Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where have I been?

I regret that I haven't posted in a while. There's been plenty to talk about: the election, the economy, work, the lady who snapped at me in the Metro station and the absurd news stories are never in short supply. I've been forming many blog entries in my head, but they never make it to the computer. I'm terrible at keeping in touch and I owe you an explanation. It's not a very flattering one.

My absence from the blog is for the same reason I do a lot of silly things: sleep. Sleep has always been my weakness; it accounts for a ridiculous number of late passes in grade school and high school, it's the reason I never saw a Saturday morning cartoon, and it's the reason I'm always running late for work. Always. I hate that sleep has interfered during every stage of my life so far.

Last week I woke up 45 minutes before work, hopped out of bed and took the quickest shower ever, threw on some clothes that have a style I call "business casual for slackers." When I looked in the mirror before I walked out the door I had pillow marks that looked like Frankenstein creases down the side of my face. I ran to the Metro stop and elbowed my way up and down the escalators and paced back and forth waiting for the train.

[note: this isn't the unusual part, so far I've pretty much described my morning ritual.]

I showed up at work about 10 minutes late and hid in my office until my pillow face went away. Around 10:30 or 11:00, my boss walked by and said, "Did you just get here?" No. I had been there for hours. But how would she know that? She graduated from MIT and she knows numbers. The number was 9:00 and I wasn't there.

I can't do this anymore. I need to get my fatigue or my laziness or my whatever-it-is under control. So, for now I have been going to bed early every night. Even if I have to take a sleeping pill (and sometimes I do) I need to do more sleeping at night and less in the morning. I get home from work, eat dinner, catch the Daily Show and Colbert Report at 8:00 and watch C-Span or the news while I get ready for bed. If I haven't gone to bed by 10:30, I take a pill and make it happen. Sound dull? It is. But I didn't come to D.C. to continue coasting through life. I find the time to do grocery shopping, do laundry, and an occasional happy hour but I haven't made time for the blog.

So, that's where I've been. The good news is, this is temporary. I'm waiting for a call-back from a sleep clinic in Bethesda so I can schedule two tests. One will be the overnight sleeping-with-wires-everywhere test, followed by waking up and taking a series of naps to find out how long it takes me to fall asleep and how deeply I sleep during a short nap. I had the overnight test a few years ago but it was inconclusive. This time we're going to do it up right.

I expect the sleep study will happen sometime in October, but the scheduler hasn't called me back since we spoke on Thursday. Perhaps I should call him and get this taken care of for once and for all. I've waited long enough. I don't know how it will work out, but I know two things for sure: I can't keep stressing every morning and I can't bear this boring ritual I'm in now. Speaking of now, it is 10:38 p.m. and past my bedtime. Good night.

[edit: finished proofreading, it's 10:45. The blog gets me in trouble.]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Years in Alaska are counted in dog years

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as running mate was a brilliant political move. Since the announcement on Friday, the media has been consumed with her. That’s no small task either; she was up against a hurricane and an entire Republican Convention. This is the first time in this election season that I have heard more news about McCain’s campaign than Obama’s. The fact is, McCain by himself is stale. He’s been a high profile figure for so long that the public is over their courtship with him. His story is incredibly compelling; he was a P.O.W. from a military family, a political maverick, and a seemingly decent guy. But we have his resume memorized by now. It’s no wonder how easily Obama has swept the nation, his political career launched past Hillary Clinton and a bland bunch of white guys. Obama is new and interesting; we’re just getting to know him. The world is still in the honeymoon stages with Obama, McCain seems like an elderly divorcee.

So when the elderly divorcee shows up with an attractive young woman on his shoulder, we are all spellbound.

While it is admittedly sexist to paint the McCain/Palin ticket in this light, it’s fair because it matters that she’s a woman. There’s any number of pro-life conservatives that McCain could’ve chosen to satisfy the Republican base. Sarah Palin doesn’t just satisfy the base, she electrifies them! Not only does she have a compelling story, her story invokes the very issues that Republicans are passionate about. She and her daughter have both suffered through difficult pregnancies with a strong pro-life message, and her political battles show her as a reformer. Every time her name is brought up, it is an affirmation of conservative beliefs. The Republican Party has sorely needed a new image, and McCain has not only found a new champion for Republicans, he may have found the first female Vice President. The Republicans love her, and they have every reason to. Sarah Palin was clearly the right political choice for the Republican ticket, but there is one thing I’ve failed to mention in this lengthy explanation.

None of it matters.

Certainly it matters when it comes to winning an election, but in a year where their slogan is “Country First,” have the Republicans chosen their most competent members to lead the country?

The answer is no, and neither have the Democrats.

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama have captured the media spotlight and the nation’s attention. Neither one of them is a confident choice for a nation sorely in need of leadership. I will at least give the Republicans credit over the Democrats for putting experience at the top of the ticket. I will give the Democrats credit for putting Joe Biden on the ticket at all. I am a fan of Senator Biden, but did not expect him to be chosen as V.P. The Democrats have treated Biden as a liability. The average person knows more about his gaffes than his political positions.

Palin and Obama are both inexperienced and partisans will argue that their candidate’s experience is relevant while the opponent’s is useless. I’d like to appeal to both sides and ask: Can we just stop pretending it matters?

The media tells us who to pick, just as they tell us what issues are important – Iraq, the economy, gas prices – they always let us know when and how to panic. So, let’s just drop the conversation about who is ready to lead, who is the best choice for V.P., and who has the most relevant experience. Let’s just have a couple of debates between the candidates, find out how many homes they own or how much their shoes cost, and in November the media can tell us who to vote for.

I have watched both conventions and one thing is clear; this election isn’t about what’s best for the country, it’s about winning. The media wants to win ratings, the political parties want to win the White House, and in the end we all lose. Certainly this is how political elections have worked for many years, it's not a new concept; but after watching two weeks of bitter partisanship I have a hard time seeing a light at the end of this tunnel on either side.

I don't know if this makes sense, I stayed up too late to write

I've watched most of the key speeches in the Democratic and Republican Conventions this year. Three things about the RNC before I go to bed.

[Washington Post photo: Sarah Palin apparently blew kisses to the crowd.]

Thing #1: The woman. She exceeded all expectations and was a bit nasty when talking down the Obama campaign. That's fine, and there was a lot of that going on with Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani as well. I find her nasty remarks about Obama distasteful because it's a familiar female tactic. Back in my younger days, when one of my guy friends got into a scuffle, I would jump right in the middle and start talking smack. If some dude started acting like he was looking for a fight with one of my guy friends, I would jump in and get in the other guy's face and start mouthing off. Of course, it was always in a room full of people, so I was never afraid that the guy would hit me - I'm a girl! Most likely, he's not going to hit a girl, but if I did get punched in a room full of people, he'd immediately be pummeled by every guy in the crowd. It's not okay to treat women that way, not even when they're acting like a huge bitch. So when someone started mouthing off to my friends, I turned into a pit bull in the same way Sarah Palin did tonight. She can be as nasty as she wants to be, if anyone criticizes her for it, they'll surely be called sexist. I've already heard the sexist card played so many times (Carly Fiorina basically said if anyone criticizes her lack of experience, they're sexist.) It's bullshit. [Sorry about the bad word Grandma, but it is really is bullshit! -KW] Sarah Barracuda talks pretty tough, but it's the rest of us who have to deal with the bazillion arguments about sexism. It's unbearable! Women do this - they act like a bitch, but when someone calls them a bitch, they play the sexism card. Puh-leez. I'm not saying I think the woman is a bitch, but I do think she layed it on just thick enough to piss people off. She had an I-dare-you-to-call-me-aggressive tone about her. Her opponent can't win on this one - if they criticize her or hit her back equally hard, they're sexist bullies. It's not fair, and it just perpetuates society's double-standards

Thing #2: I understand why the Republicans were so critical of the mainstream media (I was watching MSNBC, I understand completely.) But I have to question the strategy of incessantly harping on the media when they finally captured the media spotlight. [psst... Republicans, the media can hear you!]

Thing #3: I despise Mitt Romney. Or rather, I still despise Mitt Romney. I couldn't tolerate this man when he was in Iowa last year and I was reminded why tonight. He's so disingenuous, when I hear him, I think, "Are you listening to yourself? Do you even know what you're saying?" He spouts everything the audience wants to hear without even pretending it's a genuine thought. Then, he reduces his opponents to stereotypes and exaggerations. He's the kind of guy you argue with, and he comes back with, "Shut up. You're stupid." He's not even arguing issues, he's just saying, "Those other guys are just dumb, don't even listen to them."

Right back at you, Mitt Romney - you're a poopyhead, too!

That's all for now. More about Mrs. Palin later.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Change you can't believe in

I moved to D.C. the day after graduation. This jar is one of the many things on my to-do list that remained undone. It's silly to haul 10 lbs. of spare change across the country in a moving truck, but today something even more ridiculous happened. I'm finally short enough on cash to take this heavy haul to the bank; now I'm back from the bank but I still have the jar of change. Is it because I like to carry heavy bags around town? Is it because I hate my back and I'm deliberately trying to break it? No. I still have the money because the bank refused to take it.

Apparently the bank of America won't cash in spare change for their customers unless it's in rolls. The teller apologized and offered me some empty rolls to fill in my spare time and bring them back. She also gave me the other option of having it sent somewhere off-site to be counted for a $5 charge. Maybe it's just the branch near my apartment (3 excruciating blocks away) or maybe Bank of America is just too big to deal with spare change. The question is, what do I do with it now? Use it to buy groceries? Sell it on eBay?

I've never been to a bank that didn't have a machine on-site to count change. Usually it's free for customers and a couple of bucks for everyone else. I pondered this as I walked home (between whimpers of "Ouch - my back!") Is this just a Midwestern thing? How presumptuous of me to bring money into my bank and expect them to just put it in my account.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav Stretch

I have a love/hate relationship with the 24 hour news networks. The news is more interesting than whatever most networks are showing, but there's just not that much news to report. As a result, they need to stretch every story. They've been working Hurricane Gustav for all it's worth. There is some value in over-reporting this natural disaster. I'm sure it's invaluable to the local people who have been displaced to see the conditions in the area from which they've been mandatorily evacuated. I do not understand the value of having reporters and camera operators scattered across the evacuated areas, standing outside reporting the news. All of the networks have been doing this since yesterday. I'm not sure why it's better to watch Anderson Cooper try not to get blown away by 100 mph winds, or Geraldo standing on a bridge cursing. I don't think the reporters give any perspective that a strategically placed camera couldn't do. I suppose it makes the coverage a little more exciting - in much the same way the Crocodile Hunter was exciting. As I sit in front of the TV, I am not thinking to myself, "Wow, these are brave news anchors." I'm thinking, "What the hell are they doing out there? There's a friggin' hurricane!" But I continue watching, and I'm sure many others are doing the same thing today. How many of us are waiting for Geraldo or Anderson or one of the various storm chasers to get nailed by a tree branch? Not that I wish for them to be injured (although it would reinforce the instructions they keep repeating for the rest of us: IT'S DANGEROUS!!) I can't help but wait for them to start dodging hurricane shrapnel any minute now. That's what happens when they turn news into entertainment. After a few hours of the same, we expect a more exciting script.