This isn’t the first government shutdown that America’s seen, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since the last one? Come on. They happened all the time in the 70s and 80s but never in 2000.
Or I’m more aware as an adult now and so this news seems big? Really. Shit’s been spiraling out of control all over the damn world, and this just really seems like bad timing for a shutdown.
Perhaps my living in Belgium makes this kind of news out of America even bigger? Perhaps. After all I am six hours ahead or more in my day than the average American, and most news out of America is big news to me nowadays.
The last time there was a government shutdown in the U.S., I’d just moved out of my parents’ home in Manhattan, and was living on my own for the first time in Queens. I was so busy making ends meet working four different part-time jobs at once I didn’t care what was going on. The time before that, in 1990, I was in high school and I wasn’t affected much then either. Before that I have no childhood memories of oh my god our government is dead, so it wasn’t big news to then either.
Lots of Americans think this time around is no big deal either. I think it is a big deal and I think it’s worse timing, although when is it ever a good time for a shutdown…
I remember in 2006 when Puerto Rico’s government shut down I’d just started working at a global investment bank by Central Park. Life was good financially. In 2006, my coworkers and I sat in meetings and Puerto Rico’s shutdown in terms of economics, and then joked about the shutdown once the meetings broke.
Then the economic crisis happened and I found myself laid-off in 2009, with many of the same people I once sat in fancy conference with during meetings. I didn’t feel like joking much then. I’m sure people in other parts of the world were probably cracking jokes about the state the U.S. was in at the time.
I found my way around the world and didn’t resent or hate the people who laid me off, and I found myself married and living in Belgium by 2011. On a daily basis I get asked a variety of questions around my life here in Belgium and how America looks from here. Rather, how America is perceived.
I rarely touch politics in blog because it’s such a turnoff to so many people, and mostly because most of us don’t understand most of it…or don’t want to.
But I’ll tell you how America is perceived in Belgium…
America is a ridiculously gigantic and formidable land and whole country where you can do anything you never even knew you wanted to do and deliciously more, but where you can die because you don’t have healthcare, and oh yeah gay people have less rights.
Basically, in a proverbial nutshell, that’s it. Deficits will never be made whole and will always be there, and not just in America. There are whole countries dying financially around the world but they just make for smaller headlines. America’s government shutdown is pretty big news here, even if the average Belgian won’t be affected.
I was sitting in a comfy chair getting my hair cut this morning at the salon in my little neighborhood in Evergem, Belgium. Here’s the cut I got…before (yesterday) and after. You can see my breasts more now, according to my husband.
While I was at the salon though, I got asked if America was really “shut down” and if Obama was to blame. Sigh. As an American expat living in Belgium, it was impossible for me to answer in a yes or no or maybe. I felt like a defunct Magic 8-ball grasping for an answer not so vague.
It’s so very hard to explain news, big or small, depending on your perspective.