Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where I Come From

Wow, this election has really made me think a lot, and I don’t mean about the issues. I’m from Eagle River, Alaska, just a fifteen-minute drive south of Wasilla, the town Sarah Palin governs. And then I became a mother and lived for six years in Hyde Park, Obama’s neighborhood. Our first apartment there was only two blocks from Obama’s current home.

And it isn’t just that I have ties to these two places, Alaska and Hyde Park, but that I feel like these two places formed me as a person and a parent. Both places are very unique, viewpoint-shaping sorts of places, which has been made much of in this presidential race.

I’m hoping to write a whole long post about how I had to move to somewhere like Columbus--a more neutral sort of place--to truly find myself as a parent. But I really don’t have the energy for that today. So instead I’ll link to a few of my favorite articles and websites that do a wonderful job of explaining my geographical past and perspective.

First, here is a great op-ed piece about Sarah Palin from an Alaskan woman's perspective on Literary Mama. In this essay, Nicole Stellon O'Donnell pretty much sums up my Alaskan feelings on Palin.

And Hyde Park. There is so much to be said about this place, and I've never been able to exactly put my finger on everything that makes this neighborhood on Chicago's south side so wonderful and unique. But then I found this great article that appeared in the Washington Post last week that does it for me. And here's the website of a place called the Experimental Station on the edge of Hyde Park that embodies the spirit of the neighborhood quite nicely. The year before we moved, we attended a little boy's birthday party here that involved playing mini-golf in an interactive art installation of Rube Goldberg-esque golfing challenges made from scavenged materials.

So there. Go forth and spend hours reading about the two weirdo places that I have lived so that you can understand my personality and background. I know you really want to.


so yung wilson said...

I liked the LM editorial. And the article about Hyde Park (or the 1st two pages). They were both interesting and enlightening. I can understand a little more why it broke your heart to leave Chicago and why the necessary adjustment to Worthington. I really like Chicago based on our few visits with you all, and now I know that my fondness is for a particular neighborhood and not necessarily the greater metro area.

Thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

I had this kind of dual-citizenship on the primary - Hillary was my senator in NY before I got to help sign Obama on to the ballot at the Hyde Park Co-op - but now you, my friend, have the multistate-cultural background of the whole election.

It's definitely a different beast to be a parent in a place where you naturally fit in, compared to being a parent in a place where you have to build your own nest. But your own nest can fit really nicely, too.

Lhamo Osel said...

Me, I'm from New Jersey. Actually, I was born in Texas, but don't like to admit it. However, I have a bigger claim to fame....

Did you know that I am associated with TERRORISTS? Yes, it's true. When we lived in that lovely coach house, the previous tenants had been Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn. Occasionally I would take their misplaced mail over to his house and deliver it. They were always grateful and polite. So I guess you could say that I delivered clandestine communications to terrorists.

Jenny said...


I think we crossed paths somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember from where? Did we go to Chugiak together? I was class of '91, but we moved away in Oct '89. -- Jenny Laird

Ser said...


It could be that we crossed paths at Chugiak when I was a freshman, but that seems unlikely since it was the fall of '89. Hmmm. But if you lived in that area, perhaps it was something else earlier in our lives.

In any case, thanks for stopping in.

Jenny said...

Were you on the gymnastics team?

Ser said...

Why yes, I was! That was my last year in gymnastics, as puberty and gymnastics didn't agree for me. I take it you were also in gymnastics?

Jenny said...

Yes. I was a balance beam specialist and had my best meet (9.2) the last time I competed before we moved away. So... our lives intersected for 6 weeks 20 years ago, which is why I couldn't immediately place you. Except that I recognized your distinct name and your picture.

I came across your blog because I have a google alert for "eagle river", since my parents moved back there in 1994.