Friday, August 29, 2008

There are no cats in America...

...and the streets are paved with cheese.

Does anyone else remember this adorable, hopeful song sung by the Russian mice immigrating to America in the animated film An American Tail? Anyone? Anyone? The story chronicles Fievel Mousekewitz who is separated from his family during a storm on the ship taking them to their dream land. Fievel makes it to America and is eventually reunited with his family. But there are cats in America.

Last night on television I saw a political commercial from the Obama camp condemning McCain's wealth ("He can't even remember how many houses he owns. He owns seven.") I get it. The economy sucks and McCain is wealthy. But when did wealth and success become something to abhor? Isn't that, after all, the American dream? These commercials, designed to defame the opposing cadidate, only tarnish my impression of the campaign slinging the mud. I generally despise politics, and this commercial did nothing to instill any additional hope in what I see as the lesser of two evils.

A Republican aunt recently e-mailed me a YouTube video about Obama's (literal) vote of support for live birth abortion. It is an understandably horrific-sounding controversy, however, information without context does nothing to educate the viewer, and I hope to hit "delete" on all future e-mails and investigate the issues for myself. In my extended family (I exclude my parents and several cousins from this category), being a Republican is as important as being a Christian, if not more so. For them, Bush can do no wrong; I'm pretty sure he wakes each morning to a hot slice of apple pie and drives a Chevy to work with an eagle perched on his shoulder.

I would never claim to be politically savvy and refuse to label myself as belonging to either dominant party, but I hope I am open-minded enough to listen to the thoughts of both sides and make an educated decision based on the issues I deem most important to my family and the country. Now that McCain has chosen his unconventional running mate and begins his fight in earnest against an unconventional Democratic candidate, I'm sure the political scene will explode, showering citizens with the guts of candidates' inferred indiscretions until November.

I'm annoyed and disillusioned, but I will still show up to the polls when the time comes. I encourage you to do the same. Complacency won't solve anything, for better or for worse. Even though there are cats in America, vote anyway. If only because it's better than standing idly by while the dream turns into a nightmare.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August is the month of birthdays

August seems to be the month of birthdays. It is certainly the month when a majority of important people in my and Husband's life celebrate this auspicious anniversary. Perhaps the icy hand of December made for intolerable cabin fever and heightened lust, coming to fruition nine months later in an overabundance of summer babies!

Husband celebrated his birthday at the beginning of this month and has been followed by three very special friends to both of us (happy birthdays to MandaSue, Diosthocles, and Lester).

And, last but certainly not least, today is my father's 70th birthday. Hooray!

As you can see from the photograph, even though I came into his life late (I'm 22, do the math), he still made a perfect horse for my cousin and I to ride (perhaps that's why his back is sore nowadays...) as well as a devoted fishing partner and easygoing companion. Tonight we're going out to break bread with my and Husband's family in celebration. Happy birthday, Daddy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hello! How are you today?

This will be my eleventh week working at Big, Fancy University. Just a few more weeks and I will be off my three month probation. This means I will be able to take vacation and sick time when I want or need it and cannot easily be fired without a stream of paperwork and (hopefully) a very good reason. Yeay.

My current job is completely tolerable, and I am so very thankful to have found a position so close to Husband and home. However, and I never thought I would actually admit this, but I miss Dinky College, just a little bit. After three years as a student and one as an indentured servant, I think it's okay to fess up to missing the atmosphere and (some) people. The campus did have a very homey vibe to it and everyone pretty much knew everything about everyone else.

Something interesting I've noticed at Big, Fancy University is the anonymity of the students and employees. People walk by each other on the sidewalk with their heads down, eyes averted. At Dinky College, everyone looked each other in the eye as they passed and mouthed "hi" if they were just casual acquaintances or some other greeting if they were more friendly with one another. My former underboss (the sweetest lady in the world) would greet every single person she passed with a wide smile and loud "Hi! How are you?" She recently secured a position at Big, Fancy University and will leave Dinky College in September. I hope she keeps greeting everyone she meets even if they look away, embarrassed to have been called out of their namelessness by a stranger.

I attended a going away party for my former boss a few weeks ago at Big, Fancy University. Many of his colleagues, series editors, authors, and Library staff attended to wish him well. It was so interesting to watch and listen to the people who knew each other's names, had talked on the phone or e-mailed numerous times, but had never actually met in person. In our e-mail culture, personal letter writing and visits to one another's homes are so infrequent. I am just as guilty as everyone else. I start to forget what people look like.

So if the transition from Dinky College to Big, Fancy University has taught me anything, it is to stay connected to the people around me. Hopefully I won't just catch up on your life by reading your blog or shooting off a quick e-mail. Hopefully I take the time to have lunch with you, call you up on the phone for a long, personal conversation, or remember your birthday or a special occasion in your life and mail a card with my handwritten sentiments. I'll do my best. In the meantime: Hello! How are you today?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A warning in advance...

Here is a warning in advance: This post is going to be about our continuing house hunt. If you are thoroughly disgusted with our obvious lack of skills and/or luck in finding a place to live that doesn't involve the kind charity of my in-laws, then stop reading now. It's only going to get worse.

Well, perhaps we have had a bit of luck come our way. We went house hunting once again with our Realtor last night and actually found two houses that are completely tolerable inside with no rat droppings to be seen, have finished basements that never used to be meth labs, and are in neighborhoods where you can wear red or blue at your discretion without fear!

The problem?

Just the overflowing fount of unanswered questions that we probably should have thought of a month ago. For example, know, for those children we don't even have. Paying another human being to tolerate your smelly, whining brats for eight to ten hours a day...sounds expensive. And what about when we have the good fortune to send said smelly, whining brats to blessedly "free" public school, but they get sick or fall off the monkey bars or get run over by a big, yellow bus? Would we be able to leave work at a moment's notice to rescue the little darlings? And would living "closer" to work actually save us any time or fuel? After fighting the urban traffic and wasting precious gasoline at stoplight after stoplight, would we actually save anything at all? We've been carpooling with a friend of Husband's for the past few weeks, and that seems to be working out well, assuming said friend plans to continue his employment at Big, Fancy University.

My head hurts.

At this rate, I'm voting for a cardboard refrigerator box underneath a bridge and a speedy vasectomy for Husband.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where's Ed McMahon when you need him?

I keep waiting for Ed McMahon to show up on my doorstep with a giant Publishers Clearing House check.

I choose to ignore the fact that I don't actually have my own doorstep and also haven't spent a single moment signing up to win a giant Publishers Clearing House check. Still, I really think Ed should seriously contemplate dropping by. I know that people say money won't solve all your problems...but I just really think that a large amount of money would solve all of our problems right now.

If someone would just magically hand us an extra $100,000 or so, we could stop weighing the pros and cons of throwing up our hands and buying a mold-covered, rat dropping encased former meth lab in our current price range or admitting to the world that we are indefinitely living with my in-laws.

If you couldn't tell, I am becoming increasingly exasperated with the whole house hunt business. If everyone else can go into extreme debt after buying a house tolerable enough to live in but way out of their price range, why can't we? Husband keeps whining about something called a "credit rating." I don't think we'll be truly happy until our credit rating and combined IQ scores are equal...

However, if you've followed celebrity news at all in the past few weeks, you may have heard that Ed's got his own problems. He broke his neck which seriously cut down on his employment availability and his own home is now being foreclosed upon. Maybe Ed isn't the right person to ask for help at the moment.

Wait, did you hear a doorbell?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why I should take the bus or get a sturdy horse

I am a bad driver.

I will be the first to admit my mind may wander, the radio or passenger may distract me, and simple traffic laws are sometimes forgotten. What seems most unfortunate, however, is that I seem to be rubbing off on those around me.

My poor one-year-old Mazda is now in need of a new hood and front grill. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named accidentally backed into my car in her own driveway. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named felt, understandably, mortified and apologetic, but I took the incident in stride: no one was injured; it's just a car.

I'm just glad it wasn't my fault this time.

My track record has proven the inadequacy of my skills. My very first experience driving with my Dad while at the wheel of my parent's red Subaru tooling slowly around our gravel county roads went well enough...until I tried pulling into our garage and instead ran into the side of the door. An unfortunate miscalculation. Later, during my Driver's Education class practice for the final test (which, if I passed, would eliminate the need to take the actual final) I ran over and killed a squirrel. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that they called me "Killer" for the rest of the semester and I was forced to take the final test anyway because the instructor said I had gotten "too close to humans or animals" on the practice try. The casualty list didn't end with that one innocent, albeit suicidal, squirrel. My high school Sunday school class had a board on which they kept tally of my numerous vehicular manslaughters. I was particularly adept at slamming into birds at 60 miles per hour.

The worst incident, however, occurred late one evening while leaving a ceramics class in my Mother's car. "Look left, then right, then left again" didn't help me much on the high hills and low valleys of State Road 26 when I pulled out in front of a truck that had been concealed in the low dip. I was so shocked by the accident that I completely forgot to look at the damage to my Mother's car until after we had exchanged information (note to readers: don't take the other driver's advice not to call the police; insurance is a bitch if the accident isn't properly recorded). The truck, surely traveling over the 50 mile per hour speed limit, had scraped and badly dented almost the entire right side of my Mother's car. No one was injured, the air bags didn't even deploy, and two new car doors later everything was as good as new, but for the next year or so, every time I made a left hand turn, I winced. I was like Pavlov's dog, only not as cute or slobbery.

In spite of my poor driving skills, a car seems to be necessary in order to complete day-to-day travails. Living in rural Indiana and working about 30 miles away from my current abode, a bus simply isn't a feasible solution. Perhaps I should invest in a horse.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday!

A quarter of a century ago today my Husband was born! Happy birthday, Husband!