27
Jan
09

I Have Travel To Europe. I Have Eaten A Bug.

I think the Violent Femmes said it best, metaphorically speaking:
“We like all kinds of music, but I like American music best. Baby.”

This is the story of my life right now. Forced into exile by a crumbling educational, health, and economical structure in the U.S., I am currently wandering in the wilds of what is known in snootier circles as “The Continent.” Forced into exile??, you ask. What are you, some sort of pantywaist??? Well, yes and no.

I knew a great many people who swore that they would leave the country after the 2000 election, and I always derided them as quitters. As I put it then, there was no way I was going to let that smirking imbecile and his cronies drive me off my own lawn, and so I stayed out of both principle and arrogance. Oh yes, and also because I was finishing a doctorate. So there was that.

A couple of years ago, however, I finished said degree and found out I was pregnant in the same week. Really. THE SAME WEEK. This may not sound like such a huge deal, but it will be foundation of all future game-winning arguments against my daughter when she reaches her teens: Do you know what I sacrificed for you? No coffee before a defense??? No cigarettes while waiting for the committee verdict??? No beer to celebrate???? Let’s not even go into the fact that most of my extended family forgot I defended in their excitement about your arrival! In short, YOU owe ME a convertible, dammit! But I digress…

The point is, the baby was the game changer. Forgetting for just a moment that finishing my degree left me newly uninsured–and trying to find health insurance as a pregnant woman is a laughable exercise in watching a hormonal mess gradually devolve into a sobbing heap of mucous as visions of 6-figure debt dance in her head–I realized I couldn’t subject my daughter to the anti-intellectual squalor that currently defines much of the country. And so, I decided to vacate, wait, and find a better environment for her. Also, the olive oil is waaaay better over here (and cheap!).

And yet, like I said initially, I think the Violent Femmes best sum up my feelings on the country as a whole. Yes, I am disappointed in where we are right now, but there are aspects of American culture, politics, and ideology I still think are the greatest in the world. We are the innovators of rock, punk, blues, hip hop, and basically every other new and interesting form of popularnormaljockey2stopleechingthisp music. And, while we are the country responsible for White Chicks, we also boast the Woody Allens, John Cassaveteses, and Orson Welleses of the world. Plus, and I cannot overstate this, where else can you find monkeys on dogback as the “halftime show” of a prison rodeo? Beat that, Oslo.

So, yes, I acknowledge that I have had my expat awakening (“You mean we’re not the only country in the world with running water and utensils?”), and yet I yearn for the homeland. As long as it’s the place I know it can be: a glorious mix of intellectual curiosity, optimism, artistic innovation, and dick jokes.

What of this blog? I’m intending it to be a way to express my simultaneous admiration for and frustration with our country and those in which I’m residing at the moment. But mostly ours. Cause what is an American without arrogance but a damned Canadian? And who wants that?

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