philosophymom (philosophymom) wrote,

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Ante up

This week's Friday Five ask one to go all Lot's wife and consider things that came/come before other things.

1. What were you doing before whatever you're doing now?
Hmm, I suppose there are several ways one could attack this question. Being me, I will try all of them, beginning with the most general interpretation.

  • Now, I'm a divorced, overworked adjunct college teacher & part-time professional music minister who is living in the suburbs while laissez-faire raising the last of her children. For fun, I hang out with Sherlock Holmes devotees or play pub trivia. Before, I was a married, less-overworked adjunct college teacher & over-committed volunteer music minister who was living in the suburbs and actively (over?-)raising her three children. In my copious spare time, I made webpages and sang in classical choruses.
  • If you were just talking about my job, then right now (which is to say, since the Fall of 1987) I'm a teacher, and before that I was a graduate student. But before that, I was gainfully employed as an operations research analyst on a military base (I was civil service).
  • If you wanted something more in-the-moment, then let me say that right now I am in my office at work, but for the two hours immediately before this free period, I was giving philosophy lectures to undergraduates (an Ethics class followed by a Phil 101 section).

2. How do you feel about movie trailers?
Well, they are usually too loud and often kinda spoiler-y, but they can make almost anything look like a plausible use of a couple hours of one's time (unless they're too explosion-y or scary). And I never mind watching them, since in most cases they are as much of the film in question as I will ever see.

3. Where do you stand on appetizers in restaurants?
I try not the stand on them; it gets the bottoms of my shoes dirty.

* rimshot *

But seriously, folks, I like the idea of appetizers: a leisurely meal that unfolds in distinct courses is like a narrative, and I've always been a sucker for a story. I also like the taste of many standard appetizers, seeing as how I'm generally fond of cured and salty things, not to mention dipping sauces. In short, I'd order apps more often if restaurant food tended to come in suitable-for-one portions. But since this isn't the case, and also since I have very few foodie friends who are into the idea of dinner as a story, I usually don't order an appetizer except as a substitute main course.

4. What's something you do warm-up exercises for?
Singing -- but only if I'm with a chorus and someone is leading said exercises (you know the sort of thing I'm talking about: breathing, scales, arpeggios, etc.). If it's a non-choral gig, though, I prepare by just singing through the performance material without a specialized warm-up.

Last week's Simpsons opened with a funny bit -- several minutes of what turned out to be a TV announcer performing a series of cliched radio-announcer prep exercises on his way to the office to record (we learned) the narration for a true-crime-style docco on the titular family, who'd suffered a theft. The warm-ups were a pretty funny set piece (I have looked for a clip online, to no avail) that deserved to introduce a funnier episode, IMO.

5. What preconceived notions do people have about the area in which you live?
I live in suburban (/semi-rural) northeastern Maryland, about 20 miles outside of Baltimore City. If you live in Baltimore or further south (but still in Maryland), you have undoubtedly heard of my county and are probably under the impression that it's all rural & redneck-y. However, while it's true that the county has only three incorporated towns, there are actually lots of housing developments and shopping centers and, well, "signs of life" to be found here. We even have a Wegmans! Then again, we (though not yours truly) mostly vote Republican, and we chronically underfund our public schools, so maybe the preconceived notion ain't so far off.

If you're in America but from outside Maryland, then you won't have heard of my particular county and would (with my encouragement) just think of me as living in the Baltimore metropolitan area. And I'm guessing that the average outsider, when (/if) she thinks of Baltimore at all, supposes it to be all seafood, crime, racial tension, and bad baseball. Coming here would disabuse you of none of those notions, but it should be pointed out that Baltimore also has pockets of "nice" and "quirky" and "fun." There's music and theatre and a couple great museums, not to mention some decent-to-excellent colleges.

Finally, if you live outside of the U.S. and have never been to my fair nation, then I reckon you will have formed many a preconception about the place based on reading the news and watching TV. Well, it's all true -- and you should not imagine me saying that in a sweet, "elderly Han Solo to Rey and Finn" way. I am, instead, rolling my eyes and sighing heavily as I speak. Because for every amazing attraction and/or beautiful locale and/or interesting custom and/or bit of creative innovation you'll find in Amurca, there is some offsetting bit of ugliness in the way of its history or supporting traditions or eventual marketing. There is racism, egoism (and egotism), consumerism, anti-intellectualism, and pernicious isolationism baked into every aspect of life here. Imagine Nelson Muntz as a country.

Don't get me wrong. I am American and would never pretend to be anything else. What's more, I've taken full advantage of the easy life it has afforded me, so I know I'm implicated in all the bad stuff I mentioned above. On the positive side, I'm glad for the work ethic and optimism and enthusiasm for life that I've absorbed from the general atmosphere here. And I have my own interpretation of the best bits of the American myth that I try to use aspirationally. If I moved anywhere else in the galaxy, I would take all that with me.

But, gosh, we are the worst.
Tags: friday five, memes
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