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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Commemoration Delegation

Mr. dd set aside 24 hours of his life to interview people on Monument Ave regarding their feelings about the Robert E. Lee Monument. It also happened to be Confederate Commemoration Day which wound up being a gathering of all the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy from the Mid-Atlantic Region. It was a warm day and I was concerned some of the octogenarian re-enactors would suffer from heat stroke in their gray wool uniforms.

When I was a child the Civil War always seemed to be part of another era for me - a time that didn't affect my life... well that was before I moved to Virginia. As a born and bred Southerner who has made my way in and out of many foreign lands throughout my life - usually alone - I consider myself as much a wanna-be expatriot as an American these days... a somewhat worldly person... until someone begins to make fun of these strange confederate re-enactors! Its a strange reaction... I don't understand it myself. Perhaps its just genetic. Many men in my family fought in that war and none of them had slaves... I have little or nothing in common with most of these people parading down the Avenue. I don't dig NASCAR or motorcycles or civil war romance novels.... and I am sure we probably vote very differently on most everything.... still... I believe they have the right to gather and commemorate their ancestors and I don't think its funny. I don't really get them, but I don't think its funny.
My husband believes that the great poet Robbie Burns inspired the southerners of Scotch-Irish Descendents to fight for states rights during the "great war." As long as it's been and as much water has passed under the bridge since that time our nation has really never come to terms with this part of our history... for me it's just one more clue as to why the conflicts in Iraq and elsewhere never really heal. Class, race and religion are the fuel of most political fires... and not topics most political parties support their platforms with.
One woman we know suggested that instead of interviewing people at Mr. Lee's Monument he interview people at the new tri-city International Slavery Reconciliation Monument in Shockoe Bottom. An excellent suggestion except he would have to approach people with windshield wiper tools at the intersections to get them to stop and talk. That Monument is placed in the middle of a very heavily trafficked piece of roadway.

My favorite response was from an older African American gentleman. He said "Its just a man on a horse."

Finally, as a big SUV circled the Monument - as it is in the middle of a European-style round- a-bout - the young black man inside yelled out "I'm Free, Free at Last!" I thought to myself well that's another blessing we can count. We're all free - for the time being, anyway.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

accepting the unthinkable

There were many discussions about our nation's gun laws in our home last night. I once considered myself a pacifist but does a pacifist protect oneself and others? Can someone who exercises self defense be a pacifist? We don't like watching violence in television or film though I love the Sopranos. My husband doesn't.

A friend who was here last night working on my computer while CNN and MSNBC blared on the tube is a libertarian of sorts and he said that a similiar situation had been averted at JMU years ago because someone in their library had a gun and shot the gunman before he could kill any more people. Only one person died as a result and JMU is the one campus in Virginia that allows guns on campus. I don't think that is the answer but its an argument that I didn't anticipate.

Mr. dd and I both have a very hard time watching and anticipating violence. We covered our eyes during much of the film Pan's Labrynth because we didn't expect it. (I don't read reviews before I see a film. They usually reveal too much.) Anticipating violence changes everything. Do we need to live our life in a way where we anticipate the unthinkable?

We have a locked gate at the entrance to our property. I know some of our neighbors probably think we aren't very neighborly but we welcome THEM... its the solicitors and the unexpected appearance of crazies or miscreants we discourage! I am one of those southern girls who has deprogrammed myself from opening my door to anyone who shows up at it. That's a lesson I learned the hard way, believe me.

Its pointless to analyze what happened at Virginia Tech until all the evidence is in... but one thing is certain in my mind - classes should have been canceled after the first two murders with the person still at large. One big problem with todays news media is that one rarely hears of disaster averted by those who take extreme precaution. Those are the stories I'd like to hear. The kids that barricaded the doors of their classrooms are the real heroes on that campus.

How do we address the unthinkable? The horror? How does one prepare for such things? I know I can't expect anyone to protect me. I learned that when I was mugged in Barcelona. There were many people around me that could have stopped the mugger I was chasing. No heroes there. No one tried to trip him or block his path. Life ain't like it is in the movies until its too late... and then its a made for TV movie.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

premonition of another time

Mr. dd and I attended The Devolution of Chuck Statler, Part 2 on Sat night. Chuck is known as the Godfather of music video and he was the keynote speaker at the local film festival.

He grew up with the Devo guys and produced their initial moving promos in super 8 and eventually went on to produce videos for Madness, Elvis Costello, Tiny Tim and others. I enjoyed seeing these blasts from the past but also wondered if it was the best use of my time. I'd rather be looking forward than back these days and this part of history doesn't even really seem like history yet. Hell, we're gonna see Elvis Costello in a few weeks at a music festival we attend each year. I'll be curious to see if he really fixed the gap in his teeth. I don't remember him having one and he certainly did when he first started out. (Again, is this the best expense of my time? Elvis would certainly prefer that I bop along to his catchy pop tunes but this is the stuff that occupies one's mind when they aren't really present.)

There seem to be a lot of former rock and rollers surfacing these days. The former roadie for the Beatles just resigned as the CEO of Apple (the Beatle's Apple), there was a story in esquire on catching product plagiarists and one the investigator was a former attorney for a number of R&R acts. There is certainly a place for R&R in my heart but I think I had rather listen to it and dance to it than look back at the good ole days when sex, drugs and rock-n-roll were a lot more fun and the risks of having too much fun seemed as foreign as the film "Go Ask Alice."

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hug the ones you love

I follow a number of photography blogs though I haven't updated my links in quite awhile. I just read this post and feel such empathy for this family. 2006 was a terrible year for so many people... but time doesn't stand still and as much as we make plans that anticipate future events it is, at best, at feeble attempt.

Life is short. Art is long.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

taking time to smell something other than the coffee

taxes, spring cleaning, meeting deadlines, marking calendars, attending and traveling to weddings, meeting print schedules, finishing freelance projects, grading, gardening, teaching, building, planning, petting, caretaking, daughtering, wifeing (barely), but most important... WALKING. it is a constant in our life... more than coming and going to work or even art making.

it is the thing that gets us from place to place and from a foul mood to a better one. i don't know how i cannot walk when it is the best option. i felt a little guilty on sunday when an old boyfriend asked me about one of our cars - which is sitting in an undriveable state and it has been for quite a long while. somehow i wound up explaining our love of walking (to divert attention from my negligence) and that we wouldn't even own a car if we it wasn't a necessity for reasons I won't go into (this is all true!) i realized as i was saying this that i was dissing his way of life and his livlihood...which wasn't intended. hey, my dad must have a car. transportation is essential for personal freedom whether its a good pair of shoes or reliable transportation. I prefer human powered transportation or public transportation whenever conditions are appropriate!

but, i'll tell ya... one can't smell the wysteria or the bartlett pear trees surrounding fountain lake if one is enclosed in a metal box on wheels. it serves its purpose but it certainly isn't the only way to get around and it is often not the best way to get around... for us, anyway.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday 1984

I was a grad student in Ohio in 1984 - madly in love with a young man from the region, and sharing a big bungalowish style house him and4 or 5 other people. We worked late on the previous night, Thursday. Not unusual. I was up all night every other night for most of the early eighties since I was a full-time student and usually working two or three jobs in addition to my classes and studio work.

Early that morning someone knocked on our bedroom door. We ignored it thinking it was one of our roomates. They knocked again, saying tearfully, its me, P. (my boyfriend's younger brother). I can't remember if he came inside or not. The futon took up most of the floorspace in that bedroom and we probably weren't wearing PJ's. All I remember is BF's brother telling us of their cousin's death the night before.

Tracey was a lovely 19 or 20 year old, the favored cousin of all the brothers in BF's family. She had been hit by two trains in a freak accident. They think she saw the slow moving train but not the fast moving train. She crossed the tracks and the fast train knocked her car down the tracks and then the slow moving train knocked it the other direction. I can't imagine the pain her mother must have felt in identifying her. She was a very beautiful girl... inside and out. Total goodness... gone.

The BF is long gone from my life but I think of his cousin Tracey every Good Friday and wonder how her family is doing. They were one of those unique families that enjoyed each other's company. Her parents and practically grown siblings would get together and play cards or board games around the kitchen table and laugh all night. They didn't drink anything stronger than diet coke. It was an alien experience for me at the time... but I admired them tremendously.

My family members endured each other's company growing up. Contempt for each other is sort of built into our genes. Its unfortunate, really. I love them all and I know they love me but we don't share much in common. C'est la vie.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

moi mamaw

My grandmother is 87 years old today. She's a tough bird, as described in the link embedded in the title to this post. Her father, who I never met, is described as being a lot like her - very ornery as he crept into his 80's. My Dad said he would bitch and complain all the time but was always productive. He would sit on the back porch and snap peas and kill flies with a fly swatter (He called it a fly flapper!) After he finished snapping peas he would collect all the flies and feed them to the chickens!

My grandmother is so ornery because she spends her days sitting under flurescent lights with a
drop ceiling and a TV set. She uses a walker to get to her meals and she plays bingo several days a week. She wins a lot and always gives the money back!

I called her today to wish her Happy Birthday. She's a little deaf but we had a great conversation anyway. She's always inspired me to be a better gardener (I am a lazy gardener) but I must admit I love it. She would be less ornery and feel better if she could garden... if she could put her hands in the dirt. She told my dad she felt closest to God when her hands were in the soil. I love that about her.

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