Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Definition of Conservative, and I Am Surrounded By Writers

This first bit hearkens back to a conversation I had earlier today. I will spare you the details and specifics, but it ended with me getting a dictionary to prove a point.

Generally, I was once again derisively called a "Liberal," this time because I was angry that even though I put a recycling bin in the break room at work specifically for soda cans (complete with signs directing people to deposit their cans in the bin rather than in the trash), I was angrily complaining about the fact that people had thrown their soda cans in the trash along with their half-eaten lunches...but I'll let the half eaten lunches rest for now...and so, yes, somebody in the break room decided that they would share their view that recycling is worthless, and that only tree hugging liberals cared about it. This person said he did not care about the environment enough to walk the two feet out of his way to put his diet coke can in the recycling.

An argument ensued, because I asked him if his parents (not him, but his parents, because this person is still young and probably still has his political ideologies running parallel to his parents') were Republicans. He said, "Yes. Aren't yours?" Then he added, "No, probably not, since you're like 22 and trying to recycle." First off, I'm 24. But I let that slide. He added again, derisively, that I am a "Liberal." Yes. I am politically Liberal, with a capital L. Environmentally conservative, though, with a lowercase c. He argued I couldn't be conservative at all, since Conservatives know that recycling is for, in his words, "cry-babies." I went out to the floor to get a dictionary.

I was disappointed to find that the majority of the definitions for conservative now deal with a capital C. I guess that's just what the word has come to mean, however, I checked the root word, conserve, which gave me a much better footing for my argument with this person. Conserving is, of course, saving. Now, political Conservatives want to save things like the status quo, and money for them that's got. They want to preserve family values and so forth. It is clear to me from the actions of certain people that political Conservatism has little to do with saving money for the good of the majority, or lives, or the planet on which we live (and by that I mean to natural portion of it, not just the lump of rock, which it appears is how some people see the Earth). Now, I am a conservative with a lowercase c, in that I would like to save money, and lives, and resources. So, yes, I recycle. And I liked that the definition of conservative did say that the root word was conserve, the definition of which has not been infiltrated by a capital C.

Now, let me get down off of my soap box and get to some good ol' fashioned elliotisnotawriter bloggin.

I am not a master of the off-the-cuff comment. Most of the time, I've got a heavy supply of "oh yeah?"s and "Your Mom!"s. But every once in a great while, I come up with something. My father has a problem with his jaw at the moment, and it's been a recurring problem for a few years. He has trouble opening his mouth all the way and eating hard foods, so a few years ago his doctor suggested that when it flares up (like it is doing now), he should put himself on a diet of soft foods. Foods, as the doctor said, "Like pie." So, it's dad's pie diet, as we like to call it. "Back on the pie diet?" "Yeah. It's pretty sweet." No pun intended, really, because remember that there is more than just fruit pies; there's things like chicken-pot pie and quiche is considered a pie. But, so, yes, he is back on his pie diet. And this evening, as we sat in the living room at my parents' house, keeping them company, he made a comment suggesting he had made a mistake several years in his past. "I'm not saying it was fair, but I obviously did something wrong." It was quiet for a second, and I said, "So, back on the pie diet. Tell me, how's that humble pie tasting?"

Score one for me. Of course, as creative as everybody seems to be in my family, I was soon outdone by my mother's lament. I was in the middle of telling the recycling story, when my mother croaked in a voice of desperation, "I just don't think I can take it." When questioned what it was she couldn't take, she responded, "There isn't any cake in the house."

My dad and I, in order to stop laughing so uncontrollably, went to the grocery store to buy cheese cake. Behold the power of words!

But it's not just me and my mother who can spontaneously compose something worthy of going into print; my father has been writing his life story for years, and just yesterday gave me a suggestion for free write Fridays (that I hope he posts on here so you can all see it, otherwise I'll look like an enormous tease). My wife, as you have seen, can come up with an idea that's unique and full of potential, but there is one thing she once wrote to me in an e-mail that I have never forgotten, even if I lost the e-mail. I'm about to get a little personal here, so, be forewarned.

When she and I were dating, we found that when we laid together, her head fit perfectly in the crook of my left shoulder, pretty much like they were made to connect. This was all cute and grossed out our friends, but she once wrote me an e-mail when we were living in different cities, telling me that she loved how she "fits into the shoulder" of my life. Sweetheart, that's poetry. And she says she's not a good writer. P'shaw!

Around the same time, my sister wrote me an e-mail as well. It was about four years ago now, when I went to my first Weier Family Wedding (the second would be my own), up in Davenport, IA, where Kathy's brother Dave lives. The same weekend, my sister was heading to Memphis for a short vacation. When I got home after the weekend, she had sent me an e-mail about her trip, but all she talked about was how she felt on the drive down. "I realized I was heading due south at 80 miles an hour. I was traveling at 80 miles an hour away from the people I loved the most. And then I realized that you were on your way to Davenport, in the exact opposite direction, and I did the math and realized that if you were driving at 80 miles an hour, you and I were travelling away from each other at 160 miles an hour! And that's just too fast!" It just kindled something in me, this little spark of...I don't know what, but it made me call her on the spot. That is too fast to be travelling away from the ones you love. And I wondered then, and I still wonder now, if anybody else has ever thought of that situation like that.

What I am trying to say through layers of cheese and sniffles and "John! Martha!" sort of back-and-forth drivel, is that if I am surrounded by writers, you should probably take a look at the people in your life, and listen to what they say. Read what they write. Even people who aren't writers the way that I am a writer probably have something profound to say at some point, and they will most likely find some very unique way to say it. Cherish that. And, if you are a writer like me, poach it and use it in a story. And make sure you get it copyrighted.

I know there are a few of you out there in the Blogniverse (DOWN WITH THE BLOGOSPHERE!) that are patiently (and kindly) reading through this longer-than-War-and-Peace-styled post in the hopes that at the end I will ask for suggestions for this week's Free Write Friday. And I hate to disappoint you all.

But I think I will anyway, and instead of asking for them now, I'll ask for them tomorrow.

But, now that I think about it, that's no good, especially considering how late I've been blogging this week; I mean, it's almost 11, the day is almost up, I am almost out of time to get my Wednesday blog in. Plus, I don't usually blog on Thursdays.

Thursday was an Emo band.

It's also the day I can't ever seem to get a hang of. Thursdays. Hmm.

Alright, then. Suggest away for this week's Free Write Friday.


Becca said...

Ooh Ooh - I'm the first one to post a suggestion... Pick me! Pick me! Oh wait, that means I now need to suggest something. Hmm...

A short story about Larry the windowcleaner (you know, one of those people who cleans the outside of the windows of a skyskraper while standing on some sketchy looking contraption), and the things he witnesses each day during his job.

Molly said...

I second Becca's suggestion! That one's ripe with possibilities.

As for your post... thanks for making me look like an idiot. That was a personal moment I did not want shared with the Blogniverse. Also, I made up that comment about the cake on the spur of the moment to cover for the REAL thing I couldn't stand which I didn't want to voice. And no, I won't tell you.

And yes, I am crazy.

marty/bridget said...

here's my suggestion: a short story about an empty nester mother who sits around making clever comments to cover up the REAL things she can't stand...but what are those things...she doesn't want us to tell!

mGk said...

I want to second your comments about how although not everyone is a "writer" in the pen and paper sense we all have something to say. You just have to be able to stop and listen, or watch or feel...

Kev isn't a writer in the McGrath-Rauscher sense, but he says some of the most wonderful and heartfelt things: About two months before Madeline was born I was stressing out about what life was going to be like with a newborn, and if I would still be able to be a good wife AND and good mother. His comment: "Now being a good mother will be part of being a good wife." That is poetry, and man do I love my husband!

No suggestion this week... Unless you want to tackle a short story about a woman who hasn't gotten a good nights sleep in well over 3 months. (First two months b/c she was huge and the last month b/c she has a newborn.) What a sad story that would be.

notawritersfather said...

Here is the idea I gave Elliot, with which he in turn teased you:
A late middle-aged guy suddenly discovers he has amazing super powers, but he is just too darned tired and jaded to employ them.