Thursday, April 26, 2007

All Good Things

I feel a strong need to wax poetic and talk about feelings. It has been some time since I have been as open on this blog as I would like to be. I had a weird dream the other night. In it I was trapped in a town I did not like with a lot of people who I did like. I was leaving and I knew it. I really liked all the people around me, but none of them knew me very well. I realized that I had gone a very long time liking these people and refusing to allow them to be my friends. I remember the horrible feeling at the end of the dream more than anything else. I just knew it was too late. I was leaving and they did not know me well enough to stay in touch. It was over. It's a feeling I have had many times in life. I know why I get that feeling too.

It is true. I am not a very open individual. I am very slow to make friends. There are many reasons for this. One, I am shy. Yes, really and truly, I am shy. As often as I tell myself I am "just reserved" I know that line is a lie. Two, I hate it when people do not like me. I mean I really hate it. I try to say there was a time when stuff like that did not matter to me. But that is not true either. I want people to like me, I want to like people and I want to make everyone happy.

I was not well liked in highschool. That whole episode made me kind of emo for a while. You know, you really cannot define yourself by what happened to you in highschool. So many people do. At some point you have to grow up and realize that you made choices in highschool and you are making choices now. It is not what was done to you that makes you who you are, it is what you do. This whole rabbit trail is a subject for another day.

Yeah, I like to be liked. And I think that sometimes I feel like people will not like me if they know me too well. I mean, I am odd. I have these strange OCD tendencies. I have to delete my emails to reduce the amount of used space in my inbox. There is no other logical reason for this other than the fact that I despise digital clutter. I am also compelled to check my email every ten minutes. At work I just leave my email up all the time and read the messages as they come in. If someone sends me a task to do I drop everything and do it. Then I go back to what I was doing. I am also compelled to help people even when I do not have time. If an event of some kind is not properly organized I have to fix it. I have to make it work. And it has to work well because I made it work. Not to mention I am the only one who does not have any fun at these events. But everyone else was happy, so I am happy. Then, somewhere deep inside there exists this feeling that it is okay if I am not happy. Or perhaps it is more that I know I have such a restless spirit that I will never be completely happy.

Sometimes I am like Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. I am torn between two existences: to live a normal, happy life with a family or to be famous, great and well recognized because I am incredibly good at the work I do in life. I suppose you can have both, but it takes an amazing person to do well at both. Still, this is a bit of a digression. I am trying to come up with reasons why people will not like me after all. I suppose the real reason would be because I want them to like me despite my deep insecurities. I know, we all have insecurities. I have heard it all before. But we really do not like the person who is so insecure that she wants you to tell her every minute of every day why you like her. I fear sometimes that I will become that person.

This all started as a post about how I have to say goodbye to the friends I have made here, just like I said goodbye to the friends I had in Michigan and the friends I had in Washington, D.C. I have to start all over in the new place we move to. Again I have failed. Again I have not made close enough friendships to be able to keep them all when I leave. I am tired of being so shy and reserved. Tired of being such a quiet, private person. I equate myself with Captain Piccard on Star Trek in some ways. I am logical, stern and good at my work. But I do not make friends. Not really. I always hold back. I justify these behaviors too. I say that people who are too open immediately are not to be trusted. Yes, that is true. However, people who are never open, no matter how long you know them are also a little odd. They are not always happy. They know they are missing out on something. Sometimes they give in to their insecurities and feel bad about themselves.

Here I am, going away. Turning my back on a place again. Faced once more with the realization that it is always the people who make the place. They are the ones I will miss. They are the ones I will remember. Friendship is a good thing and some of mine will come to an end soon. Not in a bad way, but in a sad way. Even if I had got to know everyone out here as well as I could I know that some friendships would fall by the wayside. Some things in life are true and that is one of them. You cannot hang onto every friend you ever had. But the older I get the more I realize how much I value the friendships I have and how much I hate to leave them behind again.

I hope that I will be able to stay in one place long enough to make some very lasting friendships. I hope it will be a good enough place that I will invest myself more fully in it. I hope it will be the next place I live.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A State Of Incompetents

No matter what way you spell it, that's where I live. A place filled with incompetence and incompetents ad nauseum. As I will be leaving soon I have spent a good deal of time remembering all that has happened during my tenure here. I can still remember my introduction to this dreadful town. It was after our honeymoon in Maui had ended. We flew in to the Detroit airport and went to my family's place to pick up our wedding gifts. Then we drove down to Indiana. I will never forget the good feeling of arriving in the first home that I would share with my husband. There's a stretch of road not far from our apartment where the trees overhang and form a tunnel. It goes up a hill. That was the moment when I really felt at home. Those beautiful trees looked so much like Michigan trees. I rejoiced in the greenness of the place.

That was before I noticed that the beautiful trees intertwine through the power lines, causing power outages every time the wind blows more than 10mph. The hippy city government refuses to allow the electric companies to cut the trees away from the power lines. The road commission is also forbidden from trimming the growth that impedes sight along the roads. Most stop signs are covered by branches. It's generally a good idea to slow down at every intersection. No one actually stops anyway. But if you slow down at least you can figure out if a stop sign is there.

The driving was the second thing I noticed about this state. No one knows how to drive here. Not even the out of staters. It's as if they deposited that part of their brains in a large laundry basket at the border. Naturally, they never found the brain section again, who expects a laundry basket to stay put? If you see Indiana plates on a car run for cover. The driver will probably fail to notice you, cut in front of you, weave in and out of traffic and finally decide to drive too slow in the left lane. The driver will never get out of the left lane either, and never speed up. If the driver is on a cell phone or has a handicapped plate all bets are off. You're dead. You may as well make peace with your Maker.

Stores: another thing that failed to impress me about this place. First off, no one ever asks you if you need help. At least, hardly ever. No one cares. Then they try to sell the crappiest looking produce imaginable. When the green peppers go on sale I avoid them. I know they will be half rotten. But the store still thinks it's okay to sell them. The strawberries are usually so full of mold the day after they get put on the shelves that they resemble small rodents. But the stores still try to sell them. Honestly, it's disgusting. Then there's the meat. Never have I seen such meat. Once we purchased some chicken and some beef on the same day. The packages are made so that you can hardly see inside them. We put the meat in the freezer as soon as we got home. When we thawed it a few days later it was stinking rotten. I could not eat meat for several days after that experience. Every once in a while I have found a helpful store employee. Strangely enough, I insist on shopping at that establishment every time I need the goods they sell. I guess I value good service. Maybe everyone does too. Valuing customer service is surely the big secret that the rest of the world might want to let the state of Indiana in on.

Perhaps the government incompetents are the worst. I temp worked for the city more than a year ago for three months. It was quite an experience. I learned that the person who preceded me had made an enormous mess out of my job. I had to fix it. It did not take me long and I was working part time. The work was very easy. After two months they decided to hire a permanent person for my position. I interviewed for it. I know for a fact that I was the best person for the job, but I did not get the job. I am glad I did not get it now. Still, the reason I did not get that job remains an example of why I despise this town so much. The mayor decided to hire the deputy mayor's boyfriend and forced the department to do that. It was a crappy secretary position. The mayor having say over who gets hired to do the lowest job in the city seems kind of stupid to me. I wonder if he decides who cleans the toilets too.

Then there are the tax forms. They make no sense at all. I have been doing federal taxes and Michigan state taxes for many years now and I daresay I can usually do them correctly without having to refer to the instructions (which I understand) more than two or three times. The Indiana tax forms, even the EZ form, require you to scrutinize the incomprehensible instruction manual for every line. You still will not understand them, of course. Fortunately the online filing system asks the questions in a simpler format. About halfway through my tax filing I came upon a requirement that startled me. Indiana requires that you declare every online out of state purchase you made. You have to pay sales tax to the state of Indiana for each item purchased in another state that you did not pay sales tax on. Furthermore, if you paid say 5% sales tax to another state, you will have to pay Indiana 1.2% sales tax to make up the difference. Indiana sales tax is 6.2%. Can anyone else say unconstitutional and wrong? I sure can.

But recently, the state of incompetents gave me a farewell gift that takes the cake. In Indiana -- as in any other state -- you have to renew your license plate registration every year. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is overwhelmingly incompetent. You do not want to go in there. I spent four hours there trying to get my new driver's license two years ago and a separate four hours getting the car registered. We decided to do mail in for our plate stickers this year. We made sure to send the money and registration info more than 30 days before the plates expired. As of two days ago, our plates expired and we had received no stickers in the mail. So, we were driving on expired plates because the state failed to send us the stickers. Luckily, and for once, the incompetence worked for us. The cops do not pull you over until December even if your plates expire in January. You can drive for months on expired plates in this state. As we will soon move out of state, we wanted this taken care of, however. I can guarantee the cops in another state might actually read the date on our stickers. So, our plates expired Monday. But the BMV does not open on Mondays and our schedules are too full on Tuesdays. We had to wait until today to get our stickers.

Indiana: you are a piece of crap. In the words of Christopher Walken, "you rat bastard!" I will not miss you. I will always remember you as The Crossroads of America: because when you get to Indiana you figure out which way to go to get out of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Only One Battle

I have uncovered proof that my slim hold on good grammar is slipping even more. I have certainly lost one battle, and I am afarid it's a big one. The article in question concerns the sad events that occured yesterday at Virginia Tech. I think it is appropriate to discuss this issue and to interview students who were there hiding under desks and scared. But to publish quotations without adding grammar or even correcting spelling? This is another question altogether. It is bad journalism. Who wants to read an entire article consisting of random half sentences, words that are not even words and no punctuation whatsoever? Personally, I find it confusing and annoying. Furthermore, it's lazy. The journalist did not have to write anything. All she did was copy and paste the im conversation then send it to the printer. I am wondering if this is a milestone in the annals of poor writing. I have never seen anyone do this before and I am definitely no stranger to reading random articles. There were a few "OMG"s in there, but no "lol"s yet. Lucky for me it is quoted text rather than the journalist's writing. It would certainly be the end of this war if the latter were true.

I have lost one battle, but I have not yet lost the war against bad grammar. Stay tuned for some serious fighting.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Life is pretty hectic right now because my husband and I will be moving in three weeks. We still have to finish packing and get a big truck set up to carry our stuff out to our new residence. We also have to finalize plans on where we will be living. We have chosen an apartment. In fact, we visited our new city this past week for that express purpose.

It went pretty well. I like the new area a lot. In fact, I like it a lot better than this horrible town. I am glad to be moving because I have never liked this area. I will be sad to leave the friends I have made and my work. But I look ahead to day of having more time to write and keep the new place clean. I am excited about the idea of a fresh start. I only hope it will not take too long to settle in at our new place.

Today I am filing taxes. Yes, I waited to the last minute, but only on the state taxes. I completed the Federal taxes a while back. I could have taken them to a tax preparer and probably should have. But I really hate the idea of giving a third party all my financial information. So I am doing them myself. I have never experienced a form as dreadful as this state's income tax return. It is horrid. Absolutely horrid. Just another reason that I want to leave this stupid state! The people are rude, there's nothing nice here, no one cares about anything and the tax returns are mind bogglingly stupid. I hope things make more sense in my new home.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I do not have much else to say. Celebrate the day. Christ the Lord is risen today!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Time For Some Fun

Because life sucks at the moment I have decided to write a more humorous type of post. One of my friends has a really funny dad who comes up with the best quotes. My favorite of his quotes is this: "Life sucks, grab a straw." Right now I'm having a difficult time. I have hardly slept, I am all stressed out. I have tons of things to be done. And it seems like everything I have ever done wrong is staring me in the face. I'm drained. I'm out of it. My new scar started hurting more as well. A sure sign that I need to take things easier. Instead of venting and fuming I'm going to "grab a straw" and make things more fun.

This past weekend Craig and I went to see the movie Blades of Glory. I have not laughed that much since I went to Brian Regan's show. The movie has so much in it that is so wrong, yet so well done that I could not stop laughing. It was hilarious. If you like Will Farrell even a little bit, you will like this movie (unless you only watch kids' movies and have only seen him in Elf).

I recently watched Stranger Than Fiction and was impressed with Will Farrell's acting in that. Maybe it was Dustin Hoffman's doing. After all, Dustin Hoffman makes the other actors improve by leaps and bounds just by being in a movie. He's astounding. But I think Farrell can take some of the credit for his own acting job. Blades of Glory confirmed that notion.

Some people say that Will Farrell always plays the same character. It's like they think he's another Jim Carrey (gag me). Jim Carrey (gag me) only plays himself (gag me) and himself (gag me) is pretty weird. I submit that Will Farrell does not always play himself like Jim Carrey (gag me). I have now seen Will Farrell in several different movies: Zoolander, Stranger Than Fiction, Elf, and Blades of Glory. I have a list of others to see. In none of these movies does he play the same character as any of the others. He does some similar things, like shouting. I don't know why, but when he yells on screen it's freaking hilarious. He is always funny. I get the feeling he cannot play a truly tragic character. That's fine. I like funny. And I like different funny.

Care to join in the fun? You can do a movie review or tell me why you disagree or agree with me. I just want to have a normal, fun conversation on my blog for once.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What's In An Idea?

When we think about rulers or leaders or governments we seldom think of ideas. Mostly we think of people or agencies. In actuality, ideas rule us. Often ideas constructed by people who are long dead and who had no idea of the influence of their thoughts. Did Aristotle know that his logic would rule the known world all the way until the EDIT: Middle Ages (I stand corrected)? Did Machiavelli realize his ideas would forever change the way people understand politics? Did Locke know that his notion of inalienable rights would become the dominant understanding of government for more than 200 years? Did Freud have any idea of the way his ideas would shape society? Probably not. But these ideas -- and many others -- are what govern society today.

Aristotle was right when he said that man (human) is a political animal. That is what separates us from other creatures. Most people who read Aristotle think that he is only referring to the fact that we form associations and become self sufficient. That is incorrect. Ideas form an integral part of politics and being political.

Please pardon this next digression, it is necessary to stem the tide of knee-jerk reactions upon reading the word "political." I refer here to politics in a broader sense. Not the hard nosed, scum sucking, advantage seeking kind that most people think of when they hear that word. I refer to the politics about which Aristotle wrote. He wrote of associations, justice, ideas, virtue and how these things interact. If you need a refresher course then I recommend Aristotle's Politics and the Nichomacean Ethics. These are excellent works that ought to be read in tandem. They explain a type of politics where every person is not trying to harm his or her fellow human with every action.

On with the subject then! Ideas are what set us apart and govern our lives. One cannot live a satisfied life by merely eating, sleeping and staring at the tv. Even then, there are ideas on the tv. Other animals do not have ideas. At least, they do not have ideas that better their own society. They act on instinct alone. We can reason things out, calculate, decide which would be the best course of action. This is a self evident fact.

The state of ideas today is bad. I think the problem is that people are no longer being exposed to good ideas. They are only getting bad ideas and vague ideas. Who tries to think about the differences between Locke and Aristotle anymore? Who cares to decide which one of them was right (because their ideas are mutually exclusive)? The answer is only a few people who write books full of long words that most people do not get.

Strangely enough, this glut in the nature of ideas comes at a time when we are supposed to be more open minded than ever. You know, everything's okay, everything's cool. It's like we're all on some kind of drug or something. We have opened our minds to everything and thus closed them to the one thing that matters: ideas. You are not allowed to say what idea is right or wrong. You can say that you dislike an idea, or that it's not for you. But there is no final standard for pointing out the illogic or outright moral wrong of an idea. That's just my opinion, I know. And this is no joke.

Furthermore, we have the ability to look up innumerable ideas. Still, most of us do not even know the basic contributions of historical figures like Martin Luther (not MLK Jr., although his ideas were good too) or John Locke. The amount of information available at the push of a button has not made anyone more logical, learned or philosophical. It has made us more lazy, if anything.

The worst thing about all this is the lack of sophistification of ideas. People spout random crap and we are supposed to nod, smile and say it's all right for them to believe that. This is not to say that I want to smack people on the head with logic -- although, sometimes I do. Rather, people should recognize the need to evaluate someone else's reflections. Every idea cannot be right. That's completely illogical after all.

If you doubt me then try putting these two concepts together: 1) ideas govern our existence 2) we do not bother to understand ideas or we think that all ideas are okay. They contradict each other. If ideas are so important that they rule us, then why would we ignore them? Or why would we open ourselves to every single one of them? You tell me.