Shan't be forgot, as I'm spending New Year's Eve with the high school peeps, once they call me back.
The wedding was great. There was crying. I didn't burst into flames, nor did I botch the reading. My pewmates and I did get some dirty looks for skipping communion, but it was a lovely affair. Both Kerri and Will looked great and very happy, and they deserve all the best. I'm onto my third consecutive night of heavy drinking, which should be awesome. I hope my liver can take it.
I want to publish a picture essay of my various travels from the past few days once I get the hang of my camera. For now, I just wanted to wish you all a very happy New Year. Don't be an asshole and drive drunk. In fact, just don't be an asshole. Nobody likes that.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Shan't be forgot, as I'm spending New Year's Eve with the high school peeps, once they call me back.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Holy shit, they killed Saddam! I am not sure how I feel about this. Saddam was clearly not a humanitarian, but I do fear that this will stoke more violence in Iraq and lend the situation to worse violence. Only time can tell, but this seems a little fast.
Thing two: I am going to be that girl who cries at the wedding. Watching my friends in the church holding hands in their relatively plain clothes was emotional enough for me (and the bride's parents) that I know now that I have to stuff some Kleenex in my clutch before I head to the church tomorrow evening. Though the couple had the best reception dinner ever-- drinks and dinner at a bar, followed by bowling and karoke-- it still made me a little sad. I do hope that the bride and groom were moved by my and Jeff's cover of "Don't Stop Believin'". I will wake up early to see a friend who's in town visiting, then get my hair done, do an at-home pedicure, then off to the chapel to watch them get married. I'm excited, but I don't want to be That Girl in the corner crying because SHE IS ALL ALONE, OH MY GOD, GET ME ANOTHER TEQUILA SHOT with that big "will fuck for sympathy" sign on. I will not be that girl. I will read from the Bible and take the melodrama down a bit and use my drink tickets to numb the pain.
Holy crap, I can't believe they killed Saddam! And that I'm reading from the Old Testament in front of a crowd of religious people! I hope the flames don't leap from the cross and burn me in front of the congregation.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Mark Patinkin details why Rhode Island is awesome.
I’m still angry that Boston gets acclaim for sparking the Revolution by dumping some tea in the harbor in December 1773 when, a whole year and half before that, Rhode Islanders burned an entire British tax ship. But who, besides us, remembers that?
Check it out. It's highly entertaining.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
This Christmas was pretty rad, present-wise, since I honestly didn't know for sure what I'd be getting. I'd asked for a digital camera, a DVD player, a new laptop (aiming a little beyond Santa's budget for me), some CDs, some clothes, and socks. My Mom handed me a present before I'd even finished unwrapping the contents of my stocking, which is a major breach of etiquette in our house. I opened it up to find my new digital precious, a Cannon PowerShot. Sweet. However, loading the pictures of my family onto my five-year-old laptop drove the point home that I need a new computer in a bad way as iPhoto chugged along, trying desperately to load the images. Luckily, I figured out that I can rotate the images on the camera before I load them, so I can muddle through somehow. I got a new sweater to wear to the wedding rehearsal, some money (so I can rent a car for the wedding errands), a DVD player from my brother (thanks, Sam!), socks, an iPod speaker dock, some candy, some tape to hold my clothes on, a book with little blurbs about every country in the world, My Life in France, Writer's Market (I won't be a writer until I get published more), writing exercises (so I have something that doesn't suck to publish), and some other doodads.
Of course, it was fun watching my Mom and brother open their gifts. The Job Lot had a wonderful gag gift for $10 that I couldn't resist for my brother. His cat, a very old freebie named Hannah, throws up everywhere and Sam is responsible for cleaning up her gak. Apparently, the Shark makes a machine that is especially designed for cleaning up cat vomit (or broken eggs). We haven't tried it out yet, but I hope it makes his cat-vomit cleaning duties a little less foul.
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are taking it easy. I'm at "work" today and tomorrow, then it's back to Rhode Island for wedding preparation and seeing old friends. I'm really looking forward to some more time off since the three days at home was really restful. I also hope to do some more cooking. On Christmas Eve I made chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cherry cookies, bread, and a coffee cake. It was a good time.
This post is going nowhere.
Is it wrong that whenever I think of Gerald Ford, I always think of the episode of the Simpsons when the Bush family moves in next door to the Simpsons and Bart and Bush Senior have a Dennis the Menace style relationship until Bush moves out and Gerald Ford moves in and hits it off with Homer.
"Do you like beer, Homer?"
"Yes, Mr. President!"
"Do you like... foot-ball, Homer?"
"Yes, Mr. President!"
"Would you like to come to my house and have beer and watch foot-ball?"
"Yes, Mr. President!"
Let's all respect the late Gerald Ford by watching the Simpsons, shall we?
Posted by Amy at 12:07 PM
Friday, December 22, 2006
My landlord's lawyer called me and I had horrific nightmares of being served papers for an appearance in court. However, he was calling to tell me he would be handling the procedure for getting me out of my apartment. I am sending him a letter today to tell him which day I will be leaving, and he will send me something back absolving me from the remainder of the lease. While I'm excited now to get things underway, I won't quite believe I'm out from under the obligations until I have that letter from the lawyer in my hands. The lawyer also mentioned that my landlord wants to rip apart my apartment to get into the ceilings and figure out where the rats are coming in and he can't very well do that if I'm living there, so we all win. I hope the next person who lives there appreciates their rat-free existence.
I also think I will be turning myself into an indentured servant for free rent for a couple of months. The idea of saving up some money so I can adequately pay deposits and get myself back together again is appealing, so I think I will take the Family up on their rent-for-work program. The idea of a two-year-old waking me up at six in the morning on a Sunday isn't as appealing, but it's all a tossup. At least the kids are cute and don't poop in the ceilings. As far as I know.
As of right now, I don't have anything to say. My apartment situation is still in limbo, I still don't have any money, I still don't have written permission to leave my apartment (dammit), and they're making me sit at my desk and pretend to work until "early dismissal" this afternoon. So I suppose the best thing to do is check out until next week. I've got to work tonight and tomorrow night, high-tail it down to Rhody, get up early on Sunday to do some very-last-minute shopping and baking. But I'm looking forward to kicking around the house for a few days and seeing the family.
As I recognize on all major holidays, thanks very much for reading. Here's wishing you safe and on-time travels, a minimum of family drama, and a very Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Lately over on good ol' Universal Hub, there's been a lot of discussion about the demerits of Channel 7. And while I very much enjoy my vitriol towards some of their newscasters ("Shut up, Lorch!") and love of others ("Hiiiiii, Peeeeete!"), I watch Channel 7 fairly frequently. After all the hate for Channel 7 lately, I started to think about why I watch Channel 7 at all.
The obvious answer is that Pete Bouchard is on Channel 7 and he's just swell. I also get my information on the weather from television. I occasionally scan the Globe's weather page, but I find it easier to get information for a local TV channel with the radar. TV weather is also more up-to-date. Perhaps not any more correct, but I feel like I know more after watching TV weather. ("The white blobs are almost out of here, which means it's almost done snowing. I'd better get on my snowpants and go sledding now.") And, like all native New Englanders, I love weather cut-ins during a big snowstorm. I know it's snowing, but I like thinking about how much snow we'll get, how close the weather forecasters were, and when it's going to end. I love the sense of safe panic. (Where is the fecking snow?! Colorado can suck it.)
I think it all boils down to the fact that I don't watch the news for news. Local news is only a half-hour long (the four hours of news Channel 7 airs every afternoon is basically the same newscast over and over) and there is no possible way to know everything that's going on locally in that short time. What all local newscasts are is entertainment. Occasionally, some really amazing investigative reporting happens, such as at Channel 10 in Rhode Island, and affects some change. Generally, however, local news is for entertainment only. Car crashes, train wrecks, evacuated airport terminals, the figure of Mary/Jesus/Satan in food, political speeches, Hollywood dalliances, movie reviews, basic outlining of consumer rights by consumer reporters, weather, sports highlights, thanks for watching, goodnight. When I want news, I read a newspaper or internet news sources. When I want to be entertained, I watch Channel 7. And, despite all the haters, Channel 7 does an amazing job at entertaining viewers. Flashy graphics, attractive anchorpeople, dramatic writing, the deep-voiced announcer guy-- it sates our base desire for salacious "news." If I had my druthers, I'd get my news from Channel 10 in Rhode Island, but Channel 7 is my Boston favorite.
The haters can hate. It's not perfect, but I love Channel 7.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I'm not the only one dealing with an infestation:
"You don't leave any food out, that's for sure," said Councilor John Tobin, who once had a gingerbread house, and "overnight it was downsized to a two -bedroom condo." "If you do, there's a major after-hours mouse party here. They leave behind their party hats, if you will."It's interesting-- after detailing my myriad rodent problems, I've had several coworkers complain that they've had vivid dreams about rodents. If I've wreaked this havoc on any of you, dear readers, I apologize. I don't want rodent problems inflicted on anyone else, even if they're only in your dreams.
I'm still waiting on my landlord to drop off the written permission to leave my apartment early. Since I called late in the day yesterday, I'm hoping to find it waiting for me tonight when I get home. After one more call to the legal services people to make sure there's nothing in the language to allow them to come and sue me in a couple of months, I'll get ready to leave. I did get some information from the Boston Housing Court about the various things a landlord can be fined for and I've got at least one month's rent of fines I could get if the landlord wanted to get nasty. If the sublet doesn't work out, the people I babysit for have offered me a spare room for a couple months in exchange for some light housework and free babysitting. This would undoubtedly be exciting for the kids, who've been after me to live in their spare room for over a year (and the Eldest can keep an eye on if I'm getting ready to get married and have kids), but I don't want to be underfoot. It's a big house, but five people and two cats is a lot to handle for a family.
I'd also like to thank you all for your kind offers to help move and donate to the "legal fund." I may take you up on the moving, but I'm hoping to extricate myself from my apartment without getting tangled up in housing court. But it's good to know I have an internet/real life posse at my back.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sweet God, this year is trying to kill me.
My landlord got the papers from the housing inspector today, which I found out when I came back from grabbing lunch and seeing the blinking red voicemail light of doom flashing away. My landlord's wife called to ask a question about "the matter of papers that came in the mail today." I called my Mom to warn her that my landlord was angry and then called the landlord back.
My landlady basically read me a riot act, telling me that what I did was "not very nice" and I should of called them. I pointed out that I'd been calling them since September and reported all the problems that the report stated and I still had rats. She didn't even give me time to get into all the fires.
"If you're so unhappy, why don't you start looking around?"
"Will you give me written permission to do that?"
"Thank you," I said, and hung up the phone.
I started cutting up boxes to bring home with me to start packing, and my coworkers came over to ask me about what was going on. I explained how I could afford to move with the last month's rent I already paid and the bonus I expected from my boss at any moment.
"You don't get them when you get promoted," one said.
"You're on a different schedule," another explained, "you won't get it until February or March."
And in the middle of my cubicle, I just lost it. I tried to play it cool and turn around and face my monitor and cry quietly. Unfortunately, my sweet coworker came over at that moment to talk to me about a project and saw me crying my eyes out and unable to explain why due to the sobbing. I fought the urge to call my boss various names for not warning me of this. I got myself together for a company function and talked myself off my mental ledge. I can get some money together by the end of January. I'll have to charge the movers. I'll have to find a way to make it work to avoid dying in a fire. Literally.
And whoever has the voodoo doll of me, knock it the fuck off. Uncle! You win!
Monday, December 18, 2006
I mercifully spent very little time in Boston this weekend. I worked, then went down to Rhode Island for a friend's bachelorette. (From what I remember, which isn't much, the bride-to-be sent me careening into a table full of drinks and we got kicked out of that bar right quick, much to my drunken, slurred chagrin.) Sunday, my Mom and I watched QVC and cooked a chicken and some fixins. She dropped me off at the train and I uttered a silent prayer that I would return home for a quiet evening without rats or fires.
It's official: God hates me.
I checked my mailbox and two of my very kind neighbors, who I'll call English and Old-Timer, were milling about in the foyer of the building. One of them opened the front door to let me in. I said hello, and they asked me how my apartment was. I told them I'd had no further trouble with fires, but the rats were still present.
"Well, there was just another fire," English said.
"What? When?" I hadn't smelled any smoke when I walked inside.
"Just about twenty minutes ago," Old-Timer said. "It seems like it was another electrical fire."
From what I gather, someone was sitting around and noticed a fire in her apartment. The only reason my neighbors were aware there was a fire in the building was the noise of the fire department jimming the front door open and stomping up the stairs, hoses in hand. The fire alarm never went off-- my neighbor had to call 911 to get the fire department to show up. It seems to have been another small fire, but my neighbors showed me the plaster on the staircase from the fire department putting a hole in the wall. The neighbors were standing by the front door because the fire department had broken the lock and the front door wasn't securely closing.
"I called Irish to tell him to come fix the lock," English said of the landlord, "and he said he'd call someone right now. Which means he doesn't want to shell out to call a locksmith on a Sunday night and he's going to come fuck with it." English shoved the door into the jamb, then pulled on the doorknob. The door swung around in the jamb loosely and could easily have been broken.
"So we're in a building with no front lock and no fire alarms that has a history of fires and break-ins?" I asked. "Great."
"I have never seen it this bad," Old-Timer said. "I've been here for nearly six years and I've never had as many problems as we've had in the past few months. I knew Irish was a shithead, but this is just not safe."
"I'm on a month-to-month lease," English said, "so I'm going to try and get out of here as soon as I can." English and his girlfriend moved in the day after I did and we've both had it halfway through.
I told my neighbors about calling the housing inspector and my reservations about asking to break the lease since they're probably going to be pissed that I went over their heads.
"Actually, he may want to be rid of you since you keep causing him problems," English pointed out.
"The turnover here is really high," Old-Timer said. "I kind of want to warn anyone who comes to look at my place of the problems so the realtor doesn't sucker them into renting here."
I will publish a very virulent hate-post about the realtor that I used who suckered me into this place once I get a resolution to this problem. I hope he enjoys that huge fee I paid him in hell.
I went to sleep last night (fairly easily since I hadn't slept well on Saturday) and came into work with the newfound conviction to get myself out of that apartment. I called two legal services that the housing inspector had recommended. The news wasn't good.
My best bet is to try and get written permission from my landlord to get out of the lease. Otherwise, I can break my lease, but my landlord has the right to take me to court and sue me for the remainder of my lease (about $4000) and the onus is on me to prove that he broke the lease first by not providing a safe apartment. However, rats and fires alone do not an unsafe apartment make, apparently. One guy said it may work if I can prove the fire alarm didn't go off since that impedes the "minimum habitability" clause of the lease, but it would be a game of chance (one that could potentially cost me well over $5000, including deposits on a new place). The other service said if the landlord doesn't fix the problems in the inspectional services report in the set time, I can take him to court and try to get out. But my best chance is to ask to be let out. Which I would do now, but since my landlord is about to be served papers from my calling inspectional services, I figure it's not time to ask favors.
Goddammit. This is why I need a stinkin' boyfriend. Never mind love and sex: I just need a place to crash for the next six months.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Man, I want to audit Professor Chafee's class.
Chafee starts in January as a distinguished visiting fellow at Brown's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies.
In his new post, Brown said Chafee will lead an undergraduate study group on U.S. foreign policy and will work on writing projects.
Well, at least he'll be keeping busy.
I believe our children are the future...
I don't usually ask this question. If you try and remind me that I asked this question in two months, I will deny it, no matter how many links to this post you send my way. But it's December 15, Christmas is ten days away, Hanukkah starts tonight, and I have only one question.
Where is the snow?
Snow is something I enjoy only between the last Thursday in November and December 25. Every Christmas special takes place in a snowy environment. It's snowing in Whoville. It's snowing in Charlie Brown's neighborhood. It's snowing on Sesame Street. Why isn't it snowing in Boston in December? Not only is it not snowing, it's not even cold enough to snow. It's downright warm outside. While I love not needing a big coat and gloves to step outside, something just feels wrong about Christmas shopping in a light jacket. I put up with the bone-chilling cold in the winter to enjoy snowy holidays, now make with the snow!
Pete Bouchard has gleefully declared the warmth every night this week, but I'd really like him to say "Yes, it's really freaky that it's this warm in the dead of winter and I am very concerned about this trend" but he just smiles and shrugs it off. Is anyone else worried about this? I want to go sledding! I want to peg snowballs at my little brother. I'm going to get desperate and resort to grating ice cubes and forming them into snowballs in the kitchen if this keeps up.
Awwww, Tom. There, there.
US Weekly reported yesterday that Tom Brady and Bridget Moynahan have broken up, ending a relationship that once seemed a good bet to end in wedded bliss.
If ever you need comforting, just come and find me. (And, you know, pretty much any other woman in New England. But I rock the cute/dorky line like you do. And I'm sure my Mom would like you! And I'm not really "focusing on my career" so by all means, I'll just pad around the Comm Ave condo. I'll cook you good meals. Iron your shirts. Rub your feet. Whatever you need.)
God, suddenly I want to eat all the Wheaties in the world if that man comes with them.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
FINALLY, after using my downright horrid HTML skills (no z, that's how bad they suck) I figured out how to get Haloscan to load in Blogger Beta. This guy, in conjunction with someone on Haloscan's forum, figured out how to do it. It's tricky, but it works.
Bear with me. I'll get everything up and running again ASAP. Thanks!
Oh my God, they're fucking with a Rhode Islander's license plate?!
I know it's a Senate plate, but robbing a Rhode Islander of a low-number plate is a fate worse than losing your Senate seat. No wonder Chafee spent so much of his own money to win reelection. If I had a 2 plate, I would too. Sick bastards!
Like a woman about to cuckold her husband, I nervously awaited the housing inspector yesterday afternoon. I had the fear of God that my landlord would come by and be doing things while the inspector was in the building and my two lives would come careening together to leave me with nothing. (This is a good idea. I am pitching it to Lifetime. Love in the Time of Rat Feces: A Very Special Lifetime Movie.)
The inspector showed up, sadly not in a Hazmat suit, and asked for a mop. I gave it to him, and watched as he played around with the emergency lights in the main hallway. After a few minutes in the top floors of the building, he came back down to my subterranean bunker of solitude. I filled him in on the myriad reasons I called him into the building.
"Now, it's not to say that I don't believe ya, hon, but I'm going to have to find some proof of rats up there to make ya landlohd come fix it." He had a thick Boston accent which was a nice treat. He stood on the arm of my couch, poked his head in where he'd slid aside a ceiling panel, and cooed out, "Ohhhh yeah, they've been in here. There's rat poop everywhere." I cowered in the opposite corner of the apartment.
"Wanna come take a look?" He asked, delighted in my squeamishness.
"No, thanks," I replied quickly.
"C'maaaahn, take a peek. They won't come out now. They're more scared of you than you are of them."
Begrudgingly, I got up on the sofa. In my ceiling were several D-Con boxes and quite a few big rat turds. It was a network of pipes and wires above my head, with only about a foot of space between the drop ceiling and my neighbor's floor. This was a cold comfort that at least the kindergartener-sized rats probably wouldn't fit in there.
"You got some gloves?" The inspector asked.
"Because I can squeeze 'em to see how long they've been up there," the inspector said, referring to the turds.
"Yeah. I don't wanna squeeze 'em either."
He slid the panel back on, poked around my bathroom to see if he could tell what caused my bathroom fire (everything was fine, according to him, it may have been just a short in the old fixture), looked at the aging outlets that sometimes don't work, and my rotted-out sink cabinet base. He wrote everything down on a large form, handed me a copy, and told me a constable would go to my landlord's house to serve him with the papers next week.
"Now I'm gonna tell him to make these repairs in a week," the inspector said, "but that doesn't mean he has to complete them. I just wanna light a fire under his ass and get him moving. Normally, I'd give him thirty days to work with the rats, but since there's wires up there it's a little more important that he take care of it sooner since rats will chew the wires. I'm gonna get back in touch with you and work with you to make sure he takes care of this."
"Man, he's going to be pissed," I said, eyeballing the door to make sure the landlord wouldn't walk in on me calling the cops on him.
"There's some numbers on the back of this form to call and give you legal advice if you think you need it. He'll probably be a little mad, but this is all stuff he can fix."
Next week I'm going to have an Irishman and his temperamental wife angry with me, but hopefully I will also be on my way to living a rat-free existence.
I hated gym class when I was a kid. For most of my elementary-school career I had Ms. Sheilds as my gym and health teacher and she was a heinous bitch. I don't think I had quite the vocabulary then as I do now, but I certainly would have used that phrase if I knew it. She never failed to make me feel like a pain in her ass, whether it was yelling at me for taking the time to inform her that a dog had run into our classroom and that's why all the kids were hyped up, or gleefully calling "OUT! Against the wall, Amy D." when I was the first one hit in dodgeball. For the rest of my school career, I hated gym. (Unless it was walleyball in high school. That was fun.)
Now I shell out $73 a month to get the same exercise the state used to pay for. Generally, I avoid the group cardio classes. First of all, I'm monstrously uncoordinated and fear I will kick a little skinny person in the head. But the main reason is that I still have that horrible paranoia that the instructor will scream at me for skipping a kick or having poor form. Last night, however, I took a class at my gym that sounded too good to pass up.
I'd planned to go with a coworker, but she called me from an outside line yesterday morning to tell me that she'd "had a little too much fun" at the work party the night before and hadn't come into work, where all her gym clothes were, so she'd have to skip the class. I debated skipping it myself, but decided I can't let Ms. Sheilds, heinous bitch extrodinare, scare me from beyond the millennium. I walked to the gym, signed a paper that said I wouldn't sue if I hurt myself, and got on my knee and elbow pads for the Action Hero class.
An Action Hero class is pretty much what it sounds like. The twisted minds of personal trainers come up with fun ways for you to torture your old adult body. In the middle of the room there were steps raised up to waist-high. There was also a network of stings on pylons to replicate Catherine Zeta-Jones' slither under laser beams in whatever movie that was.
We started out with some relatively easy stretching, then got into the hard stuff. Bouncing on our feet, we started pretending to punch a bad guy. Then we used the other arm. Then we had to take a hit and kneel on one knee. Then we had to punch, take a hit, fall to one knee, then roll and get back up. It was fun, but it certainly wasn't easy. I was already bright pink and sweaty. Most of the kickboxing regulars looked unphased.
We then did squats with one of those weighted bars. I was not ready for that. Luckily, I didn't end up whacking somebody with the body bar, but I did feel every muscle in my thighs tear at once. I didn't think I'd be able to go on after the squats mercifully ended, but the instructors dragged out a crash pad, so I couldn't stop then. We had to crawl across some "rocks," crawl like Zeta-Jones under the string, then we got to run into a big rubber band and get snapped back into a padded wall. I could have done without the crawling, but the rubber band was fun.
Then we had to get a partner and "save" them from a burning building by pulling them along the floor on a cloth shower curtain. My partner pulled me so quickly across the floor that we both ended up slamming into a wall, and I practiced putting my sneaker on the floor to avoid another crash. My partner got a much slower ride as my thighs still hurt from the squats, but she was wee and skinny and easy to pull.
Then the instructor went over to a rope dangling from the ceiling.
"Oh no," said a woman next to me, "not the rope climb! I was horrible at that in school."
I was glad I wasn't the only one still reeling from the psychological horror of gym classes that happened nearly twenty years ago. Thankfully, we didn't need to climb the rope. We got to jump onto a platform, then grab the rope and swing over the crash pad. That was pretty awesome. We also pretended to have our legs bitten off by alligators, and pulled ourselves between risers by our arms. That was tricky. To end the class, we jumped off a small trampoline and onto the crash pad to do a shoulder roll.
We cooled down, and I went to the locker room to grab my bag. I foolishly started up the stairs to leave the gym, and felt my legs muscles preparing to separate from the bone due to overuse. I slowly limped down Newbury Street to find dinner, and limped quickly home afterward to sit the hell down. My career as an action hero is apparently over before it ever really began, because I'm still limping around today, even with the help of some Advil. I will never, ever make fun of Kiefer Sutherland again, because he is bad-ass. You can be a pirate all you want, Jack Bauer.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I'm taking off in a few minutes to go wait for the inspectors to come and see if my apartment is up to code. My greatest fear is they will find nothing wrong, tell me I'm crazy, and leave me to drink myself to sleep every night until June. The second-greatest fear I have is that the inspector pulls down a ceiling panel and a dead rat carcass falls onto my couch and explodes, thus making it completely impossible for me to sleep in my apartment. I also wonder if the inspector comes in in a Hazmat suit. Because that would be pretty damning to my landlord, but would make a totally awesome story for me.
I'll keep you posted, internets.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Word, Chuck ol'Boy.
Sunday night I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas. I have a good amount of love for all Christmas specials (except the new bullshit ones they make up) but I think that it's a tie for first between A Christmas Story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas for my personal favorites. A Christmas Story is all about the way Christmas is for a kid-- trying to be good and wanting a toy your parents don't want to get you. Rudolph is just freaking cute. A Charlie Brown Christmas debates the nature of modern Christmas.
Our intrepid protagonist, Charlie Brown, is dissatisfied with the nature of modern Christmas. He is awash in existential despair. While those around him skate and enjoy each other's company, Charlie Brown feels isolated and alone. He doesn't get any Christmas cards. His sister asks Santa for "tens and twenties." His faithful hound decorates his doghouse to win "money money money." After seeing a shrink with questionable certifications, Charlie Brown elects to get involved with the Christmas pageant to get into the spirit.
Has anyone else noticed how completely shitty Charlie Brown's "friends" are? As I was watching the show with adult eyes, I felt horrible for poor Charlie Brown. However, I think Schultz had how kids treat each other right, because as a kid it didn't seem at all unusual to me to watch the other kids call Charlie Brown a blockhead, stupid, and tell him he can't do anything right. They even point and laugh at him. If this show were made in modern times, Charlie Brown would be in the school shrink's office on school-shooting watch after suffering these indignations.
And Lucy! God, what a bitch she is. Dial it down, sister. "You didn't answer me right away. You had to think about it first, didn't you? If you really had thought I was beautiful, you would've spoken right up. I know when I've been insulted. I KNOW WHEN I'VE BEEN INSULTED." Somebody needs to ask Santa for some lithium.
Charlie Brown tries to direct the school play to find some meaning behind the Christmas season, but it is Linus' explanation that finally gets Charlie Brown what he needs. I'm not a very churchy person, but something about Linus' little voice talking about the shepherds in the fields gets me all choked up. All Charlie Brown needed was a little Jesus as the reason for the season to get inspired to clean up his little wooden tree. When Charlie messes it up, his friends-- who suddenly don't suck-- save the day, and they join in a semi-circle to lift their heads in unison and sing up to the sky.
I was not in the best of moods last night. I had to go to the part-time job after a long day at the day job, and I'd been reminded of an ex-boyfriend's continued existence on this planet twice in one day, which I hate. Just because that pussy continues to walk these city streets doesn't mean I need to know about it. (Yeah yeah, I'm an evil, hateful wench. Save it. It's been a shit year in the relationship department for me and I have a right to be pissy.) I arrived at the part-time job with a black cloud hanging over me. I microwaved my dinner and started talking with a coworker about his son's birthday party on Sunday and it began to lighten my mood. After some food and a nice conversation, I went to work.
I don't really want to get into the part-time job's actual location, mainly because it's retail and public and allows for easier stalking than my day job. Let's just say the store sells home furnishings and knick-knacks to go along with the furnishings. It's a good part-time job for me since I don't have enough room in my apartment to put a ton of crap, so I don't spend my salary before it leaves the store like I would if I worked at J. Crew or Banana Republic. Generally, they keep me away from the cash registers and in the front of the store where I direct customers to whatever bric-a-brac they want. When I'm in the front of the store, I'm not supposed to leave unless absolutely necessary. Since the weeknights tend to run on a skeleton crew, I ended up showing customers around more than I'd like. Most customers just needed to have me show them where something was specifically. One customer, however, drove me nuts.
She walked in and said she was just looking around. I said that was fine, and to ask us if she had any questions. I recently figured out that saying "us" instead of "me" plants the idea that customers don't have to come back to me for answers, but can ask someone further back in the store. This woman, however, decided to come back to me.
"Can you show me something?" She asked.
I smiled, then inwardly groaned as I left the front of the store to follow the woman to whatever she had to ask me. She stopped at a mirrored plate.
"How heavy is this?" She asked. The mirrored plate was sitting on top of its box without anything else on top of it. She could have easily lifted the mirror to see how heavy it was without bothering me. I kind of looked at her and shifted the mirror off the box it came in and handed her the box.
"How much is it?"
I looked at the price tag and told her.
"Can you open it to see if it's not broken?"
I groaned inwardly, and went to find some scissors to open the box. The mirror wasn't broken. But as I repackaged the mirror, the woman wasn't sure if she wanted the large mirror and had me put it back as she picked up a smaller one. Frustrated, I went back to the front of the store and told my coworker that if I was to stay in the front of the store, he'd have to help the high-maintenance woman.
"She's intimidated by me," coworker said, after asking her if she needed help. "I didn't have to open a thing."
"Of course," I snitted. I began policing the front of the store, referred a couple more customers to other areas of the store, and tried to keep my eyes open.
"Excuse me, can you help me again?" High-Maintenance asked. I showed her a couple other things, went to put what she was holding behind the register, and got roped into ringing her up.
"I need to get some of those little twigs another time because I don't know where they are," High-Maintenance said. I left the register, which was developing a line of people waiting behind her, and grabbed the twigs. She then asked me to wait mid-transaction while she picked out a candle to go with the stuff she was buying. She picked up a gold candle and handed me her credit card. I swiped it, had her sign the receipt, and then asked if she could switch the candle for a different color.
"No, you'll need to return it and I'll have to re-ring you," I said, not even bothering to mask my growing impatience with the woman.
"I can't just switch it?" She asked.
"No," I replied, "it's a different item than what you bought."
She frowned, as did the people in line behind her with bigger packages than she had, and she went and stood by the candles for a good minute before returning with two candles.
"Which do you think is better?"
I think I actually rolled my eyes. My patience has been very short lately, and this woman was certainly trying it. My interior monologue went a little something like this:
Listen, lady. I would have gladly had this conversation with you before you got to the register, or would have at least referred you to someone else who would have been able to help you. Now you are holding up customers who actually know what they fucking want to buy, so either make up your damn mind now, or step aside and let me help one of the myriad people behind you who would also like to punch you in the bits.
Eventually, High-Maintenance caught her snap and bought both candles. "Can I pay the difference with cash?"
"No, I have to return what you just bought on your card and then ring you again."
"Well, do it quickly, please. I'm in a bit of a rush."
I turned around to grab something, and muttered "fuck you" under my breath. If you're in such a hurry, make up your goddamn mind before you extend this relatively quick process by ten minutes. God.
I got through the rest of the night relatively well. I walked home quickly, hoping to have a cup of tea and decompress well enough to get a good night's sleep. I opened my mailbox and found a card from the people I babysit for. I basically ignored the information that my health insurance wants me to use an inferior diagnostic company for my blood samples that also came in the mail, and happily opened up the card. Inside was the "family card" with a picture of Eldest with her science project, smiling happily; the mother and Baby on a playground; Baby wearing Eldest's clothes, Baby's face beaming in the big pink sweater; Boy riding a bike without training wheels; and the whole family in Colorado. The older kids had signed their names and the Baby's name and the parents had enclosed a gift certificate to Amazon.com as well as the kids' school pictures. Boy had on a blue button-down shirt and had what looked like trace elements of cookie crumbs around his mouth. Eldest had her hair in pigtails, with her face in the middle of smiling. It wasn't the best picture of her, but it completely made my day to have them smiling at me from the picture frame and to think how far they've come since I met them in 2001. While my ex-boyfriends and high-maintenance customers may still be a plague upon this city, there are also my friends and the kids I babysit to remind me why I live here.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Did you hear that sound coming from Beacon Hill? It's the distinctive sound of Mitt Romney flip-flopping in a serious way about gay rights, which is brought into cold fact with the Globe posting a PDF of Mitt's 1994 letter declaring that he'd do more for the gay and lesbian community than Ted Kennedy. Behold!
Good God, man, use an apostrophe where it's needed. "I am not unaware of my opponents considerable record in the area of civil rights..." Aiiiieee. "We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern..." Which I guess Mitt has done, although he's doing it in a rather unorthodox manner. By cutting funding to youth groups that help gay teens cope with taunting and feelings of worthlessness, by repeatedly using gay marriage as a red herring to distract the Commonwealth from his heartless budget cuts (Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?) and absentee governing he has made the issue of gay rights a very mainstream concern in Massachusetts.
I'm just stating this for the record. The 2008 presidential season is coming up and I want this to come up when people Google Mitt Romney. To steal a phrase from Stealth, Mitt Romney is not your friend.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Ahh, Friday. Hello Friday, my old friend. A blogger's favorite day. We can write all sorts of unrelated nonsense and nobody really minds. Friday is the day when the beer flows, I know I can sleep in and treat myself to a breakfast of frozen waffles and hard-boiled eggs rolled in salt on a great Saturday morning. (Shut up, it's delicious.)
However, this week I must reign my Friday revels in as I'm going to my friend's work Christmas party. The Workplace Christmas Party is always a tough row for this ho. It's all the glory of open bar without any of the license to act a fool. I have no problem with the social aspect of the workplace party-- I'm convinced the only reason they keep me around my company is because I'm generally good for a laugh-- but it's a fine line between "funny and maybe buzzed" and "falling down the stairs and spilling wine on Kristen and Arthur." (Sorry.) I'm excited for my friend's party-- we get dinner as well as drinks. I also plan to "network" (read: find a date). This is also good practice for my own Workplace Christmas Party next week.
In related news, I went to both Filene's Basement and H&M in Back Bay last night looking for a cute party frock. Really, I shouldn't be buying anything since I have a wedding I need to prepare for at the end of the month and very limited funds, but I figured if I saw something cute I could use it tonight, for my work party, and for the rehearsal dinner for my friend's wedding.
Sweet God, H&M, get it together. Taffeta everywhere. Polka-dotted taffeta dresses. Everywhere. Like, Cyndi Lauper would have thought these abortions "totally rad" in 1983. If it wasn't taffeta, it was some Twiggy-esque mod minidress with pearl trim, which was much too casual, and not in a good holiday color (bright blue). Filene's just had either very dowdy dresses or very cheap juniors dresses. It was disappointing. I have some wool pants with sparkly thread woven through and a black cashmere turtleneck, but I'd hoped for something a little more cute and feminine.
Last night was quiet around the homestead, with only a mouse scuttering around above my bed. The insomnia last night was caused by the late closing time at the part-time job for the holiday season. I don't get home until about 10:30, and I'm still kind of wound up from my thirteen-hour workday, so it takes me hours to get to sleep. If I can make it until after Christmas when I'm taking some much-needed time off from both my jobs without a nervous breakdown, I'll be elated.
Apparently Mitt Romney used to be sympathetic to gay people. I guess Mitt's had a rough twelve years since his 1994 interview, in which he said, "People of integrity don't force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have." Exactly, stupid.
I wish Starbucks sold those cardboard carafes full of holiday lattes. My cup is empty, but I can't bring myself to throw it away in case more holiday latte magically appears. I don't care if I have to order it in Fritalian, it's delicious.
Well, I'm going to curl up under my desk and take a nap. Have a lovely weekend everybody! Keep your vajayjays in your knickers.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Last night I came home to a note from my landlord, scrawled on the back of some cardboard. The note said that he'd caught two rats, but that the poison was working "real good" to eliminate others, and he wished me a merry Christmas. Pleased that I finally had some written evidence that he'd been notified of the problem, I saved the note. "You're probably going to be back here before Christmas," I murmured.
I settled in, lights glowing brightly to discourage the rats from coming out to play, to watch the finale of America's Next Top Model. I flipped to The Biggest Loser, and as I watched the people work out while I ate chocolate, I heard another scuttle in the ceiling above my couch. I took my cork coaster, tossed it at the ceiling with a yell of "fucker!" and didn't hear anything else for the rest of the night.
I came in to work today to see all your very useful comments and advice, and I'd also emailed my friend who used to work at the Boston Housing Court, who had me register a complaint with the Boston Housing Division and make an appointment for an inspection. While the website is a little difficult to navigate (you have to be very precise to get it to recognize your address) a woman just called me to make an appointment for next Wednesday afternoon. Thanks, City of Boston!
I do feel bad calling in the big guns on my landlord, who has been very attentive in many ways (he replaced my stove when I moved in, he has come to address the problem of the rats instead of pretending I never told him) but I just can't live in a place that is literally crawling with vermin. Every noise or rustle has me convinced the place is either going to blow sky-high, catch ablaze, or a rat has found his way into my actual living space and will bite my eyeballs out with his rabid fangs.
Be sure to take some time and remember the soldiers who died (and survived) the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which occurred 65 years ago today.
The Pearl Harbor survivors will gather today to remember the bombing, allegedly for the last time since many of them are in their 80s and may not live to the 70th anniversary.
I can't even imagine what that must have been like. Thank you, gentlemen.
The attack may have occurred 65 years ago, but survivors say they can still hear the explosions, smell the burning flesh, taste the sea water and hear the cries.
"The younger ones were crying, 'Mom! Mom! Mom!'" said Edward Chun, who witnessed the attack from the Ten-Ten dock, just a couple hundred yards away from Battleship Row.
Posted by Amy at 10:54 AM
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I am not well, folks. I haven't had a good night's sleep since last week. Funny how the fire department showing up after your place was on fire will disturb your rest and put you on edge. Sunday night I tried to watch a movie with the lights dimmed, but the mice took this as their invitation to playtime and started crawling around. Apparently the vermin don't enjoy the cold weather either, because every night this week those little fuckers have been crawling around inside my fortress of solitude. Last night they tried to knock on the boiler door to get me to let them out. Just as I lay down to sleep, I heard the schssst schsst thunk thunk thunk of a mouse or rat moving around. I threw a slipper at the door and the rat bonked the door one more time and then was silent. However, I was so wound up that I knew I wouldn't get to sleep so I took a Tylenol PM. When the first dose didn't work, I took a second. Once I fell asleep, I had a horrible nightmare that I was dating the Whatever again, which was TERRIFYING. Now I'm at work, but I don't think the Tylenol has worn off because I'm still groggy and my limbs feel heavy.
I hate my apartment. I hate the realtor who leased it to me. I hate the landlord for turning the basement into a rat-infested hellhole of a human dwelling and having the audacity to charge what he does for that piece of shit place. I hate that I have six months left on my lease. I've put in a call to my work-counseling line to get some advice on what my legal options are for ending the lease early and I'm hoping to hear from someone today. I don't know where I'll go, but I'm sure as hell not staying in that apartment. I'm going to lose my mind if I don't get some damn sleep. It would almost be better to commute from home for a month or two and figure out my options than live in that vermin-riddled, fire-prone shithole.
I'm going to pass out on my desk now.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Al Gore is right. We are all going to die.
"We are currently experiencing the warmest period in the Alpine region in 1,300 years," Reinhard Boehm, a climatologist at Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics said.
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to spend the remainder of the day in the bathtub, hoping to develop gills and scales for our return into the murky depths from which we evolved.
Posted by Amy at 1:30 PM
Monday, December 04, 2006
I hate the MBTA. Like, a lot. When I moved here six years ago, I loved the T. The clickty-clack of the trains, the unbelievable people-watching, the systematic, no-traffic way to get around. All that for the low low price of eighty-five cents. Now, a mere six years later, we're on the threshold of paying $2.00 a ride, or $1.70 with the CharlieCard. I don't quite understand the new fare system-- the T's website is not very helpful since it's an overwhelming amount of text with very little information. All I know is it's going to cost me forty-five cents a pop more to ride the T and will cost me three bucks more (roundtrip) to go home to Rhode Island.
From what little information I've heard on this subject, what's going to happen is I'm going to need to find someplace that has CharlieCards, not the CharlieTickets I've been buying $10 at a time and running down during my blessedly infrequent jaunts on the train. The MBTA has posted a schedule of dates they'll have smiling, happy, well-informed representatives (ahem) handing out the plastic conduits of the thirty-cent discount, but the small-print "Schedule subject to change without notice" isn't very assuring.
There's also the matter of the subway pass going the way of the Edsel, and in its place is the "Monthly LinkPass" which combines both bus and subway privileges. While that sounds great, many people I know who ride the subway never ride the bus. Ever. Since I moved out of Brighton Center, I take the bus maybe once or twice a year. The bus is unreliable (as evidenced by the time my hungover ass spent over an hour waiting for the 1 bus to take me to the South End for brunch) and much more affected by the weather than the T is. (Though I did hear that the Green Line was a disaster this morning with that heavy snowfall we got.) So this LinkPass (I will never forgive Apple for the burring together of words to sound hip and futuristic-- it works with iPod and iTunes, but doing it with LinkPass is just stupid) forces T riders to pay for a service they may never use.
I babysat yesterday afternoon, and I was talking with the kids' mother about the T fares going up and perhaps moving well outside the city would be a good investment since all the fares will be universal, even all the way out to Quincy. The kids listened, and we walked to the Green Line to wait for the train to take us one stop to the grocery store. We waited for the train for about seven minutes while even the under ten crowd complained about the T fares. Then, when a train finally came, the driver pleasantly (ahem) informed us that the train was going express to Cleveland Circle.
"You stupid train!" the eldest said as the doors slammed shut in her face. "We may as well just walk."
The baby got upset because she saw her best friend waving to her from the inside of the train. "Hi! HI! Amy, I want to see Adam."
"Adam's going to Cleveland Circle, honey," I said as the train pulled away and the baby looked confused.
"Let's just walk. I hate the stupid train." The eldest snitted.
Last night the rats and I settled in and watched An Inconvenient Truth. (As an aside-- can I just say how fucking angry I was that Al Gore was not that engaging, entertaining, informative, honest, and human during the 2000 election?) Fucking frightening movie, that. You see glaciers melting like a Slurpee in the sun, and how we are actively destroying our planet and not really concerned by it. Public transportation that is efficient, relatively inexpensive, and reliable is a great way to reduce our carbon dioxide output. But with the T jacking up fares on service so crappy even an eight-year-old gets fed up with it, people who are on the fence about driving into Boston versus taking the T are going to change their mind and start driving themselves in. Maybe the T will suddenly provide service we'll all love. The Green Line will run on schedule and people won't freeze their asses off when it snows an eighth of an inch and they have to wait for half an hour for a train. Maybe we can even dare to dream of service that runs until the wee hours of the morning for those of us who like to go out on Fridays and not shell out $30 for a cab ride home. But, as it stands now, I'm going to invest the money I'd spend on taking the T and buying a nice bike.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Finally, it is Friday, the day when your beloved blogger runs whimpering into the arms of cool, hoppy comfort. Oh, and my friends come too. So let's lighten things up a bit.
Did you hear this? Apparently, Mitt Romney was using illegal immigrants to tend his lawn. Heh heh.
Also, since I'm heading out to the more crowded and rowdy Garden area for my Friday Night Sam Lights, I would like to remind you gentlemen who frequent bars of one thing. Please do not caress a woman around her stomach. Guys do this to my friends and I all the damn time-- the gut squeeze. Yes, we have that neat little curve but some of us carry our extra weight on our stomachs and are a smidgen uncomfortable about it, so please don't grab anything below the boobs and above the hips. I have friends of varying weights and we all feel the same, from the teeny-tiny to the thicker. We'd much prefer an ass grab if you must grab (because, let's face it, my friends and I are hot). Thank you.
Apparently living in a city leads to a higher rate of bulimia, but anorexia isn't any more likely in a city. I figure it's because people of good taste like to enjoy the city's restaurants but when they leave they see women wearing leggings as pants and can't control the urge to vomit. Leggings are the enemy, people.
There's this woman I see on my way to work a few times a week who has very bad pants. She's got one of those wide butts, and she wears pants that somehow make it look wide and squishy at the same time. Also, the legs are about an inch and a half too short. This enrages me even more than it normally would because she walks to work with her cute boyfriend.
I am very much digging the song Love Me or Hate Me by the British rapper Lady Sovereign. She's very funny. Good stuff.
I'm babysitting this weekend for the first time in over a month. I feel like the kids are going to be in college. The eldest is certainly smart enough to be.
I think I'm developing a tapeworm. I just had lunch and I'm already hungry again. Dammit.
Have any of you watched channel 38 and seen the promos that Chris May and Sara Underwood have done for the 9:30 newscast? "It's like the late news... but it's earlier." Cracks me up every time.
Well, that is all. I'm going to see if I can drum up something for my tapeworm to eat. Have a good weekend. Don't grab anyone's tummy pudge.
Yesterday I was perusing the "top stories" on Boston.com, and amidst the stories about cats being rescued and people hating Rachael Ray I found an opinion article about the way college professors teach literature. The person who wrote the article, Elizabeth Kantor, is the author of a book titled The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature.
IT'S OFFICIAL: You spend tens of thousands of dollars to send your children to college. In return, the colleges turn out graduates who are more ignorant than when they enrolled.Some of us paid our own way to become more ignorant, lady. I'll check my bitterness at the door and move along.
According to a recent survey by the University of Connecticut and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute of more than 14,000 randomly selected college freshman and seniors at 50 colleges across the country, seniors actually know less about American history and government than entering freshmen.On the surface, that does indeed look damning. After watching any episode of "Jaywalking" on Leno, it's painfully apparent that Americans don't know that much about what used to be considered basic information. However, I wonder if the study takes into account that most college freshmen have just come from four years of history courses in high school while most college seniors fulfilled their general history requirements while they were a freshman in college. Once three years has passed and a student has taken more courses specific to his field, it stands to reason that what he learned in his freshman history class has moved to the foggy banks of his memory while the knowledge he needs to complete his degree is at the forefront.
But students don't just learn (or unlearn, as the case may be) facts in college. They also learn attitudes and principles. In other words, they form their characters, which, Aristotle pointed out more than 2,000 years ago, means learning to love and delight in certain things and spurn others. For example, American students used to learn more from the Gettysburg Address than just the facts of Civil War military history. They also learned to love self-government -- and its necessary condition, the courage and sacrifice of the patriotic soldier.
Students also learn the art of keg stands, one-night stands, flip-cup and high doses of No-Doze. I think we may be kicking it a little differently in 2006 than 6. And "courage and sacrifice of the patriotic soldier?" I think most would agree that the Civil War was much different than the war our troops are fighting overseas right now.
But too many of today's politically correct college professors aren't interested in persuading young Americans to adopt any such traditional attitudes as patriotism, civic responsibility, or traditional morality. In fact, many American colleges seem to be teaching students to spurn the very things that students used to learn to love and delight in.What? I'm pretty sure I never had a professor who told me to burn the flag and join the communist party. And "traditional morality" is a loaded phrase. Is it the college professors turning people gay? Because I went to Emerson, and I'm pretty sure most of those folks came to the party gayer than Christmas before college professors got ahold of them.
Finally, Kantor gets to the meat of her issue with college professors.
Universities are full of trendy English professors who don't read Shakespeare for the beauty of the poetry or its peerless insights into human nature. The point is to uncover the oppression that's supposed to define Western culture: the racism, "patriarchy," and imperialism that must lurk beneath the surface of everything written by those "dead white males." (The latest book from University of Pennsylvania professor emerita Phyllis Rackin, for example, investigates how "Macbeth" contributed to the "domestication of women.") With their low opinion of Western civilization, it's no wonder that so many English professors teach material that isn't English literature at all: Marx and Derrida -- and even comic books, politically correct bestsellers from the '80s, foreign films, and pornography -- rather than Shakespeare and Jane Austen.
Granted, I went to a pretty liberal college. But I went to state school for a year as well, and neither environment ever emphasized the negative aspects of Shakespeare over the positive. I took two classes specifically in Shakespeare during college, and I'm sure he cropped up in other courses. Issues of the negative side of Western culture is going to come into reading Shakespeare-- The Merchant of Venice is basically a romp through Jewish stereotypes and violence against Jews that only Mel Gibson could love in 2006. (I'll be here all night-- tip your waitresses!) The Taming of the Shrew, while hilarious, has almost a whole act of the play in which Pertruchio abuses his new wife to "tame" her. I think you have to address the way Shakespeare's culture was compared to the way we live now in 2006, but doing so doesn't eliminate the fact that Shakespeare was doing some amazing writing. For example:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.Macbeth, 5. 5
To a lot of professors, Western culture is something students need to be liberated from. It is not something to pass on and preserve.
What a pity. Especially now, when we're under attack from enemies who want to replace our civilization with a very different kind of culture.Western culture isn't in our genes. It's learned. And despite what the typical 21st-century college professor may believe, Western civilization has conferred enormous benefits on the human race: extraordinary freedom and respect for women, workable self-government, freedom of speech and the press.
Okay. Kantor wants us to not read our social values into Shakespeare but wants us to learn from the "dead white males" who Western Civilization has brought about positive roles for women and free speech? I don't understand her argument. I took a Western Civ class with the amazing John Coffee at Emerson College, and he made us read the Bible because, as he put it, to understand Western Civilization you must read the Bible. Professor Coffee leaned to the liberal side of things, but he never encouraged open anarchy in his classes. He did, however, plainly state that Western Civilization has brought about some bad things. We endorsed slavery for hundreds of years. Once we got rid of slavery, we made life just as hard on the freed slaves and their descendants. The Crusades? Bueller? We've started pointless wars, such as Vietnam and what led to the current civil war in Iraq. I love the freedom that Western Civilization grants me to question our wars and call Mitt Romney a fucking idiot and not fear being dragged from my bed in the middle of the night. However, we paid a price for those freedoms that we need to acknowledge, and perhaps find a way to make sure the abuses Western Civilization has inflicted on some don't continue.
If students actually studied the classics of English and American literature under the guidance of sympathetic teachers, they'd learn many other politically incorrect truths as well. From "Beowulf," students could learn that military virtue is both necessary and noble. In Chaucer, they might come to understand chivalry, and see how it changed the position of women. In Shakespeare, students could glimpse the existence of universal underlying patterns that shape and define human character (as well as all our institutions, from marriage to government).... Some of these lessons are characteristically Western. Others -- respect for military virtue, for example -- are typical of almost any healthy culture. But English professors are detached not just from the heritage of the West but in a sense from culture at all, or even from objective reality. "Essentialist" is the term of abuse that feminists and "queer theorists" apply to anyone who suggests that the stubborn facts of nature -- the differences between men and women, for example -- limit or define human beings in any way.
Military virtue is necessary, noble, and a trait of a "healthy culture?" I guess I understand Kantor's point, but there's a flip side to the argument. A healthy culture also needs people who are against the military. I'm not saying to not support troops, but people need to question what our troops are doing before we end up in a quagmire like we're in now. We need people to question the people in power, because without it the Western culture Kantor very much wants preserved would be irrevocably changed, and, frankly, not worth defending with even the most noble of armies.
Maybe I didn't go to the right school for this, but I never read literature only to criticize the negative aspects of Western culture. I was a writing major: maybe that contributed to the focus on the words and not the historical background. But while I've been to Stratford-Upon-Avon twice to visit the book geek Disney attraction that is Shakespeare's digs, I wouldn't sit around and call for a pound of flesh from a Jew. I don't want to end up on Jesse Jackson's radio show begging for forgiveness. Shakespeare and the other great writers of Western culture had a way with words, but our culture has changed from theirs and that needs to be acknowledged.