Sunday, November 01, 2009

Guest Post: Maclen Muses

This Special Guest Post Was Written By Maclen Zilber

Hello Muselings, most of you know me, but for those of you who don't, I'm Carla's son, Maclen. You can all call me Mac (Except for you...yes you, the one reading this on a 2003-era E-machine, wearing those shoes with the shiny plastic that went out of style around the time that your E-Machine broke for the second time...One reader probably just said to him/herself, "Hey, why me?" I'm just messing with you, hypothetical person...but seriously, an E-Machine?).

Carla has asked me to introduce myself to all of you, for three reasons, two with levity, and one that is more sobering.

The first reason is that, as some of you know, I am now attending UC San Diego, meaning that I am no longer helping care for her, and guest-posting in her blog allows me to save her the time of summarizing what is going on in my life. Additionally, it allows me to assure those who don't know her as well that she is very well cared for by friends and caregivers in my stead. If that weren't the case, I would have postponed my education.

The second reason, which goes hand in hand with the first, is that you'll like me. Well, most of you will (except for you, e-machine user), and the rest of you will pretend you do.

The third reason, and the more sobering one, is that, when the time comes that my mother passes away, I will make a series of conclusory posts on this blog to let you all know. None of us want to think about this, but Carla and I both feel that, when it happens, it would be better for you to be informed by somebody you are familiar with (through the blogs and the movie, if nothing else), rather than hearing through a stranger, or through hearsay. However, I don't want readers to think, "Oh my god, this must mean that she has passed on" every time I make a post on here, so I will promise to you that that final post, on that unhappy day, will be titled "Carla Anne Zilber-Smith: In Memoriam." That should save you all a few heart palpitations. Any post I make here without that title is just another run-of-the-mill guest post. (Well, that's assuming that anybody could honestly call a guest post of mine "run-of-the-mill," which would be on par with saying that Usain Bolt with a wind turbine factory on his back isn't run-of-the-mill**.)

Do we have a deal?


(What was that, E-Machine user? You're not agreeing to the deal? That's awful petty...Okay, what if I let you call me Mac? Now You agree? Good. I like unanimity...though that was a pretty tough concession to make...)

Now that we've gotten past the introductions, and now that my name will be inseparable from mortality in the minds of many of you, I'll end this post on a lighter note: My life in La Jolla

I had a jarring pair of thoughts the other day. You see, the first half of the pair of thoughts was, "wow, I am surrounded by Southern California kids." That was disgruntling enough. Then I had an even stranger thought. "I guess I am a Southern California kid now." You see, about a month and a half ago, I left the Bay Area to begin attending UC San Diego.

The physical environment I'm in is something of a dream come true. To begin with, I'm in pretty much the only city in the country with better weather than the Bay Area. It's never too hot, it's never too cold, and it has a beach so enticing that two recent presidential candidates own vacation houses here. People always warned me that when I moved away from home I'd be unable to deal with weather that wasn't the Bay Area. I hate to say that I hate to say I told you so, because it's simply not true. I love to say I told you so, and I totally did.

The intellectual environment here is also something of a dream come true. It's a little known fact, but UCSD spends more money on research than Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal, or MIT. It's known as traditionally just a science school, but its Political Science department, where I'm studying, is an exception to that rule (ranking ahead of MIT, UCLA, Northwestern, and Duke). As an exemplification of the high quality of the department, one of my professors this semester is Sam Popkin, the man who was jailed over the pentagon papers, was a top pollster for 6 presidential campaigns (including three winning presidential campaigns), and has been the head of polling for both CBS and The Economist.

The residential environment I'm in is something like a Patrick McGoohan acid trip come a good way. As a preface, for those of you who don't know, I skipped three grades, which makes me the second youngest transfer in the graduating class of 2011. Luckily, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th youngest transfers in the class of 2011 are my roommates (in other words, we have skipped 10 grades between the four of us). It's a veritable mini-think-tank, probably thrown together by the university as some sort of social experiment. Luckily, there's still enough sophomoric humor in the apartment to make my mother proud.

I'm also fitting in well in terms of extra-curriculars. I'm currently settling in to the position of Director of Policy Initiatives in the school's student government, a position that allows me to help make a difference in a number of different areas. Currently, our work includes establishing a men's football team and a women's LaCrosse team at UCSD, founding an umbrella organization for all of the student governments in San Diego County to lobby in Sacramento on behalf of students, and setting up a speaker's series at UCSD with a number of prominent public officials and politicians.

Up next on my list is to join the improvised theater club on campus. A future guest post will discuss the profound impact that being involved in Carla's improv groups had on myself and so many others.

Thanks for tuning in! I'd like to thank all of you for the support system that you have provided for Carla over this rough period of time. You are truly wonderful people. Even the person with the E-Machine. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you at the upcoming preview of Carla's show at College of Marin on November 20th.

**Question of the day, since I'm in the business of making "run-of-the-mill" puns. Are any readers confident enough in their literary and economic knowhow to know how a "run on the mill" could lead to inflation in a specific one of Mark Twain's novels? And no, the internet won't help you with this one.


Anonymous said...

Mac, I'll leave the Question of the Day to you and your UCSD brain trust (love that description)....but I'm really surprised and grateful to get this description of your life. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Anonymous said...

Maclen, Thanks you for this update. See you on the 20th.

Anonymous said...

mac, you sound great, & look forward to more guest posts of yours!

Jason E. Smith said...

Glad to get an update, Mac. Very funny post, too (except of course for the e-machine guy). One question: Who's Mark Twain, what's a mill, and how do I get one of those internet things?

leigh cross said...

Hi Mac, good to hear from you. the mil was a coin in the court of King Arthur in the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

Leigh Cross

Anonymous said...

was SO excited to hear an update. . . like mother, like son, great writing. Love, Edith

Warren, Co-founder, MDA's Wings Over Wall Street® said...

A beautiful heart, a keen intellect, a sharp wit, and a generosity of spirit reside in you Mac. It is nice to hear of your new adventures in academia. UCSD is lucky to have you.
Carla, miss you and am glad your calendar has moved from an idea to "on sale soon." I think of you both often.
Those of you who are reading this, please do yourselves a favor and attend the screening of Leave Them Laughing - College of Marin on November 20th.

CT said...

Nice to see you around the blogosphere, man. (I like using the word blogosphere, and may try to shoehorn it in frequently.) I'm sorry that I can't be at the show on the 20th, I initially thought it was in October and that I'd be able to go, but when I realized it was in November I was already in the final stages of prepping my move to Japan.

I'm sure I'll talk with you soon, and hopefully Carla too; I want to keep up with both of you while I'm out here. I hope you're doing well, as by your description of UCSD it sounds like you are.

P.S. - I trust you'll be celebrating Patrick McGoohan's birthday as a holiday, right?

Anonymous said...

A second to Allison's comment. I'm so appreciative you took the time to do this for us Mac. You're every bit as amazing, thoughtful and witty as I always imagined while listening to your Carla's descriptions during the long stretch our friendship grew long distance. And then some.

Looking forward to seeing you on the 20th.


Anonymous said...

It's my dream come true that yours are Mac.


Kitchen Mama said...

Thanks for updating us about your adventures, Mac. I smile every time I picture you, the beachy So. Cal political scientist, trading witty quips with your other Wunderkind roommates. Love you so much...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mac! I'm pleased to read your post.

My step brother, one of the grooviest intellectuals of all times lives in La Jolla. He works in a research lab for UCSD. His name is Michael Giffin. He's a sailor (went around the world as crew on someone else's small boat) and a musician and an incredibly smart guy.

If you want, I can introduce you electronically. I am certain that you'd hit it off.

Kim Porter.

Anonymous said...

You are showing the true measure of being a man already.
Thank you for letting us know how you will be keeping us informed in the future.
I wish you all the best.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Maclen,
Your introduction to university life at UCSD sounds excellent. Impressed you have immersed yourself in challenging campus activities. You don't fit the profile that American media would have us believe about students in the Fall term of their first year living on campus!

You label yourself a "Southern California kid" and I agree San Diego is ideal, but could there also be a liberal Canadian thinker in your psyche?

As a Canadian, and a long-time friend of your maternal grandparents, I wish you on-going success. Your achievement is truly remarkable.

Anonymous said...

--Way to go Mac...looking forward to hearing more of your adventures in So.Cal and your influence on theater, politics, and whatever else inspires you! Love, Linda.B