Tuesday, April 19, 2005

That Was Quick

So we have a new Pope now. I'm not Catholic, but I've been following along bit by bit. I'm kind of angry that they chose the person they did. Even if he's not my religious leader per se, the Pope has a huge presence no matter where you go, and now they've gone and chosen someone who is a "traditionalist"....in other words we are going in a backslide. So much for progress.

You know, I usually keep my political views to myself. It's not that I'm uninformed, or that I don't feel strongly about things, but I have never appreciated it when someone else lit into me uninvited with their opinions, so I usually wait until I feel I can share without causing conflict. Know your audience, so to speak. I know there are people with whom I really don't ever want to talk politics or current events, because it will just be a lot of head-butting and even some hurt feelings. Actually one of my favorite people to talk to is Shannon, who, amazingly enough, classifies herself as a Republican. You'd think that would be a turnoff for me, but Shannon is the kind of Republican that more Republicans need to be like. She's educated, she knows the issues, and she has both understanding and respect for people who don't share her opinions. On our train trip to Chicago last year, we spent nearly the entire trip there discussing our opinions and at the end we both felt like we'd learned something. In truth, she's pretty liberal when it comes to human/civil rights issues, which I think gives us some common ground to start on, but she generally votes Republican on issues of policy.

And in truth, I don't always like to identify myself as a "Democrat," because there are some frikkin' scary Democrats out there. Democrats also have a habit of wanting to save everyone, rather than teach them to save themselves and actually addressing the illness, not the symptoms. I wish there was a political party for people who just think that people should all be treated equally in practice and in law, that Americans need to stop being so arrogant, and that your religion is a CHOICE.

Which brings me back to the original topic of this post....and the reason I don't talk politics (or religion, for that matter) with a lot of people. Because the trouble I've found with discussing these things with more Republican/conservative/whatever name you want to give them people is this: in the world I live in, people have a right to choose their own lifestyles (provided, of course, that they aren't hurting someone or infringing on their rights). In the world these others appear to live in, people don't. Or maybe they have a right to choose these things, but they will be judged, ostracized, even condemned to hell--which is just as good as saying they can't choose. Isn't it?? So talking to some people like this is like talking to a wall--when I say choice, they say But God Says.

This is something I struggle with in Mary Kay. I love the women I work with so much--they are probably the most awesome, smart, professional, fun women to be around you can imagine. All ages, all shapes and sizes. However, MK is technically a Christian-based company, so there is a lot of that to contend with. And honestly I don't have a problem with people being Christian. Because, as I've said, in the world I live in, people can choose. And this is why I chose to involve myself with the company anyway, because there are a lot of "Christian values" that are really just good ways to live your life, in my opinion--doesn't matter where they come from, they just make sense. Like treating people nicely, being honest, stuff like that.

But in hanging out with these women socially I find I have to bite my tongue a lot....I have to watch myself. At home, Ryan and I can talk about how oppressive it is for him sometimes to work in Allegan, which is an extremely right-wing, conservative area. He's this little blue fleck in a red county. When I go to meeting next Monday, I may hear a few side remarks about how pleased they are that a "traditionalist" Pope has been selected. When I hear "traditionalist," my heart just dies. It really does.

Because in my mind (and here I go, I'll finally say what I think), being "traditional" means ignoring the fact that the world is the way it is. It means not updating your mind, not reevaluating your beliefs, even in the face of outright experience. I know some people would argue that that's what "faith" is....and I really don't think so. To me, faith is something you have in God--and yes, God is timeless and unchanging--not in a book, not in the human representatives of God (who are human, after all, and therefore subject to not really being so godly). I myself have a lot of faith. And I think God "speaks" to people in more than just the Bible. And I trust myself in that, because I was a religious studies minor in college and did extensive research on the origins of today's Bible.

After the election in November, I got in a rather serious discussion with someone about the phrase "voting one's conscience." I was overwrought and couldn't help myself, so I wrote about my grief over the election results on a message board that I frequent. A woman who I've known for some time wrote back about how she couldn't be expected to vote against her conscience, could she? And all I could say back was, the question on the ballot wasn't, "do you think that homosexuality is an abomination before the eyes of God?" or "Is it good or bad to be gay?" It was about whether or not you feel you have the right to legislate your religious beliefs onto other people. And unfortunately, a lot of people in this country think they do.

And apparently so do a lot of people in Rome, because they've just gone and elected someone who also believes that what he is going to do is bring this poor, sin-ridden world back to basics....back to where we had abortions in dark alleys with dirty coathangers, or where women preferred to kill themselves rather than admit that they were raped, and where no one, and I mean no one, admits their homosexuality at the risk of being run out of town on a rail. Because, heaven forbid (really!), people would be able to make choices.

I don't even know where I'm going with this anymore....my brain is just whirring. rant/bitch/moan.....

Big Slacker

You see? I am a big slacker. I have not written here in nearly a month. I apologize to anyone who was waiting breathlessly for the next installment of my life. ;)

Actually for the last week I have been laid up with a cold--very irritating, particularly because it caused me to lose my voice. My voice is very closely linked to my ability to earn my keep, so that was frustrating. But all in all I guess I've fended it off relatively quickly and I'm almost back to normal. At least no one thinks they've gotten the wrong number when they call me anymore (I love you Sara Mangus!).

I can't believe how great the weather here is now. Last weekend I had the good fortune to have two appointments cancel on me (this was good, I needed the weekend to recover and fully get rid of this cold), so we had probably the best weekend we've had in ages. Ryan didn't have any plans either, so we did whatever around the house, cleaning and what not, and went over to a barbecue at Jon and Melissa's after spending the afternoon in a park (awwwwww), and just relaxed all Sunday at home. Ryan got to work on his writing, which was much needed, and I got to not work on anything, which was also much needed. I think I may go for a walk today since the weather has continued.

I'm also excited because--yay!--the Euphonics have a concert this week and I actually am able to go. It's a very weird feeling to go back to Albion these days--because I am sufficiently old enough that I don't know anybody anymore, so the only chances I have of running into someone I do know is if there are any professors wandering around. I likened it once to the place actually being haunted....like all my good memories there are in the past, and even though I'm in the same places where those memories were made, all the people involved are gone and so it's like an echo in my head of what used to be there. And there have been changes to the campus since I graduated, of course, so it looks somewhat different--it's still jarring! That big, honking admin building that looms over the quad--scary! I remember times in the summer, if I had a few weeks before school let back in after I got back from tour, I'd actually go to the campus just to be there....even though no one else was there.....I'd just go sit on the quad and feel at home. That's why homecoming will always have a special place in my heart. Because then all the people that you knew are BACK, and you're all in the same place again, and it's awesome. Zach Constan actually still teaches there as an adjunct, so back when there was a Palenske Hall (I have no idea what they're doing with all those buildings over there) he'd take us up to see his office and I got to check and see that yes, my name is still written on a men's bathroom wall on the second floor. ;) It was there for literally 2-3 years, I went back to check each time...don't they ever paint anything around there?

Anyhoo....in other news, Kevin and Aimee found a house they want to put an offer on. This is after physically, literally touring at least 30 others. The bonus is that it's just down the street from Jon and Melissa's, which will work out nicely for Ryan and me. We joke around that in a couple years when we're ready to buy a house, we'll start looking on that street first. LOL If only Geoff and Shawn didn't live in Climax, we could start our own little neighborhood. Yes, they live in Climax. Bah dum dum. On the other hand, my dad's made it VERY clear that he wishes we all lived closer together, and of course I do too....I just don't want to live in Lansing! I grew up there, it's really not a great place to live. Not compared to here. It's too much of a city, not enough community and certainly not a lot of culture to be had that I'm aware of. Maybe if you go into East Lansing and on MSU's campus. But Lansing proper--nah. There's talk that my bro and his family will be moving to the Lansing area perhaps, and if that happens I will be feeling very pressured to do the same....but I don't know. If I go on for my Ph.D. then that's a whole 'nuther story. They don't have low-residency Ph.D. programs that I'm aware of, so it will likely require a move.

OH! that reminds me. I also got accepted to Bennington College into their MFA program.....a little late there, boys! Well, actually not, they're operating on a regular school admissions schedule whereas NEC doesn't/didn't. But it's still a feather in my cap to be accepted, they're a pretty well-known school in the field. :)