Signs. Not necessarily wonders.

Note: I spent last week dealing with the world’s Horrible Things, so this week, I’ve chosen not to. I’ve been tweeting about the Awful, or commenting elsewhere, but this space has been Awful-free — except at the end of each post, where there have been a few links to The Day In Horrible. Same-same today!


Signs — of spring, of trouble, of the times, of speed limits. They’re everywhere, by gum, occasionally locking out the scenery and breakin’ my mind! (Click on the link. It’s a quote).

But, useful as signs can be in directing us to gender-specific restrooms and/or the exit we’ve just missed, some retain an element of mystery, a need for correct interpretation. One woman’s sign being another woman’s insignificant bit of grit (click on the link. It’s another quote. And a dang funny one!), and so on.

In the course of a life veritably chock-a-block with experience, I have, myself, unearthed some signs that need a bit of exegesis in order to be properly understood, but reveal Significant Truths. Or at least support for our nation’s public radio. I’ve done the work for you — now you need but learn, grasshopper:

  1. Sign That Civilization Is Not Ending? Starbucks’ unfortunately tweely-named “Petites.” I left this country for an unexpectedly long time in 1984, and when I got back in 1998, coffee house pastries were as big as your head. I ask you: Who needs a scone as big as your head? Or my head, for that matter? Certainly not the English, who invented the scone, and had no idea that Americans would appropriate their tea-time staple and reboot it as a vast flour desert over which one might hike for days. And while we were all hiking across our scones, you know what happened? Reality TV! Skinny baggies! (no, seriously, you have to click). The confusion of electronic devices with books! Into this maelstrom of slippery slope-ism Starbucks very recently stepped, with a line of wee little goodies, all just the right size to go with a cup of coffee (not a chai frappacino with low-fat vanilla whip & cinnamon dusting or some such monstrosity – a cup of damn coffee). My faith in the ability of civilization to right itself has been restored.
  2. Sign That Momentous Events Are About to Unfold on the Domestic or World Stage? The Daily Show goes on vacation. For real, man: Health Care Reform? Passed when The Daily Show was on vacation. Stimulus bill? Passed when The Daily Show was on vacation. The UN declared a no-fly zone over Libya yesterday? The Daily Show is on vacation. If a thing long talked about is ever going to happen? It needs Jon Stewart to take his kids to Disney World (where he was, on vacation, when Hosni Mubarak stepped down).
  3. Sign Of Spring’s Arrival? My house is daily revealed to be a hovel. If I wake up, come downstairs, and all the dust on my furniture and crumbs on my floor are standing out in sharp relief, almost as if a sprite had tip-toed in and scattered them about to try my patience, it means our earth has reached that point in its annual circuit that allows sunlight to pour in, blindingly, through my front window, at just the right angle to illuminate every single limitation of my family’s paltry housecleaning skills. Luckily, as a Jew, there’s a holiday for that — soon I will be cleaning for Passover, and the earth will continue its orbit, and the sun will no longer fill my house in just that fashion — and I can go back to feeling like, hey! The place looks pretty good!
  4. [Related] Sign That I Will In Fact Get The Kitchen Cleaned And Various Other Small Kitchen-Suitable Tasks Done of a Saturday Morning? I’m listening to NPR’s Wait Wait! Don’t Tell Me! I’m not always at home and/or near a radio at 10:00 am on Saturday, when Wait Wait! is broadcast in the Greater Chicagoland Metropolitan Area. Sometimes I’m already running errands, occasionally I’m out of town, and now and then, I’m actually praying with the Jews (Saturday being Shabbat and all). But if I’m home and Wait Wait! is on, it’s on in my kitchen, and if it’s on in my kitchen? I find myself miraculously doing jobs that have been piling up for days (that vase that needs the green gunk picked off, those season-specific tchotchkes that need to be put back in their boxes, that floor that apparently really needs sweeping), and laughing! All but whistling as I work! Because Wait Wait! is just that awesome, and I’m laughing so hard, that I hardly even notice that I’m in the midst of drudgery. It’s entirely likely that I should have podcasts of the show on endless loop in every room of the house — perhaps that lovely springtime sun would not then find so many crumbs to illuminate. But it’s hard to know for sure. If only I could get some kind of sign.


Your Day in Horrible:

  1. Yemen declares ‘state of emergency’ – “Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 41 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa….Security forces opened fire in attempts to prevent protesters from marching out of the square where they were gathered, sources said. Medical sources said the death toll was likely to rise.”
  2. Voting – The Rising Degree of Difficulty – “There are new efforts across the country, led mostly by conservative activists, aimed at making it more difficult for people to vote…. The new laws pending in more than 30 states “are far more restrictive than we’ve seen in the past,” said Weiser. To voting rights activists, the trend represents an alarming reversal. In the decade since the Help America Vote Act was enacted in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election, state and federal officials have toiled to modernize voting through better machines and streamlined registration systems.”
  3. How Obama Lost Karzai – “The road out of Afghanistan runs through two presidents who just don’t get along…. Ironically, 2010 was supposed to be a new “year one” for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, when the Americans, after years of neglecting the country in favor of Iraq, finally invested the resources necessary to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the country. Instead, things got worse…. At the heart of the failure, both a cause and consequence of it, is the tattered U.S. relationship with Karzai, an alliance that has cost the United States more than $330 billion and nearly 1,400 soldiers’ lives, but is now at the lowest ebb of its nearly decade-long history. U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration plainly do not trust the Afghan leader, or even much like him.”

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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