Random Stuff from My Life

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Minnesota Nice

We watched Fargo this week. Tons of friends have told me over the years how good it is. Usually this is the kiss of death. Normally when all of my friends think I will absolutely love something, it turns out to suck. But Fargo is the real deal. Incredible movie. The Coen Brothers did for Minnesota what Sophia Coppola did for Tokyo in Lost in Translation. (Actually, they did it first.) Very different storylines, but the same craft of getting you to experience the feelings of being in that culture.

So then I flew through Minneapolis twice. First time, delays both landing and taking off. Today, all is well. Except that the Husband, traveling separately, is stuck in Dallas--for the next FOUR HOURS! At least the Sacramento airport has free wi-fi.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Sickness and In Health

We had guests for Easter. I wasn't much fun. Although I spent most of last week trying to convince my body that I could NOT possibly be sick for the THIRD time this winter, my body had other ideas. By noon on Sunday, my throat was absolutely killing me. By Monday, I HAD to go to the doctor. Turns out the doctor's office was closed. But she called in a prescription for me, and it has definitely worked. Antibiotics really are an amazing discovery. But now I'm back to taking more pills a day than my dad. And since the antibiotic has to be taken with food but can't be taken within two hours of an antacid, AND my new antacid can't be taken within an hour of food, I have a whole intricate routine of eating and pill-popping that has to be followed for ten days.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


We watched a movie last night about a homeless encampment. Interesting story. It's told from the perspective of those in the encampment, which is being cleared to make way for a regional park. The basic point of the movie was something along the lines of "homeless people are the spiritual heirs of the hunter-gatherers that all of us are capable of being." So that brings up two big questions for me: 1) Would I be capable of "living off the land"?, and 2) What choices of living arrangement should society support?

These are intriguing questions for me particularly because I grew up in a rural environment, and live in another one now. In both my parents' home and my current neighbors' homes, there are an abundance of fireplaces, gardens, hunting and fishing equipment, etc. I never availed myself of any of that knowledge. I seriously doubt that I could raise enough food to support myself, at least not without several trips to the local Cooperative Extension branch. Yet the existence of Cooperative Extension, and Rural Electrification, and farm price supports and the national road system and a whole host of other government programs belie the "noble agrarian" myth that persists in our society. Even on a farm, most people buy the bulk of their food from a grocery store.

It occurs to me that when we stopped being hunter-gatherers and started settling into permanent communities, society made a collective decision to require its members to participate in the new economic life of the community. Homelessness is a repudiation of that social contract. So, should society support homeless people in making their own decisions, or should we try to force them into participating in the system (i.e., get them housing and jobs)? Certainly it seems that a regional park would be more functional for a larger segment of society than would allowing folks to squat on an underutilized piece of ground. Yet we also highly value individual freedom and choice (indeed, our economy depends upon exercise of that choice). It's a paradox.

A similar paradox, it occurs to me, exists with respect to rural communities: in this day and age, is living in a rural area functional for society as a whole? Would we (collectively) be better off if we channeled the funds that go into supporting rural lifestyles into other programs? It's a scary thing to think about, because I myself have been the beneficiary of that support (redistribution of income to rural schools, for example). Yet in that sense I am similar to the homeless people in the movie who stated their preference for living in a urban environment while not being a part of it. Again, what choices of living arrangement should society support?

In other news, we are getting a new bed. We ordered it yesterday, but they're not delivering until today. We had already stripped the mattress cover off our existing bed in preparation for the delivery, so we spent last night on our bare existing mattress. It was a good reminder WHY we need a new mattress. I woke up at 7:30--on a Sunday--after tossing and turning all night.

I am reading Homo Domesticus by David Valdes Greenwood. Hilarious and very true to my own experience.