two "Suits" and a woman in a "Pant Suit" got on. I said hello, the two men were up to their ears in the "we-do-not-talk-on-elevators-culture."

The chubby woman in a pant suit, smiled at me, we talked, then when she left the elevator she stalled at the door, and looked back a me, the two men moved on ahead, and she said,
"Have a nice day."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh, a chubby lady, 40 plus, in a pants flirted with me, yes, I am 56, but I have not dated a girl over 30 in years.

Welcome to America.

Phil J

Wow Andy. As usual you really went to the heart of the problem. Actually the heart of several problems, which all boil down to one, problem with living in the US. You do go through culture shock when you return from overseas.
I find myself longing for a walk down session road in Baguio or dinner at the Blue Rock Resort in Baloy Beach. I am shopping for an airline ticket now. For me it seems like there are no sub cultures or groups of people you can strike up a conversation with.
People look at you like they are saying this. Stop being so impulsive and friendly. Only children are like this. Are you mentally impaired.
My solution is to head west. Far far far west where the trade winds are always blowing and the gentle wash of the ocean on the beach reminds you that you are in the south seas. And the smiles and friendly glances from women of all ages makes me feel at home. It helps also that there are 250,000 Americans living there also.
I like going to Burnham Park and getting into conversations with the groups of collage students. And I like being considered handsome and a good husband prospect. And I like getting treated with lots of respect.
So once again, after a brief return to the US to take care of banking stuff and visit my family, I will be winging my way westward to the Island which has been my de facto home for so many decades, thanks to the US Navy. I am excited, and find myself smiling, now that I have made my decision.


That is a good idea, I could go meet some people from Couch Surfing. I will try that for fun. I have watched Dexter before, but not sure I should watch it all at one time, I have decided that CNN is not a healthy thing to watch, and I am sure Dexter makes CNN seem tame. Slab city, that guy from the movie "Into the Wild" was over the edge crazy, hmm, not sure what to say.


I think Slab city is worth a stop. I got on Couch Surfing and asked a 27 year old girl to meet, she has been to Antartica, and I have never been there. Most of the people are under 30, not sure how to proceed at age 56 in the USA. I am not used to age sensitive cultures, the rest of the planet is different than the USA on age.


Yup Yup!!! Been There done that!.... last year, I too, ´visited´ the USA after living in Central America for the past 6 years. I hiked a couple months on the Appalacian Trail before visiting with family ... I couldn´t get over the costs of being in ´my own country´... I didn´t remember everything being so expensive in rural america, breezing through a town on the fringes of the AT and resupplying was just down right expensive...have you bought a cup of coffee in a restraunt? The fellow hikers were a great mix of interesting and often thoughtful people. The people in town and then the people I visited with were culturally VERY different from me - and ya ppl don´t walk and they dont like to strike up conversations very much...
I was thinking about Slab City and Vandwelling and even visiting some folks I heard of in Quartsite AZ...then my grown son came to me one day and said ¨Mom I´m so fed up with life in the USA, I wanna see where you lived in Costa Rica. Can we go?¨ We left rather quickly without the planning I would have prefered and returned to a familiar city that I thought I had left behind.
I look forward to your continued stories (which btw for me are easier to read than to watch on videos b/c of the glitchy internet connections in Central America). Perhaps you will provide me with some further travel ideas myself.


I just recently learned there were Moose in Maine, and I have never seen a moose. This sounds great. Thanks Andy


Yes, I will plan to come to Tucson, Arizona, I am behind on updating my map, but have you and Brent on the list. Thank Andy

Neil V

I am very gregarious and love to meet people no matter where I go. I emotionally embrace a person before they do the same and generally, it becomes uncomfortable for them to be distant or aloof at that point.

There are friends to be made all over the world - even here in the U.S.A.


I am alpha male, type A, I talk with anyone close, and find many people to talk with. There are locations where people gather, outside the USA it is easy to find gatherings of expats, while in the USA there are places like bars or health clubs. Where can I just sit down in the USA and strike up conversation, and not pay...? The person who talk about the "Slab" was tuned in, but casual walk by friends are no better than a one-night stand, to enjoy friendship, you need the hope of daily conversations. Where are there daily conversations with the same group in the USA? Health Clubs, and Bars, any other ideas.

Neil V

Have you investigated the Hostel scene in the U.S.A. I know that areas cities such as Austin and Seattle have some hostels. Also, there are camp grounds througout the Southern U.S.A. where snow birds in RV's hang out.

If your trip around the U.S.A. amounts to just you, your van, and some cheap food then your trip around the U.S.A. will be miserable. I am trying to help you brainstorm for some satisfying and low cost social alternatives.

Then, on Sundays there are churches and associated social gathering.

I understand the single man life well. I married late at 45 years old. I am now 47 years old and have actively followed your blog for the past 4 to 5 years.


Hostels are good in the USA, but expensive in way. I think the Church would be good, I enjoy going to Adult Sunday School.

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