On the personality tests which claim to assess where one falls on the Myers-Briggs spectrum (you know I love to take them, being both a lover of tests and completely self-absorbed), there are always a few questions where I could go either way, depending upon my mood. For example, sometimes meeting new people makes me energized and excited and sometimes it makes me anxious and neurotic. And, of course, changing those tiny answers means I fall into a different personality type.
I usually am INTJ, but depending upon the number of questions and my mood, I may be an ENTJ. No big deal, Tomato Tomahto, right? Well, usually. However, this test applies the the personality types in such a way as to make you prefer one answer over another.
"I'm going over to the dark side," Julian says to us this morning.
Alright, then. Really there is probably no right way to respond to such an announcement, is there? I know he was only communicating his intention to go to an area of the house that was less well lighted than the one in which we were sitting at the time.
However, I couldn't help but worry that this is just a foreshadowing of what may come:
When I found out I was pregnant, we had no difficulty picking a girl's name, but it was hard finding a boy's name we even liked and Julian was the only name we even agreed upon (it should come as no surprise that Fred shot down my suggestions of Ezra and Ezekial).
Throughout my life, whenever I imagined having a child, it was a girl child in my mind's eye. My fantasies were fairly vague and my assumption that I would have a girl was based, perhaps, more on the fact that, with the exception that most of the babies with whom I have had contact were girls. I'll admit, there was some shallowness involved in my thoughts. For example, in the second half of my pregnancy, after the 20 week ultrasound where we saw proof of the baby's gender, I would go shopping and find myself crying in children's clothing stores over the cute dresses I wouldn't be buying for my baby. However, for the most part, my fear was rooted in my belief that, given my experiences, I wouldn't know how to raise a boy. I was once a girl, I know what it is like to be a girl, I don't know what it is like to be a boy, and everything I read, about boys being less verbal and disinclined to read, freaked me out because I feared I would have nothing in common with my child.
I have, obviously, gotten over my fears and now can't imagine having a girl.
I know, I have been abusing YouTube lately and many of you are wondering when I will get back to writing about something other than the music of my youth or politics or the bizarre intersection of the music of my youth with politics (alright, that last one hasn't happened yet, but just you wait, my pretties, I will find a way). I promise I will write about other things as soon as this current bout of writer's block and laziness passes. Until then, however, I give you this little gem, which reminds us all why we loved videos so much back in the early days of MTV. With its surreal storyline filled with intrigue and violence, gratuitous and brief female nudity, and leather clad dominatrices who perform a high kicking dance number before moving the plot along, it is chock full with what came to be cliches of eighties videos. This was one of the first videos, so it set the standard from which all those later videos derived their imagery.
Twilight Zone-Golden Earring
This was playing in Trader Joe's the other day and I found myself dawdling so I would have an excuse to hear it in its entirety.
As I watch it now, I am also reminded of an episode of The Untouchables in which a friend of mine had a role as a guy who ended up receiving a Sicilian Necktie from Al Capone. Not that the singer from Golden Earring looks anything like my friend (either in real life or in costume for the show), but the sense of doom hanging over his head is not dissimilar.
It used to be rare to hear this song. Back in the nineties, when people broke out the New Order, they usually played Temptation, Blue Monday, or Bizarre Love Triangle. maybe it is my imagination, but it seems like I have been hearing this song a lot over the past five years.
Buried beneath all the election coverage was the news that the death toll of U.S. service members hit 4,000. It is just a number. Our opinion on the war should not be swayed, one way or another, because this milestone has been passed. 4,000 dead in five years of war doesn't sound like a lot when you consider how many soldiers died in one day of fighting at Antietam, the Somme, or Okinawa. However, every single one of those people was a son, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a father, a husband, a mother, a sister, a brother, a mentor, an individual whose absence in the lives of those they loved will be felt for the rest of their lives. The USA Today has an interactive website which displays the names and images of those that have died. It doesn't tell us much about the lives they lived, but it reminds us all that each one of them is more than a number and that even one death is too many for those who are left behind.
"She Came From Greece She Had A Thirst For Knowledge"
You know I adore Pulp and think Common People is one of the best songs ever (catchy and poppy, but then it surprises you with its commentary on class). Much as I love the band, I personally never saw a similarity between Pulp and Archie Comics before, but I am pretty impressed with how well this works.
I just wish he had worked in the part about roaches climbing the wall and the chip stains and grease coming out in the bath.
Julian: Mama, you be me for awhile. Me: If I am you, who will you be? Julian: I'll be you.
Fred's Minneapolis heritage seems to have seeped into the kid. That's the only explanation I have for this. I swear to you Julian has never heard this song (our copy of Don't Tell a Soul is on vinyl, which means so not toddler friendly, and WXRT usually plays Aching To Be when they play The Replacements) so it is strange he should quote it so perfectly.
Well, alright, I'll admit, it isn't that odd. It would have been much weirder if he had said something about purging his soul perhaps for the imminent collapse. It's just a coincidence that I was thinking of this song about half an hour before he said this.
And if it's just a game then we'll hold hands just the same.
While my too tired to come true dreams may well have left me a rebel without a clue, searching for something to do, I can say with 100% certainty that being Julian's mom keeps me from feeling dull.
"Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."
Please watch this speech, if haven't already. Huffington Post has also put the transcript online if you want to read it.
Once, when I was very young, my mother told me that, had Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived, he would have been our first black president. I think we can see the negative spin which has already started against this speech of Barack Obama's and realize that my mom's view was not merely wishful thinking, but from another era. That was back in the day before the 24 hour news cycle and the politics of personal destruction. That was back when we didn't necessarily trust the politicians, but we trusted the journalists who reported on them.
Barack Obama did something today which, I believe he has been doing throughout his campaign: he challenged the status quo. He challenged the people who profit from fomenting other people's intolerance, fear and hatred. Those people will not let go of their power without a fight. There have always been people so attached to their "us vs. them" worldview that they will give no quarter to anyone who they perceive to be on the "other side." For some so-called journalists, it is safer and more profitable to appeal to that aspect of people's character than to appeal to something more. They are no different from the politicians. I have no other explanation for their reaction to this speech. I wonder if these people even heard the same speech I did.
My first reaction, upon reading this speech (I didn't watch it live) was that this will be a speech that schoolchildren will be reading about in textbooks a hundred years from now. This is a speech which I feel I have waited my entire adult life to hear. This is a speech which gives us the opportunity to talk about race in America, a topic about which we don't feel comfortable speaking, because we feel ashamed of a past we cannot change. We feel so powerless in the face of that past and our present, so ignore it and hope that by pretending it isn't a problem, race will no longer be a problem in our society's future. This speech offered me hope that we can address the issues and it made me proud because I believe we are up to the challenge, set forth by our Founding Fathers, of forming a more perfect union.
Five years ago, a friend was staying with us and she wanted to go to an Irish bar on St. Patrick's Day. We ended up at a place near DePaul University which was filled with college students. At one point, the music was turned down so we could hear the president speak (it's funny, you can find everything on youtube, but I can't find that speech) and then it was turned back up so that people could drink away their panic to music. I ended up sitting in the bathroom with a group of girls who were scared because they had relatives who were serving in the military. We all kept repeating the phrase, "I hope we are doing the right thing."
Some people supported the war.
Some people who opposed the war.
We all hoped it would turn out okay.
NONE of us expected the war would last this long. NONE of us expected so many people to die. None of us expected it to cost this much.
Five years later, we are still in Iraq, approximately 85,000 Iraqis and close to 4,000 American service men and women have been killed. People who might be alive today if only we had made a different decision (I say might because none of us can know what would have happened).
I am adding the following ticker to my sidebar:
Now I really need a drink. At least it is St. Patrick's Day.
One of the things I find frustrating is how Hillary Clinton accuses Barack Obama of being substance free, claims that we can trust her and that she has so much experience, but will not release her tax returns or documents which would back up her claims. It certainly looks as if she has something to hide. I know, she says she will release all of that as soon as she is the nominee, but why not do it now? I mean, if there isn't anything in that mountain of paperwork for the Republicans to misrepresent, there won't be anything for the Obama campaign to quibble over, right?
I think there are two possibilities as to why she hasn't released her documents.
1) She has something to hide. The above video provides ample evidence that she is beholden to a lot of interests, and that is just what we know about. This possibility scares me because it means the Republicans will be able to use these papers against her if she is the nominee.
2) This is a huge plot on the part of her campaign. By constantly putting off releasing the documents, she gets the press and Obama to hound her about the tax returns and then they release them at the last minute to reveal there is absolutely nothing illegal or unethical in the family finances. She looks like a martyr (“I said all along that there was nothing to worry about, but you refused to believe me”), the press and Obama look like villains, her campaign spins it for all it is worth (“maybe the reason Obama is so suspicious is because of stuff he is hiding…if the press hadn’t wasted everyone’s time going after poor Hillary and investigating Obama, what might they have found?”) AND Pennsylvania votes while the story is hot. Obviously this possibility scares me because this sort of thing has absolutely nothing to do with whether someone is qualified to be president or not and everything to do with drama and spin.
It isn't unfair to demand that our candidates be fully vetted and we shouldn't be asked to take a candidate's word that he or she is. The reason I believe Barack Obama is fully vetted is because he has been running against Hillary Clinton and if he did have any skeletons, her campaign would have found them and revealed them already. Unfortunately, because of the type of politician Barack Obama is, because the press is being soft on Hillary Clinton (for fear of being called biased against her) and because her campaign won't release her papers, I don't have any evidence that all the Clinton scandals are part of the past, no matter what she tells us we should believe.
Yesterday, I wrote about a song which I believed was about me from the very moment I heard it. Today, I present a song which I liked when I was younger, but which I didn't ever consider to be about me, but which I now think describes an aspect of the person I once was.
Given the way I present myself, one would be forgiven for assuming that, in matters of the heart, before Fred and I began dating, I was always the wronged and tortured party, that I was noble and good. In fact, this is usually the story I tell myself when thinking of the past. However, the truth is not nearly so simple and I was not nearly so good. I wasn't bad. I was never intentionally cruel. I tried to be sensitive to other people's feelings. In this, I think I am superior to the people who broke my heart (they never even tried to spare my feelings, they didn't really care if they were cruel or not). But trying doesn't necessarily mean one succeeds and I was so young and, this will come as no surprise, so self-centered.
Our society tells its daughters fairy tales. We were all told that if we just waited, we would find the man who would sweep us off our feet and take away all our sorrows. It was understood that we were good and noble and that we could do no wrong in matters of the heart. Even today, when we should know better, the little girls are all about the Disney princesses and their stories of finding their respective Prince Charmings.
What the fairy tales don't prepare any of us for is the reality that one may encounter many frogs along the way and not all of them turn into princes, so we end up hoping that every frog we encounter is, in fact, our prince in hiding. What are we to do when we realize that, no, he may be someone else's prince, but for us, this man will always be a frog?
What the fairy tales don't tell us is that finding a prince should not even be a goal in and of itself.
What the fairy tales don't tell us is that just as we are always the heroines of our own stories, sometimes, we are the evil stepsisters in other people's stories.
What the fairy tales can't tell us is the extent of the damage we inflict upon one another. We are left to assume based on what we can see and, as Salman Rushdie said in The Satanic Verses, "You can't judge an internal injury by the size of the hole."
What the fairy tales don't tell us is if we will be judged for our actions, no matter how innocent and clueless our intentions.
In Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, when Shadow dies, he is judged in the Underworld
He was as naked and open as a corpse on a table, and dark Anubis the jackal god was his prosector and his prosecuter and his persecuter.
"Please," said Shadow. "Please stop."
But the examination did not stop. Every lie he had told, every object he had stolen, every hurt he had inflicted on another person, all these things and more were extracted and held up to the light by the jackal-headed judge of the dead.
We are bound to our impression of ourselves and what we remember. It is strange and disturbing to wonder what pieces of our past Anubis will find lurking in the shadows, just out of our sight.
But The Only Thing I Ever Really Wanted To Say Was Wrong
There are songs for which you feel an immediate affinity, there are songs which become meaningful in retrospect, and then there are the songs which straddle both categories, the immediate affinity you felt transforming and expanding as you age so that.
It is the musical equivalent of the Milan Kundera observation (in Life is Elsewhere) that the past is "cloaked in multicoloured taffeta and every time we look at it, we see a different hue."
I remember loving this song from the moment I heard it. It rang true for me, a girl who was pretty sure she wore out her welcome with those who knew her, a girl who was so talkative, but could never say the right thing, a girl who felt she couldn't fit in if she tried, a girl who valued knowledge in others over kindness, a girl who knew that she would keep any and all souvenirs no matter how terrible the year.
Over the years, I have heard this song and I feel a great deal of affection for it. I sing along and think that the past is past, is finished, that the story has, in fact, ended and I don't really feel the need to reflect much on the song or the past.
Even if I don't want love or friendship from them, I still want to think people who once knew me, the people for whom I felt all that unrequited love, remember me fondly. That they have more respect for the person I once was than I do. And that they regret the past and their rejection of me.
The New Yorker has a brief article (you could call it a schmear piece) on the invention of the everything bagel. Considering that my definition of comfort food is an everything bagel with salmon cream cheese, I am stunned that it has taken people this long to find the creator of this modern marvel. Clearly, people at both the Food Network and the History Channel have been asleep at the wheel.
Full disclosure, I think I initially watched this video on 120 Minutes because I thought the lead singer of Jesus Jones was cute. In fact, I recall being out and about with Suzy Gordon (ugh!) and her commenting that he looked like Jon Peterson and suggesting THAT was why I liked this song and, while I denied it at the time, I can now admit that was the hook. But, I say in my own defense, it was merely the hook. The song wouldn't have stuck with me all these years later if there wasn't something more there. (Although, I note as I look at the Wikipedia page for Jesus Jones that Mike Edwards is only 9 days younger than Fred, but a quick glance of their MySpace page shows that they probably only resemble one another in height and weight.) But none of this is why I am posting this video for y'all today.
Do you remember the eighties, back before the Berlin Wall came down? Do you remember where you were when you found out the world had changed for the better?
I was 17 when I first heard the news. And I will admit, I said something incredibly stupid, so stupid I don't even have the courage to admit it now, something so stupid that the only way I can explain it is to say that the enormity of the news was too great for my brain to accept, so I said the first thing that popped in my head, which had nothing to do with anything at all, not even my thoughts.
Alright, I'll tell you.
I remember walking into the Chittick social room and one of my roommates, Jen B. (who was the meaner of my two roommates that year, though they both kindof sucked) told me the news, that the Berlin Wall had come down, and I said, "But now David Bowie's song Heroes has no meaning."
This space has been intentionally left blank for you to absorb the enormity of my stupidity.
Eighteen and one half years later and I still can't think of that without feeling really uncomfortable in my own skin. But as I said, it was the very first thing that popped into my head.
On September 11, after the towers had fallen, but before we knew that the attacks were over, I recall saying to Maria and Jenn Starr, "Well, maybe now we will know why the Pentagon has five sides." Yeah, that was dumb too, but hey, I was in shock, as were we all.
At least I didn't say anything really awful, like someone I knew who met a 20th Century Fox executive as a result of the attacks and told everyone that the reason the World Trade Center collapsed was so she could make this contact and get cast in a Hollywood film (as far as I know, it didn't happen).
Obviously, I should be nicer to others because we all say dumb things in times of stress, shock, awe.
Remember being young and having hope and looking at the world with a sense of awe? Remember what it felt like to watch the news without cynicism? Remember what it was like to have hope?
We couldn't have predicted it before it happened and even as we look back on it from the vantage point of two decades it seems amazing and impossible. To have watched the revolution as it happened, because it was televised, and to know the world changed for the better, I feel lucky to have been there and to have seen it.