It’s not really new and it’s not Mexico
by Dan Herman
MARGE: Mail call!
[The rest of the family comes down the stairs in the same manner and with the same sound effect as in "The Brady Bunch," before lining up according to height]
MARGE: Let’s see here … Here’s Pacifier Monthly, for Maggie. [Maggie makes a sucking sound, takes out her pacifier and starts sucking on the magazine]. For Lisa, there’s The Weekly Nerdlington.
LISA: Ooh, I hear this issue has Dennis Miller referring to Christopher Hitchens like he’s Sarah Shelton circa 1773.
[Cut to the family staring blankly at Lisa]
LISA: [joylessly] Yay, Justin Bieber, woo.
MARGE: Oooh look, Ricky Gervais’ How to Win Friends and Influence People for me! [cover shows Ricky Gervais painted to look like an Oscar statue, but flashing both middle fingers at the camera.] Bart, you got another letter from that Dick Cheney* person.
BART: All right! [opens letter] Aw, man. This says I’m still six years too young to join the Dastardly League of Evil.
MARGE: Well, at least he sent you a neat button!
[Marge takes the envelope, shakes out a button into her hand and puts it on his shirt. The button's face has Mt. Rushmore, with Glenn Beck, Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly's visages on it. The flag serves as the sky, Glenn Beck is crying tiny dollar signs and the inscription at the bottom reads, "REMEMBER WHAT OUR COUNTRY STANDS FOR".]
MARGE: And for Homer … Oh lord, it’s another letter from ABSTNES.
HOMER: Abstinence? Marge, you said it’s OK if I drink as long as other people are around.
MARGE: Not alcoholism, ABSTNES — the Association for Businesses of Springfield for Tourism and Negating the Effect of the Simpsons. Besides, drawing a face on your hand doesn’t count as having other people around.
HOMER: Quiet, Marge! [in an undertone] He knows things. [talking with his right hand in a crude British accent]** Yeee-es. You chaps won’t be rid of me that easy.
LISA: What’s it say, Mom?
MARGE: (reading the letter) Dear Simpson Family: Because of the many instances of indecent blah blah blah … Given the prestigious nature of Founding Day and your husband’s propensity for intoxication, we’ve decided it’s in the town’s best interests to send you … [gasps] They’re giving us a free trip to Albuquerque!
LISA: I want to visit a Pueblo settlement!
BART: I want to go to a cactus factory!
HOMER: Pssh, stupid kid. Cactuses aren’t made in a factory, they grow on trees, like money. And candy. [Drools] Mmm, candy tree.
MARGE: Well, we’d better hurry up! The plane leaves in half an hour.
LISA: The Simpsons are going to New Mexico!
In the 20-odd years The Simpsons have been on the air, they’ve had some … shall we say, flimsy premises for episodes that see them jetting off to exotic locales like Africa, Brazil or Japan. At one point, back when the writers still had a modicum of integrity, they made nods to the eccentricity of the plot setups somewhat akin to the parody above.
At this point, facing my third move (to a third state) in a year and a half, my life is starting to feel like a Simpsons episode.
Rest assured — or be disappointed, for that matter — my next stint does not involve starting my own snowplow company or buying an old ambulance and renting myself out as a medic for hire. I’ve managed to snag myself a gig as an online editor for the Farmington Daily Times, a small outfit in northwest New Mexico that produces some darn good journalism … but could use some help on their interwebs (and, hopefully, I’ll get to do a little copy editing and page design while I’m at it).
It’s not the only option I had, but it was the best. I was recruited for a copy editing position in Chicago for Groupon, the online-local-coupon dealer.*** But I decided to stick with journalism, at least for one more go-round, for several reasons. One, I still have that hankering to have a new product to deliver constantly. Straight-up website copy editing, like the stuff at Groupon, is so intangible — even the deliverables are at best one page that looks pretty much the same as the rest. Two, the chance to get into the web stuff and mess around with it, figuring out how to better to tell a story or keep readers informed, is a much greater (and infinitely more interesting) challenge — interesting and challenge being my two favorite words when it comes to finding something to do.
Once again, I’m moving to a new place where I don’t know anybody outside of work, essentially the same situation I was in when I moved to Coeur d’Alene. But I muddled through it once, I figure I can survive again. What disappoints me the most is reading this post, with lines like “The hope is to keep this apartment for quite some time, to break the moving cycle. At least long enough so that the next time I have to move, it actually means something again” … only six months after I wrote it.
In the most technical of terms, I did accomplish what I set out in that post: Moving this time will mean something to me. It’s perhaps not for the reasons I would like (having spent a number of years setting down roots in a place, both professionally and personally, meeting people and creating lasting relationships), but it’s there. I also take more than a little solace in the idea behind the sentiment: To create enough of a home base that it feels like an upheaval when I moved. It happened a little this time, the roots tugging when I tried to pull them up, but there’s every hope and opportunity that this next move might be the one that gets it right, for however brief or long I might be there.
Am I sad Spokane didn’t work out? Of course I am. There are tons of people I’m going to miss; unique opportunities I missed that I’ll regret, and ones I experienced I’ll treasure. Does it mean I’ll give up when I try the next place? Hardly. And though my moves are at this point reaching the level of fodder for a past-its-prime animated sitcom, it doesn’t mean it won’t wrap up with a nice, sentimental (sometimes bordering on the verge of sappy) wrap-up. Episodes from the early seasons of The Simpsons prove you can have fun, slapstick-y humor with an emotionally uplifting conclusion. The first, funny part is already on the books. All I have to do now is figure out how to write the ending.
* In true Simpsons fashion, a joke that’s at least four years too late.
** I didn’t want to include this gag, but it’s totally an “actually insane Homer” moment they’d throw in after about season 18, so I left it in.
*** Also, as is always the case, it took all of an hour and a half after I accepted an offer for others to start coming in (while I was in line at Safeway, no less). But frankly, I didn’t really want to be the sports editor in Sheridan, Wyo., anyway.