Saturday, March 01, 2008

Your Heart is the Ticket for the All Night Train

Well it sure was good to hear the Commander in Chief the other day reassure the nation that we aren’t headed for a recession. I know I felt a whole lot better, didn’t you?

I didn’t think so.

What I cannot comprehend is just how it’s possible for the leader of the free world to actually believe that. What color is the sky in his world? A lovely place it must be. And where are the people who are supposed to keep him from looking stupid, or at the very least, help him to hang on to a small shred of credibility? Shit, if I did my job like that, we’d be out of business.

In my world, which I like to refer to as, the real world, things a lot different. People are losing jobs, and by golly, their houses at an alarming rate. It’s possible Dubya doesn’t know anyone who lives in Cleveland where the foreclosure rate is among the highest in the nation. Maybe he can’t spell “foreclosure”, or pronounce it. Same with, “recession”, or, “economy”, or even “Euro.” Thems some big words.

A lot of people are also killing each other. Today I turned on the news, for about three minutes. After the story of a kid who shot and killed a well-loved, effective, dedicated Cleveland cop, a cop who looked like him, a cop with two good kids and a wife who works as a nurse, I just kind of gave up. And this week was an improvement. I only heard about one school shooting, down from a couple a week the last few months.

Then there are people who killing their kids, themselves, their spouses, their parents.

The world is wild at heart and spinnin’ on top.

Today I woke up and diligently set about to some basic financial housekeeping. After tallying up expenses and obligations for the next two weeks, I’m really bumping right along the bottom. It’s definitely uncomfortable. A cash basis is great, except that, you can run out. But it’s cool, I dropped my taxes off and about three bags of clothing for Goodwill. I’m extremely fortunate that I have stuff I can give away.

On my way to my CPA I passed his office (we had yet another fresh blanket of snow and everything looked the same) and had to go a ways before turning around. My accountant lives and works in one of our area’s more well-off communities; his address is on a lovely road populated with nice new homes, a beautiful new elementary school, and well-kept old Western reserve homes. As I drove along, I crossed a bridge, and suddenly I was in quite different territory. That fast.

As I crept out into the road to make my way to a good turn around spot, it was as if I had crossed the tracks more than literally. The sudden lack was evident everywhere. How could it be? I kept driving sort of in disbelief that just a mile behind me were neighborhoods that are picture of robust financial health. I turned around in the driveway of a broken down trailer park not two miles from the road I had been on.

It was just strange. And suddenly I didn’t feel I was in such bad shape anymore.

The world is wild at heart, and spinnin’ on top. And our President is perfectly comfortable saying things like the fact that he hadn’t heard gasoline could top $4 a gallon:

"That's interesting. I hadn't heard that. ... I know it's high now."

This afternoon I thought about my kids and how much we have going on right now, and how they need adults to set the example. Sometimes I feel badly that we talk about the economy – the other night my son and I tried to explain what “the economy” was to my daughter, and I think we got mixed results at best. But they understand that money is tight, not just for us, but that things are pretty tough for Americans right now and the prospects for any sort of “robust growth” is a pretty imaginative endeavor. I think it’s important that they understand that big banks made some bad loans and now we’re all paying for it, including their schools (Ohio is one of the states that uses property values as the basis for school funding. BRILLIANT.)

But mostly I just hold them close, try to steer them in the right direction, and hope they pay attention in school. We try to have fun, and I try not to worry about the Not Recession and what it might mean for my half of the family. I apologize that I have to work and that I don’t have as much time off as I wish I could, but that the people in my company stick together and do good work. They don’t know that the couple I work for hadn’t paid themselves a few times so the rest of us could eat and pay our bills.

So thanks, Mr. President, for your rosy perspective, but if it’s all the same to you I’ll just keep working and give that little “relief package” of yours to a worthy organization or two to actually help somebody. (And here’s a secret – be sure to report that stimulus check as income on your 2008 returns, everybody.)

And I’ll try to create for my children some sense of normalcy, some belief that not all the grownups in charge are complete crackers or as dumb as a bag of hammers.

The other night I stood for a minute or two and watched my daughter sleep, and this tune came to mind. I love this song by New Grass Revival, whom I can’t seem to get enough of lately. All Night Train is an ode to childhood if ever there was one. It reminds me of the way, when I’m with my siblings, that we look back on that life we had out the country and wonder how we ever survived coming into the real world. When I watch my daughter sleep, I think, this is what being a kid really is, the surrender to dreams and play and trust, not this bullshit we’re giving our overscheduled, over-spanked, under-loved, uber-videogame-proficient shorter versions of ourselves.

Tonight, I really hope you’ll listen to this song. You need to take yourself a ride on the All Night Train, try to go back and capture those times when you felt safe, sure, loved. Then, whether you have kids or not, pass that feeling on. Please.


All Night Train
New Grass Revival (from the 1977 release, The Storm Is Over)
I remember the Pittsburgh snow
White as a hospital coat
Taxi tires leave wrinkles in the street
All the way down to the station
And I believe in Superman, and I’m just eight years old
And grownups never make mistakes
And the big trains always go

Somewhere there’s an All Night Train
That we went riding on
In the safety of our childhood
The innocence of our song
The trouble with the All Night Train
That we went riding on
You can ride to Indiana
But you can’t ride for long

I remember the sound of the wheels
Scratch of the carpeted seat
The whistle blows in the early morning
Shadows leap at the windows
And I’m not afraid of the dark and I’m just eight years old
And nothing breaks that can’t be fixed
And the grownups always know

Somewhere there’s an All Night Train
That we went riding on
In the safety of our childhood
The innocence of our song
The trouble with the All Night Train
That we went riding on
You can ride to Indiana
But you can’t ride for long

Now I’m a grownup adult
With all that I lost track of
Sittin’ in the sun on the back porch, dreamin’
I was so naïve
Sign said tomorrow, but sometimes even now
I wish I was on the All Night Train
I’d catch it, but I don’t know how

Somewhere there’s an All Night Train
That we went riding on
In the safety of our childhood
The innocence of our song
The trouble with the All Night Train
That we went riding on
You can ride to Indiana
But you can’t ride for long

1 Comments:

At March 01, 2008 11:39 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

It's hard to imagine how such a cold-hearted idiot managed to be president for 8 years. Usually I don't listen to him or watch him but this time he was on NPR and I left it on for awhile. Then saw some footage of it later on Olbermann and Daily Show. Counting the days... we do need change, so I hope we don't get McCain.

 

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