Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Five Years Later

On this day in history, quite a lot of significant events occurred. In 1610, Henry Hudson discovers a huge bay in Canada, which he believed was the passageway to the Pacific Northwest. He was far from his goal. Today, this bay bears his name: Hudson Bay.

In 1776, the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence was signed. It took them almost a month to sign that parchment?

In 1903, the Ottoman Empire falls, like every empire eventually does. In 1923, "Silent" Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated as president upon the death of President Warren G. Harding. Coolidge was actually Ronald Reagan's favourite president. Imagine that! However, it was the pro-business policies of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover administrations that led to the Great Depression in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash. Do we really need more proof that the conservative view of economic policy always leads to financial ruin?

In 1934, Adolf Hitler becomes "Der Fuhrer" of Germany. It is worth noting that he did not win the popular vote in the 1933 election and he consolidated power as both the Chancellor and the President.

In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in Congress and ultimately made the weed illegal in the United States. Good!

This day in 1939 saw Albert Einstein sending a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt urging him to begin the Manhattan Project.

In 1943, while a rebellion occurred at the Treblinka concentration camp, the PT-109 boat that was captained by a young John F. Kennedy was sunk, which gave Kennedy the opportunity to use his swimming skills to save his crew from drowning. This incident made Kennedy a bona fide war hero. Three years later, he would win his first race for Congress.

1964 saw a mysterious (and faked) incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, in which some U.S. Navy ships claimed to be fired upon, which set up a pretext for going to war in Vietnam against the communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

And in 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded the sovereign neighbouring nation of Kuwait, which set into motion the beginning of our long war in Iraq. For me, I remember that day well. My family was on vacation to the Florida panhandle (or "Redneck Riviera" as people affectionally call it). My dad had to call back to work, just in case he needed to cut our vacation short. The joys of having an Air Force officer father! Fortunately, we were able to stay in Florida for the full week. But the moment was an "oh shit!" kind of moment for me. I had enlisted in the Navy back in June of 1990. With the end of the Cold War, I just didn't foresee any wars on the horizon (oh what a joy to be so naive!). My journals at the time reflected my ambivalence about our war. But as it turned out, I was in the Delayed Entry Program long enough to miss out on President George Herbert Walker Bush's splendid 100-hour ground war.

Though it did not make Wikipedia's list of significant events on this day, five years ago, I disembarked my Amtrak train from Chicago. After a six year delay, I was finally in Portland, which was my post college "Plan B" (a life and career in Washington, D.C. was "Plan A" and Atlanta was "Plan C"). In years past, I always felt bittersweet about this anniversary date. Moving to Portland did not go as planned. I suffered a huge drop in my salary that I have never been able to recover. In fact, had I stayed at my last job in Atlanta, the income differential between that salary and the one I have had in Portland for five years now would have paid off my college loans! I am no where near to paying that off.

Also, the past anniversary dates were marred by my absolute loathing of the job I had. Being stuck is not a good feeling at all. Especially when it is being stuck in a job you hate and is absolutely the worst job I ever had. Well, what a difference one year makes! Now, I feel no such mixed emotions about the date. I'm in a job that I actually love. I feel things are moving in my life. I'm certainly optimistic these days. Part of my happiness is due to the news of last week that Congressman Wu was resigning rather than sticking it out until his term finished; and Mayor Adams not running for reelection. Its a chance to find a winning candidate and hopefully fulfill my dream of a career as a political aide. Most of my happiness, though, is that I have my own cubicle where I don't have some control-freak breathing down my back all the time. Where I can't even take a break without the control-freak supervisor coming to look for me. I still feel a deep sense of relief that my four year long ordeal ended last year.

Its hard to say if I regret moving to Portland. While it was much easier for me to find a job in Atlanta, and one that paid well, I had difficulty connecting with people. Southern culture and my personality simply do not mix well. I did not have much of a social life in Atlanta. This was perfect for allowing me time to complete my novel, but also made for some lonely periods. Here in Portland, I think about all the wonderful people I've met on the political campaigns I've volunteered on, the people in the various Community of Christ congregations, all those young adult retreats at Samish Island and other locations, even the people at my work. Since a young age, I lived most of my life without regret. I always had a mindset of gratitude, appreciative of the fact that no matter where I lived, I met great people that I wanted to keep in touch with.

Portland has its challenges (low wage jobs, high unemployment), but would I give up knowing all the people I've met these past five years to live back in Atlanta again? The answer would be no. There is so much about Portland that I love. Its a perfect city for me. We can't change the past. We can only move forward. Here's to meeting more interesting people (and hopefully, the woman I'm meant to marry) and attaining the salary level that I've long deserved. I have an appointment with abundance. Portland is going to deliver for me, big time.

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