The Light in my Room

Okay, imagine you’re entering a room in a house, church, place of business, wherever… anywhere in the first world, because what I’m going to describe to you could be categorized as a first world problem. The room is dark, so you flick the light-switch to the up position, causing the overhead light to illuminate the room. You do whatever, then, satisfied with the whatever you’ve done, you decide to leave the room, and flick the light-switch down on your way out, causing the room to darken again – because you’re responsible with your carbon footprint.

Easy peasy. So easy, you didn’t even need to think about it.

That’s how it used to be in my room, too.

Not so much anymore since some mechanism or other on my ceiling fan got stuck a few years ago, and the solution to this, somehow, was the addition of a remote control.

Now the scenario goes like this: flick the light-switch up, locate the remote control, press the light button on the remote control. That turns the light on.

But once the light is on, there’s no promise of it staying on. Leave it be for a few hours, and it might stay on for the whole time, but it might not. I don’t know how, when left to its own devices, it decides when it will or will not turn on or off. After turning it on via remote, it might stay on for an hour or two before turning off. Then it might turn back on after fifteen minutes, or two hours, or something. I don’t know. There’s no distinguishable pattern that I can discern.

It’s not just the light function either. The fan will turn off and on when it wants to, too. I might fall asleep one winter night having turned off the light via remote, to wake up several hours later with the light on and the fan on, full speed (there are three). Or, during a summer heat wave, I might fall asleep with the light off and the fan on, and wake up to the light on and the fan off, or the fan at some other speed.

Nothing has turned on or off by its own volition when the light-switch has been flicked in the “off” position, though. That’d be the day I’d thoroughly freak out.

I don’t know why it does this. It never used to before the remote control was added. No one has any definitive answers for me on the issue, and that’s okay. Even if I’m a big First World girl, I am a Big Girl, and I can deal with it. It doesn’t require an extreme exercise of patience.

The first half of the battle, when it comes to mediating this, is especially easy. I just have to know where the remote control is. That way, when the light goes out, it doesn’t have to stay off for long. It’s also not difficult to make and maintain the routine of returning it to the top of the dresser, which is by the door and therefore the switch.

The second half of the battle isn’t terrible either, but it is slightly more difficult, because it’s a matter of not taking it personally. When I say this, remember that I’m a Christian, and that this is real for me. Because when is say “not take it personally”, I mean, not jumping to conclusions that it’s some gesture of spiritual warfare every time the lights go out when I’m reading.

For example, earlier this evening, I was in the middle of a paragraph in which an author was talking about when ideas of communism and fascism are not seeds for revolution, when the lights went out. For the first few seconds in the dark, I sat with the vivid thought in mind, either God or Satan doesn’t want me thinking about revolution. Which one is it, and why? Which is fine to an extent, but I’m also the kind of person who might indulge in mulling over this question until I eventually, unintentionally tease a series of conspiracies out of it, which are more likely to be productions of my imagination than divine revelation, and I will treat them too, too much like the latter.

If I viewed my entire life from the lens of conspiracy, or even just the parts of my life the are relevant to my ceiling fan, I don’t think I would live very long before dying from a heart attack.

So I try not to take it personally when the lights go off when I’m reading, or get offended like my fan turning on in the dead of winter is God’s idea of a practical joke.


My Brother is in Afghanistan, Santa Claus is Still Dead, and Two Tutors Save me from Hating Everything: PART TWO, discovering the virtue of doing something when nothing's expected of you.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains uncensored, foul language – something I generally try to avoid on this blog.
...and I may have downed nearly a whole carafe of coffee while I was drafting this.
And please realize that there's a part one to this.

Jake’s dead battery had him stranded in the Humanities parking lot. The door of his VW Bug was ajar, and he stood between it and the car’s body while he waited for a tow truck. Or somebody with jumper cables (whichever came first).

He spotted me storming, propelled by my personal feelings of betrayal and general pissery, down the sidewalk that borders the lot. “Hey, Kathryn,” Jake said.

“Hey, Jake.” I stopped. “Have I asked you about the Constitution yet?”


“Do you remember signing something saying that you’d support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic?”

“Yeah. I remember all four times I signed it.” (Air Force + public middle school + some other thing + tutoring lab = 4) “What about it?”

SOMEONE REMEMBERS! “Can I quote you?” (I’ve since learned that you don’t initiate an interview with this question, but, ya know… live and learn.)

“Sure. Do you have jumper cables?”

Without acknowledging the inquiry, I plopped down on the concrete, whipping out my pink notebook with Strain Zero and Free Bradley Manning stickers on the front, because, you have to remember, for some people, after hella NOT sleeping for a while, common courtesy dissolves between two and three AM and never comes back.

Jake thinks the Oath is “vague” and “weird”, and surmises that it’s designed for anti-discrimination purposes. Given the McCarthy revelation, the forefathers of this FUCKING document intended the absolute, polar opposite, but at this point, I wanted to drop the facts and go with Jake’s theory. I really did. Because I liked believing in Santa Claus and ignoring the fact that puppies die. I thought this Oath would mean something good, too. But it’s hard to listen to the anti-discrimination lullaby over the thundering collapse of my almost-patriotism – FUCKING MCCARTHY! The truth sets no one free. What the truth does is RUIN CHRISTMAS FOR EVERYONE.

Jake also thinks some senators pose more of a threat to the Constitution than terrorists. “And Sarah Palin,” Jake said.
I paused my furious scribbling. “Sarah Palin?”

“Yeah, sometimes I think she’s anti-Constitution…” Before Jake could expound on this, someone with jumper cables came to the rescue. That’s okay. It’s like the conversation I had with the army recruiter outside the campus bookstore that ended before I could ask him exactly what he meant when he said supporting and defending the Constitution means fighting for my right to purchase a vanilla latte. I take sound bytes. I put them out of context. To amuse myself. Fishy and advantageous? Yes. Even a little morally corrupt? That, too.

Of course, I would be amiss if I didn’t keep in mind others who remember singing the Oath – like Anita. Anita not only remembers signing the Oath, but remembers stopping to think about whether or not she was willing to sign it before she put the pen to paper – I LOVE YOU ANITA. Ultimately, she decided that, since she would be fulfilling this obligation in the setting of the tutoring lab, it would be a matter of, if anything, defending Freedom of Speech. This was something Anita could get behind, although there may be other circumstances where she wouldn’t be willing to sign it.

I loved these beautiful optimists. I really did, and still do. But, at the time, despite the few, remaining embers of desire to find real meaning in this thing, disenchantment was winning. I was ready to go home, throw together a eulogy of sorts (in this vein) for my dead Constitution-blog project, post that sucker the way it was, and get on with my life. But with a whole bucket of NO SLEEP comes a weakened immune system, and I was promptly knocked out for about a week with a wretched cold that left me helpless to do, like, anything save for falling asleep on piles of clean, unfolded laundry, and watch hella Breaking Bad and illegally uploaded Rob Bell shit on YouTube.

That eventually abated enough for me to muster the energy to take the dog for a walk. I was still in the process of accepting the Oath’s, and therefore the almost-blog-project’s, perceived meaninglessness. I lamented my ideas and how they would never be realized in blogposts. Like, I had hoped to write about the Black Panthers being prime examples of what it means to support and defend the Constitution.

This is because the Panthers were responding to a very REAL violation of Constitutional rights in their neighborhood, where cops – who are made to swear their own version of the Oath, mind you – were all kinds of corrupt. Instead of lying down and taking it, the Black Panthers organized, and exercised their Second Amendment rights to police the police. They were a volunteer militia.

That’s when it dawned on me. Right there on the street, as I stood waiting while the dog shat in the bushes, shit started adding up.

Volunteer militia. Keyword: VOLUNTEER.

Everything – all the more preferable explanations I’d gotten – like Jake’s anti-discrimination fairy tale, and Anita, at one point, musing that defending the Constitution is more about protecting the people than protecting the government…

It all coalesced. Santa may be dead, but it gets better than overweight North Pole residents in red suits, because I realized my duty to support and defend the Constitution has ZERO to do with my status as a government employee (employees = hired = money = technically not a volunteer). It has NOTHING to do with the government or any kind of institution or third party, and everything to do with my preexisting status of being an American citizen. The choice of whether or not to participate, of how politically active or aware I will be is a choice I make independently.

Make no mistake, America: your
government is STILL on Team Edward.
And, the way things are, that’s not a radical statement. At all. Even if this were being read by a power-hoarding head of state, I think it’s more than safe to say that I wouldn’t get blacklisted, and my phone wouldn’t get tapped – which would be a profound waste of resources anyway, unless the CIA’s priorities are warped enough to find value in overhearing my fellow, twenty-something burnout friend and I organize Twilight marathons, or coordinating carpools with the Anarchist to the next Anti-Flag show. Until there is any expectation of action from a lowly English major / tutor like me, this reads conjures big, fat zero on the radical-o-meter. If we remember what was said in the previous post, the Oath could “literally apply to [me] never.”

Well, in that regard, to the Man, I lovingly say, FUCK YOU.

If you didn’t WANT or EXPECT it, you shouldn’t have ASKED FOR IT.

This dog walk realization, actually, is more in sync with the original hypothesis: the one I formulated before I went on an Easter Egg Hunt for subjectively novel sound bytes to add to my collection of things to laugh about later, which does little-to-nothing to cultivate comprehensive understanding. Revisiting the notion after the thundering collapse of my almost-patriotism only grounded it, revealed more dimension of meaning for an individual citizen like me to have REAL conversations with people, and knowing my history, and watching Democracy Now!, and actually reading the REAL LIVE Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California for myself, and writing letters and participating in political demonstrations where I discern that’s due, and having conversations with people and knowing my history and conversing with people conversing with people conversing with people. Doing it for real. Asking real questions. Exchanging real ideas. Getting real answers.

Furthermore, if I were to really start a blog that explores what it means to support and defend the Constitution in the context of being an English tutor, it couldn’t be kathrynsupportsanddefends.blogspot.com. Kathryn cannot do this alone. For such a project to really work, and really be awesome, it would have to be more than ONE English tutor observing and analyzing what all this means, and how the Constitution is and is applied around in the country, in education, in other places, whatever.

There you go. That’s what I've got say. Hopefully at least Sophia will appreciate the scattered outbursts of frenetic nonsense.

Ball’s in your park, Citizens of the World. Hit me up with comment love. It’s tax deductible in select states, and I like hearing what y’all have to say.