A Few Thoughts on Life in the 21st Century

July 8th, 2003

Faced with the prospect of July 4th with a disturbing year behind us, and equally disturbing year stretching out in front, Jasmine and I did the most patriotic thing we could think of, flee the country. If only for a weekend of jazz in Montreal.

I’m sitting on the ground in the jetBlue terminal of JFK, huddled up to the one functioning power outlet. Wireless apparently is delayed until at least 2005 as NYC Port Authority gave an exclusive contract to bring wireless to La Guardia and JFK to some company who is in the process of filing for bankruptcy and that exclusive contract is part of their assets.

I’m growing increasingly tired of being told that I’ve been selected “randomly” for increasingly invasive search searches every single time I fly.

The question “where are you from?”, confuses me. How to pack the long complicated narrative that is the answer to that question into a polite exchange? Often you edit, you choose the answer which makes the most sense in context. Traveling by bus from Boston to Amherst, you don’t tell people your from San Francisco. Flying from New York to Seattle, you don’t tell people that you started your trip in Providence. When crossing the border you are from the town where the car was rented, even though neither person in the car has an ID from that state, and in fact those IDs point to home addresses 3000 miles away. You occasionally have to go back a decade to dredge up an appropriate answer. You don’t ever mention that the answer is subject to change every 6 months, and only rarely explain that sometimes the question has no answer at all.

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