Coming Home!

I'm coming home late tonight. I haven't written because I've been so, so, so busy. All can say is that this experience has been transformative, and I'll try to relate it when I have a little time to reflect fully.

Unfortunately, I also picked up, every so slightly, that long "o" sound so prevalent in Minnesota/Wisconsin. I'm not pretentious, I swear.

Anyone up for drinks tomorrow?


This Time, I Ain't Dancing On A Frat House Bar

After spending a phenomenal weekend with Molly and Abby at Molly's parents' still-under-construction lake house (Steve Adams knows how to do retirement, I'll tell you what;this joint is going to be unbelievable when it is done) Chris dropped me off at the dorms for my return to college life. My thoughts on the experience thus far:

* It might sound cliched, but I really feel like a freshman. You'd know I'm not lying if you could have seen me walking my ass to Whole Foods to grab some food, clutching my vinyl ID-card holder/keychain (with one lonely dorm-room key) and a inconspicuously-folded map of the campus, trying to not get lost.

* Despite the fact that it's July, there is still life on the campus, namely 300 or so cheerleaders here for cheer camp, and several incoming freshman here for orientation. I don't know what is more disturbing: the fact that I'm surrounded by kids who could conceivably be my former students, or the fact that they might ask me to buy them beer.

* I was the first of my roommates to arrive (most people aren't coming until tomorrow AM), and damn, dorms have blown up since I was in school. My "room" is a suite. There are four bedrooms, each with a desk, closet, bed, chest of drawers, pretty standard. However, we have two bathrooms (one with a shower-tub and one with a big walk-in shower) a living room, and a full kitchen with fridge, oven, and microwave. And wireless. No posters of Tupac, though.

* Why is my dorm right next to DPS? Does the reputation of my former self precede me?

Gotta jet. Not only do I have to check out whether or not Sodexho is up in this bitch, but I still don't have all my reading finished. You know that think blue book I've been carrying around since May? The Dialectic of Freedom? 135 pages? Yeah, I'm still on page 99. Shit is philosophical.

Some things never change.


On The Road Again

Chris and I are leaving Friday to head up to Minnesota. We're first going to Eastern MN to spend the weekend with Molly and Abby at Molly's parents lake house. Monday morning, Chris is dropping me off in int Twin Cities so I can start my week-long class at the University of St Thomas. It's the first of my core classes that I'll take with my cohort, the group of people that I'll take most of my classes with. I'm excited and nervous, but I know it's going to be transformative. Hopefully, I'll be able to post, but I'll be pretty busy, becoming an intellectual while simultaneously saving the world.

Keep me amused with stories from home. Or Alaska. Or Europe.


Pop Culture Update

Yet another perk of summer vacation is the freedom to read and watch pretty much anything I want. I have really been enjoying my time at home this week, reading, watching various shows/films, listening to NPR and music, and clicking around the net. My recommendations:

I highly recommend one of Jon Krakauer's older books, Into Thin Air. It tells the true story of a young college graduate who abandons his affluent lifestyle to wander the country with little but the clothes on his back. He eventually makes his way to Alaska, where he starves to death in the wilderness (that ain't no spoiler, it's on the front cover of the book). Krakauer juxtaposes this story with stories of others disillusioned by the structure of conventional society seeking refuge in the wilderness and poses the question of were these people mentally disturbed, or just sick of it all? Quick read, too.

I'm current still struggling through The Dialectic of Freedom by Maxine Greene, but that shit is blowing my mind. Here's the central idea: our concept of "freedom" is false; we are only truly free if we acknowledge, then take action to change, that which oppresses us within our community. It is more than political freedom--it's beyond that. In other words, we aren't free if we can't identify the bars on the cages (I think that's how Daniel Quinn put it in Ishmael). We don't care about freedom of speech if we don't really have anything to say. I will get into it more in depth but I'm still trying to wrap my head around it before I go to Minneapolis next week.

Other than that, I also read Ann Patchett's The Patron Saint of Liars, which was great, re-read Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods, and A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki. All worth reading.

We recently bought a few CD's for the trip back from the AT. Of course, Ryan Adams' latest, Easy Tiger was one of the select. I am not ashamed of my love for Adams. His new CD, on first listen, sounds like a hodgepodge of Jacksonville City Nights, 29, and Cold Roses, but it has grown on me (which is what usually happens with his CDs). Also digging the newest Rufus Wainwright
and some Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Yes, we saw Sicko. Other awesomeness of note , on DVD, includes C.S.A: The Confederate States of America, which is a mockumentary of the history of the "former" U.S. had the Confederacy won the Civil War. We also saw Hannibal Rising , which was okay, and are currently working our way through the third and final season of HBO's Deadwood. If you are looking to find a new DVD addiction, I cannot express how much I loved watching the entire series of Six Feet Under. I've never been so affected by a television show, never grown so attached to a group of characters, and never seen a more satisfying series finale.

Another questions...

How is Elisabeth Hasselbeck still relevant? It's unfortunate that The View, which started out as a platform for smart women to have a voice, now employs someone completely antithetical to feminism and, for that matter, logic and reason.

Also, lay off the self-tanner.

Sorry, I've been watching daytime.


Quick Question

Why do pundits insist on questioning whether or not Barack Obama is "black enough"? As if Obama's "blackness" hasn't impacted him every single day of his life, including having people question his authenticity as a black man because he was "clean and articulate". This is such bullshit on so many levels.



Chris and I went and saw Sicko last night. Say what you want about Michael Moore, his style and his politics, but he knows how to bring the drama, and this is a great film. In fact, if you check it out, those who seek to "debunk" Moore's films are having trouble finding real inconsistencies, particularly when looking at the big picture

I think the topic of health care was a brilliant choice for Moore. Health care affects everyone and is something that we all care about, if not for others, at least for ourselves. Even more intelligently, Moore doesn't focus on the millions of Americans who are uninsured, but instead looks at how insurance companies fuck their clients every single day. Fact: HMO's are having record profits, while the #1 cause of bankruptcy in a America is medical bills. Here's a question: why are people making money off of sick people? Is that ethical? Is it ethical that health insurance companies are not interested in helping people when they are sick, but how they can find ways to avoid paying for care? For what most Americans pay for insurance, shouldn't the level of care be exceptional, and, equally important, headache-free?

Moore shows four examples of countries with universal health care: Canada, Cuba, France, and the UK. Granted, citizens of these countries pay more in taxes, but think about not having any health insurance or medical bills. Even our car insurance would be less, too, because you wouldn't have to factor in medical costs in case of an accident. It seems to me that the costs would even out. If we have $2 trillion to spend on the war in Iraq, I can't see why we haven't found the money to take care of our citizens' health.

What was even more interesting to me was the emphasis on preventative care and mental/emotional health care in the countries highlighted. For example, in the UK, women get six months PAID maternity leave. At my job, which one would think would be a family-friendly workplace, you don't get any paid maternity leave, and I think that's pretty standard. In France, the government even pays for mother's helpers to visit homes and do laundry, clean and take care of the children. Doctors still make house calls. Quality child care is free or almost-free.

One major point the film makes is that in these countries, the idea is that the system works for the people. As a nation prospers, that prosperity should bring about improvements to all people's lives. The attitude in the U.S. is that our "freedom" means that we take care of ourselves and our country owes us nothing. God forbid we take care of each other. Because, you know, that would be socialism, or even worse, communism! People have this idea that if we were to have universal health care, it would be abused by all these freeloaders, ruffians, and ne'er-do-wells and all us hardworking, worthy Americans would unfairly bear the burden of these lazy bums. Because hardworking Americans never face health emergencies that they can't afford. Not in the land of milk and honey! I feel as though, in a country of such wealth as ours, if a citizen is sick, they should be able to receive top quality care, no questions asked, and the last thing they should have to think about is can they afford said care. I think it comes down to the fact that people are so self-interested that they can't see past the threat of someone else getting more from a system such as this than themselves. It would be unfair to pay, through taxes, into a system that might give someone else more than they might get. Is it so audacious that a health care system might function solely to take care of people, any people, that might cross its path? Consider this: when I lived in Germany, one of my roommates was an insulin-dependent diabetic. The day a few of us left to go home, she passed out in our apartment and was rushed to a German hospital. She spent several days in the hospital and paid not a penny. If this were to happen in America, many Americans would resent the fact that they paid for a foreigners hospital bill. However, this sentiment, in many countries with universal health care, doesn't exist.

Why is it so hard for Americans to support the idea of universal health care?

I Ain't Dead

To quote Banter (who may very well be dead...he posts even less than me).

WHAT UP? I've been gone. Real gone. Chris and I done had some adventures, including: Wakarusa, Colorado with Chris's fam, then our Appalachian Trail odyssey out east. We got back from the AT at 6AM Wednesday (my 27th birthday) and something was up with Blogger that I didn't get around to fixing until this morning. Now, I've got so much to talk about I'm just going to have to blog up a storm.

Where to even begin? Let's start with this morning. There's something about a Saturday morning, any time of the year, really, but in the summer especially. I got up early for a Saturday and went to the Tower Grove Farmers Market. TG is my favorite market, and what a great time to go; I got some tomatoes, garlic, corn, blueberries, new potatoes, and eggs (plus an iced coffee.) Then I swung over to the fairly-new Local Harvest Grocery to pick up some staples, since we have no food in the house. I came home, ate a bowl of sliced tomatoes with salt, pepper, some fresh purple basil from my backyard, and a bit of grated parm over the top, and it was sublime. Eating local foods is one of the best things your can do to lessen your carbon footprint, and there's no time like the present to get fresh produce. The tomatoes alone, people, seriously. I highly recommend the TG market and the Maplewood market on Wednesday afternoons at Schlafly. I am a big fan of Biver Farms and their organic produce.

Here are things I'm going to blog about in the new few days: our trip to the AT, Sicko, which I saw last night, shit I've been thinking about with my doctoral program starting in a week or so, the POTUS elections, cooking, and current pop culture.

Big ups to my girl Thorper1, who is marrying her Mr. Big today in WashMo. Country Roads, anyone?