I STILL BELIEVE IN THE DREAM.
(America can and will learn to take care of its marginalized, overlooked, downtrodden citizens.)
I STILL BELIEVE IN THE DREAMER.
(John Edwards stirred the hopes of a nation with his passionate cry: "Tomorrow Begins Today")
I STILL SUPPORT JOHN EDWARDS FOR PRESIDENT.
(And I will continue to support him even if he has to reach the Oval Office riding shotgun to Hillary.)
Earlier this week I was listening to Andrew Bird's Armchair Apochrypha CD and noticed - seemingly for the first time - when he sang the word "machinations" but thought nothing of it at the time. A day later, I heard someone on NPR use the term in a political context, although with a different pronunciation - more emphasis on the mack instead of Bird's mashinations. I prefer mackinations, but...
I dismissed it as random. It is just a word, after all.
But damn, if my British Lit professor didn't use the exact same word (uttered with a k emphasis, naturally) that same day in reference to our analysis of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Three references in as many days? That qualifies as interesting.
A similarly interesting incident of "word deja vu" occurred last week, as well. During class, when discussing Lanval's fealty, I scribbled the term "noblesse oblige" in the book margin, because... well, I just do that. Words pop into my head at odd times; what can I say? The irony is that term was featured on my Word-A-Day calendar the very next day. Only someone like me would be amused by the timing and/or the general oddity of it.
This is what I get for reading the dictionary for fun as a child. This is what I get for continuing to do so as an adult. Let it be henceforth publicly noted: I am a hopeless word nerd... :)
This will be a joyous day. I didn't party when the clock struck midnight on Y2K, but I will celebrate like there's no tomorrow when this President leaves office. It might even be a national holiday. God knows the rest of the world will celebrate with us.
So today I ventured back to the hallowed halls of academia, those ivied brick halls of my youth where first I veered off educational course - not once, not twice, but... ah, hell, it really doesn't matter how many times I've attempted completion. What matters is that yet again I try. Yet again I return despite fears that my age will be double that of my classmates.
My fears were for naught: many of the "Adult Scholars" (as we are appropriately termed) are hoary-headed. This makes me feel considerably younger. Education knows no age boundaries. There are no statutes of limitations on degree conferral. And even though one of my professors is a PhD in my chosen field and our birthdates cannot possibly be more than a half-decade apart, I still feel zero inadequacy.
As I told Jeff when we left the movie theater after seeing Juno yesterday, "I follow my bliss; my bliss loves school." It's that simple. I miss being a student. I miss the opportunities to connect with other lovers of knowledge, to drink deep from the chalice of wisdom... ah, you get the idea. I've gotta stop with the metaphors and analogies. Three hours of Middle English literature and I find the urge to wax poetic nigh on impossible to suppress.
I should be reading "Beowulf" and a sizeable chunk of "The Odyssey" now, but damn if my A.D.D. isn't cranked up to hyper warp factor 10. Instead of taking notes, I have taken out my trash, changed the air filter, folded and put away a bit of laundry (something I rarely do on a regular basis) and then I caught up on the evening's news coverage of tomorrow's New Hampshire primary. None of this is in any way remotely related to Beowulf. Damn, I think I might need Adderol.
So, to recap: I'm back in school. I'm on the long-term career path which may or may not lead to my belated pursuit of a PhD in Literature/Creative Writing. I am pleased at my eleventh-hour decision to register and attend. I hope my optimistic enthusiasm lingers. Time will tell...
Post Script - How's this for ironic? Walking to class, my iPod shuffled to Modest Mouse's "Education" - what were the odds? Seriously. :)
(originally published on MySpace)
"Reality is the name we give to our disappointments." ~ Mason Cooley
If you have known me for any length of time, you have heard me utter a favorite phrase: "everything is a matter of perspective." It's a soft-pedal spin on the ever-trite "life is what you make of it" or similar feel-good pablum designed to cheer up an otherwise sour soul. Sometimes I am said person, so I force myself to adjust my persepective - and usually, if I am adequately caffeinated, it works. I can usually see the flip side of the coin. To that end, I have decided in this New Year to apply that philosophy in personal matters. I shall look for the silver lining in all things undesirable. Case in point: my so-called life. More specifically, my so-called (that's code for "non-existent") love life. Instead of bemoaning my eternally single state, I will attempt (yep, that's the key word right there, folks - attempt) to find positive aspects of singlehood.
My married friends have been known to say (much to my increasing chagrin) "oh, being single isn't so bad" before they launch into a diatribe about their spouse's irritating habits. Yeah, well...to you I say, "bugger off - at least y'all are getting laid regularly." But then I realize, "no, wait - you're married, so you're probably not getting laid all that often." Forget I said anything. Still, it's a matter of perspective. The grass is always greener...
So, for your edification, (technically, I'm only blogging this publicly so you'll have a clue what goes on in the oh-so-vacuous space that is a single female's mind when she's out doing whatever single chicks do while you married people are doing...well, whatever it is you do...) here are my reasons.
Gratitude for Solitude
(or, extolling the often overlooked merits* of singleness)
*Notice I didn't use the word "joys" here? There's a reason for that! Look, people, I'm attempting to find the good in this situation – which means I'm optimistic (or delusional, depending on your perspective) – it does not mean I'm crazy and suddenly feel that being perpetually single is a joyous, technicolored, Disney-esque song 'n dance sort of happy experience. OK, where was I???
Reason #10: OLD, GRUNGY, PAINT-STAINED SWEATSHIRTS
On weekends, I can lounge around all day wearing that old grungy sweatshirt I wore in college when I helped paint a friend's apartment. I would never wear this in public, but hey – that's not an issue since it's Saturday night and I'm not out on the town, all dressed up on a date at that chic new bistro on the
Reason #9: GROCERY SHOPPING IS A BREEZE
Actually, grocery shopping is a delight on a Saturday night. The aisles are relatively empty. The process goes faster. Oh, and it's cheaper, too! Since I'm shopping for one, I can buy only the stuff I like. I can buy my favorite brand of toothpaste (Tom's of
Reason #8: DINNER DECISIONS, NOT DINNER DEBATES
"What do you want for dinner?" is one of those unspoken relationship landmines for couples. More couples have gotten into heated arguments because neither one could decide what they wanted for dinner. If I'm craving Thai curry takeout and you want pizza, guess what I'm having for dinner? If you said Thai, you're a winner! But this is a moot point, because, Mr. Right, you don't exist. Well, technically, you do exist – but you're probably at the pizza joint, in which case our paths have zero chance of crossing. Especially if it's dinner time and I'm craving Thai. But wait – Murphy's Law being what it is, I'll be at the pizza place when you're getting your takeout at the Thai place...but hey, we didn't argue about it, now, did we? This is a good thing!
Reason #7a: ULTIMATE CONTROL OF THE REMOTE CONTROL
Once I've decided what I want for dinner, I usually like to watch a movie. This, of course, is part and parcel of being single – plenty of time to watch movies. The perk is that I can fill my Blockbuster queue with only the movies I want to see. If I'm jonesin' for an indie flick starring unknown actors – or, better yet, an obscure foreign film – I don't have to hear, "I'm not in the mood for that." Why? Because, Mr. Right, you aren't sitting on my sofa, bogarting the popcorn, asking me to translate the French when I turn off the subtitles. You might be watching a movie, but you're somewhere else, either in a theater's seat or on somebody else's sofa, so yet again, it's a no-brainer non-issue. This means more popcorn for me. This, too, is a good thing!
Reason #7b: NPR & PBS, NOT ESPN & FOX
But...if I want utter silence, I can have that, too. If I want to chill out in the evening with All Things Considered and The News Hour or eat breakfast while listening to Morning Edition, I can. My leisure time is spent with my favorite public radio programming, not SportsCenter or Billo's filthy Fox News bile. I live in a sports-free, news-heavy personal zone, and this, Mr. Right, makes me happy. I can tolerate your sports-viewing habits, but since you don't exist, what's the point? Or the point spread? See? It doesn't matter!
Reason #6: SIXTY-TWO PAIRS OF BLACK SHOES
OK, maybe I only have 57 pairs of black shoes. I've lost count. But the point is: all the extra money I saved by buying only my brand of toothpaste can be spent on more stuff for me. Sorry, Mr. Right, I'd love to buy you a closet full of whatever items tickle your fancy, but since you live somewhere else, it really doesn't make much sense for me to buy stuff for you. So instead I'll just buy another pair of shoes for me. Or maybe an outfit to go with 'em (or not...after all, that grungy college sweatshirt wouldn't look right with a new pair of black espadrilles. I'll just splurge instead on another bag of fair-trade coffee.)
Reason #5: CHEAPER HOLIDAYS & SPECIAL OCCASIONS
This is partly a continuation of #6. Think how much money I'm saving by not buying you cards and gifts on Valentine's Day, your birthday, our anniversary, Christmas, etc. Now don't get me wrong – I would love to surprise you with unexpected gifts (like that guitar you've been dreaming about or front-row tickets to a show or perhaps that new software program you're too frugal to buy for yourself) but you know what? There is no "you", Mr. Right, so "you" don't get gifts. Pity, because I can be rather generous. Just ask my friends. Oh wait, you can't. You haven't met them. Nevermind...
Reason #4: MY GERMS ARE NOT YOUR GERMS
When I've got the flu, I don't have a side dish of guilt for giving it to you. That's because – you guessed it! – you're not here, Mr. Right. You're probably out buying NyQuil and Kleenex and Theraflu for your girlfriend or wife whoever it is you're with because we haven't met yet and/or you're not on the market. Either way, you're there, getting exposed to her germs, not mine. So while I might still feel all sniffly and snotty because nobody has run down to CVS to refill my empty bottle of Zicam, at least I feel considerably less guilty. If you get the flu, it won't be from me. File this under: Good Thing By Proxy.
Reason #3: HOT WATER STAYS HOTTER LONGER
Oh, how I love a long, hot, steamy shower. I love those almost as much as I love taking long, hot, soaking baths. Both of these require massive amounts of hot water. This would be a problem if I had to share water. But since there is no "you" in the bathroom every morning, Mr. Right, I can stay in that shower until the hot water runs out. And – bonus points! – I don't have to shave my legs, either, because there's no "you" in the bed every night, spooning next to me and complaining if my legs aren't silky smooth. Saving even more money on razor refills & shave gel, while avoiding gashed skin around the "ouch" areas of ankles and knees? More savings + fewer scars = definite good thing!
Reason #2: EVEN THE NIGHTS ARE BETTER
Well, snoring is a major point of contention with many couples. How many couples wake up in different rooms because their partner (it's always the other person who snores) kept them awake all night with their incessant, earth-shaking, lumberjack-on-crack snoring? Well, Mr. Right, you might have a deviated septum or a major case of sleep apnea, but your snoring won't keep me awake because you snore on your own pillow, not mine. Or maybe you don't have a snoring problem. Either way, I'll sleep peacefully because I can stretch out, toss and turn, hog the covers, sleep with an oscillating fan for white noise, and mist the sheets with that lavender-chamomile linen spray – simply because, Mr. Right, you're not here to object. And this promotes deep, uninterrupted sleep for me. And this is most definitely a good thing. The only thing worse than a decaffeinated Me is a sleep-deprived Me.
Reason #1: *crickets*
Peace and quiet. Nothing stirring but the dust bunnies. Sleeping until noon on weekends if it suits me. Curling up with a stack of books and magazines. Pressing a pen to a blank page. Hitting the trails for a 4-hour bike ride. Making music. Shoe shopping. These are some activities I enjoy in my personal time. Down time is bliss; solitude is serene. Although I would gladly share my copious amounts of free time with you, Mr. Right, you haven't materialized into anything more substantive than a figment of my imagination. So, until you appear, I'll just keep lounging around on the weekends, wearing that same grungy college sweatshirt, eating Thai takeout, watching movies and wondering what's taking you so long to show up and interrupt my routine.
I used to have a knack for political predictions. Well, at least once I accurately predicted - rather early on in the campaign cycle - which candidate would become the nominee and who he would pick as his running mate. Other times I've been able to predict who would win an election (Bush Sr, Clinton, then W - only because I knew Gore didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell after he picked Liebermann - OMG, "Joe-mentum" was my Senator when I lived in CT, and I didn't like him then.) Anyway, I digress. I have a yet-to-be-disproven theory about presidential politics: no candidate with an unusual name will ever reach the White House. Americans want a president who has an "American-sounding" name. Example? Bush, Clinton, Carter, Nixon, Johnson... all plain 'ol vanilla names. Only a handful (Eisenhower, Kennedy) had a hint of European ancestry. So if you subject the current candidates to my non-scientific litmus test, you'll find that Kucinich and Obama might as give their concession speeches now. It's that simple.
Clinton. Gore. I called it back in '92 before Clinton actually announced. I was working in a clothing store in Louisiana at the time, and I told the boss that Clinto would pick a fellow Southerner. He laughed. At the time I was a proud Southerner (how quickly that would change!) and was pleased at the choice.
Maybe I was just pleased to be right. My desire to be right knows no party lines. :)
But here and now, in 2008, I'm predicting that Hillary will grab the Democratic nomination and pick John Edwards as her running mate. She knows he balances her appeal: he's handsome and charming, he's seasoned (Obama isn't), he's well-versed in the political machine (Obama is still green), and he's dedicated to improving health care and foreign policy.
Clinton-Edwards. I could support that ticket. (Edit 5/08: well that obviously won't happen now!)
That's my two cents' worth on political predictions...
- Two of my favorite (read: smartest, coolest, hippest) friends who live in political hot zones - New Hampshire and Iowa - have a front-row seat to the current craziness. I am jealous.
- The aforementioned duo also happen to be waist-deep in the powdery white stuff I miss oh so much. Again, I am jealous.
Candidate visits. Stump speeches. Snow plows. Drinks sipped beside roaring, toasty fireplaces. Wearing multiple layers of clothing in winter. Oh, the things one never experiences when living in the godforsaken South...
So what are my goals for this year? The usual: find those elusive things that I have lived without for far too long - a fulfilling job, an ideal mate, a clue about my role in life. Oh, and a vacation wouldn't be bad, either. But goals and plans are often quite different things.
My plans for this year? Get out more. Do more things. Meet more people. Go more places, even if it means going alone. Write more. Ride more. Play more. Learn more. Apparently I have already established a year-long plan of more stuff. It's as if my goal is to infuse my current level of life (where I really only squeeze out about 8% of possible enjoyment) with ambitious energy and ride the wave it creates. Yep, apparently I want a life jacked up on hypothetical steroids, so full of zest it oozes from my every pore. Let's hope I can find more of that most elusive element - free time - so I can fulfill those plans.
Here's to dreams becoming reality...