28 September 2008

Transatlanticism, Transmissions in Tumult, My Blog Becomes " Exhibit 18A", and a Messy Political Landscape...

First, let's start with a travelogue. Katie's was far more interesting and exciting than mine. Katie and John enjoyed a wonderful holiday that began in Paris for a glorious string of five days, included a passage aboard the Eurostar and ended with a flourish in London aboard the London Eye. They had an incredible time. Included in the dream vacation was dinner with our friend Michel and his daughter Anne and niece Nolwenn in Paris. All reports from the principals involved speak of a fantastic visit. Katie and John landed safely back in NYC following "the best time ever!".

[All photos courtesy of Katie Jane Parker.] You may see more of Katie's photography if you click here: Katie's Photo Stream. I have been blown away by her work and her photos of the trip were incredible. I have already put in orders (hints) for Christmas prints. I'm very proud of her talent - I just wish I knew where it came from!

Four days after Katie returned to NYC from London, Justin and Tim took off in the opposite direction for Amarillo. Ah yes - back to Justin's roots! Tim's last hospital gig had been in the West Texas town of Amarillo and he had left many thing in storage before setting off for his new entrepreneurial gig in West Virginia so, as things are gearing up for the opening of his new business, father and son flew to Amarillo, loaded a huge moving truck and had an interesting road-trip back. For Justin, it was back to his roots - he was born in Amarillo and is our token Texan. I thought it was pretty cool that he and his father could share that trip back in geography and time and maybe relive some memories and, by all accounts from both of them, I believe they did.

As much as I miss my son, as do his grandparents, what a unique and exquisite opportunity this is for him to reconnect with his Dad. I believe they're learning a great deal about each other - what makes the other one tick and who they are as individuals - their similiarities and unique differences. Tim was generally working non-stop during Justin's growing up years and usually geographically displaced from the cities we lived in so their times together were sparse and most probably those brief windows of opportunity during summer and Christmas vacations didn't lend themselves to any real adequate "getting to know you" time. However, given that they are working closely together, living in the same house until Justin finds an apartment, and now spending great chunks of time together, it seems they are discovering all kinds of things about each other and it's great fun hearing about it from both of them.

As for West Virginia, I personally am excited for Justin to experience October and the first part of November in the Mountain State. As most people know, I am no fan of WV topography or climate, and am even less enamored with mountains and landlocked geography, but I must say that Fall is when West Virginia seems to shine. I do remember crisp fall days, looking up at a nearly indescribable palette of color that appeared as brushstrokes across the mountains and ridges and valleys and I remember, even as a kid, thinking to myself how expertly and creatively appointed God must be. How He must have the most ginormous box of crayons and He knew how to use them. Even for the ocean lover that I am, the bountiful beauty of October in West Virginia wasn't lost on me. I can't wait for Justin to see that and knowing his sense of, and appreciation for, artistry, I am confident he's going to be blown away by it all.

I am nothing if not a cheerleader for all that is coastal North Carolina. Put me before an ocean, and I need little else to find some inspiration, save a large jasmine iced tea. Justin's never lived in an area where Fall goes full-throttle. In West Texas, it was negligible at best because the trees were mostly tiny and sparsely scattered across the High Plains, bowing humbly to the expansive sky that elicited one's attention and made for it's own kind of beauty. One early memory of my first autumn in Amarillo was my noticing on weekends how so many of my neighbors spent hours and hours tending saplings on our street, trees that wouldn't pass for twigs in my native Charleston. Sure, they might deliver a handful of golden leaves but never in the quantities that would require any homeowner to purchase a leaf rake and never ever enough to create a voluminous pile of crispy leaves just begging for someone to jump into them.

My son will find a different facet of fall this year, a kaleidoscope of color, and I can just imagine the awe he will experience, seeing it all for the first time at the tender age of 21. I know his soul, and I'm betting this will be one of those "moments" that graciously visit us in life. I can't wait to hear what it looks like through his sweet eyes.

Speaking of kids, I must say that I miss my Katie. She's doing well, sounds happy and it's absolutely true we enjoyed a great visit this past May, but I find myself missing her quite a lot. It's hard to believe my daughter is twenty-five years OLD! I rarely laugh as long or as hard as I do when I spend time with her. She's so completely comedically absurd and at times, she's much like what I would imagine the cast of SNL must be like. Sardonic, bitingly witty, droll with a wry, intellectual spark that fascinates me. We talk often but it's not quite the same as seeing her facial expressions. She can drive me to giggling fits with a look and given the political season we are in, she's been exceptionally entertaining - squarely on her game.

I hear the pundits every evening, promising that McCain's transparent ploy to capture the female vote hungry to get a woman into office, will only backfire, that "American women are too smart to fall for this", but it's still a great fear. Call me crazy, but I just can't fathom that our national security could rest in the hands of a woman who appears to earnestly believe that her state's proximity to Russia somehow qualifies as foreign policy experience.

Here's a very serious question - If you manage to shatter the glass ceiling, as so many conservative women and "Hilary hangers-on" are crediting Gov. Palin with, what good is it if you land in a sound-proof room and find yourself muzzled? Does it count as a gain or gaffe? She doesn't even qualify as a cheerleader because, well, they have to make a noise. She's not allowed. Three interviews since she was nominated at the Republican Convention four weeks ago...that's messed up.

The "Sequestering of Sarah" by the McCain Campaign, preventing her from only the most scripted campaign appearances, shadowing her every move and barring her from interviews, press conferences or any opportunity to speak her own mind, is stark proof that she is nothing more than a manniquen for a campaign that appears to be both imploding and exploding before our very eyes. It's unconscienable to me that McCain could have selected this poor woman and somehow expected the rest of us to think it was a good decision. What in the heck was he thinking or, more disturbingly, was he thinking at all? If Ms. Palin can't be trusted to take questions from Katie Couric, how in the world can she be seen as credible enough to deal with world leaders at a time when America is in such precariously dire straits? And to be fair, don't you imagine Ms. Palin feels as used as the rest of us feel hoodwinked? I wonder how she feels when she sees Joe Biden being interviewed, IF the closet they have her locked away in has cable access? Why isn't she furious with her rigidly guarded solitary confinement? What does it feel like to have Tina Fey accurately portray your missteps without even having to embellish a single word?

I would love to see her prepped for an interview by her myriad of handlers, and then, when the tough, pointed questions are asked that anyone running as a vice-presidential candidate should be able to deftly field - imagine this: I would LOVE to see Ms. Palin take a deep breath and pause (for effect) and say, "You know what? I've had it. I am sick and tired of being McCain's token female. I'm done with this. [Looking straight into the camera and for once not fumbling for an answer or even the right word...] - "I have come to realize that I am not qualified for this position and there is absolutely no sense in pretending that I am. The Maverick made a mistake. I can handle being governor from an obscure, sparsely populated state, but I am out of my element and this is simply beyond my capacity and thank you for your gracious welcome, fellow Americans, but I am no longer willing to be the butt of the joke, the lead-in skit for SNL, and I am returning to what I am familiar with, what I know how to do and resuming my life in Alaska. Oh, and Senator McCain, after the treatment I have received from you and your handlers, watching you make one erratic move after another and being made to feel like I have to be shadowed and muzzled and on a very short leash for the past five weeks, I have decided to vote for Barack Obama, thank you very much. It is my hope that I can forget this nightmare, the denigration I have suffered and the calamatous assualt to my integrity. It was ill-advised for me to accept the invitation to be your running-mate and my family and I are catching the next plane out to Anchorage with the remaining threads of our dignity. Find another pawn, sir."

As far as I can see, that would be the perfect "out" for her. No nonsense, no BS, no veiled illusion to family responsibilities...just the truth - you know..."straight talk" which, in Ms. Palin's case, would be infinitely more promising than "no talk". I can't imagine this woman, who I truly don't believe is a dummy, but is in no way in a position to take on the responsibilities that she's been recommended to tackle, can be pleased with her isolation and MANdate to be "seen, but not heard." How can she be OK with that? What's going through her mind and how is she dealing with this oppression?

As far as I can see, McCain never had it in his mind to nominate a woman fully-suited to the office of vice-president. I earnestly believe he simply wanted an attractive, wide-eyed marionette with a double X chromosome. It's not only a slap in the face to women, but it's a powerful slam to Ms. Palin's intellect. How can she operate under such conditions? I can't help but believe that the VP debate this Thursday will be like watching a slow-motion train-wreck and who believes this is going to end well for Gov. Palin?

Then again, the same man who selected her told us not ten days ago that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong", that he couldn't appear on the Letterman Show because he had to head straight to Washington and assist with the 170 billion dollar bailout negotiations, when in reality he headed straight for a taping with Katie Couric; this is the same man who did eventually make it back to Washington and managed to stall negogiations that had been running well until he brought his presidential campaign entourage for as many posed photo-ops as possible in the hopes of making him appear essential and "commander-in-chief ready", when in reality, he did nothing more than make things worse and delayed the urgent business. at hand. The same man who suspended his campaign when in reality, he tried to stealthily crank it up a notch - hoping we wouldn't notice the subliminal sleight of hand gear shift. And maybe, most telling of all, the same person who found it impossible, in the span of a 97 minute debate, to have the simple, decent courtesy of looking Senator Obama in the eye, opting rather to ignore his physical presence on the stage in an illustration of arrogance that backfired and made him look like the angry little man he appears to be - anything but presidential.

Seriously - doesn't McCain look as if his head is going to explode sometimes? I mean, like he's going to just spontaneously combust when he's ruffled? Like he's silently counting to ten before the steam whooshes out of his ears? His temper is supposedly legendary and I just don't feel comfortable at the thought of him losing it at the wrong time. Maybe that's just me...

If that's the mark of a maverick, I want no part of it. Sen. McCain honestly didn't need to remind us twice during that debate that he "never won any congeniality awards" during his tenure in Washington...really...most of us wouldn't argue that point. I certainly wouldn't. That's one of the few statements I don't need to run by "factcheck.org".

All of this would be highly entertaining political theatre if the stakes weren't so devastatingly high and we weren't in such a massive mess. Frankly, it's too desperately serious to be terribly amusing. We're in a very tight spot. We honestly don't have time to guffaw for long at ill-conceived VP choices or shake our heads in amazement at bizarre news interviews. It's become too painful to fill up our cars at the gas pump, excruciating to worry for our friends and neighbors who have no health insurance and this world is becoming much too dangerous of a place, where unfriendly nations are kicking around nuclear proliferation programs, probably laughing among themselves that we might install a "babe" in office who's foreign policy experience begins and ends with the fact that she governs a state where, on a clear day, she can see Russia. It's not nearly as funny as it is horrifying.

No matter how you slice it, we're in such a mess...we're just not in a "good place". I hope we can collectively find ourselves in a better place when the dust settles, regardless of how the election turns out. Our ship of state is listing something awful.

God Bless Us One and All...indeed. Might be a good time to break out into song...something perhaps along the lines of that old Titanic standard..."Nearer My God To Thee..."

Let's see, I guess the other news is that I now have a new iPod. I think I am in love with it. I found a GREAT deal on an iPod Touch, brand spanking new and still in its sealed box and now fully loaded with my music. I discovered it on Craig's List and not only does it deliver my tunes, but has 8GB, wifi, gps and does everything an iPhone can do except make calls and take photos. It's amazing and I am in love. With the iPod.

My fish...oh my goodness. Do I ever have fish and have they ever gone forth and multiplied. My pink convict cichlids are overseeing a huge brood of 5 day old fry and what amazing parents they are. I watch as they corral the babies, scooping them up in their mouth and replacing them back to the nest. It's amazing, really, because most fish will eat their young as soon as they appear, but not these parents. Truly, they are a study in animal instinct and sometimes I watch them in complete and utter awe. I am truly enjoying tending these aquariums and in the year since I set up my 55 gallon tank, I have learned an enormous amount. It continues to be a very fun hobby.

On one final note, I did borrow my dad's van yesterday and my Mom and I visited a garage sale down the street. We came back with a coffee maker and a beautiful brass chandelier. It was GORGEOUS! Apparently my Mom didn't like the one in my dining area anymore than I did, but we'd never talked about it until I saw her examining the one at the sale yesterday and when I saw her whip out her wallet, I thought...Wow! And then my next thought was..."I really hope I don't get electrocuted when I replace the old one for the new one.". I've always wondered if a blond should realistically play around with electricity but, well, what the heck. My car was in the shop and I had nothing better to do so why not give it a try?

As amazing as it may sound to those of you who know me, I successfully and safely took down the old one and carefully installed the new chandelier without incident. It looks GREAT! It's even on a dimmer and it honestly looks so much better than the clunky glass one we had. I held my breath as I flipped the breaker back on after my handiwork, making sure the pets and grandparents were out of spark range should something blow but, well, it worked. Go figure!

I think I may be the son AND daughter my parents never expected :-)