Monday, January 29, 2007

Tepid Thoughts for a Mild Monday

Snow continues its residence with us, but in easy big flakes that stick around only long enough for another to take their place. It's all quite lovely. And makes me feel better that Kris Kolden is on the march to South America, and I, as of this writing, am not. I rented 'Jesus Camp' the other day and felt bitter about the past, but I rented 'Fargo' from Four Star, so maybe I'll watch that tonight and feel just fine about the present.

I'm stiff today. I tried to walk down a monstrous hill after losing my sled halfway down. It was icy. And steep. I remember it crossing my mind to move sideways across the hill back to the walking path, which would have spared me time, bruises and enduring slight discomfort. But like so many should-have-dones, it fluttered back to heaven, where nothing ever happens.

This has been the struggle of my life, really. Ignoring the better judgment trained into my head so I have interesting things to write about.

Despite all this, I went to work today. You should be proud of me. I didn't have to. It was my optional day. But I just couldn't sleep knowing I didn't give my all for America. And I need the money for beer. The State of Wisconsin, against the better judgment of their German ancestors, don't consider beer a "food," and since there are no beer stamps, I'm on my own.

There ought to be. Anyone who's in college, working construction or can hit three straight bullseyes on the dartboard gets rations. Then we save our money to support local businesses. C'mon, Governor Doyle. You'd be crazy not to do it.

Speaking of Our Man Jim, he's attempting to ban smoking in all public buildings in the state. I am just fine with this. I will occupy no terrain except that which is ever changing, and some of my liberetarian impulses have relented somewhat. It's awfully nice to wake up after a bar night and reek of something that's not cigarette smoke. With the kiddos at work, nearly all of whom smoke, this was obvioulsy not such a popular move. One, in remarkably well-counterfeited small town bravado, boasted that non-Madisonian Wisconsin would never stand for such an injustice; bar owners would lose their smoking customers and the economy would plummet into ruin, rain of sulfur, all that business.

Two things:
1. Put your Old Testament gloom and doom away. Americans, especially 'Sconnies, are sufficiently attached to tavern-going that having to take a step outside to smoke isn't going to stop anyone. Lincoln, of all places, enacted a smoking ban, and do you know what changed? Nothing.
2. The girl who said this, a participant in our Americorps program that's designed to help troubled teens turn it around, is pregnant with triplets. Yes, that's correct. Three little ones. And though they certainly struggle to attain a proper birth weight, she still thinks a Newport now and then is not sweat. Half a smoke's not so bad, right?

I don't mean to be cruel with this next one, but part of our mission is to prep these folks for life in the working world, or whatever you wish to call it. So here's some reality: if you're the unwed young mother of three, probably on welfare, you're going to have to get used to people not taking your opinion seriously. Also, you might to kiss your troll doll and pray the Republicans don't return to power with enough force to make you marry your baby's daddy and work. I don't forsee this happening, and neither do I wish upon you either of these nasty pastimes, marriage or work. I'm just saying.

Other things that have been pondered, on my long afternoons of mudding drywall:

I can't decide whether to watch the Super Bowl. This happens every year. It's one of the fault lines where my sliding personalities rub up -- I'm a Midwestern fellow, and most people I know will be watching it, as will most people you know. But there's that something to wonderfully highbrow and elitist about being out of touch of with mass culture. Wealthy people buy rich things for conspicuous consumption; I like to tell people that I missed monumental media events because it gives some of them the impression that I had something better to do.

I can't decide whether I should go to the Decemberists in Madison this spring. I love whaling, and songs thereabout. I don't like indie kids, the ones who are walking stereotypes that is. There is the possibility, however, that by this point the Decemberists have grown to such stature the scenesters will tuck scarf and run to all points other. We'll see.

I'm going to be awfully pleased when the sun stretches out and the days linger on again. I've earned it. A TV advertisment for "The OC" reminded me how oppressive I tend to find the summertime, but Nordic June is something else, the jubilant reward for such patience. It's a pity that unlike their Swedish ancestors, Sconnies don't make a huge deal out of Midsummer. They ought.

Something I've said before that's worth saying again: I can't get over women in fantastic winter fashion. There's one at the next table in fetching sweater and scarf, perfectly matched. It shows so much more than throwing on a bikini in July and yelling, "look, I'm hot." Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just think winter is a better time to be in love, or have been convinced so by talking pictures. Then again, the talkies also seem to be convinced that smoking is not only cool, but consequence-free. Silly movies. You're thinking of alcohol.

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