Joel in Alaska; Helen in Wisconsin

Some thoughts on living in Wisconsin:

  • I’m starting to wonder if my years watching Northern Exposure was actually a prep course.
  • I try not to be an asshole NYer who is always trying to find the NYC cognate for everything I experience. Also, I try to keep discussions of said cognates to conversations with other people who have also lived in NYC.
  • I am regularly amazed at how self-deprecating WI people are about living in WI.
  • I am surprised when I am homesick and surprised when I am not.
  • It doesn’t take long before you find yourself looking at a 19 degree temp and thinking, “it’s only 19” instead of “that’s fucking cold.” Because “only 19” means no long johns; you reserve those for the temps that hover just over or just under 0.
  • I regularly feed wild rabbits that live in the lawn next to my house. We buy carrots for them. We probably shouldn’t.
  • I read an essay by Daniel Nester about leaving NYC and wonder exactly why I stayed in NY for so long except for the obvious reason that I couldn’t conceive of living anywhere else.
  • Every once in a while, we realize that all of our new friends are incredibly smart, mostly geeky, & definitely bookish, and we are very happy about that.
  • I’m not sure you’ve ever really been drunk until you’re drunk in a blizzard at a friend’s wedding in an Irish bar in Wisconsin. (Though I’m not sure you’ve ever really been drunk until you’re drunk in a ladies’ room full of drag queens and burlesque stars, either.)

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.


  1. “gooble gobble, we accept her, one of us!”

    wisconsin is great (ah ha, avoided the self-deprecation!) and we’re glad to have you.

  2. I found that Daniel Nester piece to be very depressing. It makes me grateful that J. gave up his childhood ambition to be a poet when he grew up. Not that his present ambition to be an art history professor necessarily portends a life of rainbows and unicorns, of course!

    Interesting that you’re happy you left New York and don’t live there anymore. I stopped living there 23 years ago (even though I still work there), and all I’ve ever hoped is to return someday.

    Somehow I never pictured you spending the rest of your life in the Midwest, not in a big city. I guess you never know! (Although I do know that relocating away from this area is something that would be close to impossible for me, under almost any circumstances.).

  3. Are carrots really what rabbits like to eat? Or is that a Warner Brothers induced concept? I’ve been leaving little treats out for the nest of squirrels that live behind my new place; they entertain me….

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