not one thin dime

In yesterday's mail, among the usual year-end solicitations for donations, I found a letter from our old friends the Democrats. It was printed upside down. (I'm not kidding. Upside down.)

Allan and I both immediately started ranting. "More?" I shouted. (Yes, shouted.) "You want more money? I haven't got any more money! I wasted all of it trying to elect that ASSHOLE John Kerry, who CONCEDED BEFORE THE VOTES WERE COUNTED!!" I think Allan's rant was along the lines of "Tell them to go fuck themselves!"

What chutzpah, asking for more money so soon. For that matter, what nerve showing their faces at all, ever. They couldn't even beat George W. Bush! Can you imagine anything lamer than that???

* * * *

Anyone recognize the title of this post?

subway blogger

With apologies to Alan, Handheld Evangelist, who has already read this in an email.

On my way to work today, I was reminded of another wonderful use for my iPAQ.

I always carry a small memo book and pen with me, no matter where I am or where I'm going. I've done this for as long as I can remember; when I was younger, I would forget at my peril. I can't count how many little spiral memo pads I've bought in how many drugstores in how many cities...

Someone once told me that writing in public is pretentious, but when I'm working on something, thoughts and solutions to writing dilemmas usually come to me when I'm away from my work - that is, not at a computer. So I must always have a way to write things down.

These days I often compose blog posts on the subway, scribbling in a memo book, then typing and editing when I get to a computer. It's one of the few things for which I still use pen and paper.

I was writing just such a blog post on the subway this morning when I realized that soon I will be able to type and save it instead! I can blog in pocket Word, then post whenever I'm able to get online. My handheld computer will be a huge time- and effort-saver for this use alone.

If you're curious about what I'm blathering about, the handheld PC that I'm waiting for is here. The biggest selling point of this model, for me, is the keyboard.

Stay tuned for more equally exciting posts about My Little Computer.

a year to say goodbye, part 2

Now that baseball and the election are over, I can turn my attention back to my long farewell.

MOMA has reopened after its renovation and extended stay in Queens, and as much as I feel the new $20 admission fee is outrageous, I must spend a day there before I leave. I want to see the new space and take a MOMA's Greatest Hits tour.

My mother wants to do another No. 7 Train Food Expedition with us, which is a good excuse to see the New York City panorama again. I still haven't been to the Noguchi Museum, though not for lack of trying (note to self: closed Mondays and Tuesdays! got that??), and some assorted old houses.

I know I'll never see everything, and that's the way it should be. That's what makes it New York. I just want to keep exploring while I'm here.

what i'm reading: devil in the white city by erik larson

The Devil In The White City - Murder, Magic, and Madness At The Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson

This true (nonfiction) story takes place in Chicago in the 1890's, before and during the Great Columbian Exposition, an exhibition on a scale incomprehensible in today's world. It focuses on two men: Daniel Burnham, one of the greatest architects of the era (he designed the wonderful Flatiron Building, among many others), and a man known by the pseudonym H. H. Holmes, one of the most prolific serial murderers in recorded history.

I'm enjoying it very much. Having read easily a dozen (probably more) historical novels that take place in 19th Century New York City, I'm finding the Chicago backdrop new and intriguing. I love architecture, and I love cities, and my fascination with the 19th Century in general goes back to one of my earliest book-loves: Dickens, then other Victorian writers. I don't share many people's fascinations with serial killers, but if you're into that, there are plenty of gory details.

If you're reluctant to read history or nonfiction in general, this book would be an excellent introduction. It's written in a lively narrative style - that is, like a novel - although Larson's historical accuracy is said to be beyond reproach.

The story is framed by these two interlocking quotes:

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.
Daniel H. Burnham, 1893

I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.
Dr. H. H. Holmes, 1896


arabic for vietnam

I haven't taken off my anti-Bush button, and don't intend to. But I replaced the "Bring Back Complete Sentences" Kerry button on my backpack with this.

I'm sure some historian out there can list five reasons why the war in Iraq is not equivalent to the Vietnam War. But let's see what we got here. A war being fought on a foreign land, in a culture the US doesn't understand, purportedly to stop an Evil (substitute terrorism for communism), but actually to control and profit from that nation's resources, and to install a government friendly to American business interests. A war that was started under false pretenses (substitute WMDs for Gulf of Tonkin incident), against a people we utterly underestimate, as American involvement escalates and the situation grows increasingly untenable.

Close enough for me.

Remember: we stopped that war and we can stop this one. Now that the election is over, we must take to the streets, both literally and metaphorically, to stop this madness.


better buster news

I hope these "what I did today" posts aren't going to turn off new readers who are here to learn about emigrating to Canada. One purpose of this blog is for ease of keeping in touch with friends and family after the move, and I'm finding it's very good for doing so before we move, too.

At last, some progress. This has been a difficult week, dealing with Buster's eye problems. We had our follow-up appointment on Monday, and were very disappointed to learn that after all these weeks of all kinds of medications, there was only minimal improvement.

We had to go back the following day, so the doctor could try a different medication. The plan was for her to administer the new med, then we would wait around and/or walk Buster for an extended period of time, then the doc could take another look to see if this very strong and very expensive medication worked. (We could have done this on Monday, but it was late and we had to get the car back.) This threatened to be a little stressful, since we can't take Buster to a park or dog-run, so extended waiting-around time with him could be difficult.

But fortunately on Tuesday, we finally had some good news: the eye pressure dropped into the normal range for the first time! Yay. Even the waiting time wasn't so bad - the doctor only needed about an hour and we had a nice, long walk.

And so we've added yet another medication to the regimen, which brings his daily total to six - two for anti-anxiety/anti-craziness, four for his eyes (3 eyedrops, 1 oral). After our next appointment, the doc hopes to reduce the eye regimen considerably. I am very relieved!

My iPAQ is coming! Thanks to the help and support of my friend Alan (note the single L; this is Alan, not Allan), I have purchased a wonderful "pocket PC", the HP iPAQ 4350. It's back-ordered, so while I wait for it to arrive, I'm working on preparing the data in my desktop for easy transfer and sync'ing. It's a big project, a bit of a learning curve, but I am so psyched about it.

This is something I've wanted for years. I've had electronic organizers, but this has much greater capabilities, including wireless internet, pocket versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and Reader (e-books!! end of shoulder pain from carrying heavy books!) and it syncs with another computer wirelessly. I am totally psyched and can't wait to be up and running. Did I mention I was excited about this?


what i'm doing

Boring what-I-did-today post alert.

Mostly trying to save Buster's vision. Multiple trips to the eye-doctor vet, with minimal improvement. Lots of time and money, though joining Zipcar has helped cut down on the stress. (Try to travel by cabs with a pit bull - not fun!) We had been waiting for Zipcar to get a car in our immediate neighborhood before we joined, but now that we need a car more frequently, we'll settle for a short subway ride. Poor B! I'm trying to stay in the present, not think too far ahead and get caught up in worrying...

Last week we went to the funeral of one of my great aunts. She was old and didn't suffer. This leaves one surviving sister, of the five siblings (one of whom was my grandmother). We always wondered who would be last.

My wonderful niece (one of my many wonderful nieces and nephews) who was in rehab for depression is doing much better, thanks to the miracle of anti-depressant medications and her amazing mother. We are greatly relieved. We love her so much!


please, canada... please??

A columnist for the Toronto Star has a great idea. When W visits Ottawa this year, the Canadians can indict him as a war criminal. As Jewish grandmothers everywhere say, You should live so long.


kids on wheels update

It's out!!! The book came in the mail yesterday and it looks GREAT!

Kids On Wheels is the first book of its kind - a book about the wheelchair life written specifically for young people. I wrote the sports & recreation chapter, plus some profiles of cool young wheelers. The work combined two specialties of mine - disability issues and writing for young people - and I was very proud to be a part of it.

If the book is successful, it will be spun off into a magazine, and I'll be a regular contributor or editor. So if you know any young wheelers, tell them to tune in!

the second visit

We're planning our next fact-finding mission to the Toronto area. Last time we flew JetBlue to Buffalo, which saved a lot of money and wasn't too inconvenient. But now I see that Air Canada has very low fares from Newark to Pearson, so we can save money and time, even better. Toronto Pearson airport (as opposed to the airport in downtown Toronto) is very convenient to where we think we'll be living. I get the feeling that the airport was once in the middle of nowhere and Mississauga sprawled out to meet it.

We probably won't even go into Toronto proper this time, or if we do, just for one evening to have dinner with friends. We're going to stay in Mississauga - since the airport is there, there are plenty of hotels - and focus on looking at apartments out there.

I have a whole bunch of addresses and phone numbers from my internet research. Our goal is to see a lot of places and come home with a good idea of where we want to live. Then, one bright and shining day when our application is approved, we'll contact the building agents and see what's available. That's the plan, anyway.

howard zinn, my hero

You know I've been quoting Howard Zinn for the last few weeks. I finished the book yesterday, and I want to recommend it to everyone.

Zinn is a historian, activist, writer, speaker. He's most famous for writing A People's History of the United States, which is American history from the point of view of Native Americans, slaves, women, working people, poor people - a kind of reverse history. He's also one of my big heroes.

You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train is Zinn's memoirs as a civil rights and peace activist in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He fought in WWII, and his experiences in that war helped shape him into an anti-war activist.

The book is largely about activism - how any small action we can take is significant and worthwhile, how our actions can't be judged by immediate results, but are cumulative.

Zinn is also an incurable optimist. He has tremendous hope and spirit, and makes me feel proud just to march alongside him (metaphorically speaking).

For me Moving Train was the perfect antidote to the helplessness, depression, even despair I felt from this election. It lifted my spirits so much. It's short, easy to read - and you might be similarly inspired!


howard zinn says...

"What the [US civil rights] movement proved, however, is that even if people lack the customary attributes of power -- money, political authority, physical force -- as did the black people of the Deep South, there is a power that can be created out of pent-up indignation, courage, and the inspiration of a common cause, and that if enough people put their minds and bodies into that cause, they can win. It is a phenomenon recorded again and again in the history of the popular movements against injustice all over the world.

. . .

When that might happen is uncertain. If that can happen is also uncertain. But not to believe in the possibility of dramatic change is to forget that things have changed, not enough, of course, but enough to show what is possible. We have been surprised before in history. We can be surprised again. Indeed, we can do the surprising."

Howard Zinn, from You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train, A Personal History Of Our Times

is your peace showing?

Great buttons here. Unity, shmunity. That's just another way of saying Shut Up. We won't shut up. Wear your colors proudly.


people yelling at each other

Yes, yes, I know you'll help me pack. I'm not asking you to miss me. You've taken over the country. What more do you want?

Wandering around the internet today, I sampled a tiny taste of the bitter online political sniping that litters the net. From this election blog, I read comments posted by right-wingers, and found the right's silly response to the global apology website. And on from there.

Right-wingers have been emailing me, trying to bait me into arguments that I'm utterly uninterested in having. Apparently they are all about eight years old, as that's the last time I heard "What are you, chicken?" used effectively.

It's difficult for me to understand why people waste their time on this kind of thing. No one is listening to each other, so no one is even coming close to making her/his point of view heard in any constructive way. Anyone with enough of an opinion to bother posting online probably feels pretty strongly about her/his beliefs. It's not a debate. It's just a shouting match.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I do try to move like-minded citizens to action, as I think political action is important. I do try to educate, and hope others do the same for me. I will occasionally discuss a specific issue with someone who seems to have an open mind. A co-worker who reads this blog thanked me for making him think more about the war against Iraq. That might have been my greatest accomplishment of the year. (So it's been a slow year.)

But why would I want to waste my valuable time and energy screaming back and forth with people whose ideas repulse me, and who feel the same about me?

where they're coming from, where they're going

From the Monitor, the official publication of Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
Immigrant levels increased by 20% compared to the first quarter of 2003. Canada took in 54,889 permanent residents between January and March 2004 . . .

Source Countries

Canada saw an increase in the number of immigrants from each of the top ten countries of origin in the first quarter. China showed no sign of giving up its place as the leading source country, contributing 9,373 new permanent residents in the first quarter . . . India, which ranked second, was far behind, with 5,028 new landings. Its rank as the second largest source country remained unchanged. The Philippines was the third leading source country, with 3,108 landings. . . .


All provinces increased their intake of new immigrants in the first quarter. The number of immigrants to Canada’s most popular immigrant destinations — Ontario and British Columbia — increased at less than the national rate of 20%. . . . The provinces that increased their intake of immigrants beyond the national average included Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta. . . .
The United States ranks fifth on the list of source countries, moving up a notch in the rankings with an increase of 35% in the first quarter of 2004 as compared with the same period in 2003. Last year, 5,990 Americans received Permanent Residence status in Canada.

free advice

Many people have been asking me for tips and pointers about emigrating. I can only speak to the parts of the process I've experienced so far - filing the application, and getting information about jobs and apartments in the Toronto area.

But since you asked, here goes.

1. Go to the CIC website and read EVERYTHING. Take your time. Study it. Find out what category (if any) you fall under and what is required to emigrate in that category.

2. Download the application and instructions for your category. Study them.

3. Study them some more.

4. If you decide to apply, fill out the form super-carefully, preferably with someone else double-checking your work. The slightest error will get the application kicked back to you, and you'll have to resubmit it, going back to the very end of the queue.

5. You might want to consider borrowing some money. You must show "proof of funds" when you submit your application. However, your application will take at least six months to be processed, probably closer to a year or more. If you don't have the required funds (about $10,000 for a single Skilled Worker class application), but can earn it or save it while you're waiting, you might want to do what we did: borrow the money, deposit it in your bank account so you have the required proof, then pay back the loan while your application is in the queue. We borrowed the money from ourselves by taking a cash advance from our friend Mr. Visa.

6. Be patient. This process takes a long time. But then, it's a huge change. It doesn't need to happen overnight.

7. If you have more specific questions about photos, fingerprints, language proficiency, the medical exam, the point system, or anything else on the application, I suggest first reading the instructions very thoroughly, then if you still have questions, emailing me.

8. I highly recommend visiting the Canadian city or province of your choice on a fact-finding mission. Talk to people in your field about job prospects; email them in advance to set up appointments if possible. Check out apartments through a local newspaper and through websites like these.

Good luck!

what i'm reading: pat barker, howard zinn, erik larson

I finished Pat Barker's Border Crossing, which was strangely similar to her Double Vision. Both are good, but The Regeneration Trilogy is clearly her masterpiece (so far), so if you want to discover her writing, I'd stick with that.

I'm still reading Howard Zinn's memoir, You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train. It was perfect timing on this one, as Zinn's indefatigable fighting spirit and optimism are the perfect post-election antidote.

And I'll soon start Devil In The White City, by Erik Larson, about the 1893 Exposition in Chicago. It sounds like great history, I'm looking forward to it.

welcome to new york. now please go home.

I hate tourists. I HATE THEM!

My day-job is located in the most heavily touristed part of Manhattan. From early November until after New Year's day, it's impossible to go outside. The sidewalks are literally impassable, clogged with slow-moving, slack-jawed, pink-clad, camcorder-toting hordes, walking five abreast on the sidewalk, allowing their children to run wildly through the crowd, somehow talking loudly enough to make their presence inescapable above the din.

I know what you're thinking. Yes, I love to travel. Yes, technically that sometimes makes me a tourist. But I'm not talking about real travelers, explorers, people who want to dive into a city and discover what makes it tick. I encourage everyone to visit NYC, no matter what your budget. It is a strange and magical place.

But the annoying dolts waddling down our sidewalks are not travelers. They visit only the most famous attractions, the ones on their tour bus itinerary. They eat at the same chain restaurants they do in their hometown. They never stray off the very heavily beaten track. They're not interested in New York City; that would be too different. Too scary. They want the New York City Theme Park.

I know they're supposed to be good for the City. But can't they just deposit their money and go home?

you can take an american out of the u.s., but you can't...

In his comment below, CB writes, "I suspect that your impending relocation to Canada, while it will indeed take the two of you out of the country, will not take the country out of you."

That's a good point, one I often wonder about. When will I stop feeling like an American living in Canada and begin feeling Canada is my home? How long after moving? Will it ever happen? If I live in Canada for the rest of my life, and I'm lucky enough to have a long life, it should.

More importantly, when will I stop feeling like a New Yorker? That's an identity I wear pride, as opposed to my apologetic feelings about being American.


the anti-hero

Several people have said Allan and I are brave and courageous. Emigrating to another country without the kind of compelling incentive that typically causes people to emigrate - hunger, poverty, persecution, even (as one friend put it) a whirlwind romance - strikes many people as an act of courage.

I wish I could own up to that picture, because I admire moral courage more than any other attribute I can think of. But I don't feel the slightest bit brave. We're moving to another Western culture. Although Canada is blessedly different than the US, I probably won't feel as alien there as 99% of the people who move to New York City must, whether they come from Karachi or Kansas.

I'm not brave. I'm just fed up.

get me out of here

I. Can't. Wait. To. Leave.

I mean no offense to the people here who I will miss. But I can't wait to leave this country.

Today's gag-inducing last straw (I have a last straw about every-other day) is the mainstream media's dismissal of concerns about election fraud. Ooo, it comes from the internet. This wacky place where wacky ideas are circulated. (Or is it that revolutionary new means of communication? Or that failed, boring place where people just shop and look at porn? I can't remember... which story template are we running today...?) As the mainstream media becomes less relevant, less in control of The Story, it derides and dismisses the competition.

With everything we know about the 2000 election, with everything we know about the vulnerability of electronic voting, and with everything we know about Republican dirty tricks to suppress registration and turnout - and with the so-called "most important election of our lifetimes" on the line - don't questions about the accuracy of the vote count need to be taken seriously and investigated???

Nope! We'll just dismiss them. They came from the internet. We found one expert who'll say they are nonsense. Case closed, bye-bye.

Bye-bye democracy.

Oh my god, I can't wait to get out of here.


others follow in our wake

Everywhere I look there are stories about Americans moving to Canada. Here's the one from the reporter who was looking for gay folks to speak to. A few days earlier, another Globe and Mail story started like this:

Huddled masses yearn to breathe free -- up north
Saturday, November 6, 2004, Page F2

Two days after the U.S. election confirmed her worst fears about the state of her country, Dawn Woodward and her husband were busy filling out the forms that could turn them into Canadians.

Several people sent me Dan Savage's current column. (At least he's not blaming Ralph Nader anymore!) And there was this facetious view from Slate. I'm not a fan myself, but it's interesting how it's making the rounds.

In response to the Globe & Mail article, my friend BC in Toronto lamented:
Obviously, our gain and USA's loss, just as in the case of you and Allan. However, I can't help but worry about a drain of vocal, intelligent, talented people from the US who will no longer be there to fight for same-sex rel rights or other good fights. In your specific case, totally understand the choice. But a wholesale gay immigration could leave the US forever in the clutches of the right wing asses...
Personally, I don't think there's much danger of that. Most people are too comfortable in their lives to uproot themselves. I think the percentage of people saying "I'm moving to Canada!" who will actually go will remain fairly small. But that's just my perception, it could be way off. Perhaps gay flight will equal or top the number of Americans who fled to Canada to avoid killing or being killed in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Either way, BC is certainly right. It's Canada's gain and the US's loss. As far as leaving the US in the clutches of the right wing, that's been happening for 20+ years, and - as we know - has been escalating sharply of late. Hence our plans.


i'm not a democrat, either

I've been getting comments and email from right-wingers who mistakenly assume I am leaving the country because Bush was elected. Allow me to clarify.

We made our decision to emigrate in July 2003, and filed our applications in early 2004. The applications cost more than $2,500 and entailed quite a lot of work. We are not wealthy people who can drop thousands of dollars on a "what-if". In other words, we were planning on leaving no matter who was elected.

I wanted Bush to lose more than I've wanted anything in a recent memory. It was incredibly important to me to defeat his administration and I'm heartbroken that it didn't happen. (And even more horrified that he probably didn't actually win the election!!)

I voted for Kerry, but I'm not a Democrat. They are clearly the better choice, but they are also, in my opinion, clearly part of the problem.

I'm not your garden-variety liberal. I am what's known as a progressive. My politics fall several steps to the left of most Democrats. (Unless the Democrat is Joe Lieberman, then they fall several miles to the left.)

The system is bankrupt. The entrenched two-party system, the corporate stranglehold, the multi-million dollar campaigns, the lobbying, the antiquated electoral college and the corporate-controlled media - they all conspire to kill democracy. Add to that the ascendancy of the religious right - the war on women, gay people, the working class, the environment, education, science... it's a long list. I want out.

Please stop writing to tell me how John Kerry is not worth abandoning my country for. This hasn't felt like my country for a long time.

calling all queers

I received this through the grapevine today:
Hello, I am a journalist at the Globe and Mail, a newspaper in Toronto, Canada. I am interested in speaking with gay Americans who want to immigrate to Canada, following the US election and the increasingly conservative position of the US government (and some state governments) on gay rights and other social issues. I would greatly appreciate it if you could contact me about this.
Please email me privately for the reporter's contact info.

My friend who sent the request asked me to say that "Immigration Equality, a lesbian and gay rights advocacy group, is working hard on the anti-queer inequities of American immigration law".


the 51st state

Before the election, my friend Spencer remarked that if Bush won, it was time for NYC to secede from the United States, as moving to Canada is so complicated. Now Spencer writes:
Still in post-election soul-searching. How far am I willing to go to win this country back? Far enough to talk about religion? about family values? About moral certainty, absolute truth? How much am I willing, really, to forgo my beloved liberal "nuance" in order to win over the center?

How much do I really want to win this country back? I feel like it's a bit like that hardbody contest in Texas, where people have to stand with their hand on a huge pickup truck for days and the last one to let go wins the truck. In the end, it's still a gas-guzzling monstrosity for which I have little use, and unless I can transform it somehow into a metrocard it's really just a liability. If this country is as full of idiots as it would appear, then its prospects for transformation seem dim.

Secession is really the best policy I think. We could do without the red states, and we can solve the problem of landfill space by expanding battery park. After all, we'll have to support a huge refugee population from San Francisco.
I love that analogy.

For more on secession, read this excellent story.


reverse immigration

Why is emigrating from the US considered such a radical thing to do? Why does it dismay or even infuriate so many people that an American would consider leaving?

We readily accept people moving to the US from just about anywhere else. No one thinks immigrants have deserted or abandoned Russia, India, Ireland or the Dominican Republic. (No Americans, anyway.)

That must be a clue. We think of the US as someplace people move to, in search of a better life. We grow up hearing that the US is the greatest country in the world - and so many Americans believe it. The idea that anyplace could actually be better is simply unthinkable.

Guess what? People also emigrate to Canada - in droves. They come from all over the world, looking for the same things as immigrants to the US, plus greater tolerance, the guarantee of health care, a burgeoning economy that welcomes immigrants, and a generally more humane way of life.

post-election funk

I gotta get it together. Research and buy the handheld PC. Go to the gym. Look for some writing work. Plan our next trip to look at apartments in Mississauga. Re-focus.

At the phone bank, people would always joke about "what was it I used to do before...?" and "what will I do when this is over... how can I not see you every day?" It was sweet. The camaraderie, the shared experience of working collectively towards a mutual goal, was very intense. We got attached to each other.

And it was the focal point of my life. The people I met through ACT who used all their vacation and sick days, drained their savings accounts, gave up their entire lives for the campaign... if I'm feeling so adrift, I can't imagine how they are feeling.

Meanwhile, back at the exit poll... It looks more and more like the election was stolen. We knew all along that it was a distinct possibility. Apparently it became reality. I'm not going to try to link to all the information about it. As always, go to Black Box Voting for the facts. Allan's blog might also be a good place to start.

Another American First. I often think we're looking at something historically new here: a dictatorship dressed up as a democracy. No tanks rolling down Fifth Avenue, no government mass rallies, no junta, no putsch. We retain party conventions, campaigns, voting booths - but it's like a backlot movie set, a facade of props. The US democracy has been in trouble for a long time, controlled by corporate interests and a conglomerated media. But if voting is not legitimate, what makes it a democracy at all?

no, the whole country lost

On my way to work today, a guy on the subway platform called out "Hey, your guy lost!" It took me a moment, but I realized he was looking at the anti-W button on my backpack (which I have no intention of removing). I guess he was one of the 16.7% of Manhattan voters who voted for Bush.

Amazingly, I actually thought of something to say on the spot, instead of 15 minutes later. My answer is the title of this entry.

We saw "Control Room" last night. I cannot wait until my tax dollars support national health insurance instead of this insane war.


following the north star

Runaway slaves fled to Canada. Vietnam draft resisters did the same. Today we honor the path they blazed.

According to this Reuters story, on an average day, about 20,000 people in the US log on to the Canadian immigration site. On Wednesday, November 3, that number "rocketed to 115,016". The following day, "the number of U.S. visits settled down to 65,803... still well above the norm."

Many people will be surprised by what a lengthy, expensive process it is to emigrate. Still, anything worth having is worth working for.

what a relief

I am SOOOOOO happy that we made this decision and our applications are already in the queue!!!!

We had decided to leave no matter who won the election. But now... what a relief.

welcome/unwelcome new readers

I have a bunch of new readers!

Until very recently, I was keeping this blog private, only sending the link to friends and family who know about our impending BLC. I didn't want anyone at my day-job to know, except for my few friends there who I trust, and in general didn't feel ready to be public.

I'm not sure why, but the election changed that. Now I don't care who knows. Allan saw a thread at DU (his online political home) about moving to Canada, and I gave him permission to post my URL. Since then, several people have written to offer cheers and support, and a few to say my writing has given them hope. That makes me feel great.

You may also have noticed that I've gotten some comments from right-wingers. (I won't even link to them; if you're curious, you'll have to search.) This baffles me. I don't know about you, but I don't have anywhere near enough time to read things that further educate me about the things I believe in. Why waste time reading blather that you totally disagree with and that only makes you angry? I don't mean studying another educated, well-reasoned point of view. I mean the kind of purely personal politics of the sort I'm writing. Why do these people waste their time reading my drivel and then waste even more responding?

Perhaps they think they're gloating. Perhaps they just like to argue. Perhaps they are so deluded and un-self-aware that they think they have something important to say.

Even in my younger, more hotheaded days, when I never passed up a chance to debate, I didn't go out of my way to lock horns with the opposition. These days, I have as much interest in talking to those people as I do in voting for them. I'd like to help educate an open mind. And I'd like to help like-minded people take action. But I have no wish to battle my way through life by arguing with close-minded morons.

Allan wonders why I don't just delete these stupid wingnut comments, and I don't really have a good answer. If they get out of hand or blatantly offensive, I certainly will. For now, though, I'm content to include a stupid rant or two - especially since at this site, I'll always have the last word.


a telling typo

Allan just pointed out that in my previous post, I had written "a people divided will never be..." Of course that's supposed to be united. I corrected it. Yeesh.


my election day

I woke up at 5:30 a.m., walked the dogs and arrived at the GOTV phone bank at 8:00. Most of the organizers and coordinators were already there. We got our marching orders and by 8:30 the volunteers starting arriving.

We had 100 phones going for 14.5 solid hours. We even had a system for floaters to sub in when callers took breaks, so we didn't lose any phone time. The tech staff said we were calling at a rate of 15,000 calls per hour. By the end of the night we had logged 275,000 calls.

We called registered Democrats in New Hampshire, Ohio, New Mexico and Oregon, mostly making sure people had voted, but also trouble-shooting and giving out phone numbers for voting problems. I arranged rides to the polls for three people, including an elderly woman in Ohio who desperately wanted to vote and feared she wouldn't be able to.

Mostly I did training - lots and lots of training. I trained groups of 5, or 10, or 20. I think I did 8 or maybe 10 sessions over the course of the day. In between training sessions, I'd help supervise the floor, walking around answering questions, helping volunteers, offering water, running around doing whatever needed to be done.

Allan arrived around 5:00 p.m. (wearing his B cap) and helped out with supervising and some phoning. I'm glad he got to see where I've been living for the past few months and meet the amazing people I've been working with.

The energy in the room was astounding. There were TVs on all over, and as the night went on, tension mounted, but there was so much hope.

When we finally cleared out the room and left at 11 p.m., people were gathering at various bars, but I was utterly exhausted and needed to be home. Lying on the couch, I felt nearly sick with exhaustion, my joints throbbing. Watching the returns was agonizing. At 2:30 a.m., nearing the 24-hour mark, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed.

This morning I saw the "breaking news" crawl on CNN and turned on the sound just in time to learn that Kerry was conceding. I ran into the bedroom. "Allan, wake up, wake up, Kerry is conceding. He's conceding!" and then I burst into tears. Watching the concession speech later in the day, I start to sob.

Today I am thinking of my comrades from the call center - June, Betsy and Kate, Ramon and Ann, and all the volunteers I've come to know over these months, people like Alex and Bob and Bruce and Bill and Rita and . . . Smart, committed, informed people of all ages and backgrounds, all giving their time and energy, all working for change, and for justice. Many of them left for Ohio and Pennsylvania last Thursday and Friday, carrying our hopes and prayers with them.

We all worked so hard, and we all wanted this so badly. The only bright spot is that the organization and activism and energy will continue. There will be no stopping us. As we often chant: A people united will never be defeated.

(not) giving up the fight

It has been suggested that we are leaving when the chips are down.

I'm 43 years old. I've been part of people's movements my entire life, beginning with the civil rights and anti-war movements when I was a small child. I'm sure I'll continue fighting for equality and justice when I live in Canada. Why wouldn't I? I'm an activist, and proud of it. But I don't have to spend the rest of my life fighting a losing battle, feeling like an alien creature, just because this is where I happened to be born.

We also keep hearing that Canada Is Not Perfect. Of course not. It's a country, with a government. It doesn't exist in some parallel utopian universe. Yes, there's a religious right. That's ok. People are entitled to the free expression of their religious beliefs. As far as I can tell, however, they don't hold the Canadian government in their thrall. And as I've asked elsewhere in this blog, when was the last time Canada invaded and occupied a foreign country for no reason?

why unity?

We're told the country needs to heal. We're told we must seek unity.

Why is unity a worthy goal? I won't unite with people who oppose the values I so passionately believe in. I will not link arms under one star-spangled banner with those who are destroying our democracy, who value nothing but profit, who wrap themselves in false patriotism and religion to deceive and control, who recklessly pursue power at any cost, who care so little for human life.

I won't seek common ground with Americans who value a collection of cells more than the autonomy of an adult human being, who would force me to live by religious standards I find ludicrous and absurd, who shred the Constitution to establish a theocracy, but who blithely support the destruction of human life both in their own towns and around the world.

Unity is facsism. March in lockstep, repeat the slogans, watch TV, do as we say. Liberty and justice for those who can afford it, no child left behind if they're already ahead, mission accomplished, but don't show the coffins. We have always been at war with Eurasia. Orange alert, if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to be afraid of, just comply. Trust us, keep shopping, don't ask questions, watch what you say.

Democracy is conflict. Democracy is disagreement, and the change that follows. It is the free exchange of complex ideas. Unity brings complacency and makes us easy to control. Democracy requires us to question authority.

I will not succumb to platitudes about common ground while our country spirals downward, dragging half the world with it.

I do not want my country to heal. I want it to wake from its complacent, consumerist slumber, change direction, and resume the progress towards the fulfillment of its ideals.

I am proud to be a warrior in The Struggle, and I will fight on.

Right now, though, I am still crying.

i despair

I don't want to live in a country where this can happen.

More later. I'll write about our day and night later. Right now I'm too stunned, upset and depressed to write.