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How to Acclimate Yourself to a New City

January 21, 2018 by Diane

Dear Digby,

I am trying to start over and make a new life in a new city.  Any tips for getting acclimated?

Lost in Little Rock

Dear Lost,

While officially I’ve “gone fishing” to rewrite my novel, I’ve paddled to shore to answer your question, although it took me three weeks to paddle. My apologies. I got stuck in a plot flaw.

Are you still lost?

If so, here are my tips.

  1. Get a map.

Preferably, a map of Little Rock. This will give you directions on where to go and how to get back to where you started. Provided you don’t wander off the map. This I did, driving home from a family gathering. I had driven beyond the boundaries of the map and was so horribly lost, I didn’t know how to find my way back. When I called Dave to guide me home, he said: “I don’t know where you are!” Which made two of us. So stick to the boundaries of the map.

2.  Go outside.

Preferably, on foot. The more you walk your neighborhood, the more it will feel like it’s yours. If you see a senior citizen shuffling down his driveway to pick up the newspaper, invite yourself in for a game of dominoes. You’ll be rewarded with candy. That’s the equation I learned when I was a kid living in the mountains. Senior citizens = candy + dominoes + great stories about the good ‘ol days. You’ll learn about the history of Little Rock back when it was orchards. Or whatever it was in Little Rock before civilization encroached. And you’ll make a friend.

3. Pick up a local newspaper.

Preferably, in English. Check out the events page. Find something interesting, and attend. Just for fun, I attended a Portuguese dance at the local Moose Lodge. It turned out to be a square dance shindig, and since I didn’t understand the language, I didn’t know if I was being instructed to promenade or allemande or what either of those terms meant anyway, and made a mess of the whole thing. I may have been unnerved by the moose head mounted on the wall.

4. Ask for recommendations.

Preferably, not from a tourist. Best pizza joint? Coffee house? Dentist? Haircut? Ask the locals. It worked for me, when I lived in a town in the Sierra Nevadas for three months. By following the recommendation from a bank teller, I got a great haircut at a decent price. Unfortunately, this trick didn’t work when I moved to the city. For the cost of a haircut, I could buy a small farm.

So, to acclimate yourself to your new home, remember:

Stick to the map, latch onto a senior citizen, avoid Portuguese dances in Moose Lodges, and steer clear of advice from people who look as lost as you.

And now, I’m off to navigate that plot flaw.


  1. Joan says:

    Hi there! I was surprised to see you…good and clever advice! I remember that time you got horribly lost. Scary feeling, but you found your way! Now quit procrastinating and finish that novel so I can read it!

  2. Eliza says:

    Good to see a post from you, Diane. It made me smile.
    Good luck with the plot flaw…

  3. Go. Write. (Nice to see you, though. Hope all is well. I’ve technically ‘gone fishing’, too. So I wasn’t here. In fact, I’m not here.)

  4. Pearl Allard says:

    Diane! Love your humor, as always! So good to hear from you! Square-dancing in Portuguese with moose heads! I love it. Nothing is wasted in a writer’s life, is it? Every experience is fodder for stories. How’s your novel coming?

    • Diane says:

      Novel is coming along. It takes a lot of pondering and writing and reading and pondering and writing and, well, you get the picture. Loved your latest blog post!

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