Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Travelling this wide country

It took 7 days to drive across this time. Lucy finally laid down and slept once Alison was on board as my copilot. Until then, Lucy stood up and was stressed out in the back seat. I think she needed to know I had somebody else watching out for me while I drove. What a dog.

Stayed at a cheesy motel in San Fran whose name I won't mention so I don't get spammed by them. In the bathroom, they'd stapled the wallpaper to the wall. Class-ey! Luckily I brought my own pillow so I didn't have to share anyone else's head lice - and for $160/night.

The weather was wacky right ahead of us, so we didn't rush. Got to Elko, Nevada the next night. They didn't care if we left Lucy in the room while we ate at the Olive Garden.

Next: a short drive to Boulder, CO where Lucy slept in the car while Alison and I ate at a nice restaurant (the kind with gay waiters) in downtown.

By then the weather had blown through. The Midwest had been dumped with rain, but we got through before the rivers crested. A night in Kansas City (at a great Westin - one night in a real hotel), the next night outside Louisville, KY at a motel. We went to the Waffle House for breakfast the next day. Great.

Past Colorado, there was no great scenery to write about. Miles and miles of mowed fields lay in front of us. Food became our only news. Across the board, the coffee shop coffee was lousy. Nobody cared about vegetarians. I think I "broke" mozzarella sticks that night in Elko. Only they were "mozzarella wedges," evolution of fried cheese. I think they're still stuck somewhere in my intestines.

After Louisville, we hauled ass through West Virginia and Virginia. Got to DC Thursday night. My sister greeted us with dinner and wine. Lucy was ecstatic to see Kathleen and the kitties.

There was enough drama between Alison and I just in spending 7 days in a car together to keep me awake the whole time. We listened to NPR - always reliably somewhere between 88 and 95 on your FM dial no matter what state you're in - and books on tape for 3,455 miles. I guess we took a long route.

The difference between us in 1992 when we drove across last time and this time, 2008, was not in the road or the food, but in ourselves. Left to our own conversational devices for that long, typical middle-age issues like loss, disappointment and shock at our bodies' failings surfaced. I learned I'm not nearly as bitter as I once was. Getting out of Hollywood was good for that.

And I had a chance to practice just letting go and not taking the bait. "Not giving the arrow a place to land," as my therapist used to say. Having a dog along for the ride made that easier somehow.

Next adventure: Capitol Hill.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Politics, my distraction

So Hillary won last night. It makes me think. I was an Edwards fan, then an Obama fan, but will admit that Hillary was great at YKos. I have no problem with Hillary. I have problems with the people who surround her. I think she has lousy taste and is stuck in that old DLC mindset that won't behoove the party. If she can jettison that pod (Terry McAuliffe, Rahm Emanuel, Frogman James Carville, Paul Begala, BILL CLINTON), she'll be fine.

I have faith - not so much in Barack's experience, but - in his judgment. He's run a good campaign. The advisors I know of his are good and smart people, not scum. He's trying not to go negative. Beyond all that, policy will change. I want to vote for somebody who has good instincts and knows who to trust. THEY will largely shape policy. I'm looking for that first, initial intelligence. I think Barack has that. Hillary, not so much.

Friends in both NY and CA have called me recently to talk about the changes in my life, the move, the new job, etc. And to a one, they have all argued loudly and forcefully for Hillary. They say this is typical. A woman works hard for years, does a good job (being Senator at least), and when she tries to capitalize on all that hard work, who comes along but a handsome whiz kid guy? He hasn't nailed down all his "plans" yet (useless though they are at this point), and is full of fine rhetoric. 

Maybe we've been so deprived of brain power these last eight years that we respond like dry sponges to the fulfillment of hope-filled rhetoric. Maybe we're suckers for someone who can still imagine a way out of all this shit we find ourselves in. 

All I want to know is which Dem has what it takes to beat McCain. Hillary's won all the key Dem states. We're not likely to win the ones Obama has taken. And I'm surprised by her strength among blue-collar voters. That could make all the difference. 

What a weird place we find ourselves in. The natty black guy from Harvard is winning white people and the educated. The white woman lawyer from Yale is winning the blue-collar and the elderly. I think unions are splitting.

I just hope the party doesn't split. That's always our big downfall. "Can't we all just get along?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Hate Air Travel

I've been stuck at LAX for the past few hours... nothing ever goes as planned it seems.

Why did we bail out the airlines after 9/11? If European or Asian carriers had bought the airlines, none of this would be happening. We'd have a new air traffic control system... we wouldn't be sitting here looking out the window for news on our flights - actual airline personnel would be here telling us what's going on (currently there's no one there). 

Since 9/11 we've given up comfort, food and service and paid lots of tax dollars for it.

I hate air travel. Have I mentioned that lately?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blogger Betrayer?

Now that I know only a few people - evidently including a beer marketer - are reading this, I can admit a few things. Like how I just got a new job that will take me far away from my current one and back to the homeland. This time, however, I'll not only be inside the Beltway, I'll be inside Capitol Hill.

I have no problem with the new post (I keep telling my dog we're actually in the military and that's why we move so often, so I guess I'll keep up that story for her). I'm proud to be working for the member of Congress that I'll be working for. I think he does great work and cares about the people he's supposed to be representing, not just himself. He seems to have a nice staff and I hear the offices are schweet! 

But I've spent so much time on blogs, especially DKos, that I'm having a bit of cognitive dissonance. Can I be inside the inner circle and not be part of the problem? That's kind of how working in politics is posed on such sites and I've certainly seen it in action. Know it can be true. 

I've been here this week doing some enviro work and have been steeped in the need to find compromise to find solutions. The old "sue them and sue them and then sue them again" strategy of the enviro community is not only tiresome, it's eventually counter-productive. The only thing that protects the environment is good policy. That requires some good governing.

Maybe it's because this is my hometown, but I believe there is such a thing as good governing. I just don't believe Republicans can do it. Clearly, they hate government, except for when they can manipulate its levers to dispense government money to them and their cronies. Dems - while still believers in bringing home the bacon to their constituents - believe that government can be a force for good, the great leveler of playing fields. They believe in accountable government too. I like these things.

So can I be a member of the blogosphere and a member of government at the same time? I guess Ted Kennedy and others who write on DKos can. Maybe this is just stupid rumination. But I'm watching myself be skeptical of myself and it's hurting my head.

I'm ecstatic to have this opportunity to get on the battle field for the good guys. I'm hopeful I can do it without becoming disillusioned and cynical (hey, I'm already there, aren't I?). I guess I won't know til I walk through the doors that first day and hunker down to work. 

Every job I've ever had has made me cynical and disillusioned at some point in time, so why should I expect this to be any different? As long as I can see myself helping a good boss move the ball down the field towards goals I believe in, I do believe this will be one cool gig.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Flying Purgatory Air, Coach

Woke up at 3:30 am after a lousy night of sleep. I never sleep well when I have to get up insanely early. Afraid I'll miss the alarm. Cab picked me up at 4:30. Got to the airport by 5. Through security by 5:30. Waited for my 6:30 flight to Seattle, then to DC. Got on the plane. Got off the plane. Got back on the plane. Fog in Seattle has done it again - put me in air travel purgatory.
They flew us to Portland. Thank god for free wireless. Without it, I'd have to listen to the FOX news blasting from various TVs. Did you know that Barack Obama is a plagiarist and that his Harvard-educated wife made $200K a year working for a hospital AND has never been proud of America til now???? And I got all that just from the chyrons and crawl.
I'm supposed to get on a noon flight to DC via Cincinnati - but is anyone taking bets? My old boss used to (joke that?) he hated flying with me because of my bad flying karma. If only he knew...
Yes, I'm an airport refugee. A vegetarian who's packed enough food to get me all the way east with no help at all. I'm an airport refugee... (sing it with me).... trying not to hit the Rogue Ale Pub House I'm staring at longinglyyyyy...... Hey, it's almost 11! That's at least 5:00 in Paris.

There's got to be an easier way.

Monday, February 18, 2008

On Authenticity

I'll admit it. I'm a pop culture addict. It all began as a kid when I started worshipping Marilyn Monroe. She was one of the first stars to die early and tragically in my life. As a little Catholic kid, the story I remembered was how sad her life was because she had had to divorce the man she loved, Joe DiMaggio, for her career. When I got older, I spent hours reading about her and researching her life and death. I remember seeing how big her obituary was. It took up half a page in the Washington Post. 

At dinner one night, I said that's what I wanted when I died - one big, honking obituary for me. My brother Jimmy shot back how stupid that was. That he didn't care if there was just a little box in a column about him. Which is good, because when he died a few years later, that was exactly what he got, so he was wise and unimpressed with fame.

When Norman Mailer's book came out about Marilyn, I got it in both hardback and paperback. I think I still have one of them somewhere in the boxes I cart around with me when I move every few years (or less, these days). Marilyn was a damaged person, but also incredibly strong. She was the first Hollywood star to have her own production company and tell the studios to fuck off after all the years she acted as their slave. She was screwed up. She had drug and man problems. But she had an inner strength and beauty that is hard to beat.

Maybe that's why I find it so irritating that an idiot like Lindsay Lohan tries to pretend she's Marilyn in a new photo shoot. The difference between the actual Stern photo shoot and the pretend Lohan one are obvious. Maybe Marilyn had had a few drinks before taking her clothes off for her shoot, but no amount of loosening up will bring the same vulnerability to Lindsay Lohan. Fake hair. Fake boobs. And such a lack of knowledge about Marilyn that she doesn't even know she should try to fake the openness. 

In the end, it was Marilyn's willingness to open herself up and display all the good, bad and ugly that made her a star. It wasn't just the body, the voice and the hair. It was her ability to face herself and put it out there. That's something that's hard to do for any of us (me included - and I might as well be a "never nude" a la Arrested Development). 

Every time one of the old Hollywood stars dies, I lament a little more because I don't see anyone worthy of replacing them coming up in the ranks. Lindsay Lohan? Gwyneth Paltrow? Jessica Alba? Yuck. If they didn't have drug addictions and bad relationships, we wouldn't even pay attention.

Art is about being vulnerable and real. Artists are those who take the chance. Marilyn did and didn't survive the experiment. She shouldn't be mimicked by idiot children who want to pretend to be her.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dear Rico Suave

Thank you for still logging on to my little blog here every once in awhile, looking for anything entertaining coming out of my head. Right now my brain's so full of ca-ca and confusion, I'm loathe to put anything down on Internet paper. I admire your stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to living in this little town and the solidity of your life. In contrast, mine seems like those dunes out at the beach, built of constantly shifting sand. 

If the new job comes through, I've certainly got to tough it out, even if it is in the den of slavery that is Capitol Hill. I do think I could make it to 2010 going in to the same office every day when it's one that's actually changing the world, or at least our little corner of it. 

And to my frustrated reader who once had me bookmarked, but now has moved on because I'm such a fickle blogger: SORRY.  The last word in this blog title is "distractions." That seems to be all I can focus on these days.