August 16th, 2008


Tuning in and tuning out

barlow_girl is in Atlanta for work until Tuesday, so I'm going solo in surviving the Seattle heat (which barely compares to the heat almost anywhere else, but our near-universal lack of air conditioning exacerbates the situation somewhat).

Somewhere within the last week I've misplaced my iPhone headphones. That sucks. [Found them @ 2000 in a pocket I'd previously checked. Whew.] People talk so much, and it's hard to tune them out short of becoming a recluse.

We've had so much social stuff lately that the recluse option looks tempting. Though all of it's been enjoyable, I'm also realizing that socializing takes more out of me the more distant the other people are from my daily life. Since nine 11 (I originally forgot to include the two Sundays, but they totally count) of the last 17 days have involved this kind of thing, I'm beat. Apparently I can't go much past 50%, which regrettably meant declining some stuff this weekend.

Had a couple of great conversations recently about intentional residential community (sidebar: sometimes this gets mislabelled "intentional community," but I think that's a lazy load of crap—communities don't need to be residential to be intentional). Because of my previous career, I have a pretty good sense of the advantages, disadvantages, and realities of this kind of life, but there's still a lot to explore when the contexts and reasons are different. Even better than the ideas themselves is the kind of engagement these conversations afford, regardless of what course of action one chooses. Even when my relational tank is close to empty, it's good stuff.

OK, I need to go home before it gets hotter and too many more people wake up to come here for coffee. And talk. So much.


Cameron has never been in love—at least, nobody's ever been in love with him. If things don't change for him, he's gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she's gonna treat him like shit, because she will have given him what he has built up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existence. She won't respect him, 'cause you can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work.

—Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ever have a friend who fell head-over-heels for someone, but you just didn't think she was all that? Not that you didn't give her a chance—she seemed nice enough, and you tried to get to know her, but she didn't really seem that special or different from any of the other girls he'd gone out with or could go out with. And you didn't have anything in particular against her, though there were a few things you were concerned about. Maybe you thought he'd probably be better off with another girl who was interested in him: a little more plain, didn't always come off as well, but she just seemed more solid somehow, and you really thought he could do better than the one he was currently smitten by.

If you've been there, you know how it goes: you can talk to your buddy about it, but even when it seems like he's listening to you, eventually he gets all googly-eyed and you know you're wasting your breath. Every good quality she has is magnified a thousandfold, and every possible shortcoming is soon glossed over (if it's even acknowledged). He brings her up in every conversation and thinks it's crazy when people don't see her as he does. She's all he can think of, and once you've had your say (or even if you haven't), after a while, you've got to make peace with the fact that he's got to make his own choices. So when he brings her up again (which won't take long), you just nod and smile, hoping things turn out well and resolving to be there for him if it ends badly.

That's what hearing about Obama is like for me. And I don't have the option of not hearing about him, unless I want to remove myself from my friends and my city (I don't). I'm not unenamored with him because I haven't heard enough about him (I have) or because I don't like him (I do). And I'm sure there may be plenty of great reasons for all the love, but at the end of the day, I just don't see him like they do, and I know all the talking in the world is unlikely to get them (or me) to see him differently, so I'm in the nod-and-smile stage—it's better than walking away, and it's better than talking about him even more.

And a considerable part of me hopes that Obama carries the election—not for political reasons, but because if he doesn't, he'll be "the one that got away." If you've ever had a friend like the one described above, you know that the one way it can get worse is if his beloved gains that nigh-immortal status. It's a lot easier to learn to like her (or tolerate her) out of love and respect for your friend than to deal with her unbanishable ghost forever.

I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.…

He's a man with a global perspective because he comes from the world to us. He's sort of a gift from the world to us, in so many ways…

Chris Matthews