when we die, do we become limbs? just faceless, legged remnants of a life lived?
i can't look at these ap and reuters photos of devastation in asia without thinking about that. not since 9/11 have i seen photos that so accurately capture the most visceral human emotion, grief.
the photos are like a morbid peep show into something i would never see here in a commercialized world and 9/11 is probably the closest america will come to it.
photographers freeze-frame mourners' faces, contorted into wrinkled, shut eyes and white teeth bared in now still, silent howls of despair.
two men carry a body out of the rubble of a home. the older man lets a cigarette hang loosely from the corner of his mouth. judging by their blank expressions, one would think that they were bored rather than shell-shocked.
and the carnage. even looking at the pictures, i cannot fathom what it must look like, thousands of bodies piled upon one another, faces turned blue and gray and bloated. what does that look like? what does the air taste like to the woman in this photograph who has wrapped her headdress around her nose and mouth? i sit staring at swollen bodies whose lungs are drowned in water.
what made me lucky enough to live land-locked in america?
the look of devastation is the same everywhere, but this disaster has changed the way i regard it.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
when we die, do we become limbs? just faceless, legged remnants of a life lived?
Saturday, December 25, 2004
And that miracle would be that I got my car ALL the way up my driveway.
After Ohio got bitch-slapped by mother nature herself all day Wednesday and into Thursday afternoon with a little over a foot of snow, we kin who be unaccustomed to such likened weatherins have been done shovelin ourselves outta it for damn near three days.
Granted, a foot or more (or even less) of snow is substantial. Especially when most of it hits an area in say, a twelve hour period. But for Ohioans, who are used to only about three or four inches at MOST at a TIME, the preparation is not there and thus, we suffer all the way into the weekend.
I worked Wednesday from 9 am til 6 pm. My way there was a near white-out on the highway, where I crawled at about 25 miles per hour or less the entire way. I grimaced every time I looked out the storefront window during my day, dreading that some maniac mother in her SUV would come flying around my car and slam the parked QTPUH2T in the rear. Fortunately, no lunatics destroyed anything and I was able to dethaw my car in about a half hour and leave for my way home. The three to four lane I-71 (home and highway of many an eastern traveler who journeys between Florida and the northeast) had become a one or two lane highway for most of its duration between work and my house. The snow was still falling heavily and aside from narrow, limited lanes and terrible vision, the lanes that had been more or less carved out of the snow were lined by ice that grabbed as I drove and threatened to pull me into the ditch.
I got home and faced the beast that is my driveway. The Family driveway is an uphill battle, lengthened at about, oh, a good 100 yards from street to house. As I attempted to get up the drive, I got no further than three feet up and away from the street and decided I'd park elsewhere for the night. I chose Michael's Pest Control down the street and prayed to the extermination gods above that Michael would not tow my car in the morning.
In fact, he shoveled my car out of the snow for me. Thanks, Mike and your pesty friends.
Thursday, I got my car up our drive by about fifteen feet and left QTPUH2T there for the day.
Today I jumped in the car with an hour to spare before work.
"Meh... if it usually takes me fifteen to twenty minutes to get to work, it'll take me about a half hour to forty minutes today with Christmas shoppers. That'll leave me with a little time to run into Best Buy, grab a few last minute things and then go to work."
Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
But no. Instead, it would take me over an hour and a half to get to work. AN HOUR AND A HALF.
Most of the highway had become a tundra, barren ice and packed snow with still only two-lanes of moving traffic where other cars had carved lanes out of the snow (with no particular care to where the lines HAD been painted). Like a battle between nature and machinery, carnage of wrecked cars rusted and weathered in the shoulders and in snow-banks. Scared for mine and my car's future, I gripped the wheel and fought the grip of the ice and snow as the willy-nilly lanes ebbed and flowed from their nonsensical directions.
I sat in stopped traffic to exit I-71 for over forty five minutes and also spent twenty minutes in the parking lot, fighting for a space and getting stuck in a line of cars where there was no thru-way. (We all had to go in reverse one by one in order to get out of our rubix cube jam.)
I clocked in a half hour late, at 1:30, worked only until 6:30 and still got a half hour break. Rock on, Christmas Eve.
I love working Christmas Eve. It's so hectic, and, at least at Old Navy, I thrive on chaos. The busyness lasted for about two and a half hours before our traffic slowed to just about nothing. Unfortunately, I encountered no unusual customers or extremely angry customers this year as I have in years past.
Customers of note on Christmas Eve:
1. Creepy guy 12/24/02 8:30 am:
Bought only socks and underwear.
Said he "liked my hat" (didn't wear Santa hat after that year to work), worked some lame come-ons in, then cut to the chase asking:
"You know, my friend was supposed to come with me tonight to Florida for Christmas but he can't make it. ((slides plane ticket across counter)) You wanna come instead?"
Uh...Well, uh... That's nice of you, but I think my family is expecting me for dinner.
"Are you sure, baby? I can come back for you later. What time you off work?"
That's really okay. I'm busy.
2. The If-You've-Worked-Retail-You-Know-Which-L
Yeah, that's right. The bitch who not only doesn't have a single penny on her, but has emptied the entire store in her shopping cart and now expects you to take her business check. PERSONAL CHECKS ONLY, PLEASE. After yelling at me, throwing merchandise in my face, and asking for a manager, she requested use of our phone, talked to her husband for ten minutes and at 6:20 pm (we closed at 6 pm), decided she didn't want to buy anything and before leaving yelled, "DON'T YOU GUYS KNOW PEOPLE WANT TO SHOP ON CHRISTMAS EVE? WHY DON'T YOU STAY OPEN LATER??!"
3. The Mom with Eight Kids early afternoon 12/24/any-year
I'm pretty sure this is the same mom every year. She just shows up and wreaks havoc on the store. The same kids. The same hijinks... tearing down posters, throwing ornaments, tossing recently-folded shirts off of tables, wearing the dog-reindeer-ears... And the mom, comatose, deaf, dumb and glassy-eyed.
That's one-hundred eighty-one dollars and thirty-two cents, ma'am.... Ma'am?............. Ma'am?!
Don't bother. She's gone, her kids have taken control of the front half of the cash-wrap and her husband is probably at home, piss-ass drunk and watching football. Let her stay in that silent, safe place that only Old Navy can provide.
Other customers are generally just happy dads who don't give a rat's ass how last-minute their shopping is and give you smiles of encouragement and ask how late you have to work. Others are moms with daughters who are aware of how late they are shopping and just look bug-eyed with the fright and thrill of it. These guys I don't mind at all. But if it weren't for those crazy Christmas Eve customers, could I ever have the claim to fame of having been offered a trip to Florida from Creepy McCreepersons?
Back to the miracle that occured this Christmas Eve...
Once I braved The Tundra--I-71 North, I returned back into safe Lebanon, Ohio, where LaRosa's Pizzeria was open, and in small suburban homes, upper middle classers huddled around their Christmas trees to open Old Navy fleeces from Gramma.
Piddling my way up Cincinnati Avenue, I decided that this bitch of a driveway was not going to get me tonight and so I shifted it up into second gear as I turned and gunned it all the way up, my car shuddered and spitted over the ice and lurched to a halt where the snow heightened into a bank that no shovel nor plow could sunder.
As reward for my excellent driving, a (practically) normal family Christmas Eve was had in the Family household. Complete with a nice dining-room-worthy meal, half-Christmas present unwrapping and PJP2, formerly known as the Pope, giving his Midnight Mass. (The true family tradition, watching Midnight Mass on TV.)
And although there would be no late-night holiday light driving due to the road conditions, the Christmas spirit glowed warm in the Family household that night while they were all nestled in bed with plans of really late sleeping-in danced in their heads.