For years I have blogged in total anonymity. I blogged before I knew I was “blogging,” posting random messages to my first site hosted by AOL those many moons ago. For a long time my only regular visitor was my sister… that’s DOCTOR sister to you! Several years back my readership doubled, then trippled… and oh my God… rocketed to darn near close to half a dozen regular or occasional readers.
At first everyone thought it was cool that I had my own web site. That stopped being so cool in a few years. Then everyone (well, one person anyway) though it was cool that I was blogging… until there were more blogs than people (on Earth).
Now I am cool once again.
We Americans can be an egocentric lot. I once heard someone threaten to call immigration on a Puerto Rican for not having a visa or “green card” (they were gently reminded that Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory… thus, they were a U.S. citizen… and didn’t need a visa or green card). Alas, I’m not immune. I’ve had my head stuck in the American sand on more than one occasion… but I’d like to think there’s a silver lining… sort of. For me anyway, anything at all foreign is exotic. My sister visited Toronto earlier this year and brought back candies flavored with something called “Ice Wine.” I thought it was the best thing since real maple syrup. Alright, maybe it wasn’t as good as real maple syrup… but it was delightfully different. Knowing little about other places, and only once having traveled out of my time zone (other than driving to New Orleans, but that was less than a 12 hour drive so I don’t really count that), there are lots of places in this world that are just brimming with undiscovered wonders.
Similarly, I am fascinated by people from other places. The lives we lead are shaped by the places we live, and I rarely tire hearing the particulars. A professor at U.F. told me about his days in North Dakota, plugging in his engine heater at night so the fluids didn’t freeze. That was awesome (especially for a Florida boy, with only vague memories of his first 8 years in New England – which still don’t touch winters in the Dakotas anyway).
Now imagine my excitement having honest to goodness foreigners visiting the site? And what could be better than representatives from the vast, northern enigma that is Canada? In many ways similar and in many ways different, I think there are many Americans who don’t quite know what to make of Canada (other than it’s -mostly- north of here, and generally colder). Some of us scoff at them, some of us threaten to join them after presidential elections, and some of us don’t pay any attention at all… but I’m just, well… curious. To me small, nuanced differences can be just as fascinated as big ones. You could argue that there ARE big differences, but surely they’re not as large as the differences between, say, “western” and “easter” cultures. We largely come from the same European stock, after all… (perhaps) taking slightly different paths at the end of the 18th century.
My wife is amused I get a kick out of dropping the occasional reference to “my Canadian readers.” Although my sleep cycle regrets the reading and light research I do (stemming from all this norther exposure), folks at work humor my shared observations about media, gun culture, and health care (their possible differences in our societies – and how they’ve affected us); and I get a kick out of the discussions that come of them.
I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to expand my horizons, even if it’s only a little. And to think that all of this comes from a reclined, stationary position in my family room… it doesn’t cease to amaze me (even if I did grow up in the “via satellite” age).