Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vote! . . . Or Don't

For those in the States, midterm elections are on Tuesday, so this is my public service announcement to all eligible and registered to vote. Or not, if you so choose.

It doesn't seem right to encourage others to vote when I am no, due to technical reasons (where I am even registered at this point? Is that state voting?) and personal: in 2004 I voted for the best of a bad situation and refuse to do so again. The campaign finance system is more corrupt than ever, lobbyists hold more sway than ever, and politicians can't agree on how to make America move forward. They just know they hate each other.

So vote if you believe your chosen candidates will be effective or if there are referendums on the ballot that you feel are important; otherwise, don't. "Not voting" also counts as practicing democracy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thirty Something

In thirty days I turn thirty and I don't know how I feel about it. It happens that my thirtieth comes at a time when I am at a crossroads: not working, not sure what work I should even be doing, except I know I want to continue to live abroad for a bit. In general I feel apathetic and tired, making thirty seem like it should either be a turning point or an emphasis on the lack of motivation in my life.

Basically, I am feeling full of cliches.

That isn't fair. I am almost thirty and it's not so bad; I bet I won't even notice the difference between it and twenty-nine. I am surprised to be reaching thirty because, come on, who ever thinks about thirty until you're almost there? When I was twenty-five I remember writing my age down on a form in a doctor's office and thinking, holy crap, I'm 25! Look at it, written there! Seeing myself write the numerical form of my age made it real for me, made me actually think about it. (Maybe I should write "20" all over the place.) Unfortunately, turning thirty tends to be less subtle; I can already hear my sisters' mocking voices welcoming me in my departure from youth. Does it have to be that way? Of course not, it's just another year.

And here's where I write a witty ending. I have always hated ending paragraphs (and openers, for that matter.) In college I would write the body of my paper first, then go back and figure out how I wanted the thesis to read. It would normally take me a whole say to try and summarize things effectively. I am not a summarizer. And that's what I've got.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Childhood Memories

Looking back at my recent posts it appears I haven't been "covering the globe" lately. The recent trip to England notwithstanding, I have felt largely unqualified to remark upon current events; been preoccupied with my cooking blog; and have been diligently perfecting the Great American Nap. It's exhausting. I mean to get back into the swing of things - the world never stops moving, history marches on, etc. - but first allow me some self-indulgence.

I enjoy, love, reading personal narratives and humor writing, especially when they are combined, such as the works of David Sedaris and Bill Bryson. I become lost in their prose and experiences and memories, such deep memories that leave me awed. How can these men remember (or reconstruct) conversations from when they were five? Or recall in vivid detail the spoon their mothers used to stir a soup on the evening of November 14, 1962? I lived through the entire decade of the 1980s, during which my mother (so she told me) spent hours putting together 3-course Chinese meals, but I don't remember even eating in the 80s. I don't think my brain began actively absorbing the world around it until I hit puberty. Growing into womanhood seems an appropriate time to become cognizant of the dangers and wonders surrounding you, but I can't help feeling that I've missed out on some important details. The only thing I can remember for certain is that I spent a lot of time daydreaming (pursuing the Great American Nap is, apparently, a life-long endeavor.)

Wait, I'm exaggerating: I do remember eating, once. For my fifth birthday I had a party at McDonald's and part of my meal was a hamburger with miniscule bits of onion on the patty. I refused to eat it, due to the belief that onions would either kill me or simply burn through my stomach and leave a hole in my torso, but my mother insisted that I take a few bites or the party would be over. I suppose three bites of a McDonald's hamburger is enough to get you through a decade. Or at least the 80s.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ta-Tas and Handbags

Last night I was browsing my Facebook page in my phone and did something I now regret: I deleted message about "saving the ta-tas" by posting about handbags. I regret this late-night decision because I wish I could provide the entire message for you, but I am sure plenty of other people have already received it or will soon.

I remember enough, though. Have you been wondering about recent status updates? "I like it on the couch." "I like in my car." "I like it on my dresser." Oooo, naughty - except that these people (women) are referring to where they normally have their handbags or purses. Gotcha! And why are women jumping onto this bandwagon? Remember last year, when women were randomly posting colors in their status updates and it turned out it was the color of their bras? All to raise awareness for breast cancer, of course. Well, this year it's all about handbags to raise awareness for, er, Coach?

Haha, no, really, I can only assume it is also to raise breast cancer awareness, because of the "save the ta-tas" reference. Oh, and to make news: "We made news last year with the bra color updates, so let's see if we can do it again! (paraphrased)"

And now you know. I have been casually trying to figure out how purse placement is related to breast cancer, other than both involve women, while ignoring the feeling that "save the ta-tas!" sounds like a rallying cry to protect strippers. Thoughts?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sneak Peek

I have always been an impatient person, something which living in Uganda never changed for me. Oh sure, I became less impatient, calmly waiting for an hour or two for a bus to fill. Four hours, on the other hand, sends me into a rage. But that's just waiting, mindless waiting. There are other aspects of life which require patience, though such as reading. I've heard that one reason people don't enjoy reading is because they don't have the patience for it, but those of us who enjoy it simply can't understand such excuses.

My mother and I often read the same books, often at the same time. One of us would read first, while the other waited, somewhat impatiently, for her to finish. "If you're not going to read the book today, Sarah, then give it to me!" A particular memory I have is Mom in the kitchen reading Melanie Rawn's The Mageborn Traitor, which I had recently finished. I glanced over her shoulder and saw she was at a particularly tense section of the book and said something along the lines of, "Ooooo, that part made me so mad. You are not going to believe what happens!"

"Oh, I know what happens; I skipped ahead and read it."

Shocked indignation spread across my face over Mom's admission that she had skipped ahead in a book, thus breaking all accepted reading laws. I confronted her about it and she shrugged, saying "So what? I was irritated with the story and wanted to be sure it was worth finishing."

Now there was a new thought. Up to that point I had always finished any book I was reading, regardless of whether or not I liked it, because I believed it was a cardinal rule that once you started you had to finish. And no skipping to the end, because that ruined the whole point of reading. You needed patience to fully appreciate what the writer was doing. I swore I would never, ever read the end of a book first. Mom rolled her eyes.

Her skepticism was well-deserved, because while I can calmly pass an hour or two while waiting for a bus or a suddenly-postponed appointment to commence, I can no longer stand too much suspense in my novels. It's not that I don't enjoy it, I just don't want to get worked up over it. I cried and threw my copy of The Half-Blood Prince to the floor when Dumblebore died and while that was five years ago, I just don't think I can handle something like that again. To be fair, I don't read the end of a book, just the end of a tense confrontation. (Ok, wait, that's a lie: I recently did skim over the last few pages of a political thriller because I needed to know whether or not it was worth to continue, not because the book was captivating, but rather because it was painstakingly slow-going. I know my mother is laughing at me.)

No big deal, really, but I am currently eight hundred pages into Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and I can't help but skim to the end of some sections. Too many things happen and I have become far too invested! Example: last night I was reading for a couple of hours and wanted to go to bed, but couldn't until I reached a point of resolution. Instead of skipping ahead I tested my patience through the most heart-wrenching and seemingly-endless section of the novel, my body tensing with each page as I silently screamed Find him! FIND HIM!! That tension kept me awake until 1:30 in the morning. I just can't do that anymore. Books are going to turn my hair gray.