A Political Peace

They say you should never discuss politics with friends—at least those you plan on keeping. But the jury has yet to rule on whether or not it’s an appropriate conversation for blog buddies.
Well, this isn’t going to be some biased mumbo-jumbo, just some things I want to get out there and hope everyone will read with an open mind.

Here’s the thing:
I think the biggest problem with politics nowadays is that people are too quick to align themselves with a side, and thus that side’s opinions on a wide sweeping number of topics, rather than think about the issues separately.
Call it laziness or stubbornness, we are all too quick (myself included) to choose one side and condemn the other.
A two-party system is inevitable. It’s our human nature to over-simplify matters by dividing them into black or white, good or bad, with us or against us. We shun middle ground and label those who dwell there as flip floppers or indecisive. Therefore, no politicians who are truly independent even stand a chance of winning majority votes. We want to see extremes because to us those signify passion. But I digress…
Two party system. Democrat and Republican.
We are so quick to apply titles, and indeed to be a part of one of these groups, that we forget to look at the issues. We follow mindlessly because anything less would feel traitorous.
So maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but my point is that we should never forget about that beautiful colored area: grey. The grey area. The in-between. The place where we take a moment to use our grey matter and reflect on each issue individually rather than as part of an all-inclusive package offered exclusively by our party of choice.
So maybe I’ve turned into one of those “why can’t we all just get along” people, or maybe I’m just imploring people to think before they vote. Who knows? Who knows how I even got on this topic? Or what sparked my relentless rant?
I guess the take-away message here is that sometimes it’s okay to stray from the group, as long as you’re doing what you believe in.
I now take you back to your regularly programmed blog.

Welcome Back, Autumn

Autumn weather has arrived and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  Sweatshirts, boots, sweaters, scarves, coats…all of my favorite clothing. I love the cool, crisp nights that require extra blankets and my warmest comforter. Living in New England is especially ideal this season; the leaves are already starting to turn and it’s just a matter of time before they start falling like colorful snowflakes.

So bring on the hot apple cider, harvest fairs, and giant leaf piles. This blogger is ready for the fall season!

My Lucky Dog

Yesterday I lost my best friend. He was short, furry, and walked on four legs. His name was Lucky, and he was quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to me.

We first adopted Lucky when I was about 10. He was about 3.

At first he was a difficult dog. He had terrible separation anxiety and would destroy things when we were away. If put in a crate, he would break out at all expenses, often hurting himself in the process. After a chipped tooth, some scratches, and a burst blood vessel, we decided we could not keep him. He was too much work, and he was only doing harm to himself. He would be better off elsewhere. So, after a few weeks of having him, I said goodbye one morning as I headed off to school.

I don’t remember feeling particularly upset that morning, perhaps because I knew all along that my mom would never actually take him back that day. Sure enough, he was still there when I got home. We struggled through those first few months, but we soon realized that for him, it was completely worth it.

Never have I met a dog so in touch with human emotions, or so loyal, or so loving. Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and I think that each of these individuals, myself included, are exactly right. Because dogs adapt to you, as you adapt to them. We learned to deal with his anxiety, and in turn he learned to deal with our family’s ups and downs.

In actuality, his anxiety disorder fit in perfectly with our family. I, myself, have long struggled with a Panic Disorder. Many of the worst years were around the time when we first adopted Lucky. Somehow, he was able to help me during my attacks. The comfort of having him near. He would give me kisses, wag his tail, he would stay by my side. He was the perfect companion.

He was loyal to our whole family. He trusted us to do what was best, and that is why I know that we did the right thing yesterday. For months, he’d been struggling. His joints were stiff and he was losing muscle mass. Just getting off the floor became a trial. He wasn’t always sure of where he was. He would get confused, walk into corners, wander aimlessly. But, most importantly, he had stopped wagging his tail.He no longer found joy in his daily life. The look in his eyes was one of helplessness and confusion. He was waiting for us to decide what to do.

The night before we made our decision, he had multiple accidents in the house, each time falling down into his own waste because he could no longer hold himself up. We knew it was time. Perhaps past the time, but we could no longer delay the inevitable.

As my mom said, he would have soldiered on forever if we had asked him to. He would have stayed by our sides until ever joint ached and he could no longer walk. He was loyal, and loving, and miraculous.

He came with the name Lucky, but over the years I’ve realized how perfectly the title suited him. Not necessarily because he was lucky to have found us, but because we were lucky–extraordinarily lucky– to have found him.

My whole heart aches, and I’ve fallen victim to random bouts of crying these past 48 hours, but I know that what was done was for the best. I know that he loved us so completely, and he gave us 12 wonderful years of that love, that we could ask for no more.

I’ll never get over him. He was my childhood, my best friend, my family member, my constant companion, my pillow, my cuddle buddy, my soother, my therapist, my playmate, my dog.

And I was so goddamn lucky to have him.



Ode to a Typewriter: Childhood Memories

My own emotional and rambling response to the news that the last typewriter manufacturer had closed its doors for good (though, apparently, this was later revealed to be untrue).

I remember our first family computer. It was a hand-me-down from our neighbors, and thus antiquated even by 1997 standards. Clunky and boxy, I’m sure the old Macintosh computer had some useful quality that, in my youth, I was unable to grasp. Instead, I fondly recall the floppy disks that accompanied our inheritance of this radical feat of modern technology. My brother and I would spend hours playing a highly pixellated, 4-bit Godzilla-rip-off computer game. I don’t remember the actual point of the game, nor am I even sure there was one, but we were entranced nonetheless.

And yet, despite having grown up inundated with computers and advancing technology, I was lucky enough to have a dorky father who went through a phase in his life where he decided to collect typewriters. In my desire to have my own obsolete piece of technology in my room, I one day ventured into the attic to find the coolest looking typewriter (it was blue). I then proceeded to literally drag the machine down the stairs, having been initially unaware that such an outdated mechanism wouldn’t have first been perfected into lighter model, at least not one that my father owned.

After calling the attention of every single person in the house thanks to the thump, thump, thump downstairs, I finally made it back to my room with my prize in tow. I think I spent the rest of the day, sitting at my little fisher-price table, typing away. I don’t remember what I wrote, though since I was only 6 or 7, I assume it was mostly nonsense. I do, however, remember feeling as if I had discovered some great treasure–I wondered why we needed the silly computer when we had this really cool machine that, when you pressed the keys, made fun noises (I still love the sound of typewriters). Granted, I couldn’t play Godzilla on it, but it still kept me amused for hours.

I fondly remember my experimentation with that typewriter. Eventually the ancient ribbon of ink ceased to work and, unsure of how to proceed, I abandoned my brief career as a child stenographer. The typewriter remained in my room for a couple of months after that, untouched and abandoned for newer, more technologically advanced toys. Perhaps this was around the time I got my first boombox, a purple number, just as clunky by today’s standards as that old Apple computer. I don’t know when my mom finally removed the typewriter from my room. I don’t know if I even noticed. Eventually we bought a new computer, and then another one, and then another one. Quickly, each machine became outdated and we moved on to the next big thing, though technically speaking they got small in size. Meanwhile, the typewriters continued to sit in the attic.

One day, about 6 or 7 years ago, my family had a tag sale. It was a miserable day– rainy and gross. We ended up having to move all of our knickknacks inside the garage. Few people showed up, and even fewer people bought anything. It was perhaps halfway through our unsuccessful sale that my mom, who was eager to get rid of just about anything and everything to anyone willing to pay a dime, decided to bring a couple of the old typewriters out of the attic. Dusted free of cobwebs, she placed them on the garage floor and almost immediately we had an interested customer.

That day I saw my clunky blue typewriter sold away. I don’t think I was overly emotional about it at the time. I was more concerned that my old barbies were going to a happy home. I don’t even remember what the man paid for the typewriter, or why he wanted it. While I’ve certainly thought about the my typewriting phase since then, as I have all my childhood memories, it was only today that a great wave of nostalgia seemed to hit.

The news was initially reported that the last manufacturer of typewriters had closed its doors. Updates since have confirmed that there are still minor international companies that produce typewriters, but the initial shock was enough to get me thinking. I guess it makes sense– why would we need typewriters? No matter the advancements made on those antiquated machines, they remain obsolete. With our tablets and iPods, laptops and blackberries– what possible need is there for a typewriter? In many ways, I’m surprised the industry hadn’t been shut down long ago, but I’m relieved it wasn’t.

Someday I hope to own a typewriter again. Sure, it will probably sit right next to my MacBook Pro on a desk cluttered with modern mechanisms of hyperconnectivity, but it will be there nonetheless. I think I’ll use it for writing letters, or just for fun. Just to listen to the clatter of the keys and the ringing of the machine as it hits the end of a row. I won’t be particular about the model of typewriter, I’m not in the antique business. I do, however, hope it will be blue.

Know what I Meme?

The internet can be a mystifying place. And I don’t just mean the labyrinth-esque routes to websites, nor the complex jargon. No, I’m talking about all those memes out there.

What is a meme? Well, I’m glad you ask, because despite being what I had assumed was ‘hip’ to the internet lingo, I still only learned this term during the past year. To discover the definition for myself, I turned to faithful Wikipedia, just another internet creation that couldn’t live without. Wikipedia defined a meme (which they first told me is pronounced to rhyme with cream…good thing I had never actually had a chance to speak it aloud because I’m quite sure that I would not have pronounced it as such) as “ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another.” Vague, right? So I read on: “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” Still vague. Here I was, thinking that a meme would automatically be in reference to the internet– how foolish of me, living in the digital age, to assume such. In fact, the concept of a meme comes from the analogy that “as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information.” They are applicable throughout culture, including in spheres of religion, models of racism, and anthropological theories.

But to focus once more on the internet meme, this term is used to describe to describe concepts transmitted through the internet. Once more I had been hoping for a better explanation, but by coming across these indistinct interpretations I began to understand that the whole point was the memes weren’t as simple as they seemed. I was hoping for a specific definition that I could grasp and pass along, but the truth is that memes are all around us on the internet. By using sites such as blogs, social networking, and (my latest favorite) tumblr, we are constantly transmitting these memes. The internet is the society, and the memes are the culture.

To me, memes are best represented by the internet phenomenon. My internet-saavy suitemate will often show me YouTube videos or silly blogs that, despite obscure or non sequitur references, somehow gather a cult following. These are memes. But there’s more to them than just silly ways for hipsters to pass their time. Public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals have all taken advantage of using memes in viral marketing. Memes help create buz about a company, product, or service. They’re inexpensive and, if conducted properly, can become quite popular, especially with niche audiences. They’re also a great way to show creativity. Often the film industry will use memes to generate attention for movies.

For further information on memes, I highly suggest the website Know Your Meme. You will find yourself bombarded with hours of useless information and entertainment.