Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Broken Shoelaces

You know, some days things just don't break your way.  It's nothing personal; happens to everybody.  This happened to me last week, almost immediately after posting my first day of spring "lalalalala, trip through the flowers" remarks.  There's nothing like realizing that, as a fully-grown adult, you've forgotten how to read the gas gauge to cause you to tuck into a big ol' slice of humble pie.  And I'd really run out of gas - if "F" stands for "full" and "E" stands for "empty," the needle of my tank was so far over on the left that it should have read "D" (for "duhhh").  Dorothy Parker was right - it's not the tragedies that kill us, it's the messes.  Or, as I've put it, give me a legitimate crisis and I'm fine, it's the broken shoelace that'll send me screaming into the night.

So - silver linings.  First, I was safely at home, not on the side of a darkened, shoulder-less road.  A friend kindly gave me a lift to work.  Another friend dropped off a gallon of gas at my house.  A third friend gave me a lift home and even followed me to the gas station to make sure I got there - just in case.  And no one I talked to made me feel like a colossal moron because I'd run out of gas.

Lessons learned?  Friends are good.  It's okay to ask for help.  And fill up the tank when it hits the half-way mark.  Nothing earth-shattering, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the small stuff - after all, it's mostly what life is made up of.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day!

. . . of spring, that is!  Those who know more tell me that today is the day in which the sun seems to sit directly over the equator as the earth travels around our star.  (It's all about appearances.)

It's been a bit of a strange winter here.  I live in the American South (not to be confused with South America) and our winters are usually on the mild side.  Oh, you want a nice warm coat and we know what snow is - although not how to drive in it.  Many the joke is made about hordes of people heading to the grocery to load up on bread and milk at the mere prediction of the White Stuff.  At any rate, we usually have some days that we consider to be cold and a little sleet or snow or ice.  Generally, schools are closed for a day sometime during the winter season.

But not this year.

It's been very mild.  I had jonquils blooming before Valentine's Day and I've already had to dig out the summer clothes.  I've thought about where to plant tomatoes.  I contemplated the wearing of sandals instead of the wearing o' the green on St. Patrick's Day.  And it looks like it's here to stay.  (Just typing that could be a jinx and a White Witch of the Arctic may now sweep down and encase us all in ice for five days.)  This isn't just an early spring; it's downright balmy outside.  My azaleas, under-cared-for as they are, are in riotous bloom and I've seen a few bluebirds taking the place of winter's buzzards.  (Seriously - a tree creaking under the weight of dozens of buzzards is just creepy, even in the age of wi-fi access.)  Plenty of folks are grumbling dire warnings of plagues of bugs and stupefying heat to come in summer, but I'm not sure I care.  It's glorious outside and I can't do anything about the weather in any event.

So go enjoy.  It may get warmer and it may even get prettier, but it won't be the first day of spring again for an entire year.  It'd be a shame to miss it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Of Spring & Breaks!

As of late, Dear Readers, I've had too much on my plate.  What's worse, I've been trying to spin those plates on tall sticks like those talented folks you sometimes see in the circus.  The main difference (aside from a distinct lack of sequins on my clothing) is that the circus folks know what they're doing and they don't add more plates to the act than they know they can actually spin.

Alas, I tend to learn my act in public.

Don't get me wrong - I am truly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way in the last twelve months or so.  It's just that I'm experiencing the first warning signs of plate-dropping.  And I like to think that, over the last few years, I've learned to stop at that point and re-adjust rather than stubbornly soldiering on.  (Crazy, I know, but I used to think, "Well, that's okay!  If I work harder, I can keep the rest of them from dropping!  Hey, let me add another one over here!  Whoops!"  Did I mention crazy already?)

So this post is a few days late.  Trust me, it's better this way.

I have a few days off from school and I'm trying to be very strict with myself.  I've already said "no" to at least two get-togethers and I'm (trying to) only check work e-mail once a day.  (Shouldn't do it at all, but one class is an online and they don't have break, so there's my justification.)  I took the Spookster for a long walk in the sunshine today and am ignoring the dirty kitchen floor.  I have a couple of old movies that I plan to watch and some "non-work work" I plan to turn my hand to over the next few days.  There's a book on the nightstand and a kitten at my ankles.

Billy Joel had this one right.

See you soon.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two Months Out and Counting

On May 8, North Carolinians go to the ballot box to vote in the primary elections for our state.  (The deadline to register to vote in this primary is April 7, by the way.)  About  a year ago, it didn't look like it would be that interesting a primary - then the planets either aligned or spun wildly off their respective axes, depending on your point of view.  As evidence, I submit:

The Republican presidential primary might still be a corral-less rodeo.  Usually, the nomination is well sewn up before the May primary in NC.  This year, however, the party seems to be trying on a new candidate every three weeks, much like a woman going through her closet to find something to wear after the holiday feasting season.  (Yes, Newt Gingrinch does make you look fat and what were you thinking, buying Santorum?  Even a wispy supermodel doesn't look good in that style!)  Therefore, NC's primary (and its resulting convention delegates) might actually matter.

Since there is no Democratic presidential primary, it looked to be an extremely low turnout election, which was going to be a shame, since it's also the primary for other offices.

And then in late January, our governor, Bev Perdue, decided not to seek re-election.  (It's been a tough term.  Let's leave it at that.)  That decision sent Democrats a-scurrying to fling hats into the ring for what promises to be a short, relatively inexpensive campaign.  Gov. Perdue's decision is one that's going to be debated after the fact, I can tell you.  Her decision has guaranteed that what should have been a low turnout of nearly all Republican-registered voters became far more open.

Which brings me to Amendment One, the badly-misnamed "Defense of Marriage" Amendment.  I've gone on record here on this blog (it was a four-parter - One, Two, Three, and Four) as well as on video (here and here) regarding why I think this is a bad amendment and one every freedom-loving, small-government-preferring citizen should reject out of hand.  And two months out from the vote, this matters deeply.  When it was "just" the Republican primary (which it never was, by the way), passage seemed nearly guaranteed.  It was assumed that most Republicans supported this hare-brained, overbroad exercise in how NOT to write legislation and that many people who were against it wouldn't come out to cast a vote.  Gov. Perdue's decision to not seek re-election was a game-changer.  And others have noticed.

The National Organization for Marriage ("NOM," I just love it - sounds like a hungry Muppet) has decided to get involved in a big way in this campaign and they are bringing their checkbook to the party.  Read a little more about these folks here.  And don't be fooled by the name - these people are for marriage like I'm for dog-fighting.  NOM is for a very restrictive view of marriage and gender roles, and the mere fact that I'm typing this instead of baking a bundt cake probably qualifies me for condemnation by the maniacal-laughing-Muppet Coalition.

Also, read up on the official language that will be used to explain the amendment at your local polling place.  Please note that this is not partisan - the language was crafted by the NC Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission.  Notice the phrasing such as "the courts shall ultimately determine."  This is particularly galling, since so many sleekly smug legislators have said, "Well, they are free to make these arrangements by contract."  Two problems with this, Drake.  First, just who are "they," anyway?  I thought this state was made up of "us."  Second, the official explanation of the amendment makes it clear that any private contracts to secure the rights that simply go with marriage (such as domestic violence protection, the right to hospital visitation, and inheritance to name but three) may or may not actually secure those rights.   So sure, go ahead and make those private contracts - the courts will determine if they're worth anything.

Why, oh why, do we do this?  Make no mistake - this is not solely about gay marriage (which, no matter what happens on May 8, will still be illegal in North Carolina on May 9 due to an existing state law).  This ill-conceived, hate-cloaked-in-piety abomination seeks to codify discrimination and second-class citizenship into our state constitution.

I say no.  And I sincerely hope you'll research the issues and vote AGAINST bigotry, fear, intolerance, and hatred, all of which you do when you VOTE AGAINST AMENDMENT ONE!