Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Choices I Should NOT Be Forced To Make

This whole idea started when I realized that the first of the presidential debates is going to be held tomorrow night when another important (to me) event is occurring. But before I get to this conundrum, maybe you need a bit of background.

Yes, I currently live in Minneapolis, have a bus pass (yeah, Metro Transit!), walk dutifully around Lake of the Isles whenever the weather cooperates, and have dated numerous musician-types who play in strange rock-type bands, but my roots are far from this urban existence. I grew up in a small town in Michigan and I think this should tell you enough about who I am that no further explanation is needed. However, I've been told that this is NOT enough. I drive a pickup truck. It's blue. Her name is Magenta. And I've ALWAYS driven a pickup truck. I've never owned another type of vehicle, my friends. Not just Magenta, but my pickup truck history goes way back. Along with this pickup history comes the country music history. There, I admitted it. In my car, not only do I have NPR programmed, but I have all THREE of the local country stations programmed (even the one that turns into Spanish-speaking programming after nine at night). I listen to country music and drive a pickup and live in the city limits. How many of us are there? I don't know. But I'm standing strong to my country roots. No matter how many indie rockers I date.

Choice #1
So the choice tomorrow night is...presidential debates OR a free (FREE) concert at a local mall by a currently popular band plaguing country music stations named Rascal Flatts. Both start at the same time. I am tempted to see if anyone could record the debates for me. See, I'd just read the transcripts of the debates, but you miss something if you miss actually SEEING the debates. I actually remember listening to the Gore/Bush debates in 2000 on the RADIO and I thought Gore did just fine, but the news clips I saw showed me how important it is to WATCH the things, especially when television is the medium through which most folks are gonna see them. But, it's Rascal Flatts. Of the handful of CDs I've actually purchased in the last year, theirs is actually one of them. What should I do? Those guys are hot. And they sound okay, too. Oh, the agony of a person torn by two loves.

Choice #2
Pee and miss the next bus and have to wait a half an hour until the next bus OR do not pee, catch the next bus, and have to pee ridiculously for the next forty minutes on the way home. A choice no one wants to make, but we've all been there...

Choice #3
I felt like that "Harry and Louise" (1) commercial last week. My allergy medication ran out. I wasn't getting paid until today (whoo hoo!). I thought, well, the ragweed levels are down to low and it seems like everything else is okay, so I can just wait until I get paid to get the medicine. And I had kind of run out of food to pack for my lunch, so I thought that I should spend the money on FOOD. Alas, I was foiled because the very next day when I didn't have any medication to take, I sneezed all morning long. I finally just gave in and ordered the medicine and put it on my credit card. Because if symptoms can be alleviated, they should be, damn it all. Don't worry folks, I got paid today, so the medicine will be paid for with little fanfare.

Choice #4
Pay attention to the flighty math prof who gets confused by his own speeches sometimes OR stare outside at the beautiful, hunky undergrad men rollerblading by?

Choice #5
So, I was asked to write a tenure letter for that prof I had as an undergrad who looked down my shirt and made office hours really uncomfortable. The dilemma is that this man spent a lot of time helping me decide on grad school programs to apply to and wrote me letters of rec. So, I can either just suck it up and not mention the sexual harassment in the tenure letter OR not write the letter and just make up an excuse like I was busy or didn't feel I had an useful input to give to the tenure process. ARGH!

Choice #6
Tell that obnoxious woman at the gym that she's been on that machine for well over the allotted time period OR just suck it up and quietly do more crunches in the corner, stewing all the while.

Choice #7
The nectarine I packed for a late afternoon snack OR those peanut M&Ms calling my name from the vending machine as I walk by.

Choice #8
Today the lead headline of the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis newspaper was (I went to look this up to make sure I wasn't exaggerating) "Blackboard Blues." The tagline underneath ran "When Prof. Lawrence Gray enters a math classroom at the University of Minnesota, his teaching tools are his brain and a stick of chalk." Ummm...yeah, so the story was about how white boards and computers are replacing CHALK BOARDS. September 29, 2004. Mary Jane Smetanka, that's the author of this fascinating story. That's right. There are WARS going on, a presidential election in a little over a MONTH, but they ran a story on the FRONT PAGE about fucking CHALK boards. That's right, folks. Chalk boards. So the choice is whether or not to write a nasty letter to the editor or just stew in my own juices.

That's enough. I'm aware that none of these choices are life altering. I'm not deciding whether to get married or stay single, to buy a home or not, to have a baby or not, or even to finish school or not. But these are the dilemmas that make my day to day life interesting, if nothing else. Not exciting, not life altering, but certainly these are things that give me pause. And that's something to note.

(1) CHIC (Coalition for Health Insurance Choices) sponsored a now-legendary TV spot called "Harry and Louise," which featured a middle-class married couple lamenting the complexity of Clinton's plan and the menace of a new "billion-dollar bureaucracy." According to Robin Toner, writing in the September 30, 1994, New York Times, "'Harry and Louise' symbolized everything that went wrong with the great health care struggle of 1994: A powerful advertising campaign, financed by the insurance industry, that played on people's fears and helped derail the process." This citation is completely plagiarized (word for word) from the Center for Media and Democracy web site.

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