Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Dating Scene

"1953 is stuck in my head.  I don't know why," Blue said.
"Huh," Said I.
"Why would 1953 be important?" Blue said with increasing urgency.
"No idea," I said without any urgency at all.
"Can't you find out?"
"Maybe."
"Look it up on the internet!!"  Blue yells.
"You do it."
"I'm doing my homework."
"Right."

Farmer's Market zinnias
Blue and Coyote are absolutely appalled that Huck and I grew up before the internet.  My first e-mail, the one I still use, I got in 1998 when I was 22, shortly after I'd learned to use Excite and Alta Vista.  I got this hot computer geek in the college library to give me a "search engine" tutorial.  Before that? Card catalogs, days of research with little return, phone calls and personal phone books, letters and stamps, birthday cards.  The kids were trying to comprehend our description of card catalogs and they couldn't wrap their minds around the clunky waste of time.  Sometimes I can't even believe I grew up without computers or the internet... it seems cruel and isolated and boring and lots of hard work, like sheering your own sheep, cleaning the wool, spinning the wool and knitting it to get wool sock vs. going to the store, or better yet, buying them online. And we tried to explain the social ramifications to them: it was the big-headed blowhards that always seemed to win the day with "facts" no one could check so who could question them? They seemed to think they were right you had to go along or spend three weeks of hard labor in the dark dank library to dig up any information to the contrary.  Now the information belongs to all of us memory-less schmucks with smaller voices and hunches, and all our minds can be freed to think things through rather than retain little facts for the unlikely moment we might need them.

Hollyhock
So I looked up 1953.  In about 1 second.  And Wikipedia was there, of course, with the complete works of 1953.  Turns out, it was a really nutty year.  Cra-azy Cold War ramping up, with an H-bomb here and an H-bomb there, here an H-bomb, there an H-bomb, everywhere an H-bomb.  And U.S. laws being signed by Eisenhower dictating that the U.S. MUST build it's nuclear arsenal.  And I suppose that made sense for the times they were in. There was the North Sea Flood killing 1800 dutch people, hence the gargantuan hydraulic sea walls they've since installed.  Waiting for Godot.  Queen Elizabeth II. James Bond. Kinsey Report on women. Playboy's first issue. First ascent of Mount Everest.  DNA structure. And I don't know if they knew, then, how many landmark firsts had occurred that year.  This paragraph represents a year's worth of demanding card catalog work I did not do.

My brother is a cabin artist west of the Cascades
Then there's the births, the 1953 babies.  Those I'd never heard of, who blazed and peaked and burnt out before my memory, were the athletes... also could be I don't give a shit about sports and that's why I don't know of them. The actors and actresses?  I've got some vague ideas about some of them.  Most musicians: no bells ringing up here.  But the rock stars? yes.  Van Halen, I know the name.  But they're all old now, done, just the contrails of big careers are left.  But the writers and the politicians, they are peaking during my time, their talents and "talents" respectively, took time to ripen and develop.  And as I faced my 38th birthday after this crappy ass year, staring down another hollow year of non-working brain, I thought: hey, there are talents and careers that ripen more slowly than others and it means nothing about the quality of work or quality of person.  And after this year of crapola, I am much more soothed about the state of my career at the moment.  I am much more relaxed anyway and confident that my life is my life, my path my path and where it leads, no one knows, not even me, but I'll get where I'm going at any rate.  But for now I really am rocking the mom role and I am at peace, and this idea of ripening talents was just icing on my state of ease.

Since the Wikipedia was already open,  I decide to peak in on October 14, the most important day in my life. It's a great day for Mughal and Thai kings to be born, and for French revolutions. And just as those facts were starting to inflate my noggin with fantasies of political domination, I started to think of how many countries there are, close to 200, each needing a leader, each experiencing some turn over either to voting or death or coup, and you have a shit-load of leaders the world has seen.  Given this perspective, October 14 is actually very low on dictators and kings.  And the one's it has weren't particularly ambitious, that I can tell, simply because none of their names ring a bell.  Given my typical non-professorial knowledge base of the history of world leaders, especially Mughal and Thai, and my brain injury, I realize that just because I don't know who they are doesn't mean they were nobodies in the geo-political arena, but I'm going to stick with that assumption anyway.
There's a Blue up there

Also, e.e. cummings and I share the birth date, and no one can deny his brilliant nature-loving individualism, and he was a Unitarian.  Aside from the McCarthy fan-dom and a couple of terrifyingly racist poems ... it's like we're soul twins.

I've looked long and hard for someone who has died on my birth date, exactly.  And I've found no one.  I suppose I wondered if I'd be them reincarnated. But since the onset of this search, I've thought that if there is some big soul-recycling mechanism in the sky, it would hopefully let you rest for a while between lives, get some of that gunky build-up of difficult feelings and experiences out of your system, a tune-up, before sending "you" back in to the fray. But I still wonder who died the day I was born, and I always scan the grave stones for October 14, 1975 and it's never been found. (You know by now that I'm fond of graveyard strolls, right?  My father brought me to graveyards instead of playgrounds and it's a hobby that stuck.)

Moon on Hwy 20
My very favorite thing about my birth date is a thing that never happened: THE DAY ITSELF.  YES! In 1582 the Gregorian Calendar was implemented and it didn't go smoothly. Is there anything MORE exciting that could possibly happen to a date? Non-existence is a BIG freaking DEAL among the days on the calendar. It is the single biggest thing that can happen to a day, which is that not one thing happened on that day, because it did not exist. Sadly, upon further research (which took seconds thanks to the internet) it apparently happened to 10 days in October in parts of Europe, the 14th being the last day lost, the invisible caboose.  Not so unique after-all, I guess. But still, that's less than 3% percent of dates have experienced non-existance, which does put October 14th in the 97 percentile of non-existance. Elite, if not utterly unique.

Hwy 20 is state owned, the pull-outs were federal and all closed, except to we rebels
Perhaps my favorite thing that DID happened on my birthday is in 222 AD " Pope Callixtus I is killed by a mob in Rome's Trastevere after a 5-year reign in which he had stabilized the Saturday fast three times per year, with no food, oil, or wine to be consumed on those days." -Wikipedia.  See what happens when you have a written language?  All of your crap is permanent.  Where normally attrition of those who lived through it would have erased the memory of such a mob killing long ago, you've got the written language to preserve it. The people spoke, via mob: don't mess with our wine, and history heard their cry and unwisely ignored it for the 1920's. What were the Svedes doing in 222?  No one knows since written language came to them with the Catholic church in the 900's.  We can guess, based on carvings, that it did involve killings, decapitated heads on sticks, and also a lot of oiling of extremely large handlebar mustaches.  But we'll never know why because they never wrote it down.

222 looks like a dull year, over-all, only five things of note.  Compare that 1953's 128 events as per wikipedia.  But that could be because there were so many more people doing and dying and arriving and discovering and being crowned in 1953 than in 222.  But we also are the uber-record keepers these days, so many records produced in one day it would take a lifetime to read them all.  1953 even has the advantage of 60 years of distillation, to see what turned out to be important and what didn't.  But with everything evermore recorded, every moment, will it ever get distilled in to the five most important things?  And with all of it being noted, what is important? To the world, to the future?

The selfie(s) at the summit
I have experienced that sensation of my life as flotsam on the sea of history, being tossed by political and economic waves so much larger than myself.  But it's just a back drop to personal illnesses, heart break, love, anger, friendship.  To each of us, it's all history.  In 222 millions fell in love, died of simple bacterial infections, were born into mud houses, their umbilical cords cut with sharpened sticks. And what is one mobbed pope in all of that?  Real HISTORY, or just another piece of flotsam that happened near someone holding one of the few pens of the day and knowing how to use it?  I like the records we keep today, the blogs and facebook posts and buzzfeeds mixed in with the CNN's and Al Jazeera's of the world, all of it for everyone to decide for themselves, not just some blowhard with a ridiculously good memory, but all of us get to decide what's history and what's for the dust bin of our own minds.  

For me, October 14, 1975 remains the most important day in history, facilitating all the other days of my history and of me reading history, and making way for the second most important day in my history, the day it ends, some day in the future, hopefully far far in to the future and no one knows when.

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