The District and Oklahoma Go Head to Head

Dear Freshman Composition II teacher,
 
I am about to plagiarize myself. I wanted to tell you, because you cannot stop me, and I wanted to vocalize how ridiculous I think the term “self-plagiarizing” really is. It is an oxymoron. If I wrote it, I own it, and I am allowed to keep it, use it, reuse it, re-write it, change just one sentence, or trash the whole thing.
 
That being said, I wrote this essay a couple of years ago for a former blog. It has been slightly edited (plagiarized) for its purposes here. Sue me. Actually, you can’t. But, I could sue myself. 
 
Enough with the plagiarizing jokes, Self.
 
 
 
 
Sometimes I wonder why Washington can’t just throw back its head and laugh every once in a while. It would do everyone a world of good. 
 
I have brought you all here today to analyze my ponderings and hopefully make some sense of how I can live in this city-and love it-yet think so fondly of my home state. These places I love are so different. 
 
So which is better, Washington or Oklahoma? A little comparing and contrasting may be in order.
 
Tonight we have Washington, represented by solemn-faced men and women dressed from head to toe in black, gray and white. Their mouths turn up slightly when they hold out their hand to greet you, their eyes always meet yours, names are exchanged, and the game of “whose side are you on” immediately follows. 
 
Personal agendas are held closely and reverently around here, alterations only made when one party recognizes a weakness they failed to see earlier. The lights stay on long past 5 in the congressional buildings, where people work long hours and measure their triumphs by how much they are able to keep for themselves at the end of the day. Everyone outside of the city always complains about the work they produce, yet we keep paying them. 
 
And here we have Oklahoma, represented by cheerful faces and friendly handshakes. They smile when they shake your hand to greet you, and they usually hold that expression until they tell you it was a pleasure meeting you. In the meantime, they ask you what you do for a living, but only after they find out who your family is, where you live, what college football team you root for, and if your home suffered any damage from the storm last night. 
 
“Agenda” is a word that means an organized place to write down lunch dates, school functions, and church picnics. Of course it’s personal- it’s your friends and family. People work hard and sometimes stay late at the office, their successes are measured by the happiness of the voices that greet them when they come home. Their work might not consist of writing laws, but it allows them to live beyond marble walls, where the grass has to be mowed regularly and you have to scrub red dirt out of your kids’ clothing.
 
After a thorough examination of the two competitors, I pronounce the winner, based on overall well-being, general happiness, and significance to living, to be: Oklahoma. 
 
Would anyone from the winning team like to say a few words? Ah yes, Will Rogers. Please, go ahead. 
 
[Thank you, Jenny, this means a lot to me. Let me just jump right into a story I think is pertinent at the moment] “…when all the yielding and objections [were] over, the other Senator said, “I object to the remarks of a professional joker being put into the Congressional Record.” Taking a dig at me, see? They didn’t want any outside fellow contributing. Well, he had me wrong. Compared to them I’m an amateur, and the thing about my jokes is that they don’t hurt anybody. You can say they’re not funny or they’re terrible or they’re good or whatever it is, but they don’t do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it’s a law. And every time they make a law it’s a joke.”
 
Thank you, Will. What a great story. By the way, they named an airport after you. It really is tragic that you died in a plane crash. 
 
Mark Twain has asked for the closing words to tonight’s debate. I didn’t even know he was here, but I gladly concede:
 
“There is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old benevolent National Asylum for the helpless.”
 
That’s funny, Mr. Clemens. However, the point is, I think we can all agree that Washington is one of the few cities left in America that does not have a sense of humor. The only way people can live here and not get sucked into the vortex of hopelessness and despair, is by not taking it too seriously. 
 
And that’s actually pretty easy to do, if you just put in a little effort.
00

words that change your life

There are a few books in the catalog of all words ever written, that I can genuinely say have changed my outlook on the world. They are so eye-opening, that I can almost see the curtain drop from an area of my brain I did not know was still covered. Screwtape Letters is also a book that I have not stopped reading since I read it for the first time in college, for a literature class. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

It is a book of letters written by a senior demon, Screwtape, to his young demon nephew, Wormwood. The letters are part of a correspondence for the sole purpose of advising Wormwood on his first mission alone: to take the soul of a new Christian, a young man falling in love with a woman, and unaware of the presence of Wormwood. We learn through these letters, pieces of this young mans life, and oftentimes are left to decide what is truth, and what are lies. Who can trust a demon?

The chapters are short, and each based on a new temptation: a new way to get into the mind of the Christian without him suspecting a thing. You may forget while reading it, like I do, that it is a work of fiction. It really is a believable handbook of the devil, and we get to take a peak as to how they work against all that is good in the world. C.S. Lewis, it is said, had to recover from writing this book. And when asked if he would be writing a sequel, he flatly refused because he did not enjoy the dark places he had to dwell on, to write this great work. It is not difficult to understand why.

My favorite chapters change every time I read it, because every time I read it, one chapter that didn’t mean as much to me before, suddenly becomes exactly what I needed to hear. But, there are three chapters that remain favorites with every read: Chapter 14 on humility, Chapter 21 on time and patience, and Chapter 25 on the future (and how to keep people wrapped up in it). This excerpt is from Chapter 21. Remember that the “patient”, is the young man Wormwood is working on:

“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear…They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours…”

What is your favorite part? Are you obsessed with this book, too? If you haven’t read it, would you ever read it?

rachel’s visit

Rachel’s Visit: a tale of friendship, adventure, laughter, and heartache.
 
Rachel and I have been friend’s since we were little babies. 
There was a period of ambivalence in our elementary years, but once 
we moved past our third and fourth grade prejudices, we remained friends 
ever since! And last weekend, she left all the animals in 
Texas (she’s a veterinarian…in Texas)
 to come see Eric and me.
tip top: Rachel eating a pop tart with cookie butter filling
 first row: Eastern Market, indoors and the Capitol dome
second row: my new favorite material object, and Union Station
third row: West side of the Capitol (where inaugurations happen), and my 
previous place of employment: the Russell Building
fourth row: Library of Congress and Library of Congress
fifth and sixth row: U.S. Botanic GardenAnd that’s our story. She flew in late Friday night, we ate homemade pop tarts
in the morning, and then headed into DC to enjoy all the city
has to offer. Saturday: Eastern Market, Library of Congress, We the Pizza,
U.S. Botanic Gardens, Union Station.
Sunday: Church (Teddy Roosevelt’s), brunch in Old Town, raaaain,

Women’s Gymnastics recap on the couch.

The heartbreak part of the story comes in when we dropped Rachel
off at the airport with her two jars of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, and
TSA confiscated it because of its obvious potentially threatening qualities.
 I guess they were afraid that fights and overall mayhem would break out if
people knew a fellow passenger had Cookie Butter on board.

Well played, TSA: You saved lives last night.

Aside from that, we had such a fun time with our friend in town.
 I love any excuse to play tourist in D.C., but it 
is even better with home-grown friends.
Come back any time, Rach!

( we’re card-carrying members of the Library of Congress. 
What are you doing with your life?)

how to dance in public

Maybe this is just the normal pattern of life, but recently, I have been
remembering the things I used to love.Not things like my American
Girl doll, or the historical Dear America diary series, but the more
recent things: photography, ballet, writing short stories, writing
songs.

It’s not that I don’t love them any more, but certain phases of life left certain
favorites in the dust. When I moved to
DC, I got wrapped up in my job, and living in a new city, and
exploring my new loves: like walking for miles on end, shopping at
Trader Joe’s and open markets, and blogging.

Then I got married and I
didn’t care about anything other than learning to live with my new
husband.

But we have slowly eased into a routine that,
with Eric working more on film/photography,
makes time for the things we love.

To be honest, part of the reason I give up on things is because
sometimes I can be an “all or nothing” type of person.
I gave up ballet, after eleven years, because I
wasn’t going to dance professionally, and the classes offered
at my college were not challenging enough. Also, I kind of
wondered what the point of dancing
is, if you can’t dedicate your life to it.

Thankfully, I have been proven wrong in that. Very wrong.
In growing older, I am finding that my “all or nothing” tendencies
are slowly becoming less dominant–out of sheer pragmatism,
probably–and life is more enjoyable when I don’t put unnecessary
pressure on myself. Life is busy, and priorities are made,
and there is not time to become a prima ballerina,
or a short-story-writing machine.
But there is time for those things every once in
a while, and for the first time in my life,
I am okay with that.

***

These are pictures that my amazingly talented husband took recently.
Have I mentioned we love the Mall at night?