Now that I've returned to the land/home of the free/brave, and because i don't currently have a job per se so i have a lot of free time on my hands, i've been considering what I'm returning to. Is the America of July 2009 better, worse or more or less the same as the America of August 2007? Have I upgraded or downgraded? Let's consider the facts.
Economy: I did some reading up on comparing the financial climate now to two years ago, and basically it was shitty then and it's shittier now. Also, two years ago i had a job and currently I'm unemployed.
Government: I don't care who you voted for in last years election, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that GWB is out of office.
Late Night Television: Conan on an hour earlier? Means I don't have to feel like I'm getting old because I can't stay up to watch Late Night. also, Andy is back! Sadly, after watching some of the shows, i'm wondering if Conan has lost his edge. I guess we'll need more time to give him a fair review, but some of the jokes are pretty terrible. And Jimmy Fallon's worst career move ever was leaving SNL. quit wasting my time.
verdict: EVEN MONEY.
Celebrity Deaths: of course there's MJ. we'll be bereft of not only a musical genius, but also of the endless stream of jokes at his expense. also, i'm still not 100% convinced that Alan Alda is alive.
Beer: Upon returning to the cradle of socialization, Oakland, I learned that most of the establishments that used to offer $1 beers have upped their asking price to $1.50. Gone are the days of a night out for less than $10. And legislators have done nothing to remedy the archaic alcohol laws in this state: I still can't walk down to the 7-11 to get a beer, and I can't walk down the street with an open container. how in the world am i supposed to be drunk all the time?
Personal Effects: Two years ago when I moved away, I packed up most of my clothes and books to be stored in my mom's attic. At the time I figured I'd probably never touch most of those things again, that they would stay up there for twenty or thirty years and then my kids would find them and go "you used to wear THAT?" and we'd all have a good laugh and then i'd say something weird and crazy and pee my pants because by then hopefully i'll be senile. BUT, after unpacking all said belongings, i realized it's things i forgot i owned by I'm so glad I do! I found my Kordell Stewart jersey circa 1996, some sweet pajama pants, red rain boots and enough fleece blankets to build a badass living-room fort. It's like Christmas for free.
Mom and technology: Two years ago, my mom was essentially living in the year 1993. She had no idea about the internet, very little information about computers, had just got her first cell phone and didn't even have a debit card.
Tonight, however, I realized that she has learned how to text message. I'm proud of her but frankly it's a little bit of a pain in the ass; she texted me three times in a span of like 20 minutes tonight while she was at work asking about when I am free to get my hair cut.
Shaq: In August 2007, Shaq was gearing up for another season with the Miami Heat. In the previous season he had reached the milestone of 25,000 career points, but saw the Heat swept by the Bulls in the playoffs.
Now, however, in the summer of 2009, things are looking up. Even though he's super old (like 59), you know he and Lebron are going to crush peoples souls in Cleveland. Also, this year Shaq, like the rest of the world, discovered Twitter, letting not a day go by without gems such as "Oh lance armstrong i challenge you to a time trial anytime anywhere, i dnt smell fear do i, smmmm smmm dats the sniffn sound."
After using my calculator machine to add up all the variables and hypothesizing with my very scientific method of evaluation, it looks like it's about even. America today is just as wonderful, or shitty, as it was two years ago. But if there's one thing we all should have learned from the Wizard of Oz, there's no place like home. I'd take a comparably shitty America over a normal or even above-average Europe.
Anyway... I'm glad to be back.