Monday, July 17, 2006

Rubies, etc.

1. The world’s a pretty scary place right now, if you haven’t been watching the news (and I hope you have). North Korea and Iran nuclear frontin’, Hezbollah and Israel firing missiles at each other, and so on. Sure, it isn’t likely to lead to World War III but when destructive weapons are hurtling through the air – however remote and distant – you think about life and the world differently, terrible possibilities bloom in your mind. Like what if someone accidently aims wrong and blows up a throughfare in the wrong country, and disaster spirals from there? When we were walking out of An Inconvenient Truth a few weeks ago – if you haven’t caught it yet, hurry up and do so before it vanishes, it’s the most gripping, sobering greenhouse-effect history lesson you’ll ever see by a former candidate for president of the United States – my dad said something about it being the moral responsibility of people now alive to provide a better world for those as-yet-unborn and the price of failure. And I automatically thought of Malia, who’ll be joining us out here in the next month or so, and realized that I haven’t done much personally to help divert our society from a fossil-fuel based system to one based on hydrogen, water, windmills, turbine power, or whatever. At the end of the movie the filmmakers offered viewers links to visit if we wanted to make a difference; I haven’t visited any of them, and I don’t know when I’ll find the time – there’s simply just too much else to do and focus on right now. Shouldn’t feel guilty about this, but I do. Back in the days when I was single and bored, I could have gone to any number of public protests and played at least a minor part in that world – one of my former philosophy professors was heavily into demonstrating for human rights and other causes and I was on her email forwarding list – but I never did; I just sat in my room and posted on message boards and listened to records and made zines and read Will Self books and missed my friends when I wasn’t writing newspaper stories that didn’t elevate anything besides my employers’ stock prices. Youth is wasted, they say with good reason, on the young.

2. Tonight is the second of five birth classes we’re taking at St. Joe’s Hospital, where we’re headed when Alecia’s water breaks. Each class is set up like a weekly college seminar, in the sense that it lasts for 150 minutes with an intermission. So far, I’ve learned a lot that I didn’t know, about back births, what amniotic fluid actually consists of, breathing exercises, what actually happens to the body during the various and sundry stages of pregnancy (organs shifted and compressed), what a umbilical cord and a placenta actually are, and more. The instructor is this tiny, kind lady who has clearly taught this course hundreds of times and while speaking smiles and doesn’t quite make eye contact with anyone when not focusing on slides shown on the sort of overhead projector the teachers used to use back when I was in middle school and high school – the setup, I think, could make for a fairly hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch.

3. When Doug and his girlfriend, Riss, came over for dinner the weekend before last, they gave me a CD-R titled Malia’s Summer Strum, which is sort of a reply/counterpoint to the Malia’s Amniotic Summer Daydream project I out to some folks. As the name would imply, it’s mostly a collection of strummed tunes by people like David Gray and John Lennon, relaxing and laidback. Once I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole thing a few times I’ll say more about it here.

4. “She’s more than worth her weight in rubies,” or words to that effect, was the theme for the 80th birthday party my paternal grandmother’s church threw for her the weekend before last. For an eight-decade old woman with a litany of health problems, Ruth Cummings is amazingly lucid – we should all hope to have it so together should we live that long. The event was – as every Victory Prayer Chapel event predictably is – a full-on Baptist service that gives way to a dinner, with lots of praising Jesus and testifying and bible readings; on this particular occasion my grandmother’s children (and parishoners) offered impassioned (sometimes funny) speeches about her and my late grandfather, the sort where you listen and are driven to soul-searching and realize how, ultimately, family and the strength family can provide are of incredible value. Most of my relatives turned up, including people I hadn’t seen in three or four or six years like my Aunt Joyce and her daughter, Jennifer, and others who aren’t immediate family and whom I didn’t quite remember. We won’t all be together again in the same room until someone passes away. It’s a cynical thing to say maybe, but it’s true, and I need to make a point to visit Lynhurst Street at least a few more times before we move to Pennsylvania – everyone’s excited about Malia and asked Alecia how she was doing.

It's funny - aspects of Baptist worship gave me a headache when I was a kid - the hollering and people hyperventilating into trashcans and falling out and everybody soul clapping to gospel songs performed by the church band and its choir, the Voices of Jesus - but now that I only encounter this every other year or so I find a strange comfort, it's like stepping back to a simpler
time and place where the future was infinite and still ahead, when the cacophony of religious expression was overwhelming but I knew it'd be over eventually and my mom or my dad would take me home and I'd pop a few headache pills and everything would be wonderful, again.