Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Before the Chip Gets You, Think Back

I close my eyes. I think back to when I was a little girl, wild with the love of being outdoors as much as possible. It is summer. I'm surrounded by an enormous homestead, sideyards and groves of trees and grass tennis courts separated by more trees, and more yards that are more like manicured fields, like the ones for polo or some other lawn sport. It was vast. It still is vast, to me, but I am remembering, as if I am a child, the gargantuan bed of peonies next to the house, and the barn across the driveway and down the hill; the barn was built into a hill that led into a smaller field that was bound on one side by County Road 5.

Now I am standing in the back yard, a huge swath of land by today's standards, broken up by an enormous rose garden on either side of a stone walkway. From there I can see past the barn and if I look very closely I can see a car winding down past our field along 5. If I am on the back porch, outside our kitchen, I can watch the car as it rolls up and over the hills and out of sight. At the bottom of the hill in the back, there is a bed of poppies, fiery and with heavy black pods mysterious to me with their milk and funny smell.

All along the fence that separates the tamed and untamed pieces of our property, but more copiously on the western end of the property, are black raspberry bushes. In July my mother would harvest buckets of these juicy dark purply orbs and turn them into jam, or more remarkable, a pie that would set the meanest heart to melt. If I think hard enough, I can smell it, and the bit of milk on top, and feel the warm sweet berry juice tangled with the pastry and the milk in my mouth.

I smell the barn. Hay, and motor oil, and old wood wagon wheels, and stalls where horses would have waited to work. I remember the windows, the not really stained glass windows in the top half of the barn, the creaking heavy double doors, the wasps, the smell of hot dry hay and old, old wood floors and dust and time.

I remember once I decided I would run away. So I packed my small Barbie suitcase, and bid goodbye, and got somewhere beyond the barn when I realized that beyond the barn was the road, and along the road were places I knew but that I might not properly remember, and I had no money once I got their for clothes or a place to stay. So I returned home. But I remember feeling kind of excited to think about going.

To sit here now and recall these smells and scenes and the texture of the hay and the barn door handle in my hand, and rolling down the little hill along one of the tennis yards, and watching the cars on the road in front of the house, it's almost unimaginable that I had that life. We were not wealthy. My parents simply were smart and loved old things and so we ended up in a house built by Quakers who were buried in the little cemetery that still sits only a few hundred yards from the barn. When my mother sold it after my father's death thirty years ago, I doubt she received a third of what I paid for my small, ridiculously underinsulated, three-bedroom condo on a plot situated in a development that would have fit inside the borders of my childhood home.
Last night after an unfairly long day, I opened an email that contained this:

Frightening and disturbing, but in the course of the evening I relegated my thinking about it to the rear and carried on with a little dinner, and a little reading.

The Golden Compass. A brilliant work by Phillip Pullman that of course everyone is talking about because it's been turned into a movie. But the book is absolutely brilliant. And it's absolutely disturbing. And as I read and my mind wandered into the mind of little Lyra, an adventurous girl always curious about the parts of the world ruled by men -- as I always was as a little girl, always mesmerized by the mysteries of the old church and old colleges and, a spot still dominated by men, the conductor's stand -- I was brought back to my own little world, and realized, as Lyra fell into the hands of a well-concealed conspiracy, so might we all like little children wander under the spell of the wrong sort of person. Suddenly we are at Its mercy, writhing in misery under Its inhumane weight.

I realize I haven't gone conspiratorial in a long while, but at the same time, I often find myself wondering or writing about what might cause otherwise ordinary looking, entirely unremarkable and even uninteresting people to be so intensely mean, so entirely filled with unnatural hubris as to imagine that they have absolutely no reason to account for anything. From the late Ken Lay and our current most embarrassing Leader of the Free World all the way down to the pointy-headed brutes in our daily lives, existence is peppered with what my sister has more or less termed "the morally bleak" with not a care in the world except for themselves.

Why live like that? Well, because you think you know something the rest of the world doesn't, and you think that makes you immune to the laws of human grace and dignity. Why save for college if it's all going to be in Ameros? Why teach children about saving money when as my own kids have heard, "'s all going to be on a little card anyway"? Why worry about what a silly little piece of paper says, like a court decree or the US Constitution, when eventually we'll all be implanted with a little microchip that will dictate our behavior? Eventually, if we get out of line, point out a flaw, point out an injustice -- The Enormous They will just flip off our chip and we'll be penniless, homeless, nameless, powerless. Meanwhile the perpetrators, not unlike those everyday brutes afloat on the wild wave of denial, wallow in impunity, and it gets harder and harder to teach children things like cooperation. Gratitude. Decency.


Sure it sounds a little 1984. I'm skeptical, but already unsuspecting parents are implanting their babies with chips because they succumbed to the fear implanted in them by their doctors, the media, the government. It's not all that crazy. We all do a lot of stupid shit because we're afraid of what happens if we don't, or what happens if we do something else instead. Does anyone really believe this War will ever end? Hasn't it ever occurred to anyone besides Al Gore that the war is just a cover up for the tonnage of steaming fecal filth the government is heaping on us?

So this is my year of Do Something Else Instead. What could happen? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, says I.

So my brazen "WHATever" to this unseen ugly force began with my eyes closed and by reliving everything I could about a sliver in time when I could inhale all the glorious green rush of my boundless East Ohio landscape. That world is untouchable to these New Order Monsters and it will feed my soul, my sight, my words, my love, and my music.

Like this tune, Lands End/Chasing Talon. Turn away from the Pied Pipers of Doom and catch the wave of this compelling and intoxicating live wire from Tim O and Casey and those other guys. Rolled up in one they're like your own armored bear.


At January 09, 2008 9:31 PM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Hear, hear, MandoMama! Great post!


At January 11, 2008 2:48 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Thanks for that link. I've heard some things about the chip and Real ID, and it's a nightmare. I'm hardly ever the optimist when it comes to these things. I think that system is coming and will be exactly as they say, and our only option to having it will be extreme poverty and death.

Almost makes me glad I'm getting up in years. grrrrr.

At January 11, 2008 10:17 PM, Anonymous leotaprof said...

Wish I could've played on your farm. How lovely! WashPA did not offer the grass tennis courts but we did have black raspberry bushes, just as did our fair college on the hill. The pies were worth the poison ivy!!

Maybe there's a thread to goodness that can be traced back to homemade black raspberry pies. Betcha they don't have those berries in Crawford, TX or Kennebunkport.

So let's escape into pies & summer days gone by & warm memories and hope that the microchippers find themselves facing a CyberRevolt that leaves all of us peaceloving pie-eaters alone.

Happy Day to you.

At January 12, 2008 9:07 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hello all y'all,
Thanks, Shameless!

Blueberry, I hear what you are saying. None of us want to have to see it happen, or have it happen to someone we love. But chances are we are at the edge of the sand while the Control Freaks and their sad little dupes are riding the wave. Oh well. Good thing I like water.

Dr.Leota, I think you may be right. Black raspberries are full of soul. I remember after my dad died and we moved out of that big house, and a couple days later, my mother thawed the very last black raspberry pie she'd made out there. My brother came over and we heated up the pie and savored every bite. I think it's what got us through the next year.

I remember those berries and that little cabin and making a huge-ass mess with those crusts. I think it correlates with having to really work for something you enjoy, which the particular people you refer to in Maine and Texas never have had to do, along with most of the folks who cause us any real trouble.

Who's ready for pie? I can't promise black raspberry but I do a mean cranberry apple.


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