Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why do these people get to say whatever they want?

It's hard for me to know find the dividing line between exercising and abusing your freedom of speech.

It seems to me that many of these Republican pundits/humorists/columnists (whatever) get to say whatever they want with no consequences...

I haven't been on a political rant here for a while, so I feel entitled to be more than a little indignant.

We currently have a president who has clearly broken the law... and yet he feels as though as long as he can get on tv and say that he didn't break the law, no one should worry. The "average American" seems to be code for "wink, wink, you know who I mean" -- white folks need not worry about getting spied on in their backyards. Did we forget how many people have already been wrongly accused under the patriot act???

This article from the New York Times about how U. S. Citizens polled make a distinction in their minds about "Americans who are suspicious" and "Ordinary Americans." It's a must read if you think I am crazy when I say, Bush keeps looking in the camera and saying "Ordinary Americans understand what I am trying to do." -- Black and Brown folks of any ethnic background beware ... but all those white folks are forgetting that plenty of white folks were targeted by McCarthy.

You can also look at the poll results to see how changing the wording changed whether folks supported wire-tapping or not. Included in the poll is information about where ordinary folks think the country will be after two terms of Georgie. The number of people who think he has done nothing, and the number of people who don't care enough to have an opinion appalls me. Why did you vote for him then? Why bother to vote? Or did you vote at all?? If I were conducting that poll, I wouldn't have allowed anyone in the poll who hadn't voted for president. I am a hard ass.

I remember having a president who made a really stupid choice to have a dalliance in the white house... we held IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS...

I just don't get it... do we all have our heads up our asses???

Another movida I don't understand

So... now Oprah has decided that supporting something that has been exposed as not wholely truthful was a bad idea. And even worse, it turns out she had knowledge about at least parts of it not being wholely truthful very soon after she picked the book and quite a bit before the Smoking Gun had completed its research.

Wow... now the NY Times is writing editorials about how great it is that Oprah is demanding the truth in the same edition they basically say that she knew and did nothing about it until millions of her viewers complained about her call to Larry King Live.

Is there anyone around who believes in integrity? Have we lost all notion of integrity?

I don't care one way or the other if he lied. I have not read his book, and so I don't feel betrayed. I believe he should tell the truth now about the thought process that, in his mind, justified why he could embellish and outright lie and call it a memoir. I think he should face the commercialization of this own addiction and how he conceived of the idea of how to capitalize on this ordeal. Surely whether you are living on skid row or surviving through your regular life as an addicted individual, it is an ordeal. Or if he just knew that a memoir would be more compelling than fiction, then he should just admit that. It was for the money; it was for the ability to get this story into the hands of more folks. The book had an impact on many people, and the question remains, would it have been as impacting if the readers knew it was fiction? Many readers have claimed the opposite, but they are answering in hindsight.

My indignation this morning comes from the notion that Oprah gets to pretend that she was not involved in the process of the commercialization of the addict's ordeal. Why does she get to say, I am duped, have tears in her eyes as she "demands the truth" -- several months later -- and we all pretend like she didn't know. She found out, ignored it because she didn't want her title as queen of the book club tarnished. She didn't want to have to confront the notion that she needs to be careful what she chooses as she knows it will sell a million copies. She doesn't want to talk about the dollars involved in this book club. What the hell? Does she not recognize that she goes on TV every day as the millionaire who everyone gets to live vicariously through? She doesn't hide her wealth or the privileges it accords her when she is telling her viewers about her latest romp.

I just don't get the pretend integrity of this situation ... or how a newspaper like the NY Times could get it so wrong in the editorial when the article outing Oprah's lack of integrity on this issue is on another or its pages.

Help me understand.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Is this not torture??

Ok... maybe those literal definitions of torture that describe particular acts don't include using people's wives as bargaining chips. So, maybe it's not technically torture; it's just reprehensible.

And, yes, I know they are bad guys... but we are not supposed to be bad guys.

This is the kind of shit that makes it difficult to be American outside of the country... that and the fact that my fellow country-people seem to glaze over the obvious illegality of our position in this "war on terror."

Anywhere but here is looking really good right now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

sleepless nights

Is there anything more useless than staying awake all night worrying about things that you cannot control??

I finished reading my book, but I refused to do any of the work I felt was hanging over my head.

Finally around 5 am, when my alarm usually goes off, I fell asleep. Two hours later I was dragging myself out of bed in order to make it to work on time.

Then, of course, I made it to work on time only to not find ONE parking space with a working meter... quarters in hand and no working meters. It's like being all dressed up with no where to go. As I circled endlessly, gave up and parked in the ten minute parking area, I could see the little parking enforcement gremlin giving me a ticket. I spent the next few minutes staring out my office window ... waiting for a parking space to open up on the street.

Finally, there it was, the perfect spot, right across the street from my office, heading the absolute right direction to hit the freeway when I was on my way to the appointment. I make it down the elevator and around the block and the parking space is still there... and wouldn't you know the meter was broken. This time I couldn't deal... I wrote a note. I lied. I said I had put money in when I hadn't, then to appease my guilt, I put in one quarter... why stuff it with quarters that it won't even register?

I could feel the bad karma swirling around me... I would get a ticket... I was so desperately tired, I would crash on my long trek to the appointment... any number of horrible scenarios passed through my mind. How's that for positive thinking?

By the time I was back up the elevator and in my office.... I had decided not to be negative. I survived Friday the 13th the other day; making myself feel better by saying that it's not my cultural superstition... mine would be Tuesday the 13th if I had one at all. So no more bad thoughts... banished.

And though it was the longest day ever on only two hours of sleep... it was fine. The focus groups, frustrating as it is to sit and listen and not be able to opine, went really well... hours of transcribing ahead of me notwithstanding. It was a good day.

Two in a row; who would have imagined it????

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good days

Today, the sun shined even if it was cold. I dressed warmly and spent most of the day cemetery walking. There is something oddly comforting about walking in the cemetery. All those people resting, hopefully peacefully, and the visitors, mostly other people like me, cemetery walking, though they are usually with their dogs.

On the second walk, after lunch, we didn't just walk through and soak in the sun, we read tomb stones. The celebrated favorite was a stack of books. Though a close second was the pyramid. I have walked by the pyramid many times, but never looked inside. Today we posed for pictures and then needed to know who was inside. It turns out it's Senator Gwin, one of the first two ever senators of California who died in 1888.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Insecure is not Attractive

There isn't really much else to say... it's just an easy fact to forget when you are obsessing about really stupid things.

What's worse? You are obsessing because there are more important issues that you don't want to confront.

Well, sadly, the story of my life, lately. I am acknowleding this ugly truth in order to help myself to do better in the future.

Monday, January 16, 2006


it's a plague

i would like to say i don't know how to treat it

but that would be a lie

i know exactly what to do and what not to do

and i overwhelmingly choose what not to do

or stasis

neither of which is productive in the least

and then i want to complain

but i can't

it's a vicious cycle that i put into motion even feed

reality check

all things i need ... not that i lack

just i forgot i possess what i need or refuse to employ

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Not really into resolutions... in fact the new year came and went without much notice... I was in a different country, and it was as if it didn't really happen. Though I have to say, I didn't mind missing all those year end wrap ups and reruns... and the countdown and the countless resolutions.

I think I started re-ordering my life, priorities, perspective at no particular time without thinking about whether these decisions were resolutions.

Here's what I have in my mind as I look back at the last six months or so...

I pledge to accept people as they are. Or else, let them go out of my life. It wasn't an easy decision to live, especially with my family and others who are very close to me. Some people had to be cut out; some surgically and others just changed in status from very close to somewhat close to just acquaintances. Mostly, though, it has allowed me to step back and really see the people I care about most deeply in a much more loving and compassionate light. It doesn't make their "faults" any more palatable, or mine either, I guess; but it does help me to put these pieces of their personalities into perspective. I have learned more about these loved ones, some who I have known all my life, in the past few months because I see them more clearly. I fall off the wagon sometimes, but I think I feel the benefits of this "resolution" so keenly that it helps me to keep on track.

I am trying to give myself time and space to deal with life. This involves various "resolutions" that I sometimes keep and sometimes don't. Reading the paper at the cafe on Saturdays and Sundays gets me out in the world and sometimes leads to writing in the journal or meeting new people or just connecting to the world around me. Making plans with friends, and keeping them. I bought a small backpack to replace the ratty backpack I have been lugging around. Work does not fit into this little backpack. It was perfect for the trip, but more important now that I am back. I need to leave work on the desk and be productive while I am at work and be productive with life when I am not at work. Waiting to find the "perfect" backpack was just the ticket.

The hardest of these life decisions, by far, is being easier on myself. I have given myself permission to stop trying to be perfect and consequently resolved to not punish myself every time I am not perfect. I try to quell the demons when I feel bad before it gets out of control. I try to feel the sadness and pain before it threatens to take over my life. I try to trust myself in social situations, but not to castigate myself if I don't behave the way I would like. There is a lot here... not all of it known. I say try because I am not sure how successful I have been or will be or when I will feel accomplished with this one. I haven't gotten to the really believing in myself and then loving all the pieces. I am hopeful it will come in time.

The physical activity resolution is languishing at the side right now... but before I know it, the marathon training will be upon me. I want to do yoga three times a week and run at least 2 times a week, but I haven't found the emotional energy to be true to that just yet. It may be just around the corner.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Being American Abroad

When I travel to another country, I like to be able to speak the language, and get out into the world with the real people of that country. In Argentina, even speaking Spanish, as soon as I opened my mouth, they knew I was from another country.

Sometimes I let them guess... they knew for sure it was not Spain, not southern cone, probably not South American at all... that leaves Mexico and Central America ... more often, I would just say, I am from California, loathe to have to find an acceptable way to say "American" in Spanish. "American" in English or Spanish is incredibly arrogant... to claim all of North, Central and South America for the USA; but what are the alternatives: norte americana, yes, true, but that doesn't narrow it from Canada or Mexico. (Canada might have been a good choice.) The most precise available, estadounidense, is a mouthful and ugly, so, California usually works.

Once I told people, two questions, asked earnestly and jokingly at the same time, followed in quick succession:
So, what you do you think about your governor?
(laughing subsides at some point, and you answer sheepishly, knowing your state is the fifth largest economy in the world, and yet you could only find an action movie actor to be the governor, gag.) There is no good answer to that question. Hardly any way to recover from the humilliation, yet the next question looms...

How could you re-elect Bush? (Rightly, in the rest of the world's eyes, we are a rogue nation invading other countries who look at us cross-eyed -- all the Rush Limbaugh (etal) listeners aside, that is, frankly, the truth.) This question you cannot duck sheepishly. The questioner even offers help: We understood the first election, clearly Florida was stolen, but re-elect him? (Indignation doesn't begin to describe the look on their faces.)

Well... there you have it; however much you explain that the country is a big place, and California didn't vote for Bush, and you didn't vote for Bush, well, in the end he is your president; he does represent you, and you are stuck with the question -- and trying to explain how the nation that considers itself a superpower could be so stupid as to not see past the propaganda we are fed through the media; how people living in the middle of the country, in the smallest town, are afraid that middle eastern terrorists are trying to blow them up. How do you explain that we have been numbed into believing that the only important issues are the ones that take place in our house or our school?

You can't explain it, but you have to live with it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Dog Torturers

Sitting on the beach today, I witnessed two young boys trying to get their petite dog to walk on the hot sand... the smaller one yanked at the dog and yelled. The dog was set to stay on the wood blanks that had led out to the beach from the sidewalk. No parents around to temper the yanking. Finally, the older brother took the leash, exasperated. I thought, foolishly, that this older, wiser boy would demonstrate the way to get the dog to come on to the sand, or at least pick up the dog. I was wrong. Instead, he yanked at the dog even harder. He seemed to be saying, with his actions, look, I will demonstrate how to show this little dog who is boss.

Eventually the parents appeared and the mother took the leash. I turned back to my book, feeling the dog was now safe. Later on in the day, whenever there were two young boys running around causing mayhem, I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that they were the DOG TORTURERS.

Young Girls on the Loose at the Movies

What do you do on a cloudy day in a beach town?

You go to the movies.

Or, you send your unaccompanied pre-teen children to the movies.

We arrived for the early evening show to a hubbub. Eventually, we discovered that most of the children, if not all, had been watching the Chronicles of Narnia. As I learned, from one young girl in the bathroom, the movie had stopped at a crucial moment near the end of the story. Everyone was disappointed, even peeved. No sun, and now this. A small group of marauding boys, after trying to dismantle the display posters, hatched a plan to demand their money back.

My sister and I waited patiently, sort of, for the previous showing of our selection, In her Shoes, to finish so that we could swoop in and get good seats. We were both hoping that the gaggle of loud girls congregating with us would change their minds and go somewhere else. Soon enough, the movie theater people had decided to replay the Chronicles of Narnia in another theater and many appeased children wandered off in that direction. Our theater was vacated and we happily made our way in, finding good seats.

The gaggle returned... and decided to stay in our theater, at least for a moment. A woman, with her not-teenage daughters, who had been watching the movie before us decided to engage the gaggle in conversation. In this way, we found out that they were all about to enter the seventh grade (at the end of their summer in March) except one, who is a year younger. The girls wanted to know if this movie would make them cry. Eventually, the mother was ushered off by her own daughters who were, no doubt, thankful to be leaving the gaggle behind.

My sister said something in English that the girls apparently overheard; this launched the gaggle into a loud repertoire of all the words they knew in English. A long discussion about whether or not to see this movie or go to the other theater ensued. Keep in mind, these girls don't seem to be in the know about the "inside voice." One girl, in particular, has a deep, loud voice. She is advocating for the other theaters; my sister and I are voting with her. The entire gaggle moves loudly out of the theater and all of us waiting for our movie emit an audible phew.

The peace and quiet lasts for only a few minutes... they all come back ... and settle back into their seats. Then, to their horror, they discover that the one soda they bought, I don't know, thirty minutes ago, is almost gone. The loud one and a sidekick exit the theater to go buy another just as the movie is beginning. No previews, just right to the movie... the loud girl and friend return, yelling, Did the movie start? Did it start? Oh my, it started!!

I reassured my sister that they would have to settle down as the movie was in English with subtitles, and reading the subtitles would keep them pretty busy. Sure enough, they settled right down, and, except for a few outbursts of embarrassed laughter whenever there was anything close to a sex scene, they were well behaved.