a new puppy


Obama’s kids, Sasha and Malia, are getting a new puppy when they move into the White House.  My 10 and 7-year olds have decided that it’s not fair.  Moving to the White House is nothing, they argue.  We moved much further — all the way to Taiwan and we didn’t get a puppy or anything.

I’m thinking of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham.  Few people talk about her.  Clearly they find her enigmatic.  Embarrassing perhaps.  As a 17-year old girl she moved from Kansas to go to university in Hawaii and soon she fell for this guy from Kenya.  After he left, she went on to marry a person from Indonesia and worked with NGOs in rural development projects around Asia.

Northern Sweden isn’t that different from Kansas.  Both are places where nothing happens and everything is the same.  I completely understand her desire to discover the different, the exotic.  Part of the attraction is sexual.  You want to possess otherness and you want to be possessed by it.  But the sexual aspect is secondary to a much deeper desire to both forget yourself and to find yourself in an embrace of the completely unknown.  I too have lived my life like that.

Sometimes I think my kids will suffer from my eccentric life-style choices.  But then I think about Barack Obama.  He seems to have done OK.  In fact, there is research which says that multi-cultural cross-fertilization — especially of languages — helps your brain develop better.  Maybe one of my kids too one day will become president of the United States.  Then they can finally have that puppy.


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