Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Back in fall 2004, I had just arrived in Finland, and was surprised to see how much of a topic the U.S. elections were. I wondered, why are they so interested in American politics? After all, Americans don’t pay much attention to the domestic politics of other countries. The majority of Americans probably have no idea who leads Germany, China, or other large, “important” countries. It just doesn’t affect them. So, I naively thought that Europeans would show, at the most, mild interest in the U.S. elections. I was wrong. Interest was intense. Many people told me how they thought the American elections would affect them (military and environmental issues were often cited in this regard). As an American, my opinion was often sought. Who would win? My answer was usually something like this: the last four years were not good ones (wars started, reputation destroyed, worsening domestic situation), and I imagine most people will realize this and vote for Kerry (or against Bush…however you want to see it). In the end, America proved me wrong. I lost a lot of faith in my countrymen because of that election, and at that time it was hard for me to be proud of my citizenship. I kidded with several people that now I have to stay abroad for the next four years. I never expected that joke to be a kind of prophecy. I have in fact lived abroad for Bush’s entire second term. In 2006, much faith in my countrymen was restored when the Democrats took over Congress. People seemed to finally realize that the "Bush doctrine" was not good. So, finally, Election Day 2008 is here, and everyone seems excited about it. People have again been asking for my opinion. Who will win? I say Obama, but I normally add the anecdote about the 2004 elections. My prediction was wrong then, and it could be wrong again. To be honest, my residence abroad is primarily because of love, not as a protest against Bush’s politics. This time, however, if we end up with a McCain-Palin White House, then I am really going to consider staying in Germany. No joke.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Two weekends ago was Ines’ birthday, and we hosted a party to celebrate. Everything went more or less according to plan; the guests came, ate, drank, and were merry. Between 1 and 2 most people started going home, which was a surprise. I expected that the party would move to a club. At least, a few years ago this would have been the case (this could be selective memory at work, though). So, I couldn’t help but wonder are we getting old? No more desire to dance the whole night through? When I am completely honest with myself, nowadays I would often rather get a full night of sleep than party like a rock star.

Nonetheless, the party-lust has not been completely vanquished. Time to time, I really want to just go out and have fun. This week, Ines provided me with an extreme example how to do this. She and a girlfriend went to Belfast to see Oasis play. A flight to Dublin, bus to Belfast, one day there, and then turn around and go back…all to see a band that peaked in popularity 10 years ago? She isn’t even a mega-Oasis fan. I thought they were crazy, and I believe that I said once or twice “aren’t we too old for such trips”. Obviously, I am with a still young and spontaneous woman, and I love it. She pushes me to do things that I wouldn’t do when left to my own devices. That keeps me from worrying (and complaining) about getting old.