Monday, July 02, 2007

got a stunning day today, unusual for this time of year, which is usually steamy, sticky, unpleasant. today was warm, dry & clear, and we went immediately to the lake & spent the morning there. i'd spent the night before, 8 pm-4am, picking up some nice young taiwanese kids from the airport in st louis, driving them home and checking them in to a dorm near the siuc campus. but, living with a 2-yr-old being what it is, i was up by seven in the morning anyway, and a trip to the lake seemed like a good idea. the boys got a lot of swimming in and are now sleeping like logs. i however am wide awake still.

security at the airport checked the siu van, with its tinted windows, and that's partly because of what happened in scotland, where i'm so happy my friend peggy was not involved. at the time i was a little miffed. a better moment, really, was when fifteen taiwanese kids, a chaperone, a bart driver and two cesl teachers rolled into the pinckneyville motomart at one-thirty in the morning, and several people were around and awake to witness it. one of the students took a picture of the gas pump with his cell phone- i guess it looked unusual to him. i'd guess the whole world does- when you're in that situation. i kind of experienced the usual through the eyes of the first-time visitor.

meanwhile, another term starts, and starts fast, before another firecracker goes off. i judge neighborhoods by the degree to which one has to keep little ones indoors when the celebrations start- i've been hit before, want to get through another one, want my kids to live to see them all. i love my country, but i'm getting sick of the explosions, the boys dying, the pointless and endless violence. last year, i picked up a small flag, on the highway, where i was out walking & didn't appreciate the small gravel being ground into it by suv-tires; this year, i'm staying home, we'll have some folks over, stay away from the noise, at least part of the time. they want us to work- have a picnic for all the visitors, but hey, it's a national holiday, and, besides, i feel like i'm on the front lines, on the international frontier of perceptions and culture clashes, every time i grade a paper, every time i reach out, try to make sense of something, every day and every weekend too. two more full- loaded to the brim- writing classes, papers coming out the wazoo, and people who are basically not up to the task, but that's another story. missouri's senator kit bond says, perseverance is a good trait, as abraham lincoln showed, and we should do the same in iraq. but i say, perseverance is also what the south did, and it didn't do them much good, just killed a whole bunch more boys, and that was partly because slavery wasn't a good idea, any more than illegal occupation, or filling halliburton's pockets, or all that other stuff that gets passed off as 'freedom fighting'...i'm all for freedom, freedom from slavery, from wanton violence, from pointless war rhetoric. and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. and that means, i'm proud of this country, still love it, don't like seeing it hijacked, abused & run into the ground, don't appreciate it one bit. tired of the oil barons, imams, godsonoursiders, profiteers, people so twisted, they don't mind killing, somehow they decided it was worth it- when it wasn't.

on most small country roads, crossing the river or going into missouri from one side or the other, is a sign that says 'fireworks', an ancient word meaning, welcome to missouri. but, as woody guthrie would say, the other side of the sign doesn't say anything- and that side was made for you and me. thirty miles beyond the moto-mart, we rolled into our town, a little more welcoming, a little more relaxed- even at two thirty in the morning. when the cool air comes through, it pulls the fog right out of the earth, and it sits low in the night, the flashing traffic lights reflect off of it. a couple of vans full of new visitors here is not especially new- it's part of the fabric of life, the job of the midnight dorm-ra's...the vans, old friends, returned to wait, i guess, for another run. welcome home- i say this to myself- and to the visitors, i say, welcome, i wish you a good visit, and, by getting to know folks from various corners of the world, slowly work toward a better place. one where a person can be proud, without blowing something up.

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