Sunday, November 30, 2008

My own take on Thanksgiving

Weather forecasts for this past week were for snow stretching from where I am all the way down to way my other half lives. So for the first time in a number of years, I did not get to spend Thanksgiving there. This is slightly depressing, since I now haven't seen him since August. (Long distance relationships suck.) A small upside is that I have been able to catch up on my sleep, since I didn't have to make two long drives.

But what to do about Thanksgiving? As it turns out, I made a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner for myself. At least on the surface. My menu:
  • Turkey, dressing, gravy, corn, mashed potatoes: The contents of a frozen TV turkey dinner. (I would have skipped the corn and mashed potatoes if they hadn't been included.)
  • A can of cranberry sauce: It was given me in a box of food my partner was getting rid of when he moved about four years ago, but it was still perfectly good. (How often would I otherwise eat cranberries?)
  • Salad with shiitake mushroom dressing: The salad and dressing were both in the 'fridge. The dressing was technically expired, but seemed fine.
  • Green been/mushroom casserole: The one thing I actually made, because it's one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. And it's not like there's anything hard about making it.
  • Relish options included sliced pickles (left over from hamburgers in late summer), a jar of peppers (from the same box that I salvaged the cranberry sauce from), and a jar of olives (found in the 'fridge; I'd forgotten it was there).
  • Pre-made apple pie I picked up from the grocery because, hey, apple pie.
  • Coke Zero. (This at least actually is pretty traditional for me.)
The whole thing left me laughing off and on during the holiday, but to be honest, there wasn't really much to give away how faked the dinner was. I now know how to fool people if I ever have to host Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cool changes with the times

I'm in the process of scanning some student solutions to post to the class website, and it just occurred to me: When I was anywhere between about 8 and 15 I thought one of the coolest things a person could possibly own would be a photocopier. I really wanted one. Now I own one. (OK, it's a combination scanner/laser printer that makes copies as a side effect.) I also have access to a really nice copier in the department for whatever I need. They are useful (I'm not sure how many days actually pass without using at least one of them for something during a semester), but I just realized it's not nearly as cool as I thought it would be.

Of course, the other thing that I thought would be the coolest thing ever would be a video camera, and that would be totally achievable too. Every once in a while I think about getting one. I still think a video camera would be cool, but now I feel like it's a kind of cool which would require me to be, you know, creative to get anything out of, and I'm not sure I have enough of that to spare anymore.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Between Hope and Despair

Tuesday morning broke as a stunning day. A rain had swept the earth clean and I walked out into a bright warm day (reminding more of spring than fall) with a fresh scent in the air, as though the world were newly wrought. The scent carried me through some unknown passage to my childhood, to my grandmother's house and neighborhood, and my eyes were seeing the houses along my block through those lenses again for some reason. The air was clean and warm, and I felt uplifted.

I walked to the polling place at the municipal building, which is only a few blocks away. I had no real wait (I think because the district is too small to really have one), and soon punched a button to elect a moderately liberal black democrat with a unusual name as the 44th president of the United States, and I knew the odds were excellent he would actually win. As I walked back, I thought to myself, "So this is what the 21st century feels like." And it felt wonderful.

I watched returns that night, and worried a little until the concession speech around 11:30, when I started to hear screams of joy from the campus a block away. I felt like joining in. It felt good. I had hope for a return from the brink. (Or perhaps more aptly, a chance to at least crawl back up to where the brink was.)

The elation lasted through late Wednesday morning. Then I read that Proposition 8 in California had passed. A majority of California citizens had decided it was appropriate to take away rights already granted to a minority, to chase down those who had been married and viciously tear apart their marriage licenses, symbolically tearing apart their families, their hopes, their very lives. I'm almost numb to most of this asinine nonsense now, and most of the other ugly and awful amendments (like in Florida and Arkansas) I'm almost used to. But in California, they took away peoples civil rights. They took away their rights and their marriages. Because of the children (except of course for the gay and lesbian ones, or the children of same), or because people want to pretend other people don't exist. Because gay people having lives is apparently just icky. And the appropriate response is to take away their civil rights and explicitly condemn them as not just second class citizens, but unreal, non-existent, and in fact, unthinkable. That hurts.

By Wednesday night I was morose. I'm still flitting between moods. I feel a thrill, a joy, every time I see or think about our new president, and the possibility of what he might accomplish, even if that's only a potentiality now. A relief that so much ugliness might end. And sometimes I think of the lives being destroyed and I feel as if I'm about to vomit, or I cry and rage. I'm not sure what to feel anymore.

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