Sunday, October 18, 2009

How I quit smoking

Upon waking I rode a bike, yet again changing my routine in my 3rd day of not having a cigarette. All week the days have been on and off rain throughout the day and night, a series of cloud formations. Yesterday while Frederick and I were driving the Banfield, the cars on the road ahead appeared to float through glowing white mist or a haze of golden snow that you sometimes encounter in the winter, that feeling of being snowblind, but the storm was behind us already and above was bright sunshine and clear skies as if a day in July.

I rode the 27 speed around this northern residential neighborhood and spotted a cute cottage where a lonely realtor was sitting in front of his laptop working at a cafe table in the dining nook. The previous owner had entirely remodeled the house. There was a gas burning fireplace in the intimate living room, nice earth tones bordered by white trim, hardwood floors, parque in the kitchen, new tiling in the bath, two bedrooms with the master looking into a small back yard (though I didn't take the time to look) ... essentially a modest model home listed at $169k. Maybe one day I'll have some sort of job stability that would make such a purchase realistic, but for today just not smoking is enough.

Since I am unemployed I have been trying to make progress on projects that before I felt too stressed out to do, such as quitting smoking. Now I am becoming expert at the art of relaxation. To be perfectly honest, the last thing I need right now is the stress of a new job, but I will take it if comes.

I apply for jobs that actually interest me and explore my interests in my personal life as well, and still I have time to dream, watch classic and recently classic movies that I have missed and books that I haven't read. I am making a conscious decision not to stress about anything, anything at all. And I have the support of my boyfriend, a non-smoker never having picked up the habit since he saw his mother suffer from it.

I'm setting some new goals. One of those is blogging daily, inspired lately by Gerald Sindell's perfect joke, Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish map of the day mapping the McFarthest Point, and the processing of events such as "Balloon Boy," perhaps in the context of Baudrillard's "hyperreal." So instead of having a cigarette, I'll be biking, taking nature walks, eating better, treating myself better, living simpler, and writing and reading more. It's very unstressful here these days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Impatience with the pace of change is entirely understandable

I have been watching the health care debate for several months now, since spring to be exact, and maybe it was a little unrealistic to expect a bill before Congress took their summer recess, but back then I had great expectations. I still do, though I'm also disappointed by the pace of change.

The first disappointment was that the health care discussion started out on the wrong foot. The Progressives should have framed the debate in terms of universal health care and compromised at a minimum with a robust public option. But Democrats started off with the idea that they could get bipartisan support.

August should have made clear that right-wing opposition to the President was not going to negotiate with the new administration. A well-orchestrated hit job funded by conservative opposition and Fox News turned the debate into a circus. And it became obvious Blue Dogs were in the pockets of the health care industry.

If anything has become clear during the health care debate, it's the corrosive effect money has on our political system. Of course ordinary people become disillusioned when the change they voted for doesn't happen. The disillusionment grows the longer it takes popular legislation to pass, and it's not like there aren't priorities other than health care, such as ending two wars and building a new economy based on green technologies.

Obama is not entirely to blame, of course, though I think the effort to make him appear weak will continue to dog him. It's not like he takes the vacation time of the previous President. He has been doing his job setting guidelines and deadlines, giving speeches, addressing critics, and pushing Congress to send him legislation he can sign. So why can't he move forward more quickly with his agenda?

I predicted the right-wing noise machine would try to derail Obama's agenda, but I didn't expect opposition to Obama from congressional Democrats who should have learned from the Clinton years that failure to produce results has a history of upsetting their majority in mid-term elections when people stay home or vote for right wing crazies out of sheer disappointment and anger. If they are really interested in self-preservation they should do what's right and popular.

My hope is that Democrats deliver on their campaign promises and stop trying to get one or two votes from the Party of No. My hope is for real change and for that to be happening soon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Senator Ron Wyden

I e-mailed my Senator Ron Wyden a note of thanks for supporting the public option.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Capitalism: New and improved

All the fear about the U.S. becoming socialist is absurd given that the top wealthy 1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 95%. Only Switzerland surpasses the U.S. in economic disparity.

U.S. economic disparity has been growing longer than Michael Moore has been making movies, yet we treat Michael Moore not unlike Dr. Stockmann in Ibsen's Enemy of the People. When we don't like the truth about ourselves, we scuttle the truthtellers.

This situation would not be possible without the belief that the market will solve everything, and the top 1% has enormous advantage in selling this message. It took all of a week for lawmakers to bail out Wall Street, yet providing universal health care for the same amount of money is a seemingly impossible task.

What has happened in this country is a turning a blind eye to the people suffering from the excesses of capitalism. It is much easier to blame the poor than to change our belief that what's good for Wall Street is good for us.

Is the market really free when banks "to big to fail" get boosted by taxpayer money, yet the same taxpayers continue to lose homes while the banks amass more wealth?

The redistribution of wealth has favored the wealthy for a long time now, yet this does not keep the ignorant poor from going out and protesting "socialism." I'm reminded of that quote from The Usual Suspects: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."