Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In the middle

It's stream of consciousness time, when the rules of grammar get to fly out the window:
So, my best friend comes up to visit her family this weekend, and I'm sitting on their living room couch while we eat dinner, and I realize this may be the last trip to her house for awhile...which we both decide is survivable before returning to our food, but then I get behind the wheel of my car and I'm driving home in the darkening summer evening while the foothills disappear beneath a slate blue blanket of thunderheads and I realize that it's not okay and I'm not okay and I don't feel like trying to be okay right now...so I make it through the front door and up the stairs to my room where I curl up like a snail on my bed and sob into my fiancee's left shoulder.

These moments sabotage me; I never know when they will creep past the borders of consciousness, but nothing is safe from triggering an episode. The right song, a change in the weather, or a poignant poem could kick a hole through my carefully erected wall, and quite a bit of flotsam has gathered behind it.

Deep down, I realize that all of us will adapt: my friend and I will thrive via IM, email and internet phones; my fiancee and I will cherish every one of our visits, and we'll be too busy to pine away during the interim; my family will adapt after awhile, and the months between trips home will fly. Still, I'm incredibly nervous looking at it now, looming before me in one giant block instead of the series of smaller hurdles it actually is. I worry about making friends all over again, about keeping the ones I have (what if they find newer, closer, better friends?? shrieks the insecure voice in my head), and about making sure my relationships with the people I love remain the same. I realize that the distance will require flexibility, but I would be devastated if new distances grew between my fiancee and I, or between my family and I, and so on. Again, I am fully aware that this will not happen if the parties involved do not want it to; however, knowing and accepting are two different things. The main reason why I fear change is because I have ridiculously strong insecurities about my relationships with people; I view major change as a force with the potential to jeopardize those connections, so I fear it instead of seeing the good it could create (e.g., giving my friends a reason to visit England, or making me a better email correspondent).

I'm also worried that I'll turn back into the person I was a few years ago: self-contained and isolated, despite the extroverted behavior -- a loner yearning for friends yet unable to drop her defenses for any who came along. I'd hate to isolate myself in grad school, but oh how I loathe getting to know new people. I always feel uncomfortable introducing myself and going through nine circles of hell trying to be comfortable enough to be me around strangers. Unfortunately, this fear perpetuates itself: I avoid getting to know people, then make no friends, thereby convincing me that trying to make friends is pointless...Again, I know this is in my control, but old habits die hard, and I always curl into myself when things get rough. Walls are easier to build than bridges.

Carp, carp, carp. That's all I do on here lately, and I apologize. This has turned into a pseudo-journal for me, so it's a forum for airing my daily angst. I'll try to revive the political commentary and humor, really I will! It's frustrating: whenever I'm in the middle of a huge transition, it always feels insurmountable. As soon as I step out from the middle of it, I realize how truly insignificant the whole process is -- but that never changes how I feel when the next one arrives. Ah, life in your 20s. Can I turn 30 yet? :)

Friday, May 27, 2005

T-minus one month...

In 30 days, I will be a wife. I will be leaving my reception with my husband, saying goodbye to my guests and starting a life as Mrs. My Last Name His Last Name (no hyphen - I'm not a fan). We thought about just keeping our individual names, but both of us liked the idea of having a unifying surname instead. I just realized that I have to change my passport and everything else - my health insurance has to change, my car insurance...there are so many legal details to a wedding ceremony.

Anyway, as expected I simultaneously am overjoyed and completely freaked out. The monumental nature of this one "big day" is beginning to become clear, and I think any single gal experiences twinges of anxiety about become a Mrs. when she is so used to Ms. Then, of course, there are all those unexpected wedding issues, like the mysterious wedding cake (what will it look like? don't ask me!), strange family dynamics and ridiculously complicated logistics. So, I think a little freak out is normal - and it comes in bits and pieces, like it did while I was sitting at a red light yesterday. I suddenly felt myself getting glassy-eyed as I realized how quickly the wedding was approaching...and then the guy behind me honked, shattering my reverie and bringing me back to more pressing issues like driving.

Still, I'm happy in the knowledge that FH and I are a secure, compatible couple with similar views in all the right areas. It's also nice to know that we will not become one of those "MegandFH" couples who can't do anything without each other; we have our own friends and our own interests, and I'm damned if that's going to change. We talked about that extensively ahead of time, and our individuality is very important to us. It's great because this relationship and marriage are creating a new part of my identity without erasing any of the old bits. Now, I just get to incorporate everything into a slightly different whole -- a process that will be challenging but fun.

I can't wait to start our lives together, although we really have done that already. Still, I love the idea of waking up next to my husband, of wearing our wedding rings in public instead of in secret behind our closed apartment door. This whole wedding thing is scary for many reasons, but it's also tremendously exciting and uplifting. 30 days to go...I have a feeling they will fly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sunny in Seattle!

It is supposed to hit 80 degrees today, and I couldn't be happier. Naturally, my shoulders have already burned in that great Irish American heritage way...I have to fry at least twice before I actually tan...go figure. Somehow, I doubt my dermatologists will be sympathetic 30 years down the line - but what can I do when I sunburn after driving my car for an hour??

I've managed to get together with several friends lately, and it has been fantastic catching up with everyone. Regardless of how busy my life is, I've tried really hard since the Great Thyroid Incident of 2004 to maintain some semblance of a social life. It may not be much, but a weekly lunch or after-work hangout session means the world to me, and it keeps me much saner than spending all afternoon with the to-do list. The extent to which I will miss my friends is really starting to sink in: you all have to come visit me -- I'll have free floor space! :)

Okay, back to running around in six directions. Okay, two, actually. I have to go find a necklace for my wedding day since it is coming up in four horrendously brief weeks. Gaaaah!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bits and pieces

Since the fricking computer connection is too slow for me to read my daily news, here's a brief rundown of what I've been up to lately...by the way, as an officially out-of-work almost-housewife, I can officially state that housewifedom stinks. Get up, eat breakfast, take shower, feed pets, run laundry, let pets out, pay bills, buy groceries, rearrange bathroom, make dinner, go to bed...dear god, it's like a bad episode of the Brady Bunch. I would be a Valium-saturated woman if I were this age in the 1950s.

Books I've been reading:
  • Don't Think of an Elephant (brilliant, provocative, brief)
  • America, The Book (bawdy, provocative, bemusing)
  • Trouble in Paradise (boring...well, mostly just boring. Hey, it's pre-thesis research. There aren't really any bestsellers out there that cover Latin American environmental justice.)
  • What I wish I was reading: War Trash and The Crazed (Ha-Jin), In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez), Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, who has gone from being my high school nemesis to my most-admired British writer)

Music to which I've been listening:

  • "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" ~ Bright Eyes (this album grows on me every time I hear it. The comparisons to Dylan do not seem unwarrented. It's genius...and, again, provocative.)
  • My usual Death Cab for Cutie CDs. Oh, how I love them. I cringe every time I think I will leave the country without having seen them in concert.
  • Martha Wainwright (Rufus' sister and Lauden's daughter) ~ Gotta love the eloquent, enraged female singer-songwriters. My new fix while Poe continues languishing in her unfortunate situation...not that the two are anything alike...
  • The Mountain Goats ~ good, but possibly too depressing, even for me
  • Things I should listen to soon: anything by Luna, the now-defunct indie band which I naturally discovered too late

Movies I've seen:

  • Star Wars III ~ One hell of a lot better than the first, although it still pales in comparison to the originals. It had a few uber-cheesy lines and an inability to introduce strange alien "extras" with the continuity of the old episodes (e.g., Obi-wan's weird squawking bird-horse amalgamation - it only seemed to be present for the sake of having something unusual in the film)...it also is not for kids, although I can't tell you why if you haven't seen the end. The good: many psychological undercurrents that put a new twist on an old story. It's interesting that when the first three films came out, viewers and critics could accept a "good" and "bad" side without question. In today's movie, the lines are blurred...art reflects reality, perhaps?
  • The Life Aquatic ~ Quirky, good for a rental, but sub-par compared to The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Sideways ~ Oh, how I love this film...and I admit, I went and tried Pinot afterwards...oh baby. My new favorite red wine. Still, I must quibble with the Asian-American wild woman character, which was due for retirement about 100 years ago.
  • Next up: I have to see Kinsey, Sometime in April, every freaking film at SIFF (the Seattle International Film Festival...insert lustful sigh here), Crash

Sadly, the highlight of my week was witnessing the incredible finish of yesterday's Preakness. If you don't know what I mean, Google "Afleet Alex" and "Preakness" -- that was racing history in the making. I also managed to hang out with some friends for an unprecedented afternoon and evening -- better not get used to this...Of course, I also suffered greatly tonight when my favorite trashy show (Desperate Housewives) and favorite medical drama (Grey's Anatomy) went into hiatus for the summer. I swear, if they don't get those in England, I might have to pay someone to put everything on Tivo for me...yeah, I know. I need a life. Trust me: for a graduate student with a wedding on the way, I don't think I'm doing half-bad!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Back in the atmosphere...

Whew - sorry about that! Moving really made it hard to post, especially since I'm back in the land of slug-speed dial-up. Anyway, I'm slowly managing to cram the remnants of my apartment into my old room, although it's been interesting since we also have to fit Ndugu and ourselves in there...

So, last night I ran into an old acquaintance from high school. We didn't know each other that well, but we were in some of the same extracurricular activities. We started talking and I found out that this person is now married with two kids, one of whom is severely developmentally delayed, and is trying to work towards a college degree while the spouse searches for a job after leaving the military.

It floored me. I feel hard-pressed to explain exactly why, but I think I'm just reeling from the screaming inequity of the way our lives have played out thus far. I feel guilty for occasionally taking my path for granted and for whining about trivial things like my crammed schedule. What the hell kind of world are we living in when two people from the same school wind up in completely different places after a few years? This person is struggling to get by with tremendous hardships, and I'm about to go to graduate school. It's not a matter of fate or god or anything else - it just seems painfully unjust. I realize that's how life is, but it is rattling to run into someone you know whose life is so fundamentaly different from your own - it doesn't seem fair. What exactly did I do to deserve being where I am, and why me?? I know this sounds a little narcissistic, but I just feel like I need to do something big for the world with what I've been given; after all, these opportunities are few and far between. I don't know...it's hard to articulate what I'm thinking. Suffice it to say, I really haven't stopped thinking since last night.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Oh beautiful for...forget it.

Tom DeLay would make me laugh if he didn't have such serious control over my government right now. Take this gem from Anne Applebaum's latest column:

"It just offends me that the president of the United States is, directly or indirectly, attacking his own country in a foreign land." That was 1998. The speaker, Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), was then House majority whip. The president was Bill Clinton, who had "attacked his own country" while in Uganda. "Going back to the time before we were even a nation," Clinton had told an African audience, "European Americans received the fruits of the slave trade. And we were wrong in that."

As terrible as that is, it devolved into something worse:

...House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas called Clinton "a flower child with gray hairs doing exactly what he did back in the 60s: he's apologizing for the actions of the United States. Wherever he went. It just offends me that the president of the United States is, directly or indirectly, attacking his own country in a foreign land. It just amazes me."

DeLay further accused Clinton of a double-standard. "He didn't quite apologize for the chieftains in Uganda that were selling the blacks to the slave traders, did he? Heh," DeLay commented. "He didn't talk about what's-his-name, Idi Amin, that killed 500,000 people in Uganda. He didn't apologize for that."

DeLay also tried to tie Clinton's slavery comments back to the Lewinsky matter. "He's very quick to apologize for other people's mistakes, and he can't apologize for his own, and it comes right back to character," DeLay contended. "He's cheated on his wife, he'll cheat on the American people." [NYT, March, 28, 1998]

Erm...maybe DeLay could have focused on the embarrassing fact that it took over a century for us to apologize for slavery! Or perhaps he could recognize that Clinton has no place apologizing for anyone other than the United States; that might explain why he didn't express remorse on behalf of the Ugandans (which I'm sure they would have appreciated: it's not like we don't voluntarily speak for other countries enough as it is). And yeah, comparing slavery to Lewinsky just exemplifies stereotypical white Southern wealthy male behavior, doesn't it?

I will really cry for this man when his own ethical choices come home to roost.

I've heard all sorts of "God I hate being a white person," forehead-slapping kinds of comments lately, like the one from the all-too-serious person who said working overtime was another form of slavery. Of course, she also managed to say this in front of an African-American, who was too polite to point out the obvious. Sometimes, I just wish I could make collective apologies for all of the stupid, ignorant things that people say...I'm not talking about liberal pc sensitivity here - I'm focusing on incredibly insensitive crap that people feel compelled to say, no matter how obviously offensive or asinine it is! Of course, I kinda see where it comes from when one of our most powerful elected officials can run his mouth off about how wrong it is to apologize for slavery, which arguably is the worst thing the US has perpetrated in an illustrious history of poor choices.

Realization of the day: if forced to choose between living in hell or living in Tom DeLay's version of Texas, I think I might pick hell. Oops - I forgot. They're the same thing!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

What I learned today

This is sans-television, books, magazines and radio, might I note:

1. Unintentionally stepping on a large pile of bubble wrap will scare the hell out of you.
2. Those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers really work. They don't just remove the scuffs from your walls - they take care of that pesky paint on them, too! No deposit back for me...
3. If you provide a tortoise with an empty paper bag, you can leave it unattended for hours as it revels in its new fortress.
4. There is nothing on the internet that merits a whole day of searching for it.
5. Milk really shouldn't be left in the fridge for two weeks past its due date. Being too busy moving is not an excuse.
6. My neighbors are the noisiest people anywhere. They must stampede around in steel-toed boots. They are also deaf, judging by the volume of their alarm clocks.
7. Sometimes, it's better not to clean spots off the apartment doors. It makes the filthiness of the unblemished door parts more obvious.
8. Burner pans accumulate alien food particles like nothing else in this world. It's better to pry them out and throw them in the trash than to destroy several brillo pads trying to make them shiny clean.
9. It is not wise to practice one's backwards tango walk during the final stages of a move, unless you enjoy turning your ankles on packing tape and binder clips.
10. Moving boxes will not relocate themselves to another vacant apartment when you are done using them. Instead, they occupy vast amounts of floor space and make it impossible to actually move anything.

I just looked around an empty room in an effort to find something interesting. Apparently, I've reached the hallucinogenic stage where I expect my tortoise to talk back to me. Poor FH - it's not his fault that he's stuck at work until midnight, but I don't think I'd want to come home right now if I were him. By the very fact that he isn't a floorboard or a bare spot on a wall -- but a living, breathing, interactable being -- he'll be so interesting that I'll have to follow him around for hours.

Bored enough to watch paint peel

Okay, it was a really bad idea to move our television *and* our CDs *and* our books before we actually vacated the apartment. I am bored out of my freaking skull here!! I've been staring at our tortoise as he eats, but now he's gone to sleep and I'm left with this empty room and this computer. There are only so many trashy things to read on MSN, and I'm pretty much out of ideas...guess I'll go clean the apartment. GAAAAH!

PS - Greetings to all you readers. I'm not sure why I got so many site hits yesterday, but it's awesome. Thanks for checking it out!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

And speaking of global warming...


It's like a beauty mask...but for a glacier...of course, I'm sure this is all a web of lies concocted by those socialist Europeans who are determined to throw our great nation into turmoil...

Crotchety old dinosaur

Mad props to a fellow Daily writer, Zach Musgrave, for his column today on Michael Crichton's loathsome new novel. Zach and I may not agree on global warming itself, but we share the view that Crichton shouldn't be using this book to inject himself into the debate.

For anyone who missed it, State of Fear stars some environmentalists -- oops, I mean ecoterrorists -- who wreak havoc on good old rational people because they don't think the world is taking global warming seriously. Crichton also attempts to debunk the theory of global warming, even though he does so by disregarding the expertise of the world's top environmental scientists and climatologists. The biggest problem is that Crichton's book, supposedly a diatribe against the politicization of environmental discussions, is a thinly veiled, highly political bashing of environmentalists in general. As a supposed ecofreak, I'm insulted.

I'm also irked, of course, by the continuing dismissal of global warming on our national stage. Never mind that 141 countries recognized the problem by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, even though it represents the proverbial finger in the dam. Never mind that we've witnessed a series of severe weather phenomena which at least suggest that something unusual is taking place.

Want the facts? Visit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which may be the only nonpartistan group out there with something legitimate to say. It's comprised of the world's top scientists and policy analysts, and its efforts to present accurate information rank with those of the National Academy of Sciences. The IPCC is a much better source of information than me or Michael Crichton -- something he should have considered before essentially equating its members to amoral terrorists.

Monday, May 09, 2005


In moments of lucidity, I am coming to accept - and to anticipate - everything that lies ahead this year. Tonight, however, I'm exhausted from two straight weeks of packing and one full day of moving. Thus, I'm not feeling clear-headed, and all I want to do is run.

Driving back from moving, I watched the muted colors of night blend into each other; fields became dappled black blankets and roadside trees glowed the color of streetlights. I suddenly fought the urge to kick open the passenger door and scrabble to the ground, then run like hell across grass or gravel or whatever happened to be underfoot, just as long as I could melt into the evening and become one more indiscernable piece of the dusky landscape. If I could hide away for awhile, nothing would find me and I wouldn't have to confront what's coming. If I could just run fast enough, maybe I could stay ahead of the future and keep the present at bay.

I realize life doesn't work like that, and I know that running wouldn't really get me that far. But that doesn't stop me from balking when I get tired; I start wishing that I could just resist the current's pull until I felt like being reeled in. It's funny - one of the things I'm trying to work on right now, stereotypically mediocre Catholic that I am, is learning to accept the path I'm on, even when it doesn't seem like a perfect fit. Somehow, I'm supposed to be able to trust in my direction although it feels unreliable. In the past month, I've discovered I'm really terrible at doing this. I fight and fight until I'm beaten down, but I still refuse to stop flailing with both fists. Hopefully, my time abroad will bring me some much-needed maturity in this area - and tomorrow, when I've slept, I know I won't feel the same sense of fear. Tonight, however, I just want to burst out of the car and run, until there's nothing left to catch me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Derby day

Tomorrow's Derby day, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'll be watching. Every year, I swear off it, citing exploitation of racehorses...and every year, I turn it on anyway. I'm torn between the abuse that I know takes place and the attraction of watching incredibly beautiful horses tear up the track. There's a potential Triple Crown threat tomorrow in Bellamy Road, an absolutely gorgeous horse whose Wood Memorial victory was the stuff of legends. It's hard to explain the thrill I feel watching the nation's top horses float across the track during the post parade; I've been connected to horses since I can remember - and I mean really connected, in an undefinable instinctive sort of way. Watching those ethereal forms flit over the track gives me chills. They are the embodiment of Plato's perfect forms, and their instinct to run rises off them like early morning steam. You know they love the race, and regardless of the industry, there's nothing more emotional than watching the spirit of a horse open up and take to wing.

Still, horse racing has its drawbacks, and I stay away from it most of the year. There are too many injuries and deaths for me to find it palatable, and I can't watch a horse in pain without remembering the way one dying mare's panic tore through my own consciousness a few years back...They were trying to open her up for an emergency C-section that would end her life - and when the ropes brought her down, the force of the fall tore open some channel between human and animal consciousness. It's been opened for me before - once as a child when I recognized without understanding my dog's near-fatal illness before it was diagnosed, and a few times as an adult. This time, it manifested as a raw, primal pulse of energy that left me reeling in the veterinary barn, gasping for breath as I tried to quell the fear that overwhelmed me. It wasn't my fear or my pain - but it was real, the struggles of a flight instinct cast forever to the earth.The sensation ebbed away as she died, but I can still remember the smell and shape of that terror. I remember trying to wrap my mind around it, to soothe the mare by sending basic, elemental feelings of peace and acceptance back into the space between us -- but that intensity was something I'll never forget.

So, every time a horse breaks down on the track, I read about it and envision its pain and fear. I can't see through equine eyes, but my limited understanding can grasp the essence of what a wounded horse endures. Horses tend to suffer in silence like most animals, so when they cry one knows it must be unbearable. At least this year's Derby has eliminated horses who are unfit for its frenetic pace; most owners finally seem to have grasped that there's nothing to gain from running a stable pony with the big colts. Part of me hopes this will be the year someone finally does the impossible: it's been decades since Seattle Slew took the last Triple Crown, and I'd like to see one great horse attain perfection in my lifetime. I know my mixed emotions are irreconcilable - it's funny, but it was a lot easier to ignore racing when I was riding. Without that part of my life, I have to have a surrogate for vicarious enjoyment; something has to feed the insatiable passion of my soul. Until I scrap up the money to return to riding, you know what I'll be watching on the first Saturday in May. Go baby, go.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You're not the boss of me now...

Tomorrow is my last day at my Very First Real Job (VFRJ - yeah, it's a crappy acronym, but I've been packing boxes all week and creativity is just a bonus at this point). I have to admit, the juvenile part of me wants to jump up on the conference room table at my farewell party and belt out the title of this post while everyone gapes. I'd love to go Office Space on my printer, draw a few brightly colored sketches on the hospital-style walls and paint over those interior windows we're not allowed to touch. But the rest of me, the older, wiser part, will muster up the gravitas to keep my feet on the floor. As much as I'd love to shock a few people, I don't want to create the impression that people from my little office crew are rabble-rousers. It's not really fair to make a scene when you're exiting the stage.

I can't believe I've already worked at VFRJ for a year -- I also can't believe that I think a year is a long time. It feels long, however, probably because it represented such a change from the fluid time sequences in college where your schedule changed at least once per quarter.

At first, I really hated the 9-to-5 for all the old reasons. I didn't like having to be somewhere at the same time every day, and I despised being unable to sleep in and skip out like I used to for my classes. It was weird to work at the same litany of tasks for weeks on end and to see the same people each morning.

Yet, there are some very good things about a VFRJ as well. The 9-to-5 became a great thing because my day STOPPED when I left the office. I didn't have to lug home sixteen pounds of textbooks and several notebooks worth of journal articles. I could kick up my feet and turn on the television for more than 20 minutes without feeling guilty. I could waste an entire evening -- make that multiple evenings! -- and never feel a twinge of panic. No papers. No due dates. No late nights studying if I didn't want to. God, this year's been so good, and now I'm willingly subjecting myself to the grad school grind?? Clearly, I am a sick person.

The other thing that work taught me is that it's okay to leave things for a day. If it doesn't get done, life goes on! People may not always be thrilled with you, but it's actually not the end of the world if you don't give 110% on every task. Those extra moments you gain to spend with family and friends are well worth any missed opportunities to shine in the office. Giving your best is acceptable, and giving more than that is a little insane. I'd like to think I will remember to maintain this balance in grad school, and maybe I will. Even though this arguably has been the most stressful year of my life, I don't feel it. I'm relatively relaxed, apart from the occasional freakout when the fucking pots and pans won't fit in the damned box no matter how many times I rearrange them. Still, given everything that's happening, I think occasional freakouts like that are okay and encouraged. It's that or bust a blood vessel in the middle of my more tranquil moments. Anyway, I think the thing that's kept me sane is the ability to delineate my work life from the rest of my life. My job is part of me, but it doesn't dominate my life or shape my persona more than any other component. It's just a job.

I don't think I'll ever be one of the people who pulls 60-hour weeks to make the big bucks and attract the attention of prestigious colleagues. Many of my fellow Gen Y'ers share this outlook - and we're getting a lot of crap for it. Law firms are upset because of their experiences with Gen Y lawyers -- they point to reports, like the one issued by the Families and Work Institute in October 2004, and argue that we are selfish workers who take our positions for granted because we refuse to put in extra hours. Well, that report (Generation and Gender in the Workplace) "found that younger employees are less likely to be 'work-centric.' The study also found that young men and women are more interested in staying at the same rung on the career ladder in order to preserve their quality of life."

Oh my god, we put our quality of life ahead of the money we make? Well, there must be something wrong with us! Sheesh. Shouldn't we be praised for recognizing that there's more to life that one's job title and for being willing to prioritize personal/family life? You'd think that would be a good thing, especially since the workaholic attitude of the Baby Boomers didn't exactly create a healthier, happier society. If we want to live balanced lives, let us!

Personally, I am making a vow that my career will never eclipse the rest of my life. It will never become the sum of my identity. I hope my experiences with my VFRJ will remain with me when pressure increases to work a few more hours a week for a new job title. Thanks, but I think I'd rather stay sane (and HAPPY).

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sound of Silence

My apologies for the absence of interesting posts lately - I'm moving out of the apartment and it's my last week at work, so things are a little crazy. I should resume regular posting within a week or so. Sorry! I'll do my best to keep up now...

For the moment, isn't it amazing how a woman can't find a pair of white shoes that are comfortable and functional, yet that don't look like stereotypical hospital pumps? I went to seven -- count 'em -- shoe stores last weekend trying to find frickin' shoes that don't look completely outlandish under a wedding dress (and yes, you'll see them because I had my dress hemmed a little high...if it's too low, Miss Uncoordinated is liable to do a spreadeagle as she walks down the aisle). The Bon had these hideous semi-ballet slipper things, JC Penney doesn't seem to carry a thing that actual women wear, Nine West now specializes in uber-high strappy stilettos that look great as long as you don't have to walk in them...and on and on...

So, I gave up. I went to a dance store and found a great pair of high heeled tango shoes that I can wear for hours. They're so flexible that I can fold them in half, they're balanced enough to support me, and they don't look like old lady shoes! Although, after all that, I should have stuck with my original idea: barefoot in the park.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

London calling

You know, maybe I'll become an ex-pat after all...okay, not really, but an undercurrent of relief is flowing beneath all of my anxiety. It's time for me to get the hell out of dodge for a little while, because I just can't take it anymore. Between the feature articles in this month's Harper's, the lecture by Bill Moyers I attended and the backpedaling by Microsoft, I've had all I can take of the fundamentalist movement. As a woman, my body is under assault (I finally understand what pro-choicers mean when they use that language). As an environmentalist, my ideas, beliefs, and cold hard facts, people, whether you like it or not, are under assault. As a liberal, I'm probably better off dead

I mean, my god, they harbor such hate for anyone who dares raise reasonable questions that conflict with their view of reality. Case in point: Maggie Gyllenhaal, previously ignored by all but the arts and indy film crowd. Her crime? She dared suggest that one of the many ways we could view 9/11 would be as an "occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict...Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11."

For god's sake, she's just trying -- in a very sensitive manner, might I add -- to open up a discussion that should have been started long ago! News flash, all ye fundamentalists: whether you like it or not, much of the world believes that our personal and collective behavior contributed to the attack. Are all of the other countries just making things up? Do you really need to ask that question? Many erudite people across the political spectrum can acknowledge that our nation's historical behavior causes us to be hated in the world -- this does not mean that the attacks were justified, but it does mean that we helped fuel the emotions which lead to them. Logically, if we want to avoid more attacks, it might help to address all of the factors which contributed to the first one: yes, go after the perpetrators, but also meaningfully try to understand how we unwittingly contribute to poverty and global injustice, which causes many of the world's poor to sympathize more with terrorists than with us.

But you can't even ask that kind of question without being called a terrorist sympathizer, a godless liberal, or a left-wing wacko. There are no avenues for discussion in this country anymore. You can't be different, you can't have an alternative view, and you certainly can't question the status quo -- that makes you a suspect in the eyes of those who believe God takes their side.

While we're busy persecuting gays, movie stars and liberals, has anyone bothered picking up the Bible lately? What happened to the Jesus who instructed us to replace eye for an eye with turning the other cheek? Didn't he mention something about how he who lives by violence also dies by it? Do these things only apply to people who aren't good, God-fearing Christians?

The saddest part about this is that nothing I say will ever reach the people who believe that there is an absolute, almighty truth which they are bound to disseminate. They're so hell-bent on bringing about Armageddon that they probably will unless the rest of us wake up and take our country back. Maybe I'll be able to do more good outside the nation than within it. All I know is that I don't feel like being civil anymore. I'm sick of pulling punches. I'm sick of their hypocrisies: the government can't regulate anything except the most private parts of my life? I don't think so. I'm tired of trying to fight fair or to reason with people who have rejected all forms of logic. I'm fighting back now -- and don't worry. I am coming home from the good ol' UK.