A different sort of Orangemen


Just when you think things are getting better, the news comes ’round and slaps you square in the face, making you realize yeah, the countries, parties and deities may change but it’s always the same ol’ same ol’:


BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Protestant extremists attacked Northern Ireland police and British troops into a third day Monday, littering streets with rubble and burned-out vehicles in violence sparked by anger over a restricted parade. Crowds of masked men and youths confronted police backed by British troops in dozens of hard-line Protestant districts in Belfast and several other towns.


Two Protestant paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), launched into violence against police—including homemade grenades—on Saturday when police prevented the Orange Order, a legal Protestant brotherhood, from parading near a hard-line Catholic neighborhood. (It’s always funny to think of the Orangemen as anything but Syracuse University players, being an alum and all, something Gerry Adams pointed out when he came to ‘Cuse for the St. Pat’s parade a few years ago.)


From the Guardian: But while the IRA has built a major base of support through its Sinn Fein party and has grown central to ongoing negotiations on Northern Ireland’s future, the Protestant paramilitary groups have dismally failed to win electoral support and barely register in political talks. Instead, they wield power through criminal graft backed by occasional intimidating shows of force.

Time flies when you’re slagging away at it…

So I have been in Philadelphia a year. Amazing how fast 12 months can go. (Hell, amazing how fast four years can go …)


I have to be totally honest and say that this has probably been one of the toughest years of my life—tossing myself into a random place, with no real plan and no real idea of who or what I’d be when the first annual where-am-I checkup came.


In many ways, I’m a million times better than I was in September 2004. And in a few ways worse off than I’d ever hoped to be. But goddamn if this 1/4 Polish peasant isn’t doing all she can to pull herself up by those proverbial boot straps the old codgers are always so fond of referring to.


A few weeks ago someone told me I was living in a fantasy world: that I’d fashioned a reality in my head that somehow didn’t coincide with the actual flesh and blood existence going on around me. God, if only. I’d always wanted to be one of those children with an invisible friend, going off to the playground alone with my pretend friend by my side, dawdling away the hours with a big, dumb smile on my face.


Unfortunately, for me and the fool who had the gall to suggest I was somehow in a different, and allegedly, better place: I don’t have enough imagination when it comes to what I see around me. I exist emmeshed in the day-to-day drudgery and mind-numbing minutiae that surrounds me. Give me your tired, your poor, your shitty grammar and misplaced commas, and by golly I’ll set it right.  


In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize I could probably do with a little dose of fantasy, a bit of fancy and silliness and wild-eyed star gazing naïve hope: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight …"


So here is my goal as I trudge into my second year of not knowing what the fuck I’m doing but still plugging away because it’s not over ’til you’re six feet below:
I will charter regular flights of fancy, and allow myself the luxury of imaging what, in my mind, would truly be fantasy-land. What? You say you want houses made of Cadburys and an Audi TT? It’s your fantasy, take ‘er for a test drive!
Living like an undergraduate getting you down? Well, imagine a life not stacked and propped in plastic cubes! Daring! Shocking!!! You’re old enough to move out of the eternal dorm now dear…


Sometimes I forget I’m a boringly over-educated scholarship-toting geek-girl with schmancy degrees from even schmancier schools who has managed to wind up a mildly talented, entertaining, borderline intelligent world traveler with an occasional free spirit driven not by drugs or alcohol but pure, maniacal why-the-hell-not-ness. I do what I want—not everyone can say the same.  


And, for the poor sap who misdiagnosed my malaise as some disenchanted Cinderella mind funk, I can honestly say that in my newfound Tinkerbell cotton candy sparkle-land, my true evil twin would most definitely be able to meet me halfway—intellectually, morally, financially, spiritually—and for chrissakes, if I’m in fantasyland even a churlish Capricorn like me would leave the ex-wife, child and bleak, uneducated future out.


That’s called real life.


Well, someone’s—definitely, thankfully not mine.