The Pit of Despair 

The shitshow of in progress packing in my dining room. Find The Beast.

Ooof! This packing game is so very, very, very painful. I am not liking it at all. No. Not at all.

To be sure, I was not expecting to enjoy this part of the “journey.” I am on record as one who totally despises moving. I have infamous antipathy to the picking up all of my stuff and transporting it en masse to a new destination. A little of my stuff? I’m okay. I like to travel. But the whole enchilada? “Hatred” does not do my emotions justice.

So much is my aversion that I have avoided moving for nearing 26 years. Yet, and herein lies the rub, in order to stay here–where I want to be for the rest of my life–I need to physically exit the space so it can be remade.

Oh, the sickening, sickening irony.

This move has unfamiliar complexities. In the past, I’ve just moved. Still hated it, but it was Point A to Point B. This equation has a few more hops. Point A to Point B, Point C and Point D simultaneously with a return to Point A.

First, what to move? While everything needs to move, much will be placed in a temporary deep freeze. So I’m marking boxes with things that we can suffer without for the next few months and with things we will need. This includes crossing seasons. Ugh.

Then there’s a set of things that are in the in-between on my hierarchy of needs. That which needs to be protected. Anything that is susceptible to scourge. So photos, all cloth-based goods, and some Christmas perishables. Then, there’s another category of goods: where things will fit. The spaces available–basement, garage and temp house–are not like a Harry Potter magical tent. They have physical requirements.

Alas, I am just a Muggle.

And, boy, I’m not even an above average one. I completely disgusted myself by attacking the room that was once known as The Office until it degraded into The Locker.

Sure as I was that the meaningless piles were all detritus of The Spouse, I was chastened to find those dust encrusted boxes were actually my own. Untouched for twelve years, forced via the pressures of time and neglect to barnacle underneath the beomouth of my old dining room server and attach to the wall like the lost sailors who became one with Davy Jones’ Pirates¬†ship. Pieces of my own, forgotten past lives.

Letters of offer from before Bear was born, paperwork of praise and raise, and fastidiously folded physician folios from forgotten afflictions were scattered among paper clips, my father’s old stapler and other things unseen by human eyes for a decade and a quarter. Undoubtedly, other, smaller eyes did pass among the ruins. But not ours.

I was ashamed. It was as if I was moving though my parents’ home, discovering the madness of laxity, of ignoring the progress of inaction, of the results of indifference.

I hung my head and imagined being draped in sackcloth, my cheeks rubbed with ashes. I walked into the other room, winding my way around misstacked boxes, tripping on the upturned edge of the rug.

“I’m sorry,” I said to The Spouse. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Now, to the next pile, to the next box , to taping them shut and marking their destination.

Zip It, Idiot

microphoneReceived a text from the Sib late Thursday morning.

Jesse Jackson is an idiot.

Yeah, that seemed to be true. A page 4 story in the Post had alerted me over my morning coffee to what would be the “news” of the day–bigger than the floods (which led the cable news to loop through the same images of water in the streets and not too much in commentary, I mean it was too much water, what’s to say?) but a little smaller than Imus (cable-fest big contrast with the old white guy versus young black women with some of the same commentators).

So, we got someone making a disparaging comment about a rival/peer. Makes you kind of hate recordings, because if Jesse had made the comment without the salacious evidence, there would be NO STORY. As it was, it was a non-story that spun and spun and spun until it finally sputtered all over itself.

Colby King from the WaPo got it right this morning when he wrote

The reverend brother was simply fat-mouthing….Jesse Jackson was sitting on the TV set next to a brother talking trash, selling wolf tickets, being verbally aggressive when he knew full well that he wasn’t about to do anything but dis Obama (presumably) behind his back.

Hey, that’s not news. It’s what people do. It’s me talking about my boss doing something dumb. Or someone who calls me boss (or parent) talking trash about me. So what. It portends nothing of importance. And that he got “caught” just causes group pain as we relive and rehash, rewind and recoil the non-story.

This fake drama that doesn’t improve big city education, provide appropriate medical care for soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, or help us remember the discussion we almost had after Katrina.

Yeah, Jesse is an idiot, for feeding the idiot media for our idiot consumption.

A Race to Race

Statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Memorial with a bunch of 50's tourists looking on.So, will Barack Obama’s speech on race–you know, the speech he really did not want to have to make –be noted in future histories as a turning point in U.S. race relations? And more importantly, if it is an historical “event,” will it be in the context of the election of our first black president or in the context of a failed candidacy that helped to bring an open discussion of race in America?

Too early to tell. Too early to know if this will have any long-term impact. Too early to tell if skittish white-folk will use Rev. Wright as a reason why they can’t support Obama. But for the skittish, they would need to find something anyway.

So when Obama offers nuance and context about race in America, does he inadvertently give an out to folks who like to have simple choices laid out in a menu of numbers on the wall? [I’ll take the #2 meal, Britney Spears burger, Bill Cosby fries, with a supersize of O.J.?] When there is no easy sound bite–precisely because this is a discussion and NOT a sound bite–can it be heard?

Only a tiny fraction of Americans will ever see the speech in full. Once it went through the media sausage grinder all you were left with was him failing to disown the pastor,” says Michael Munger, political scientist at Duke University and a libertarian. “It showed he is the kind of candidate we should want as president but not the kind we tend to elect.Financial Times

Okay. Maybe I am just a pseudo-intellectual snob. And maybe I just need to learn more about stuff white people like.

And maybe, just maybe, no matter what happens in this upcoming election, we can actually

“…continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. [B]ecause [we] believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.” —Barack Obama

Yeah, like that.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’

No, not THIS Michael Jackson, but the one from homeland securitySo, another top, highly paid official is leaving the Bush Administration, because he needs to make more money. This is on the heels of Tony Snow, recently White House Press Secretary, who left earlier this month because he “ran out of money.” He said he took out a loan to make ends meet, and can’t support his family of five on $168,000. That’s more money than 93% of U.S. households earn each year.

So now, another public servant who has been sucking $168,000 out of the federal trough has also had to give up public service.

“The simple truth, however, is that after over five years of serving with the president’s team, I am compelled to depart for financial reasons that I can no longer ignore.”

What is this guy saying? He is compelled to depart for financial reasons he can’t ignore? Hunh? Can’t live within his significant means? This is a guy that was called “whip smart when it came to budget and operational details, a real manager.” Yet he can’t figure out how to live on a salary higher than 9 out of 10 Americans. Like does he gamble? Lose a bunch of money in the stock market? In over his head with a subprime mortgage? Owe money to a loan shark? Bought alot of travel on his credit cards?

Or maybe he lost everything in Katrina and is suffering from a slow recovery process. Oh wait, it was his department that caused that whole mess. Enough worry about Katrina victims when you are having your own money trouble. Yeah, go get another job.

If It Walks Like a Duck

From the Washington Post

Throughout [his 34-year career], Wolfowitz built a reputation as a foreign policy iconoclast, a mild-mannered intellectual with a steely ideological core, and an inept manager.

and

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source voiced admiration for his intellect but said Wolfowitzcouldn’t run a two-car funeral.”

and

After Bush’s [43] election, …Wolfowitz wanted to return to the State Department, but…secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, turned him down as his deputy. They weren’t “ideologically in sync,” Powell later said, and Wolfowitz was notoriously lacking in the required administrative skills.

Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? So, okay, if Paul Wolfowitz was known to be a lousy administrator, why would he be put in charge of a multinational institution owned by more than 180 governments, with 10,000 employees, and $14.6 billion (U.S.) in loans in 2006 (World Bank, Annual Report 2006)?

Is it for the same reason that we suffered internationally with John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations? That we think we know the best? That other countries can be ignored or insulted? That international institutions should be dismantled? That America’s interest du jour trumps all?

While I strongly support George Washington’s postulate that every nation works to protect it’s own interest, we need to see those interests in 21st century terms. We are no longer bound by oceans or mountains. We are joined by instantaneous communications, rapid travel, and a global economy.

I am constantly trying to get the 12-year old and the 15-year old to look beyond the noses on their faces, to extend their vision toward the horizon, to move beyond the here and now.

It’s not us against the world. It’s us AND the world.

Whoosza Fault?

Was watching Mayor Nagin this morning on Russert. I’m glad that Russert asked some tough questions. He made Chertoff squirm a bit last Sunday, too.

Here’s a typical exchange.

Russert: “Did you make mistakes?”
Public Official: “Tim, I’m not going to that. We did the best we could. The [insert name of other guy] didn’t…”

Here’s a typical exchange in my house:

Parent: “What was your part in this?”
Kid: “Well, he….”
Parent: [interrupting] “I’m talking about YOU.”

It’s not so much the Blame Game. It’s a lack of personal responsibility. I wish somebody would say, “This is what I did.” The President needs to remember that step one is admitting that you have a problem.

How can you have a role in fixing a problem if you don’t admit your role in it?

Hope my kids get this message, but it looks like it will preclude them from a career in politics.