Friday, October 31, 2008

Are Our Founding Fathers Chuckling or Spinning In Their Graves?

I still haven't decided for whom to vote for president. I've been looking into third party candidates and decided that the party I like best is the Reform Party. Unfortunately, due to infighting within the party, they failed to get their presidential candidate registered as a write-in candidate in any state except Mississippi.

So, I found out which candidates I can write in, here in California. They are: Chuck Baldwin, a conservative radio talk show host; James Harris, a socialist, from what I can tell; Ron Paul, who tried for the Republican nomination; and Frank Moore, who appears to be the official "crazy joke" candidate.

I'm not sure whether to imagine that our founding fathers are laughing out loud, or moaning and rolling over in their graves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Tiny Smidgen Of Regret

When we first arrived in our apartment (a little over a year ago now), I saw (and killed) a few mini roaches in the kitchen--very small, about the size of a bee or wasp, but flat, not round, of course. Brandon thought I was crazy to say so, but I did think they were kind of cute. They disappeared after a few days.

But Monday afternoon I came into the kitchen and there was a slightly larger roach, about the size of a cricket, munching on a crumb. And oh, my goodness, it was beautiful! It stood tall and moved about so gracefully on its long, delicate legs--and it was a gorgeous amber color. And so it was with a tiny bit of sadness that I crushed it utterly beneath the sole of my flip flop.

I sympathize with the principle of non-violence toward all living creatures (well, unless you count microorganisms--or plants, really). I think it's appropriate to have a tiny amount of sadness when killing insects--an amount of sadness tiny as the insects themselves, and short as their brief lifespans.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does This Ever Happen To You?

So, I was about to send a quick little email to Brandon with an inside joke in it, and I thought, as I always do before sending an email "I'd better make sure I'm sending it to the right person." So I looked at the name, and it was correct, but I was doubtful for a moment. "Wait a minute--is that really my husband's name? Is there really such a person? And even if that person really exists, am I really related to him in the way I think I am?" What if my life turns into an episode of the Twilight Zone and all of a sudden the people who mean most to me become mere acquaintances and are all confused that I'm speaking so familiarly to them?

When I was a kid I used to wonder whether perhaps everyone I had ever met was a robot, or a hologram, and I was just the subject of an experiment to see whether a human raised by robots would grow up normally. Or maybe I was a robot myself, the subject of an experiment to see if a robot raised as a human would be the same as a human. If that were the case, how would I ever find out?

Does anyone else occasionally wonder if perhaps the basic fabric of life is about to be torn apart?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Age of Stupidity and a Terrible Nightmare

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time, even though I'm not sure whether anyone will be interested in reading it. Oh well!

When the quarter started I was less excited to start a new school year than I have ever been. I realized it's probably because I'm now at a stage in life where I'd rather be out doing things than sitting in a classroom, or at a desk, thinking and writing. I have entered the life stage which as an adolescent I thought of as "the Age of Stupidity."

Don't ask me why exactly I thought people between the ages of 20 and 50 were so much more foolish than those younger and older. It just seemed like the people who run the world, who really have power to move and change things, are too close to the action, and too wrapped up in what they are doing to stop and gain perspective.

I had a dream last month--don't worry, I'll spare you the details. It started out as your typical nightmare--dark and stormy night, I open the front door, and there's this huge, crazy looking caucasian man with a rusty, three foot long machete. He clearly intends to murder me and my family (this is at my father's house), so I struggle with the guy and eventually get the knife blade up against his neck. I offer to let him go before the police arrive, but he refuses, continues to struggle, I cut his throat, and he drops dead, oozing blood all over the place.

As I'm trying to clean up the blood and everything, I think to myself "I guess I'll feel bad that I killed him now," but I don't feel bad about it at all
--it was in self defense, after all. As I'm wondering what the police will say and do when they show up, the alarm goes off and I wake up.

It was a very disturbing dream. Thinking about it afterward, I understood it in contrast to a couple nightmares I had as a teenager--where there was a murderous intruder in the house, and I tried calling the police but they weren't going to come, and I felt completely powerless. In this dream, I was very much in control of the situation. But that didn't make it less disturbing, because I ended up being the one who killed someone.

So anyway, feeling powerful can be just as terrible as feeling powerless. And perhaps that explains why this is the Age of Stupidity--because you have to make weighty decisions, and some of them will turn out badly, and you'll end up looking like a fool, or worse. But there's no avoiding it--or rather, avoiding it is a foolish choice, also.

Friday, October 10, 2008

For The Record

Brandon complains that my family was under the mistaken impression that our car was a hunk of junk that probably would have just fallen apart or spontaneously died of its own accord had we not crashed it. So for the record, let it be known that our little red Toyota Celica's only problems were as follows:

1. The front left fender was all smashed up, and the turn signal was broken, so Brandon had to stick his hand out the window to signal a left turn. It always made me a little nervous, since he was sticking his hand out into the oncoming traffic. Also, a couple drivers took the opportunity to slap him a high five!

2. A few months after having been fixed, the engine fan broke again. So we just left it broken and had the heater running full blast all the time (including when we drove across New Mexico and Arizona in late August ...)

3. There was an oil leak that would have cost more to fix than the car was worth. Now, our landlady in Massachussetts told us it's actually illegal to drive a car that has both an oil leak and an overheating problem because, as her husband found out through experience, it can lead to the engine catching fire. So we used to joke about how the engine was about to burst into flame--and wouldn't it be funny if we had just been joking about the engine catching on fire, and then it actually did? Ho ho ho hilarious!

The oil leak was probably also responsible for the destruction of the alternator, which may, in turn, have have been related to the death of the battery.

But aside from those things, the car was in perfectly good shape, reliable, with a long life ahead of it. Oh, and the radio antenna was broken, too. And there was a broken off piece of a key stuck in the passenger side door's keyhole. And the trunk couldn't be unlocked with a key, it had to be popped from the front of the car. And the windshield wiper fluid didn't squirt. But that's it. Otherwise, the car was virtually in mint condition.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Oh No! Not Again!

This past Sunday, we were driving home from Solvang, CA (which is a couple hours northwest of L.A.) and had reached Ventura (still at least an hour from home). We were cruising along on the 101, in the fast lane, and Brandon stepped on the brakes. I looked up and saw that traffic had slowed way down up ahead--wow! Traffic was really, really slow--no, actually, just the cars in our lane. Brandon slammed on the brakes, but (it seemed) the car in front of us was stopped, and we weren't decelerating rapidly enough. There was plenty of time to realize that (and, of course, to exclaim "OH MY GOD!") before we crashed into the silver SUV in front of us.

No one was injured, but both our cars were totalled. Why did the guy in front of us stop so fast? Because the guy in front of him had done the same thing. Why? We will never know, because his car was not hit and he drove away without telling us.

For me, the worst thing about the incident was that it took so very long to get home. It took over an hour just to get the cars off the freeway. Once they'd been towed to a yard, the towing guys called a cab to take us to the Amtrak station--said it would be 15-20 mins. The cab finally showed up about an hour later. And then, of course, the Amtrak train was 45 mins. late, and when we arrived in L.A., we had to take the light rail to Pasadena, and walk the remaining five blocks carrying a lot of heavy stuff. The accident happened about 4:15pm, and we didn't get home until about 11:30pm. It was an utterly miserable end to an otherwise wonderful three-day weekend.

Goodbye, old friend.