Saturday, February 11, 2012

"At Least in the City, Someone Would Hear Me Scream" by Wade Rouse

We all dream it. Wade Rouse actually did it. Finally fed up with the frenzy of city life and a job he hates, Wade Rouse decided to make either the bravest decision of his life or the worst mistake since his botched Ogilvie home perm: to leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out, a la Thoreau, for rural America - a place with fewer people than in his former spinning class. There, Wade battles blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors with night-vision goggles, and discovers some things he always dreamed of but never imagined he'd find - happiness and a home.

If you've ever had dreams of a simpler life, this book is for you. Not so much as a "how-to" guide, but rather as a bit of a cautionary tale: there is a wonderful life out there in the country, but you've got to get thru the culture-shock first. Rouse has given us his version of going "Green Acres", warts and all. And I have never laughed so much in my whole life.

I knew we were off to a fabulous start the first chapter out. Rouse walks out in the night to put some garbage in the trash can, only to be attacked by a raccoon (which he will later name, and even grow fond of, in a weird Stockholm Syndrome kind of way). He's got this thing clawing his head, attached like a live Daniel Boone cap, and he's trying everything he can think of to remove the unwanted critter, including breath spray and lip balm. Eventually he's successful - but not before peeing his "skinny jeans". Love it!

Rouse is no stranger to the country life, having grown up in the Ozarks (a very awkward place for a young gay man). Perhaps some of the most touching scenes are his memories of him and his grandmother sitting on her porch swing, looking out over the countryside, and of course, talking about Thoreau, his grandmother's favorite writer. In fact, the author refers to his new Michigan home as "Wade's Walden", although his journey is quite a bit bumpier than Thoreau's. After all, Thoreau never had to go through latte withdrawal.

This is a wonderfully funny and touching story of a man who has had enough of living the life he thought he should live, and taking the steps to find the life that will truly make him happy. Having done something similar myself (but with much less drama), I completely understood his angst; there were several times when I, too, thought "Oh my god, what am I doing here?" In the end, you just have to trust that things will turn out the way they're meant to, even when things seem to be going wrong all around you.

Definitely recommended, especially if you're in need of a good laugh (or 200 or more).

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