(Note: In the column I make fun of French people, Germans, and beer snobs. If you fall under one of these categories, please don’t be offended. After all, I’m just a crazy person obsessed with her dachshund. I only make fun of people to feel better about myself.)
In the last two days I’ve heard religious people proclaim that the survey was false and not-so-religious people say that it’s about time someone took note of their intelligence in matters of religion.
If you look at the test results, you’ll see that even the top scorers (those being the atheists/agnostics) only got a measly 20.9 out of 32 questions correct.
The New York Times article that ran on this yesterday begins, “Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.”
What it should say is “Americans are by all means a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant.”
I took the Times test offering a sampling of the questions (it’s fun, you should too) and I read a few of the other questions. And yeah, sure, these questions are in some way related to religion. But they’re also related to history, other country’s cultures, and modern politics.
It’s not that Americans are short on our knowledge of religion. It’s that we are short on our knowledge of EVERYTHING. These aren’t facts that should have been taught in a church or a synagogue. They’re facts that should have been learned in school.
So yeah. I’m going to leave you with that little piece of BRAND NEW NEWS: We need a better education system.
This is semi-old news, but I read in this week’s Time that the U.S. government is funding a project to airdrop dead mice stuffed with Tylenol into the jungle in Guam. The hope is that the brown tree snake, which is wreaking havoc on the native species in the region, will eat the mice and die. (Because apparently Tylenol kills brown tree snakes.)
At first I was indignant. You know, with the usual “there are better things to spend my tax payer’s dollars on.” But then it occurred to me: I HATE snakes. And my government is spending time and money killing them. This might be the best thing that has ever happened.
Next action I’d like what is clearly my fantasy government to take? Obama personally arrests every person who has ever posted on Facebook about matters that occurred in their baby’s diapers.
“I’ll tell you this about New York City during the summer of the Ground Zero mosque here in year nine of our nation’s engagement in the holy war triggered by Osama bin Laden and now affixed to Orwellian permanence: It’s hot — ungodly hot — the woolen air a haze clinging to every pore. This morning brought a downpour not long after dawn that felt less like relief than ten minutes slumped against the wall of a shvitz getting pissed on by goats. Not that I’d know.”—
Writing like this is what has made Esquire my favorite magazine. I realize it’s a magazine for guys. But ladies, if you’re not reading this because it has some dude’s face on the front and smells like cheap cologne, then you’re missing out. Seriously.
Today is the deadline for me to turn in my back page story at the magazine where I work. Actually, that's a lie. Today is two days after the deadline. But I'm seriously struggling with it this month. Struggling so much that this morning during a phone call with my mom I asked for her suggestions. The topic is loosely "football" and it's supposed to be funny.
Mom:What about something about mascots?
Me:Maybe the entire column could be me campaigning for an NFL team to take on Dachshunds as their mascot.
Mom:Yeah! Are there any teams called the Dachshunds?
Mom:Yeah, I don't know all the teams.
Me:Um. No. There are no Dachshunds. Can you imagine the Dachshunds versus the Panthers? It would be a massacre.
Mom:Oh yeah. Good point. Or the Dachshunds versus the Lions. That would be the worst. But, if there was a team called the Badgers, they could win that!
“Like fanning through a deck of cards, my mind flashes on the thousand chances, trivial to profound, that converged to re-create this place. Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different. Where did the expression “a place in the sun” first come from? My rational thought process cling always to the idea of free will, random event; my blood, however, streams easily along a current of fate.”—
- Frances Mayes
Last night, after a full weekend of walks through mountain woods with friends and gathering around porch tables to enjoy the soon-to-be-fall air, I arrived home. I love Sundays with their long do-nothing hours and football on in the background. But Sunday nights are different.
When it’s dark and it’s just Rosie and me in a quiet house and the buzz and blur of the weekend has passed and I allow myself—if only for a moment—to think about where I am and what I’m doing. And all of the sudden there’s a tightness in my chest and I think that I should have my bags packed and be on the other side of the world by now.
I am content and happy all week. That’s longer than most people. So maybe it’s ok that I squeeze all of those seconds and minutes of desiring to move and to wander and to be somewhere, something, someone else into one small evening.
Last night, to distract myself, I turned on Under the Tuscan Sun, a movie I know I’ve mentioned often on here before as it’s one of my favorites. And it reminded me of this quote from the book that is also one of my favorites. And it also it reminded me that Sunday nights always pass and in most moments, on most days, I think I have found my “place in the sun.”
I started following 50 Cent on Twitter about a month ago. Mostly because he was hilariously offensive. Then, I decided that really I could only read about someone wanting to kill people so many times a day, so last week, it was with great sadness that I unfollowed 50.
But now I see he’s created a Twitter account that is his dog tweeting. And his accounts are tweeting back and forth at each other. And he’s posting photos of himself and the dog, which is a mini schnauzer. And the dog has thought bubbles.
Seriously. This has to be some kind of sign of the apocalypse.
“I drink my Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.”
Yesterday, as I was watering my rose bushes (seriously. I’m a 45-year-old masquerading as a 28-year-old) I could hear my neighbor, Stephanie talking on the phone through the fence.
Through her side of the discussion, I learned the following things:
She has a friend named Cowboy.
Cowboy is a drug dealer.
Cowboy has a 2-year-old named Shiloh (Thanks Jolie-Pitt’s).
Cowboy leaves drug paraphernalia around the house.
Shiloh plays with his crack pipe.
I’m often asked why I don’t watch any reality television. I have a lot of reasons, but one is the simple fact that I find the people around me more interesting than any on TV. Apparently, some kids from Jersey are trashy enough to be entertaining, but unless they’ve got kids playing with crack pipes, I’m really not interested*.
*I realize my sarcasm in this post may sound heartless. I do actually feel horrible for Shiloh and think that Cowboy should be castrated to avoid having any future offspring.
I’m going to my ten year high school reunion tomorrow.
We picked this weekend because tonight our high school plays its biggest rival. And so, tomorrow I’ll see faces I haven’t looked at and hear voices that I haven’t heard in ten years— something that seems strange in this world of technology.
What really feels strange though is that our reunion is being held on September 11th. A date that when we graduated in June of 2000 meant nothing to us.
September 11th, 9/11, the World Trade Center, the twin towers.
Words that meant so little ten years ago mean so much today. They’re tossed around in articles and speeches. They’re spoken of over dinners and coffee. And they’re whispered in hushed and reverent tones.
Other new words are there too. al-Queda, terrorists, war on terror, Taliban, Afghanistan, Iraq, casualties.
It’s strange because I think that tomorrow night, seeing these people— chatting with them in a popular restaurant in my small home town about the football rivalry and the soon-to-arrive county fair— it’s likely that it will feel like not much has changed in the last ten years.
But the coincidental date of the reunion keeps reminding me that actually, everything has.
This morning, as Rosie and I were walking a few blocks from my house, I spotted her former lover, Mackie.
It was too late to cut down another street and so we were forced to walk right up to her ex. I whispered for Rosie to keep it together and act cool. Which she did. Right up until the moment when Mackie walked up to sniff her and presumably say “what’s up” and she promptly peed all over the sidewalk.
She recovered quickly though and did her usual nonchalant act that Mackie always seems to fall for. (Rosie is an accomplished dog when it comes to playing hard to get.) Then, two over-sized poodles approached. And Mackie, the huge pansy of a dachshund, HID BEHIND ROSIE.
I could tell his owner was embarrassed as this was now the second reason I had for doubting the presence of Mackie’s balls. He laughed nervously and tried to pull Mackie back in front of Rosie. Rosie, meanwhile was going over to say hello to the poodles, leaving Mackie in the dust.
Yesterday I went for a run after work. I switched my route around a little bit and ended up coming back on a street I don’t typically run down. It’s a nice neighborhood street a few blocks from my house. It was towards the end of the run and the street has a steep hill on it (see: Reason I don’t typically run on this street). I decided to walk up the hill.
As I started up the hill I noticed a man sweeping the sidewalk in front of a house. He was wearing baggy denim shorts and sneakers with no shirt. He was, however, wearing a bullet proof vest.
I thought it seemed kind of/really strange, but I figured everyone likes to dress differently to do yard work and who was I to judge if he wanted to wear Kevlar as he swept the sidewalk?
As I walked by he looked over his shoulder and I smiled and said hi. He stared at me. In fact, he stopped sweeping, rested his elbow on the broom and stared at me. I kept walking. Close to the top of the hill I turned around and noticed that he’d moved out into the road for a better view, still with his elbow on the broom and still staring.
It was really hard not to turn around and yell that he was the idiot wearing armor to sweep the sidewalk in a perfectly safe neighborhood and if anyone should be stared at it was him. But, I make it a practice not to yell at people in bullet proof vests.
And so, I jogged the rest of the way home, relieved that while my neighbors may be crazy, none seem unreasonably concerned about being shot.
Last night when I returned from work, my favorite neighbors were hanging out in their front yard (as in, the neighbors who have about 47 people living in their house and are running an illegal daycare). Stephanie, the 20-year-old with the 5-year-old son, walked over to chat. She was telling me that last week, when I was at the beach, they'd heard noises coming from my house, so they'd called the police.
Me:Well, thanks for calling the police about it.
Stephanie:It didn't make any difference anyway. They didn't come for thirty minutes. And then they got here and starting saying it was my boyfriend who'd done it.
Me:Your boyfriend? Why'd they think that?
Stephanie:Because he got here right before they did. They were all like 'What's your name? Where do you work?' And I was like 'You can see it right there on his Pizza Hut uniform, his name is Quavias.'
Me:Oh. Well. That was kind of stupid.
Stephanie:You know what's kind of stupid? Taking 30 minutes to get to somebody's house after they've called 911. My sister, she does that kind of thing, and she says she can be in and out of a house with flat screens and computers in under two minutes.
Me:Um. Your sister robs houses?
Stephanie:Yeah, but we don't talk much more. She hasn't been allowed to come over here ever since we got the flat screen.
She went on to tell me about various other 911 calls throughout her life, including the time a man mistook her house for the home of a crack head who used to live behind her and started banging on the door saying he was going to shoot everyone inside. Luckily, her grandfather and uncle lived there at the time and of course both had guns, which they in turn threatened to use on the man.