I’ve been feeling a certain amount of (self-imposed) pressure to keep up with every action and every political development here. Obviously, I can’t do that. There are people who actually receive a salary to do so, and you can find them all over the web. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I would be disappointed in McCain and others for caving on the torture provisions, that I would probably rant on the strategy of seeming to attack the Geneva Conventions directly (knowing it wouldn’t fly) only to “settle” on grandfathered pardons for CIA torturers and the introduction of “alternative procedures” and the ability to label anyone they want to as a terrorist – which is what they wanted in the first place. America the beautiful, torturer in chief. So on and so on. A lot has been happening.
And of course, I have a number of backlogged announcements in my email. Attorney General Gonzales actually stood up to defend the actions of the US in the false imprisonment, rendition to Syria, and torture of an innocent Canadian. Baghdad’s Camp Cropper, which started out as a bunch of tents, is now a $60 million “state-of-the-art” prison, paid for by us. Another industry anti-regulation ideologue (Susan Dudley) has been nominated by the White House for a position that requires the opposite concerns of the person nominated. This time it’s at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an office that makes decisions about the safety of the air we breathe, the cars we drive, the medicines we take and the water we drink. Top housing official (Alphonso Jackson) has been instructing staff to cut out Democrats when awarding HUD contracts – in violation of the law, of course. Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) gets to keep his congressional pension after he serves his prison time for selling his votes for money. Government auditors responsible for monitoring leases for oil and gas on federal property say the Interior Department suppressed their efforts to recover more than $30 million from energy companies that were cheating the government. The National Black Republican Association is running an ad accusing Democrats of starting the Ku Klux Klan. They also say Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. Sigh. Medicare physician payment rates are set to be cut by more than 5 percent starting Jan. 1, 2007, and by nearly 40 percent over the next nine years, just as Baby Boomers are starting to retire. The FCC destroyed their own study when it proved media consolidation reduces local news coverage. Yada yada.
I can’t keep up with the landslide of these kinds of stories, and even if I could, I’m not sure that it really makes much difference. So you may notice some changes in the blog. I’m not going to try to cover the whole range. I’m just going to address what I’m thinking about that day. It might be political, or cultural, or religious, or creative, or just silly. We’ll see.
I’m still looking for a full-time job, and increasingly disappointed that my Ph.D. hasn’t allowed me to net a job here. I’ve not limited my search to the fields of my training. I’ve not limited my search even to academia. I’ve always worked part-time, even while I was in graduate school, but I don’t have a “last salary” to enter on an internet form. I would be an asset in many ways, except perhaps in accounting or sales (it’s a little too much like “witnessing” for me). I’ve been applying for several jobs a week over the last two years. Bupkis! – a big nothing.
I’m just a bit discouraged. However, I have a lot to be happy about, too. One great thing about getting older is that you get better at dealing with life’s oddities.
Here’s the thing, though. Just when you might be feeling that you’re doing pretty well (all things considering), the big black boot in the sky appears to smash into your head. “Wake up and pay attention! Time to grow again! It’s GOOD for your CHARACTER!” It’s been a while since I really felt existentially shaken, and I guess it was time for me to take some kind of next step. It’s strange the way some things can affect you more than others. Sometimes, I’m calm and collected in the middle of chaos and disaster. Other times, something that doesn’t look like such a catastrophe can knock me down on my butt.
I’ve been knocked down in a way that has been affecting the way I respond to everything for the last couple of days. I’ve got to find a better way through it. It’s a challenge, something much more difficult even than I would have thought it would be (if I had thought about it). A family member has acquired some mistaken and surprisingly negative ideas about me. I spent much of yesterday trying to respond to an email that made me burst into sobs whenever I looked at it. I’m not normally much of a weeper – I’m more of a stoic, or maybe – in extreme situations – a cocoonist. The assumptions and views that were expressed – and what they implied – deeply, deeply hurt me in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t know whether or not we will be able to work out the problems and misunderstandings, and the repercussions of not doing so would be very sad for both our families. I’ve responded as best I can, but I suspect that it won’t make much difference. It feels like a fundamental loss, a kind of death. It might even be just mourning for something that was never really there in the first place. Right now, I couldn’t say for sure.
I’m blown back, yes, but there are other aspects of my life now that can’t be ignored or abandoned just because I got a big electric shock. That’s a funny image, but that’s what it felt like – one of those cartoons where a character gets hold of a wire or something, and big lightening-bolt images fly from their contact. I could almost hear the sound effect. ZAP-zappp-booOOOm.
So I’m just taking it a bit slower for the next little bit, taking those walks and baths and meditations that I often recommend to others. I’ve done what I can for now, and how it all turns out will be what it will be.