Caught between two countries

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

A certain well-received novelist has written this essay about feeling
caught between two countries:

A writer with two countries

I’m very clearly USAn. I use that instead of “American” because I get
yelled at by my Canadian friends if I say “American”. I’ve lived in
California, North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado.
But I feel like either a Californian or a Westerner. The whole gun
control debate doesn’t hit me the same way it hits East Coast folks.
(Yes, gun violence is bad. I’m against it. But I don’t have the same
revulsion to guns that East Coast people seem to have). I don’t know as
much about Colonial history as my East Coast friends, but I can tell you
a lot about Junipero Serra and SIr Francis Drake and the 1906 SF
earthquake, and my mom’s wedding ring was made out of a gold nugget that
was dug up by one of my dad’s 49er ancestors.

Do you feel fully USAn, or do you have a more regional alliance? Are you
a Southerner, an East Coast elite, or something else entirely?


167 thoughts on “Caught between two countries

  1. I read this the other day and was intrigued by dual citizenship, I’m sure there are benefits, but all I could think about were the taxes

    I am fully USA, but have a regional alliance with Louisville KY and the Midwest

  2. Definitely USAn, with Southern cultural affiliation because I was born and raised here (although my parents and grandparents were not).

  3. Two years ago visiting one of my mom’s oldest friends in France, her friend brought this up. She was born and lived in France through WW2, came to the US in the late 1940’s with her 2 sisters, lived her until the early 1980’s, then they retired and moved back to France. She says while her language skills are perfect, being gone for 40 years in a country with different norms makes her feel like neither fish nor fowl…not really French and not American.

    With the exception of one summer living out of state (we thought we were moving permanently) and some month-long vacations traveling outside the US, I have lived in Texas. Now, I have lived in Houston, Dallas, and Austin metros as well as my college town in those years. I am now at the point where I have lived in the Austin metro longer than any other place; however, I wouldnot say I am an Austinite as that implies I was born and raised here. Even though I had relatives here and have spent summers here since the late 1960s, I don’t really qualify. So, when asked, I say I am Texan.

    Texas is large enough that each of its major cities has a different flavor and are far apart enough, it could be the same distance as moving to another state on the East Coast.

  4. Interesting. I think of “home” as Massachusetts but I’ve lived half my life elsewhere (PA, MD, and GA). I don’t think I have the same views on politics and guns that Northeasterners seem to have. I had a conversation with my Boston suburban teacher aunt when I was home and mentioned that my husband had gone shooting with his stepdad while we were visiting and she looked at me and said “How do you feel about that?” as though I had said my husband keeps a loaded hand gun above our bed (which his Pittsburgh bred father really did when he was a kid). My sisters and I all moved away and whenever we discuss moving back we have the can you ever go home again conversation.

  5. New York has a funny effect on people. Well, on me. I didn’t grow up in NY, nor have lived there in over 20 years. Like so many South Floridians, if you ask me where I am from, it is always New York. I will always consider that my home, although I’m old enough to know that I’ll never go back.

    The Miami Dolphins have a terrible time each year when they play the New York Jets. The team with the home field advantage is the Jets. (Not me, though. I’m a Giants fan.)

  6. Hello Friends, Long time no see!
    I am all about the USA when it comes to the Olympic Games and other international considerations, but inside the US I feel an allegiance to Virginia since I was born & raised here, along with multiple generations before me on both sides of my family. That also makes me a little bit Southern. I definitely learned more about Colonial and Confederate history than the Western frontier. I feel uncomfortable (and talk funny) when I go much farther north than Maryland, and it’s too damn hot when I go much farther south than North Carolina.

  7. I honestly feel like this all the time. I have lived here longer than anywhere, but I have also lived long enough in other places that when I am not there, I feel like a significant part of me is missing, and when I go back, I get that flash of “home” feeling. I mean, I still find myself humming the “Wabash Cannonball” every week or so, and we left Indiana in 1977. It also doesn’t help that my family has lived here since @1978, and yet we are surrounded by families that have been here for generations (although less now than when we arrived; we have many more DC commuters than we used to).

    I think, like most things, it is a blessing and a curse. I think for anyone, it is useful to walk a mile in others’ shoes, to experience other people’s versions of “normal” and see how different some of the base assumptions are (e.g., the hunting Q). I would think that for a writer it is especially useful to have that kind of conscious visibility into others’ way of thinking. OTOH, the flip side is that you are always missing that part of you that fit somewhere else.

  8. I guess I am not USAn, because I don’t really understand what it is. Maybe if I had the perspective of someone who lived overseas, I would.

    I am a Jersey girl through and through. I really only lived there for 21 years, and have lived in RI for 10. But my mannerisms, language, and impression of the world were formed there. I will never be a New Englander or a RIer because I wasn’t born here. My kids will be half/half – born here, but with parents from elsewhere and learned mannerisms from elsewhere.

    I’m also not what most people think of as Jersey – I grew up on the poorer end of the NYC metro income scale, have never lived the “Jersey Shore” lifestyle, though I’ve gone down the shore hundreds of times. I don’t fit the stereotype. I also left home. You don’t do that in Jersey. I left for college and grad school and have never thought of moving back. I’ve been “blacklisted” by some friends and family for that. Oh well. My family has also been there for 5 generations, and until me (with exception for the military folks), have never a 10-20 mile radius of the family homestead.

  9. PTM – And yet, I’ve lived here for most of my adult life but would not say I’m a New Yorker, well not a “real” or “native” NYer.

    When non-NYers ask, I’ll say I’m from NYC or Brooklyn. When NYers ask, I’ll say I grew up in western NY.

  10. I also lived in FL for 4 years for college. Of moving, the culture shock was FL. RI is really too similar to NJ, but they don’t like to hear it.

  11. SWVA, glad your back. I think it’s funny when people tell me they could never live down here– the heat is too lethal. Well, today it is supposed to get up to 91. I’ll bet lots of you have higher temperatures than we do.

  12. I also left home. You don’t do that in Jersey. I left for college and grad school and have never thought of moving back.

    I did it. I never looked back when I left for college.

    I realized a couple of months ago that I’ve now lived in Denver (and in our current house) longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.

  13. I think it’s funny when people tell me they could never live down here– the heat is too lethal. Well, today it is supposed to get up to 91. I’ll bet lots of you have higher temperatures than we do.

    The difference to me is the humidity. There is none here, so when it’s 95 or 100, you can still go out and do things. When I was in NJ earlier this summer, even 85 felt much hotter with the humidity.

  14. ATM, I tell Junior that the ONLY place in the World is NYC. I tell him that the BEST place in the world is Western NY in the spring, summer and fall.

  15. SWVA nice to hear from you, I was actually thinking of you the other day as I was looking at the ACC football schedule. Hope you are well.

    This summer has been a brutal one heat-wise. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to fall weather, and this year I am.

  16. @DD — And at least in Denver, when it’s 90 degrees, you know it’ll probably be 60 in a few hours. Makes it much more tolerable, at least to me.

  17. PTM – DH grew up in Florida and he is one of those folks that says they could never live down there – too hot. =)

    The weather here recently truly has been tropical.

  18. Rhode you are so right about NJ – friends from New Jersey went back immediately after college. To them it has it all (close to NYC, close to the beach, etc.). But the whole NY metro is sort of the same way – my friends from CT, went back to CT and friends from Westchester mostly ended up back there after ten year stints in the city.

  19. RMS – what a surprise to see this! Best night of the summer for me was when the Canadian and American tied for the gold in the women’s 100m freestyle. Loved it – all the celebration and none of the guilt.

    For the record, I don’t get upset by the term “American.” I used to call myself that, back when I was a teenager and had this dramatic feeling that if I lived in North America, I should get to claim “American” too. But then I was heading to France for the summer, after grade 10, and my grandfather said, “Be sure to let everyone know you’re Canadian, not American. They’ve never forgiven the Americans for coming too late to the war. They’ll treat you much better if they know you’re Canadian.” Whereupon he regaled me with 103 examples of how various European trips had gone much better for him after he had made his Canadian-ness more apparent. And with that, I decided the folks south of the border could have “American.”

    (BTW, that conversation, where my grandpa told me to never claim “American” overseas, and where it was clear he agreed with the French that the Americans had joined WWII too late, and then everyone else joined it about all the American backpackers in Europe who sew Canadian flag patches on their gear or use Canadian passport covers, etc, was the sort of thing I heard regularly growing up. And my family is quite rational and reasonable and open minded and not a possessor of any “isms.” But this is the baseline there. (Some reporter once asked some Canadians,”What’s a Canadian?” And the answer was, “Well, we’re not American, that’s for sure!”) That anti-American sentiment, ranging from subtle to rampant but never IME non-existent, is what makes me feel like such an outsider when I go back, more than simple geography. It’s cringeworthy. I’ve not yet heard an American say something rude about Canada; in fact, I often hear them say extremely nice thighs about it. I’m embarrassed, as a Canadian, that the reverse is not true).

  20. I’m proud to be an American, but I really feel at home when I’m in NY. I experience this gut feeling when I land at one of the airports, or drive through a tunnel or on a bridge to get back home. I even have this feeling when I’m driving on the NJ turnpike and the skyline suddenly pops up.

    I’m in the city today with DD, and I just hope she eventually has some love for this city. She is growing up 20 minutes from where I grew up in the city, but life in the burbs is very different.

  21. Growing up, I lived in CA, New Jersey, back to CA, and Vermont. And then college outside of Philly. My formative years were spent in Vermont (I lived there from age 11-17) – although my formative weather years would be CA (I love sunny warm weather and would be fine with just one season if that season was sunny and in the 70’s/80’s). I moved to Seattle in my early 20’s and it felt like home right away. I’ve lived here 25+ years – and this summer I’ll have been in my current house for 20 years (before we moved into this house, the longest I’d lived in one place was 5 years).

  22. I’m a Midwesterner. If I’m traveling outside of North America I’ll say I’m from the US, and I’m definitely cheering for USA in the Olympics. Lately I do find myself identifying less with the USA as a whole and more with my local area. I haven’t given it much thought, but I bet the horrible election battles and the outright disrespect that politicians and others have for our President make me have less interest.

    Off topic – I’ve been traveling and missed a lot of good discussions here. Last night I was catching up and loved PTM’s cat story. I read it while petting my 18 year old kitty, who I know I have limited time with. Thanks for sharing that story PTM!

  23. @Ris — you and I are fundamentally the same age, and I heard the exact same thing about being American abroad — I was one of the people being told that I should sew a Canadian patch on my bag and jacket and lie about being American. IIRC, this was in the middle of anti-American terrorist attacks, especially in France. Americans abroad had good reason to keep a low profile — and I’d think Canadians would have had good reason to resent their southern neighbors who pretended to be them.

    I must say, though, I have never made any nice comments about Canadian thighs. :-)

  24. Wine – I know which one I’d rather see a naked statue of that’s for sure.

  25. I identify both as an American and a New Englander. I doubt DH and I will ever move out of northern New England (he was also born and raised here). We both lived in many different places, both in the U.S. and abroad, when we were young adults, but we both came back home.

    We are definitely not part of the “east coast elite,” though.

  26. Wine – I know which one I’d rather see a naked statue of that’s for sure.
    I must say, though, I have never made any nice comments about Canadian thighs. :-)
    again. Justin Trudeau?

  27. Risley – Growing up I always took notice to how many homes flew Canadian flags when we crossed the border. It wasn’t because it was Canada Day either. Canadians have always seemed more united in the love of their country (Quebec aside). Years ago when I was in Nova Scotia I made a comment to local about their love for the Canadian flag (it was on every house and business) and he responded “we want to make sure that the Quebecois understand that we are Canadian and don’t side with them”.

  28. “But the whole NY metro is sort of the same way – my friends from CT, went back to CT and friends from Westchester mostly ended up back there after ten year stints in the city.”

    Atlanta – so maybe it’s NY metro… That would explain my dad’s family too (started in Brooklyn, NY and shifted north towards Stamford, CT. Now mostly between Stamford, CT and New Haven, CT.

  29. I *feel* as if I was born in the U.S. though I clearly wasn’t. It is a state of mind, I guess. I identify most closely with the East Coast, that’s where I’ve spent half my life now. I tend to find something in common with people from a variety of different backgrounds, this has made it easier for me to move and adjust wherever I am.

  30. Wine – a very political Trump-loving family member can’t wait for Trump to win and all the liberals to flee to Mexico.

    I told him that (1) I’d go to Canada. I have a better chance of getting a job, already have contacts there, and would have a better quality of life; (2) most importantly, Justin Trudeau. He’s quite lovely on a postage stamp…; and (3) second only to Trudeau, Hockey!!!

  31. As the daughter of immigrants, I felt out of place growing up in a very non-diverse neighborhood. I then went to an East Coast SLAC and felt out of place as a Texan. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve grown more comfortable with myself. It helps that I live in a really diverse city, and in a really diverse neighborhood.

  32. It continues to amaze me how rational the Canadian people and government are. So much good governance. Why are we so unwilling to borrow ideas on healthcare, immigration, etc., from our Northern neighbors?

  33. I must say, though, I have never made any nice comments about Canadian thighs. :-)

    AC/DC agrees with you.

  34. Rhode, I love hockey! well, I’m not really a sports person, but I do like hockey, I wanted to see the Blues play when we were in St Louis but tickets cost sooo much

  35. I grew up first in the District (of Columbia) and then in apartments in the adjoining liberal MD suburban county. Almost none of my classmates were born and bred in the metro area, and most of their parents, if not just passing through for a few years, planned to leave upon retirement. The college bound usually left the area, as I did at 16. So it is Boston area that is my home, my region the Northeast Corridor. DC upbringing means that the military life is not unfamiliar to me, and I learned to shoot and ride as a kid, but keeping guns in the house still creeps me out, although this blog has helped me understand regional differences on that. I consider myself an American in the USA-an sense, and am greatly saddened by the political changes during my lifetime (the Pat Buchanan speech in 1992 was the crucial eye opener for me) – there are many in this country who think and in the social media age say out loud that I am not entitled to claim that status fully because of my educational level, my ethnic origin, my political leanings, my region. So I don’t particularly want to live in any location where I have to pretend to be different than I am, and I am ever vigilant on a national level.

  36. I am definitely a Midwesterner. Although I have lived in the DC area for more than half of my adult life, this area doesn’t feel like home at all. I like it, but I feel like an outsider. Unlike when I am in any Midwestern city. Those are my people. And according to my parents, my kids have an accent, which is kind of strange.

  37. Regarding Canada, couldn’t you take the border states from Michigan west and wind up with a country not too different in make-up and population from Canada? I’m not sure that the policies that work in Canada would work equally well here. Part of the reason the healthcare system works as well as it does is that ~75% of the population lives within 100 miles of the US border and people crossed the border for urgent healthcare needs that couldn’t be met in their system.

    I think of the rural/urban divide more than I think of a divide by state. I chose a college town in Oregon over a possibly more interesting/challenging job in New Jersey because New Jersey just seemed to busy/crazy. I remember flying in and struggling to get out of the airport and drive to my interview in the pre-GPS/internet direction days.

  38. Rhode – RI is a little that way too, non? My MIL has told me that when DH was dating a girl in high school, other mothers told my MIL that it was so nice that she already knew who her son was going to marry (because of course one would marry whoever you were dating at 16). My SIL met my BIL when she was still in college and immediately wanted to get married.

  39. ” American in the USA-an sense… there are many in this country who think and in the social media age say out loud that I am not entitled to claim that status fully because of my educational level, my ethnic origin, my political leanings, my region. ”

    See, this is what I don’t understand. How can someone be more “American” (as USA-n) than another? Is it the number of generations you can count on this soil? Is it a particular religion (even though that’s against our Constitution)? Is it political leanings? Is it gun ownership? Is it the right/responsibility of voting? Is a naturalized citizen more USA-n than me because they had to take a test to prove they want to be here?

    This is why I can’t call myself a USA-n… I don’t understand what it means!

  40. Atlanta – probably RI is like that. But as a “foreigner” I don’t have to worry about that (and DS is allowed to leave – he needs to see more of the world than I did/will). So maybe it’s the northeast… you go to college away (or don’t) come back, find yourself a partner, settle down with an overpriced house and pump out your 2.5 kids?

  41. “I am definitely a Midwesterner. Although I have lived in the DC area for more than half of my adult life, this area doesn’t feel like home at all. I like it, but I feel like an outsider. Unlike when I am in any Midwestern city. Those are my people.”

    Kate, we should trade places. :)

    I have the exact same “these are my people” feeling when returning to visit northern Virginia. I grew up in the Rust Belt, went to law school in the South, and lived in the DC area for 20 years before the forced relocation to the midwest. My first professional jobs, and the busiest child-raising years were in DC, so it feels like home and will probably always be that way.

    What is it in particular that makes you feel like a midwesterner?

  42. I think of the rural/urban divide more than I think of a divide by state.

    I agree. While I grew up in the suburbs, I’m just not from there anymore. I had an offsite meeting the other day and drove back to the hotel at 5 and it was bumper to f-ing bumper the whole way. I remember doing that, I think I drove 25k miles a year my first year out of college. But, to do so now seems so alien.

    It’s sort of like how I can’t really wrap my head around Finn or HM or people who live in San Diego. What must it be like to live where the weather is peasant almost all the time? I could see Houston or Dallas or Phoenix where rather than being inside all winter you’re inside all summer. But, nice all the time? It seems so alien.

  43. During the federal land standoff in Oregon, I was always slightly surprised by, and then proud of, the people from all over the country that laid claim to access to federal lands and national parks as part of their country and heritage. Those lands are for all USAns, not just the locals. It was one of the few times recently that I felt more like a USAn than a NY(S)-er. Olympics – same. (Although geez, Lochte and crew are embarrassing.)

    Love, love, love Kerri Walsh Jennings.

  44. Scarlett – I am not sure that I can pinpoint it. But, the Midwest is more laid back. Way less discussion about jobs and what things cost. No sleepaway summer camp for the kids. Strangers are so much nicer. I met a mom at my kids’ school a couple years ago. We hit it off immediately. Turns out that she grew up about 30 mins away from where I did. So, maybe I like Midwesterners who have moved out of the area?

  45. I have the exact same “these are my people” feeling when returning to visit northern Virginia.

    When you describe your new home there is often a hint of Eva Gabor in Green Acers.

  46. “Love, love, love Kerri Walsh Jennings.”

    ATM – That woman needs an action figure with a cape!

    And I agree – the idea of the National Parks is for the Nation… not just those people in that state. And I think you’re right – I usually feel more USA-n when the nation comes together to support each other – over National Parks, during major crises (like Katrina, or Sandy, or 9-11), the Olympics – than I do any other time. I think that’s what USA-n should mean – we are one Nation. We are one People. We just all don’t look/act/talk/think the same. NOthing wrong with that.

  47. Half our family is in Canada and we can move there any time we want. I haven’t been, but I think I will feel right at home in Bali.

  48. My Silicon Valley friends were discussing this on Facebook. It certainly doesn’t reflect what the Palo Alto of my youth was like. But apparently everyone who is still there thought it was all too apt.

    View story at

  49. Texas It’s like a WHOLE OTHER COUNTRY

    That’s been used as a catch phrase for Texas tourism, and in some ways it is accurate. As a native Texan who has lived half my life there and the other half in the NYC area, I still feel very Texan. OTOH, when I travel back to Texas I feel a bit like a New Yorker. And I have a healthy dose of murican in me as well as a cultural affinity for my Latin American roots.

    I have friends who are native born USAns but claim that culturally feel more European and talk about moving there some day, maybe in retirement. If asked, they would probably say that the USA is far from the greatest nation in the world. Some people might view them as unpatriotic. I see them more as pompous.

  50. Rocky and I could have been brought up in the same house.

    Except I’ve really only lived 3 places (2 states) my entire life, save during college & grad school. It was during my junior year abroad where I embraced the concept of everyone from southernmost Argentina to northernmost Canada is American, some of whom are USAn (at least there’s a word for it in Spanish: estadounidense).

    Bay Area, LA, and here. It’s been so long since I lived in the Bay Area that I am no longer part of it. “only” 26 years since I lived in LA, but I feel more part of it when I visit…maybe because of watching Carson/Leno all those years with their constant LA/SoCal references? I guess I feel like I’m from here now, but not to those who grew up here, even including my kids. Never ever thought I’d/we’d end up living here this long!!

    I truly believe we live in the Midwest, the easternmost part begins somewhere around mile marker 300 (exit 40) of the NYS Thruway. Lots of linkages to the eastern part of the state, obviously, but we are different here than the people in/closer to NYC.

    I am still Californian for all my sports teams.

  51. Scarlett – I should also say that I don’t think I would enjoy a tiny town but that I fit in a lot better in Chicago and Minneapolis than I do in DC or Boston.

  52. a lot better in Chicago

    I don’t know how long I could deal with that “long a” Great Lakes accent.

  53. This is a very interesting topic to me. I belong to a “region” that exists on a virtual basis. My parents fled communism in Cuba and are very grateful to the US and inculcated a strong patriotism in us. When I was 5 years old, my dad got an expat assignment in a different latin american country. So I went to the American school there. There I became part of the community of serial american expats who have lived everywhere- diplomats, military, corporate kids. My family was there until I was 22. But I am ethnically Latin and speak spanish like a Cuban…. I then went to a fancy boarding school in New England where I felt most at home with the international students who came from all over- same when I went to an Ivy league school. Later I had a career in Tech for global finance. Global Finance attracts a lot of people like me- international types. We went to japan as banking expats and my kids experienced that whole international school thing. It’s hard to explain, but there are many of us – especially in big cities. American- educated, ethnically diverse, married across all kinds of cultures. We feel a strong allegiance to the US. I feel really at home in Miami and New York….

  54. Interesting – Texas still has a large number that remain in the state.

    When travelling out of the country, I always have gotten a better response when I answer Texas to where are you from rather than the US.

  55. I think it’s to be expected that a Canadian who moved to the U.S. and holds dual citizenship would be disproportionately exposed to anti-American sentiment. I am Canadian, lived in the Southern U.S. for two years, and also spent a couple of years commuting between the two countries. I have honestly not heard much in terms of anti-U.S sentiment, beyond specific disagreement with politics and policies. Did I travel through Europe with a maple leaf on my backpack? Yes, not because Canadians are superior, but because U.S. Politics are polarizing and Canadian politics are not.

    I agree with WCE’s comment that the U.S. border states have a lot in common with their neighbouring Canadian provinces. My childhood was probably more similar to someone raised in Minnesota than to a native of Quebec, Newfoundland, or British Columbia.

  56. Mafalda – Would you/have you gone back to visit Cuba? There was an interesting article recently discussing how uneasy the generation that fled Cuba is about their children going back to visit.

    One comment that struck me – all the tourist money (still) supports the state.

    I work with many of your people – international types. One of the best parts of my job.

  57. “When you describe your new home there is often a hint of Eva Gabor in Green Acers.”

    I’m holding back, to be polite.

  58. My accent is halfway between Chicago and Midwest Scandinavian. Both Minnesotans and Chicagoans sometimes use “d” instead of “th”.

  59. We were in Australia during the 2012 Olympics. Extensive, microscopic coverage of the extremely disappointing Aussie swimmers, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth in all of the mainstream newspapers and TV stations that went on for days after swimming was over. It was kind of hard to find out how the Americans did, because of the time difference and the surprising lack of wifi access at our hotels. DS had a club teammate who won a gold medal in the freestyle relay, and he missed it.

  60. ATM- We have promised to wait for Fidel to die. But jeeeeez, it’s taking FOREVER.. It was so sad when my grandparents died after believing they would go back. All 4 lived well into their nineties, we think they were trying to wait it out…. It’s hard to believe now my parents are going to reach 90 and he’s STILL THERE.

  61. Mafalda – That is too funny. I have heard the EXACT same sentiment from my inlaws. And some of them are in their late 80s. Cubans have long lives.

  62. Mafalda – He would love to, but he is named after a relative well known in the community so might get some extra scrutiny. That happened to a distant cousin. He’ll probably wait for a change in leadership before he seriously considers going.

  63. @Rocky — that was one of the most depressing things I’ve read in a while.

  64. Rhett, your traffic story definitely sounds suburban. In rural areas, when it’s bumper to bumper, it’s because you’re all stuck behind a piece of farm equipment on a two lane highway.

  65. Born and spent early childhood in HI, then a couple of years in MA, but most of my childhood was in an American community overseas (drawing primarily from MA, NJ, AL, and the expat community Mafalda referred to), summer and winter breaks spent visiting family in HI and MA. A fair bit of international travel as a family, growing up. MA for college, Ireland the year after, VA for law school, then back to HI where I’ve been since. In-laws are in WA so we’ve done a lot of visiting there. So my primary regional affiliation is HI, and more broadly West Coast especially Northwest, but New England and VA / DC also feel sort of homey.

    It’s funny, I was just in one of those “let’s all complain about America to the American(s) conversations” at a recent gathering involving a lot of people originating in other countries. One of whom is married to an American! It brought me back to my college / post-college travels when people would hear the accent and want to tell you all about what they didn’t like about the U.S. But I know that the U.S. has a finger in so many pies and is hard to ignore, so it’s no wonder that people get annoyed and want to vent.

  66. I left out HI as another state that overseas community drew from — you’d think I would have remembered that one!

  67. The anti U.S. sentiment can be strong. But, on the flip side of that, I recall a hijacking of a home country plane and it seemed like nothing was being done to free the hostages. At that time there was the “we should ask the U.S. for help, the hostages would be free by now”. So, against and for depending on the situation.

  68. Scarlett – DH is not much of a book reader, but I read that book and recommended it to him. Not sure whether he actually read it. My MIL read it and really identified with it.

  69. Louise – I lived in England during the Afghanistan war. Many people were very anti-war and anti-US. However, the people of the WWII generation I knew were very solidly pro-US and were very outgoing and kind to me when they learned I was American.

  70. I am glad that the attitude towards leaving changed for the positive in recent years. When I was growing up, if you left the country some people thought that leaving meant you were a traitor of sorts. Now, the line is the positive contribution the diaspora can make….

  71. Now that I’ve once again probably shared too much personal information, I’ve decided to change my handle to the first name of my favorite volleyball player.

  72. I just now read the article Rocky had linked to. I can attest that the writer does indeed have a Canadian accent.

    This summer I went to a baseball game where the local “minor” league teamed was playing the Toronto Blue Jays. I sang along to both the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada. Singing O Canada was nostalgic. It brought back memories of hearing it on a regular basis – we watched a lot of CBC because we didn’t have cable. Maybe I’m more of a Michigander than anything else.

    Also, CBC coverage of the Olympics has always been far superior to NBC. Canada will cover any and all sports, and any and all countries, in its entirety, regardless of ratings. So you won’t just see a 20 second highlight of the top US women’s shotput 3rd throw, followed by the second place women from wherever, on her third try, and then back to women’s beach volleyball.

  73. Scarlett & ATM-
    I’m going to read that. I have heard many personal Pedro Pan stories – I always think they should be novels!
    Honolulu- In expats bashing America situations, I was surprised to find that the most virulent anti-Americans were the Australians! Maybe because in Japan, the Japanese are kind of dismissive of them, they think that their economy is peanuts compared to Japan and the US!!

  74. WCE – conversely, I have friends who make an annual trip to Canada to buy epi-pens because they are so ridiculously expensive here compared to Canada (epi-pens are for people with life-threatening allergies like nuts – you have to have them for home, school, afterschool care). And my SIL and BIL are Canadian – I’ve never heard them mention needing to come to the US to get health care.

    I’ve spent most of life living within 150 miles of the Canadian border. After college I spent 6 months backpacking around Europe. When asked, I would say I was from Vermont. This would be met with a blank stare so then I’d explain that it’s near Canada.

  75. Years ago, DH and I were in Ireland during the World Cup. We loved watching how the Irish commentary made fun of the BBC coverage. It was hilarious.

    And 4 years ago, there was some hilarious Irish commentary on an Olympic sailing event. I think I’d like to watch more Irish coverage of sporting events.

    Lots of people here watch the Canadian coverage of the Olympics because NBC is so annoying.

  76. SSM, the world may need to figure out that the U.S. can no longer afford to subsidize drug development for the world or to be the world’s policeman.

    The difference in prices in epi-pens one of many effects of drug policies.

    Different provinces have different access issues with healthcare availability and the large group of people I was with on a plan seeking US healthcare was several years ago. Maybe things have changed.

  77. I have friends who make an annual trip to Canada to buy epi-pens because they are so ridiculously expensive here compared to Canada

    A friend from Canada always stocks up on Tylenol with Codine when he’s home as it’s available without a perception in Canada.

  78. The group was mostly cancer survivors unable to get follow-up scans at the recommended intervals.

  79. WCE,

    For women, the average survival rate for all cancers is 61 percent in the United States, compared to 58 percent in Canada.

    For men, the average survival rate for all cancers is 57 percent in the United States, compared to 53 percent in Canada.

    I’m surprised that you feel those modest differences are worth the 100s of billions we spend to achieve them.

  80. Rhett, I think we could definitely do better on survival rates by offering a financially sustainable level of care to everyone. But the Totebaggy Canadians on the airplane weren’t too thrilled that they couldn’t get the follow-up care that had been promised them. That’s the example I think of when people on this blog get excited about single payer.

    I also think “survival rate” needs to be redefined as cancer care has improved. Surviving 5 years isn’t the same as long-term survival.

  81. Scarlett, the same group of friends insists that the show Silicon Valley is depressingly accurate.

  82. I am proud of spending more money on medical care as it contributes to better health care throughout the world. Likewise, I am proud to pay more for defending America and the free world.

  83. Drug companies charge us the prices they do *because we let them*. Very little of it goes to R&D. Companies buy their innovation now-a-days (acquire smaller companies instead of developing most of their drugs/devices in house). It’s less risky, and makes sense on a number of levels.

    Regarding defending other countries. I don’t know why we feel we have to put our kids and our money at risk defending other countries, which are happy to keep their kids and money at home. Makes no sense to me.

  84. I don’t know why we feel we have to put our kids and our money at risk defending other countries, which are happy to keep their kids and money at home. Makes no sense to me.

    Because that we we’re the ones with all the weapons. Easier to keep the other countries in line.

  85. Well, we don’t “put our kids at risk.” Every person in uniform is an adult who volunteered to serve. One of the interesting things about the Joe Kennedy Sr bio was his intense opposition to the US getting into WWII for exactly the reason you cite. He had two sons in their 20’s and did not want to lose them. In speeches, he would argue that Europe’s issues with Germany were not worth the lives of American boys. And then both sons asked him to pull strings so that they could serve, even though Jack was so medically unfit that he should have been turned down.
    It’s hard to imagine that dynamic playing out now. Privileged young men have for decades sought to escape service (as,ironically, Kennedy Sr did himself in WWI).

  86. Scarlett: I disagree. Every soldier, voluntary or drafted, old or young, is someone’s kid. I suppose if they are older, they can also be husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers. Even if my son is an adult and volunteers to serve, he still runs the risk of being put in harm’s way. I like your Kennedy story. I didn’t know that.

  87. “Well, we don’t “put our kids at risk.” Every person in uniform is an adult who volunteered to serve.”

    Regardless of why they are in uniform, putting them in armed conflicts put them at risk.

  88. World over USA has used its economic muscle to get patent laws passed that are favorable to American drug companies. Usually those cheap meds available overseas are expired patents. I think drug companies make enough money.

    I too do not believe in being the global police. Why put our people in harms way? Also it would be so much better if we stopped interfering in other countries? The people who call for USA to intervene are the same ones who engage in anti-us rhetoric.

  89. “Drug companies charge us the prices they do *because we let them*. Very little of it goes to R&D. Companies buy their innovation now-a-days (acquire smaller companies instead of developing most of their drugs/devices in house). It’s less risky, and makes sense on a number of levels.”

    But in the bigger picture, the potential for profit is what is driving pharma R&D, whether done in small companies aiming to get acquired or by bigger companies (I believe Amgen, for example, still does in house R&D). And it seems that the US consumers and taxpayers are disproportionately the source of that potential profit.

    OTOH, as A Parent points out, by paying what we are paying for drugs we are being philanthropic to the rest of the world. Perhaps with better worldwide PR about that we wouldn’t need to pretend to be Canadian.

  90. “I too do not believe in being the global police.”

    At least for this issue, that puts you in alignment with Trump, and out of alignment with Hillary.

  91. This is really interesting since we just got back from Canada, where we spent an inordinate amount of time in history museums. Culturally, Ontarions seem pretty similar to Michigan people or Wisconsin people in SOME WAYS. But the thing to keep in mind is that Canadian history is different from US history, in ways that are probably important. I noticed that in the Canada War Museum, the war that we call the Revolutionary War was presented as a kind of civil war between Loyalists and Rebels (both capitalized in the captions). It was a really different perspective on the war. And of course they stressed the Loyalists, particularly the many Loyalists from the US who fled north (some of my ancestors were in the group…). I think Canadians, because they don’t have the history of violently breaking away, have more faith in the government. They are also much more community minded than us US folks – it is hard to miss that wherever I travel in Canada. And one more thing – there is a strain of fear up there that the US could invade, or more likely just absorb Canada. I don’t think it is so strong now, but it definitely pops up in the history. The War Museum stressed the War of 1812 far more than we would in the US.

    How many of you guys know about the Fenian raids?

  92. I am also reading a book right now about the Cold War in Canada. Evidently the politics of the late 40’s and 50’s in Canada were dominated by a kind of nationalism, and fear that the US would absorb Canada as they signed lots of mutual defense treaties.

  93. As for how I identify – I lived all over the US so my cultural roots are not as deep as some. But my parents were from the nothern Midwest, and I had a grandmother from Sasketchewan, so the north is my strongest influence. I have a good Michigan accent even though I never lived there. My DH also has a lot of Canadian heritage but they were French speaking and came from Quebec originally, through New Brunswick and finally to New England. His father’s generation was the one that stopped speaking French

  94. “there is a strain of fear up there that the US could invade, or more likely just absorb Canada.”

    This brings to mind the Family Ties episode in which Alex, in an attempt to impress some girls, pretends to be a fighter pilot, and mentions that the next day they will be invading Canada. I wonder if the script writers put that in there to play on the fear of Michael J. Fox, a Canadian.

  95. One other thing – I have spent a fair amount of time in various European countries, both as a kid with my family, and also living for significant periods of time with a French, and then later an Italian family. I also have spent summers doing research in France and Germany. I really like many things about western European culture and wish we Americans were humble enough sometimes to learn from them. However, the time I have spent living with families there taught me, very strongly, that I am an American and not a European. There are very significant differences in our approaches to life. I often think I could be happy living in the Netherlands, but I would still be an American.

  96. I am not saying every medicine is worth what is being charged. I am saying I did nothing to make anyone’s medicine other than paying for it. I just paid $430 for 2 epi pens. That money goes several places, shareholders of Mylan (it bought the product rights from someone else), employees, taxes, etc. I am not ready to dismantle the whole system and hand the money to whoever I think deserves it, so I can pay less. I also know the epi pen will sell for less in many places throughout the world. I also note that we formerly used an Auvi q in place of the epi pen, but that product was recalled.

  97. However, the time I have spent living with families there taught me, very strongly, that I am an American and not a European.

    In what way were they different Mooshi ?

  98. Interesting topic. My family is originally from Philly, then moved to a mid-America state. For decades we never fully laid claim to the state because it is so much more fundamentalist, and in some areas, anti-city folk than our background. We were Catholic and attended Catholic schools in a city where Catholics made up only 3% of the population, and evangelical bible colleges and a university had a significant presence. People were openly critical or offensive, telling me frequently when I was growing up that I was going to Hell.

    My dad grew up in the inner-city, and played basketball on an integrated team in the early 1950’s. He had no patience with racists. I can remember when the first Aftican American family moved into our school district. They had a girl my sister’s age, and my dad told my sister she needed to greet the girl by name every morning, and invite her to join her friends for lunch every day. The girl was invited to my sister’s birthday party every year. At the time I didn’t get why my dad was so concerned about this girl, but I figured it out as I got older. Some of those types of cultural things made me never really feel a strong affiliation to the state when I was younger. My brother answers with Philly when asked where he’s from, and leaves out the 13 years he lived there.

    Now that I’ve been in Texas 20 years, I do consider that state of my growing up years as home. My high school and college close friends share my political and religious sensibilities, and I like the pace of life there. We are fine here in Texas, but could easily leave. I will stay if my kids stay, but wouldn’t mind being back among my people.

  99. A Parent, if you have prescription coverage, you can get a coupon from Mylan for the co-pay on epipens – the year I needed six sets (multiple allergic kids) would have been $3k without the coverage and coupon.

  100. I’m a USAn and a Yankee. Can’t seem to leave, though the weather elsewhere is tempting.

    Other people puzzle me enough as it is without adding more cultural differences to the mix….

  101. Interesting topic. I’ll blend my response with a trip report, as we returned from Tennessee a few hours ago, at which point DW immediately pulled a different car out of the garage and headed off to a bachelorette weekend, leaving me to deal alone with the camper, the packed and messy van, the overstuffed mailbox, the gigantic duffle bag of dirty clothes, and the two-foot-high-lawn.

    I’m an American in the USA’n sense. And if I’m honest, I’m also an East Coaster, albeit reluctantly. A week ago tonight we were driving to Nashville and I was growing a little confused about what seemed like an overly optimistic estimated arrival time from Garmin when I passed a sign on I-40 that curtly announced “Central Time.” We had completely forgotten that detail, even though we flew to Nashville two years ago. We also realized that it was likely the first time we had ever driven across a time zone boundary in the United States, although we both have done so in Europe. On the other hand, I’ve driven 95 from Miami to Camden, ME. I’ve never actually lived more than an hour or so from 95–not for college, not in the military, never. And I’ve had nine addresses.

    On “feeling home,” I had that feeling most strongly once that I can remember, when we were returning from a six-month deployment, and it all came over me unexpectedly when we surfaced somewhere off of Norfolk, VA and started picking up marine VHF radio traffic. It was just a standard Securite call, but suddenly I felt this strong sense of “I’m home.” I had never been away that long, and haven’t since.

    The main purpose of our trip this past week was camping in and visiting the Smoky Mountains. But we figured we could first go a little farther to Nashville and catch a performance of the Grand Ole Opry. We briefly considered finding a campground near Nashville, but decided that it would be too much making and breaking camp, so we parked the trailer for two nights in the parking lot of the Homewood Suites with free breakfast. The first night, DW had hopes of showing the kids one of our favorite restaurants downtown that we discovered on our first trip, but the 90 minute wait at 7 pm put an end to that, and we ended up at the Old Spaghetti Factory. My kids could not stop raving about it: “the food is delicious, the decorations are awesome and really comfortable, and they serve drinks with cotton candy” (all true).

    Saturday we toured Belle Meade Plantation, an antebellum estate once famous for its breeding of thoroughbreds, including the ultimate sire of Seabiscuit, War Admiral, and a bunch of others.

    Saturday night was the Opry, and our planning had been so rushed and haphazard that we didn’t even realize they were breaking from their standard format in order to do a 25-year-Opry-induction-anniversary special for Vince Gill. I preferred the regular format of 12 artists, young and old, two songs each. DW liked this Vince Gill thing better, and true to Opry form, he still brought in a lot of other talent, including his wife, Amy Grant; Bill Anderson, always a classic; Patty Loveless, best vocalist of the night, by far, singing Gill’s “Go Rest High on that Mountain”; and a few others. The kids slept through most of it.

    This time at the Smokies we camped at the KOA in Townsend (“the quiet side of the Smokies” in contrast to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg sprawl and cheese. We had the kind of campsite that you only see in RV advertising but might wonder if it actually exists. It was right on the Little River, and you can take your tubes into the water, ride the rapids down for about a mile, and board a van that will drive you back up. My kids were very impressed with their first experience with gentle rapids.

    We did a few hikes, over a couple of days: Laurel Falls, Clingman’s Dome, and Abram’s Falls. The last was a repeat from our first trip four years ago. And we spent all day Wednesday at Dollywood, where there’s a new roller coaster that we were surprised to realize that even my 4 yo could ride (an actual roller coaster, not a kiddie one; it seems they’ve made progress on making the restraints even more versatile for different sizes of riders.)

    And since my older two have read the Magic Treehouse and I Survived books about the Titanic sinking, we had to spend an afternoon at Pigeon Forge’s own Titanic Museum. As cheesy as it looks from the outside–it looks like the first third of the ship is parked on the side of the road with an iceberg tearing into the hull–the museum, in fact, takes itself very seriously. The exhibits were very solemn and informative, if maybe a little bit shallow in depth, IMHO. But they made up for it in terms of immersing the visitor into the ship. You walk through an accurate re-creation of a third-class cabin, and a very luxurious first-class stateroom, and a passageway with a stairwell at the end that periodically has flooding water pouring down the steps, just like in the movie (behind Plexiglass). They were most proud of and reverent toward the actual violin that played Nearer My God to Thee in the ship’s last moments above the surface. It was rcovered in the leather satchel off the frozen body of its owner, recently purchased at auction for $1.8M, and is on loan from the private collector. It was displayed like the Hope Diamond.

    Camping worked out well, and I’m glad because I’m too prone to constantly second-guess myself on these things. The camper was comfortable with the memory foam mattress toppers we’ve used to upgrade it. We used the air conditioning every night but the last, when the temp dropped to a comfortable 68 with low humidity. It stayed completely dry inside after a downpour. And I towed it over a thousand miles at 22 mpg. DW commented that, compared to a tent and a larger real RV, it’s a lot of bang for the buck. I’m happy that if I compare what it cost me to what it’s saving us in hotel or cabin charges, I’m ahead of its depreciation, and I hope we can use it for a long weekend somewhere a little closer once the crisp Fall air arrives. I’m mostly ready for summer to end.

  102. @Milo — I’m jealous, I love Amy Grant! The camper-towing mpg is impressive, too.

  103. Oh yeah, and when we were tubing down the river, my 7 yo was initially confused at why we would have to get out and get into a van. “Doesn’t it just go in a big loop?”

    Uhhh, no. Lazy rivers aren’t naturally occurring.

  104. And I towed it over a thousand miles at 22 mpg.

    Behind the Odyssey? How does the AC work? Is it “shore power” or does it work like those camper fridges that are propane powered?

  105. Yeah, behind the Odyssey. For a long trip (mostly highway miles) without a trailer, 26 mpg is typical. The air conditioning is laughably simple. It’s a basic residential window unit that slides out from its own little panel on the side, and runs on electricity only. An extra fan I bring along helps circulate that cold air around all 200 square feet. Of course, this requires a campground with “hookups,” but we’re not keen to try anything else, since I also like hot showers and swimming pools, etc.

    It’s a nice novelty for a week. But it proves to me that there’s no way I could ever do the Tiny House thing.

  106. Old Spaghetti House is a great kid restaurant. And I’m interested to hear that the chain is that widespread.

  107. I was just going to comment along the line of Houston’s article. Epinephrine is a terrifically cheap medication. It cost pennies per dose and no one holds the right to manufacture it. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, The delivery device has become very expensive without further innovation. My doctor web universe is talking a lot about this, as most patients can’t afford them unless they have met their deductible.

    I’ve heard that some EMS companies are changing to vials of Epi that are drawn up on site. I’ve also heard that this will lead to dosing concerns and delay of care.

  108. A few of my friends have been circulating letters and petitions to Congress about lowering the price of epi pens.

    Milo, sounds like a great trip. We really want to visit that part of the country with DD, and I could just cut and paste many of your days into a trip for our family. Very funny about the lazy river.

    I’m not ready for summer to end because the school year is so stressful. Schedules were posted yesterday, and it was an endless day of texts and complaints about teachers and classes.
    The supply lists are very long, and I’ve already spent too much money in Staples.

  109. Ada- DH’s small fund is invested in a company that makes an Epi-pen alternative. We are hoping it takes off!
    Milo- the AC sounds great!!!

    I identify as a northeasterner, strong Puritan roots on my mom’s side especially. NY is the farthest south that I’ve lived, and even that was too hot for me- I decamped to my summer job in Boston both summers during school. The culture south of the Mason-Dixon is also very strange-feeling to me when I visit there.

  110. Milo, we used to go to Old Spaghetti Factory once a year (in Seattle) when I was a kid. I loved that place. It was the epitomy of fancy in my mind when I was that age. I haven’t been there in ages but I bet I would still love it

    We were camping too. Trip summary in a bit

  111. Speaking of the off-hours service availability. I just waited an hour r get a blood draw at the only lab Corp around that is open Saturdays. Next time I’ll take off from work. Totally not worth it.

  112. Spaghetti Warehouse – I haven’t thought about that place in a long time. There was one downtown near where my husband and I worked, and over lunch one day we finally agreed on the name for our soon-to-be-born daughter. I don’t remember anything about the food, but I remember that.

  113. Are Old Spaghetti House, Spaghetti Warehouse, and Old Spaghetti Factory the same thing?

  114. MM, it was an annual treat for us as kids too, and yes, it seemed so fancy, plus the trolley!

    I really should take my kids there some time. The last time I went was pre-kids — my husband and I had borrowed a nephew and his friends/ cousins, a pack of 4 or 5 aged 3-7, and took them to a book sale and then OSF. We were so shell-shocked when we returned them!

  115. It looks like OSF has only gotten no farther east than Cincinnati, so Nashville is the only location I’ve ever known.

    Lauren – when you get closer to the trip, I can give you some info. Also, I think the Mooshis have gone with a group of families.

    It’s incredible how varied the license plates are there, in both proportion and radius. Michigan and Illinois were very common. I got the impression that it’s a popular reunion spot for families scattered around the South, mid-Atlantic, and all of the Midwest, particularly for families who drive to their vacation destinations.

  116. Are you talking about Gatlinberg? That is the traditional family vacation spot for a lot of people from the upper South and eastern Midwest. Just like everyone in NY goes up to Lake George at one time or another. I went to Gatlinberg many times as a kid and as an adult

  117. Yeah, Gatliburg. “It was Gatlinburg in mid-July, I’d just hit town and my throat was dry, so I stopped in to have myself a brew. At an old saloon on a street of mud, there at a table dealing stud, was the dirty, mangy dog that named me ‘Sue’.”

    But these days, you don’t have to get to Gatlinburg for brew because the vacation industry sprawl extends for about 30 miles from Gatlinburg, all the way through Pigeon Forge, into Sevierville. Every casual chain restaraunt (and often multiple ones of the same), pancake houses, tourist traps, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Titanic, Christmas ornament warehouses (that seems like the quintessential middle-American summer vacation activity, isn’t it? Shopping for novelty Christmas decorations), mini golf, go karts, car museums, alpine slides, and on and on…

  118. Milo – I am glad you described Gatlinburg. I will be prepared. I was not prepared for having so much civilization near Lake George. We carted a lot of camping gear when we could have just gone to the Walmart there which catered to campers and tourists – the store had everything we needed. The funniest was when our camping friends decided to leave the campground, go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and while there got into an agruement with another customer. All grumpy folks needing their coffee.

  119. I want to go back to Lake George. When I lived near Saratoga for six months, I went a couple times with DW, who was then just a girl I was going around with. I remember the typical touristy stuff, but I didn’t think it was sprawled out. I may have missed it, though.

  120. Back when I was a kid, there was no Pigeon Forge sprawl, and everything was dry except Gatlinburg proper. So that was the ONLY place you could have a brew!

    Big difference between Lake George and Gatlinburg – every third person in Lake George seems to be of Indian background. Lots of turbans and salwar kameez outfits in Lake George, which are not that common in Gatlinburg. We were just in Mont Tremblant, which has some similarities to both Gatlinburg and Lake George (though far, far fewer minigolfs) and I noticed lots of Muslim families there. Lots of women in full Islamic garb, including long robes, and men in long robes and even longer beards, riding on the luge.

  121. The actual GSM National Park is swarmed with Mennonites in traditional dress. (Just joking, they seem very nice). Many, many full-sized family vans driving around, like we’ve discussed here before, Transits and Sprinters. Many make it into Gatlinburg, of course, but in lower proportions there to Joe Sixpack Americans, who don’t seem to actually venture into the Park itself, except to maybe drive up to the highest point, snap a picture, and maybe–MAYBE–huff and wheeze as they laboriously plod up the quarter-mile paved slope to Clingman’s Dome. We heard more than a few people halfway up that little path say “you guys go ahead, …, …I’ve seen it before…, I’ll be fine…”

    Dollywood had lots of Duggar-lite families in matching custom T-shirts with Bible verses (“Joshua 24:15…It’s a ‘Family’ thing’.” Women and girls all in skirts, naturally.

    So many subcultures in our country, and all so eager to fit their stereotype. I suppose we’re no different.

  122. On our way home yesterday, we passed through the slice of NY on the western side of the Hudson, and of course saw Haredi families everywhere. Most astonishing to me, I saw not just one, but two female joggers in what was clearly athletic dress that conformed to Haredi dress code.


    There is an Epi alternative. I’m not sure if anyone is using it, I’ve heard it’s hard to actually find. It’s exactly the safe med, but a little different delivery mechanics. I could see schools refusing to allow them. It’s what I learned on and actually has some advantages over the epipen.

    The $100 coupon that Mylan offers is great for people with good coverage, but for people with significant deductibles, they may be buying 4 pens at $1200 every fall with much help from insurance.

  124. Driving from the NYC suburbs on our way to Niagara Falls we first encountered that flat Midwestern accent at a rest stop one mile east of Buffalo. I enjoy hearing regional accents and I hope they don’t disappear completely.

  125. Coc – in my area, the Southern accent is disappearing rapidly. It has been replaced by “General American Accent” but with southern manners sprinkled in. There are some people who can turn off their accents – Bill Clinton comes to mind.

  126. Louise & CoC – I can turn my accent on and off. I do it depending on situation and who I’m with. If I’m giving a presentation, the accent is off. If I’m home, it’s on. If I spend ~12 hours in Jersey it’s back on with force. Plus, I find I speak faster when I’m in Jersey than in RI. And when I speak publicly, the pace of my speech drops dramatically. My mom thought this was a great trick during my dissertation presentation. I was practically hyper 5 minutes before, and then just turned everything off when I hit the stage.

    Off Topic – I saw Jimmy Buffett Saturday night at Xfinity Center in MA (for those of you in the Southeastern MA area). What a great show. I know he’s been known for phoning it in, but we were with people who saw him at Xfinity Center (when it was Great Woods) 15 years ago and said this show was equal or better. It was shorter than expected, but they packed so much into each song that we didn’t really realize it. Tailgating was equally awesome. And we had a picture perfect day.

  127. These responses have been very surprising to me. I assumed this feeling of foreignness was purely a change-of-country thing, and would never have guessed that people would feel that way having merely changed states/regions.

    I mentioned to DH how wildly foreign I felt last week, when taking DS back to college in a region vastly different from where we live. I said, “It occurs to me you’d feel more at home there, because even though it’s different from where we are, at least it’s still your country.” I was shocked when he told me he also feels completely out of place when he visits DS there. I always assumed that if I’d stayed on the other side of the border, and one of my kids had gone to school in a different province, I’d have thought nothing of it when I was visiting them — it’s all the same country, after all. You all, and DH, have really surprised me on this one.

    I feel better knowing that this is a rather universal thing, and that there was no avoiding it unless I’d been willing to live my entire life in the confines of the region in which I grew up. It makes me a little less wistful about my decision to cross borders.

  128. Anon? – I’ve traveled a lot in the area of the country where you son goes to college. It’s very easy to feel a foreigner there. The exact location where he is isn’t so bad – transplants and tourist. But travel a bit out of the main drag and poof, you are definitely a foreigner.

    When I lived in FL, I would visit the homes of local friends. Their friends and family treated me like an exotic species. I don’t think some of them had ever met a “northerner” before. They really thought I needed a passport to travel there.

    One friend’s dad nicknamed me “yankee”. And then he would call me “that damn yankee”. In his head, the “war of northern aggression” was still raging and I was the latest spy.

  129. Anon – maybe you feel that way because you did not go to college here ? When I was discussing college with my kids my DS was horrified that he would have to share the room with another guy. My DD was much more on board and already thinking of whether it would be cheaper to shop for groceries and cook herself and whether she could interest her roommates in her culinary adventures.

  130. I posted that same Slate article on the cost of epi-pens that Houston linked to on my facebook page a couple weeks ago. I was surprised to learn that a number of my friends do without epi-pens because they are so expensive.

  131. My ILs are scared to visit Manhattan without a large group of people. They worry about the crime. I think feeling out of place in areas that are unfamiliar to you is a natural thing.

    I’ve also read that many people are voluntarily isolating themselves in enclaves of people similar to them. Totebaggers are moving to areas with high concentrations of other Totebaggers, etc. This also might increasing the feeling of being foreign in your own country.

  132. Anon? I had the same feeling dropping my daughter off in a different region. Although, I think that is part of going away to college, it is a chance to experience a different culture.

    I am a rural westerner. The east coast is a foreign country. I have little understanding of the colonial era and no idea where all the battles took place in either the civil or revolutionary war. Like RMS, I am familiar with Junipero Serra and the mission system. I know the difference between Kit Carson and Jim Bridger and can discuss the exploits of John Wesley Powell.

    I grew up and live in a community property state and really don’t quite understand how one can claim that assets that developed after a marriage can belong solely to one.

    I don’t understand the believe that the government can be both more competent and/or more available than the people who have an actual stake in the outcome.

  133. “One friend’s dad nicknamed me “yankee”.”

    @Rhode: I spent 3 years in TX being called “Yankee” (the fact that MD is actually south of the Mason-Dixon line was entirely irrelevant; one helpful friend explained that the term applied to anyone from north of the Red River). In my case, it was friendly teasing, not epithets. But it does create a constant reminder that at some level, you don’t really “belong.”

  134. Cordelia, I’m looking forward to hearing whatever you’re willing to share about dropping your DD off at college and that transition, as well as from anyone else (BenL?) in the same situation.

  135. Accent is a matter of perspective. A lot of people on the continent seem to think people from here have an accent, but I think most people here are accent-free, but people from the mainland typically have a mainland accent.

    Like others here, I’ve learned to speak with that mainland accent. It does seem that among my kids and their friends, their speech is close to a mainland accent, although that may not be the case among, say, HM’s kids’ classmates.

  136. Not that much pidgen, Finn. And many of their classmates are from immigrant families, especially Chinese.

  137. Pidgin.

    I’m having to correct myself in both threads! Maybe I shouldn’t be posting today.

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