Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The end of an error

Tonight George W. Bush, who will go down in the annals of history as one of the most disastrous presidents of the United States, gave his last State of the Union address to the nation.

Tonight Barack Obama, who will go down in the annals of history as a man (and hopefully president) who restored the hope of a nation, gave his reasons why he is truly a candidate for change.

If you want to know more about exactly how Obama will enact this change through legislation, read The Blueprint for Change: Barak Obama's Plan For America.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

brilliant trace #7

My memory of you starts with an order of nachos and soda we shared several Friday nights in a row at Skateland.

You were tall and lanky, I was short with frizzy hair, and both of us wore huge glasses that consumed our faces.

We were in fifth or sixth grade, and I can't exactly remember how we met because we went to different schools. Somehow though, we ended up talking and sharing nachos while everyone else couple skated under the dark disco lights to Firehouse's "Love of a Lifetime."

I would always ask you why you came to Skateland and never skated. You would always answer by saying you didn't know. The rest of the details about our conversations are long since forgotten, and so were you until a couple of years ago.

I was home from New York for Christmas and had just finished celebrating the holidays at my brother's house in St. Paul. During the car ride to Jamestown from the Twin Cities, Firehouse's "Love of a Lifetime" came on the radio. I sighed to myself, "Ah, Skateland. When everything was simple when it came to girls and boys."

My nephew, who was in the backseat, overheard me and asked," What's Skateland?"

I felt sad that the tin shed with the uneven blue cement floor had closed its doors for good, and that my nephew would never get to experience the excitement of Friday nights skating in circles to music. So, I told him about Skateland and about you.

My nephew continued playing his video game while I told the story, and without looking up he said, "Sounds lame."

I laughed and spent the rest of the car ride home wondering what happened to you. Somewhere between childhood and our teenage years we lost touch. I fell into the drama crowd and you the party crowd.

Later that evening after my family got into town I made my annual rounds to the local bars on Main Street. My friend and I were about to call it a night when I heard from behind me, "Vanessa? Vanessa Casavant?"

I turned around and about dropped my beer when I saw you sitting at the bar. The tall and lanky kid I remembered had grown even taller, but was now a very good looking man sporting a well-trimmed beard.

We chatted a bit, and I found out you had just returned from spending the past several years since high school in Europe working in the Air Force. You were living with your old man and working odd jobs figuring out what you wanted to do with the rest of your life. We exchanged phone numbers saying we should hang out sometime before I had to leave for New York.

I never did plan on calling you. Partly because I didn't want to mess with what was an already splendid chance meeting, but mostly because of the last experience I had with running into brilliant trace #5 the year prior while home for Christmas. I figured I had reached my limit of holiday flings with guys from my hometown who left me brokenhearted.

Then you called me a few days later, and I figured it couldn't hurt to have a beer and catch up. We ended up hanging out until 4 a.m. talking about politics, life, and our plans for the future. I was amazed at how much in common we had, and how our views of the world were so similar. I had also forgotten how funny you were, and how nice it was to laugh with you.

When we finally said goodnight I didn't know what to think, other than it was completely amazing running into you. I forgot how good of friends we had been before high school, and it didn't surprise me to find this note from you in my eighth-grade yearbook:

Thanks for being my friend this year, even if we don't talk to each other very much I'm still your friend. Have a nice summer."

While it's not exactly the kind of prose that gets a girl misty-eyed in eighth grade, it is a note that touches an adult woman's heart when she realizes how incredibly mature an eighth grade boy had to be to write it.

I was happy that we got to talk a few more times before I had to fly back to New York, and that you invited me to ring in New Years 2005 with you and your buddies at the Old Broadway in Fargo.

I was going to go to bed early on New Year's Eve because I had to catch a plane to Albany the next morning where I was going to start my internship for the Legislative Gazette. I ignored practicality because really wanted to see you one more time. Little did I know almost everyone we graduated with would be at the bar, so we didn't get too much time to talk. Instead, we danced and I counted down the hours until midnight.

I was hoping against all hope that the shy side of you would disappear and kiss me. When the time finally came and we were both counting down, I was kissed unexpectedly by a very drunk old friend. I was so shocked that I pushed him off me, and feeling like a complete jerk I looked at you - who barely seemed to notice.

My heart sank a little bit, but then you asked, "Who was that?" I couldn't explain very well, because all I really wanted to do was kiss you, but I knew the moment had passed.

Later in the night I finally got the courage to tell you I had enjoyed the time we got to spend together, and that it would be awesome if you could come to Albany and visit for a while.

That's when you told me you were offered a lucrative job in the Middle East and that you'd have to start within the next few weeks if you took it.

After an uncomfortable pause, I asked, "So are you going to take it?"

You said you didn't know, but that it was a lot of money you'd never have a chance to make again.

I wanted to say, "Money is just money. You've spent so much time overseas putting off your life. You should come live it and be with me in Albany." Instead, as best as I could, I helped you sort through the details of how much you would make, why you should go, and why you shouldn't.

After all was said, you looked straight into my eyes and asked, "Should I take it?"

I looked at you, and pushing back all of my selfish thoughts, all I could say was, "I'm too drunk to know what to say."

Then my cousin pulled up outside to take me home, and we were left with only an awkward goodbye.

A few days later you called to say you were taking the job.

Despite being halfway across the world from each other, you kept in better contact with me than any other guy I'd met at a moment of inconvenient timing. We sent weekly emails, and I even got a satellite phone call from you once and awhile. I kept asking when you were going to come home, and you kept saying you didn't know.

After almost a year of waiting for you, I couldn't anymore. I needed to live my life in the present, and not on what I hoped the future would hold. Our emails became fewer and fewer, and so did your phone calls.

I moved on with a guy who would eventually become brilliant trace #8. When he left me brokenhearted you called from a satellite phone at a ridiculously early hour in your time zone to make sure I was all right - because that's the kind of guy you are.

I eventually picked up the pieces of my heart and met brilliant trace #9, who I was in a relationship with when you came to visit Seattle last year. You called me, and I wanted to see you, but I was afraid. So I never called, and pretended I was sick. I've felt guilty about that ever since, and still think about you all the time - wondering what could be if you ever decided to come back home.

What I've learned from you is that genuine, mature men do exist, and I should never lose hope when I think otherwise.

Current status of brilliant trace #7: Married

brilliant trace #8 - Part I

Friday, January 4, 2008

Because we are the generation

I have to take this moment and depart from my sharing of brilliant traces to mark tonight's moment in history.

I think many, many, many people - pundits and political strategists alike - are going to fall on their asses in awe of how many young voters end up going the polls in this presidential election.

After winning the Democratic Iowa caucus tonight due to a large turn out of young voters, U.S. Senator Barack Obama said:
"They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.

But on this January night, at this defining moment in history you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do."
I truly believe this wave of young voters turning out in large numbers will grow into a tsunami by November, and here is why:
  • Because we are the generation who the cost of the unjust war is falling on - both financially and emotionally.
  • Because we are the generation who is finally getting a chance to vote in an election that isn't being altered by political henchmen.

    One thing almost all people of my generation who voted in the last two presidential elections will tell you is that we feel betrayed by the electoral process.

    They were the first two presidential elections we've been able to vote in, and they were both stolen - the first in '00 due to hanging chads and political favors being played in Florida, and the second in '04 due to "faulty" electronic voting systems.
  • Because we are the generation who finally has a candidate who speaks to us, speaks like us, and we can trust to speak for us.

    That candidate is Barack Obama -and you can mark my words now that he will be the next president of the United States.

    There's a reason Obama's campaign slogan geared toward my generation is "Got hope?" He is a candidate that gives us hope after eight years of feeling powerless, betrayed, and forgotten.
  • Because we are the generation who will have to live for the next 50 to 80 years in the shambles of what the Bush presidency has left our country and Constitution in.
  • Because we are the generation who realizes that change only comes from action, and when your only action in a democracy is to vote - you better believe we're going to vote.
  • Because we are the generation who looks past race, gender, and "one-issue" voting to see the big picture - the picture of falling bridges, breaking levees, and crumbling towers.
  • Because we are the generation who can't afford not to vote.
Read more about my generation's historic turnout in Iowa:
"Obama: A 'defining moment in history'" in the Chicago Tribune

"Winners triumphed by attracting new voters" in the Boston Globe

"Young Obama voters lead record Democratic turnout" in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Obama's historic victory" in Time Magazine