Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This is our now...

The election came and went, and we are still standing.

As a nation.

I, however, am not so much.

As late as it was for Americans, add five hours to that. And you'll get an idea of what we were dealing with here. California didn't report until 4am our time; Obama didn't speak until 5am. When I walked in my door (after having spent the election with a group of Scottish friends at their flat), it was 6:30am. By the time I got in the bed, 7am.

Needless to say, I was dragging a bit today.

But it was worth it. I've never felt hope and optimism like this in my adult life, not from a political standpoint. It's my third election and the first two didn't go so well. But this one went so much better than expected. As an Ohio voter, to watch that state turn blue meant everything. It was the first time this election that I actually believed things could change and that Americans were capable of getting it right. And as swing state after swing state turned blue, it was such a feeling of euphoria. And proof that despite the bumps along the way, this still is the greatest nation in the world, capable of progress and change more than any other country. It was only 54 years ago that Brown vs. Board of Ed desegregated schools. 41 since Loving vs. Virgina took away states' rights to place racial restrictions on marriage. In Barack Obama's lifetime, there were states that outlawed interracial marriage. For him to now be president, to have won over that very state of Virginia says so much about this country's ability to grow, change, and reinvent itself. It was never going to be easy, but the point is that we're still moving forward and still progressing and still doing what has to be done to get this country back on track.

To say it was an emotional night is an understatement. The tears have been mainly of happiness, but also just of overwhelm. They've been springing up at random times, such as walking down Kelvin Way to class this evening. I'm sure the people around me thought I was crazy.

If I'm being honest, for the past eight years, whether in Canada or the UK, there's always been a bit of chagrin when someone asks where I'm from. I almost feel the need the apologize for being American and for what my country has done the past two presidential terms. But today, I feel so damn proud. I am American. It's a good feeling to have this kind of pride and belief in your country and your leader elect.

Additionally, if I'm being honest, it's incredibly hard to stay up till 7am, get five hours of sleep past that, and then have to go to a Joyce seminar for two hours. When your brain is barely thinking straight to begin with and you're so tired you're having difficulty tying your shoes, having to pretend to discuss (and pretend that you finished) Portrait of the Artist is a bit difficult. When the class broke down even further into a discussion of semi-colons and whether or not they're the "whores of punctuation," my brain was ready to explode. Because, semi-colons, really? I love my semi-colons, but it was all a bit much to process.

That's what we do in grad school. We debate individual marks of punctuation for hours. I feel like the joke's on me sometimes, for paying for this. Though in all seriousness, to be lectured on Joyce by one of the most important Joyce scholars in the UK is pretty awesome. Especially when he's hilarious and doesn't take the material too seriously. The English department runs a "Finnegan's Lunch" series, where you bring your lunch and the scholars read and break down Finnegan's Wake for an hour, page by page. I have no interest in Joyce, but our lecturer (also the head of the entire English department) is so awesome that I might start attending.

Because I was too tired to cook, I snagged chicken enchiladas at the postgrad club. It's actually the most decent "Mexican" food in Glasgow. Cheapest, too. £3 for a huge plate, and chips and guac.

It is Guy Fawkes Night. There are fireworks over the Clyde and a 1-1- Celtic draw with Man U in the Champions League. Today has been a good day.


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