Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You say tax cuts, I say government programs.


A couple of months ago, I decided to take out my senior yearbook from high school, and look through it. Why? I have no earthly idea. But I did, and it was kind of interesting. I had forgotten how many things I was involved in, how many people actually signed my yearbook, and was kind of surprised that I didn't remember more names and faces.

However, the strangest aspect about my tip-toe through the teen years had to be the comments themselves. I cannot tell you how many different people wrote "Don't worry, you'll be a Republican someday." Or something akin to it, usually accompanied by a smiley cartoon face with a stuck-out tongue.

Let it be known that I was ridiculously outspoken in high school. And earnest! Earnestly out-spoken, out-spokenly earnest; that was me. I suppose this isn't altogether surprising considering that I'm an Aries, and I was one of only a few "out" democrats. Well, I wasn't a democrat yet; I wasn't of legal voting age. But you know what I mean  - I had scandalously democratic tendencies for a mostly conservative high school. I would dive, fearlessly, into political debates, determined to convince the multitudes of conservative children that medicare was helpful, welfare wasn't a waste of tax dollars, and women had the right to make decisions about their bodies.

Needless to say, I was always outnumbered. But damnit, I was born with the gift of a loud booming voice, and I wouldn't be my father's daughter if I didn't use it for the powers of good. I remember distinctly a conversation with my best friend and my Honors Economics teacher, a professed Libertarian, about taxes:

Teacher: "So okay, Ms. Liberal, let me ask you this: you're okay with the government taking a large piece of your hard-earned money to feed, clothe, and house other people? Even criminals and drug-addicts?"
Me: "Yes I am."
T: "Why?"
Megan: "Without taxes, we wouldn't have paved roads or garbage services. We wouldn't have education, Mr. Starnes. Your paycheck is paid for with taxes. Taxes help the government take care of its' people. There are socio-economic issues that more than likely went into those criminals and drug-addicts becoming criminals and drug-addicts."
T: "Wow. I don't like the government taking my money. I guess I'm just a selfish person."
Me: "I guess you are."

Discussions like this would stop the class for at least 20 minutes at a time, which was never a bad thing. But it's these kind of debates I'd get into all the time.

So I guess it's no wonder that the people who signed my yearbook would tease my earnest liberalness. But you know, it's been ten years. TEN YEARS. And I'm still a proud liberal. I won't say a proud democrat - the party system in our country is a little too ridiculous for me to grasp.

It also reminded me of a kind of idiom someone once told me:

"If you're not a liberal when you're young, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative when you're older, you have no brain."

I hate that expression. HATE it. Such complete horse shit.

I guess my point in writing this mini-rant, is for me to say that as I continue through life, edging further and further away from my "youth," I have yet to see or experience anything that has made me even consider becoming a conservative. I'm not stupid, I'm not wasteful. I just see things differently than you. And probably always will.

In hindsight, I'm really glad that I didn't go to my ten year reunion.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Words you didn't know, wish you had, but probably won't know again...


One of the constants in my life has been feast/famine, which is rudely inconsistent. I didn't have a job for most of the fall, which meant I had much more time to write, which really was all I could afford to do. Then I applied to grad schools, left for Canada, came back from Canada, left a day later for Denver/Boulder, flew back, had a week to sort out my life, and then started my day job. And it's not even February yet.

I'm not complaining. I like being busy. I'm wildly productive when I'm busy; so not only do I get things done, but it means that I feel calmer, more confident, and much less lonely. Hey - I love my laptop, but I do love actual human interaction every now and then.

Canada was beautiful, Denver/Boulder was inspiring (I met with Shakespeare geeks AND saw how tea gets made at the Celestial Seasoning plant!), and I haven't heard from grad schools yet - which is a good thing; they send the rejection letters out first. And my day job! My day job is awesome. I'm creating/running/implementing a 6th grade Drama program at an under-achieving Middle School. RIGHT?!

So my insane life aside, one of the many themes of the conference in Boulder surrounded the sad fact that the vocabulary in the English language is shrinking. Observe:

William Shakespeare knew an estimated 25,000+ words.*
A few generations ago, the English speaking world knew about 18-20,000 words.
My generation is sitting pretty with about 11-13,000 words.
The children currently going through school are projected to know 7-8,000 words by the time they graduate high school.

* - keep in mind, Shakespeare created thousands of words, but for the sake of depressing statistics, let's say those are not included in his original 25,000+.

With the understanding that the previous statistics I can in no way justify through any kind of acceptable means, those are some really depressing numbers, no? Kind of makes me want to add a "word of the day" app to my non-existent smart phone.

Now, my ex-girlfriend, perhaps in a premonition of the discussions to come, bought me a desk calendar for Christmas. But not just ANY desk calendar my friends.  She bought me .............wait for it....................


And let me tell you, it's just as awesome as it sounds. Here are some examples of this modern miracle:

Nizzle - You thought it was a word created by Snoop Dogg, didn't you? Hizzle, my nizzles! Nizzle actually means: To be slightly intoxicated, to be the worse for liquor; to be unsteady; usually in past participle [nizzled].  (Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary, 1898-1905)

Beats the Dutch - Something extraordinary; "That beats the Dutch, and the Dutch beats the Devil" is the superlative. (James Maitland's American Slang Dictionary, 1891)

Sport Ivory - If someone smiled, he sported ivory. (Morris Marples, University Slang, 1950)

Jugulator - Sounds like a Marvel Comic Villain, eh? Or perhaps what Jack the Ripper's imaginary friends called him. A Jugulator is actually a cutthroat or murderer. (William Whitney's Century Dictionary, 1889)

Googer - No, not Google's puny baby brother. It's actually a synonym for The Devil. (Walter Sleat's Specimens of English Dialects, Westmoreland, 1879)

Death Hunter - An undertaker, one who furnishes the necessary articles for funerals. Sounds kind of bad ass to me; dare I say it - Lord of the Rings-esque. (Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1796)

Tree-Geese - A name given to barnacles, from their supposed metamorphosis [into geese]. I swear to you, I'm not making this up! (Robert Nare's Glossary [of] the Works of English Authors, 1859)

Gone to Texas - An American expression for one who has decamped, leaving debts behind. It was, and is, no unusual thing for a man to display this notice - perhaps only the initials G.T.T. on his door for the callers after he has absconded. Does that explain anything at all about the years from 2000-2008?? (Trench Johnson's Phases and Names: Their Origins and Meanings, 1906)

Toozle - To pull about, especially applied to any rough dalliance with a female. Perhaps after some Nizzle, for shizzle! (John Brockett's Glossary of North Country Words, 1825)

Bag of Nails - American thieves' cant. Confusion; topsy-turvydom; from "bacchanals." (John Farmer's Slang and its Analogues, 1890)

Scurryfunge - a hasty tidying of the house between the time you see a neighbor and the time she knocks on the door. See?? Some of these actually come in handy; I scurryfunge all the time! (John Gould's Maine Lingo: Boiled Owls, Billdads, and Wazzats, 1975)

Stick with me kids, and you too will become a bona fide nerd. As the year progresses, I'm sure these words will continues to find their way onto my page. Bonus points if you send me some rare words of your own ...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Year of the Bunny!


Hey there - happy 2011! I don't know about you, but this was what my collective being said/expressed/vented as the clock struck midnight, NYE, Mountain Standard Time:

"Oh, thank GOD."

Seriously. 2010 was not a super year. I can't say that it was the worst ever - I don't believe in long-term exaggerations. I know, I know, this is coming from a person who is constantly making up words to express  exaggerations in the first place. My Monkey constantly gets, "I love you the mostest!" And while I'm a person prone to passions, ginormous (see?) emotions, and an epically-scaled soul, I do not allow myself to look at life, time, or any other massively long-term scale in hyperbole.

That being said, 2010 was not kind. In fact, I would go so far as to call it mean; it was a mean year! And not in the rock-critic sense (e.g., "He plays a mean guitar!). I mean MEAN in the original dictionary definition, as an adjective: offensive, selfish, or unaccommodating; nasty; malicious. That essentially sums it up. Is it any wonder, then, that in the Chinese horoscope, 2010 was the year of the Tiger? I like Tigers as much as the next animal rights activist - I love them! But from a very, very far distance.

Now, 2011, again in the Chinese horoscope, falls under the year of the Rabbit. CAN YOU GET MORE OPPOSITE TO A TIGER, THAN A RABBIT??????? NO!!! Exactly! This calls for THE SNOOPY DANCE!!

The year of the Rabbit will theoretically bring luck and safety in the year to come. And so to you, I wish lots and lots of luck and safety.

But why am I so jazzed for this little woodland rodent's approach? I just applied to four graduate schools. This might not sound like a big deal, but it really is. Not only is this a big push for a life change/advancement, but the sense of rejection and dejection I experienced from the 2010 Tiger is still quite present with me. And the last time I applied to a grad school (just one, in that case), I was rejected. Only that was 2007, the year of the Pig. Oinkity bloody oink.

I was in Calgary for two weeks over Christmas and New Years, and in the Calgary Herald a couple of days ago, the paper's astrologist had a half page layout about what the year of the Rabbit was going to mean for me, as an Aries. And, perhaps prophetically, she told me that 2011 was going to be my year - the start to the next new phase of my life, culminating in achieving my career goals by 2018 (she's nothing if not specific). She also told me that I was going to feel like me again, after a year of feeling not at all like myself. She told me that making my move for advancement definitely needed to happen this year, and that my relationship would be fine, so long as my significant other didn't try to stifle my power and flow; I am Aries, here me roar!

Everything I've been reading lately, everything has been screaming at me, exasperatedly, "HOLD ON! It's about to get really, really good!" And I think that for the first time in a long time, I believe it - though more importantly, I'm able to SEE the universe gesticulating madly like an enraged baboon. I think I've just been too caught up, or too buried? Blinders pop up sometimes, out of a necessity to keep one's head down and protected. I've been keeping my head protected, and failing miserably.

Is it cliche to now say that I don't put actual stock in any of this? That is to say, I don't commit to astrology - I don't adhere to it as an absolute way of living my life, much like exaggerations. BUT - and this is a really big but - that doesn't mean that I don't find it informative and highly fascinating. Because I totally do.

While I call Liz my monkey, she calls me her bunny. I know, it's disgusting. This started as a joke after my sister brought home an actual rabbit after her first year at college - all the way from New Jersey. It later turned into a term of endearment that went from annoyingly funny to begrudgingly cute, on my end.

Tomorrow, I leave for a theatre conference in Boulder, Colorado. I sent the last of my grad school applications out a few hours ago. I start a new job next week starting a theatre program at a low-income middle school. But if all else fails, I can't say I didn't try - astrology or no.

Behold: The Year of the Bunny.