When we get down to the shrink-wrap on my grave
You know the nitty-gritty never looked so safe
Yesterday, I happened to be in the back yard for a few hours, because James was coming over to scoot the Coach, and James and I are friends; we talk about our children, our frustrations with how the world works (like me he is a natural systems engineer and sees weak links everywhere he looks) and we talk about about plants and trees and the ways of the world. James and I are and are not alike; he is a man, this matters. Neither of us are particularly sentimental but we love our small families and we can be relied on if things get tough. He doesn’t laugh at me when I know that the middle mesquite likes red things, he knows it too.
Anyway. I was back there for hours. And I saw Orangelina come trundling out of her hollow brick at the crack of ten, blinking in the light, slow and still cold. Over a two hour span, as the day warmed, she woke up, became animate, and by the time we were done back there she was on high alert, frisking around, eating ants, and I thought again that she and I are so alike. There is a point at which we are fully alive, and everything else is pale in comparison.
Yesterday, I wasted some time being disgusted about that fool at West Point who filmed female cadets in the bathroom and showers, and today I waste more time writing about him.
But I can’t get past something someone said to me, about how he is sick, and his illness is voyeurism, and that he needs treatment. This makes me tired from the ground up. There is nothing wrong with having a freak, and voyeurism is totally normal. His problem isn’t that he wants to watch cadets in the shower (this is quite ordinary) but that his very nature is dangerous and unreliable; even when presented with safe options for his freak, he chose to abuse others and disrespect his uniform and rank to get off.
The Internet is made of cats, and porn, and whatever a person’s freak is, there are metric tons of images and film available to satisfy it. Cadets in the shower? Can do! Girls using the bathroom? There must be a million trillion Free Pee-Cams for you. And if a person prefers to get their freak on in person, even better, there are people who share that freak and are of legal age and willing to play. They can’t wait to pee on you or your webcam.
Stupid fucks like Mr. West Point are in my mind, unfixable. He is an abuser and his judgment is unsound; I would never trust him, in any circumstance, and I would never allow him on my team, no matter how sorry he is, how many hours of community service and well-intentioned therapy he puts in. I can’t think of any place in society that would be appropriate for someone like him or any job or weapon I would trust him with. I’m finished with him.
I don’t have any freaks, which I find as puzzling as you might. I have preferences; I would never take a short paunchy gun-lovin Republican for a lover. It can be a real time-saver to decide that you aren’t going to waste time on shit that doesn’t do it for you.
One of my friends romanticizes the concept of intellectual greatness, and he believes that the true sign of possessing it is the ability to integrate all points of view, and synthesize them into some wise, informed stance. It’s like thinking that in every stream lies a diamond, or that a micron of gold dust may be found in every ounce of water. This is demonstrably not the case, but it’s a beautiful idea. I just look away, when I can, because I have a soft spot for the heroic personality. I suffer from it as well, as is known.
I admit that there are some topics I’m not going to discuss. I refuse to waste even seconds of my life listening to anyone explain why whites are a superior race, or that fracking or mountaintop removal is good business, or that it’s OK to get drunk and beat your kids, or how if everyone had a gun then no one would ever be shot with a gun, or that sociopaths just need someone to understand them, or that the Moon landing was a hoax, or that grassy golf courses in the desert are A-OK. I don’t feel that more debate will generate a new point of view for me; I get no new ideas listening to any of it.
Sometimes I’m surprised that I have even a single friend, but like every freak, happily I have a community, and we love each other, and we stand by each other, and we know that things might be hopelessly fucked, but still we march on, relying on animals, who are almost never sociopaths, and really never lie, and we find each other, and we write and we paint and we garden and we take pictures and we watch, watch, and watch, and we do what we can and get up early and stay up late, and we try, and mostly fail, and we move through life going from spark to sparkle, and we find like-minded people in every single place we go.
Anyway, it’s so much simpler to go away from people you don’t like, and to get unreliable people off of your team. Me, I dislike blowhards; I prefer my scoundrels to be educated, engaging and well-spoken; give me Edward Teller over Rick Santorum any day.
Summer is in full swing now, and the Tucson sky is littered with glittery planets. Astronauts are thick on the ground. Everyone I know, no matter where they are, seems to be having breakfast or cocktails with one. I’ll do the same this weekend; Spacefest is happening, back in Tucson for the fifth year. I have many beloved friends in town; Carter Emmart and Carolyn Porco, for two, and my friend and role model Bill Hartmann is signing books and has paintings hanging in the art show. I’m looking forward to seeing them.
Tomorrow night, as it happens, I’m going to see a talk from someone I don’t agree with and think is batshit crazy: Rick Tumlinson, madman, human supremacist, who thinks that dinosaurs didn’t do jack shit, that our species is the crown of creation and that we can and should infiltrate, mine, and pollute as much space with as much junk as we can possibly shoot, soar, and pilot. He may be crazy, but he isn’t stupid. Of course I am going to go listen to his nutty talk. After all, I oppose almost everything he wants to do. I’d better get current on his progress.
Maybe while I drive over there I’ll pop in a Bob Dylan or Van Morrison tape, and they will sing songs that will no doubt include lyrics I don’t agree with about a jealous God and/or deferring to my husband. Or maybe I’ll groove on some Beck, for some Scientology-flavored paranoia. Or swoon to some Ferry, a man who thinks wind farms are a blot on the landscape.
It’s confusing, but only a little bit.