I Fell Off The Face Of The Earth And Landed In The USA: From DE to DE

I have not posted in a while because I have been incredibly busy with this or that. And I’m also no longer in Germany, so here’s why.

I came to Germany originally to look for work while I waited for graduate schools to get back to me. I thought it would be possible for three reasons: 1. I have a degree, 2. I’m an American so how hard could it be, and 3. I’m not Turkish. It turns out, however, that finding a job anywhere is substantially more difficult than one would think.

After two months had passed, two months of the ten I had between undergrad and grad school, I had garnered a few interviews. Unfortunately, with one of the jobs, full-time, I would have made approximately $1,35 an hour, as it was an internship. I also fell very ill the day I was supposed to go to my first “trial day”. I had to call out sick before I could even begin. In the throes of frustration, I decided it was time to come back home.

Naturally the day I arrive home my phone begins ringing like crazy with people in Berlin asking when I am available for interviews.

The problem is that it is simply much easier to find work in your own country, and a week into the process, I am at least making some progress. I intend to keep up this blog mostly as a travel blog, and as a literary blog to some degree which may ever increase as I become more established for the time being.

For those of you wondering, I’m 0-2 so far with grad schools, which is both disheartening and not since they were Oxford and Cambridge, so there was little surprise when I was denied. If I don’t get into grad school, I’ve decided I’m going to go back to school for accounting and finance. I’ve learnt too much about the 2008 financial crisis not to want to fix it and work my way into the system. Furthermore, if I somehow get filthy rich doing it, I can retire and work on things that are much more important with all that free time.

I left Germany, commonly abbreviated as DE, to come home to Delaware, which is abbreviated DE. So not much has changed in that regard. I live in a small and ever growing and “gentrifying” farm town.

That word “gentrifying” really annoys me in this context. Usually, when it’s not being mocked as code for racial segregation, it means that there is some amount of culture coming on the backs of richer people into a once dead area. In this case, there are only a lot of rich people coming down here. There’s really nothing else. I quite literally live in the centre of a few corn fields in a totally American development which, because this land was so empty a few years ago, was filled in with dirt-cheap houses.

It all feels very artificial and it looks almost like that episode of Black Mirror in which everyone is rating everyone else constantly.

Delaware was the only Swedish colony in the original thirteen. Most people are unaware that the Swedes even had a colony and, since American high schools teach history poorly, most Delawareans don’t know either. They settled here in the 1630s, set up a camp on what they called the Christina River, and fortified it. Then the Dutch came along and they began fighting over it. Eventually, because of the Thirty Years’ War, the Swedes gave up and refocused, leaving it to the Dutch.

The Dutch renamed everything with Dutch names, like Amstel and such. New Castle, Delaware, was the main city in the colony for a long time and is an interesting city architecturally. The old town is still preserved, and has a mix of Swedish, Dutch, and English buildings. It looks rather like the Dutch Quarter in Potsdam, except with some more traditional American brick buildings thrown in. If you have seen Dead Poets’ Society, the scene in which Robin Williams rides his bike towards a brick building was filmed there. I live in the town where the theatre at the end of the movie is, and the school from the movie is a few miles from my house.

Once the Dutch lost primacy in the New World, the British began to sweep up their colonies. They didn’t know what to do with Delaware, so they just lopped it in with Pennsylvania as an extra three counties. Yes, we only have three counties. And the only perfectly circular border in the world.

In 1775, Delaware voted to separate from Pennsylvania. So we did. Very uneventful.

After that, there’s not too much of interest. Wilmington, DE, was the last stop on the Underground Railroad, bringing slaves from the South to the North in order to escape. Harriet Tubman was active with Quaker Conductors here.

The DuPont Company, which created such products as nylon, teflon, spandex, kevlar, and other things you use daily, was founded in Delaware in the 1850s as a gunpowder manufactory. Ironically, the DuPont family had left France to avoid war. They ended up supplying most of the powder used by the Union in the Civil War.

That’s essentially all there was. We didn’t even have a battle in the American Revolution, save Cooch’s Bridge, which sounds more like a sex act than a small skirmish between George Washington and some Brits on his way to Brandywine, in Pennsylvania. We also had a border dispute with Pennsylvania over something like four square miles of land,  which lasted until 1921 and resulted in our winning that weird wedge-shaped border near the circular part.

The former Vice President, Joe Biden, comes from Delaware. Delaware has an odd political system, in the sense that everyone acts in a very gentlemanly fashion. For example, you never run against an incumbent. To many, that sounds like mafia-style rule. But here, it’s just the way everything runs, and the main power-holders here are very much honest, friendly people. And if you hold one office, you’ll hold them all. For example, basically any governor in Delaware has already been county executive, representative to Congress, representative to the State Legislature, state senator, dog catcher, insurance commissioner, lieutenant governor, etc. So every election, you end up with the same three or four people running for each other’s positions. But it’s convenient since you only need to know four names, and they change around every few years and do their jobs. You will also run into all of them at the grocery store on a regular basis. The Senators and the Representative from our state take the train to Washington, D.C., and back to Wilmington each day, in order not to lose touch. As a kid, I used to run into Joe Biden all the time at the train station. And it’s weird, because they usually remember who you are. Mike Castle, who was beat in a primary a few years ago by Christine O’Donnell, a name which may ring a bell for the “I’m not a witch” incident, was particularly talented with names and faces, and could remember the question you asked him months ago and would have an answer for you.

All in all it’s not terrible to be back, but I always forget what a huge country this is, and that even in a small state it’s normal to commute more than forty-five minutes to work each way, and that you need a car to get anywhere. I’m going to Charleston, South Carolina, this week for my sister’s recognition event at her military college, so I’ll regain some of the travel aspect of this blog this week-end.


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