Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union

Living just outside of Washington DC puts me in a special place to watch tonight's State of the Union address. Just miles south from here, deep in the heart of Capitol Hill, President George Bush lights his speech in unusually clear words from a podium surrounded by all the top government officials that the United States can muster. Republicans (many), Democrats (fewer), Supreme Court judges, senators, special diplomats, cabinet members, and others more privileged respond to the president's words in applause, rises from the bench, silent disdain, furtive glances, and various other postures marking the volleys. Talk of war and terror, foreign policy, economy, and other topics that fill cafes and public spaces are the paint by which George Bush sprays his canvas. In the moment, there is surrounding silence, clarity of spirit, and resounding focus on this one moment that places politics at the center of primetime television and living rooms.

There is not agreement in this moment, however. Scanning the crowded quorum shows shaking heads, smirks, mischievous smiles, forced clapping, and other forms of resistance. There are many listening - some with open ears - and many more thinking about the outcomes of promises and comments littered near the podium floor. From that point, the debate continues once the Capitol Building falls silent and all the politicans go home. At that point, the state of the union will find its true state, wandering the streets of cities festering with people who make this country home.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Best Laid Plans...

It's amazing what a difference a year makes. On this unseasonably warm day in New Jersey (low 60's at the high end of January is nothing short of extraordinary), I am sitting in a hotel room and pondering life on the other side of the chasm. Never mind that I feel like more of a grown-up now, one month and some on from finishing my graduate studies. The student life is now but a figment of my imagination, a hallucination from the days I lived in the dungeon corridors of a building far, far away in Switzerland.

Tomorrow is my current reality. I will be meeting nearly all the staff of my newly joined department in an "all-hands" meeting, the annual meet-and-greet festival of powerpoint presentations and team-building exercises that kicks off a (hopefully) successful year. I am sure by the time this event comes around again next year, the world will look ever different, with a new set of thoughts and feelings to tide me over on such an evening - but for now I am digesting my newfound state. I feared that I would have these pangs of indescribable boredom coming back into the country after a year of international stimulation and exploration. It turns out that I am as happy as I could have imagined and disengaged for indescribable reasons. Who knows why?

I guess that a year on, I have gotten what I wished for, and now new wishes are begging to fall from my dreams. The trouble is, those new dreams have not descended from the heavens to paint my nights vivid with what's next in an ever-turning life. For now, I am contented and calm - not something to complain about but not something that feels like a continuing step along the evolutionary path of life. Who knows what the coming days will bring, but here's to dreams that carry them forward.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Back At It Again

I promised myself in the new year that I would maintain diligence in my thinking and writing. Every day, I promised myself, would be for discovery and artistic rumination, culminating in a cornucopia of ideas for stories and prose. One year being forced to write a daily diary entry would seem to ingrain the kind of work ethic and routing that would make this easy as pie, right? Already a couple of weeks into the new year, I am behind - but definitely not out of it. With a new place to hang my hat and a new door on which to hang my name placard, I am finally off and running into a new life. And what a brilliant errand it is to make something out of nothing more than packing, moving, and starting a new job.

So, here I am, back at it again in the "real world" and wondering what this new year will bring in a world with which I have lost touch over the past six years. I am sprouting roots and experiencing the growing pains that comes with sprouting. In the meantime, I am slowly seeping into the transition process and letting the days do with me as they like. Because when the days are done with me, I will have my day - and the satisfaction that will come with my emergence should pay for all the frustrations I feel back in the "normal life". At least this is a start in the right direction.