Friday, January 30, 2009

Isn't it Ironic?

"And isn't it ironic... don't you think?

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take...."

~ Alanis Morissette

When I started my first semester at Arizona State University some years ago this month I had to go through all the headache of getting my records from Purdue, dotting the i's and crossing the t's so I could start my new life as a Sundevil and leave the Boilermaker in me behind. I had spent enough time fannying about in engineering when I knew I really wanted to be a writer. It was time to get serious and stop wasting time. ASU, here I come.

I hit a snag when the head of the English department at ASU would not take my Freshman English credit from Purdue.

"We require our students to have an entire year of Freshman English," he said curtly, looking at me over his thick spectacles and tossing my file onto the desk between us.

"Oh, well I took advanced English, I was gifted and talented you see and so it was Advanced English, even though it was one semester, so that should cover it," I said triumphantly.

"That's lovely but we here at ASU require all of our students, gifted and other, to take two semesters of Freshman English," he said.

"I'm sorry, you are telling me you won't accept my English credit because it was advanced but if I had two semesters of, say, remedial English, I would be fine?" I was fuming. The lines, the red tape, the costs of text books and this idiot were really raking on my nerves.

"Ok then, what is irony?" he asked me as he sat back in his chair folding his arms over his pot belly.

Where was Alanis Morissette when I needed her? I fumed, stumbled around for a minute, I knew I knew the answer but I was caught off guard.

"Sarcasm," I spat back, folding my arms over my chest and starting to realize that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to be arguing (disrespectfully) with the head of the English department at a major university, one that I'd hoped to get a degree from.

"No. It's not sarcasm. You may leave now," he returned to the papers on his desk signalling that I was clearly dismissed.

I marched out of his office, out of the English building and all the way back to my apartment where I proceeded to get on the computer and look up the word irony. Damn.

So I was transferring as a Junior (and a late junior at that because I had been an intern at Purdue every other semester) and would have to take a Freshman English class. I would look like a grandmother in there! I was so mad.

On a whim, and because I did feel pretty stupid, I emailed the head of the English department. I apologized for my outburst and disrespect, citing my frustration with how difficult the transfer process was and how I would feel uncomfortable in a class of people where I would appear as a senior citizen. I also included the proper definition of irony.

He wrote me back and said it showed great character on my part for taking the time to write an apology and admitting to my mistake. He said I could take a 200-level English class instead of English 101 with all Freshmen. It was a small victory, I guess.

On the first day of English 215, I was still annoyed that I had to take another English class. Some of us showed up at the classroom when we were really supposed to go to the computer lab to meet. Finding the lecture hall empty, we decided to walk to the lab to see if the rest of the class was there.

I fell in line next to a guy dressed in a grungy flannel shirt, long wavy hair, hat on backwards and jeans that looked like they could walk themselves. He lit up a cigarette on the walk over and exhaled a cloud of smoke.

"Want one?" he asked, smiling at me.

"No thank you," I replied but was happy not to be walking alone.

"I'm John," he said taking another drag and blowing it out. "John Patriarche."

"It's nice to meet you John."

And that, my dear friends, is irony.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Your Choice is Crystal Clear

"Your Choice is Crystal Clear"

Crystal Lee for Student Body President

Clever and catchy, yes? That was my political campaign slogan some *cough* years ago in high school. It worked, too. Despite some relentless and deliberate sabotage from a group of senior girls (with rather large hair) who made it their mission to torture we underclass girls (with equally large hair but better looks - imo). If you detect bitterness and resentment in my tone, well you are...completely right. Dumb buuh... I mean, no, no. I am so over that and them and have been for years. Bygones, right?)

So why bring this up now? Perhaps the Obama fever sweeping the nation brought back the nostalgia of my foray into politics. Or perhaps it's being in my hometown after all these years. Regardless, I was thinking about life and choices and things being crystal clear. You would think at my age *cough cough* one would start to gain a sense of clarity. Things should be crystal clear, right?

Well, I find in my life things tend to be clear as...mud ...or, more accurately, poo ... which is what I'm usually dealing with (three young kids, two dogs, you get the picture.)

In my inaugural blog here, I've come up with a sort of state of my union...things that are clear and some things that are... well, poo.

Clear & Poo:

  • This economy sucks. Like huge suck fest. Huge like my ass is getting (thanks to this freaking Midwest weather.) Income could become challenging... as is zipping.
  • Caleb (one-year-old little Cherub that he is) has the third child syndrome. Need a remedy and stat. Symptoms include but are not limited to: Throwing his lovely blond curly head back despite where it might land or whose jaw it might sock, body becomes instantly rigid, mind blowing screams and stuttering "uh uh uh uh!" with a crescendo effect.)
  • Eli (little Precious nearly-five-year-old that he is) takes after his father. You know the whole men only hear what they want to hear thing? Apparently, it starts early. Case in point: this morning while buttoning up his coat, I instructed him to be good at my sister's: play nice, share, clean up, follow the one toy at a time rule and use his manners. When I asked him, "Did you hear what I just said?" He replied, "Yeah, play with one toy and don't jump on the furniture."
  • Anna (little nine-year-old Princess that she is) suddenly has a limited three word vocabulary: "Oh my God!!" Eye rolling and feet stomping come included.
  • Dogs (lovie little golden canines that they are) are afraid of the snow. Mind you, they are desert rats. Born and raised in Arizona (oh how I miss you!) So, until they brave the cold white, I am cleaning up poo in the garage.
  • John (hubby bubby that he is) has become a huge motivation and time suck right now. I mean, how am I supposed to work while he's bundled up on the couch watching episodes of LOST?

It seems that this list is all poo.... where is the clear part? It's clear, crystal clear, that I need a new slogan and a new campaign and a husband with a job and Super Nanny and ... a pooper scooper.

But wait! I am a PR professional and a fledgling politician. I know it's all about how you spin something:

  • This challenging economy is the perfect time to be resourceful. No income? No new shoes. No need to cook dinner- PB&J for all! Oh wait, there was that peanut butter recall... Top Ramen then... once ate it religiously. Hallelujah! Zipping becoming a challenge? I still have maternity pants. I seldom leave the house anyway which is helping with fuel expenses.
  • Caleb is suffering the terrible twos at one... So he's advanced for his age.
  • Eli only hears what he wants to hear.... He is selective. Nothing wrong with being choosy. Especially when choosing say... a wife.
  • Anna is turning into a teenager already... I'll be turning into my mother earlier than I thought. Was bound to happen anyway.
  • Dogs are pooping in the garage ... John can have that job. I mean, until he finds a better one. You know, a paying one. No disrespect, dear. You are handy and very good with a shovel.

And in the meantime, we are all together, in the town I grew up in where it's clear we have lots of family and friends.

I guess your choice is crystal clear - it's all in the way you spin it.