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Archive for November, 2006

So, I had a conversation the other day with someone wherein this person informed me that, in the end, everyone really is out for themselves.

To put it in context, I was saying how a mutual acquaintance of ours gave me the heebies because, as I put it, I thought that when the fit hit the shan this person would gladly slit the throat of their closest friend if they had to in order to protect themselves.

“Yeah, but I think everyone would,” said my friend.

I gave this due consideration and I then came to the following conclusion:

There is reason in my friend’s comment to be very, very, seriously sad about the state of the world. Not because I buy this philosophy — I think the killer instinct should be reserved for when there is an actual life/death situation at hand, i.e. someone attempts to mug you and pulls a knife. Then, it’s on. But everyday life just does not require murdering — either the physical or metaphysical — make-up of a fellow human being. There’s just nothing satisfying enough to sell your soul to that kind of darkness for the pleasure of procuring (that sentence may need some grammatical restructuring to make any sense. But I’m quickly doing this from work — a fact my former stalker I’m sure is kvetching over…).

There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who destroy people’s faith in the world for a little more money or a slight ego boost. This is a particular kind of counter-productive evil that is careless and increasingly rampant, making it that much more reasonable. Hey, I mean, that’s just the way the world works right. “Brush ’em off Claire” (this is from the movie Scrooged. Rent it to see what I mean.).

So, what’s sad about the comment is that this is simply what the majority of the world believes. And those of us who don’t — well, we’re seen as naive, a little simple, and definitely easy victims. *sigh*

On a better note, this is my first (and perhaps best) best friend (in the yellow — my baby bro is the one in gray).

I came from a neighborhood that functioned more like a 1930s Brooklyn burrough — we hung together, looked out for each other and have stayed together over the years. We had a neighborhood reunion at my parent’s house over the holiday and I snapped this photo. This is the man who, as a boy, taught me that making up dives off the diving board was way better than learning the traditional ones; that losing at staring contests can be hilarious; that using the whole neighborhood to play kick the can is much better than using one or two backyards; that Kangol hats are cool; that naming a cat simply requires saying the first thing that comes to mind (he named his Cucumber); and that continuing to know someone who really KNOWS you is a rare joy.

He’s not too far away so we’re planning on getting together again soon. I’m a lucky girl.

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Sometimes having a head cold can be a very good thing — most especially when it allows you to legitimately lay out of work and watch videos, despite needing to work on presentations and papers, etc. There really is nothing better than laying on the couch under a down comforter, big black dog warming your feet at the other end, drinking coffee and watching new releases. The occasional sneezing and ever-present wad of tissues can’t even ruin the bliss. Ahhhhhhhh…..

So, let’s talk competition. For the past several months, this word has come up in conversation in varied and seemingly disconnected situations. It’s apparently a theme or something I need to take notice of. I mean, I’m being hammered over the head with the concept lately. And, but of course, I’m rebelling. But let me tell you why…

I have, in one form or another, been competing my entire life. And I mean since birth. You don’t get born into a family of 9 without knowing what it means to go without. Sharing is a concept I learned early on. It seems I was competing with my sister (even though, looking back, I can’t remember why) from day one. Ever present push and pull.

Then there were the team sports I started playing at 6, swim meets, band practice trying to get the best chair, chorus trying to get the solos, dancing for years (don’t even get me started on the competitive spirit of this pursuit), school, boys (which is silly really; kinda defeats this idea of love and “one person for everyone” idea that I’m not quite willing to let go of just yet, and certainly wasn’t when I was younger), etc., etc.

Lately, I just want what I do to be valued based on its own merits and not how it stacks up to the way someone else does it. I’m tired people. I want to rest. And relax. So please, those who know me, chill with the competition talk for a little while. Really good things are good because they just are, not because they are better than other things. Things “good by comparison” are really, by definition, only mediocre. Think about that for a minute and you’ll see it’s true.

I’m believing it for a little while at least. So I can get some sleep.

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I just read the funniest thing on a “web ring” calling for Grammar Avengers to Unite — No website espousing forms of hatred or intolerance will be allowed to join this web ring. There’s another way to say this of course: Intolerance will not be tolerated. Which is just hilarious. Especially for the high and mighty purveyors of all things semantically proper.

And, for the record, I don’t tolerate intolerance either. I just make sure that I recognize the hypocrisy in this stance before promoting it with an air of superiority.

People are silly.

Snickers may be the greatest candy bar ever and I can’t get enough of this song because it makes me nostalgic for the college friends (I never claimed to be insightful all the time. Sometimes candy bars and music are all I’ve got…)

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Mistaken identity

I had one of the master’s kids tell me last week that she takes a drink coozie out with her to bars as an assertion of her independence from her ex-boyfriend who used to make sure he had one for her wherever they went. She told me this story and said that I would be proud of her for asserting her feminist independence, or something like that. It was kind of weird because I’m absolutely not a feminist but it’s remarkable how often I’m mistaken for one. Don’t get me wrong — I definitely believe that women are just as capable as men, should be paid the same salaries for the same jobs, and generally respected for their choices as much as men are — but I differ in one very important way from feminists: I like being a woman and enjoy and celebrate the differences between the sexes. I’m pretty forgiving that women are undervalued because I know that trying to equalize a playing field that is so radically different is very difficult, for men and women both. I adore men and keep looking for the ones that understand this mindset and don’t just pretend to (which is anti-feminist — or anti-sensitive guy — behavior as it’s all simply for show). And, most importantly, I cannot subscribe to any whole set of ethics when there are parts of that set I do not agree with. I mean, how much would the feminists who glorify The Vagina Monologues chafe if there was something published called Cock Talk? Hypocrisy sucks and there’s a lot of it in the feminist movement.

What’s more, I saw Borat this weekend and thought it was funny as hell, and it was decidedly un-PC. Oddly, I haven’t heard a peep from the radical feminists about this movie. Principle is apparently negotiable which is why I’m very careful about what I subscribe to on principle. Which is further why, despite my friend’s assumption, I could never be a feminist.

I’ve been listening to Billy Joel a lot lately, which is totally unhip but I really don’t care. This song is great.

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Taking the plunge

Congratulations to my brother and his lady love on getting married. Barefoot in the tropics, no less. But of course!

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So, I’m going to go ahead and post about this before tomorrow night so that, in the event anyone actually reads my little vent forum, they’ll have time to plan on attending. The dance compatriots are performing at Tasty World tomorrow night, Thursday, Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. I have stolen a picture of JB, secretly praying she won’t ever know, to show you what may greet you.

These people do not mess around. I watched the hip-hop routine yesterday — and even had the pleasure of learning some of it — and I can promise that the dancing will be frenetic, hot and almost unbelievably entertaining. I still maintain that some of these people should be in New York, dancing on Broadway — but then we wouldn’t have them here so NYAH NEW YORK! If you only knew what you were missing….

One of my friends from Lyrical class is a burgeoning reporter and has written a great piece for the local college paper on the week’s worth of events leading up to the finale next week — which you should also attend. But Emily says it better than me, so read this.

Here’s the lowdown. It will rock with good vibes, and who doesn’t need that? Come — have a beer with me and do a little chair jamming.

Moulin Rouge Extravaganza featuring strip aerobics, belly dance, break dance and more! Tasty World upstairs on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. Admission: $5. 706-355-3078.

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What’s a ho?

I went to vote today and a friend at work checked online to see where I was supposed to go. They, like they did several years ago, had me registered in the county my parents call home. Since I have voted in my county before, I just went to the place I had previously voted and explained the glitch. Surprisingly, they almost wouldn’t let me vote. Let me reiterate with some context — despite the notoriously low voter turnout that everyone complains about, they ALMOST DIDN’T LET ME VOTE!!!

I made them call the district office and the situation resolved itself. But I was really taken aback. Maybe it’s because I look like I’d vote Republican…

Captain Grumpypants sent me some funny videos that I plan on posting but then I came across this one and just couldn’t resist. Ken Jennings is the all-time winningest Jeopardy player (I can hear some of the master’s kids groaning at my mention of trivia games…) and he also writes an interesting column for Mental Floss called “Six Degrees of Ken Jennings.” Apparently, he’s funny as hell, too.

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Man, and I always had such a crush on Doogie. How is it that Doogie’s gay but Mango’s not? Can someone please explain…

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I had this moment yesterday that made me cry — no, it made me weep. Full force weeping; unashamedly bawling my eyes out, trying to catch my breath, wiping my runny nose with my hand kind of deluge. And all because a professor of mine told me in an email that I was good natured and he was glad I was in his class.

Let me explain:

I have spent the last several years battling a misperception. It is an unfortunate reality that once the waters are muddied — in this case by someone so embittered by life that any happiness just arouses anger — people are hard pressed to stop, check themselves, and assess the situation from their own vantage point. It’s far easier to simply accept what they are told, even, remarkably enough, when they neither trust nor respect the person doing the telling. I know, wacky, right? But people (and some of my own emerging bitterness might show here) are basically apes, right. They learn behavior, and, as much as they mentally have the faculties to actually think for themselves, rarely do because what if the pack dismisses them to the other side of the forest? That would be the worst, right? Never mind that the trees there are sweeter, higher and bear better fruit (how’s that for a metaphor?!)

Anyway, I have suffered through this battle, occasionally winning little skirmishes here or there but always questioning the point of the battle. I mean, who wants this damn war anyway?

Fortunately, I have the increasing feeling that it’s coming to an end and I’m still walking — maybe on crutches and with a few more wrinkles in my face, but by God I’m upright and walking in the direction I want to go. So I can see the glimmer of the sun on the horizon and I’m limping in that direction. And that’s good.

I just had no idea how it had all gotten to me until the following happened:

I have a professor with a good sense of humor so I shared a site with him that makes me laugh and was, actually, pretty relevant to our class subject matter. He emailed me to thank me and I told him that, as I had only gotten a B on my midterm exam, I was going to bust my ass to pull an A from the rest of the graded assignments. No problem there really. Fairly typical teacher/student interaction.

And then he did the most remarkable thing. He sent me a long email telling me that, in short, he liked me. That I was a good kid with a good attitude and who showed promise and was intelligent and was an asset to both his class and the program. Now, some may be cynical and say this is merely what good professors do and not to read too much into it. Indeed, they are supposed to motivate their students and I’ve no doubt this is exactly what he was trying to do. But he didn’t have to. I’m around people everyday who have a responsibility, by virtue of their positions, to motivate people. But they don’t. What’s more, they quite often do exactly the opposite. So, even if it was just him fulfilling his job description, it was fantastic because, as I’m becoming increasingly aware, he didn’t have to. And he did anyway. And, out of pure joy and a sense that someone had just entered the room and said, “It was all a mistake. We know you mean well,” I wept like a four-year old. And then I stood up, washed my face and limped out the door for work.

So shines a good deed in a weary world. Thanks Hal.

And Happy Friday to all you battle-scarred veterans. Here’s something funny from The Onion:

Kim Jong-Il Interprets Sunrise As Act Of War

October 31, 2006 | Issue 42•44

The Onion

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA–Increasingly defiant toward international pressure since his nation’s first nuclear test in early October, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il condemned this morning’s sunrise, calling it “another hostile, deliberately timed act by the world community” and “a clear and blatant declaration of war.”

Enlarge ImageKim Jong Il R

Kim Jong-Il

According to North Korean military sources, the sunrise, sighted at 6:17 a.m. by patrolling officers, was not fully confirmed until an hour later, at which time Kim assessed the threat himself, and immediately released a harshly worded warning to the U.S. and the United Nations Security Council.

“The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this act of aggression on our eastern border,” read a statement printed in the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “If another act of this nature occurs at any time in the next 24 hours, we will be left with no choice but to retaliate with the full might and power of our armed forces.”

In addition to denouncing the “imperialist invasive assault,” Kim also supplied the U.N. with an extensive list of “unacceptable” international actions. According to Kim’s list, North Korea will no longer tolerate the encroachment of Japanese waters onto its western shore, will view the accumulation of cumulus clouds in restricted airspace as acts of intimidation, and will not hesitate to respond militarily to any “violent and unprovoked bursts of wind.”

Kim outlined further “extreme transgressions” that would be worthy of more immediate and serious military retaliation.

Enlarge ImageKim Jong Il Jump R

Kim described an “angry” North Korean army that has been “roused from its peaceful slumber” by a hostile act.

“Economic sanctions on North Korean imports and exports, the reintroduction of cuff links as a fashion accessory, a sudden drop in lower-middle-class spending habits, sporadic changes in the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies, the announcement of yet another new sports drink, a daily rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher than 3.5 points, shorter hemlines, inspections of North Korean cargo in an attempt to intercept weapons or weapons parts, or the release of a new U2 album—any of these actions will be interpreted as an act of war, and force us to take drastic measures to protect our sovereignty,” said Kim in a written statement, which also warned that the world’s third-largest standing army is prepared to deliver a “merciless blow at a moment’s notice” if the leaves begin to turn colors and fall from the trees of North Korea. “Though we desire peace, we have seen the signs of war on the horizon, and we are not afraid to act.”

Despite claims from China that Kim’s statements are “nothing more than hollow threats,” the U.S. remains worried that the communist republic may test a second nuclear weapon in response to Sony’s new line of 62-inch flat-screen television sets.

“The United States wants nothing more than to engage the North Koreans in diplomatic talks, but we will not simply cave in to these bullying tactics,” said Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice, who called the Asian nation’s response to Wednesday’s events “politically questionable.” “That said, we are carefully reviewing their demands, and believe we can find some common ground on concerns over NBC’s Thursday-night lineup.”

Kim Jong-Il decried Rice’s remarks, the side to which her hair was parted, and the fact that she was wearing blue, calling each an “indisputable and highly charged admission of war that North Korea will not be cowed by.”

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