Friday, February 29, 2008

Things that go bump in the night

“Now one of Clinton’s laws of politics is this: If one candidate’s trying to scare you and the other one’s trying to get you to think, if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."
-Bill Clinton, 2004

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Slamming - Not Sliding - Doors.

One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies is Sliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. The premise in short: you see her life in parallel on a day when she does catch the train, and in a different universe, doesn't. Both ways she ends up with the lovely man she's supposed to be with and I revel in how her life's plan transcends petty circumstance, even if, when she does catch the train, she takes a circumvented path to get there.

Today an article in the Science section of the New York Times, about the psychology of closing doors, caught my eye. The tacky, self-help book reading side of me felt a bit giddy. It spoke to the girl who wants to take fate into her own hands, not have to trust that it'll work out as it did for Helen, Gwyneth Paltrow's character (because sadly, I am not Gwyneth Paltrow). The article suggested that even smart people resist closing doors, even after they're informed that there will be zero penalty for doing so. Something about the cognitive "slam of the door", the loss of opportunity, hurt them so much that they fight closing it, even if they're only hurting themselves.

Being a reasonably smart, ambitious twentysomething (aside from liking movies where Gwyneth has a British accent), I spend much of my time anxious that I'm not being ambitious enough (my mind promptly wonders to a thousand doors of opportunity calling, doorbells ringing...). I have to wonder: what open doors should I consider closing that have left a proverbial draft in my life? What's distracting me from getting what I really want? Anyway, this is starting to sound like a "Dear Diary" entry, so I'll end it now. Read the article, and take some time to consider what the doors that you need to close looks like - share, I'm curious.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Lovely Day of Nothing Much.

Things to do when you have a sunny Monday off:
1. Fix up the french press and read french poetry (hmm, or maybe just In Style) in the sun.
2. Sort the piles in your apartment into smaller, more specific piles.
3. Arrange the smaller piles with a path of logic that will allude you 15 minutes later.
4. Watch an entire season of Arrested Development, and then wonder where the time went.
5. Print & fold a Que Bird:
6. Replant a spider baby from the spider plant, and pray that it survives your haphazard repotting.
7. Avoid leaving the house at all costs, even if it means cleaning the kitchen.
8. Pedicure, and more Arrested Development!
9. Figure out how to gussy up the five dollar cabinet you bought at the ReStore yesterday...
10. Nap on the porch-couch. It's been a busy day of nothing much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Memory: Gomez, 1990-2008

At 1111 Frog Hollow Road, Gomez was king. He showed up mysteriously in our yard one day when I was in sixth grade, knowing he belonged. My parents tried to give him away - twice - to neighboring farms with lots of rats, but he wasn't interested. He knew our house was it, and popped up a few hours later. For him, the next 17 years were lovely: My mom overfed him several times a day, he wracked havoc on the bird population, bullied male cats (and dogs) who crossed into our yard, roamed and befriended a few harmless female ones. For me, Gomez was always my consistent, he saw me through the ups and downs of middle and high school. He was a welcome sight when I'd come home from college on holidays, he was there demanding attention when times were tough and I couldn't imagine thinking beyond myself. He liked to be covered with newspaper. He liked to sleep in the exact middle of the bed, a 20 pound lump that expected you to get comfortable, but not if it meant he lost beauty sleep. Then last year the tumors started to show. We started to call him our Picasso cat, as one cheek jutted out, and then his spine. He lost weight. And tonight he left us. But 18 years of happiness is all you can really ask for - for him and for us.

Monday, February 11, 2008

When root vegetables attack!

Tonight's culinary challenge: Celeriac Cutlets (celery root, breading, lemon juice, salt & pepper). Certainly nothing in our fridge is scarier than this nobby organic celery root (at the moment). But, dear impossible-to-cut-with-my-cheap-knives vegetable, I salute you, because:
Beauty is but skin deep
Ugly lies the bone;
Beauty dies and fades away,
but ugly holds its own.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Give 'em Hil? Goodbye to all that!

So - being a progressive feminist and not voting for Hilary makes me feel icky inside. Why?

I dove into researching The Gender Issue in the current presidential race, treating my own good sense like a science experiment to be dissected. I was empathetic with Hilary when she cried, but drew back when her misty eyes got more media than the genocide in Sudan has all year. There was Gloria's Op-ed in the NYTimes, telling me that I was a chump if, as a woman I didn't support Hil. The Sunday Times had another nifty piece: "16 Ways of Looking at a Female Voter." As if I didn't feel of two minds about the whole thing already! #7 suggested that women didn't know nearly as much as men about politics, and so we depend on our emotions to make decisions. I thought about Hilary crying. I thought about Barack, the rockstar politician, and twittered. Was I to be trusted as a citizen?

My certainty hit a new low when Robin Morgan re-wrote her classic feminist manifesto "Goodbye to All That" on behalf of Hil's political aspirations: "So goodbye to Hillary's second-guessing herself. The real question is deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we women find ours? Can we do this for ourselves? / 'Our President, Ourselves!' / ...As for the "woman thing"? / Me, I'm voting for Hillary not because she's a woman -- but because I am."

Ugh, right? At the very beginning, I wanted Hilary to win, I did. I always thought Barack the better character, but Hilary the better candidate. She's smart - a political being. She has a calculating edge, which makes it easy for me to imagine her in the White House, making the hard calls that you and I can't and don't want to. I didn't want Barack's winning vision to be violated up on Capital Hill...

Worst of all, could I, as all my feminist icons seemed to be saying, unconsciously hate women? Two seconds of thought made me realize that's crazy. I love women - and I, like any patriotic sap, love the idea of America (the details, we all know, are a bit grey at the moment). It must be about the vision thing this election. I try to follow a rational philosophy "informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion." The leadership we need now is something I think and feel is stronger in Barack than it is in Hilary (because those who suggest good sense can be achieved without both thought and feeling are idiots). So, maybe my conclusion- that Barack gets my vote because of a gut instinct -- is lame. But so is, I think, voting blindly for Hilary. Because, as #15 in "16 Ways of Looking at the Female Voter" points out, the political is personal.

* All "Obama" references have been updated to "Barack" as I realized after posting this piece that I had to be fair and either make Clinton and Obama each their own "man" or use both their first names. When I was referring to Clinton as Hilary, and Obama as Obama, I was really doing Hilary a disservice. Apparently, this tendency is dominating the blog-world, and the feminist analysis of why this is subtle sexism is probably foder for another boring blog. So, I apologize, Hilary Rodam Clinton!