First, let me say that this man makes me proud to have been raised on the prairie.
I got my broken window fixed on Saturday before heading up north to visit with my brother and his family, and today I received a call from my fiancee, whose dining room window was broken through what the insurance companies call an “act of God.” My guess is that the Holy Spirit was trying to get in there and steal her rice maker, but alas, I can prove nothing.
I actually have been wanting to post about something else for a while. I guess it would be best to begin by talking about when my brothers and sisters and I were kids , we lived two doors down from our grandmother. During the hot summer days, when we were all still too young to have paper routes or other gainful child labor, but (almost?) old enough to (sort of?) take care of ourselves, we took to our big yard, with its many trees (at least four) and ample bushes. We built forts in the bushes around the old central air conditioner that had never worked since we’d lived there, or we played in the big dead tree in the back yard, where our one male babysitter (who later married a rich woman and set out to turn his farmhouse into a castle, but died in the process–I believe it was cancer) had nailed in the first few boards of what would never become a treehouse. It may not have become a treehouse, but it made it really easy to climb onto the garage roof, which was how my sister ended up sledding off the roof on a snowy winter day and missed the snowpile we'd built down below when she landed. That had to hurt, but that was also a different story.
At one point when we were growing up, my aunt, her daughter, and her son stayed with Grandma for a while. My brothers and sisters and I fought plenty, but when our cousins Josie and James came to visit, we united quickly to gang up on the intruders. We all knew it was grossly unfair that they lived with Grandma and had many more toys than we did, so we didn’t feel bad in the least to make them cry and return home to Grandma. The words “you’re not the boss of me” became their battle cry, while “this is our yard” became ours. By last year, both were my friends on Myspace.
When I moved to LA last year, I joined other family in California. Of course, there’s my brother up north, but there was also my cousin down south, outside of San Diego at Oceanside. James, my quiet cousin, who sported a curly head of hair all his life that easily put Napoleon Dynamite to shame. Since he joined the Marines, though, he’s been a little different. Obviously, the hair is the first thing to go. But his social awkwardness didn’t seem to last long, either. A big part of that probably had to do with the fact that he left Illinois with his mother and his new stepfather while he was in high school and lived in Hawaii for a while. I got my first taste of his changed personality at his sister’s wedding. It was a nice time, and he flew in just for the occasion. He was scheduled to fly out early the next morning so I decided to drive him over. He drank at the wedding and the social lubricant did well for him, he was quite conversational and lively. I’d never experienced that, and was sad to bid him good-bye when I dropped him off the at the airport. Luckily, I was able to see him again last year when he rode with me up north to visit my older brother when my younger sister and youngest brother were also in town to visit. Then just a few weeks ago, he came to visit again with his mother and his stepfather just before heading out to sea.
When I first heard the name Osama bin Laden in the late nineties, I wasn’t too far off from having read 1984 and Brave New World. I hadn’t been accustomed, at that point, to hearing the word “terrorist” thrown around loosely on the TV news, but they used it frequently as they flashed bin Laden’s pictures, and the sort of branding technique in play made me feel, for a moment, as if I was in one of those books. Fast forward a few years, and we are stuck in an endless, pointless, hopeless war fueled by the inferiority complex of a nitwit and the power- and money-hungry madman who saw a chance to take advantage of that nitwit, with a little help from the three Rs: Rove, Rumsfeld, and Rice. Of course, unlike those dystopian novels I read in high school, large numbers of people are actually realizing what a complete mess this is. Probably the biggest problem we face is that we the people aren’t in much of a position to do anything about it.
So…big money runs our nation and we just live here. That seems to work out most of the time, for most of us. Living problems in our own country have become largely an issue of comfort, so we’re not too concerned with doing anything special. We don’t have to face the poverty and suffering that our foreign policies promote and perpetuate overseas, so there’s nothing much to worry about. Those of us on the liberal end of the spectrum can get really mad and go out and see a Michael Moore movie once in a while just to stay in touch with our indignation.
Then we come home and find a Myspace message from our cousin, who informs us that her brother’s boat has been diverted to Iraq, where he is likely to end up in Anbar province.
It strikes close to home to find out a loved one might end up in this place far away fighting for no understandable reason. Let’s just hope we can get out of Iraq and get a new president in place before the neocon-fascists take over.
So we’re praying for a safe return of my cousin. He’s a good kid. So are the rest of the troops that we’re all supposed to “support” by putting bumper stickers on our Hummers that use so much god-damned gasoline that we have to send the minorities and the poor kids over to liberate some more for us, while the prices soar higher than ever before, along with the profit margins of the big oil companies.
But enough of that. How about a laugh?
And I’m sure the jig is up now and you all realize that I’m just trying to pack as many links as possible into this post. If I wasn’t so damned tired, I’d go back and count them all.