Why I Love America

This is a really great country. I discovered yesterday that two of the Vietnamese pedicurists at my salon live in my street in the houses that are identical to mine. (They always wear masks at work so I wouldn’t recognize them out of the salon).

When a pedicurist, a grocery cashier, a steel worker, and a professor – two of them immigrants and two lifelong residents – can afford the same lifestyle, that’s really great.

In case anyone thinks the pedicurist married rich or something, her husband is a young Vietnamese man who works at the same salon as a manicurist.

This is the great gift this country offers. A good life for people with different professions, different education levels, different life stories. All we need is more of this and less of the exhausting defeatism about how everything is horrible and the American dream is dead.

14 thoughts on “Why I Love America”

  1. // And you get no comments. You need some outrage if you want clicks.

    I think all outrage all the time becomes tiring and boring too.

    Tranquil, nice posts like this one or like posts about Klara add a lot to the blog, even if readers cannot comment because of having nothing interesting to add.


  2. “I think all outrage all the time becomes tiring and boring too.”

    It was one of the reasons I stopped reading activist (feminist) blogs. After a while, knew what they would say in advance prior to opening the web page.

    This blog is like getting acquainted with you Clarissa and with the readers too, the proverbial village pub where the topic and the tone change with the times rather than keeping a constant shrieking pitch.


      1. You’re right, of course. It’s just… when people tell you stuff about your own country, it’s often as though they’ve informed you that the sky is blue, or that rain makes the plants grow.

        My Dad, traveling in southeast Asia, stopped to help two ladies push a motorbike up a sand bank, where it had got stuck. They immediately pegged him as American, even though there’s no shortage of German, French, and Russian roundeye tourists in the area. He was baffled, and asked about it. They told him only Americans stop to help strangers, as though this were completely obvious.

        We still puzzle over that one. Is it true that people don’t do this, elsewhere? Or is it only true among roundeye tourists in Asia? We are not sure.


        1. Where I come from, every passing driver would go to great lengths to splash these ladies with mud while speeding by. Every single one. If a car stopped, you’d know its driver was going to rob and assault you.

          My people not only don’t help. They actively try to do something mean to you for absolutely no reason.

          In America, it took me a while to get used to strangers saying nice things to me for absolutely no reason. Where I come from, people say nasty, vile things to strangers all day long.

          But then we were ruled for 70 years by the kind of people you see marching in these BLM protests. It will take us 70 more years to recover.


          1. I want to add because people don’t get this point: if you are pegged as a foreigner, you will get treated with extraordinary and exuberant (and completely fake) kindness because people want to fleece you in some way. Behind your back, they’ll say the most atrocious things about you.

            “My people” are, of course, native speakers of Russian of all ethnicities. We are nasty, mean, miserable, and very superior bastards.

            I really love it when people travel to a Russian-speaking country and come back gushing about how sweet, kind and “open” everybody was.


            1. Yikes! What you say rings true, but at the same time… I loved working for my expat Ukrainian boss. He disliked everyone. But he was very good at his job and very clear about my job. And at work, I do not care how rude people are, as long as expectations are clear, and they hold up their end. I wouldn’t want to be his friend outside work, though– totally amoral. After that I was transferred to customer service, which I hated. Customer service is full of people who are simmering cauldrons of resentment, but have been trained never to say anything offensive. It is horrible.

              I love the old Russian ladies at church for similar reasons: they never pretend to be nice.

              We have encountered the foreigners = $$ thing. But my father plays that game willingly, and with gusto, like a fantastical magic trick. He’s saved his pennies and made several trips back to Viet Nam, because he fell in love with it during the war, and speaks the language. On his first trip back, he met a struggling Catholic family, and struck a deal with them: he sponsored their kid (who had recently quit school to work) through high school and then college, and covers some occasional emergency expenses. In return, he’s their guest whenever he visits the country– once every few years. They pick him up at the airport. He stays at their house, eats with them, goes to church with them, and they make any in-country arrangements he needs while he’s there (train and bus tickets, van rentals, taking him shopping when the airline loses his clothes, etc.). His Viet Kieu friends in the US assure him he’s being wildly taken advantage of. He does not mind: he is happy with the deal, because he gets to travel on a “family” visa (so he can stay longer),and never has to stay in a hotel, pay tourist prices, or hang out with other tourists (whom he finds apalling). I’ve made the trip with him, and I think he’s right– it’s a good deal!


              1. Here’s an excerpt from an interview before the family was granted citizenship (my quick and dirty translation):

                “No, no money. Life” is he he answers when asked why he chose Poland. “In Ukraine nothing has changed for 25 years and I remember Poland from 1991 – holes in the roads and ugly bazaars everywhere. Now it’s a different place. I like how Polish people did it all themselves. They didn’t point fingers at, well… some enemy like someone else is to blame. They did it themselves. They didn’t like wzyatki… that is… bribes, so they stopped giving them. There’s no corruption in Poland.”

                The idea that there’s no corruption in Poland is an… exaggeration of course but it’s no where nearly as rampant as some countries and bribes were almost always restricted to a few areas.

                “Nie, nie kasa. Życie – tak odpowiadał na pytanie, dlaczego wybrał Polskę. – Na Ukrainie przez 25 lat nic się nie zmieniło, a ja pamiętam Polskę z 1991 r.: wszędzie jamy w drogach i brzydkie bazary. Teraz to jest inna kraina. I mnie się podoba, że Polacy wszystko sami zrobili. Nie pokazywali palcem tego, no,… wroga, że ktoś inny winny. Tylko sami zrobili. Nie podobały im się wzyatki, znaczy… te… łapówki, to przestali dawać. I nie ma korupcji w Polsce.”

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