Quote of the Day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

big fucking deal

About a year ago I wrote about the now all-but-forgotten Michael Phelps bong scandal, and how ridiculous I find it that the nation was so shocked and ready to condemn this young man, when everyone and their mother (well ok, maybe not my mother, but probably everyone else's) has smoked a little weed at a party or two (or three or four or...). And now once again, with the media abuzz and the country up in arms over Joe Biden's potty mouth, I find myself amazed (and yet somehow not really surprised) at what a goddamned puritanical society we seem to be. Whoopise, did I let let a curse word slip there?? My bad.

America likes its athletes squeaky=clean and wholesome, and its leaders dignified, god-fearing and infallible (AHEM, explain George Bush Jr. to me then please. Seriously, please, someone try, because I still don't get it...), so inevitably people freak out when those they put on a pedestal are involved with drugs or sex or *gasp* ...swearing? (Of course W's druggie/alcoholic past doesn't count, that was before he was important, and so can apparently be forgiven and overlooked). Well, perhaps I should clarify: people freak out when there is visual and/or auditory proof of such behavior. Because come on, who of us really thinks that a 20-something athlete high on fame and success isn't going to do a little partying and a little getting high on something else, or that Barack Obama isn't letting a few cuss words fly when off air in the Oval Office? Those in serious denial, or suffering from extreme naivete
, that's who.

But this is the message the media constantly sends in our society: that no matter how common place certain actions and behaviors may be, and no matter how ultimately benign, they are not to be publicly shown. That we, the masses, are free to do what we will, but those the nation holds in esteem--celebrities, politicians--are to be held to a higher standard. This is the price to pay for fame and power: you must be perfect. Or, at least, project the appearance of perfection. It's a ridiculous standard to live up to, and one doomed to failure. And it's this hypocritical brand of censorship that perpetuates the ridiculous taboos our country stubbornly clings to. It's why the US is widely seen as the Prude of the Western World. And I have to think that it shows a serious misplacement of priorities.

Case in point: the editorial staff at the Hartford Courant called the incident "a blunder that sullied a historic moment." This is, in a word, ridiculous. If anything, the ones sullying this historic legislative victory are those who are placing greater importance on a curse word than on the health care bill itself and what it will mean to the lives of millions of Americans. But seriously. In a few years, ask a 12-year-old girl who was able to receive the health care she needed in order to fight her cancer and survive how she feels about Joe Biden "sullying" the passing of health care reform with a naughty word. I would love to hear the response.

As a good friend of mine astutely pointed out (and she would know), those who work in politics are only a close second to sailors in their use of profanity (also in use of alcohol, but that is another story). Having worked amongst political folk for a good year and a half now, I can personally attest to this (thank the lord, I fit in just fine from the get-go). So I don't know, am I just desensitized to profane language? Am I wrong in thinking one little swear word should not have caused such a shit storm when there are bigger fish to fry? Is it just me, or the word "fuck" far less offensive than one of George W's fabricated linguistic atrocities or mispronunciations? And what, I have to ask, ever happened to Freedom of Speech? You know, that oft-quoted part of the First Amendment of the Constitution that we Americans hold so dear?

Granted, this is certainly not Biden's first gaffe, not his first verbal faux pas. He has a storied reputation for putting his foot in his mouth over some issue or another, and has often been criticized making himself, Obama and even the Democratic Party as a whole look a fool. But I have to point out: at least you know he's real. And personally, I'd rather have a VP who swears and sometimes speaks without thinking but says what he means than a slick, smooth-talking politician who merely pays lip service.

Sure, Mr. Biden could have saved a lot of brouhaha by merely watching his language, or considering that the microphones just miiight be sensitive enough to pick up on something that was really meant for the President's ears only. But I for one actually find it endearing and heartening to think that the Vice President was maybe just too genuinely excited and happy about the passing of the health care bill to really think about censoring himself. After all, there are enough politicians who seem to care more about their public appearance, their own selfish ambitions and approval ratings, than about actually doing good things for those they represent. Priorities, people.

So thank you, Mr. Biden, for keepin' it real, for bringing a little HBO to CNN & MSNBC. To quote a tweet from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "yes Mr. Vice President, you're right..." The new health care bill is a big fucking deal. One little swear word, however, is not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

mama said there'd be days like this

You know that moment... where some seemingly inconsequential little problem grabs a hold of you... and then the stresses just seem to compound head-over-tail and before you know it every little thing that's been bothering you for the past few months has suddenly gathered and is holding a virtual Caucus of Crap in your overwrought mind... and all of a sudden all the mature calmness you present to the world 98% of the time, all of your in-control, adult composure has melted away to expose a weepy little child ready to break down... and everyone around you seems to be too absorbed in their own lives to care or perhaps to even notice, so you decide to deal with it on your own, as usual, and this seems to be the moment that every creep out on the street decides to start hollering at you and you just want to scream, "I'm on the verge of tears, motherfucker, really, you find that sexy?! ...and then on the way home you see a guy in a wheelchair and three homeless people just trying to get somewhere for the night or get a few dollars for something to eat, just trying to survive, and suddenly you feel utterly ashamed for ever thinking your life sucked, even just a little bit... and yet that thought still can't quite quell the stubborn renegade tears...?

And so you curl up in bed, and take a deep breath, and you think: my life does not suck, and tomorrow is another day, and I will face it, whatever it brings, and it will be good.

Monday, March 15, 2010

and then fly away...

When I was much younger, I think maybe the thing I feared most (besides caves and mosquito lions) was rejection. It was sometimes paralyzing. I lived for a while largely in a lonely limbo of denial, unable to understand or fully admit that wherever I seemed to turn and no matter how hard I tried, I just did not belong. Stubbornly unwilling to accept that people could very simply just not like me. Because for some reason I can't fully explain, it was just so important for everyone to like me.

I had to grow up a little (and find a more diverse pool of peers) to recognize the importance of real friends . The ones who want to be around you because they see you, not because you're invisible; who want to be your friend because they value the person you are, not because of what they think they can get out of you and how they can take advantage of you; those who make the effort to know you because they see that there might just be more to you than what's apparent on the surface.

But I did learn this. I learned how to recognize a true friend and how to say "fuck it" to the opinions of those who are not. I learned to not care about what people think, except for the opinions of those few who really matter, and realized that the most important person to make happy is myself.

And yet, even though I know so much better now, I will admit that there is still the occasional situation, the moment of doubt or rejection that takes me by surprise and finds me reverting back to my 12-year-old mindset of "What? Why would anyone not like me? Why would someone not want to be my friend? Surely this must be a mistake, how do I fix this?"

And this is when the "adult" me has to take over and remember the reality: that for whatever reason, there are going to be people you meet along the way who are not going to like you, may even hate you. There are people who may think you're A-Ok but are unable or unwilling to see any deeper. There will be people who think they know you but have no idea, and there will be people who get to know you but decide they don't need you in their life.

And as hard as it can be to accept, those individuals--the ones who misjudge you, who don't want to make the effort to really know you, who don't think it's worth their while to spend time with you or sometimes even to properly acknowledge you...they simply don't belong in your life. Not when you have friends and family who sincerely care, and so many amazing people in the world yet to meet.

Part of me really wishes I could travel back in time and tell this to my younger self. Because the realization is so liberating, the moment so profoundly freeing and empowering when you accept that it's not worth caring about, and just let go. But I guess some things you just have to learn the hard way for them to really stick.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

happy birthday blog

Last Saturday marked not only my own birthday, but also the anniversary of starting this crazy blog experiment. So here I find myself one year and 40-something posts later, and I have to say that I'm a bit impressed at how well I've kept at it, considering the myriad of half-completed projects that often trail behind me like the proverbial breadcrumbs on the path of life (or the proverbial good intentions paving the way to hell??). Considering that I have a shameful tendency to start things and never finish them.

But somehow over these months I've managed to fill the pages, or rather the computer screen. Maybe I've matured, maybe I've gained some discipline. Perhaps I just find it entertaining, or cathartic, or satisfyingly narcissistic to put my thoughts out into the world. Whatever the reason, I'm still here. There's this quote from Vita Sackville-West that I really love, because it reminds me why I wanted to start this blog, and why I write at all:
"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind."

So I will continue to write, in order to capture the skittish thoughts bouncing around in my brain, to grasp onto the fleeting moments, foibles and fancies of my life and preserve them in a digital eternity. And hopefully in some way expand my mind and soul by pouring just a little of them out onto the computer screen.

When I started this blog I honestly had no idea if anyone would ever read it, and although I told myself it didn't matter because that's not what this was about, I admit that it is gratifying to know that my words are being seen, perhaps pondered, agreed or disagreed with. And so I want to say that, friend or stranger, I am glad you have found your way here, and maybe found something of value in my ramblings. Thank you for your comments and encouragement, whether voiced or silent. And if you, dear real or imaginary reader, are continuing to follow, I re-extend my welcome and thank you for again stopping by.

*photo borrowed from wordlicious.com, though I do not know who to originally credit it to*