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Friday Afternoon

Later, I have to drive up the mountain to pick up Harmony from her friend's house. Once upon a time, the mountain was home to some of the deepest iron mines in the country. The iron from here wound up in the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and more. There was a prison for a while; now there's not. There's a train depot that's been reconfigured into a museum that is, as far as I can tell, never open. Once I bought a crossbow there from a man not much taller than me, with gnarled hands and an evil grin.

Onward, Upward, Forward

Last night was not good; today will be better. Even if everything breaks into a million pieces, it's not like I don't know where the super glue is. Resiliency is based in the absolute confidence that one might be knocked off balance, even down, but one's never going to stay there, until one is, and today? Is not that day.

Come with me, my ferocious darlings. If there are songs to sing, we'll sing them. Fights to fight? We'll win them. Monsters to explain particle physics to? Well, that'll take some doing, but we'll make it happen. Nothing will stop us, because thermodynamics and pigheadedness.

The Things That I Would Tell You

Sometimes you have to go outside and stand with your bare feet against the ground. Don't do anything, just stand there. Listen and be still.Taking off your shoes removes the illusion that we are separate from the Earth; that ever over our head is anything but miles and miles and miles and miles of empty. There's such statistical fragility in the things we take for granted. Breathing is a million miracles.

It's hard to see the beauty you look at everyday. It's good to go - you have to - if for no other reason than the pleasure of coming back. Rediscovering home makes you understand who you are inside; you learn what you think matters. Sometimes we forget that we are the sum of our choices; sometimes we forget that we can choose. Not all of the choices are good ones, but playing a bad hand means you're still playing.

The opportunity will come up to be dazzlingly selfish and wrong-headed. Sometimes, you will take it. There are a million stories you can tell yourself about how this happened, but at the end of the day it comes down to you wanted to and so you did. Beware yourself; when you're standing in a valley all you can see is the valley. The wind is made of echoes.The biggest bug in the puddle counts himself a whale. It's important to keep all things - even our sins, especially our sins - in perspective.

Time changes everything, and no one can explain that to you until you get there. A minute can be enough, if it's the right minute; sometimes, things take longer. And you can make progress, even if you don't totally understand what's going on around you - most people don't, even if it seems like it. Stopping is a decision that we forget we made; sometimes we need to be reminded we can start again. Sunrises have to be beautiful. Dawn would be too much to bear without that bit of grace.


Saturday Afternoon

It has been a busy day. I wrote an essay, worked on a big editing project, and mowed the lawn. I need to take a lot of breaks whilst mowing - all this rain means the grass has gotten high and the mower gets bogged down - and it takes me about twice as long as it takes Tim, but I'm holding the idea 'this is not a competition' in my mind and am going forward from there.

I have decided to recommit myself to getting fitter. It's easy to slip off the bandwagon, but the heart needs to be urged to greater activity levels on a regular basis if I don't want to do the dead thing, and I really don't want to do the dead thing, and I really, really don't want to do the have a stroke that leaves me unable to write thing. Harmony wants to join a gym in Plattsburgh & the two of us go together - her friend & her Mom drive into town every day after school to work out, but I have no idea how I could make that happen. Maybe 3 times a week; a 75+ mile round trip is quite a schlep after a work day. We'll see.

The computer's been doing a neat-not-neat-at-all thing where all the programs freeze up and nothing wants to work. So I did a system reset yesterday and cleaned everything; it took a LONG time and most of the day was wasted but now the computer is running like new again, which is a blessing.

I've snagged quite a few books over the past week, including biographies of Margaret Mead and Golda Meier; also a collection of essays and a novel by Umberto Eco, and Dhalgren, because shadesong was talking about it and I'd remembered I'd always meant to read it. So that's the afternoon plan - to take the lawn chair out into the freshly mowed lawn and read until it's time to come up with something for dinner. If that doesn't sound absolutely wonderful, I don't know what to tell you. It would be better if I had someone to read with or to, but one can't have everything. Although if you're nearby and want to curl up in a lawn chair and be Eco-d at, come by. What are Saturday afternoons for?

Thursday Morning

I know I said I'd be writing more. And yet things keep happening which consume a lot of my mind, but I'm not free to write about - discretion is a new skill for me, but it's very very necessary. Nothing personal, all professional - but work is so very central to who I am, and right now there is a big Gordian knot in front of me and I can not find my sword.

Life would be so much easier if people would only act and think the way I think they should. Of course, if we took that to its logical conclusion, we'd all be living in little pleasant bits of green surrounded by miles and miles and miles of burnt, salted fields. So maybe it's for the best that that's not happening.

In good news, Harmony is amazing me. Seeing your kid turning into a grown up is pretty neat. So we've got that to smile about.

Tuesday Morning

I believe we have two selves: the person who we are, and the person who, through a series of social and cultural constructs, we have agreed to be. Each role we take on has its own set of expectations and obligations. I imagine people who are inherently good do not find it difficult to meet these expectations and obligations; their authentic self is in alignment with their chosen self. There is no disconnect to be overcome; there are no longings to be ignored, resentment does not snap at your heels like ambitious terrier.

For a long time, I thought the issue was poor choice making. Lately, though, I'm not so sure of that at all. Perhaps we are meant to struggle against our selves; perhaps it is necessary that better angels require courting. Perhaps it is a thing to know the abyss is ever there and each day not fall, headlong, arms outstretched, into the glorious void.  What are we but will given flesh? What we would do, we do; whether those decisions ultimately please us - never no mind others, I never do - is another question entirely.

Monday Afternoon

It is an upside down day and I am writing this so my day doesn't entirely get away from me. I am not a fuzzy pet-parent type of person; animals are animals, ultimately, and animals are very different than children, but this morning was very distressing with the cat. Everyone's going to be okay but it was scary and Nadia had a four color meltdown as a result; she is usually rock solid calm so this was something. Not something good.

I'm resolved to make 5 LJ posts a week to get things back in an orderly track. This one doesn't really count, as it's so short, but it's going to need to count as I've a million things to do and not a million hours to do it. Onward, upward, forward, bunnies. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday Morning

I wrote a poem. Here it is:

Some of the things
she was sure he hated
he really, really loved.

A spring rain falling
feels better than you think
wet weight like a woman
makes you glad to breathe
every gasp a revelation

And the sun beating down
burns just enough
through the flesh, to the bone
baking you into time
to see and be remembered

Cold winds blowing
slide knifelike through you
it hurts, but you're alive
everything has consequences
and your mind leaps like a deer.

He wouldn't give up none of it
though she thought he would -
these strange, small treasures of his own.

Wednesday Morning

You can not explain Viet Nam. Not Viet Nam, the country, or the people of Viet Nam, or even the war - all of those things can be explained; albeit not eloquently by me. But there is another Viet Nam, the Viet Nam that came home in changed men and women, carried like a cancer - deep inside and killing, sometimes quick, sometimes slow.

If any one event is a pebble thrown into the puddle of our lives, creating ripples that change the way we see, the way we move, the way, ultimately, that we are, than Viet Nam was a good size boulder dropped from a great height. You didn't have to go to be impacted; in fact, you didn't have to even be alive when it was happening. Those ripples were still tearing things up later, much later, when you were there to bear witness; to bear witness to things you couldn't possibly understand.

I'd World War Two to teach me that monsters reside within most all of us; that we're capable of great evils that no amount of flag-waving can ever justify, but it was the people who went to Viet Nam who taught me about what that meant to have that happen in your life; individually, not abstractly, en masse. What it means to be made use of in a way that runs counter to who you are, deep down inside - to discover, suddenly and with other concrete finality, that you are no more than a piece of the machinery, replaceable, expendable, and ultimately meaningless. To know invisibility as multi-faceted; sometimes a comfort, sometimes a burden, always a presence - to know there is part of you that no one really wants to see hurts more than you might think.

And I as young, so my takeaways were young. Trust nobody. The system is not there to help you. Question authority; their motives are often suspect. Everyone is dangerous. Ultimately, nobody gives a damn about you and the rescue chopper is not coming. People will hold you accountable for things that were not your fault; people will hold you accountable for their feelings and no amount of facts will change that.

Time has gone by. My teachers have kept on teaching, over all these years. How to keep on keeping on. How to not keep on keeping on. How to heal, how to forget, how to demand never to be forgotten. Every bit of this knowledge has been hugely valuable, but still I would not count the cost worth it. My daughter, her friends, they are coming up fast on the age many of the people I knew were when Viet Nam was happening to them. This is changing my understanding of the lessons I learned along the way and the people who taught them. A war can be over for 40 years, and yet it's never done.

What Is Our Duty as a Patriotic Citizen?

Patriotism. Boy, that's a big can of worms. Here's what I believe: To love one's country is to hold it to a higher standard. To love one's country is to question everything. To love one's country is to distrust one's government, for those who seek power most successfully generally deserve it the least; especially given our current system. To love one's country is to look at it with our eyes open. To love one's country is to acknowledge your debt to those who served, and to insist that the promises made to them be kept. To love one's country is to say no to systems that go against what we believe in: all men are created equal - even those ones we don't like very much. To love's one country means remembering we are almost all immigrants and that we are no better than those who come after simply because we got here first. To love's one country means owning we've made mistakes and done bad things and act to make them right. To love's one country means owning we've done glorious things and taking pride in them. Loving one's country is a lot like loving a real life human being, with amazing traits and tragic flaws. You get the whole ball of wax. You don't get to pick and choose. We are who we are. So we strive to make it better, and be proud of what's worthy, and remember we're not done yet. History isn't a thing in a book. History is what happens every single day. And so we do our part, with hope and love and tenacity. That's our duty.


It's me

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