Thursday, November 16, 2006

Work that left brain.

When I engage in a significant conversation or translate my cluttered thoughts into written form, I comfortably depend on the familiar reaches of the right side of my cranium. Intuition and perception come easily to me, as does compassion and consideration for others. And a chorus line of creatively placed words placate me, encourage me and pad the walls of my comfort zone. Within this zone, I’ve always kept all things analytical and diagnostic at bay. Don’t hand me a manual and don’t expect me to plan too far ahead. Leave me dancing to the rhythm of iambic pentameter and clinging to every beautifully unexpected adjective. I love reading aloud to my children, allowing my tone to ebb and flow as I become the character I’m voicing. Their eyes dart about as my voice incites their imaginations and I’m transported on stage, performing again with the creativity and passion that makes me, me.

Plodding through this semester has been….enlightening. I’m actually understanding and retaining the newly acquired specifics and information otherwise known as college algebra II. You can all let out a clearly audible gasp now. I’ll wait. Those who recall my rebellious high school days will remember my father attempting to hang himself with his tie from the dropped ceiling tiles in his classroom as I childishly slumped in the back row, refusing to allow myself to do anything that remotely resembled learning. Not only was I generally not logically minded, but I had my own father for a math teacher during the most volatile and complicated years of my life. You could say mathematics and I never established a healthy relationship. Enter Professor Fitzgerald: a tall man in his mid-sixties with eyes that twinkle when he smiles and a clever sense of humor not usually associated with math geeks. He appreciates and caters to non-traditional students, clearly recognizing that we’re faithfully in his classroom for three hours every week because we want to be there. His explanations and examples nudge my pencil across the paper with the kind of enthusiasm I ordinarily reserve for haiku or a catastrophically inspired piece of short fiction. By catastrophically, I’m referring to something unpredictably exploding in my kitchen or one of my children trying to flush a pillow down the toilet. Not that acquiring a sense of higher learning has been unproblematic. Although the responsibility of raising three children and maintaining a home remains my priority, the challenge has nurtured and cultivated my buried brainiac within. She encourages me as the Papoose is biting my kneecap and screaming for the boob while I’m still trapped in a bog of polynomials and coefficients. She lends me patience to mother when I’m feeling rather un-motherish. She provides the endurance needed to stay up until I’m confident in my understanding of the chapter and to rise early in the morning to tend to the anarchy of misplaced homework, wet mittens, spilled cereal and kisses out the door.

Although I will submit to an early afternoon nap with a snuggly toddler and woolen socks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ooh! Ooh! How about a Moore/Stewart ticket for '08?

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

November 14th, 2006

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand. Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you. Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans, I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition. I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.

Signed, Michael Moore

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I tossed and turned in my sleep as

I relived election night two years prior. My heart was full with hope and my living room was full with dedicated MoveOn volunteers. We confidently clinked our glasses and quenched our thirst for a revolutionary change. My kitchen brimmed over with dishes of roasted rosemary chicken, bowls of homemade beef stew, bottles of good wine and dog-eared lists of potential voters. Although our sore feet were worn-out from plodding through dubious neighborhoods, we were still buoyant with optimism. I fell asleep rubbing my four month pregnant stomach, feeling as though I had made this world a better place.

I stumbled through the next morning in a thick haze of disbelief. I was still dreaming. I walked from room to room, not knowing where I should sit, where I should be. I felt as though I had suddenly lost my place in this world. There could be no explanation why 51% still didn’t appreciate the gravity of the election. After watching him rip the fabric of our nation to oily shreds, how could they not agonize and demand change? I momentarily questioned my purpose and determination. All this time, could it be that I was on the wrong side of the picket fence, throwing rocks at the good guy? With every tinge of my being, I knew that couldn’t possibly be.

I slumped over the toilet lid and sobbed tears of crushing despair.

That was two years ago.

Although the unadulterated evil of this administration has been wholly exposed within the past two years, I still crawled into bed last night with guarded expectations. I’ve learned to never underestimate the Machiavellian resourceful power of the religious right.

Apprehensively holding a cup of coffee in my left hand and the remote in my right, I tuned in to CNN this morning. The animated yelp that escaped from my mouth startled everybody in the room, including me. 227 to 194 in the House? A split Senate with the two remaining seats predicted to go Democrat? I want so badly to believe. I want to trust that people are finally demanding the change that 49% of us have been passionately roaring for.

This shift is best abridged by Gandalf in reference to Merry and Pippin arriving in Fangorn Forest: “Their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains.” Tom Delay stated it even more succinctly: “We took a whipping last night.”

Snap on your boards, pull down your goggles and let’s ride this avalanche of change.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Can I get a whoop-whoop?