Monday, December 22, 2008

Urban Survival

City kids love a good snow storm, one that stalls cars and allows them the rare luxury of playing in the middle of the street, building snowmen, throwing snowballs, making snow angels. I can hear their shouts of delight from my fourth floor window where I curse the weather and my tw0-day flight delay. When I first found out my flight was cancelled, at 5:00 AM, I was dismayed and laid in bed bemoaning my situation. But then I decided to suck it up and made a game out of it: Urban Survival. The rules are as follows:
-I cannot purchase anything and must live on what I find in the back of my freezer and cupboards. I ate some sardines my roommate left, a pop tart that under any other circumstances I never would have eaten (also a gift from my roommate), and some nuts. I made puff pastry twists out of the pastry sheet I found in the back of my freezer, and they browned beautifully but looked better than they tasted. Luckily I have some martini olives and gin on hand, left over from Wednesday night. I am thinking about breaking my no-spending rule if I run out of gin before Wednesday.
-I cannot watch television. Watching television is a waste of time to begin with, and I think there is something very sad about watching it alone. Instead I will read.

Those are my only rules. So far I'm a successful survivor.

Today I read Patriotic Grace by Peggy Noonan. I think she is a smart woman, and her book was thoughtful (though poorly edited). I didn't fully agree with her on many issues and I thought her concluding belief that America is going to suffer some sort of awful, debilitating attack sometime soon was overbearingly pessimistic, but if she's right she'll get to jeeringly say, "I told you so," and I'm sure that will be satisfying. Overall, though, I am in favor of a unified, bipartisan America. I think the polarization of our country is a tragedy, and is more likely than any terrorist attack or economic recession to tear us apart. We no longer know our neighbors, we're alienated from our communities and we're forgetting how to talk to our friends about issues that matter, like politics and religion, because we're afraid of offending someone. Our beliefs have become abstracted and stretched to accommodate the beliefs and deeds of others just because they're good people, not because they're right. It's a strange world in which we live, and I sense a great change coming, but I don't know if it is the change Noonan imagines- I hope it's not.