Saturday, April 16, 2011

21st century (digital boy)

[today's soundtrack - one of my all-time favorite songs.]

i can't really describe my reaction when i read this article. i started off chuckling, built up to laughter, and by the end of the article i was rolling around on the bed in hysterics. not because it's all that funny, really; it was the laughter of oh, my god, you just wrote my entire life in the space of a two-page online article. to say that i identify with the writer is to say that the grass is a little green or that donald trump's hair is a trifle artificial-looking.

see, here's a typical meal with the man and our friends. we go to the restaurant and order. we sit down. one of the boys pulls out his phone. within SECONDS, all the others follow suit. silence descends over the table, occasionally punctuated with a snicker, or maybe some comment (inevitably tech-related) spawned by something someone read that triggers a snarky conversation filled with acronyms. sometimes, i say, well, i'm gonna pull out my phone, too, just so i don't feel left out. that kind of subtlety, however, rarely gets the point across. there have been at least three meals in the last two weeks during which i haven't uttered a single word, because the conversation is so densely, impenetrably tech-related that i can't understand it, much less contribute (when there's talking at all, that is). i live my own personal south by southwest (and i love the phrase the annual campfire of the digitally interested more than words can express) every single day, except that i didn't choose it.

i take the man to functions with my law-school friends on a fairly regular basis. inevitably, we talk shop when we're together. we can't help it. law school is immersive, and now that we're all lawyers (some practicing, some still studying like me), it's only gonna get worse from here. but i am always cognizant of his inability to participate in these talks, and i do everything i can to steer the conversation back to something he can share with us. plus, let's be honest; law is more accessible to an intelligent person than tech is. it would be nice to get the same consideration from the tech boys every once in awhile.

but no, there's a defiance at work in their circle that's at equal turns shocking and disappointing. the counterpoint to the new york times piece, cited in the article, is a strident fuck off to those who go out with our friends to be with our friends. to the other tech kids, that whole the times they are a-changing trope sounds edgy and daring, i'm sure. it's another instance of that obnoxious thread that runs through tech culture: we are the only ones who control the paradigm of the new culture, and because of that, we will say what the new world will be. the rest of you? your ways are quaint, and we will crush you. this isn't progress; it's outright hostility to the rest of us. and i, for one, won't stand for it.

this is nothing more than, as the new york times article concluded, mutually assured distraction. and it's not being a luddite to expect your friends to be present with you when you go out with them. technology is righteously amazing. but as i mentioned a few weeks ago, without people, there is no technology. when you use this stuff to both assert your superiority and affect a form of digital isolation, you subvert the original purpose of all of this: to bring people together. it ends up creating a race of twenty-first century digital boys, who don't know how to live, but they've got a lot of toys. see how far that gets you in the flesh-and-blood world. you might be surprised.

hey. did you hear me? oh, guess not. you were playing angry birds again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

sorry seems to be the hardest word


ok, kobe. we get it. you really, really, REALLY don't want anyone to think you're a bad guy. but would it have killed you to just say, you know? i screwed up. i should never have said that, no matter how angry i was, and i'm sorry. now, there are two issues in "other-F-word-gate," as i've chosen to call it. the first is the word choice, which is the stuff of about nine million books. i'd like to see this word eradicated from the planet, but for once in my life, i am not going to address this one. another rant for another time. the other issue, the one that intrigues me more, is this: why in the name of all things sacred, can't the big tough man just say sorry?

i am a highly prideful woman. i love to be right; i hate to be told i'm wrong. i don't like to back down when challenged. but when i screw up, i own it. it's just in my nature. but more and more, there's this macho streak running down the back of the culture, in which high-profile folks just don't feel the need to ever straight-up apologize. i mean, jimmy swaggart was a sleazy cretinous bastard, and he got busted big-time on the whole sex-with-hookers thing. but when he did get busted, he went on TV, wept like a two-year-old and declared, i have sinned against you, my lord! you'd never catch a politician, celebrity, etc. EVER doing that sort of thing anymore. it's sad, so sad.

straight talk is something that american society just does not seem to practice anymore. you see it everywhere, from the budget foolishness, to the debacle that is "reality" television, to the conversation i saw on the train yesterday in which one girl hugged her friend goodbye as the friend got off the train, then turned to the other girl they had been with as the doors closed and said, good god, she's the biggest skank bitch on the planet. seriously. wouldn't this planet, this country and this life be one THOUSAND times better if we all remembered the prompt our parents gave us when we were little and screwed up? what do you say? (grumbled, arms folded, petulantly) i'm sorry.

but that's just too much to ask. it's a sad, sad situation, and it's getting more and more absurd. so we'll keep down this path of people doing biblically stupid and awful things, then turning around and telling us how much they regret that their actions have been misunderstood. don't condescend to me, don't blame the listener for your idiocy. american culture is chocked to the gills with this weird sort of hubris, and at the end of the day, sorry really does seem to be the hardest word.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

deeper meaning

because i am southern, every so often i will engage in chitchat with strangers when the situation arises. people from other places just don't do this. some of my fellow southerners take this too far - i have a friend who is SHOCKED, just SHOCKED, that no one wants to have a conversation with him as he commutes into the city at 8:00 in the morning. i had to explain to him that, since you're not allowed to drink coffee on the metro, no one is in the mood to be friendly on the morning commute. this was unsettling and sad to him. say what you will about the south; we are some friendly freaking people, whether you're into that sort of thing or not.

but ANYWAY, today on the way into school, the train driver stopped particularly sharply at the station where i get out. he jostled me into the pole, which bugged me, but no biggie; he nearly sent the old man standing next to me flying across the car. well, that's one way to do it, he said sarcastically. i laughed and said, seriously. he smiled at me. i like your necklace. what is it? oh, it's a fleur-de-lis. what does it represent? i wear it to represent louisiana. no deeper meaning? he replied.

i was a little surprised by that question. my initial answer was no, as we parted ways and headed off to wherever our days took us. symbols are powerful things for humans, i suppose. the cross gives comfort and assurance to christians, i'm told. we wear the logos of our favorite sports teams to the ball park to show support and bond with our fellow fans (even when unfathomably stupid sports columnists tell us that doing so justifies us getting beaten nearly to death). we use symbols in so many ways, to mean so many things. it's our nature; we, as the ex liked to say, enjoy putting things in little boxes.

and lord knows the fleur-de-lis has a lot of meaning in my life. hell, not only do i wear one around my neck almost all the time, i have one tattooed on my body. i care enough about the pelican state to carry its quintessential symbol on my skin for the rest of my time on earth. so what's deeper than that? i mean, to say that it represents louisiana for me is obviously a surface description. it's more than that: it's the saints, new orleans, LSU, the cajun two-step, crawfish boils and drive-through daiquiris, the way the sun sparkles over the pontchartrain spillway, the amazing people i love so much... the list goes on and on.

so, nice old man on the metro, i guess there is some deeper meaning in my fleur-de-lis. and on a gorgeous day here in the district, your question has made me seriously nostalgic for a land and its people eleven hundred miles away...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ice cream

your love is better than ice cream
better than anything else that i've tried...

yesterday was ben and jerry's free cone day. i was insanely hungry when i left class, so i waited in the surprisingly fast and efficient line (given that it ran half the length of union station, i didn't have the highest of hopes), got my chocolate therapy scoop in a sugar cone (y'all, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies and chocolate PUDDING - gaaaah, how amazing), and wandered about the plaza eating and dodging the tourists who were foolhardy enough to try to sightsee at 5:45 in the evening on a tuesday. a nice little moment.

but i was cranky and prickly yesterday. everything set my teeth on edge. the semester is winding down and i am radically overwhelmed with what i have to do. my right leg has hurt for about a week now. i am still stuffy and coughing with the dregs of flu-pocalypse 2011. you ever see those cartoons where the character's walking around with the rain cloud over his head? that was totally me, to the point where the man came upstairs as i was gathering things to go back home (read: stomping around and swearing petulantly under my breath) and said flat-out, what's wrong, babe? he never straight-up asks like that, and i'm usually better at playing nice around others.

so he took me home, and he stayed with me last night. the petulance did not wane, as i was faced with internet failures, jackhammering at 8:45 in the freaking morning, and nearly incessant annoyances. by the time we all went to lunch, i was silent and stewing. i ignored everyone, watching no reservations on mute instead of talking to people. but then, as i got my ride to the train, the man said something really small and goofy. which metro stop do you want to go to? i mean, if you want your coffee, i'll take you to [this one], but if not, i'll take you to [this other one, closer into the city]. 

i hadn't mentioned coffee. hell, i hadn't mentioned anything. but he remembered that i like to start my days at school with a grande mocha from starbucks, and was willing to tailor the plan to make me happy. talk about a mood elevator. i might be up to my eyeballs in schoolwork, meaning that i'll be watching game 1 of the caps-rangers series from the comfort (?) of the law-school library, but i really can't in good faith be cranky anymore. it's those silly little gestures, those tiny, thoughtful things he does, that go so far to make me happy. he's a simple man. he shows his love in those sweet, simple little ways.

and that's better than ice cream. even when the ice cream's free.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

federal plantation

[correction, 4/13: i said "montana" below when talking about states with lower populations than DC; i meant "wyoming." fixed now. thanks, jackass anonymous guy, for rudely pointing out my mistake.]

the mayor of DC went to jail last night. it seems like this last insult to the 600,000-plus people who live inside the borders of the district was the last straw. see, everyone's happy that the federal government didn't shut down this weekend. (the tea party nutballs notwithstanding, that is, but i don't consider them serious people.) but what boils my blood is that for some reason, the republicans in the house insisted on DC being forced to spend ITS OWN MONEY not according to the will of its citizens, but according to what john boehner thinks the people of DC should do.

folks, it is 2011. in 1789, when the founders wrote the constitution, the district of columbia barely existed. when they gave DC its special legal status, no one lived there. but lo and behold, things have changed. it is now time, more than ever, for DC to have home rule. real, honest home rule. that means congressional representation, control over its own budget and freedom from ideologically-based meddling from activist republicans who view this largely african-american city as their personal playground. and yes, it's republicans who are the most guilty here. it's been going on for years. DC approved medical marijuana; tom delay held back approval of the DC budget until they promised not to do it. nowadays, republicans strong-arm the city because they don't like DC's attitude on needle exchanges, school vouchers or reproductive rights.

this is not okay. DC has more people in it than wyoming, and no offense to any wyomingians (is that what you're called?) out there, but DC is WAY more vital to the national economy. there is no excuse for congressional republicans with a stark and clearly-defined social agenda to be able to strong-arm a group of people who do not share that agenda into being their puppets. it's ideological blackmail. and it's 100% unacceptable. i thought this was the party of states' rights, self-determination, small-government? yeah, not when it comes to DC. in fact, one of their own even said so the other day. they really view the lives and rights of 600,000 people as subordinate to their ability to play banana-republic-style dictator with the district.

the district of columbia is, for all intents and purposes, a plantation. the people who live here are subject to the whims and caprice of the house of representatives, who are essentially the masters. the DC government can try to govern according to the will of its people, a right that every other person in this country takes for granted, but it's all for naught. had the government shut down, DC would have shut down too, even though the budget here was passed a year ago. there is no acceptable justification for this. it needs to change. NOW.

Monday, April 11, 2011

dodged bullet

[in which i get a little bit PSA-ish. you can mentally tack on the "the more you know" thing on the end of today's post.]

i alluded to the spectacular drunk-fest that was my friday night. i don't care that i'm almost 30 years old; i like to throw down from time to time. in the words of the man, i'm not the type of person who's gonna have a beer every night, but once in awhile, i just want to get totally hammered. nothing wrong with that, i think. so we do just that from time to time. by the time i hit the cab after the party, it was abundantly clear that the little backstop moment i have was blatantly and fully ignored. i was... yeah.

so i went upstairs, got undressed and laid down in bed with the man. that's about the last thing i remember until i woke up saturday morning praying for death. i knew going into the party how friday night was going to end. (we're all adults here. i don't have to say it.) but when i was recovered enough on saturday evening, we were talking about the show that i had become. so imagine my surprise when he said to me, yeah, there was a point last night when i wondered, "is this still okay?" but then you answered me, and i decided it was. but still, i worried. you WERE okay with that, right?

something about that struck me. it struck me two ways. first, i have an incredibly respectful and conscientious boyfriend, since even after all this time, he still considered my wishes and needs in the face of previous conversations in which he's been granted blanket consent. but second, and way more important, i realized precisely how dangerous it can be to be a party girl. my history is that of a serial monogamist. i was never a hook-up kind of person; all through undergrad, i went home drunk with the same boy. not only that, the boy in question was a staunch defender of my honor. once that relationship became a marriage, obviously that deleted certain concerns.

but when i became unmarried again, i never had that period of sowing wild oats that many of us have in our twenties. i started down that road, but it was a cursory effort at best. i didn't want to date around; i wanted to date the man. so i was never going home with someone unfamiliar to me, someone new. the man taking me to bed knows me, respects me, cares about me. there will not be a situation where things go dark. but last night in particular jangled my nerves as to how fortunate, in a backwards sort of way, my relationship history has made me. i have never, in my entire sexual life, been in danger of date rape. that's a remarkable thing to say as a woman in 2011. and having been that drunk the other night, and in the hands of a man in a sexual situation, without a single negative repercussion even in the realm of possibility? good lord, i am lucky.

so for those of you out there who operate outside the bonds of monogamy, please, please promise me you'll be careful in your dealings. and i'd once again like to say to the universe: thank you for delivering the man to me, and for making him so safe, so generous of spirit, and so thoughtful of my safety. talk about dodging the bullet...