I just got off the phone with Mom. So many people know her, that to save myself too many words neither of us have the attention span to consume at the moment, I’ll leave out the backstory.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately; too much social media, and not enough televised news. This vast expansion out into the universe and back again, dotted like billions of twinkling Christmas lights all across the planet.
It is kind of crazy when you think about it: Life out here at Space Force. The entire magnitude and scope of things.
There is no way I can sit here and write in-depth about laws and politics without it sounding like a 5th grade Social Studies report. Honestly, I wasn’t the most attentive student, but back then they didn’t diagnose for ADHD. My only option was to rock it meds free and day dream. Stories kept me alive. Oftentimes, instead of taking notes, I would fill my notebooks with short fiction stories. English was the only class I excelled in, with the exception of Spanish because my friend and I cheated off of each other. I was a classic “C” average student who never studied for the ACT, and at one point—I’m fairly certain it was the Social Studies section (or was it called History by then)—I got so bored that I filled in designs in the shape of small Christmas trees.
My entire childhood (and a good portion of my adulthood…and actually even now), was pretty much spent looking for some kind of escape. It’s not surprising that after high school, I skipped college to travel out to Utah and then to live for a while in California. “I’m never coming back!” I had said. I moved back to my parents’ house a year later and started college.
My parents’ house was chaotic. Mom retells the story that Dad came home one day and told her to go pick out a house. She was working at the time (there was never a time she wasn’t working), teaching ballet to children and being a slave to herself, and so she simply walked in the front door with the realtor, and said, “Great! I’ll take it.” Mom still lives in that house, and Jim moved in recently to help her out. She complains about it all the time, but she doesn’t realize how much she needs him. For example, he recently pulled up the original carpet that was there when my parents purchased the house in 1978. Despite her opposition, the bare subfloors are less likely to become possessed by some type of life force that will suffocate her in her sleep.
Mom was pregnant with me at the time they bought the house, a ranch-style up Bowling Green. She already had Jim and Ann to take care of, as well as the responsibility of running her own business. At one time to make ends meet, she sold “Christmas Around the World,” which was basically Avon, but with Christmas decorations, gifts, and wrapping paper.
I remember Jim was old enough to drive at the time, and sometimes he would be responsible for driving Mom to her parties out in the boonies. After dropping her off in the middle of some random dirt driveway, he would drive down narrow country roads that were pitch black, telling me scary stories. Jim was, and still is incredibly imaginative. He’s made a name for himself in the screen print world, and runs his own shop out of a building in the backyard where a ramshackle little red shed used to sit.
There was one particularly frightening character Jim made up, who he said lived out back in that shed. His name was Farmer Joe, and he dressed in overalls and carried an axe. When it was dark outside and the shed, which was off in the corner next to the chainlink fence, was lit by the soft glow of the back porch light, I would look out, frightened, trying to see if I could get a glimpse of Farmer Joe. I never did, but I’m fairly certain Jim is partly to blame for my adult anxieties, which is sort of a right of passage for big brothers.
Our current political climate has me in a total up and down state of peace and then terror. For a while I will calm myself down, begin to see the roses and think, ‘Ah, it’ll all be okay.’
But then I read something new and connect that story to other stories, and before I know it, I’m standing in the middle of a battlefield in World War III. On one side is Mr. T and Mike Huckabee, including his army of all the people I know in Pollyanna who voted for him. At the forefront is my friend, we’ll call her Diane, who I suspected had jacked-up, archaic political views even before the election; behind her, all of my Facebook friends in Pollyanna who are “on the other side now.”
On the opposite side of the battlefield, wearing crocheted pink cat ear beanies and holding up signs screaming justice, are my other friends, and they are fierce and loud and fucking amazing. However, they aren’t armed. I just hope their righteous awesomeness is enough to win in local elections.
If I had to pick a side, I would be unarmed and simply screaming, but I’m not sure how loud my roar could be. I imagine I would feel rather silly, and so, my voice would crackle and make me feel even more out of place. At my core, I’m not made of much more than teddy bears and butterflies, a victim of my own naiveté.
Mom told me not to write anymore about Pollyanna. She thinks I’ll get killed, and I may. But on the grounds of what one might find offensive and thought-provoking in a 5th grade report. So, I won’t go that route and embarrass myself. I’m simply a writer of stories.
Still…I have this thought that, what if deep, deep, deep down in the pit of my stupidity, is the real smart presumption that we might all die someday very soon. I just hope I’m the first to go, before the suffering gets too gruesome. Before the Catholics turn into cannibals.
In the meantime, I’ll just sit here at my dinner table in Pollyanna constructing tin foil hats, including one for the kitten.
C.Brownlee, Writer, Space Force, 2018