digression – america runs on _________

February 13, 2008

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. b.a.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, if who you really are is a douchebag, no one is required to love you (although I think life has plenty of examples of douchebags finding love at the same rate as nice, normal people. sigh.), but most of us are just your average (flawed) human beings. And the odds are, SOMEONE out there will find us captivating. – j.a.

[The] issues are never simple. One thing I’m proud of is that very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues. – b.a.

Blogging is so. So. SO. SO. easy compared to writing a cohesive narrative of 2000 words or more. Blogging is jotting down your thoughts. Anyone can jot down thoughts in a coherent and more or less amusing fashion. But try making an actual long-form argument – that MAKES SENSE – without resorting to cliche or banality or circular rhetoric or just filler … while still maintaining your voice? ugh, it’s not easy. – j.a.

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. it’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere. – b.a

Moreover, if what we know about ourselves flies in the face of the perception of other people, we may choose to actively ignore that perception. For example, my love of the color pink may lead people to believe I am immature. Now, I may disagree with this, but that’s (probably) just how people will feel, no matter what. It’s better to know this, and deal with it accordingly, than to not.

…Is it fair that people judge? Of course it isn’t. But it’s reality. So what should I do, then? Not dress the way I want to dress? Or accept that some people will judge me inaccurately?

So far I’ve chosen the latter. – j.a.

The fact that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife. – b.a.

It seems that people AUTOMATICALLY assume if you want to write a dating column, you’re harboring an intense desire to be famous or buy a lot of Manolos or something. That’s not why I started my column (back in college), and my career ambition is entirely separate from that. I’m not ambitious BECAUSE I write a dating column, and I didn’t calculate that it would be easier to get more attention or succeed in the world of journalism if I were a dating columnist (although I think it HAS brought me more attention than if I were a regular reporter – but that was an unexpected byproduct).

I began the column because I was genuinely fascinated by the machinations between men and women, and I thought I could – gasp! – actually examine issues that people obsess over incessantly. It’s sort of ironic, how deeply relationships affect everyone’s lives, but how frivolously they’re treated in journalism. WHY IS THIS!?!? – j.a.

We live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained. – b.a.

PS. I think sleep masks as headbands could be the next big thing.

PPS. I am kidding.

PPPS. God, I totally had a dream that I was driving in a car with Paris Hilton, and she was really, really smart, and we discussed her regrets about creating the ditzy, vapid “Paris Hilton” character.

PPPPS. I wish I were kidding. – j.a.

People are whupped. I’m whupped. My wife is whupped. Unless it’s your job to be curious, who really has the time to sit and ask questions and explore issues? – b.a.

I’m so, so, so tired. Sleepy, emotional tired, like anything will make me cry. If you told me now that you didn’t like my dog, it would probably make me cry. Okay, maybe I would just frown, but you know … it’s almost a PMS-y, illogical, irrational, over-sensitivity. I feel like this is a version of tired we should outgrow, but I haven’t. Meh. – j.a.

Look, we live in a celebrity culture and sometimes you get caught in the wave and the buzz and a lot of it’s flattering but, you know, one of the things that I try to remind people of is, is that I was in politics as a state senator operating in obscurity for many years. Before that I was a community organizer working in low income communities in Chicago and nobody knew my name then. And so, having involved myself in public service for a pretty long time without getting too much attention, hopefully I can keep some of the attention that I’m getting now in perspective. – b.a.

As part of the article I’m writing, the editor suggested I cite a few of the insults lobbed against me over the past few years.

So, because I follow instructions (ha), I diligently waded through the murky abyss of internet hatred against me.

It’s not that I haven’t heard this stuff before, but I swear to god, after an hour I was THISCLOSE to slitting my wrists, just to get it over with …

UPDATE: Okay, I’m done trolling through the drivel and will literally NEVER go there again. Now, looking at the comments I’ve pasted onto a word doc, out of context they actually … make me laugh. I still feel sick from the entire process, but when I look at them, it’s like … “seriously???”

“slut with a pen”
“useless ho-bag”
“attention whore”
“chiclet-toothed asshole”
“old, ugly and over”
“dumber … than an autistic child”
“slutternaut”

“Boobs speak louder than words. And lucky for her.”

My favorite is “dumber than an autistic child.” – j.a.

Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. – b.a.

Okay, so (for this article) one of the things I’m thinking about is what it is, at the root of everything, that makes us unhappy.

I think that most (needless) unhappiness stems from the worry that, on some level, we are not enough.

Not smart enough or beautiful enough or thin enough or successful enough or rich enough – or … yeah … LOVABLE enough.

We’re frightened of being criticized, of being rejected, of being unloved.

Many of us are giant balls of self-doubt and anxiety – and we’re freaked out that someone will FIGURE THIS OUT. – j.a.

We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding but find our expression of faith sowing division; we believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious, and cultural tensions roil the landscape. And instead of resolving these tensions or mediating these conflicts, our politics fans them, exploits them, and drives us further apart. – b.a.

I want the entire world to get “life = not zero sum” tattooed on a body part they see every single day. I feel like it would help. – j.a.

We have a stake in one another … what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and … if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth. – b.a.

I remember thinking how funny that was, that they were insulting me for … being nice??

Now, looking back, I think it’s more sad than anything else. It’s sad that they were convinced it was an artifice – because they couldn’t believe that someone might ACTUALLY be interested, might ACTUALLY want to be your friend, might ACTUALLY think you’re great.

It’s not fake. I really am like that. 🙂 – j.a.

In an interconnected world, the defeat of international terrorism – and most importantly, the prevention of these terrorist organizations from obtaining weapons of mass destruction — will require the cooperation of many nations. We must always reserve the right to strike unilaterally at terrorists wherever they may exist. But we should know that our success in doing so is enhanced by engaging our allies so that we receive the crucial diplomatic, military, intelligence, and financial support that can lighten our load and add legitimacy to our actions. This means talking to our friends and, at times, even our enemies. – b.a.

Yes, that’s a nametag I’m wearing. I love nametags. I love wearing one, and I love when other people wear them. It just makes everything so much easier, you don’t have to worry you didn’t hear their name right, you don’t have to humiliate yourself asking someone you’ve met 7 times to repeat it, etc etc. I think we should all have cute permanent nametags we wear whenever we’re interacting with a large group of strangers. Just a helpful life suggestion. – j.a.

Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. – b.a.

I mean, to have happiness without any pain. For the last six months it’s been on-and-off joy mixed with bad-relationship pain (and for the past two months, a TON of breakup pain), but for the last week, I’ve felt this pure unadulterated joy – like I’ve come through a very horrible sandstorm and I can breathe again.

It makes me a little NERVOUS, actually …(how weird is that??)

I call it Freedom Happiness: the happiness of not being dependent upon anyone for my happiness.

It’s lovely. I highly recommend it. – j.a.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – b.a.

With a half dozen officially sucky Valentine’s Days under my belt, I’m still in thrall of the unmitigated potential of the occasion. This is perhaps surprising, given that my most memorable February 14ths include being given a regifted copy of All Quiet on the Western Front (um, it’s a war novel. What?!?) and years later, after even my backup date had stood me up, eating an entire jar of frosting. Alone.

No matter – I’m a perpetual optimist. And that frosting was actually quite good. Just because I haven’t had a “perfect” Valentine’s day … yet … doesn’t mean it won’t happen sometime in the future!! – j.a.

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One Response to “digression – america runs on _________”


  1. […] knows how to stay on message. so am i right yet? JA is obama, LC is hillary. (spencer is romney – a glossy villain, interestingly bizarre yet, where it counts […]


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