Sunday, March 28, 2010

Time has a great article this week on the implications of the health reform legislation:
Contrary to the rhetoric that has permeated the reform debate, insurance rates in most cases are rising steadily not because of price gouging but rather because underlying health care costs are increasing at an unsustainable and possibly unstoppable rate...Slowing the rate of increase is the only solution to a health care crisis that is still looming. On its own, the law does not necessarily do that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A couple of interesting items in the New York Times:

- This review of new books about technology's effect on society, while not exactly ground-breaking in some of its observations, is worth reading: “I have the theory that news is now driven not by editors who know anything,” the comedian and commentator Bill Maher recently observed. “I think it’s driven by people who are” slacking off at work and “surfing the Internet.” He added, “It’s like a country run by ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos.’ ”

- I was also trying to sort out the new health care law and spotted this piece, which pins the law as an attack on wealth inequality. "The bill...aims to smooth out one of the roughest edges in American society — the inability of many people to afford medical care after they lose a job or get sick. And it would do so in large measure by taxing the rich...In effect, healthy families will be picking up most of the bill — and their insurance will be somewhat more expensive than it otherwise would have been." I was thinking about this as I listened to one of the radio morning shows this week, where the hosts were griping about how their premiums were probably going to go up. Who wants their expenses to go up, and yet, isn't it right for a society to take care of all of its members?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

- Absolutely delicious to have a Thursday off. *Love* going to Wal-Mart and not being suffocated by all the people crowding the aisles.

- But there is some bad news: I'm going to need a root canal. And a crown. I don't know how my tooth got so rotten. I've been eating less candy the last few weeks hoping to protect the rest of the teeth.

- Don't know what I'm going to do the rest of today. It's a nice problem to have.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So I'm sitting with my friend I haven't seen since December. It's around 9 at night, we're sitting at the glass table in the living room over plates of freshly baked double fudge brownies (my idea). The high ceiling in the room feels higher than usual. I find the light in the room too dim for the bigness of the room.

She asks me how I'm doing. I talk about work. Work always seems to come first when anyone asks how I am. Work is good. I'm not just exchanging pleasantries, it really is, even with my sometimes odd schedule and the stress.

How is everything else going?

At this point I am not as ready with an answer. I know what she's getting at. Should I tell her that all has not been well on the social/emotional/spiritual front in the past three months? I don't know if she really wants to know about Saturday nights spent alone, disillusionment, and grasping at the remnants of friendships. A little bit of it dribbles out and I find myself getting emotional, because I almost never talk about this. I am lonely and it bothers me. I admit it but don't get too detailed.

I don't know how much she can relate. My friend is engaged to be married, and she and her counterpart are always together, it seems. It's rare that she and I hang out alone like tonight. I don't even think of her and her fiance as separate anymore, I just kind of assume that her fiance will be there at whatever she happens to be doing. Their names are fused together in my mind, like "Brangelina." She mentioned earlier that he cooks for her all the time. That sounds nice to me.

I wonder if that is the exact thing missing from my life, a hole in my heart where that kind of relationship would fit. Am I jealous of what she has? Saturday nights wouldn't be spent alone, I probably wouldn't be so dried up emotionally. But even at this lonely point it seems a bad trade. In my mind I'm not the kind of person who wants to be joined at the hip with anyone, however special that person may be.

I don't feel comfortable asking her, do you ever get annoyed with living so close to someone? I want to but it seems too intimate of a question, especially when I have shared so little myself.

Her attempt to engage me in some girl-talk comes to an end, and we start talking about books. I tell her about Reading Lolita in Tehran, and I actually sound excited. She tells me how she loves Cormac McCarthy's books, which I have decided I don't want to read without having even skimmed through any of them. Something to do with seeing the author on Oprah.

She leaves at 10 p.m. I was enjoying the conversation and wanted it to continue for longer, but oh well. I pack up the brownie plates and put them in the sink. I turn off the light in the living room and go upstairs. Work tomorrow, I should go to sleep...
*crosses fingers* Please let the health care bill pass the House. Looks good so far.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health update

- Breakfast: pack of strawberry and coconut snack cakes. Lunch: two slices of veggie pizza followed by a slice of going-away celebration cake. Exercise: none.

- Went in to get a crown for my teeth today, was told I still might need a root canal. Oh no.

- Long day at work and I need a vacation.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review: The Bible: A Biography

Again with the spiritual questions. Maybe it is a mistake to think I will find the answers in books. I expected that after reading The Bible: A Biography I'd have a much clearer vision of Christianity, but that's really not the case. Karen Armstrong's book is more about the history of the study of the Bible than the actual authorship of the text. So we begin down the road of ambiguity.

In their (the Pharisees') view, there was no single authoritative reading of scripture. As events unfolded on earth, even God had to keep studying his own Torah in order to discover its full significance...The meaning of a text was not self-evident. The exegete had to go in search of it, becuase every time a Jew confronted the Word of God in scripture, it signified something different.
I've never thought a literal reading of the Bible made sense, and I continue to believe that. This is something Armstrong emphasizes over and over again:

In the last years of the nineteenth century, the Bible Conference, where conservatives could read scripture in a literal, no-nonsense manner and purge their minds of the Higher Criticsm, became increasingly popular in the United States. There was a widespread hunger for certainty. People now expected something entirely new from the Bible -- something it had never pretended to offer hitherto.
I can't say I don't hunger for certainty, too. But Armstrong's point in this book is that it is not there.
A single text could be interpreted to serve diametrically opposed interests...At the same time as African Americans drew on the Bible to develop their theology of liberation, the Ku Klux Klan used it to justify their lynching of blacks.
That is truly mind-boggling.

This book really raises more questions than it answers, which for me was both frustrating and challenging. It's not meant as a reference book on who wrote the Bible; for that a study Bible is what you need. Armstrong avoids simplistic literal-minded answers. Instead she advocates studying the Bible for yourself, not as a fact collector but as a spiritual seeker.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This is an interesting way to make money.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lunchtime drama

So...I was going to meet a friend at Starbucks during my lunch hour. I debated on packing a lunch then figured I should since Starbucks doesn't serve "real food." I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some crackers. I put it into the refrigerator at work in the morning.

Fast forward to 1:30 p.m. I'm running late to meet my friend, decide to just grab whatever at Starbucks since I'm not famished. Mocha cherry latte (decaf) and a croissant if you must know. Come back to work, figure I should grab my lunch out of the fridge and take it home. Open the fridge door - there is nothing on the shelves. No sandwich. The Wal-Mart bag I brought it in is also missing. But on the shelf inside the door I spot my pack of crackers. *agh* This makes me sooo angry. Who does that? Just steals someone's lunch like that? And leaving the crackers I find even more insulting. I didn't eat the lunch that day, fortunately, but what if that *was* my only lunch for the day? Do I need a lunchbox with a lock on it? Sad that I do.

Monday, March 08, 2010

My car window is broken. I pushed the button for it to go down when I was going through a drive-through this weekend and it never went back up. *sad face*

There's nothing in my car worth stealing (church pamphlets, random trash, sunshield, tape player), so I wasn't too worried parking it like that. I hoped for no rain and no strong dust storms. I'm not ghetto enough to get out the duct tape and plastic tarp.

I've been driving with the window down for three days. It was kind of amusing at first to pretend I was in a convertible with the wind rushing over me. Today it was cold going to work, so I turned up the heat on high trying to get a wave of warm air to counteract the blast coming from my left side.

$225 to fix, and I won't get the car back until tomorrow morning at the earliest. The hassles of life.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

- Wondering how many calories of carbs I consumed this week. I know it was a lot.
- Long and crazy week at work. Felt on top of the world and close to tears at different times. Sometimes at the same time, actually. Need to heed my own advice from a few weeks back about not being so hard on myself.
- Trying to tone down the negativity. My Facebook status updates are one negative comment after another. Reminder: good things do happen.
- Whip It: a chick flick that I respect.
Thoughts after finishing Reading Lolita in Tehran:

- I'm grateful for every single opportunity I've had to study literature -- formal, informal, in a group, by myself. My education in literature is very incomplete and scattered at best, but it's funny how I'll remember things from my British lit class in college, a word or phrase from a John Donne meditation or Shakespeare sonnet a professor went over nearly 10 years ago. Or how much I miss my grad school reading group, all of us holding our copies of Neruda poems or Bukowski short stories or novels by Nabokov or Cather or Lawrence, sitting in a circle of chairs at Starbucks, the analysis preceded and followed by a good measure of gossip and random thoughts on life. A class or a reading group can change who you are. Not overnight, but more like how waves shape the sea shore. I know this firsthand.

- I have my complaints about the United States but I should thank God every day I was born here and not Iran. "I have a recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination" is what Nafisi wrote in her notebook the day before she left Iran. Something not to be taken for granted.

- I regret not having read Daisy Miller and having merely skimmed The Great Gatsby.

- You should read this book. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Nice to wake up and not have my first thought of the day be 'I want more sleep.'