On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My husband teases me that my world revolves around my dog, Buddy. And while I like to think the animal is merely an occupant in my home, the truth is he does rule. And this is not a bad thing.

Having Buddy is like having small children again. There's a pleasure I get from the simple joy he gets from everything. For example, we've discovered a couple of dog parks in the area. I'm a good owner, (I was a good mother, too) so I make it a habit of taking him to one around noon every day. I've discovered the good this does for me as well, getting me away from work to clear my mind, exercising my body. The trail is exhilarating, up and down wooded slopes, through dense stands of trees, and even on the coldest days I am loathe to go in.

Buddy loves to run, and he grins as he goes, plowing through the powder, chasing squirrels, dodging through the bare tangle of brush and bush, making me laugh at my very old dog acting like a puppy. Then I feel myself growing lighter and younger. I find myself marveling once more at sun-sparkling snow, at the canopy of bare branches stretched across a blue sky, at the soughing of wind through trees. These are all things I had pushed aside in pursuit of grown-up goals, and now they are back, fresh again, reminding me of things forgotten.

Like a child, buddy's sadness is unbearable when I have to go without him. He deigns to take an offered biscuit, as though the taste is dross because I'm going away. That sad face weighs on me while I'm gone, even though I know he will spend the day stretched out in bliss on the couch. Then he is always so delighted when I return, his entire butt wriggling with joy.

I've missed that adulation.I think it's the joy inherent in children and pets that can help us as we age, that can give us fresh perspectives and keep our juices flowing.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new president. A new era. Like all Americans, I am hopeful that this change in regime will mean better times for us all--if nothing else, the past eight years have shown us the importance of intelligence--and the danger in its absence. Our leaders must be well-educated, and not just to go to a prestigious school. We all know that there are always ways for unqualified people to sneak into those bastions of education (look at all the named wings of every venerable institution). Honest intelligence should always win out, and unfortunately, that's not always the case.

But honest intelligence is nothing without tenacity, sacrifice, and hard work. These are the tests of character, and the American character has been sorely lacking. Let us pray that change will really happen, that with honesty and decency we can rebuild all that we have lost.

We've learned a lot about ourselves these past eight years, and it's been humbling. We've been arrogant, proud, truly "Ugly Americans." Maybe now we can look at ourselves in a new light, rejoin the world and work together to create a global nation. It's a lot to ask, but knowing how truly terrible we can be might inspire us to be better.

It's a start, and we've nowhere to go but up.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ah, the job search. Embarrassing, degrading, ego-crushing, deflating. And here I am again, embarrassed, degraded, crushed, deflated. Why is the sun shining?

I won't try to belabor the obvious point that youth is king in today's world, but, as with every universal truth, it feels new when it happens to you. Prejudice on any level is illegal and insidious, anomalous in that it's a dirty little secret everyone knows but pretends isn't there.

The biggest frustration is knowing that if I could meet with an employer person-to-person, I could get the job, but interviews are elusive at best. I possess a lifetime of skills, experience, education, and acquired wisdom, but the bottom line employers see is the number of years it took for me to reach this point and disgard me like a used tissue.


Monday, January 12, 2009

My world has never been so white.

It took a long time, a lot of hard work, and 14 pounds that needed to be lost anyway, but we're moved in and, it appears, settled into a world of white.

I don't remember ever having seen so much snow (I know I have, but it's like childbirth--you forget the pain), and I am thankful my new driveway is shorter than the old one. The repeating blizzard pattern is blinding, and the constantly refreshed snow cover keeps things bright. Unfortunately, that unceasing whiteness is carried over into our new house.

I don't discount the idea of painting your entire house in neutral colors in order to sell it, but my sellers really took that idea to heart. Everything is in tones of blah. The walls are white, the carpet, which has seen better days, is beige, and even the wallpapered areas are done in a nondescript, patternless pattern that fades off into nothingness. It's depressing--even more so when I realize that I have to paint (and peel) so much!

I need color--we all do. It heightens our emotions and defines our lives. That's one of the reasons I do love winter, at least to a point: it clears my mind, lets me rest a bit, and readies me for change. The stark black of trees against the purity of white is soothing. The blend of earth and sky makes everything feel more expansive, and I can breathe easier, even if I am breathing in icy needles.

But enough is enough. I was finished with the cold and the snow before New Year's Eve. I'm tired of white walks, boring walls, pasty skin, my eyes bouncing from white to beige to eggshell in the desperate search for a bright spot. I am looking longingly at Fauvist art and craving bright colors I would never otherwise have considered for my rooms.

It's been a long winter, and we all are ready for the colors of optimism and joy and the eternal hope that spring brings.

Reading back, I realize this entire entry could be considered a metaphor for our current political situation. It wasn't meant to be that, but it works, and that's okay, too. That's the writing lesson for today: the wonder of words. They possess whatever meaning the reader sees in them, and if they inspire, provoke, or give thought in any way, then you as a writer are doing your job.

Your words are powerful, too. Use them wisely.