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Another holiday to cross off the calendar

November 27, 2005

This post isn’t about my library job hunt, other than the fact that at least, now that the silly Thanksgiving holiday frenzy is over, I’ll hopefully be hearing from the jobs I’ve interviewed for within the last month.

I detest this absolutely unnecessary and really quite obscene holiday. We Americans will celebrate any excuse to eat too much (adding to this obesity epidemic that is the trendy new health “thing”), spend money and decorate our homes with silly objects. In view of how much poverty and oppression there are in the world, this just seems to reinforce the American way of life and how completely out of touch we are, how narcissitic, self-satisified and smug. In the past, I’ve volunteered at shelters to help serve meals. Instead of complaining about a holiday that strikes me as bizarre, at best, I should make something positive from it. Next year, yes, next year, I will volunteer and at least back up my words with action.

Perhaps my lack of all things patriotic or American stems from growing up in the South. Born less than a hundred years after the Civil War ended, I was steeped in tales of family members fighting against those “bad ole Yankees” for coming down to tell us Southerners what to do and how to do it. Slavery wasn’t mentioned, possibly because nobody in the family who fought in that war owned slaves. We were Irish that came over before the famine, the typical Celt migration of the 18th century, and the stubbornness and independence, and yes, the tendency to fight for whatever reason, was probably an appealing one to my ancestors.

Only as I began to pursue my love of history did I realize the real reason for that particular conflict. The shame I feel that members of my family fought to keep an institution as abhorrent as slavery probably has a lot to do with a particular brand of Southern guilt those of us carry with us, whether we realize it or not.

Yet, I’ve never considered myself an American, never became misty-eyed at the playing of the Star Spangled Banner or watching the fireworks on the 4th of July. Indeed, American history, though interesting in some diverse areas; the expansion of the United States during Jefferson’s presidency, and, the struggles of the young country establishing or trying to, a democracy; doesn’t interest me as much as the history of England or Russia. This country has always been a disappointment, particularly since the 2000 election, but I have never cared for it. Of course, growing up in the South in the 60s may have colored that perception. The injustice I saw as a child and teenager; the way the government let American citizens be treated and the way people I lived around treated them, must contribute to this feeling of total alienation to the American way of life. As long as I can remember, I have said if there was a way I could renounce my citizenship and live elsewhere, I would do it in a heartbeat. Looking back at the exodus of the artist/writers in the early 20s (Fitzgerald, et al) makes me envious of the choices they were able to make easier than what is available to those of us today. Surely there are others that feel this way?

All this to say I will be spending the next couple of days in Canada, British Columbia, actually, to celebrate a milestone birthday and spend time looking at a culture so similar and yet different from that of the United States.

How hard is it to become an expat librarian with four cats?

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