January 23, 2021 Edition
Well gang, it’s been a heckuva week. I usually aim to get this out on Fridays but roughly at 4:30pm on Thursday I crashed like a hard drive from 1999 and am just getting back into the game now. So without further ado, let’s look at the ups and downs of the week as only I can.
Notable Firsts: Kamala Harris sworn in as Vice-President of the United States; Donald Trump becomes the first US President impeached twice.
No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, this was a historic week for the country for sure. Kamala Harris, former Senator from the great state of California and all-around badass, wearing royal purple, standing on the shoulders of giants, put her hand on Thurgood Marshall’s and a family bible (yes there were two…the second of which some in the social media idiocracy thought was “a purse”…jesus christ…) and swore her way into history. I am thrilled about this, just thrilled. It gave me goosebumps to watch it and I have to remind myself every day, that I’m watching history in the making. I can’t wait to see what she does.
On the other hand, then there’s Donald Trump, doing exactly what he hoped to do: set himself apart in every way from every other president in history. Well, congratulations. You’re now the only president in history impeached twice, this time for inciting and unprecedented insurrection by Americans on the Capitol building which hasn’t seen an insurrection of any kind since 1812. Of course, putting kids in cages at the border I think was also a notable first. May your conviction be swift and your downfall thorough. Please extend that sentiment to your entire, gross family (except Barron because he’s still an innocent sapling…we will assume). Bye-eeeeeee.
Poet of the week: Amanda Gorman
There was a lot of the Inauguration on Wednesday that put me in my feels, which is a space unusual and murky for me. But I think the clearest moment of hope and clarity in my day was watching this young woman, who I think looks like a Arwen- or Galadriel-esque fantasy-savior-elf-angel (LOTR, okay, people…get with it) before she even says a word, rock all of America with The Hill We Climb.
On a day during which I felt mostly exhausted, I was jolted back to hope in the true future with this one. I’ll be honest: this is the first time poetry made sense to me as an art form. Yes, I acknowledge the greats like Maya Angelou…and those…other poetry greats…but the combo of this spoken word, the content jam-packed with insight, the cadence, the silences…everything was perfect. I thought her infusion of Hamilton-inspired phrasing and imagery was a brilliant pop-culture shout out that made this seem at once in the moment and reaching beyond. Like Anderson Cooper, I am floored and impressed with this young woman–a true brilliant light.
Update: How’s Packing for Mars going? I finished!
A HUGE win for me since I haven’t been able to string together reading an entire book in about 10 months. I’ll admit the problem wasn’t the book; it was me. I still don’t think this is Mary Roach’s best effort, despite not having read any of her other books, but I wonder if the fault there lies with her or with our/my overly romanticizing space travel. I watch The Martian at least once a week and, if that’s my frame of reference, then reading about all of the apes and dogs that were killed in the line of duty to get to space travel was perhaps a little too real. Also as I’m writing this, Mars wasn’t really part of any of this book. It was a good, somewhat wry history of the cultural tidbits of how space travel developed in this country. The chapter on all of the urine-collection devices was unexpected. I also learned that it’s gravity that makes us poop in our usual downward fashion…so, you know, coming up with a space crapper was a big win but…damn, space travel is pretty disgusting by our earthly standards. Once dispensed with the…um…basics…I found myself unamused by what is ultimately a grosser, more lightweight camping trip for science.
I’ll live with Hollywood space travel for now.
source of joy this week: teaching
It’s a weird, hard kind of joy but a new semester started this week at Oakton Community College and thus I have been granted another 24, zooming strangers upon whom to bestow the gift of Sociology. I spend all week feeling exhausted by this idea but Wednesday night came and I felt like myself for three full hours.
Maybe this is exactly the answer I’ve been looking for.
irritation of the week: YouTubers saying things wrong.
I definitely watch too much YouTube. But, that aside, I’m so sick and tired of hearing people use phrases incorrectly or use words that don’t exist to their incredibly huge, millennial followings who then, in turn, use those phrases in their papers that I have to read.
Let’s clarify a couple things:
- Irregardless IS NOT A WORD. YES I’M SHOUTING. I’M SHOUTING, I’M SHOUTING, I’M SHOUTING (extra points if you know this movie I’m quoting).
- Downton Abbey is Edwardian, not Victorian. There’s a difference because history.
- For all intensive purposes is not a thing. The saying is For all INTENTS and purposes. Also, if I see this in a paper, points off because that’s a rhetorical phrase and not a useful written, analytical phrase.
- Using “resonate” incorrectly, i.e. “I really resonated with the poem The Hill we Climb.” No, no, no. Here’s the deal: something resonates with you…meaning it hits home in a particular way or means something particularly important. It spoke to you. But you don’t resonate with it. This is because: physics, specifically sound waves. That’s the metaphor. When a bell resonates, it echoes or can be heard (re-sonate…re-sound) or even felt because of the sound waves that happen. If you’re standing under a bell, you’ll actually feel the sound waves, yes? That bell is resonant or it “resonates.” Thusly, something that resonates has an effect on you, not the other way around. What you’re trying to say if you say, “I resonated with…” is that you could relate to or you agreed with or felt affinity with…whatever. So…please. Get your subject/object shit together.
- Indicating a beloved or admired person by calling them “human being,” as in, “She is just so kind, so generous, a great human being.” As this will prove I’m highly irritable but why the need to bring in species talk here? Every single person is a human being…why invoke biology? Just say “person” or…better yet…dispense with the predicate adjective altogether (I think that’s what that is…some grammar-usage-lover-obsessive will correct me if not, surely) Are we really at a place that we need to announce our biological classifications? Now, if the Roswell people end up being right and there are other humanoid creatures on this planet…I’m willing to reconsider. Until then…can we all just give each other as a ground rule that we’re all human beings?
- Honorable mention, noted by Al Franken: Walk and Chew Gum. I didn’t come up with this one but I was buoyant listening to his rant about politicians using this completely incorrectly. As he noted, we’re hearing a lot about Congress “having to walk and chew gum,” meaning balance or multi-task attending to Biden’s agenda while prosecuting the former Criminal In-Chief. This is not how we want to use this phrase because, in its actual meaning, it’s meant to point out or exaggerate stupidity as in, “He’s so dumb he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” Walking and chewing gum isn’t hard and shouldn’t be seen as a nod to any kind of focused, effortful multitasking. Congress, except for its QAnon members and insurrectionists, is full of highly capable people and should be able to attend to Biden’s agenda AND the 2nd impeachment trial of a former president like they walk and chew gum. It’s not a hard thing…in fact, it’s one of the easier things for humans to do, even the younger of the species.
I could go on all day. Ultimately, this is a bigger irritation I’m parceling out here: something about the idea of “influencers” means that they also become the authority on everything because they’re out there saying it. They’re not. They’re people who document their whole lives for others to watch. I think there’s a reason cancel culture is real: you just get overloaded on whatever is “too much” and then this person has to pay for what is undue, overblown “influence.” I truly digress. I need to get off YouTube until I settle down.
show giving me life this week: Veep. HBO.
Let’s end on an up-note: this show just keeps on giving. Oddly enough it’s political-adjacent and you’d think I’d have had enough but maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it: because I can laugh at it. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is good and keeps getting better as this role evolves but it’s the ensemble that’s worth the watch. The last season is completely garbage but I can watch seasons 1-6 on a constant loop and enjoy them over and over. Especially now that they shouldn’t dovetail with our own real political history as much as they have over the course of the last four years. If you’re going to give it a try, start with the beginning. That’s all I’ll say about that.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a political, emotional week. Hopefully, next week will be less exhausting and with more sun…which I might see more if I stay off of YouTube. We’ll see. Until then!