That is the high, in degrees Fahrenheit, for Austin, Texas, this Friday. Courtesy of weather.com.
My friend Katie is writing a paper on Walt Whitman, which prompted me to pull out my rusty edition of Leaves of Grass and take a moment to soak up the democratic beauty of Whitman’s America. Before I even moved here, I knew America through Whitman.
I’m going to distract myself from the impending and inevitable trauma of fall graduation. No, not my graduation, yet, but too close for comfort.
My dog, Elvis, is nine years old and is going blind. He’s had a cloudy cataract in one eye for a while, but my mom took him to the vet yesterday and they confirmed his loss of vision. And then, right on cue, he fell down a flight of stairs today. It’s truly sad. What do you people think about taxidermy? Is it problematic to stuff your own pet? What if you make him into something functional, like a pillow? Probably still troubling.
My family has never celebrated Christmas before. My mother maintains that it’s a Christian holiday, which is really quite debatable and depends on your view of the role of consumerism in contemporary Christian practice. Nevertheless, my dad and brother pull out a fake tree and the same Garden Ridge ornaments every year and throw on some tinsel, and there you have our little Muslim Christmas tree, sealed with a Tigger bobblehead in the Virgin’s stead. (Wait, does Mary go at the top of the tree? It’s the star, right? With the wise men, etc? What’s even the significance of the tree?). This year, because my brother likes everything just so, he and I also have peppermint Hershey’s kisses and little strings of Christmas lights in our West Campus condo kitchen.
So okay, I’m not really American; I’m Canadian. But I believe deeply in Whitman’s America, and today in New York, where same-sex marriage was struck down in the Senate, I don’t think Whitman’s America proved itself. But let’s talk about where Whitman’s — and my — America will most certainly manifest itself: on the cruise my family will embark on this winter. There’s nothing more American than seven days of buffets and artificial culture on Caribbean islands, snorkeling in Haiti while we ignore its status as the poorest country in the Americas. Although, let’s be real, Europeans do that too. I plan to wear a sailor’s hat for the duration of the cruise, and I also plan to take plenty of ginger root to sniff when the motion sickness kicks in. The whole thing seems unnatural to me.