Archive for August, 2010

Middle Ground

August 25, 2010

I have been thinking of so many things lately that it’s hard to choose where to begin. But I’ll start with the latest political drama swirling around the USA.

It’s all about the Muslim community center planned for ‘ground zero’ in NYC, my home town.

I have to say, I keep thinking that I myself would like to feel like I am moving towards the middle, instead of remaining on the far left of every issue. I am ever hopeful that after each heart wrenching, polarizing, divisive, lunatic fight about whatever topic there is, i.e. health care, financial reforms, public education etc, there will finally be some point where the republican and democrat elected officials will say, “…well, that really went too far. Let’s stop this nonsense and work together”. Of course, that is as much a fantasy as Hobbits, Harry Potter, and Cinderella.

So, with the mosque (easier to call it that, than a three word description that nobody seems to use), I did find myself in the uncomfortable position of being for the right to build where they want, but being against the actuality of the building. I couldn’t see how this could foster deeper understanding, or any sort of reaching out to a community that has been smeared and stepped on since 9/11. Also, it did seem insensitive to those who were still raw from the death of loved ones, and to the NY community at large.

Then the talk show debates began. Of course, I pretty much only listen to n.p.r. on my radio, and the lefties on tv, but I think I was hearing a pretty good smattering of how this debate was going. When Sarah Palin put in her two cents that was the last straw. This is a woman who would like to see the east coast magically sever from the rest of the nation, what she refers to as “the REAL people”. Why does she get to have any opinion at all? And why does she or anyone against this, these same people that deride Obama for not sticking to the letter of the constitution, feel that in this one case the constitution should be pushed aside?

But the point is, everyone you would expect to respond in a particular way, does. There seem to be no surprises, except for possibly, Harry Reid, who lives in Nevada but for some reason is against the Mosque at Ground Zero. I would like to surprise people with my balanced, measured, logical Mr. Spock like reactions to events. But I am caught in a tidal wave of extremism because I can’t feel anyone in the middle pulling us out to safety.

I am so tired of being battered by ridiculous, hate filled, nasty and just plain silly arguments by people who are really pretty smart. I just want it to end. I want to go back to a time when there was such a thing as a moderate on both sides. But we are so not there yet. So, I’ll keep to the left, as long as the right is pushing me so hard. It’s not what I want, but it’s the reality of the situation.

small stuff

August 4, 2010

Today I thought I was going to get a chunk of time to work in my studio. For me, a chunk is an hour and a half.  (For some artists I know a chunk is five to eight hours, which for me, is an impossible dream).

At any rate, the puppy was in the crate, I had my cup of cold coffee and I was feeling very content. I decided to listen to the only message on our answering machine before heading up to my studio. A cheery voice from the vet’s office said the dog food we’re using (which we bought there) has been “voluntarily recalled”, because it MIGHT contain salmonella bacteria. Since our puppy had stomach issues for the first three weeks we had her I decided that maybe I better not wait until tomorrow to get new food, and my chunk of time vanished before my eyes.

I was bitter. I hate that overused advice to appreciate the small stuff. If anyone ever says it aloud to me I want to throw a Mike Tyson punch, or better yet, chew an ear off. Mostly I hear it in my head already. “Oh Jess, don’t be such a jerk. People have been swept away in floods in Pakistan, democrats are lining up to go to prison for ethics violations and here you are complaining because you have to buy food for your flat screen tv priced puppy.” But I was still bitter.

On the car radio¬† Terry Gross was interviewing Brian May (I hope I am spelling his name correctly), an original member and songwriter from the band Queen. As I listened to this guy I realized that I was hearing the voice of someone who is brilliant, kind, interesting, funny and ,in a way, is living history. My son loves Queen. I like them, but I don’t think I had a real idea of their bigness in the world of rock, nor of the homophobic crap Freddie Mercury had to endure in the US from metal fans, who at the time, were notoriously nasty about anyone considered to be queer. Also, whenever Terry asked about a song like say, We Will Rock you, which I HAD thought was a dumb macho sports anthem, Brian would explain how it came to be, what went through his mind as he wrote it and on and on. Then, he went on to talk about the physics of the songs, how he created certain memorable sounds, like the foot stomping and clapping. And then, as I realized this was no boozy has been, he went on to talk about his recent phd in physics, and the science of dust.

Well, let me just say that by the time I stopped to run one last errand, I was not so bitter. If you tell me I need to appreciate the small stuff I will always want to bite your ear off. But when left to my own devices, when I am forced to confront my own irrational distaste of any chin up statement, I am completely a sucker for those moments.

Now it is a day later. I am back into bitter mode, or back and forth between bitter, stressed, appreciative (Diana, the godsend who will take care of puppy Alice while I try to have a vacation was here) and short tempered. I am amazed at how quickly I can go from one state of mind to another. In a nanosecond. I can be sad, cranky, furious, tickled and serene within an hour. The one thing I am not, is in control. That should be my goal. Not so much to be happy all the time, or grateful or any one thing. Just to have some semblance of control over my own emotions.My mother doesn’t have any control over her feelings either, so I come by it fairly naturally. I recognize it, but I don’t like that about myself.

I think Brian May has control. At any rate, it seems like a worthy goal. I’ll shoot for having control over two hours.