Monday, March 30, 2015

Slip Slidin' Away

 You know the nearer your destination, 
the more you're slip slidin' away.

- Paul Simon

Well, it's still March & there are eons to go before the pollen takes a bow & college football returns to my life, but football is nevertheless on my mind this morning.  Sigh.  It's no secret where my college football loyalty lies, for better or worse (usually worse).  Having watched my fair share of Tiger football over the years, I've learned a handful of valuable lessons, one of which summarizes the direction of my thoughts this past week, & that is this: sometimes the appearance of progress is an illusion.  A perfectly executed drive down the field is worth absolutely nothing (other than padding your stats, I guess) if you can't execute in the red zone.  You march down the field, but then your QB fumbles on the one yard line, or your tight end can't catch the ball, or, having squandered all but your final opportunity to make it count, you attempt a field goal, only to watch the ball hit the upright & bounce unceremoniously away.  All those hard-earned yards, up in flames.  Poof.

I considered "In the Red Zone" for the title of this post, but then I realized I was humming the Simon & Garfunkel song to myself, & the incessant humming won out.  Also, I thought "In the Red Zone" had too dramatic a feel to it, & I didn't want to set you up for a major letdown once you began reading.  I know from my years watching LSU football that major letdowns are a bummer.

Anyway, this past week I've dealt with a handful of issues I thought were behind me, beginning with my sinus troubles.  Now, I am no fool; I know more mucus mayhem is likely ahead before spring gives way to summer & the pollen retreats to make way for the oppressive heat, but I thought this first round of sinus trouble was down for the count, bloodied & beaten on the mat.  I was so sure of my triumph, I was doing a little victory dance around the ring, waving to my fans.

As I taught my classes last Tuesday morning, I realized I'd celebrated the sinus victory a little prematurely.  While I was dancing & waving, my evil sinuses opened bruised eyes & began to twitch, not yet ready to admit defeat.  Initially, I thought I had a ho-hum, average Tuesday I-didn't-get-enough-sleep-&-my-students-make-me-crazy headache.  I didn't have any Advil with me, so I forged ahead, taught all three classes, & was miserable by the time I got home that afternoon.  Thankfully, once home I was able to take some medicine & curl up in the bed with coffee & rest & relax.  Ahahahaha.  Not really.  I did take some Advil, which helped my head a little, but then I woke up on Wednesday morning certain I had a cavity, so certain, in fact, that I was this close to calling my BFF dental hygienist to come look at my teeth.

Wednesday's cavity turned into about six suspected cavities Thursday.  When you're thirty-four & wanting to sneak off to bed with your toddler's teething toy, it's time to face facts that, rather than a mouthful of cavities, you have infected sinuses.  So painful was the pressure in my facial region that I considered going to the doctor, but I wanted to wait it out with my trusty Advil Cold & Sinus because conventional wisdom (which means my dentist, with whom I spoke on Wednesday night, & Google) is that antibiotics typically are not needed for a sinus infection.  A river of coffee & many, many episodes of Gilmore girls, maybe, but antibiotics, no.

So far, so good on the sinus front this week.  Fingers crossed.  On top of the continued sinus pressure last week, on Sunday evening Trey alerted me to the fact that it was fifty-five degrees in the fridge.  I am not kidding; I am past the point of enjoying warm fridge humor.  So, Monday morning, while my sinuses were (unbeknownst to me) regrouping, I loaded up the kids, a bunch of cheese I didn't want to have throw out, & several vials of insulin (which needs to stay refrigerated) & headed to my parents' house, home of a consistently cool fridge.  Thankfully, this time we were only without a fridge a day.  The repairman arrived at seven-thirty Tuesday morning & replaced something in the fridge that apparently needed to be replaced a few weeks ago.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's been one step forward, two steps back (we come together, cuz opposites attract) on the healthy eating/thigh reduction front as well.  I'm tempted to blame my recurrent sinus issues & the warm fridge aggravation for my gluttonous meltdown last week, but I won't.  It's so true that sin begets sin, & sugar begets sugar, & carbs beget carbs.  I think that's found in Proverbs.  The more you allow, the more you crave, the more you justify, until you no longer recognize yourself, sitting up in bed at two in the morning, a plastic container of crumbs beside you testifying to the ten eight chewy chocolate chunk bakery cookies you devoured while you lost yourself in the episodes leading up to Luke & Lorelai's first kiss.

The cookies were good, they were, & at approximately thirty carbs a cookie, they ought to have been good.  Luke & Lorelai's kiss was not too shabby either, & as a bonus, it won't be showing up on my thighs anytime soon.

I am not looking for excuses for last week's carbohydrate binge, however, if I were, aside from painful sinus pressure & recurring fridge stress, I'd also have to mention last week's news cycle.  One reason I flock to fictional worlds is because, for a compulsive news reader like me, reality is often painfully bleak.  Ten minutes reading the news puts a sweltering fridge in perspective, & a handful of headlines last week are, like my sinuses, in my head & refuse to leave me alone.  And yes, I realize I could step away from the news in much the same way I could've chosen not to eat every cookie; maybe next week's blog will focus on self-control.

I had a little bit of a breakdown Wednesday when I saw Bowe Bergdahl was officially charged with desertion & misbehaving before the enemy.  Bergdahl, you recall, was held captive for a few years until Obama brokered a deal (rivaled in excellence only by the deal he's hammering out with Iran) to exchange Bergdhal for five terrorists.  You see now, right?  You see why Paul Simon's words haunt me.  It's one thing to attempt to rescue a captured American.  It's an entirely different matter to release five men from a military prison in order to secure one American who was, at the time of the exchange, suspected of having deserted his unit.  Five terrorists who likely were not captured without the toil & sweat & blood of American servicemen were released so that one suspected deserter (whose desertion resulted in the deaths of six American servicemen who attempted to locate him) could come back to America, stand in the Rose Garden with Obama, & finally, at last, officially be charged with the serious crimes he is suspected of having committed in lieu of representing the United States Army with dignity.

Perhaps more than anything else he's done as president (okay, maybe also including his refusal to even pretend to hide his contempt for Israel), the Bergdahl swap convinced me that, rather than being just another foolish lefty progressive who genuinely believes entitlements & political correctness are the heartbeat of America & the best hope for her future, Obama has the heart of a traitor, which is perhaps why he chose to rescue another traitor as cover for releasing five of the many, many prisoners he has wanted to release from the day he took office.

It's not mentioned often, but Obama took office promising to close Gtimo.  While he has not accomplished this stated goal, he has found subversive ways to release a handful of Gitmo detainees.  His propensity is to side with those who do not have America's best interest at heart; that fact has become crystal clear in these waning years of his presidency.  These are the consequences of electing the most leftist, progressive man ever to serve America as president.  He's emptying Gitmo, thumbing his nose at the few folks in the Middle East who aren't actively seeking the destruction of America & her allies, & even, arguably, aiding Iran in acquiring nukes.  Oh & also, he's saddled us with unprecedented debt, & set in motion changes that will, if left unchecked, destroy this nation's healthcare system.  He's as progressive as they come, by which I mean he's dragging us so far backwards I hope I'm still legally able to vote when he leaves office.  The use of the term progressive to describe the American political left is yet another linguistic victory that surely has George Orwell's head spinning.

I've also been thinking entirely too much about the horrific plane crash over the Alps, specifically why this troubled co-pilot was able to take such complete control of the aircraft.  I was twenty on September 11, 2001, & I've watched as security measures were unrolled in an attempt to prevent another September 11.  The Patriot Act was passed, TSA began frisking grandma in her wheelchair, people were forced to shed their shoes, hand over their water bottles, etc.

The airplane security madness continues to this day, as you know if you've flown lately, & the pilot who purposefully took his own life & ended the lives of over a hundred other innocents was able to use an airplane as his weapon because of specific security measures put in place in the aftermath of September 11, as this article discusses.  Two steps forward, one fifty steps back.  I note that what few considered when implementing these impenetrable locking cockpit doors was a rouge pilot.  Because I so love analogies, I have to point out that, if we assume for a moment America is an airplane, say, an airplane soaring over the Alps, it is foolish to unquestioningly assume the pilot's intentions are honorable.  See: The Gifts of the Greeks, a dour piece from several years ago, back in my youthful days when I was overly political.  Wink wink.

Finally, because I don't think this blog is quite wordy enough yet,  I want to say one more thing about The Awakening (because of course I do), & then I think I'll be able to fully move along, for now.  The Awakening no doubt was seen as a progressive book initially, so progressive, in fact, that it was banned upon publication in 1899 & for many subsequent years due to implied, but not explicitly described, adultery, & the suggestion that a woman might find fulfillment in something other than marriage & bearing children.

Don't get me wrong.  I think the novel is superbly written, I think it has rightfully staked its claim on the shelf alongside other significant works of American literature, & I will always defend its merits.  The Awakening's open, rebellious critique of society paved the way for many great works of American literature that followed it, such as The Great Gatsby & A Farewell to Arms.  I will say, however, that the critics of The Awakening upon its release, while wrong on many counts, were right to recoil over certain aspects of the novel.  We recoil over very little today, & that's unfortunate.  Kate Chopin & the ladies who shed their bras in the 1960s (some of them prompted to do so after discovering & reading The Awakening) would likely disagree with me when I say that it is possible to discuss & encourage needed societal changes while wearing all your clothes, maintaining your dignity, & abstaining from frivolous sexual encounters.

No doubt, Kate Chopin lived in a different world than I do.  Many of the fine Christian women in my book club cut Ms. Chopin & her protagonist, Edna, a little slack, acknowledging that, in 1899, women had a list of legitimate gripes.  However, as the post-Awakening century unfolded, & women gained the right to vote, & own property, & society recognized that women need outlets - - like a book club or a weekend watching Gilmore girls - - & that women attending college, & pursuing fulfilling careers, & writing blogs as a means by which to cope with mommy stress are good & wonderful things, somewhere during these emancipatory years, progress halted, & regression took hold.  I demand the right to vote morphed into I demand the right to end my unborn child's life, & I demand the right to live as promiscuously as I please, & I demand that you be labeled intolerant & judgmental if you dare to suggest your God-ordained, monogamous marriage is in any way superior to my bed-hopping.  See: Sex and the City.

Over a century after publication of The Awakening, what progress has been made?  The answer to that question depends on how you define progress.  Women can vote, women can own property, but we've also taken monumental steps backward in the moral arena, which is, I would argue, the one that matters most.  Yes, I like to vote.  I enjoyed purchasing a car all by myself, in my name, back in my swinging single days.  However, it is more important that I go to Heaven than that I have the right to vote during my short span on earth.  No, seriously.  I think that, perhaps more than anything else, the arena of women's rights is the perfect example of regression disguised as progression.  Women can legally vote, but baby girls can legally be slaughtered in the womb; two steps forward, one thousand steps back.

I leave you with this, one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes:

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.


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