Oh these legs? They're mostly just for show

My gym membership expired. And I can't bring myself to renew it. Mostly because it seems ridiculous to pay 300 bucks when there's a perfectly good (ok, an acceptable) gym on campus. That is free. Or rather, that I've already paid for in that mess of student fees. (And, if we're being picky, I haven't even paid for it. Uncle Sam's paid for it. I'll be paying him back at some point, though).

At any rate, I'm torn by losing my gym membership. The treadmills there are nicer. It's part of my routine. I could, theoretically, take to swimming again. The people who go there are more in my fitness level than those that use the university one. But, my main problem is this: they have a parking lot. right. next. to. the. entrance.

I realize this is absurd. I'm supposedly going there to exercise, so parking close by shouldn't be a concern. I should be willing to walk and boost my workout a little. But, it's so handy. And I'm so lazy. And, if I do have to park somewhere far away and trudge to the gym on campus what, precisely, am I expected to do with my gym bag all day? Cart it around? What does the universe think I am? A mule? Somebody with a reasonable level of energy?

The problems I face are so overwhelming. But my stinginess-slash-debit-style-living really make the purchased membership not an option. So tomorrow, I'll be trying out parking far away from the gym. And, I'll even try not complaining about it. It's times like this that I really miss those regular, substantial paychecks that whole working full-time thing leaves you with.

vlogrop: The Believers

I've been moaning for a long time that I haven't been blown away by a book recently. Granted, my reading was curtailed dramatically. So I guess I shouldn't have expected the few ones I did manage to read to blow my mind. But nothing stuck.

And then, Petra suggested The Believers by Zoƫ Heller. I knew Ms. Heller from her What Was She Thinking?, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. However, The Believers was more than enjoyed. I adored it. So much.

The characters are all irritating. Unbelievably self-involved or self-hating or otherwise grating. I wanted nothing more than to sit Audrey, one of the main characters, and slap her. She's a mother of three adult children, a woman of strong socialist leaning but little engagement who has been astoundingly disappointed by life. But, does she really need to be so difficult all the time?

That said, I identified with her. Not in the sense that I saw myself in her but more in the way that I got, to some extent, where she was coming from. Which is why the novel is so good. The characters are awful, but you're intrigued, not in a voyeuristic way, but a humanistic one (almost sympathetic at times) in what they do and the choices they make.

However, beyond the individual human dramas, the novel is a nice exploration of the gap between the things a person says they believe and they way they actually act. And the process of losing your faith but sticking with it regardless.

This review really doesn't do justice to the book. Just go read it. Right now. No, faster.

Lady of the House

Dear Jeannette Rankin,

I know you've been dead for nearly 40 years now, but I have something to confess. I totally have a crush on you.

Yeah, that's right. I just can't get over the fact that you were the first woman elected to Congress. In 1916, nonetheless. Women in other places were fighting for the right to cast a ballot, and your home state of Montana sent you to DC. [Props to Big Sky Country, too for that one].

But, aside from being the first, you stuck to your guns. You voted against World War I. You weren't alone, but it wasn't a very popular stance. You lost some support and got voted out. That's too bad. But then you helped found the ACLU. So, there's something else I like about you.

When you were re-elected in 1940, you promised to stay out of war. And you did. After Pearl Harbor, you cast the only dissenting vote. I cannot imagine what that felt like. And even if World War II seems to have been a good idea in the long run (probably?), I love that you didn't give in, claiming you "refuse to send anybody else" to war. I want to ask you how you had the gumption to do it.

However, why am I posting this love letter to you today? Because today I came across this quote of yours: "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." Sigh...perfect. Just perfect.



Happy St. Patrick's!

My whole house smells like corned beef. I have green jello chilling in the fridge. In one class I went to this morning, somebody already smelled like beer. And I'm sporting a new tie picked out with the help of a friend last night.

Sigh...I love holidays.

The liberal arts, simplified

The distinction of a degree in the humanities is something everyone should aspire to. While other fields might actually prove useful, none prove as capable of making everyone uncomfortable. For instance, at your next family reunion, inform your extended family that you’re about to get a degree in art history and just watch them writhe and try to come up with something non-condescending to say.

But, why waste thousands of dollars and several years toiling at it to end up with little more than piece of paper and a crisis about what to do with your life? Instead, everybody can have all the benefits of a humanities education without ever taking a single class! All you have to do is the following:

  • Memorize Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It forms the basis of everything critical anything.
  • Become passingly acquainted with Freud. We humans want sex. And death. And we’re messed up because of our parents. And cigars are not, in fact, ever just cigars.
  • Understand, glancingly, feminist theory. Men oppress women. And have always. Women must reclaim their own space. You should probably read “The Yellow Wallpaper”, too.
  • Embrace postmodernism. Truth doesn’t exist. There’s no single, secret meaning to be found by all. Everything can be broken to its constituent parts.
  • Know some stuff about Jesus. People wrote about him. And then painted him. And set up a church to him in Rome. Uh, then some other stuff happened.

Sure there are other things you’ll need to learn if you really want to be a humanities type. You’ll have to learn to watch movies and then say things about them. And, you might have to learn to write a coherent paper. But, pretty much, get those five things in a row, and you’re just as prepared as any of us to enter the scholarly discourse. Congratulations!

I can make it, I can make it. Oh, I guess I couldn't.

There are some things that are just bad ideas. For instance, if you are driving to Vegas on Friday, it's probably not the wisest to completely break the side mirror on your car a few days prior. Just probably. I mean, in one sense, it would make the drive more entertaining. Not that I'm speaking for experience or anything...

I wish I could say that backing into a garbage can Monday was a low point in my driving record. But that would be a lie. I've backed into other things before. Including once backing into another car in a parking garage. I pulled back into my space and jumped out to check the damage. In doing so, I somehow locked my car. With the keys inside. While it was still running. This was ten years ago (gosh, have I been driving for that long?) and so before the whole expectation-of-a-cell-phone thing. I had been at a doctor's appointment, so I had to go back into the office and call my mom to have her come drop off a key. That's up there with my dumbest moments ever.

The mirror is completely off. It's dangling, the surface shattered (do I get seven years of bad luck in this case?) from the side of my car. It looks so pathetic, I'm almost tempted to snip whatever it is that's holding it at all and just leave nothing there. But since I don't really understand anything about anything, it seems like taking sharp objects to a car part might be a bad idea.

You'd think that, four days afterwards, I'd be starting to get used to not having that mirror. That I wouldn't, every time I glance that way have a few seconds of panic wondering what happened to my mirror. But, you'd be wrong. Every. single. time. Sigh...it's getting old.

And now, here we are on Thursday. I leave tomorrow. The repair shop swore up and down the mirror would be on Wednesday. No such luck. Nor have I heard from them today. Which means that taking my car to Vegas is right out (I just don't trust myself to not do something dumb without the benefit of a mirror. My record in a car with all safety features doesn't give much confidence). It also means that my already pretty strong distaste from repairmen has another grievance to chalk up.

Fortunately, I'm going down with a friend. So, we'll take her car. But, I still have to get to Provo. Maybe I'll just plan it so I never have to merge right. Because nothing says, "we're on a schedule" like taking an hour and a half to get down to Utah County because you can't leave the far right lane.

he's not heavy, he's my brother

Brothers are great*. I have two of them, both of whom are the awesome. Though, for totally different reasons. My younger brother is hilarious and knows everybody (seriously, you can't throw a stone in this town without hitting somebody he knows). And was voted Prom King for goodness' sake. But this post isn't about him. It's about my older brother.

My older brother makes fun of me mercilessly. It is, after all, part of his job description. He's the one who started the jokes about whether Canada had electricity, the internet, running water and so on when I moved there. He kept asking me when I worked at the jail if I'd gotten shived yet. He teases me for living in Utah. He pokes fun at me for quitting my job and going back to school. Basically, you get the idea. I don't take any of it too seriously, because I know he doesn't mean it. Well, I hope he doesn't.

He also sends me video clips that are hilarious, even if completely random. And pictures of various absurdities he comes across. Like signs informing the public they are not allowed to urinate on city property. Or, in discussing t-shirt ideas, he sent me this, "Eat Meat Sparingly....unless that would be inconvenient, then just eat meat whenever you want". And he mocks Footprints every chance he gets. So, he's not just funny at my expense, but funny in general, you see.

But, really, what he's great at, what made me want to write this post is as follows. There's a few librarian jobs that have been popping up in the Salt Lake area. I texted him asking if I should apply and ditch the whole graduate school idea. He replied, "Yes. Obviously. We must ALL lead lives of quiet desperation, not pursuing our dreams."

So, y'know, even though he tells me I'm ridiculous for going back to school and pokes at me about the additional debt, he still gives really good advice. And, y'know, is supportive or something.

In word, thanks. That's all.

*Sisters are great, too. Yeah, that's right, I didn't forget you guys. :)

I may have a problem

I have a weakness for paisley. Given the various things in the world I could be/am addicted to, this isn't so bad. However, I'm beginning to wonder if, at some point, I will pass the limit of the number of paisley ties any one person is allowed to own. I just bought another one and well, I think the picture below says it all.

But, if being able to go almost two weeks without repeating a paisley tie is wrong, I'm not sure I want to be right.