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What Did You Lose on 9/11/01?

September 9, 2016 7 Comments



I have a solid memory of the morning of September 11, 2001. My father called me on the phone and told me the Pentagon had just been hit. I said “It’s just a Pentagon.” Then I turned on the TV news, and to my horror, learned about the tragic events that had taken place while I was rocking and rolling around my house, blissfully unaware.  Those of us who were alive when JFK was shot all had a spooky feeling that this terror was all connected. The axis of evil had landed on our shores, and nothing would ever be the same.  We lost our innocence, and many of us also lost our minds.

The first responders, and their sacrifices, came into focus like never before in modern history. The risks and the losses they take every day started to hit home in the hearts and minds of American citizens.  Many folks joined the military because they felt the need to do something to protect our country.  We got a Department of Homeland Security and the borders started getting way tighter.  I was well aware of the border phenomena because I was working as a wetback gringa in Mexico at the time.  Suddenly the Tecate border crossing, which had always been almost a joke border, became very strict.  This clogged up the traffic, which would back up for blocks in Tecate, BC, waiting to cross.  There were people who would wait in the line for you for a fee, and those people had all the work they wanted. Since I was a guest instructor, spending only a couple of weeks at time down there, the border issue really put a wet blanket on my commute.  I had to drive 6 hours from Tucson, which I had accepted.  I just could not handle waiting an hour in bumper to bumper traffic while waiting to leave the country.  I determined after a couple of years that Mexico, lindo y querido, was no longer fun for me.  I have not crossed the border since 2003.  I have not seen the border wall, and I may never see it.

Things changed for the worse in Mexico because all kinds of people who had walked to the border from Guatemala, Chiapas, or Nicaragua were stuck.  They had few options.  The criminal element suddenly had a huge influx of desperate people to employ, a boon to smuggling and anything else they cared to do.  They probably started digging new tunnels all over the place with their new source of  labor.   Our tiny town of TKT (the local way to spell Tecate) went from safe to wildly violent overnight.  One of my Mexican colleagues came in to work all freaked out because she had discovered her boyfriend, chopped up in the trunk of a car.  We went from zero to chopped up in the trunk of a car in no time.  It was no longer safe for me to ride the public bus to Tijuana, use the route taxis to go to to the beach , or generally live it up in borderlandia.  The party was over, but it had been very good while it lasted.

Now we mark the date with remembrance of the solemn occasion.  I am afraid that the meaning is being lost.  People are using it to sell merchandise, which really offends me.  We all lost something on that day.  I lost a country and a culture that I loved dearly.  I mean Mexico when I say that, but in many ways my own country endured a cultural change from which we will not recover.  What did you personally lose, gentle reader?

Loss of dignity at the mattress store

On the Bus or Off the Bus

December 27, 2012 2 Comments

Merry Praksters

Merry Praksters

There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all – suspicion. –Demosthenes

How can we cultivate a healthy sense of disrespect and suspicion that is mindful of and careful with  the opinions of others?  We see no mature examples set by politicians.  Religious leaders all teach healthy disrespect for worldly authority.  Some religions teach that all worldly authority is to be shunned because of the wicked nature of it.  The nuns on the bus dissing the Pope showed healthy suspicion of politicians trashing the poor to be elected by the rich. There was a saying that resonated back in the hippie world.  “You are either on the bus or off the bus.”  The phrase came from the book The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test by Tom Wolfe.  We also talked constantly about revolution, and the end of the empire.  Bob Dylan, The Dead, Angela Davis, Black Panthers, SDS….. it was all very meaningful….and then it faded like morning dew in a folk song.  Perhaps these nuns were hippies who never lost the baby faith.

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