“Where to Invade Next” by Michael Moore:
I’m in this class that I absolutely hate that I should have taken years ago at community college when I was first starting my degree. Not entirely sure why I didn’t take it, it seems a fairly standard part of any degree plan. Oh well, I’m done asking questions about college that seem obvious. I won’t say the name of the class, but in it, we have to watch documentaries and then apply theories to what we see. The documentaries are all dumb, well all of them but this one. I was fascinated from the very beginning by Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next. He travels around the world in search of ideas that he can take back to America to make America better than it is today. We think we are living the American Dream, but really, our compatriots around the world are enjoying the principals of the American Dream more fully than we are. Michael explored several countries to find things that worked particularly well for their culture. In Italy, he explored the way people work. The workers were happy, healthy, and they didn’t take much time off for illness. They were quite delighted to go to work and get their tasks finished. And this was because of a strong labor union that fought for worker’s rights. They have plenty of time for lunch, which I found wondrous. I have a half hour here, which is more than some people. In Italy, they had like two hours off to go home and cook and decompress before heading back to the job. It’s genius. In addition to these benefits, they have plenty of vacation time that they can use and at least a month off in the summer. And it would seem that they’d get nothing done with all this leisure time, but it turns out that Italy is just as productive as the United States. This is something we desperately need. Michael went to many other locations, but the one that really stood out the most to me was the small nation of Slovenia. This one floored me. There, as in several other European nations, higher education is free or incredibly affordable. Students don’t pay astronomical tuitions. They might pay for housing and books, but the cost of their education is minimal. People from the United States can go to Slovenia and basically get an incredibly good college education for absolutely nothing. These schools are highly successful, the students are engaged, and the culture really supports learning. In America, we have to work two jobs just to pay for tuition and then find time to do the work required for our classes. It’s fundamentally backwards. How is a student supposed to learn when they are more concerned about wondering if they’ll have money enough to keep going to college, let alone eat? This film is recommended highly by me. America has some wonderful things going for it, but we need to have a major change in the way we act. Workers deserve their lives, and so do students. We need to be able to enjoy living so that we can love our work.
I don’t know what I’m doing by not going to Target every day. I do all of my grocery shopping at ALDI and pick up anything else I need at Walmart. I had no reason to go to Target. I used to love their clothes, but they were getting really pedestrian, so I stopped looking. Well, reader, I’ve been back a few times, and I am changed and I am obsessed. There are so many things that I need that I never knew I needed. I found this gorgeous new bag for all my work stuff, which is a blessing since my backpack strap snapped off. I found gorgeous copper wine glasses. I bought a completely unnecessary mirror with a thin golden rim. I am most delighted by the clothing, though. It is no longer crap and I am changed. And my wallet was emotionally ruined. I finally found a pair of khaki pants that aren’t absolutely awful nightmares. They actually look good. I don’t understand, I bought them in three colors. I found a long sleeved T-shirt that is the perfect yellow. I found these gorgeous socks. I found shoes. And my favorite purchase of all is a gorgeous new discounted coat. This season I am all about coats. The one that I got on sale is too perfect. It’s brown and long and I look like a supermodel when it’s snowing. I mean, it’s no Burberry’s but its not half bad for fifty dollars. And I am so glad that I bought it because my beloved Forever 21 black and white coat has vanished. I have no idea where it could be. Honestly, it’s bizarre. Like it vanished into thin air. I’m miserable without it. I’m just so glad I didn’t leave my scarves and gloves in it like I normally do. That has nothing to do with the post, though. Just know that I made a lot of bad fiscal decisions at Target lately. I am living my very best life. We had a snow day the other week, and I was stuck in town and couldn’t get home to the country because there was like a million inches of snow and ice on the road. But the highways were fine…and I was not about to go to work in the exact same outfit I got stranded it…so I went to Target and bought an entire look. It was absolutely adorable. Target is a blessing and I am never going to have a life savings.
I am famous for procrastinating. There’s nothing I won’t put off, and like I say so often that I’m starting to annoy myself, I’ll probably put off dying so long that I’ll live forever. This past weekend I finally finished a project that I’ve been thinking about for nearly two decades. Can you believe I’m old enough to have memory of two decades? I can’t, even though I feel like I’m approaching one hundred instead of thirty. It has been my intention to display the little ancient Egyptian trinkets I’ve collected since childhood in some museum style display. For whatever reason, this has been more challenging than I ever anticipated. I couldn’t find a shadow box to save my life that would be like what I envisioned. I refused to look at Hobby Lobby because the irony of that purchase would be simply too enormous for me. (If that was lost on you, look Hobby Lobby and archaeology up on Google.) Finally, I found this interesting glass box at IKEA, but it just wasn’t good enough. The other day, I finally stumbled upon the perfect box at the IKEA in Kansas City. A comedy of errors followed. I bought lovely golden pins to hold up the ushabti figurines and pottery shards, but none of the pins had sharp ends, so I couldn’t stick them into the fabric backing of the shadow box. This was endlessly annoying, but they came in handy for support later on. Then I couldn’t get the box hung up because the spot where I intended to put it was unexpectedly solid brick. I bent three screws just trying to drill into the mortar of the wall before giving up. I bought some Command Strips, and they worked better than I expected them to. You literally slap these Velcro things on the back and it hangs on the wall like it’s been professionally mounted. I’m obsessed. With the box hung up, I began to fill it with the little figurines I got at Egyptian Treasures, the potsherds from Amarna, a chunk of pink Aswan granite from the obelisk quarry, and a little clay figure made by a fisherman in Luxor for me with clay from the Nile. They all looked sensational, so I went to install a light fixture from IKEA to illuminate my nearly four-thousand year old trinkets. I was delighted by the way it looked, and was thrilled to plug it in and finish the entire display, but then I discovered that I needed another part of the light to plug it in. How annoying. So I had to wait for another part from IKEA because it was proprietary and I could not pick it up anywhere else. Finally, I had everything I needed, and light flooded the shadow box, and I found my breath taken away. The bright light illuminates the ancient paint in a way that made me see them in an entirely new way. You can see the patterns the ancient craftsmen painted on the pottery shards, and I found myself staring for nearly an hour at the patterns, dreaming that I was in the city of the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaten. It was wonderful. The shadow box is an absolute dream come true. I’m so happy.
I have been aching to go back to Egypt lately. It’s always on my mind, but lately, I find myself quite desperate to return. I want to watch the sun set behind the Theban hills from a balcony at the Winter Palace. I want to wander through the souk in Cairo. I want to gorge myself on Debbie’s delicious lentil soup. I long to go spelunking in all the tombs I haven’t seen. I need to see the ruins of Heliopolis and I want to go with Abdul to the rarely seen bits of Amarna. I want to drink beer and smoke cigarettes with Hassan and the other locals in the shadow of the Ramesseum. I miss Hassan’s house and its unfinished roof with rebar stretching up to the sky, with it’s remarkable views and graceful hospitality. I want to wander amongst the treasures of the Egyptian Museum and eat koshari after midnight. I want to sail the Nile and I want to spend a day in the Temple of Esna. I want to learn Arabic slang, I want to read hieroglyphs, I want to be there again. Egypt is one of the wonderful places in the world where I felt so at home, and when I’m there, I feel so healthy. I don’t feel so great these days. I’m very busy and I’m considerably stressed, and it’s just no good. I miss how I felt in Egypt. I loved spending each day lost in exploration, lost doing something I truly loved. I miss getting back to the Winter Palace to freshen up for dinner and revel in my suite full of flowers. I miss Mina’s smile and handshake whenever I came back to the Lantern Room. I miss Hassan picking me up too early and teasing me for not being a morning person. I even miss him armwrestling with me, one of those weird experiences I can’t quite fathom how I found myself in. I miss getting into playful Egyptological arguments with scholars over martinis at The Royal Bar. I even miss the touts demanding baksheesh and donkey drivers hollering at me. I miss the filth in the streets and the flies that buzz around the horses. I miss the robes and the heat and the ferry across the Nile. I miss the cacophony of sounds at night when you’d hear honking horns and bellowing camels and the call to prayer. It suited me and I need to get back. Once I get this terrible year behind me, I’m going to treat myself to a glorious return to the sands of Egypt.
Last night, I thought I was hallucinating because I saw literally the dumbest thing I have ever seen ever in my life, and that’s saying something because I have seen tremendous numbers of dumb things. It was a commercial for Denny’s and they were advertising their new omelettes. Fine, they looked like they were made of plastic, but whatever. And then something so ridiculous that I still struggle to understand how it could possibly be real flashed onto the screen. Who would have thought this insanity up? They made an omelette and it looked like shit, but whatever, it was Denny’s after all. But then the “chef” put a fried egg on top of the omelette. I thought it was a mistake. I didn’t think it could possibly be real. I didn’t know why anybody would want to put an egg on top of another egg. I convinced myself that what I was seeing was probably an illusion or maybe a joke or maybe I just needed to get a new pair of glasses. This morning, I remembered the commercial with a vividness that is not customary for me. So I got on the website, and lo and behold, there was that goddamn omelette with an egg on top. It was a legitimate part of their menu. It was a serious culinary offering. I was shaken to my core and filled with rage and loathing. How dare they create such a joke? How dare they perpetuate this madness? I refuse to go and try it. The omelette looks like absolute garbage. I refuse to change my opinion, which is something that I normally am more than willing to do. Not this time. This is one step too damn far. TOO FAR, DENNY’s. I am enraged. I won’t discuss it any further.