Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ba-rock my world

On Friday evening, I stood in line for more than 3 hours to see Barack Obama speak at the University of Oregon. There were so many people that my friends and I didn't get in, so we were diverted to the turf field behind Mac Court. The Senator came out onto the field to speak to us for about 5 minutes before he went into the arena, at which point my friends and I bolted back to my old co-op to watch the speech on TV. They were going to have the audio from the speech played out on the field, but the system was set up so poorly that we could hardly hear the Senator when he was out there.

But now I can say that I've seen a presidential candidate speak. I hope that I can say I saw a future president speak. The back of his head, at least. I don't regret all that time that I spent just waiting, but I probably would have regretted it if I hadn't gone. It didn't change my mind much just to see the back of his head, because I already support his message and would vote for him if he were the Democratic nominee (my first choice was John Edwards, but alas and alack!).

Which brings me to a dilemma of principles. Should I register for the Democratic Party so that I can vote in the primary or stay non-affiliated? (For effect, I wore a sweatshirt that said "Independent" to the Obama speech) When I registered to vote at 18, I sought advice from my teachers. One, a fellow Christian with a son in the National Guard, said that I was a Republican. The school librarian, a non-religious woman who I respect very much said that I was a Democrat. I researched each party carefully, even scouring the Pacific Green website and the Socialist Party USA website. The conclusion that I came to was that I didn't align with either party, so I registered non-affliated. I've taken a lot of pride in not being beholden to a political party, but I'm not sure that it's worth it. I don't plan on being a career Democrat, because I want to make sure that I'm not tempted to put too much energy into campaigning for individuals (policies, maybe). But Oregon is one of those "blue states" and Clinton family love runs strong here. Would being able to vote for Barack Obama be worth compromising my independent principles? Of what value are those principles anyway if I don't do everything in my power to change the state of the nation?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Give me my money back, you Senate!

I'm happy to announce that the Biden-Lugar amendment to the 2009 International Affairs budget has passed. What's that? Here's the skinny:
President proposes International affairs budget with an increase in poverty-fighting aid
Senate lops off $4 billion
Smith and Durbin propose amendment to restore $2.6 billion to the budget
(this is where I learned about it on Sunday, when my faith community took time to write letters to Senator Wyden)
Renamed Smith-Feinstein amendment
Senators Biden and Lugar propose $4.1 billion be added to the budget
Amendment passes! Huge victory for the fight against poverty!

The point: Write your elected officials! Keep tabs on issues that are important to you through your favorite blogs and WRITE LETTERS.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Grumpier Old Men

I'm going to get a little personal here. I live in the same town as my grandparents, and they're one of the reasons I decided to stay in the area after college. They helped me out a lot while I was in school, and even let me stay at their house for several days while I nursed my broken toe. I love them dearly, but there's something you must know:

My grandpa is a jackass.

It appears to be a life-long problem. If there is something that he can pick on Grandma for, like leaving a bottle of olive oil on the counter, he'll do it, and then not stop. "You have time to go to Al-Anon and Red Hat Lady parties, but not time to put the cap on a bottle and put it in the cupboard," he says. Then again 5 minutes later. Then again later in the afternoon. Then again when someone new comes to visit. I nearly broke down last night because he was viciously harassing me for not knowing when the last time I changed my oil was. He told me that he was going to have to call my parents and tell on me, a 23 year old adult who can change her own oil. It was the dumbest thing to pick on me for, and he wouldn't quit.

I got off work early that day and came over just to see them. I come over because they're my family and I want to spend time with them, and I'm also really lonely at my empty house. I don't go over there to get my weekly ration of verbal abuse.

Grandma goes to Al-Anon, and that apparently helps her deal with him. I don't have those tools. Last night, I just did not have the ability to handle something so stupid. I just left. I don't want to go over there again, because I know he'll berate me for being so sensitive, and then we'll be back where we started. I'm really the only grandchild who regularly comes to visit. Why does he pick on me? What am I supposed to do or say? How do I love someone who drives me away?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Project 40: February

(for some reason I decided to punish myself for being single by reading chick lit in the month of love. Gag.)

“Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story” by Rachel Kadish
A friend recommended this to me and I couldn’t even finish it. 30-something literature professor in Manhattan swears off love, but oh, wait! She falls for some random guy whose only apparent quality is that his eyes twinkle. It’s all written in present tense, like a trashy detective novel or cyber porn. No thank you. F-

“Not Even Wrong” by Paul Collins
This book was really awesome. As a special education aid, I’m always looking for ways to self-educate about the mental conditions I see in my classroom. The book is an autobiography of a father and his son with autism mixed with history. It goes back and forth between the time that the author and his wife are first finding out about their son’s autism and the history research that the author does, mostly in Europe. It has lots of fascinating stories about people with autism from days past. I highly recommend this to educators or anyone who knows a person with autism. A

“The Brontë Project: A Novel of Passion, Desire, and Good PR” by Jennifer Vandever
It’s nearly as bad as its title. Slightly more tolerable than “Tolstoy Lied,” and recommended by the same friend. 28 year old literature grad student in Manhattan gets caught in a whirlwind of lovers, movie deals, and a fellow grad student who lives the celeb high life and wants to make “Princess Diana studies” a legit area of academia. The characters and plot are way far-fetched and if I hadn’t picked it up at the time that I was couch ridden with a broken toe, I might have put it down. So it goes. D+

“Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s use of language in this book just sucks you right in. I read the prologue one night right before bed, and got really excited about reading the rest of it. The story is about two boys, Jim and Will, and their run-in with a mysterious carnival that rolls into town at the wrong time of year. The main thing that drew me in was that he had these two young characters who encountered everything you ever feared as a child (or an adult), and the fearless vs. fearful exchange between them or within the individual. It’s not a “horror” book in the sense that there’s blood and gore or something out to kill them, but it’s intense enough from beginning to end that most people would call it a scary story. I loved it. A

“The Green Book” by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen
This was one of those tempting “new books” at the library. I was kind of disappointed in it. The book is simply a list of things that you can do to be more environmentally friendly, but I noted that it wasn’t too environmentally friendly that you necessarily had to drastically change any aspect of your life. To make being green seem hip, they interviewed several celebrities who talked about how they act “green.” It’s a good starting point though, if you’re not from a generally environmentally conscious area like I am and want to be aware of your impact. Another good point was that each suggestion was accompanied by a statistic like “If everyone in the US declined their receipt at the ATM, it would save a roll of paper that would wrap around the earth X number of times.” Kind of neat. B-