I felt so guilty about not updating for a while that I decided to give you two essays for the price of one.
Your Sin Dollars At Work
I just wanted to report that Indian gambling is the greatest thing to come out in the last fifty years. (Runners-up include the expressions “baby momma” and “baby daddy”, hair texturizer, and the “under $30 sale” section on Nordstrom’s webpage.)
My dad started having chest pains while visiting his brother in Cherokee. He moved forthwith to a hospital, got a four-way bypass, and is now recuperating in Asheville. Amazingly, heart surgery has improved so much in the last 11 years that he was in the hospital for less than a week (last time around, when I was in high school, was a completely different story). Today he moves to an elder care center in Cherokee, and then afterwards will live in a small house on the reservation. The best part? The Eastern Cherokees are paying for all of this with casino proceeds. Thanks to the legions of fat, baseball-capped tourists who drive all the way to the mountains to play video poker and eat lukewarm buffet lasagna, I can continue to be one of those horrid selfish children that does not have any elderly parents living with her.
Instead, Dad can hang with the assortment of wacky relatives we have in the area. For the record, if you ever hear about a guy in western North Carolina waving a shotgun out of the window and saying, “You’ll never take me alive!”… it’s probably my Uncle Joe. There’s also a wide assortment of cousins – this being the mountains, everyone is related to everyone else – and plenty of people to visit.
So, keep on dropping your rent money into the slot machines, America! This semi-Cherokee thanks you for your financial irresponsibility.
Bureaucrat, Diplomat…What’s the Difference?
I’ve found the strangest thing about my new life isn’t the constant moving or the culture shock. It’s the assumption that I have “married rich.” Four people said this to me at my high school reunion in the first hour alone. I’m a little fed up with being indirectly called a gold digger – if that had been my intention, hell, I’m cute enough to marry some actual money.
Speculating on someone else’s finances is natural, but usually the speculation is dead wrong. Sorry, guys, but diplomats are still bureaucrats, and we’re as a rule not very wealthy. My clothes come from H&M and Old Navy, and maybe a few clearance items from Ann Taylor. We took nice holidays in Colombia because nobody visits Colombia, and all the tourist attractions are therefore dirt cheap. I have the luxury of working part time because housing is free while we are abroad.
I guess it’s so weird to me because I’ve never thought of myself as financially well-off. Mainly because I’ve always been so damn broke. Most people think diplomacy and envision nice houses, long black cars, and immaculately uniformed maids. Nobody sees the long-distance coach class flights, the hideous State Department-issued furniture, and the trip to four different grocers to find green peppers. I haven’t been to a fancy cocktail party in a year, and in fact find them excruciating.
So, no, I didn’t “marry rich,” I “married well” in a non-financial sense. And that’s much more interesting than fancy parties and chauffeurs.