Go west, not so young man

Well, only fitting in the early days of this post-truth America that I cannot find a definitive source for the “Go west, young man…” quote. Horace Greeley, a newspaper editor, was credited with this full quote in 1865, which resonates a bit today: “Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” I guess later Greeley vigorously denied ever giving anyone this advice… probably because he was being named the Secretary of  Housing and Urban Development in some new administration.But as little as the country has changed, big change is coming to yours truly and family. Karen, overcoming the huge odds of three children crying for her attention at home (myself included there), has landed a great job opportunity that recognizes some of the inclusion policy work she has done locally and is already doing at a national level. She’s been hired by Y USA to help YMCAs across the country offer inclusive programming for people with diverse abilities. The job is based in Chicago, and we’ll be moving to the Chicago area (da burbs…) in just a few short months.

“What??” you are saying. “How???” you are crying. “Under what spell???” you are shouting. Oh wait, that’s me. Yes, it’s still a bit in the “Wouldn’t it be funny if we decided…” stage for me. Sort of how I’ve approached at least some major life decisions. I remember being in line to board the plane as we were starting our Peace Corps service and turning to the person next to me and asking, “So is this the point of no return?” And then that became a running joke for the next two years. Not that my living in the Midwest will become a running joke… I mean, I might be making jokes a lot… and running away from an angry crowd after cheering for the Patriots… ok, I will be a running joke out there. But a little credit here: I’m a cultural chameleon. I was mistaken for a Bulgarian once… and also for a high school student in a Baltimore City school. Wait, that was a middle school. And the kid who asked me if I was a student there was clearly not an honor student…

So the kids will finish the school year here. We will be moving by late July, after which point I’ll be working from home as a telecommuter, keeping my current job where, heading into this year’s performance review cycle, I’m prepared to say I’m “crushing it.” Earlier this year we won a big demonstration project for the Social Security Administration, which should provide us with a good amount of work for 4+ years. Very nice to have, given the current administration’s approach to federal government, which seems to put a premium on self-destruction. I’m consulting with colleagues who have also shifted to telecommuting to learn how they cope with being alone and interacting with others only through a screen. I’m assuming I’ll need to create some cardboard cutouts of officemates… in casual poses by the water cooler or with feet up on a desk, bespeaking an environment of thoughtful collegiality. Karen will come home early from work one day to find me chatting a bit too earnestly with the cute girl in accounting.

Yes, it’s going to work out fine. And after 9+ years of living close to my family, we can live close to Karen’s family and probably move into a slightly bigger house for these kids who seem intent on growing up. I’ll have to try to start a new penultimate frisbee club and a new dad band.  And top priority will be finding a new spot for excellent Sichuan food. I might have to eat at Sichuan Gourmet down the street once per week between now and late July. Very sad to be leaving family and friends here… Sharon’s a great town and we will be lucky if we can find something with all of the services and amenities we have here.

Anyway, I’m running on fumes here after getting too little sleep after band practice last night… the band is on the verge of becoming a profitable enterprise over here too. We are pretty much turning away work/shows at this point… because we all have full-time jobs and kids! The price of being extremely talented, I know. I’m going to enter into high-level negotiations with the band before I leave over my share of royalties from the band name (2nd Precinct Jug Band). It’s a name no one really likes, so likely a very short negotiation.

So I hope you all are doing well. I’ve been meaning to write a few different times over the past few months, bemoaning this or that about where our country seems to be headed (beheaded?)… but staying quiet and watching things unfold has also seemed to be working pretty well… a few more weeks and we might be impeaching the president and entering another Cold War with Russia? Hey, as wars go, the Cold War wasn’t so bad, was it? Cuban missile crisis was too close a call? Probably. I’m now so tired I’m babbling.

Stay tuned for home sale and moving adventures, and then a whole new chapter of E-email, for the first time ever: from the Midwest!! (sound of wind across an empty plain)




About ericf73

A modern-day combination of Noah, Godot and Clark W. Griswold.
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