Letter from California
03/20/05 0520.41 pst
San Jose, California
I know a lovely, eccentric computer programmer, steeped in the code since she could walk and cheerfully odd and defiant in her worlds of pixilated perfect logic, showing up to work (she’s a contractor) with pink hair three weeks ago. It’s horridly admirable.
Somewhere in her thirties, last year she decided no husband or boyfriend, whatever, pregnancy better happen soon or it never would, so it’s time to go to the sperm bank.. She explains to a male acquaintance the situation, who, for whatever reason, offers his own sperm.
She takes him up on it. She gets pregnant, the acquaintance realizes what’s happened and starts to get very serious. Wants to get married and sets a date, religiously gets her to all her prenatal appointments, cooks and shops and fusses for her. They do the tests and find spinabifada, abortion at four months. Me’n a good guy I work for sent flowers and I tried to write as best as I could for the card.
Reclining on Italian leather in the marble foyer of a software company I was recently chatting with an old contractor colleague when the flaming pink hair of my friend walked by. As I told the story to the married conservative Bush voter who used to listen to Dr. Laura every day she became appalled and negative, flippantly waving off the spinabifada “because it never would have worked anyway.”
I changed the subject, semi-moody and sorta-sulking the rest of the day that I hadn’t challenged and exposed one of the pod people publicly for all to see. Hello? George Bush lied to start a war, a war where we’ve committed profound war crimes. All that nauseous judging morality from the “right to life” oppressors is just pure bullshit, it’s obvious you don’t believe a word of it, and y’all have no right, none, to ever sneer and judge at my other friend who just had such a hard time.
Nine weeks ago I got called to jury duty, where the judge intoned the sacred duty of the jury box, just like voting, “where we shown so recently how seriously some take it, an election some said would never happen.”
I respectfully fucked with him when he questioned me, yeah I read case law and know a little about intellectual property, I’m very good at following instructions, yes, but I’ve never liked it and no, I won’t do it willingly. After the lawyers were done with me the judge called both of them to the bench for a private chat, and then they excused me. I told the judge I didn’t mean to be disrespectful when I got up, he said I wasn’t.
I could have taken that courtroom down and humiliated that judge, but I didn’t. I could have called out and embarrassed that Dr. Laura Bush voter, too, but I meekly went on my conformist way.
Is that how change happens? When enough of us, in just the everyday seemingly obscure and remote events of our tiny lives, bust into the lying, oppressive consciousness that we don’t confront when it’s screaming at us right in the face?
I don’t know. Is it the duty of a good citizen to forcefully intrude on the lives of others like that? I don’t see that as exactly a productive path to spiritual and mental health, frankly. Who the hell am I to correct those evil fools? I’m not, but I could be wrong. It’s remotely possible I could be wrong when I should have been worried about what was going on in my own head and behavior.
All true, but it doesn’t work. With all the incredibly grave and immediate problems this country faces our acutely embarrassing Congress held hearings on steroids and baseball last week. Our evil, giggling corporate whore media lapped it up in the sickening slobber of denial, but the rest of us were horrified at this childish degradation to the most powerful deliberative body in the world. Pay no attention to those bankruptcy and ANWR votes.
In four hours I’ll take communion from an amazing human soul of prodigious accomplishment (PhD. chemist, nurse) I barely respect anymore, going through the motions of an ancient ritual in the faint hope one day I’ll experience it and see it differently. My priest never spoke out against the evil of Bush last year, she didn’t want to lose any parishioners.
I understand—how could I not, when I don’t do it myself simply out of a wish to get along?—but when I think about I moodily wonder if we’re failing in our duty as humans and citizens by not vociferously calling out the human evil we encounter in our small, daily lives. Robert Kennedy said we could find solace in such actions, knowing that our ripples of behavior would spread and be copied.
I’m sorry to report that in my tiny sphere of mechanized democracy in California I have not been the warrior of change I could have been. I live in an absurdly comfortable, rich world of great blessings, and I seem to be unable to don the necessary mantle of arrogance to forcibly make the other humans around me see their shortcomings.
It’s probably a mistake. How much easier it is to simply go along and acquiesce in silence, even when I know better.