Sunday, November 22, 2009

it came around to warm again, and that's not unusual for this area; often what we might have called "indian summer," politically incorrectly, in my childhood, would have been done before Halloween, but here it stretches on, past veteran's day, through thanksgiving, sometimes well into december and past christmas. people keep thinking it will get cold any day though, so they get those christmas lights up as soon as they can, feeling like they might have to put them up in an ice storm if they wait too long. so here it is the saturday before thanksgiving, and everyone, the neighbors, our friends, and the city, everyone has the lights up.

it raises the stress level considerably for those who have always felt that society is pressuring them to conform to christian traditions; in fact, the lights might as well spell the words "surrender" or "conform" since that's the way people see them. we christians, the light-bearers, tend to feel it's all just pretty, and we're just expressing our belief, our faith, or maybe our love of colored lights. but, knowing that in effect it's like pressing those stress stimuli buzzers that make the rats go bonkers in our psychology book, has made me want to put it off as long as possible, if only to give a little rest to a few people, for a little while. the silence, the darkness, the shadow of the bushes and trees, that's my preferred decoration.

we have, however, started the first of two vacations: this one a week, or eleven days to be more specific; the next one the big potato, more like a month. true, they both include the stress of the season, in our case traditionally, lots of time, but bad weather, and not whole lot of extra money when it's all over. the weather, as i've said, is not that objectionable; today, four boys including myself went out without coats; one put a baku-gan on the roof; I got it off the roof, all without jackets, or in my case, with sandals on. we laid in the grass; we took in the sun; when we left the car windows up, it got hot.

so, vacation, nice weather, sun, free time, you'd think everyone would be very mellow, but it's not working out that way. there's a lot of stress, some of it based on figuring out what to do with one's lives; some of it due simply to doing what one already has to do in life. and, some of it is the stress naturally building up when young children are around needing a lot of attention. also, cats that are constantly on the make, and puppies that chew up everything, literally everything, they get close to.

this is not to mention a city that is what, twelve million overbudget, forced to consider either laying off workers, or privatizing the water service; and a state that hasn't met its budgetary requirements for months; it's got a third the people as bankrupt new york, but well over three times the debt, and no relief in sight; the money's not there, and they don't know how to make it come out of nowhere.

the wailing train passes through town regularly, but it goes through places that are by and large just like us- new orleans, devastated by katrina; or chicago, origin of most graffiti in these parts. when i slow down enough, forget my work a little, i actually hear the train, but, it brings me mixed feelings. first, i feel called by it; it lifts me out of here, and gives me the feeling, at least, of carrying me over the plains to another place, better or worse. but it also leaves me behind, and gives the feeling that it is flying through the night, inaccessible, while I stay behind, only hearing the whistle, but unable to respond, really. the weather, at least, is warm, the stars out; you can see the unlit part of the moon, while the hedgerows, the trees, fade into wintertime browns, and the leaves turn into another layer of soil. all this, one could see, if one were out on a flatcar, but as for me, i'll probably just dream it, as i'll fall asleep just as another whistle whines its way up the valley. I tend to think of this as a peaceful dream, one without lights beyond the warning lights of the train crossings themselves, one with the vast expanse of prairie in every direction, but in fact, it's not; it's one of vague apprehension of the future, and unsure landing, in an unsure place, in a terrible economy. it would be one thing, if one could just go somewhere and get work. but we're going back to the days when they look at those people on trains and say, we don't need more of them around. you can jump on those things if you want, but don't jump off, at least, not here.

i dream this, and i wake up a little less rested.


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