Who needs high school reunions?

“You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”

 — Howard Zinn

I’ve been websurfing through profiles of people I went to high school with. Though I have changed a lot, people that I thought were cool in high school are still the type of people I want to be friends with. People that were “enh” are still “enh.” Most of the latter now have nice-paying careers working for the man. Or doing something incredibly boring that one would only do to have money. While I’m reaching a place in my life where that sort of thing is more important to me (gee, would be nice to fill some of these cavities before I start to resemble the woman who sleeps at the busstop across from the Amtrak) I still find it unimpressive. I wouldn’t trade places to have that kind of job.

I also noticed that people who have TV, babies or God are only interested in TV, babies and God.

Along the same lines, very few people have any interest in the turmoil that is going on in the world. I’m sure that many are aware and just don’t post about it. This makes me want to be more conscious about posting politics.

Last night I got a phone call from a woman I used to know when I was a teen and she was a child. We’re five years apart. She says that she looks up to me because I went to college and I was involved in politics. She doesn’t know a lot about politics (IE, she didn’t know what fascism is) but she knows enough to be peeved. She said she was confused and I could tell that she was frustrated. I feel like there are many people that would make an impact if only they knew how/what/where to break into it.

This inspires in me a lot of mixed feelings. People are really angered about the paths this administration is taking, even people that live in the suburbs and don’t expose themselves to any kind of news media, let alone non-corporate media. There was a woman on the Diane Rheam Weekend Round-up who was near tears because the president lied about the CIA leak. She said it was getting harder and harder to call this country a democracy. The pundits replied that at least there is transparancy and the people will make change at the ballot box. But I’m with H. D. Thoreau on this one:

“Must we resign our conscious to the legislator? Why has every man a conscious then? We should be men first, and subjects second.”

And that gets right to the heart of it. We know how to vote, but once that’s failed we know not where else to turn. I would go so far as to say that our culture discourages further action.

Ask yourself, what have you done for your country today? And by that I mean, what have you done for the world today? And by that I mean, what have you done for your city today? How are the actions that you take on a daily basis affecting the world at large? Would you even begin to know how to affect the world? Yet you are affecting the world. By choosing not to act, that is impacting history. There are no sidelines, everyone is in the game. I may drop the ball from time to time, but at least I’m out there running.

Contemplate This While I’m Breathing Your Exhaust

Now and then as I’m cycling along the streets of Atlanta, a motorist will honk at me. I can see only two reasons for this:

1. I look so fetching in that styrofoam helmet, you just couldn’t resist blaring your Danger! signal at my sexy abs. Thanks for sharing.

2 (and more likely). You don’t like that my slow-moving bicycle is taking up space on your precious asphalt.

There are a few reasons that I might be riding in the road, other than the sadistic pleasure of pissing you off.

Atlanta’s sidewalks are entirely unpredictable. They’re often cracked and broken, or have huge holes or strange things drilled into them. Those handy street signs you’re so fond of are often jutting out of the middle of the sidewalk. Same goes for those huge, lovely historic-looking streetlamps. I love trees, even sticking out of the middle of a sidewalk. But they sure aren’t fun to bicycle around.

Sometimes there are no sidewalks. Or the sidewalk has just ended or is about to end. Or they are preceded by an enormous curb that I am not skillful enough to jump. Its not quite as easy as jumping curbs in your LandRover. Nest time you angrily point to the sidewalk, check to see if, you know, THERE IS ACTUALLY A SIDEWALK.

Riding on the sidewalks is dangerous. I know that you don’t care. I have inconvenienced you. You have to pass me and add five seconds to your commute so you would laugh heartily to see my innards spread across the concrete. Just the same, I’m attached to my innards (pun intended). Cars pull out of driveways and look left-right-left onto the road before turning onto it. Motorists don’t look for fast moving objects coming on sidewalks. They often don’t look at sidewalks at all and just consider them part of the driveway. That’s okay, I want them to get a good look around before they turn. I’m considerate that way. But I do know that there are lots of driveways on most roads and that this is a great way to get hit by a car. How do I know this, you ask? Because I was hit by a car this way. I’m hoping you’ll see me in your massive Suburban Assault Vehicle.

Did I mention that cycling on sidewalks is illegal? Cyclists must follow the same rules of the law as cars. While you may drive on the sidewalk, most people think that’s a no-no. Would you risk getting a ticket to avoid inconveniencing me?

What is all this hostility about, anyway? Do you honk at slow-driving old ladies? How about schoolbuses, with their annoyingly frequent stops? I bet you get a kick out of blaring your horn at Postal trucks. They have no business on the road, slow as they are.

No, no, of course I’m not like those people; I’m a public menace. I took the easy way out, bicycling to get around. Sure, I could have invested all my surplus income in a car and bought a gym membership for exercise, like a normal person. But no. I insist on smelling the flowers and the smog and the pizza joints and your exhuast. I insist on using my body to power up hills. I insist on seeing my city as I move through it, instead of in a bubble. I insist on boycotting fuel because –no matter whether you’re politics are left or right — everyone know s we could afford to be less dependent on foreign fuel.

Really, I can’t imagine how these things are so offensive to you. I don’t mind if you pass me, I really don’t. If you really don’t want to see cyclists on the streets, lobby for more bicycle lanes. But if seeing me on the road gets you all riled up, maybe you’re a bit too tense. You could use a good bike ride.

Call Your Mom

I always say that you never hear more lies than at a funeral. “It was just her time,” or “she was ready,” or “I wish I knew her better.” It seems like the truth lives in the jags of silence. There was that kind of silence when he pushed her body into the crematorium oven and all I could think was, “He’ll never see her face again.”

I don’t do well with silence.

It takes everything for me to keep my lips sealed, to the point that when I am quiet people usually ask me what’s wrong. So funerals can be annoying for me.

Rewind to Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I were supposed to go ice skating. He gets a phone call saying that his mother has been transferred to the ICU. She had pneumonnia and blood clots in her leg. Turns out that’s two big red flags for cancer. The big C is one of those slow killers where everyone gets to mourn before you’re dead and you can say your goodbyes, get your affiars in order. But two days later she was dead.

On top of mourning, he’s getting calls from everyone. His ex that left him for his roommate–they both called. People that he hasn’t told yet. People he hasn’t spoken to in years. Its like a high school reunion. He also has to go through all her stuff, decide what to toss and what to keep.

I can’t imagine.

We’re all going to go through it. Unless you are an orphan or you die young — neither of which is a preferable fate — you will be there to see your mother die. Whether you’re standing there giving the doctor’s the OK not to continue resuscitation (like he did) or whether you haven’t spoken in years. One of the more morbid milestones of life.

So. The funeral. It was a Hindu funeral. The “temple” was in a place of worship at an Indian shopping mall. We all sat on the floor with our shoes off. The priest was wearing all white. He sang in Sanskrit and translated. He compared reincarnation to buying new clothes, which was a strange but fitting metaphor. Sean and I made a garland that was strung around a picture of his mother. At the end of the service all the guests went before her picture and said a prayer and placed a flower next to it.

So last night I found out that my mom was Baker-acted again. My grandmother called the police because she felt threatened by my mother. She just wanted them to talk to her, get her to be reasonable. I don’t think that law enforcement officers are really trained for mediation. My grandmother called them because she didn’t know where else to turn. The police beat my mom in the intake room. They injured her elbow, eye and shoulder (which she is soon to have surgery on). But when I called her she was only upset because she felt like she had let me down.

But she’s the only mom I’ll ever have and I love her. She has problems living in the world but she is a good mother. She always made me feel like I could do anything if I worked hard at it. She made me feel treasured. She raised me to be confident and never take crap from anyone. How many daughters can say that? Not enough, anyway.

Sean’s brother thinks that Christa was ready to die because her role as a wife and mother was done. Imagine that being what your whole life is about. Yet my mom is the same way.

So thanks mom. And thanks to Christa. I never got to tell you. Thanks for raising a boy to be the kind of man that changes my idea of what a man can be.