UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. Words (at least the 150 of them that I happen to know) can't express how thrilled I am to have received the Insta-lanche on my very first post!
While you're here, stop by today's last post. I have had yet another Pivotal Life Moment: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: Pivotal Life Moments, Part 2.
Pivotal Life Moments. They move us and shape us. They cause us to
do things we swore we’d never do start blogs. They alter our future by imprinting our present so that, to paraphrase the brilliant Ben Folds, we are not the same after that.
Until now, my PLMs haven't always come through the usual sources—college, moving, marriage. (I'm two for three on this and my naked left ring finger and I agree that it’s fitting the phrase “two out of three ain’t bad” came from a singer named Meat Loaf.) Instead, they have slipped in almost unobserved via the mundane realities of everyday life. Case in point: Sitting at my kitchen table a few summers back, I realized that I had chosen the cholesterol-lowering, high-fibery-goodness-touting cereal over the cloyingly cute Trix Rabbit. I still consider that my official welcome to Destination Adulthood.
Still, it is not how these moments occur but simply that they do that matters.
My most recent PLM occurred this past weekend during a political pep rally conference in Washington, D.C. The setting was mildly more remarkable than my kitchen, not least because I was wearing high heels rather than eeyore slippers. For hours, I was whisked around by my illustrious mentor to meet one influential, potentially PLM-inducing figure after another. After introducing myself as a “feature writer for a lifestyle magazine” (translation: failure at life), the question of when I was planning to transition into “real journalism” invariably followed. Each conversation culminated in my fumbling for a business card that would later be used to line their kid’s hamster cage.
Suddenly, those eeyore slippers sounded pretty damn good.
Rather fortuitously, I ran out of business cards and arrived in the speakers’ room just as a husband and wife team from Ireland took the stage to promote their new movie, exposing the “conspiracy” of Global Warming hysteria. While I didn’t find a pot of gold, or even a Guinness, at the end of their address, I did find my Pivotal Life Moment.
The topic was global warming. The rhetoric was heated. The crowds were cheering. And, I was appalled.
As the couple offered sound reasons as to we why we could eat anything we want (We’re American!), drive what we want (We’re American!!), expend as many resources and show as little environmental responsibility as we want (We’re American!!!), I became acutely aware that this position was not only an affront to my intelligence but to the very core of what it means to be American.
At that moment, my PLM hit: maybe the world of politics and culture could use me, after all. You see, for the past few years, I have been determined to write about nothing of substance. I wanted to write “cute things about nice people.” (Don’t judge, or I may just give you my business card.) But it hadn’t always been that way.
I was one of those kids who grew up planning to be somebody important. I wasn’t content to imagine myself as a doctor or a fireman. I was going to be the next Hunter S. Thompson—minus the tragic end, Edward R. Murrow—minus the cigarette, or the First Lady—who, at the time was Hillary Clinton, so minus the pantsuit. (For those wondering why I didn’t aspire to President rather than First Lady, I did. But the Missus had better shoes, and a girl’s gotta have her priorities).
In short, I had big dreams.
Years later, in a fateful PLM, my parents shipped me off to Patrick Henry College in Northern Virginia rather than boot camp. Just weeks into my freshman year, I became disillusioned—to put it mildly—by the well-intentioned but intellectually lazy zealotry of my classmates who were determined to storm Washington and take over the White House in the name of Jesus. Determined to separate myself from this culture, which I consider neither compatible with the sayings of Jesus nor conducive to gaining credibility in the real world on either side of the political continuum, I gave up doing anything “important” with my life and transitioned into lifestyle magazines. I moved to the south and, for over a year, wrote about home design, travel, food, and kitschy local events.
I was determined to prove that I knew being an evangelical did not mean I had a divine directive to change the world through politics. Still, the more I wrote about the latest color combinations and how to take a room from “so-so to smashing” (true story), the more I began craving an outlet for the dialogue of thoughtful analysis and humorous (to me) commentaries that I found running through my head at any given point during the day.
The obvious answer? A blog. So, thanks to my Irish-couple-induced-PLM, here I am. Now, having joined the ranks of those millions who feel they can contribute to society by, as Andrew Sullivan calls it, writing out loud, I hope that one of these days I may say just the thing that will serve as a PLM catalyst for one of you.