I’ve been complaining that lately it’s taken me a long time to write these entries, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps I’m trying to cram too much into them, or I’m fussing too much with the wording or details, or perhaps I’m getting distracted more often (by Twitter, Facebook, or perhaps some task I should actually be doing). In any case, I think that I’ll work on this until I don’t want to any more, and then just hit the Publish button, whether it’s a polished epistle or not. Call it blogging Kerouac Style.
First, impressions of this special week in the context of history: So much of the past couple of days and coming hours is a reminder of how our life changed, how it took a different turn mainly because of a change in government. Some friends and family were surprised that we did it: “You’re leaving because some guy got elected? What does that have to do with you?” I think that perhaps those who were skeptical that any administration in Washington D.C. could have any direct influence on the way their lives went may now be reconsidering that assumption. The wrong people at the top, and you can potentially lose everything. While I’m not sure that the particular people who questioned our emigration from the United States actually lost their homes or savings, I’ll bet that they have shaken their heads in the wonder of just how much damage a few key people — President, Vice President, Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury— can actually do.
Back to the images on the TV and the commentators on the radio and Internet: It seems as though now, the US is at last letting out it’s collective breath. With the people around the Mall in Washington (and also the throngs of people congregating by the railroad tracks between Philadelphia and Washington D.C. earlier in the week), I think I see something more than fan worship, or even, as some correspondents seem to be characterizing it, pride mainly on behalf of the black community. There is an irony that US President Elect Barack Obama took the same train route to the White House as Abraham Lincoln did, and it’s not the irony that you might think I mean (that it’s because he is black). No, it’s because Lincoln was called The Great Emancipator’, for his act of signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves and ushered in the War between the States. Obama’s tremendous popularity is also because he is acting essentially as The Second Great Emancipator. He’s not freeing the slaves; he’s freeing the American citizenry from eight years of subjugation. There have been the beginnings of reckonings, including this page, which attempts to tally the score of all the wrong Bush and his henchmen have carried out or let happen on his watch. And also the spokesman for the outrage that Bush has provoked, Keith Olbermann, who almost succeeds in compressing the eight years of Bush into 8 minutes (it really is more like 9), and ends up sounding curiously like the 1989 Billy Joel song, We Didn’t Start the Fire, which lists historical events in the same rapid-fire style. The effect for the past 8 years, is more nauseating then enlightening, but here it is:
With all of these reminders of how bad things got, I’m all the more convinced that this is not the time for us to return to the US. Our move to Canada was not an extended vacation from the US, no matter how much President Obama renounces and attempts to reverse the decisions and screw-ups of the past eight years. For one thing, as I’ve told some, it would be a bad time to be looking for work in the US, no matter where we moved. Rats don’t jump on to sinking ships. The economy here in BC, while not immune to the global downturn, is probably about as good as it gets in the world these days. Secondly, we prefer our life here, for reasons I’ve often laid out in this blog. We like the energy and vitality of a young city that is growing, rather than Boston, which was actually decreasing in population. (I haven’t checked if this is still the case). We have new friends, new places to explore, Pam is embarking on a new career in Immigration Consulting, and I’m hoping that my new position (which I admit I’ve not written about much, partly because it still hasn’t paid me a cent) will finally result in our getting some money coming in. There have been other improvements that I know I’d miss if I returned to living in the US: a couple of weeks ago I got my first colonoscopy, which is something that men are encouraged to have when you get to my age. My doctor was thorough, the procedure was as quick and painless as possible, and the most expensive part of the whole event was parking at the UBC Hospital parking lot. ($9). Universal Health Care, the new holy grail of speeches and discussions by pundits is a real thing here, and it works pretty well by me. I also don’t have to hold my tongue in my support of same-sex marriage, or my antipathy toward religion as I would be forced to do in the States.
In the final reckoning, the dreadful train wreck (as chronicled above) that was the Bush Era may have been the force that propelled us here to Vancouver, but in the end, what has us staying is a better life no matter how much the US crawls back to the country it once was, at least in our lifetimes. We are still staying put, and I’ll be happy to write that here, on Facebook, in the LA Times (as I did the last time someone asked me to write about it), or anywhere else. The question is often posed almost jokingly (as if the questioner knew that the answer would be no even before I said or wrote it).
Oh, one last parting image of schadenfreude for Bush and Cheney: I just learned that Dick Cheney pulled a muscle in his back moving boxes out of Blair House, the Vice President’s residence, and will have to appear at the Inauguration and other final public appearances glowering in a wheelchair, like Old Man Potter of It’s a Wonderful Life, (which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago), hated and feared. Life imitates Art.