Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Yesterday I had the Cher song “Give Our Love A Fightin’ Chance” stuck in my head. Endlessly looping around in there—“We can talk it over baby, woman to man/Give our love a fightin’ chance!” How crazy is that? I don’t think I’d even thought of that song in at least months, if not years, and there it is playing over and over in my head.

Really wanting to leave this town today. I have no idea how I’m going to make that happen. I mean, there’s the whole matter of getting another job and finding a new place to live. Heidi’s really stuck on Ames right now but who knows if that’ll work out? I really just want a new start—a clean slate so-to-speak. It’s not that I’m necessarily unhappy here, it’s just that I think we’d all be happier in a bigger town where there are more opportunities to do things. I would love for there to be something like a book group or a movie group or something, but you know that won’t ever happen here in this small town. I keep reading stuff in the CR paper or the Iowa City paper that talks about people getting together at Barnes & Noble to discuss a book or something like that. And then there’s all the cultural stuff going on. Maybe I am just a limousine liberal (only thing is I can’t afford the limo) because I really like my life to be cultured and caffeinated.

I think Ames would be a good match for us. I mean, I have a history there, but not as extensive as the one I have in Iowa City. I think moving back to Iowa City would be a lot like a step backward rather than a step out of the mire and funk. I think that going back there, although attractive, would be a misstep. We really don’t have any friends up there any more, so it wouldn’t be any different than moving to a completely new city. And I think Ames would be a good place for us to start over again. They have good schools for Anna, it’s close to Des Moines, we’d be fairly close to Mary & Jeff again. I said the other day that I might even consider working retail for a while if I had to just to get to Ames. However, I don’t know that I can do that. And plus, I have to try not to get attached to Ames being the answer to all my problems. I know that moving there would cause other problems in our life to crop up. We’d bitch about traffic again, we’d barely know our neighbors. But as Heidi said, it’s not like we know our neighbors all that well here in Washington and that’s supposed to be one of the draws of small towns.

Maybe we’re just private people and it’s *us* that’s the problem. Maybe we’re likely to feel this way wherever we go. Who knows.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I told Heidi that I was going to post my guilty pleasures and that I had four. Her response was "FOUR?!?! Try forty!" OK, yeah, I'm a living, breathing collection of guilty pleasures. I'm going to leave out the obvious ones (Madonna) and the ones that are guilty only because I'm a guy (Barbra Streisand) and concentrate on a few others.

1) Dolly Parton – I love Dolly. Yeah, she's a caricature of herself (big boobs, big hair, cheap makeup, glittery clothes) but if you can look past the image, she's truly one of the greatest country songwriters of the last 50 years, and almost without a doubt the most influential female country songwriter. She's done it all—traditional country, country-pop, 80s cheese, bluegrass (a bluegrass cover of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" even!), disco and even a duet with Boy George! Even when the stuff she does doesn't quite work (see 1987's Rainbow) it's almost always guaranteed to be fun. OK, the biggest exception to this would be her latest CD For God And Country which I sampled off of Rhapsody and found it to be a take-off on Lawrence Welk's Capitol 4th! And the greatest thing about Dolly is she's not just confined to music. 9 to 5 is one of my all time favorite movies and it's due in no small portion to Dolly's presence.
2) Clay Aiken – I really don't get into "American Idol" at all, in fact, I've never watched an episode, but I must have seen Clay on Live With Regis & Kelly one morning when I was on my rounds at the hospital. I found myself pleasantly surprised by the song and so I checked out the rest of the CD on Rhapsody. While Heidi's not as impressed as I was, it's really good pop music. He kind of reminds me of a latter-day Rick Astley (another guilty pleasure.) But I found myself thinking to myself "what's a 31 year old man doing listening to Clay Aiken? Ostensibly, I should hate this!!" Alas, I don't. I'm almost ready to go buy the CD.

1) Xanadu – Starring the one and only Olivia Newton-John!! ONJ was my first true celebrity crush, and this was one of the first movies I have recollection of going to at the theater. It is cheesy, it is kitschy, there is no way in hell it would ever be made today, but, God love the 80s, it got made then. I knew Heidi was a keeper when she sat through a showing of that movie with me. Xanadu is out on DVD now, in all it's cheesy glory. During a replay after getting the DVD for Christmas, Heidi turns to me and says "I must have really been head over heels for you to sit through this!"

1) "The Golden Girls" – As our friend Mary says, "Back in high school, most people were out getting laid on Saturday night while I was at home watching 'The Golden Girls.'" Well Mary, that makes two of us. This is the one show that, no matter how many times I've seen the episode, will make me sit and giggle like a little kid. What a great ensemble cast—and to think that Betty White was originally going to play the part of sexpot Blanche (although it would have made her turn as a potty-mouthed widow in Lake Placid a little easier to take.) Back in the days when we had cable, GG would be on Lifetime at least 4 times a day, so I was in heaven. Heidi and I can hardly wait for it to be released on DVD (no release date yet!)

Well that's it for now. Gotta get ready for work.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Caucus Insanity

OK, that's quite enough surfing of for one night. I tell ya, that site is such a guilty pleasure and the biggest problem is that you always find out just enough to pique your curiosity and to find out any more, you have to pay for the damn thing. No way—I'm not that interested in what my former classmates from high school are doing.

I haven't written in forever and I'm not entirely certain why that is. It's been a crazy month. The Dean campaign consumed us during the month of January and the run-up to the caucuses. It seems like the staffer for Washington and Henry county was calling us every other day with some request or another. Truthfully, Heidi and I are just not cut out for the life of political activists. We're too introverted to really be effective and speaking for myself, it's mostly just aggravating because I felt so strongly about it and anyone who didn't agree with me was mostly just being dumb and not seeing the light. Yeah, that's a really ridiculous thing to think because, hello, there are more answers than just the one in my head, but y'know!

The whole caucus thing was a big disappointment—and not just because Dean performed so poorly in Iowa. For some unknown reason, Heidi (and by default, me as well) were Dean precinct captains which basically meant that we were the big campaign people at our precinct's caucus. Well, neither of us had ever caucused before and boy were we in for a surprise. Part of the trouble was that in the weeks leading up to the caucus, Dean had been the frontrunner and we had been led to believe (erroneously) that there would be a large number of Dean supporters in the room. Well, we got there and we looked out at this vast sea of Kerry and Edwards supporters—and some of those people had gone on the record as being Dean supporters! The campaign had been serious about getting all potential supporters called and what not, but it seemed to me that the campaign turned a lot of voters off with the incessant calling. I know that I talked to more than my fair share of people that were just sick of the whole thing and didn't want to hear anything more about any of the candidates.

So we're in the room and the Edwards precinct captain is really damn annoying but, admittedly, really good at his job. You could tell this wasn't his first caucus. The Kerry people were pretty quiet for the most part. There were a few Gephardt people and a couple of Kucinich people as well, but the Dean, Edwards and Kerry groups were the only ones that were viable. The Gephardt people quickly split between Edwards and Kerry, and we grabbed one of the Kucinich people. I don't know what happened to the other Kucinich supporters—maybe they left. That was just the thing. There was so much confusion in the whole thing. I tried to count heads in our group several times and kept getting different results. I mean, all we needed was 9 people in the group to be viable and we ended up with 12, but I couldn't keep track because of the general craziness in the room and the Edwards guy talking above just about all the noise in the room. All these Edwards and (to a lesser extent) Kerry people were giving us this evil eye like "how DARE we come to the caucus if we weren't going to support their candidate?" Well, pardon fucking me, but this is still a democracy and I can stand and be counted for whichever candidate I want.

After the whole thing was over I had this split feeling of having done the right thing by taking part in the political process but realizing just how screwed up the caucus system really is. I mean, it was so easy to manipulate, especially in our small town. It was all about who you knew and how you could make them feel uncomfortable enough till they came and stood with you. And I think that was the thing that bugged me the most. Here we are in our small town at was is ostensibly a meeting of our neighbors and we never felt more alienated in our life. This is a really conservative town and I thought "Wow! What a great opportunity to meet other Democrats in town." Well, if these are the Democrats, I can't get down to the courthouse to switch my registration back to Independent quickly enough. They looked at us icily and there was no sense of what should be the ultimate goal—getting rid of Bush. It was all about the candidates, which I suppose I should have expected. It so didn't matter to the Edwards supporters that their guy really has no chance. Unfortunately, it's all going to come down to money in the long run. And Dean's the only one with it.

It makes me want to leave this town so much—so much I'm looking for other jobs. Not that I'm unhappy in my job, but I'm just so unhappy in this town. We've been here for five years now and we barely know anyone. If you're not born and bred here, then you're not welcome. I worry sometimes that it's us—that we're the dysfunctional ones and not the town, but even if it is, we're still not a good fit for the town.

But after all my political campaigning, I must say that I'm glad the focus is on other states from here on out. It's fun to have the candidates come through and have them come to your house and things like that, but I'm glad it's over. I'm ready to go back to something I'm good at—the Oscars!