random notes from new jersey

I'm having a lovely visit, full of family and friends. There's a lot of sadness, too. The fathers of both my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are very ill. It's clearly a generational thing. So many of my peers are coping with aging parents, some of them critically ill.

In this respect, it's hard to be long-distance. I try to be supportive but I wish I could do more.

There's also sadness because of the massive economic depression going on in the US. New York City, as usual, is somewhat sheltered from the horrors wracking the rest of the country. Even so, up and down Broadway there are dozens of empty storefronts.

Everyone asks me if Canada's economy is as bad as the US's. I tell them it's hurting, but nowhere near as dreadfully. Canada's banking industry was more regulated - people seem to be aware of that - and in Canada, if you lose your job, you still have health care. Big difference.

Many people asked if I had seen that the Yankees cut ticket prices for their exorbitantly priced luxury seating. This is huge news in New York, but I'm glad people still think of me when they see that story.

* * * *

I'm reminded how the biggest stories in Canada don't filter down to the US, even among the reasonably well informed. When we first moved to Canada, the softwood lumber debate was huge news. No one in the US knew it existed.

In similar fashion, none of my friends have heard of Omar Khadr. They are all horrified that Harper won't repatriate him - especially since the US is hot to get rid of their Guantanamo albatross, and all Canada has to do is ask. My friend AW1L said, This must be quite an embarrassment to Canada. Yes indeed.

* * * *

AW1L is a raving Obamaniac. He was one of the millions of USians who worked hard on Obama's campaign, especially on election day. He braved the frigid weather on January 20, waiting before dawn among the throng. He showed me a few beautiful pictures - especially of Obama greeting African-American children. Very intense. It sounded like an incredible experience.

Two things Alan With One L mentioned that we might not have completely gotten from TV: the incredibly loud boo'ing when the outgoing Resident's name was mentioned, and the cheering every time helicopters flew overhead. It might have been him, leaving Washington!

AW1L, like me, has been thoroughly disgusted the Democrats and their godawful, bungled-beyond-belief campaigns. He had all but given up on the party - until Obama. He's still bouncing off the walls with hope and joy.

I told AW1L and F (who is African-American) that, because I have a distance from the US now, and don't closely follow US news, I still have shocks of amazement - near disbelief - when I see Obama in the Oval Office, or when I hear "Hail To The Chief," and he comes striding in. I think, holy shit, the President of the United States is a black man!! How friggin amazing is that!

And AW1L said, I feel that way all the time. I have no distance from it, and I feel that way constantly. I thought that was cool.

* * * *

We were talking about movies, and Netflix, and I ended up telling AW1L and F about my many issues with Zip. They couldn't believe that an internet movie service could get away with sending movies not in priority order.

AW1L said, "They'd never get away with that in the US! Canadians are too polite to complain, or else there isn't enough competition." Or both. When I was complaining publicly about Zip, Idealistic Pragmatist thought it was no coindence that both she and I complained, and are both originally from the US.

* * * *

My mother and I went to the Newark Museum today, my first time there. I was amazed to learn that the Museum is 100 years old. Among other things there, we saw this bizarre and inventive exhibit. Warning: do not click if you are insect phobic! However, if you enjoy the insect world, you might want to check out the short podcast.

I'd like to explore Newark's Ironbound neighbourhood, famed for its Portuguese restaurants and shops, but that would be something to do with Allan, not my mother. It was one of those New York-area outings we never got to. But let it not be said that New Jersey is a cultural wasteland.

* * * *

Whenever I'm in New York City, I am instantly a New Yorker again. I slip right into the stream, and feel completely at home. But I don't feel American. Somehow, I feel I am a New Yorker, and I am Canadian. I think that's the first time I've written that!

Tonight my sister and I have a girls' night out, and tomorrow I fly back to Buffalo.

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