23 January 2009

A Child’s Garden of Candor; Two Views of Brotherhood; OK to Schmaltz

Candor? Honesty? Strange Concepts in Blogging

I am reminded tonight of the appearances we present here. Many blogs are psuedonymous, which gives the writer a lot of leeway. One West Virginia political blog, writer(s) unknown, plants new libel with every other post. (The alternate posts are so stupid that they detract from the truly libelous ones.) But such masking also seems to free people to flights of fancy that we’d otherwise not be privy to. There are exceptions, of course. Friend Doreen Lewis’s blog (link is to the right) is so refreshingly open and un-self-conscious that you must wonder how anyone can be so genuine. And others? Beats me. And me? Honestly, I would have said some months ago that I’m right out there with Doreen, but it ain’t so. I don’t know what you’d call a whole hell of a lot about writing. I’ve heard that there are style manuals, but I’ve yet to consult one. My grammar is somewhat less than flawless. Often I’m told that a preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with. Well, often, I can’t think of anything else to end it with. So I don’t know why “writers write.” My writing is for me, I think - and I do it in a place where others can look into the window. Sometimes, I’m thinking that it’s that acid washed glass they used on old-time bathrooms, and then I’ll be surprised that some folks see more images than I intend. Well, for those who expect sharp and pithy things from me, please accept this blather without the slightest notion of where it comes from.

The Point of the Spear

The video of that pilot dumping the airliner in the Hudson is remarkable. Pilots commenting on the news say that it was remarkable flying. I’ll take their word for it.

I was struck by the reaction of some of the ferry boat crews. One of the captains was interviewed by CNN. He described his thought process as that of “do this just like it’s a drill.” Does that sound stupid? I hope not. That’s why we drill. By practicing the same thing over and over, we learn routines that we can access and use to fill up the fear and the racing pulses. This is another example of “hidden” public service training paying off. That captain also referred to the other ferry crews as “... all my fellow brothers and sisters . . .” That feeling of connection doesn’t happen often enough. And most of us (me included? Hell, me particularly) are incompetent at developing that and accessing that, and that old Simon & Garfunkel favorite “I Am a Rock” becomes an anthem rather than a joke.

The Banner of the Midnight Brotherhood

I’m reminded tonight also of the old Midnight Brotherhood at our rescue company. This one requires an explanation. The change in gender roles and awareness is astounding over the past 30 years. In the early 70's, our rescue company was in small quarters with a small bunkroom. (Actually, it was a converted garage. In the summer when it got too hot at night, someone would just put up the garage door, but the traffic noise would then get annoying.) Only one bunkroom; guys; some married; there wasn’t any way that the place was going to be co-ed on midnight shift. Flash forward to this century? Nobody cares. Now (as then), you wear something like gym shorts & tee shirts in bed anyway. Now, people give one another respect and space and nobody complains as a rule.

In any event, the boys on the midnight shifts back then felt picked on quite a bit. After a busy shift, if we had a chance to catch a little sleep before work or school, that was a good thing. If the AM crews came in and started making all kinds of racket, that was a bad thing, In some sort of pique, the “Midnight Brotherhood” was formed, which basically provided a forum to bitch and talk in macho ways, and also to have really, really large dinners on some Saturday nights when AJ’s mother would send an astounding amount of pasta and sauce to the station. (Performing CPR, particularly the mouth-to-mouth breathing part, with a full stomach of pasta is a memorable experience.) There was a sort-of business meeting, although there wasn’t much business. But the Banner of the Brotherhood sticks in my mind. In the middle was the company emblem, a Maltese Cross with a smaller red cross on it. (PS, the red cross violated a trademark, but nobody ever complained to us.) Behind the emblem was a Cross on a Hill, with the legend “#1,” because on the midnight shifts, God rode with us on every call, we knew it, and obviously, He’s Number One. And the border, where on most Coats-of-Arms ribbons or garland or ivy goes, was grandly unrolled toilet paper, because we were the ones who cleaned up the worst of the worst, the shit that was spilled in the darkest parts of the night.

I almost said that I didn’t know why this was on my mind tonight. Not true.

Thumbs Up to Schmaltz

Friends always forward touching or cute or religious stuff to me. Keep it up. Our hearts are turned off, and it’s killing our society.

Pippa passes.


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