Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Arizona

I guess I’m going to say something about the illegal immigrant law in Arizona. It's really been weighing on my mind. I know it’s a hot button. How could it not be? And as far as Constitutionality or enforceability, I think it’s probably a big waste of time. If it doesn’t get shot down in the courts as discriminatory, then any aid that it might render in identifying and deporting illegal immigrants would be rendered virtually useless to the police by the amount of contortions they’d have to go through to not violate civil rights laws.

But having lived over 10 years in Arizona, and most of my life in border states, I do understand the place where it’s coming from. Take just about any issue in the last 10 years, and Arizona has taken the brunt. The tech bubble hit Arizona hard. The housing bubble has created one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. The stock market crash has deeply affected the incomes of a state that is known as a retiree haven. The unemployment rate is through the roof. The healthcare situation is magnified by a population that has heavy populations of the elderly, the very young, illegal immigrants and, currently, the unemployed, all of whom have less healthcare coverage than they need. The state takes up the slack. And everything you’ve heard about violence and lawlessness in Mexico spills over the border into Arizona. All of that leads out to a very stressed state government, and by extension a very stressed population.

And I won’t say that Arizona is any more or less prejudiced as a state than any other in America. You may hear stories about new Mexican communities in Ohio or Nebraska, but that has never not been the case in Arizona. Arizonans know very well the difference between someone who is there to work hard and make a life for their family, and someone who is there to take advantage of the system. They have seen both. Up close. Where many cities in the country have a barrio, Arizona is much more likely to be street by street. You go to the grocery store with Hispanic women. Your kids go to school with Spanish speaking kids. The Mexican guy who mows your lawn may only live a few blocks away. The ultra-white guy you work with may speak dirty-down street Spanish because he needs to communicate with his in-laws. Familiarity may breed contempt in some. But in others it births understanding.

Like many of the “fly over” states, Arizona feels like it’s been left swinging in the breeze by the Federal government. It always seems like federal tax dollars are going somewhere else. And the lack of movement in either immigration reform or enforcement is probably the most obvious area where they get shafted. And I think that the attitude has become, “If you won’t do anything about this, we will.” Did they pick an effective method? Doubt it. Am I surprised that they made a desperation move? Not at all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The blue ones make you small

Okay. I’m on the verge of going a little overboard on the supplements. On the verge. Not quite over the rail, but I can smell the saltwater from here. I don’t know. It’s part of the healthy living thing. Though according to the internet today, all I have to do is eat a few pieces of fruit, not get hammered every day of the week, not smoke and run around the block a few times and I’ll be fine. So the drinking more water, eating more fiber and generally trying to cut the caca out of my diet may have just been overachieving. So adding in health supplements is probably just brown-nosing the health gods.

Right now, I’m doing saw palmetto (PMS), milk thistle (anti-inflammatory), evening primrose (cholesterol), CoQ10 (heart health), mint tea (also anti-inflammatory), cinnamon tea (blood sugar), blackstrap molasses (iron – regular supplements make me sick to my stomach – and it’s rumored to help with stopping gray hair – meh, worth a shot), and the occasional vitamin C bomb if I’ve got the sniffles. Now I’ve added in fish oil for the Omega 3s, because, evidently, it’s good for everything that could possibly ail you. Gimme the big bottle.

I’m very careful about not taking mega-doses of anything, and I avoid anything that has known negative interactions. All doctor-approved (if “guess it couldn’t hurt” qualifies as approval). But I’ve become something of a magpie when it comes to these things. It’s quite the little kick-line of bottles I’ve got going on. When did I get to be such a freaking hippie? I used to be such a skeptic. Now you wave any study in my face, or even just some web-article by some unshaved, organic hemp-wearing Wiccan, and I’m buying a bottle of whatever. Kind of embarrassing. Especially when somebody sees me doling out the pills to pop. I even had to go to a breakfast and lunch plan. Just because the thought of that many pills floating in my stomach ooked me out.

You know, my grandparents warned me. You get older and you’re eating more pills than actual food. I now understand why they have such a thing about pill organizers. I’ve been eye-balling one at the target that has the days of the week and morning and afternoon slots. Very fancy. But that’s for when I actually put on my swimmies and go completely overboard.

Monday, April 26, 2010

3 up, 3 down, end of an inning

Okay, yeah! I finished ushering the Beauty Plays yesterday. Because I’m goal oriented and a bit of completist. There’s nothing quite like that little “ah” when you put the last little collectible in its rightful place (lucky for me I find those Precious Moments doodads creepy – I’d be collecting those bloody things forever). And actually, in this case, I’m glad I stuck it out. In the context of the cycle, it was pretty cathartic.

In the classic sense, it’s the only one of the three plays that can’t be defined as a tragedy. In the other two, the main character’s fatal flaw leads to their downfall, to one extent or another. In reasons to be pretty (lack of title case is LaBute’s – I’ve yet to decide it it’s too twee), our main character’s flaw is that he floats through life without examining anything too closely – his job, his friends, his relationship, his words – and lives in a purgatory of angst because of it. One of the words he doesn’t examine before it flies out of his mouth is that his girlfriend is just “regular” looking. You could feel every man in the audience shift in their seats and think loudly “Awwww, duuuuude.” So, the main point is whether he is going to float through life or pick up an oar and paddle.

It was also cathartic in that the climactic event is a fight scene in which one character gets a few teeth knocked out. And given that the guy missing a few teeth has been a real hardcore jackass the entire show, and he’s played by the same guy who was the weak bastard in Fat Pig, it was kind of a joy to see him get a pounding. Almost to the point that I was clapping my hands and chanting “hit him again, hit again.” And it came complete with blood. Gruesome. And awesome.

I don’t know if Neil LaBute grew up as a playwright in the time it took to write these three plays, or if he planned to tell this story arc in the first place. Viewed in context, there’s a lovely triptych format (sorry, sometimes the English major will emerge). Point-counterpoint-synthesis. I’m glad I stuck it out. The last play adds the grace note of hope.

TIME: Quotes of the Day