Monday, September 27, 2004

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Top Ten Things I Appreciate About Being Back in California

5. Creature comforts. Hot shower? Check. My own room? Check. Car? Check. Grocery store within easy walking distance? Check. Internet connection from the privacy of my own home? Check. TV? No check, but that's because I've never been enough of a TV-watcher to justify the expense. This, folks, is the lap of luxury, and half the time I don't even realize it as the blessing and curse that it is. I'll try to hold onto the sense of childlike wonder at not sharing my living quarters with several rodents and a family of cockroaches.

4. Southern California Anything -- the weather, the pollution, the traffic ... none of it is as bad as it seems from a purely local perspective. Plus, as Morpheus would say, "there is no humidity."

3. A personal library (and several public ones less than a block away!) that I don't have to carry on my back wherever I go. That "2 books/week" habit is hard on the spinal column.

2. A new academic quarter! Excuse me while I happily geek out here for a bit. Now, if I can just stay awake through my evening seminars ...

1. The People. I missed y'all, you know? :)

Top Five Things I Could Really Do Without

5. Britney et al. At the airport, I misguidedly picked up a copy of People Magazine. The front cover proclaimed that it contained "Britney's Wedding Album" or something to that effect, which made me realize that I never, ever, EVER again want to hear anything about Britney, her wedding, her private life, her deep-dark secrets, her pet-Alsatian's dietary habits etc. Ditto for the swarms of low-talent, high-drama "starlets" that populate the popular media.

4. Management Fads. I came across the "Six Sigma" series of management books at the airport as well. My first thought was that my pastor, whom I greatly love and appreciate, must never find out about them :P

3. The Stress. I've spent a month in a foreign continent, with poor public hygiene, little privacy, less than 6 hours of sleep/night, no healthcare and an eclectic and dangerous selection of cuisine ... without so much as a headache?! Methinks there's something to be said for stress being the number one disease-causing agent.

2. Jet Lag. To paraphrase a certain band -- "It's 4:30a.m. on a Monday morning. It doesn't get much worse than this. In beds in little rooms in the middle of these lives which are completely meaningless." Anyone who claims it's all mind over matter, ought to try to get one's mind to overpower the unusually awake bodily matter of a lump of protoplasm moved several thousand miles across the international date line. Now, Starbucks over matter -- that I can buy :P

1. Election Coverage. Why couldn't I just have come back a few weeks later? It's not merely the networks, the newspapers and the search engines -- the blogosphere has gone mad with election fever! Let me be the first to state the value of being informed and casting one's vote (... or votes, for those living in the Chicago area ...), but the selection of a nation's top official does not justify a year-long muckraking, mouth-foaming display of petty partisanry ... especially if no one is paying you to do it. I've seriously come to believe that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was nothing other than his feverish passion for politics, and that scores of his disciples are following into his footsteps today.


At September 27, 2004 at 10:45 AM, Blogger Paddy O. said...

Guilty as charged. And with the debates starting this week it's likely only to get worse. Though, I think American electoral politics has a dimension beyond the selection of a top official. Every couple of years America confesses its sins and tries to come to terms with who it is. Then we argue and attack each other, and the candidates who we build up into representatives of our own expectations. Presidential elections are our national family counseling sessions. And the world gets to watch our dysfunctions and dirt be revealed.

Welcome back to the Golden State, by the by.

Fortunately there is salvation and forgiveness in Christ.

By the way, I am of the opinion that asking the "thorn of the flesh" question is one of the best ways of finding out the secrets of others. Paul always suffers, it seems, from our own pet maladies.


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