Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Is it just Wednesday?

It's been feeling like Friday all week long! The problem with putting in 12 hour days at work, over and over, is that there is no time left over for real life. I need to re-acquaint myself with the Haymarket martyrs before this becomes a habit. The good news is that I've composed and edited my farewell statement for a community I have decided to depart and I'm feeling pretty good about it. The good far outweighs the bad and I think that comes through in what I say. If not, well, it's not because I didn't make the effort.

Today we had a holiday party at lunch. It was a "white elephant" gift exchange. I wrapped up the "13 going on 30" VHS as my contribution to the exchange. I had it in my hand as I was going out the door this morning. But when I got to work, I couldn't find it. This is what getting old is all about! When I got home the wrapped present was sitting on the cat tower. Sheesh!

I got a quick gift from the company store and wrapped it up in the hour before our party. The mascot was surprisingly popular. In the gift exchange I ended up with a lovely scarf that obviously came out of the sample pile at work. It's quite striking and I'm happy with it.

The problem with working too much is that I neglect the important things. Family. Friends. Cats. All of which is far more important that whatever overtime pay I get for my overzealous time-clock participation.

This week two of my favorite role models died: Susan Sontag and Jerry Orbach, each of whom made my life better. Both lost their lives to cancer. Fucking cancer.

Some U.N. official complained this week that the western countries were "stingy" in giving aid to poorer countries. Which was pretty fucking stupid. The obvious response will be a backlash against "anti-American" sentiments by foreigners. What will be lost is any actual facts about aid money per capita or aid money as a percentage of income -- the real testement as to whether a people are generous or stingy.

Democracy Now, the radio show, came through with some frightening statistics about U.S. aid to the victims of the earthquake/tsunami in Asia. The U.S. is sending several millions of dollars to help out. That donation is equal to the amount G.W. Bush plans to spend on his inauguration party on January 20 OR the amount spent every 4 hours for the war in Iraq.

Enough said.

The Star Tribune had an article about last night's Candlelight Service here which was written as a letter to the children of Iraq:

Last update: December 29, 2004 at 6:52 AM

Dear children of Iraq ...

There was a candlelight vigil in your honor Tuesday at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The people at the vigil were thinking about you and others your age who have become victims during the conflicts in Fallujah, Mosul, Najaf, Samarra and, of course, Baghdad.

Steve Clemens, 54, of Minneapolis told the crowd of more than 300 people of all ages and many backgrounds that more than 1,300 American service members have died in Iraq as of Monday and that countless Iraqi children also have lost their loved ones.

Like many of those in attendance, he remembers the day of carnage two months ago on which 34 children were killed in a series of car bombs in Baghdad and northern Iraq.

"We wonder what the future will hold for our children and grandchildren and the children of Iraq if the current hostilities continue," Clemens said.

Inspired, those in the audience responded, "We must awaken the conscience of our nation. Let us have the courage to act."

Meg Novak, 30, of Minneapolis, who traveled to Iraq to see children like you two years ago, challenged the audience to think about what thousands of you are going through, and even encouraged them to talk with family and friends who may not share the same beliefs.

She said, "What kind of world are we creating for these children when the massacre of children can happen and we don't stop what we are doing for one minute to think about it? Have the courage to feel, to lose it, at this insanity. Next time you are touched by this, cry, scream, pull your hair. "Let your barriers fall and feel the pain. ... The future of the world is depending on each one of us."

The mood grew more somber and tears started flowing as Mel Duncan, 54, of St. Paul, addressed the audience. He told them how painfully he misses his 24-year-old son, Elmer, a sergeant with an Army National Guard unit from Anoka stationed 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. He said he has nightmares about two soldiers arriving at his door in a dark blue sedan to say that his "son is no more."

Yet, like your parents, he also is worried about you, thousands of miles away, amidst all of the conflict.

"We stand with our children," Duncan said. "We recommit to defend our children, whether they be named Omar, Rieke or Elmer ... in these dark times such actions require even deeper acts of courage and hope...."

Terry Collins,
Star Tribune Staff Writer