Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Heart of Hypocrisy and Adorable Babies

While the government is making is more and more difficult for women, especially poor women, to get abortions, it’s also making sure that those unwanted babies never have a chance. In the last three weeks, George “Baby Eater” Bush
vetoed a bill
that would give universal healthcare to children and Congress struck down a bill that would help children of illegal immigrants eventually become American citizens. WTF? What about the sentiment “no child left behind”? I thought our country was supposedly in the grips of kidmania, but I guess it’s only the rich, white, Burberry-wearing kids that count. You guys! Haven’t you seen little Chinese babies? They are totally the cutest!! Anyway, the House is voting again on the thing today. Keep your chubby toddler fingers crossed.

In further hypocrisy news, America is urging Iraq (via Iraq’s Kurdish President) to put down the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) uprising in northern Iraq to make Turkey happy. Do you remember several years ago (feels like a lifetime) when we were supposedly getting into the Gulf War to protect the besieged Kurdish people? I think that may have even been the entire argument behind Christopher Hitchens’ call to arms (which he does not recant in this month’s Vanity Fair, but sorta kinda almost apologizes for after one of his believers dies in Iraq. Good work, Hitch.).

Let me just say right now that I would bet $20 that this current snafu with the PKK rebels attacking and killing Turks and Iranians is going to somehow get twisted around by our government’s spin doctors and eventually lead to a war with Iran. Even though that doesn’t make any sense. Hey, we could even switch back to supporting the Kurds again and vilify Iran for killing them once in awhile. Also: fuck Turkey, one of our last allies in the Middle East. Gulf (and World!) War III: Revenge of the Kurds. Dick Cheney, you can have that one for free, baby.

Speaking of babies, meet Henry, spawn of Laura and Jeremy. Henry totally wants to take on Jack in a cute-baby smackdown.



They’re both so ridiculously adorable. I just can’t decide. That sunflower outfit is hard to argue with. But Henry’s perfectly round, bald head is just delicious.

Any other week this would be a clear tie, but today I think this round goes to Henry. He’s living through his first fire season in San Diego, which gives him my sympathy vote. Hey, I never claimed to be fair and balanced.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Bloating

I just spent a fabulous 10 day vacation out West, flying first to Salt Lake City to see friends Jacob and Tim and to check out a PhD program there. Then I drove to Olympia, WA, to cavort with Nate, his lovely fiance Michelle and their two dogs (Roya and Paige) and kitten (Ganky Roundworm--named after his current unfortunate condition. I was assured by all parties that roundworm cannot be passed to humans. I'm too afraid to check WebMD to make sure this is true). Then up to Seattle for oysters (good but Long Island's are better), art (Seattle Art Museum--delicious) and a haircut (given to me by a guy named Bash who was wearing pink boots and ripped jeans. My hair was scared! But it all turned out okay.) and some face time with ex-New Yorker and former bedbug-sufferer, Gabe. One more flight to San Francisco to enjoy the company of the lovely ladies in my life, Jen and Carolyn, and then home. Needless to say, I kind of need a vacation from my vacation. But everything was perfect and wonderful and fun except for this: I spent so much money on stuff that I have been suffering staggering waves of nauseau whenever I spy my overstuffed suitcase hulking in the corner of my office. I have not yet been brave enough to unpack it.

Truthfully, I had prepared for this and financially, I'm okay, but it got me to thinking about why I buy so much stuff (some pretty, some crap, some pretty crap) and whether or not it actually makes me feel better after I get it home. I mean, the answer to that question has usually been "Not really," but between spending so much last week, reading the really excellent nonfiction book THE TRAP: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in America by Daniel Brook, and envisioning my life in a graduate program that pays approximately 1/3 of what I'm making now (which is nothing to write home about), it's finally time to take seriously this issue of overspending and overconsuming and do something about it. So I've decided not to buy anything non-consumable for a year. Okay, I'm going to TRY not to buy anything non-consumable for a year.

Not that this is anything so special or novel. I'll still get to eat out, order drinks, smoke a few of my bittersweet butts and wash my hair with Pantene Classic Clean. For most of you, that's probably the extent of your "entertainment" spending anyway. But that's because a lot of you are willful, intelligent, forward-thinking people who have been able to avoid being sucked into the new hyperconsumerism spiral. Not me.

Call it a function of living in New York for so long. New York, where you're mostly supposed to look like a million bucks, even if you're barely breaking $30,000. My rookie year as an editorial assistant, I blew most of one month's rent on a gorgeous blue suede skirt and then had to hail a cab home in hurricane-like weather conditions with my remaining $20, lest my beautiful stupid purchase be ruined in the rain. I wish I could say this was a singular situation.

Call it part of being raised in a lookist, bored and upwardly mobile society, where depression rates have skyrocketed hand in hand with Tivo and HD TV subscriptions.

Call it all those women's magazines that have convinced generations of the fairer sex that if they just had the perfect pair of open-toed pumps, their lives would finally be complete and that elusive thing called happiness, theirs (until next season, anyway).

Call it a lifelong lack of impulse control and practicality on my part.

I'm calling it boring. That little rush I get from buying French-Canadian weatherproofed Italian-leather boots leaves me dry as Ann Coulter's cooter on a hot day when the brand-spanking newness wears off. I'm not proposing anything revolutionary here--after all, there's a whole movement of people who have vowed not to buy ANYTHING for a year. Those people have my best regards, but I do not look to lead a saintly, monkish life. I enjoy whiskey and lobster chowder far too much for that kind of sacrifice. Nor is my proposition unselfishly spurred by my disgust with the foreign sweatshop labor that keeps stores like H&M in faux-designer tailored motorcycle jackets. (After all, who else but the little children can get those tiny stitches just right?)

No, this is a purely selfish and incomplete kind of social experiment, but I'm interested to see what happens. Maybe this will help reset me somehow, thus enabling me to start planning for the awful inevibility of adulthood markers like house ownership and (gulp) babies? Maybe I will successfully deprogram myself just in time for the middle class to crumble and disappear, thus inuring me to what would otherwise have been a devastating blow to my (cute-jacket-and-frock filled!) quality of life. Also, all signs point to graduate-school induced poverty up ahead. It's time to save money and dust off my library card. Last, this will certainly impact my new music and book sensibilities, perhaps in awful and irreversible ways. Please refrain from pointing and laughing when I wind up at your party wearing a threadbare dress, ignorant of the new McSweeney's wunderkind and prattling on about the last Arcade Fire album I bought in 2006. Sigh.

Goodbye dumb and indescribibly beautiful new things!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Motherfuck, I Am So Glad I Left

"A studio apartment in Manhattan now goes for $1,958 on average, according to local rental agency Citi Habitats. A one-bedroom rents for $2,632, and a two-bedroom for $3,721." Also, "Average rent in Manhattan increased almost 12% in 2007 from last year." -From an article published in today's Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I hadn't read a blow-by-vicious-blow account of the latest Blackwater incident until I saw this article in the NYT this morning. It's truly brutal. I don't know what to say.

I have to admit: I don't read the paper every day. It's easier not to. Every single time I do, I come across stories like this, which make me feel like I might go crazy with anger and grief. But lately I've been thinking: Oh well. Driving ourselves crazy is the least any of us can do. Someone has to bear witness to atrocity. And that's one thing Americans (myself included) aren't doing very well. Sure we hear the word "Blackwater" and we see Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert make some jokes about them, and we vaguely know, from the buzz in the air, that there was a "shooting incident" that is a little muddled and someone's ass is probably going to be shipped home and fired for it. But that's all politics--it's dancing around the issue, which is that 17 Iraqi civilians are dead and 24 are wounded and possibly not a single one of them fired a shot.

Hey, I love the Daily and Colbert Shows as much as the next young liberal. I know a lot of people who get their news solely from these guys (opinions already included) and they're probably more up on current affairs than your average American, but the problem with the Stewarts and Colberts of the world is that they neuter the news. When a current affair or international problem is being framed for a joke (no matter how cynical), you're never going to hear about how one woman was towing her already-dead 11-year-old son's corpse along by the wrist; or how another woman was killed cradling her dead husband's remains (which were later mistaken for infant remains, since the two were bombed shortly after and the husband's body burned up so much there was only a baby-sized bit of him left when the smoke cleared), or the young guy with the destroyed head whose mother screamed for help. That stuff's just not funny.

But maybe it's stupid to single out Stewart and Colbert. I don't know that we can hear about any of that stuff on TV. It's what happens when our television content is federally controlled.

So, I'm asking you to read this story because it's disgusting and horrifying. I'm going to try harder to read these accounts as often as they're published. I think it's really important not to turn away from what is actually going on--from what our country is responsible for. I've been negligent.