American: originating or coming from the United States of America (USA)
As I wandered the apartment this morning, prepping for an interview and thinking about the 365 daily post, the word American popped into my head. In the first five weeks of the challenge, I choose the primary ethnicity groups that made up who I am. I suddenly realized I never spoke about being an American. But what exactly does that mean and how has it changed over the last ~ 250 years. Two key things to clarify before I start babbling: (1) I am not political and (2) This will not be a “rah-rah” post about the greatness of my country — not because it isn’t, but because that’s not the type of blog I would post, given I’m more the kind of person who asks questions rather than provides answers. Back to the topic at hand…
Over the last ~250 years since America was created in the late 18th century, people have defined themselves as American based on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I agree with all of those beliefs, and I am proud and grateful for all of the liberties we have; however, what does it mean to be an American in today’s society? I believe it’s changed over the years, based on how we’ve grown as people and as a country. Not so much as in “How do other countries view us?” as that would be getting political, which I won’t do on a blog. But… what do you think of when you say “I am an American.” For me, a few key “normal every day” things come to mind… and I mean this seriously, not as a joke:
- Apple Pie
- Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
- Stock Market
There are tons of other things I could have added, some judgmental and some humble, but I am not going for a controversial post… I’m going for the casual feel of “oh, yeah, that just feels American to me.”
- Apple Pie
- There is the saying “as American as apple pie,” which is a well-known quote.
- There’s the movie “American Pie,” which provides a pretty strong commentary on what it’s like growing up in American high schools and colleges.
- Towns fight over the best way to make apple pie: type of crust, covered or uncovered, which apples, sweet or fruity…
- I enjoy apple pie, but it wouldn’t be my first dessert. Desserts in my world require chocolate.
- I don’t think I represent America well, when it comes to apple pie.
- Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
- Quintessential BBQ food, especially on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
- Have been turned into a gourmet food in some places, i.e. how many different ways can you re-invent this staple of the “American diet.”
- I won’t eat hot dogs as I’m not a fan of mystery meat, even when it’s “all beef.”
- I’ll have a hamburger every once in a while, but I much prefer filet mignon or steak tartare. I’m obnoxious, I know.
- Included because it’s where everyone goes and talks about, when it comes to entertainment.
- From Old Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s super-idolized gossip and drama, it’s been a staple defining the country for an entire century.
- Everyone talks about TV/Film Hollywood stars; it’s the go-to conversation more than books, plays, sports… it’s a universal standard for things to talk about.
- I enjoy films and TV shows. I talk about them. But I’m more apt to talk about books. I don’t follow or track celebrities, nor do I care if I pass one on the street. It’s a secondary thing in my life, not a driver.
- Stock Market
- Driven the world’s economical impacts for many years. I’m not saying it’s the only driver, but it’s been an influential piece for nearly two centuries.
- It’s on the news every day, especially lately!
- It’s used as a way to judge “how the world is doing” instead of looking at how people treat one another.
- I know a little bit about it. I invest in it. I check a few key numbers each day, but that’s more because I like watching counts go up/down and measuring numbers from day to day, regardless of if it’s the stock market or the weather.
- The US seems to have its own tipping standards, and the rest of the world is not a fan of how it works here.
- In all my 40 years, I still struggle with understanding exactly when to tip and when not to, i.e. maintenance in my building, deliveries, services. I probably over-tip as a result, but it’s painful even for Americans!
- I always thought 15% to 20% was the scale. 15% if it was so-so, 20% if it was stellar. Now, I see 22.5%, 25% and 30% on receipts, taxi screens, etc. So confusing!
- My standard now is 20% for 8 out of 10 occasions. If I had a problem with the service, I’ll drop it to 15%. If it was awesome, I’ll leave 25%.
- In the past, it feels like the motto was either “Work hard and you’ll achieve your goals,” or “Nothing worth having is easy.” Or some paraphrasing around those messages.
- Now, it feels like the focus is “How can we get something done quicker, faster, cheaper?” Certainly has been prevalent in history before, but now… with technology, it’s all about pushing the envelope even more.
- Everything is being designed to accomplish more in as little time or space as possible
- On one hand, this is great if we are saving our environment or resources.
- It’s exhausting us and causing more illness.
- I feel like people often think “they take it easy in America” when it comes to just doing or saying whatever we want. I would agree we are definitely all about the convenience, but at the same time, we take the worst vacations (meaning we work the entire time, and there’s little work-life balance).
- Me personally… eh, I tend to try to do as much as possible in as little as possible time, so I probably fit this one fairly well.
So…. 6 things I think of when I hear the word “American.” All non-political and non-controversial. I’m not focusing on the land of the free… all important stuff, but I purely wanted a reflective moment, not an argumentative one.
How about you? What other attributes do you think are American? Which of these do you fit in? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve noted?
About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”
I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.
The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.
Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.