Shortly after we moved to Canada, a long-time reader told me that I seemed less angry, more calm, almost serene. We never spoke or met in person, this was based only on wmtc. His observation amazed me. I did feel a huge sense of relief in being here - both from leaving the US and from finally achieving our goal - but I didn't think it was so obvious.

For the last few days, I've been going back over wmtc from the very beginning, to label every post with categories. (I've stopped because I'm not sure the labels will import to WordPress. Much time wasted.) It's been very eye-opening, seeing how this blog has changed over time.

If you've been blogging a long time, and you write regularly, your blog has probably undergone changes that you're not even completely aware of. Your writing reflects your mood, what you're going through at the time, your comfort level in writing for an audience. Every time you sit down to blog, you're a slightly different person than you were the day before, and your writing is going to reflect that. The changes are probably imperceptible on a daily basis, but the patterns show up over time. That's been the case for me.

As I went back over every post, the first thing that struck me was that this blog used to be much more political. I blogged constantly about the war, about labour, health care, poverty - with a consistency and a fervor that I rarely bring to this blog anymore.

There are two reasons for that. For a long time I was very reluctant to write a "what I'm doing" kind of blog, although I knew once we moved I would want to. And more importantly, while we were still in the US, I was positively seething with anger and frustration - not just at what was going on in the country, but that I was party to it. That I was involuntarily supporting it. That it was being done in my name. I just couldn't stand it.

Once we left, I felt such a huge sense of relief and peace. All those terrible things are still going on, of course, but now I see it from a slight distance. I feel removed from it. The burning urgency is gone.

I suppose this is what certain people meant when they said we are "giving up" or "running away". After a lifetime of activism, watching the country get worse and worse, fighting to keep it from moving further backwards, but always seeing it regress further still, I could stand it no longer. My activism in the US helped keep me sane, and I had to believe it could make a difference or I couldn't have done any of it. But the more I saw it make no difference, the more our actions seemed merely symbolic and to make ourselves feel better - two important reasons, but neither producing change - the more frustrated I got. Eventually it reached a boiling point. And I did what we were accused of doing. We gave up. We ran away.

We were entitled to, of course. And you know I am so grateful that I had the opportunity, more grateful than I can ever express. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to do this.

For the most part, I think people who left comments on wmtc criticizing me for "giving up" were full of shit. All the progressive Americans who stay in the US aren't doing so because they're more dedicated and committed than I was. They're staying because it's right for their lives, or because they have no choice, or because they are afraid of doing otherwise. They're making a personal choice, just as we did, and that choice allows them to look more-activist-than-thou compared to me.

I also still believe there's such a thing as "voting with our feet". Withdrawing ourselves from the system can be seen as the ultimate protest - especially when you're leaving the (supposedly) GNOTFOTE.

And I still believe what a very early move-to-Canada blogger told me early on: "I don't feel like I am running away. I feel like I am running... home. Giving up? Nah, no more than I "gave up" on personal relationships in the past that weren't right for the long term. At a certain point, you've got to stop beating that dead horse."

I still believe all these things. But now I can also see that I did give up. And I feel so much better for it. Is it a coincidence that my blood pressure decreased to normal for the first time in 10 years?

* * * *

Our lifestyle has changed a lot since emigrating to Canada, mostly because of our change from urban to suburban living. I knew that I wouldn't get involved in any activism or volunteer work for a while, that I needed time to focus on my own life, to let all the newness settle down. I knew that when the time was right to get involved, I would know it, as I always have, because I'd feel compelled in that direction. That time is coming.

Actually, it's here already, but moving (again) and adopting our new pup has pushed it off a bit. But soon I'll be able to fulfill part of my response to the critics from our side: people who work for social justice will do that, no matter they live.


Nigel Patel said...

I don't think you're a runner. I'm a runner, I should know.
You're a pioneer. People take inspiration and example from what you've done.
And now that you already have moved to Canada, you're in the Going Native process. Which is much more reflective.
Now you and the U.S. are growing along different paths. But you'll still be an inspiration and example to other Americans who want to follow your lead.

James said...

One of the most important pieces of trying to change things is figuring out where to apply the leverage. Sometimes you can't do it from where you started, and you need to work from a different angle.

L-girl said...

NP, thank you. That means a lot.

And now that you already have moved to Canada, you're in the Going Native process. Which is much more reflective.

Right. That's it exactly - and so much more succintly! :-)

One of the most important pieces of trying to change things is figuring out where to apply the leverage. Sometimes you can't do it from where you started, and you need to work from a different angle.

Wow, that's really good. In this case it applies both to my own life and to the larger picture.

Thanks for that, I'm going to keep it. Figuratively speaking.

Alex said...

Hey L-Girl - just wanted to let you know that the status for my application was updated today! My app was transfered to Detroit from Buffalo. Hopefully there will be a request for a medical or something soon! Maybe my goal of getting permanent resident status BEFORE I get married will come true after all!

Happy New Year!

L-girl said...

Hey Alex, congratulations! Happy New Year to you, too.

* * * *

For all the wmtc readers who are awaiting word to get out of the US, Alex has been living and working in Canada for a long time. So it's congratulations with a small c.

West End Bound said...

Great post, l-girl, and the title is very appropriate. Your reflections on the changes you have been through were very well expressed - Thanks. One question, though: What the heck is GNOTFOTE? Can't figure that one out . . . .


Love your leverage analogy - Well said!

L-girl said...

Thank you, WEB. I appreciate that.

GNOTFOTE = greatest nation on the face of the earth


Alex said...

3 years is a long time :) I should have got my butt in gear earlier...

L-girl said...

I should have got my butt in gear earlier...

Nah. Well, I wasn't implying that, anyway. I just wanted the moving-to-Canada crowd to understand why I wasn't doing cartwheels, like I will when they all get accepted. :)

Alex said...

:) Don't worry - no offense taken!

West End Bound said...

GNOTFOTE = greatest nation on the face of the earth

Thanks for the explanation - no way would I have guessed that, but maybe 'cuz, IMHO, some of the shine has worn off "greatest" lately . . . . Hence the process of following the "cool folks" north!

L-girl said...

IMHO, some of the shine has worn off "greatest" lately

Some of the shine? I obviously use the expression sarcastically.

I use it a lot, actually, hence the acronym. You've probably just missed it in the past.

impudent strumpet said...

May I veer briefly off topic (or, rather, onto the least important topic of the original post) to ask approx. how many posts you got categorized and how long it took? I'm trying to figure out how much time to schedule for categorizing my 3.5 years worth of posts.

L-girl said...

Yes, you may. :)

It took me many, many, many hours (an imprecise figure, to be sure) to categorize about 350 posts, before I stopped.

However, the time involved was greatly increased because Blogger still behaves for me like Old Blogger. I still have to wait on the Dreaded Spinner of Death, still don't get immediate connections, and so forth. New Blogger folks who use blogspot.com addresses apparently don't have this problem.

I also kept thinking of more or better categories as I went along, and kept returning to posts to recategorize them.

So I'm not a good barometer. (Barometre? That looks weird.) Hopefully it will not take you as long as it took me.

And hopefully it will take me less time to categorize all 2.5 years worth of posts after I move to WordPress.

Sorry for the imprecise, rambling answer. It's late and I've had several glasses of Guinness.