Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving fun

When I was younger, I looked forward to Thanksgiving; not so much for what the holiday represented, but rather, it was 2 days off from school! And all that food was a pretty good incentive, too. When I started living on my own, I hosted a few Thanksgiving dinners--roasted a turkey with stuffing and everything! I also joined a few friends and accepted invitations to attend dinner hosted by other people. Some of these were more memorable than others.

Like the time in college, when a girl I was dating on and off invited me over to her place for a Thanksgiving meal. She was from out of town and said she wasn't driving home for the holiday. I imagined it was going to be just the two of us enjoying a romantic holiday meal. So I got all dressed up and took a bottle of wine and some prophylactics, and showed up at her place ready to celebrate. I was giddy with excitement when I knocked on her door, ready to sweep her off her feet with my sexy smile and come hither pose.

Imagine my surprise when a much older man opened the door. At first I thought maybe I was at the wrong place, but the old man extend out his hand and introduced himself, as my date's father! And when I entered the apartment,the surprise continued as I found more people inside. My date's parents, her brother, her aunts and uncles and cousins had driven into town. What I thought was going to be a romantic dinner for two turned out to be a meet the parents grilling. And boy did those people interrogate me about the nature of my relationship with my date. Luckily, by the end of the night, I had charmed her family well enough for them to lay off the investigation and welcome me into the fold. They even invited me to go on a ski trip with them! Afterwards, I was washing dishes with my date when she asked if I was spending the night.

I said, "Hell no! Not with your parents here!"

She laughed, "My family loves you. They think you're perfect!", she paused, then teased," Ah, are you worried about my reputation?"

And I replied, "Uh, no; I'm worried about mine! Like you said, your family thinks I'm perfect!"

Then there was the time when a friend in Phoenix, Arizona wanted me to drive up and spend the holiday with her; she asked if I could pick up her sister and cousins in Houston and make the 20 hour drive. Well, I picked up her sister and her two cousins and started our long drive. When we got to Phoenix, we were surprised that my friend's in laws were staying over, and they brought four of their friends! The guest room reserved for the sister and cousins was gone. Now, I don't mind sleeping on the living room floor; I've slept in worse places. But I knew this house was packed! I kind of wished my friend had told me that her in laws had decided to come down with their friends. I could've gotten a hotel room before hand.

But for some reason, my friend was under the delusion that we would be fine sleeping in the living room all crammed together! So I told her that I was getting a hotel, and her sister and cousins wanted to get one, too. Of course, being that it was so late, we couldn't find a place closer to my friend's home. But we reserved two rooms about 45 minutes north of the city. Over dinner, my friend discussed plans for the next day: Playing bridge and maybe heading out to the crafts store to buy yarn! I was thinking, um, no, I'm not spending my holiday knittings socks!

On the drive up to the hotel, I could feel the tension from the sister and the cousins. We started talking, and they were not happy with the situation. They didn't want to spend the holiday playing bridge or knitting either! So, I told them, semi-jokingly, that if we kept driving north, we'd eventually find the way to Las Vegas, only 6 hours away. They were quiet, for less than a minute, then they said, hell yeah! So we drove on to Las Vegas, re-energized and excited! We parked at a hotel at midnight and got a room. Then we hit the Strip going from casino to casino, gambling, drinking, dancing and stopping only when the sun came up. Then we ate a buffet breakfast, showered, slept for a few hours, then hopped in the car and drove back.

During the drive back, my friend called to see if we were joining them for their shopping trip, but her sister told her we were still tired from the long drive from Houston and we're sleeping in. As soon as she hung up, we all started laughing in the car. Back in town, we found another hotel much closer to my friend's place, booked it for the night, then checked out the sights. We met my friend later for that afternoon, had dinner, hung out for a bit before returning to the hotel. The next day, we drove back home. I never told my friend what really happened, and I doubt I ever will. What could've been a terrible Thanksgiving turned out to be a blast!

Then there was the time I accepted an invitation to three Thanksgiving meals, or as I like to call it, the miracle of the rice krispies treats. Lucky for me, the meals were held at different times. I had made lots of rice krispies treats with intent of taking them to each of the meals I was attending. The first meal was held at noon, given by friends who said not to bring anything, but if we wanted to, we could bring a dessert. Well, everyone brought a dessert. People brought a lot of pies, especially pumpkin and apple. As I was leaving, I was given a whole apple pie to take home.

I took the apple pie, and instead of returning home, I drove straight to the next meal, knowing I'd be about an hour early. The second meal was scheduled for four in the afternoon. That was fine, because it gave me time to spend with my friends who decided to fry a turkey that year. Just in case the fried turkey turned out to be a mistake, they had also roasted 6 cornish hens. Well, the fried turkey was a big hit! It tasted delicious! But now, my friends were stuck with the cornish hens and they didn't have room in the fridge. So, they gave me 2 cornish hens to take home.

I left the second meal at about 6 in the evening and ventured to the final Thanksgiving meal of the day instead of driving home to drop off the cornish hens. And it was a good thing that I decided to take the cornish hens to this dinner, which my hosts happily accepted. These friends had made a turkey and a large ham for the meal. My friends had a surprising number of people show up uninvited; that they didn't really mind. The problem was, some of the people that their guests had brought unannounced didn't eat ham! Luckily, the cornish hens would take care of them if they didn't want the turkey either. All in all, it was good dinner, and it was by far the biggest in terms of people present, which made for some good games and fun. When I left the party later on, my friends gave me a bottle of wine to take home with me. And when I finally got home, I kicked off my shoes opened that bottle of wine and drank it on the sofa, thinking, wow, how great is this? I started off with rice kripies treats and ended up with a bottle of wine.

Ever since I started living on my own, I usually end up working on Thanksgiving. I don't mind, really. I know a lot of people who want to be home with their families. I don't mind switching work schedules with someone who wants to be off for Thanksgiving. I do the same for Christmas. New Year's Eve, however, is my sacred holiday and I always make sure I'm off that day! And I find that people who want me to work Thanksgiving or Xmas for them have no problems working for me on New Year's Eve. And so it was today, I was one of the few at work. On holidays, it's common for us to bring dishes to share. So today, I took a peach cobbler and some rice krispies treats to work to share with my co workers. It was a good day. Hope yours was good, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

After Party!

*This post was inspired by CyberPete! Thanks*

Well, I finally got around to developing those pictures from the Lemonade Awards. The After Party was rockin! Let's take a look at our winners and see how they partied the night away.

Here's our security! The hardest working team ever! They kept the peace and kept out the riff raff and trash from getting in the party. Excellent work, fellas!

We. Are. SECURITY!!!

And here are our stars arriving on the red carpet.

Why it's Beast and the lovely Sandra Bullock! Hollywood's golden couple of the moment!

No doubt Beast has taken some time off from the famous Cafe C where his work is best done behind the scenes! With his award, he'll no doubt have dishes with his name on it! *The cafe doesn't have an automatic dishwasher, so Beast has a pile or two waiting for him.*

Oh, my, look at who else has arrived! Why it's CyberPete and Dr Who's David Tennant! CyberPete is wearing an original Cinderella gown and tiara by Fairy Godmother! Dr Who seems to be more casual. Still, the paparazzi are fighting amongst themselves to get closer shots of the two.

And here they are again, after changing clothes for the party. Rumor has it, David Tennant is leaving Dr Who to spend more time with CyberPete.

Back on the red carpet another hot Hollywood power couple has arrived! It's Canadian ice meets Italian spice! It's the talented HE and the gorgeous Monica Bellucci. The cameras flash and news reporters yell out to try to get their attention. They've been dubbed in the press as Honica, the biggest thing since Christmas!

And the Canadian phenomenon continues as another Canadian star makes an appearance! Snooze strikes a pose with Ewan McGregor. Why is she holding a bottle you ask? Simple. Being the Scottish lass that she is, it's only natural for her to check under her date's kilt to make sure everything is just as it should be. The bottle is apparently similar to the size of what she found. And what she found made her very happy! Quite possibly, she has found the Loch Ness monster.

The next couple to enter the party sent the crowd into further excitement! It's the beautiful, fiesty Maidink and the classically handsome George Clooney. To attend tonight's party, they've taken time off their busy schedule of raising money for charities and adopting foreign highways. The third member of this titillating trio, Gina Gershon, could not make it, as she's busy saving the beavers from extinction.

What is all that ruckus? Good lord, who brought an army? Why, it's MJ and her entourage (of houseboys) making quite the entrance! The paparazzi go crazy for shots of the diva! She had lost her shoes in a temper tantrum earlier in the evening when she learned that other stars were also receiving awards.

And as our stars continue to file in, we spot the famous, brilliant Tickers and his beautiful date, Zhang Ziyi on break from modeling and Asian films. Some people accessorize with designer watches and bags, but not these two. They took it to a whole other level by bringing peacocks to go with their geisha inspired evening wear.

And finally, who can forget the grand entrance of WW, as he brought not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 Ms Universe contestants to the party! Notice he brought the Latino delegation. Clearly, we were captivated by their warm personalities!

We all want world peace!

Moving inside, we find some of our stars enjoying a few drinks and mingling with each other. Who's that on the sofa? Why it's the enchanted IDV shamelessly flirting with Jamie Bamber and playing footsie! Will he find out the secret of who is the last cylon?

Oh, President Adama, are you trying to seduce me?

On the other side we see CyberPete cozying up to Jared Padalecki, no doubt discussing important world events.

So, what was it like working on the Gilmore Girls and what's Jensen Ackles number?

And over at the bar, we catch sight of John Barrowman and Snicks exchanging contact information. Most likely setting up a power meeting and other arrangements for a joint venture.

So, Capt Jack, should I show up in a kilt or wear my Martha Jones get up?

Oh look, there's MJ holding court with the other queens; luckily, the alcohol seems to have calmed her down--for now.

Well, as the party continued late into the night, a lot of schmoozing went on.

And there's Ponygirl with Michael Vartan, discussing upcoming projects no doubt.

Oh, look, it's Wentworth Miller and Tara talking about heath care.

Sure, go ahead and show me where they put all those tattoos for the show.

But it wouldn't be a party without a ruckus. As you may recall, some people were very bitter at not winning an award. Luckily for me, Tatas was there to keep Daniel Craig distracted and kept his big gun aimed at another target instead.

Still, things got a little heated up at the party, especially with all the alcohol involved.

There's Mutley, helping Tricia Helfer cool off.

Now, your Cylon character is named Sex, right?

What is Jamie Bamber doing in that corner? Wait a minute! Is that an eye peeking from behind the bushes? Perhaps Jamie lost a contact and needs help finding it.

And there's Snicks, serenading Nathan Fillion.

There's got to be a morning after, If we can hold on through the night.

And then there's MJ, who not only lost her shoes but her houseboys (and it seems her underwear) by the end of the night. But somehow, finding herself on top of George Clooney makes it all better.

All in all, it was a fantastic party! Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was much love to be had at the after party. Everyone left a winner!

But next year, we're including underwear and disinfectants in the gift bags.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Fortune

I had lunch with some friends at a Chinese place a few days ago.

As customary, after the meal, we each got a fortune cookie. Mine said:

An unexpected message will come to you that brings happiness with it.

And you know what? It's true.

Let's talk about awards. This year, the talented Tara presented the highly prized and coveted Lemonade Award. It's a recognition of blogs that take life's lemons and turn them into lemonade (or lemon meringue or, more likely, margaritas). The competition was fierce this year and many stars vied for the award.

The nominees are:
*audience applause and camera close ups*

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth the I and Queen Elizabeth the II

Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Galadriel

Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria

And the award goes to:

*Dramatic drumming and envelope opens*


*Camera zooms in on losers reactions*

What the F*ck!?! This is bullsh*t!

That c*nt! Who did he sleep with!?!

Mr. Darcy, I want you and 007 to break this muthaf*cka's knees before the after party!

I didn't have anything prepared for this momentous occasion. So let me now quote a speech that best describes my feelings:

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I'm sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you. I'm so honored. I'm so honored~Halle Berry, Oscar speech (2002)

That's right; that's exactly how I feel. *Turns towards the competition to say* In your face bitches!

Thank you, Tara! You rock!

And now, to share in the joy, I'd like to recognize other fellow bloggers who I'll now in turn award the Lemonade Award:

Congratulations * Congratulations
*MJ *Inexplicable DeVice
*CyberPete *Snooze
*Donn *Within Without
*Beast *Tatas
*Ponygirl *Maidink
*Snicks *Mutley

Get your acceptance speeches ready! Here is your award:

These are the bloggers who make me laugh and think and I enjoy reading them. Every one of them is creative, unique, and absolutely brilliant!

In other good news, I got a letter in the mail from my car insurance company. They're giving me a partial refund. Apparently, my driving record is excellent and my rate has actually gone down! And here I thought falling gas prices was the only good news regarding my car.

More good news on the fortune front! I got a dollar bill in the mail today. That's right. A whole dollar. Does anyone still send cash in the mail these days? Apparently, I've been chosen to take part in a survey of radio stations. They are offering me money to record what stations I listen to and for how long. It's a two week survey and they're sending me more dollar bills after I finish the survey.

Free money! It's so nice to get paid for doing something I enjoy doing for free anyway. I wonder what other free activities that I enjoy that I can get paid to do?

But the best news had to be a phone call from a friend I hadn't seen in a while; we got to hang out for a few days. And it was a lot of fun catching up and hanging out. It has been a good week. It has been most fortunate.

*Blog tip: If you're using Foxfire, you might have noticed the blinking Congratulations in the post. Here are the tags you need if you use Firefox:

If you're using Internet Explorer, replace blink with marquee instead. Thanks to IDV, I experimented with marquee and I found out that it causes words to slide across the post! You can see this slide effect in IE and Firefox. Let me know if it works out for you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Macho Men

When I was looking for World War II pictures, I found a lot of propaganda recruiting posters that were interesting. Now, I'm a big fan of the arts, and I'm a big fan of art deco. Some of these posters were just over the top! Too funny! But fantastic, nevertheless!

One of the great artists for some of these posters was McClelland Barclay. From the US Naval Art Collection:

"Barclay's sailors are notable for their square jaws, well-defined muscles and exceptional physique. Theron MacKay, gunners mate, recalls meeting Barclay in 1943: "Me and another crew member were cleaning a gun, so we were bare from the waist up. Barclay had his sketchpad and was drawing us. Being an amateur artist myself, I took an interest in what he was doing and asked could I look over his shoulder? Well, he made us look like the finest human specimens that ever were! Really, we were skinny kids with our ribs hanging out. I said to him, 'I don't look like that!' and he answered, 'Well, if I sketched you like you are, it wouldn't make much of recruiting poster, now would it?'"

Behold, Uncle Sam wants you!

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas

In the navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease

In the navy
Come on now, people, make a stand
In the navy, in the navy

Can't you see we need a hand
In the navy

Come on, protect the motherland
In the navy

Come on and join your fellow man
In the navy

Come on people, and make a stand
In the navy, in the navy, in the navy (in the navy)

They want you, they want you
They want you as a new recruit

And when you're not working, you can chill out and have a good time.

Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there's a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys...

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

You can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel...

And who doesn't find these posters inspiring? Don't they make you feel, oh what's that three letter word for happy? Ah, joy! Yes, don't they make you feel joy and patriotic?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day reflection

For as long as I can remember, there have always been members of my family in the military. Some joined out of patriotism; others were drafted; some joined for the opportunity to get ahead in life. When war happens, it happens close to home. I've never truly met anyone who was anti-soldiers. Even anti-war activists want to bring soldiers home safely. I think most people are actually supportive of military members and their families.

A few months ago, I got a call from a friend who was visiting our old hometown. I'll call him Swat, because he's in law enforcement. I expected him to tell me about the changes in the old neighborhood and what happened to old friends. He did that but then he relayed a request. The mother of an acquaintance wanted to know if I could say something about her son. He had passed away in the war in Iraq and the funeral was scheduled for later on in the week. I was a dumbfounded, because I didn't know her son had passed away. And I also knew that there was no way I was going to make that funeral, because it was too far away, and I would never make it in time, much less afford the ticket home on such short notice.

I was kind of surprised at the request, because her son and I weren't really friends. In fact, we didn't really hang out. We only met the last year of high school when he moved into town. I tried to be nice to him, but for some reason, he was just unfriendly, at least towards me. I'm not exactly sure what I did to piss him off, but he was not happy with me.

He was from the big city, and often bragged about how it was so much better than our small town. I'll call him Twit, because he was a jack ass and would not shut up about how he was somehow better because he was from the big city. I just learned to ignore his rants, and ignored him all together when he wouldn't even return a greeting. Some people aren't friendly, I suppose. I didn't realize I was his enemy until Swat told me.

Swat had a pickup truck, and a bunch of us used to go riding around in it. One day after school, were hanging out in the woods when Swat told me that the new kid, Twit, didn't like me. Twit thought I was a snob, and I was surprised, considering how I was one of the first people to welcome him to the neighborhood. In fact, I was one of the friendliest kids around. I helped him find his classes and introduced him to the rest of the neighborhood. Swat laughed and told me, it's probably because I didn't show interest in Twit's tales from the city. And I replied, well, they were stupid stories, and he really hadn't done anything to impress me.

If Twit didn't like me then, he was really pissed off when he threw a party. I didn't realize he was having a New Year's party, because I wasn't invited. But he did invite all my friends. Some turned him down; the rest said yes, but didn't show up. Instead, we did what we usually do for New Year's: have a bonfire at the beach. After a few drinks, I asked if anyone had invited Twit, but my friends started laughing and told me about the party and how I wasn't invited. I was like, eh, no big deal to me; it's his party, he can do whatever he wants.

A few people did show up at Twit's party, but they eventually left to join the rest of us at the beach. When Twit found out about the bonfire the next day, he was furious, and he blamed me. Apparently, he thought I had told people to stay away from his party. Unfortunately for Twit, he was the one trying to tell people what to do. And he found out that when it comes to friends, mine are loyal and stay true. He couldn't say the same.

I wasn't sure how I should be feeling at news of Twit's passing. It's not like we were friends, and I haven't given him any thought since leaving home. So I asked Swat why would Twit's mother ask me to speak at Twit's funeral. Swat said it was because she was under the impression that Twit and I were friends. She remembered what a nice boy I was to them when they first moved into the neighborhood. Huh, I thought. Then Swat continued that Twit's mother had seen the video of my cousin's funeral, and she liked what I said about my cousin. Ah, I thought.

The month before, I attended my cousin's funeral. He died fighting in Afghanistan. He was a few years younger than I was. And I cried when I heard the news of his passing. During his last year in high school, I asked my cousin what his plans were. He said he was joining the military, to get the GI bill to pay for college. I tried to tell him to apply to college, and I would help pay his expenses. He refused my offer, saying he wanted to make it on his own. I respected his choice, but I tried to talk with him about what his choice really meant. I was afraid of the dangers of war, and he and I knew of the sorrow and hardship often borne by military members and their kin. But he said he was aware of the sacrifice and dangers, and I needed to let him be his own man. Well I cried at his funeral. And I spoke about how much I loved him, how much I missed him, and how proud I was of him.

Thinking about my cousin made me realize that I didn't need to be friends with Twit to say something nice about him. I told Swat that I wouldn't be able to make Twit's funeral, but I would send flowers, of course. After hanging up the phone, I sat down and wrote a letter to Twit's mother. I wrote about how proud he was of where he grew up, and how brave he was to serve his country. Twit was strong, courageous, and he gave his best to protect the people he loved and the nation he cherished. His sacrifice is greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten by a thankful nation and the people who knew him.

Today is Veteran's Day, dedicated to all veterans, present and past.

Thank you for your service.

Thank you for your sacrifice.


 Related Links:
Hope is a yellow dump truck
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
The thing about fathers
Best Laid Plans

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holy Smokes

While most Christians spent Sunday worshiping peacefully, a gang war broke out between two rival monk sects in Jerusalem. Apparently, Israeli police responded to a fight between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the revered site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. No word on how many falafel carts were destroyed in the melee.

Nice. Because when I think of Jesus, I think of gang violence, him and his posse of 12 Apostles terrorizing the countryside.

Seriously, what's wrong with these people? Where's the love? Whatever happened to "love thy neighbor"? Or for that matter, what about "turn the other cheek"? Two monks were arrested, one from each sect. Punches were thrown and blood was spilled. Is this what they mean by Bible thumping?

And all this time, I thought Shaolin monks were the only fighting monks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Penny for your thoughts

Still reeling from the excitement and historic significance of the election of President Barack Obama, I could not help but think about how far we've come and how far we've got left to go. I wondered about what this moment symbolizes for all Americans and for the world. There have been many symbols of America over the years. The bald eagle, the American Flag, the Statue of Liberty. But I think perhaps the penny is somehow a more apt representation of the American people. That's right. The penny, the one cent copper coin of the American currency.

And why not? The American economy is driven by consumers. Our buying power affects the world's markets. We are a capitalist nation. The penny also symbolizes opportunity for upward mobility. We offer opportunities for people to work hard towards achieving a better life for themselves and their families.

And it was the collapse of the economy that highlighted the skills and leadership of Barack Obama. Economic turmoil hurts all Americans in a real way, across all segments of society, regardless of race, gender, or ideology.

But let's look at the flip side of the coin. The penny also represents the American ideals of liberty, freedom, and equality. It bears the portrait of one of America's greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln. He was a senator from Illinois, who kept the nation as a whole by winning the Civil War and ending hundreds of years of slavery in America in 1865. How fitting it is that another Illinois senator becomes President, a man identified with an enslaved people President Lincoln set free.

The penny also bears the national monument dedicated to President Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial. And it was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on August 28, 1963, that Civil Rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King delivered his I have a dream speech for equality.

And the connection doesn't end there. After succumbing to a boycott in 1992, Arizona was one of the last states to enact the federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day. It is kind of fitting, how Arizona senator John McCain, whose campaign sparked division, conceded defeat to Illinois senator Barack Obama, whose campaign built a coalition of unity across the nation.

But the election of the first mixed race President doesn't end the problems of equality in America. On the same night Barack Obama was elected President, Proposition 8 passed in California, banning gay marriage. Similar measures were also passed in Florida and Arizona. But other states still have legalized gay marriages, so the struggle for gay rights continues. The fight for equality for all Americans still goes on.

It was Baynard Rustin who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He was one of the core leaders integral to the Civil Rights Moment. He was one of Dr Martin Luther King's closest and most trusted advisers. He was also openly gay. He continued to work for civil rights the rest of his life. Before he passed away, he said,

"The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it's the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated."

For years, some people have tried to get rid of the penny, saying it's worthless and costs more to make than it's monetary value. But they've failed. The penny is still here, because it symbolizes something much more than it's monetary value. It symbolizes the American ideal of equality. On the penny is the Latin phrase, "E Pluribus Unum" which means "Out of many, one". We are a nation of many people who've joined to become one.

And just as the penny is still here, so too will the fight for equality continue. So long as we fight, we have hope. So long as we have hope, we have strength.We will not give in nor will we surrender the fight for civil rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, or creed. The struggle will be hard fought and there will be sacrifices. But we will make them gladly and willingly, because we believe in the American ideas of liberty, freedom, and equality for all it's people.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It has come to pass

Barack Obama has been elected as the next President of the United States of America.

On August 28, 1963, Dr Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his I have a dream speech for racial unity and civil rights:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Forty five years later (and after centuries of struggle for equality), the dream has come true. America has lived up to it's founding ideals of freedom, equality, and liberty. We are still the land of opportunity, the American dream is alive and well. Hope is real for the American people. We are a United States of America.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Great Race

On Tuesday, Nov 4th, Americans go to the polls to elect the next President. It is a momentous election because for the first time in American history, a mixed race candidate is on the ballot for President. This past Friday, I stood in line for two hours in the hot, humid sun to cast my early vote for Barack Obama.

And it's not just his ideas and plans and character that earned my support. It's also because for me, he's the epitome of the American dream. A lot of people keep calling him the black or African American candidate. But his mother is white, and he was born in Hawaii and raised by his grandparents into young adulthood.

I admire how he came up from working class roots. His mother was a single parent for a while, and he tells of how when times were rough, his mother had to get food stamps to put food on the table. I like his story of how hard work and dedication took him from poverty to college. He didn't have any connections and riches to get into Harvard; he relied on student loans and scholarships to pay for college. I like that the values of hard work and personal strength turned him into a Senator. Now, he's poised to become the President of the United States of America. It's a testament to the American dream, that if you work hard for it, it can come true.

But it isn't going to be an easy road. I'm not even sure if he will win the election, no matter what the polls say. When I cast my vote for him in that voting booth, I felt my heart beating fast. I was excited because I was actually voting for someone I believed in. I stood there and took a moment to appreciate what I was doing. I was taking part in a momentous, extraordinary event. I was making a historic choice, one that could change the future for the better. But I was also afraid. I was afraid maybe my vote would get lost. I even spent a few minutes just looking at the ballot, making sure that it was his name that I had picked. And when I finally pressed that Cast Vote button, I felt my heart speeding, beating loudly in my ears.

And it wasn't just the fear of my vote getting lost that troubled me. I also worry about Senator Barack Obama's safety. He's all ready had death threats made against him by racists. The American nation has a tragic, troubling history of assassinating great leaders, like President Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery in America; Dr Martin Luther King, who fought to end racial segregation; and so many others. America is a nation that prides itself on freedom, but our history shows that freedom has not been given equally to all American people. We are a nation that was built on lands taken from the American Indians whom we've annihilated, their few descendants are entrenched in poverty and disease, confined to the poorest wastelands. Our riches and strength were built on the subjugation and enslavement of an entire people for hundreds of years. Do I think race has an effect on the election? Of course I do. There will be people who will discriminate against you because you are of a different race, religion, or belief system.

But there are people who believe in the American dream, that no matter what color or religion or ideology we hold, we are still Americans, human beings above all else. I hope that voters will see past race, and vote for a better change. I hope that more people will get out on Tuesday and vote. Too many people complain about the state of the government, about lengthy campaigns, but not enough people vote. Not enough people take the time to learn about the issues and participate. I can't stand to listen to people who complain about the government when they don't even vote! If you don't vote, then don't complain!

Government only works for the people when the people take part in the government. Voting is our right, and it's how we decide on the best government for us as one nation and one people. We are a nation of many races, many people; and that diversity is what make us uniquely American. In the end, this election is more than just the race for President. It's the opportunity for the American people to transcend themselves and embody the very best of the human race. Can we put aside our prejudices and embrace our similarities along with our differences? I hope so. Can we be a better nation? I believe so. Can we become a better people? I know we can, and perhaps that belief that we can be a better people is what makes this election truly the great race.