Thursday, January 28, 2010

While many admirable people have died in recent years, this was actually the first one that has moved tears to my eyes.

If someone were to ask me about people who have inspired me, Howard Zinn would have been within the top three. Some people are destined for greatness and adversity. The John Lennon's and Martin Luther King Jr.'s of the past are people who seemed fated to be leaders - for better or for worse. It's not to say that fact takes away from their greatness or their accomplishments, at all. It's more to say, that Howard Zinn was the type of person that made me believe anyone can be great, and that destiny has nothing to do with it.

Howard Zinn was not a leader, but his work was followed and criticized by colleges and fans alike. Howard Zinn was a man who taught at an african american all-girls-school during segregation. Who taught history at many universities and was fired for "insubordination". A man who was arrested time and again for civil disobedience, in attempts to preach peace based on history and reason. A man who "retired" on the picket lines with his students, and continued on to keep speaking out. To speak out against the indoctrination of our minds with war rhetoric and the belief that we are inherently destructive and weak as a people. A man who refused to give up on a country by us and for us, even when only few would listen.

Howard Zinn lived a long and fruitful life, yet I still grieve. For a world without people like Howard Zinn is a much quieter one - a world where we're only getting closer to going out with a whimper.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Magic Does Exist

Most mornings I wake up and I think, “it’d be really nice if I had this thing.” I don’t usually buy this thing, let alone does it randomly show up on my doorstep.

With my current, “could I be a non-fiction writer?” fantasy/pursuit underway I’ve been really jonesing for the anthology Ira Glass just put out The New Kings of Non-Fiction; This American Life, and reading interviews with Ira Glass obsessively for days on end, is really what made me realize that non-fiction was what I write, am good at writing, and is even an up-and-coming creative market right now. It only seemed right that this book be in my possession.

This morning, as I talked at Matt about what I should be doing right now to pursue these writerly dreams of mine I said, “You know what I really want? That book Ira Glass published recently.” Honestly, I haven’t mentioned this book since I found out about it a month or so ago, so this wasn’t something I’ve been talking about every day or anything.

Our day was lovely, if not similar to most days. After breakfast we did some light “yoga” in the morning (okay, so by yoga, I really mean stretches similar to what we did in gym class). We went to Best Buy to exchange some games my mom bought me for games I really want (namely, the new Super Mario Brothers.Wii game, which looks even crazier and all over the place than it’s predecessors). Then we came home to make some gourmet veggie dogs for lunch.

As we walked in, Matt suggested I go check the mail. Bills, bills, a credit card offer, and a bulk envelope from This American Life in Chicago …

I opened it, and it was the exact book I wanted plus an illustrated comic on “how to produce your own radio show.” I looked for an invoice, or a packing slip. Nothing. I stood there, looking at it in smiling awe, held it up and said, “Matt, look …”

He looked at it as baffled as I was. “How did this happen?” he asked, “Did you enter a contest of any sort?”

“No!” I exclaimed excitedly, realizing what was happening, “It’s magic, that’s all there is to it. Either that, or my mom got it for me. I did tell her I wanted it, but she sounded very put off that she had to go to a website that wasn’t Amazon to buy it.”

“It must have been your Mom.”

“Yeah," I said, "It must have.”

I called my mom, and left a message, by then convinced that it was she and we sat down to lunch. Just as we sat down, of course, my mom called back. She informed me that, she doesn’t like her new camera because everyone looks good in the pictures except her, and oh no, she didn’t buy me that book.

Okay, okay, magic isn’t real there is a logical explanation for this. Matt and I checked my bank and credit card statements, maybe I sleep/drunk bought it. Nothing. I checked my email. Maybe I won some contest I didn’t know about, and the email ended up in my junk folder. Nothing.

I’ve decided this is a sign, a magical sign that I must pursue this writing thing. Maybe it’s not a super natural sign; maybe it’s a sign from a shipping clerk that screwed up and went into the “people who have made contributions” list on the computer instead of the “people who bought things from us” list. Whatever this is, the world we live in rarely feels magical when you’re this sober and I’m taking what I can get.