succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things about which I've been meaning to blog

I think Atlanta is the first place that I've really felt ownership of, in that, 'hey, that's my town you're talking about!' kind of way. Sure, WV will always be Home, but I didn't have any sort of agency in the events that led to me being born there. And I hated Cleveland. I chose Atlanta, and I don't hate it, so I guess it's my place!

Last week, in particular, I was proud that it's my place, as the AJC ran some really lovely reminiscences about MLK's life and death. I was also impressed to learn that while many cities devolved into violence at the news of his assassination, Atlanta kept it together pretty well (at least, according to the history books).

Unrelated to MLK, but still under the ATL heading, how adorable is this? (for those too lazy to follow the link, someone tied a disposable camera to a bench in the Highlands with a note directing strangers to please take pictures)

More from The Impossible Will Take a Little While...
The Peace of Wild Things
Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

"That is America to me - not just the movement for civil rights but the endless struggle to respond with decency, dignity, and a sense of brotherhood to all the challenges that face us as a nation, as a whole." John Lewis (my Congressional representative!)

"Given the catastrophic failure here and abroad of the Kyoto global warming accords, given our newfound post 9-11 imperialist exuberance, given the sagging of the world's economy and the IMF-directed refusal to see any solutions beyond making poor people suffer even more than they always do in the hopes of reviving a market that only ever revives long enough to make the rich even richer, given the eagerness in Washington to explore new and tinier kinds of nuclear bombs, well, it's sort of optimistic to believe its a supernova that's going to get us. It's clear that what's much more likely to get us, if we are got, is our present condition of living in a world run by miscreants while the people of the world either have no access to power or have access but have forgotten how to get it and why it is important to have it." Tony Kushner

And best of all, the entirety of "Jesus and Alinsky" by Walter Wink. Seriously, go read it. I'll wait. "Whatever the source of the misunderstanding, it is neither Jesus nor his teaching, which, when given a fair hearing in its original social context, is arguably one of the most revolutionary political statements ever uttered." Now that's my guy. I think that's why I prefer my Jesus in musical theater and movies rather than enclosed in four walls. He always seems to get watered down, dumbed down, made lame and uninteresting when put in the hands of organized religion.

And this, though not from the book, it seems to fit here - walking back from something on the other side of campus, an Iraq war protester handed me a flier, which included the following:
During the Vietnam War, A.J. Muste stood each night holding a candle in silent protest outside of the White House. When asked by an incredulous reporter if he thoughts this would really change the policy in Vietnam, Muste replied: "Oh, I don't do this to change the country. I do this so the country won't change me."

One down, three to go
Or four down, three to go, if you count the exams - three qualifying exams, one written proposal handed in, one oral presentation of said proposal to go, the actual dissertation document to finish, and the defense of said document. There you have it. All the hoops I have to clear to call myself Dr. I handed in my proposal yesterday, and am alternating between basking in the glory of having expelled the contents of my brain onto 92 pages* and sheer disbelief that two weeks from today I'm supposed to speak authoritatively for 50-ish minutes in front of...well, in front of whomever decides to show up. I keep telling myself that people do it all the time, that I plan on having the sort of career wherein I do this type of thing all the time, but right now the notion just seems impossible. I also keep telling myself that those damn exams seemed impossible in the abstract too, but when the time came I just studied and did it. I can do this too, right?

*I celebrated by going to see Juno (as good as everyone says it is; I love how earnest and genuine Ellen Page is, and Allison Janney always rocks my world, and gets the best line of the movie - "Someone is going to get a sweet gift from Jesus in this garbage-dump of a situation,"), staying in to watch Enchanted (cute, but beyond my suspension of disbelief abilities), and treating myself to a shiny new short hairdo. Yay to having a male hair stylist with big, strong hands to rub all the tension out of your head and neck!


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