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President Barack Obama (SQUEE!) November 5, 2008

Posted by Sparkel in food for thought.
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For as long as I can remember I have felt proud to be an American.

Granted I haven’t been to too many other places, so my perspective of what America is and what it means to its citizens and the rest of the world has been sheltered at best.  In fact, it wasn’t until I began dating M, who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 12, that my patriotism began to waver a bit.

The 2004 election sparked many a political debate between M and I.  Many of the debates were not about the election as much as they were about the U.S. in general.  M is of the opinion that, while he is fortunate for the opportunities this country has given him and his family, the U.S. is faaaar from perfect.

M was born in the midst of the civil war El Salvador experienced from 1980 until 1992.  He was raised in the slums of San Salvador by a mother who was doing her best to care for her five children after her husband fled to the U.S. for fear that he, like so many other men who opposed the government, would be killed.  M did not meet his father until he moved to the states, after his family had been on the waiting list for eleven years.  His eldest brother and sister, who were under 18 when his father first petitioned to bring them to the U.S., were well over 18 by the time they were allowed to move here, so they had to stay.  M’s family moved into a one bedroom apartment and tried their best to learn the language and make ends meet.

When M first told me this story, and recounted stories of his family huddling in a bedroom with no windows for days at a time while bombs were heard from outside, and of hearing guns and witnessing immense poverty, I commented “wow, you must have felt lucky to come here then.”

I will never forget the incredulous, angry look on his face.  He snapped “well, considering the U.S. played a pretty large part in the war, no, not really.  We didn’t have much of a choice.  A lot of people didn’t and still don’t because the country is still recovering in a lot of ways.”

I said “what are you talking about?  It’s not the U.S.’s fault if your country had a civil war.”

He scoffed and said “it is when they sent weapons to the side that served their best interest and looked away while innocent people were massacred.”  He then began to go on a long tirade about South and Central America, the dictators the U.S. has supported, the leaders and opposers they fought against, and the (oftentimes willful) ignorance of the people living in this country who are not taught any of this.  About his personal hero, Che Guevara, the history of Cuba, and the role of the CIA in that.

M is, with the exception of my father, the most intelligent person I have ever known.  He is fair, he is well-read and well-informed on politics and issues.  He is observant.  And he has yet to make an observation that I don’t, in some way, shape or form, agree with or respect.  He was the first person I talked to who felt the opposite way about this country, who saw it more for its faults than its attributes.  And he taught me things, things I had never heard before.  And when I skeptically looked things up expecting to get in his face all “AHA!!!,” he was always, always right.  Some of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had about this country are with him and with my friend Anna, who lived in Russia as a child.  At first I was furiously angry and defensive.  Many arguments ended with M saying “you really need to read more before you form opinions.”

So I began to.  I read newspaper articles from other countries.  I read anti-U.S. opinions.  And while I haven’t agreed with everything, I’ve sadly had to agree with some things.

If you can read “A People’s History of the United States” and not feel just the teeniest bit ashamed, you have a harder heart than me.  I read books by African American authors such as Richard Wright, or Frederick Douglass, and finally went beyond my previous logic of “slavery ended years ago… segregation ended too…what is there to feel angry about?”

The way I feel about this country now is the way I imagine a parent must feel when their child, their pride and joy, who showed all the promise in the world of great things to come, goes away to college, gets hooked on heroin, then comes home to steal your TV and pawn it for drug money.  Would I still love that child?  Of course.  But would I feel proud?  Would I look on and say “aw, what a swell kid!  Look how determined she is to make money!”


But if that child began to reform.  Began to behave better.  Began to do the right thing, I would be proud again.

I am not proud that this country has a history of helping those who serve its best interest.  I am not proud of the war in Iraq.  (And I have three cousins who have served there, one of whom is going to Afghanistan next year, so don’t tell me it’s because I don’t support the troops.  I very, very much do.)  I am not proud of how long this country, and the UN has half-assed its support while Darfur has been ravaged by genocide, something the Geneva Convention is supposedly vehemently against.  I am not proud of the many who declared that Barack Obama would not make a good president, but instead is a man to fear because he is supposedly Muslim.  I am not proud of the many who feel that “redistribution of wealth”=socialism, and complain about the tax cut they’ll see when they already make more than their share.  If Warren Buffet and even Oprah, who will pay one helluva lot more in taxes under Obama’s plan than you or me or anyone else thinks it’s good enough for them, then holy fucking hell, it’s good enough for me.  I am not proud of the greed.  I am not proud of the arrogance.  I am not proud of the racism.  I am not proud of the declarations of “i’M MORE AMERICAN THAN YOUUUU, NEENER!!”

I am proud of this country because I am free, and I feel free.  I feel proud of this country for selfish reasons, number one being that I like my life.  I have a house, enough food, an education, and open doors.  I recently read about Rafael Trujillo, the former dictator of Dominican Republic who severely oppressed his people, and all I could think was “I feel so lucky that I can’t even imagine what that would be like.”  I feel proud of this country because of the aid it offers to those in need around the world.  I feel proud of this country for how we stood together after 9/11.  I feel proud of this country for the strides we’ve made, for the progress we’ve made.

And I now feel more proud of this country than I have in a while because my children will never think it’s strange that a black man is president.  I was filled with hope and pride throughout Obama’s campaign.  I agree with his policies, I admire his reserved nature and his desire to learn and listen and ask questions, and I think he will be one helluva good president.  I beamed with pride when I voted for Obama yesterday, I sobbed with joy when he became our new president, and I grinned like a fool when I saw pictures and footage of the world celebrating with us.

I’ve come full circle, and for today I am 100% proud to be an American.


Inertia October 26, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in books & movies & shows, food for thought, M, meee, realizations.
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I wasn’t going to write about this, mostly because I was a little humiliated and stung afterward, but the other day M and I got into an argument and he told me that I’m “wasting my life.”

He said I don’t want to do anything to move forward and succeed in life.  That I’m perfectly content with working at a job that bores me and has nothing to do with my field, I don’t put enough effort into school, and when I get home all I want to do is go online or watch TV.  He said that there are times when he gets so frustrated that he can’t stand to be in the same room as me.  That he can’t understand why I don’t see that I have all the potential it takes to do whatever I want to do, and that it breaks his heart that I just don’t try and seemingly don’t care. 

It’s the first time anyone’s commented on my ambition (or lack thereof) and it’s been on my mind ever since.  I’m not mad at him.  My first reaction was to get defensive, but also for the first time in my life, I couldn’t come up with one comeback, one excuse.  I just sat there, stunned and feeling ashamed. 

Because the thing is…he’s right.  I am lazy.  I have dreams that are never realized.  I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for YEARS.  And when anyone asks why I haven’t, I have no real answer.  I have a list of books I want to read, and piles and piles at home that remain untouched.  I don’t feel like being in school.  I just want that damn degree.  But then what?  Why do I stay at my job?  I always said it’s because the pay is good and I have a flexible schedule, which is perfect while I’m in school.  But I’m not getting the experience I’ll need here.  

The other night M asked me “what would make you happy?”  I’m slowly figuring it out.  The one thing I know, and told him is:  I want to work in TV or film.  I’ve just always thought it’s unrealistic.  And since the pessimist (or realist) in me has accepted that unfortunate fate, the closest I get is watching TV and reading about TV.  And for right this second, that’s enough. 

And then he showed me (again) why I love him.

He sighed, put his arm around my shoulders and said “if you want to work in TV or film, and that will make you happy, then you have to do it.  And it’s not unrealistic.  Hundreds of people do it.  Not many people know what they want to do, ever.  You know what you want, and you have a passion for it.  If we have to live in New York or California, if you need to work 18 hour days, if we need to put off having kids, we’ll do it.  I’d move anywhere with you, and do anything for you.  I want you, and only you.  And more than that, I want you to be happy.”

I hugged him, started to cry, and whispered “I’m sorry I’m such a failure and that I’ve wasted so much time.  I am wasting my life.”  He kissed my forehead and said “you aren’t a failure.  You’re amazing and your smart and talented.  You have more potential than anyone I know.  You just need to do something with it.”

We watched The Office last night, and I told M “you know why I relate to Jim so much?”
He said “you are him.”  I laughed and sighed and said “well, at least I’m not alone.”

Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling lost, sometimes ambition-less and sometimes just plain lazy.

Suddenly I’m seven again October 7, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in food for thought.
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Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

There Is A Voice Inside Of You
That Whispers All Day Long,
“I Feel That This Is Right For Me,
I Know That This Is Wrong.”
No Teacher, Preacher, Parent, Friend
Or Wise Man Can Decide
What’s Right For You- Just Listen To
The Voice That Speaks Inside

All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ In The Sun,
Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…
But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little Did

I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.

God says to me with kind of a smile,
“Hey how would you like to be God awhile
And steer the world?”
“Okay,” says I, “I’ll give it a try.
Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?”
“Gimme back that wheel,” says God,
“I don’t think you’re quite ready yet.”

How many slams in an old screen door?
    Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
    Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
    Depends how good you live ’em.
How much love inside a friend?
    Depends how much you give ’em.

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-grumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

Death Cab September 26, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in food for thought.
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I’m obsessing over this song right now.  It’s called “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” and it’s by Death Cab for Cutie.  I’m reading one of those “song meanings” sites and a lot of people think its a sad song which really surprises me.  I was driving to pick M up from school when I first heard it and I was entranced by the music (really pretty and slow) and then, like with most Death Cab songs, I was completely moved by the lyrics:

You may tire of me
As our December sun is setting
Because I’m not who I used to be
No longer easy on the eyes
But these wrinkles masterfully disguise
The youthful boy below

Who turned your way and saw
Something he was not looking for
Both a beginning and an end
But now he lives inside
Someone he does not recognize
When he catches his reflection on accident

On the back of a motorbike
With your arms outstretched, trying to take flight
Leaving everything behind
But even at our swiftest speed
We couldn’t break from the concrete
And the city where we still reside

And I have learned
That even landlocked lovers yearn
For the sea like navy men
Because now we say goodnight
From our own seperate sides
Like brothers on a hotel bed
Like brothers on a hotel bed
Like brothers on a hotel bed
Like brothers on a hotel bed

You may tire of me
As our December sun is setting
Because I’m not who I used to be

I guess I can see why it could be seen as a sad song.  But the lines

Who turned your way and saw
Something he was not looking for
Both a beginning and an end

struck me as really romantic.  They immediately reminded me of M and when we first got together.  I just broke up with one guy, began liking another who went MIA and just wanted nothing to do with relationships.  I was all “I want a cute, fun guy to hook up with, and nothing more.”  When M and I started hanging out I don’t think either of us thought it would be anything serious.  I really did turn his way and see something I wasn’t looking for, both a beginning and an end.  That line was mostly interpreted as a doomed relationship from the start, but I take it as you see the person and know “this is THE relationship, the one that will last until the end of my life.” 

This group of lyrics:

On the back of a motorbike
With your arms outstretched, trying to take flight
Leaving everything behind
But even at our swiftest speed
We couldn’t break from the concrete
And the city where we still reside

One of the people on the song meanings site wrote this, which I completely agree with:
the motorbike verse gives us the picture perfect image of youthful abandon against the idea of losing love the hardest way – to old age and fatigue.

Random blog, but this song has been in my player and on my mind for the past three days, so I just thought I’d share.  Listen to it!  It’s seriously amazingly beautiful.

I’m also really into The Postal Service and loooove this song:

Brand New Colony
I’ll be the grapes fermented
Bottled and served with the table set
In my finest suit, like a perfect gentleman

I’ll be the fire escape
That’s bolted to the ancient brick
Where you will sit and contemplate your day

I’ll be the waterwings
That save you if you start drowning
In an open tab when your judgement’s on the brink

I’ll be the phonograph
That plays your favorite albums back
As you’re lying there, drifting off to sleep

I’ll be the platform shoes
And undo what heredity’s done to you
You won’t have to strain to look into my eyes

I’ll be your winter coat
Buttoned and zipped straight to the throat
With the collar up so you won’t catch cold

I want to take you far
From the cynics in this town
And kiss you on the mouth
We’ll cut our bodies free
From the tethers of this scene
Start a brand new colony
Where everything will change
We’ll give ourselves new names
(Identities erased)
The sun will heat the ground
Under our bare feet
In this brand new colony

Everything will change

No interpretations from me though, as this song clearly needs none.

Just me? September 24, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in food for thought, it is looove, M.
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Does anyone else ever feel kinda lost?

You live your life…you have your friends, family, maybe a relationship. You work (mostly because you need money, and really, what else would you do with your time?), maybe go to school. Every day is more or less the same. You know what to expect from weekends. You have neither the funds or time to take a spontaneous trip to Italy, so you don’t see any REAL excitement in the near future. And its okay because it has to be, and you take joy in the little things. Until you don’t, and then you write on your blog (that you wish could be full of exciting stories instead of diatribes about your boredom) about your thoughts and hope to find clarity and perhaps another person or two who feel the same.

Some days I genuinely don’t feel like doing anything. Well, actually that’s not true. If someone were to say “hey, wanna go to Europe (or anywhere really) for a few days??” I’d immediately pack and run out the door. But if it’s a choice of work, study, sleep, watch tv, read a book, go for a walk, eat something, go for a drive I’m all “meh.” I feel like Belle in Beauty in the Beast (I want much more than this provincial life! I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand. I want so much more than they’ve got planned.) (though who “they” is in my life I do not know.)

I love my friends and I love M. I just wish there could be a little more oomph in every day. Perhaps that’s where alcohol comes in…

This weekend was good. I worked for part of the day on Saturday, then Jess and I got manicures. I’m sooo happy with mine. It’s truly the only one I’ve ever gotten that I actually really like. Then she came to my house and we got ready to go out for dinner and then bar hopping. I was hoping to show her and Derek an awesome good time, but unfortunately the bars were kinda lame. We still got pretty wasted though, which was fun.

Yesterday I hung around the house with M and studied. This weekend was really good for us. We didn’t argue once about anything. We were super affectionate and lovey (sneaking kisses, cuddling, smiling at each other sweetly when one of us walked into the room.) It was really, really nice.

The only…not bad, but not really good either…thing about when things are amazing and wonderful with M and I is that it makes me want to get engaged. I read blogs about other girls around my age getting engaged and see pictures of their rings, and I feel a tiny pang. I decided that the reasonable thing to do is concentrate on making myself an adult (responsible with money, finish school and get a good job, etc.) and then I’ll have the maturity to realize that marriage is not only about rings and dresses and weddings and introducing M as my fiance and telling people “O.M.GEEE I’m ENGAGED!” It’s a lifelong committment, the hardest job you’ll ever have, not always rainbows and sunshine, etc. But it’s also a partnership and love and growing old together OFFICIALLY and we’re already living together anyway and I’m in this for good, so really, what will change?

This is the convo that takes place when I bring up that line of thinking:
K: So really, what’s the difference?
M: Exactly my point. If there’s no difference, what’s the rush?
K: Because I’d like to have a 60th wedding anniversary. And not have ten years at the beginning of our relationship that “don’t count” because SOMEONE isn’t ready. Even though all logic (which you’re so fond of) points out that we are living like we are married.
M: Well, if we’re already living like we are, then can’t we just keep doing that? If it ain’t broke…you know?
K: But…but…
M: And besides, we can count the years before if we want. They might be the best years anyway.
M: I’m just being realistic.
K: Okay Mr. Realistic then think about the tax breaks! The benefits! You’re into stuff like that!
M: That is a good point…
K: *grins like a triumphant fool who has finally won this battle of wits*
M: But you’re into the line of reasoning that “we have the rest of our lives to be serious and pay bills, so what’s the rush?” Tax breaks go against what you’re looking for right now.
K: Ok, fine. Then we might as well never get married. If there’s no point then why waste the money and time?
M: That’s my girl!
K: Look, I’ve seen you with your niece, so I know you want kids. But if we don’t get married I don’t want to have kids.
M: Even cheaper.
K: *throws up hands in frustration and makes undecipherable loud grunting sound before stomping out of the room*

I am then followed and assured that yes it will happen, after school, when we have money, blah blah blah. I’m just impatient. And honestly, part of me really wants him to want it more so that I’m not the one gunning for it. Then I can sit back and smile because someone wants to marry ME, and they’ll have to wait until I’m good and ready.

The truth is, I’m not quite ready. But I’m almost there, which is scary and wonderful and all the better because the man I want to marry is already in my life and mine and loves me back. It doesn’t get much better than that now, does it?

Gotta get back to work…

Food for thought August 24, 2007

Posted by Sparkel in food for thought.
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I do my thing, & you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if buy chance we find each other – it is beautiful. If not it can’t be helped.Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

Anyone can give up. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart?  That’s true strength.

It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t.  It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.

Sometimes you need to let go of the person you are to become the person you’re going to be. 

The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.  But those that will not break it kills.  It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave inpartially.  If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone’s way but my own.  I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself.  So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled.There is always something left to love.  And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.

I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be.

You wouldn’t worry what others think of you if you realized how seldom they actually do.