Friday, April 29, 2005

handicapped parking spaces

"even if we do not find anything pleasant, at least we shall find something new."

i love that quote. voltaire. i've lived that quote.

i have to say, living abroad is charming. it might not always be pleasant, but it is guaranteed to be different. fascinating even on the most detailed of levels.

but i keep saying i want to carry that mindset of fascination and appreciation with me even when i am here in chicago.

we have guests from india at my house right now- my mom's cousin and his daughter. i was driving them somewhere, and he commented that all the cars look new here. and that his shoes, shined in india, still look shiny- he said that he could walk a block back home and his shoes would be covered in dust. he shook his head in actual wonder at the fact that there just isn't dust here.

showing him dust on a table or something is like a joke to him. 'no, i'm talking about real dust,' he'd say.

i was talking to him about the laws here- during the course of conversation i noticed to what extent the laws of this country are made to watch out for its citizens. i know that cynics and critics and satirists find a lot to complain about in america; i know we all find a lot to complain about. but honestly there is a lot to brag about too. haven't you noticed that the personal well-being of americans is very much a priority?

there are so many things that go on here that really don't happen in other countries. handicapped parking spaces. cars pulling over for an ambulance to pass. patient-doctor confidentiality. child car-seat laws.

my mom's cousin has a store in india- recently, the government told him that he needed to vacate the store for 6 months, so that the road could be made wider. the changes in the road would actually make his store a little smaller, but there was no question of reimbursement. furthermore, for that period of 6 months, he needed to move his store and pay rent somewhere. this rent wouldn't be reimbursed either. his clientele, not knowing his new location, were not as loyal to him; his revenue dropped; according to the government, this is not their problem.

sometimes i waver, feeling like there is just too much enforcement in america. but i usually come to the conclusion that all of this keeps us safer from each other- i should say that the intended reality, the assumed "way it should be", is that we are all safe, healthy and happy. the legislature and the status quo are built around this ideal, promote this ideal.

it's better than a "hey, it's your problem" approach.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


in thailand we had 8 months of summer- which was, of course, nice in many ways. but at times i definitely missed the change of seasons.

we have been back for a little over a month now, and i have already experienced winter and spring! it's exciting, really. the last few days have been the kind of spring-like perfection that we chicagoans probably have never taken for granted, but this year i am even more eagerly drinking it in.

in college i used to love sitting by the lake- lake michigan seems enormous when you sit on its shore. when the seasons would change, the lake would turn over- it would look like huge brown and blue stripes. never really understood what the phenomenon really was, but i loved being there for it. you couldn't see the stripes as well on ground level- you had to go up to the 10th floor of damen hall to really see- but from ground level, it just seemed like something was stirring. not windy, but stirry. (made up a word again).

it was gorgeous, this experience. i guess i felt privy to some huge secret- that i needed just my lake, my music and definitely my journal and Boom! i created peace. i still associate that slight stir in the air, that slight chill in the air, that slight thrill in the air- with the change in seasons.