Friday, August 31, 2012

Pronoun confusion

"We built it!" chant the Republicans. This is in answer to a statement that President Obama said about small businesses. First of all, that statement about not building a business by yourself, besides being quoted out of context, is absolutely true. Even in the commercial of the guy rebutting the President's claims, he claims that he and his father built their business. Are they not even listening to themselves? When they chant, "We built it!" do they not see that the pronoun they are using implies that they don't do it alone?

Besides completely missing the point, that a business needs the infrastructure, roads, community, etc, to succeed, why is this considered a bad thing? Why is the idea of assistance something undesirable? I went to public schools and the government paid for a nice chunk of my graduate school. And where's the line? If you get a scholarship to college, should you turn it down? Should you avoid the interstate and get an off-road vehicle? I need answers!

I have no doubt that being a small business owner is a challenge and loads of hard work. But isn't this why you would want more help, not less?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What we talk about when we talk to Genoa Jeff

When I was in high school I was one of those girls who spent hours on the phone. It was before the days of cordless phones, so I had an extra-long cord and I could cover my entire bedroom while chatting. We'd talk and do other things; they were less like conversations and more like just keeping each other company. We didn't have email or texts or facebook, so it was the phone.

I had a handful of friends I could turn to for these non-ending phone calls. Most of them were not my boyfriends, as my boyfriends weren't very interested in the rambling chatfest. It takes a certain type of person to be on the phone for hours and hours.

One of my phone friends was Genoa Jeff. I met Genoa Jeff when we were in the All-Ohio State Fair Band together. The AOSFB was three weeks away from home with 300 other band dorks. I loved every minute of it. I honestly don't remember how close Genoa Jeff and I were when we were at the fair, but he lived just close enough that calling each other wasn't long distance, so we could spend hours on the phone.

Genoa Jeff was skinny and sarcastic and smoked all the time. Looking back, I realize that he must have hated living in small-town Ohio (heck, Genoa wasn't even big enough to actually be a town), and he envied me, living in the big city of Toledo. He would ask for all the details of my high school, what music we were playing, how many people were in the band, did we really have ten tubas in the marching bands? Being a high school girl, I couldn't be more thrilled to talk for hours about my life, so it was the perfect arrangement.

We would talk and talk, until my dad kicked me off the phone. What in the world did we talk about? I suppose it doesn't really matter. We just told each other the stories from our day, no doubt editing our lives to make them more interesting or dramatic. Our lives barely overlapped, so any artistic license was purely for entertainment.

I'm not sure when we lost touch. He just sort of faded from my life, and, when I realized that he was gone, it was too late. I wonder what happened to Genoa Jeff. The sad truth is that I don't even know his last name, and googling "Genoa Jeff" isn't any help. So I just remember, long talks about nothing and everything.

(Thanks to Bru, who inspired this post.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

You're my obsession

I'm not sure when things changed for me, but I wasn't caught up in the Olympics like I was years back. Don't get me wrong: I still paid way too much attention to what's happened and I spent plenty of time checking results on-line. But something was missing. A lot of people blamed the coverage (which had plenty of problems), but there's another issue for me.

When we watch the Olympics (or other world-class sports), we are watching people who are obsessed. There's a commercial that ran during the games showing various folks training and the voiceovers are statements like, "I haven't had dessert in five years," "I haven't read any books," etc. The idea, of course, being that these people are so focused on the athletics, they have time for nothing else. But is that appealing? Is this a good thing?

It is amazing watching what some of these athletes can do. You watch them fly through the air, run faster than seems possible, and you know that you will never ever be able to come even close to that. But you also hear the stories: how they left home at 12 because they wanted to train with a certain coach or how they've had the same knee repaired three times already before the age of 25, and I have to wonder if we really should be celebrating these athletes.

Maybe I'm a bit jealous. I've never had that singular focus. I've had times when I've had goals, and I've gone after them, but, deep down, I don't think I could have given up a big part of my life to go after just one thing. It's not that I've cut corners or walked away from a challenge, but I prefer balance over putting all my eggs in one basket. In fact, I'm happiest when I have the back-up plans and the different things to do.

When I was younger, I admired that focus that these athletes have. I wasn't consciously aware that this was part of the equation, but I would wonder what it would take to be an Olympic athlete. Now that I'm older, I realize that there is an element of "these people are crazy" that goes into this class of training and commitment. I'm not sure if we should be admiring this. And maybe this is why I'm a little more jaded when I watch the Olympics.