The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

February 8, 2012

On Going Native

I may look relatively sophisticated, but like Kudzu, the redneck is creeping up on me.

In this photo, I believe I have a certain air of sophistication.  That scarf is Hermes, or at least the Canal Street knock-off version of Hermes.  I bought that coat on the Internet from a respectable retailer to women of taste.

However, and I say this cringing, knowing that some of my old friends in New York will get wind of this, I have developed some red neck habits.

Let me be clear.  I am deeply committed to a life of the mind.  As I type this, I am staring at a book in Middle English, a fourteenth-century play about Cain and Abel.  However, it is worth noting that this play has a reference to carnal sheep violation.  As I type this, I am listening to Buddha Bar tracks on my i-pod, but those are shuffled with Band Perry songs about lying like a rug and being buried in satin, stuff about which a gal might sob into a honky-tonk beer.  When I drink it’s either fine wine or Rebel Yell bourbon.

Two years into this life change, I seem to be straddling the Mason Dixon line in so many ways.  Let me show you:


“I just got invited to give a reading of my poetry at Middlebury College‘s gender studies program.”


“I read from my poetry collection entitled The White Trash Pantheon.”


“I just bought a new pair of shoes.”


“I needed new ones because the old ones got covered with animal manure and mud.”


“I just won a quiz prize at the University.”


“It was for knowing that Florida State had penalties imposed upon them for NCAA violations, affecting their Big-10 football program.”

It’s stuff like that that makes me think warily of how all those Jeff Foxworthy jokes, the ones that seemed so alien when I lived in my Russian-mafia-negotiated-apartment-with-access-to-a-private-beach-in-Brooklyn-for-almost-no-money, are beginning to apply to me.

Moi?  Mais oui!

Here is a list of signs that I am beginning go native down here:

  • I wake up most mornings at 5 am, walk through mud, and chain up the hound dogs so that they don’t spook the neighbor ladies.
  • I find myself liking Elvis more and more with each passing month.
  • Grits don’t taste gritty.
  • Ham is the sixth food group for me these days.
  • It seems odd NOT to call people “ma’am” and “sir” every other sentence.
  • If Terry McMillan doubted I could, I am no longer waiting to exhale — I’ve exhaled.  Life down here operates at a slackened pace.
  • If I wore black every day, it would seem as if I were in mourning, not just hip in day-to-evening wear.
  • Even though I read mostly British literature (see reference to Chaucer’s era above), Faulkner and Twain make more and more sense to me.
  • I have said “y’all” and not felt self-conscious about it, y’all.

For those of you in New York who miss me, if you want to stem the tide of this, I recommend sending me emergency care packages from The Second Avenue Deli or from any Indian restaurant on Sixth Street.  Send me something of which New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix” approves.

I am going native.  Next comes the drinking of pre-sweetened iced tea.  After that, there’s a whole slew of floral prints yawning their maws at me.

Help!  I’ve gone South and I can’t get up!


  1. There’s still hope for you. Florida State is not in the Big-10. 🙂

    Comment by Alan — February 8, 2012 @ 7:08 am | Reply

    • And yet, they gave me a prize. I won a hat with a big M on it. I was thinking that the “M” was for “Mississippi, as in university of, rather than “M” for “moron.” Maybe, though, they thought that they didn’t need to choose. Anyway, given the mutability of who is in and out of the Big 10, just like NATO these days, if Florida State isn’t in it, they will be next season.

      Comment by annebabson — February 8, 2012 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  2. Fantastic blog! I can completely relate to what you are saying as I previously lived in Vicksburg after moving from the UK! The South definately has its charms but it takes time to get used to them. I will enjoy reading your next entry!

    Comment by sarahsfoodieblog — February 20, 2012 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  3. Yes, ma’am, I love your blog! I’m on the opposite end of the coin, a South Carolina gal expatting it in South America. My favorite care packages have grits, I end up talking about high school football when the kids start up a street soccer game, I’m a bibliophile in a land where not even school children have books, and I teach that the proper form of 2nd person plural is “y’all.” Culture shock is much more fun when you’re able to recognize it and have a little fun with it, after all. 🙂 http://www.hagermans.blogspot(dot)com

    Comment by Christie Mason Hagerman — April 10, 2012 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

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