The Quietest Cannon

Hard frost on the windshield this morning, and only a visor-sized hole is thawed into its center, 20 minutes after I started the truck.  Buffy is deep in her dog bed.  I’m not going anywhere — just staying cozy while I watch over the mobile shower unit.

Every time I find an easier way to live or work, I already immediately can’t imagine doing it the hard(er) way anymore.  Shad, the fuel tender and my former coworker in that job, was over in our area for hours yesterday, during a long upper body workout.  Nick’s shoulder *wasn’t* hurting, so he was trying to squeeze 6 months of lifting into one day, and dragging us haplessly with him.  Shad’s fuel truck was parked about 75 yards away, and despite the slow afternoon, someone pulled up for fuel so he broke off his set and trotted over there.  

The fuel truck looks just like you’d expect, a shiny silver cylindrical beetle with a cab for a head and a fuel tank for its wings, folded against its body.  All the pumps and hoses are at the butt end, where Shad set up his large rubber containment mat, with 8” edges to constantly step over, in compliance.  So it’s pretty obvious where to position your vehicle, if you want fuel.  Nevertheless, Nick and I watched as this brand new Dodge Ram jacked and jawed hesitantly around the whole area, in maximal confusion about how to align its fuel tank area with Shad’s fuel nozzle range.  Shad stood holding the nozzle, waiting for this amazing situation to resolve itself.  

I turned to Nick and sighed, “Ah, I forgot about that.”  This is my first season not doing fuel and I just plain forgot about all the people who cannot, simply cannot, figure it out.  They park so far away, roll down their windows, and yell out, “Is this okay?”  And it is okay, because you have 100’ on your hose reel, and it seems easier to just drag it all out there than to wait for them to gain control over their vehicle and mind.  And your intention is to just drag hose for that one person, and then spool it back up to the appropriate area of operations when they drive off — the area where you paperwork is, the levers and gauges and buttons, the emergency shut off switch for that matter.  But no, someone else drives up before you can retreat, and they park even further away from where you already dragged your hose, and roll down their window and yell, “Is this okay?”

There were a lot of things like that, and I already can’t imagine doing that again for a whole season, since my fire job now is so much better.  I get spoiled quickly and thoroughly.  I mean, I still had to freeze ass to get all this going, this morning, and we do clean the shower stalls and sometimes find clumps of hair, people’s used maxi pads or tampons, discarded yucky bandaids, soap spills, discarded razors or razor cap thingies, and a new one yesterday — used chewing gum.  It’s odd that people will interact with us directly, there’s nothing anonymous about this, and leave really personal garbage like that.  

Like, we know exactly who left the chewing gum.  It was some camp crew girls, over here flirting with the two camp crew boys who insist on being shirtless at the slightest provocation.  They carry around their phones audibly broadcasting clicky-shit music, which is such an odd affectation in itself, especially for rural small town white kids.  I thought it was just a Hispanic thing — every time I went hiking in Tucson, the only people hiking with music broadcast through tinny speakers were Hispanic, and it was either clicky-shit or mariachi.  Can you imagine hiking to mariachi, played through tinny speakers?  Well, you don’t have to imagine it, if you hike it Tucson; it will simply happen to you, courtesy of the locals.

Here’s a simple test that will, in time, prove whether America is essentially a meritocracy or not: if it is, Hispanics, or Lantinx or whatever, will in effect take over the western hemisphere.  I’ve said this before and I stand by it.  To the extent that getting big shit done fast and right is important, and not causing a lot of churn in the meantime, they will rise to power.  It won’t be a trickle down, it’ll be a trickle up — more and more positions in more and more places being occupied by someone who will do the work, versus someone who won’t, or only might.  Those people are, and will continue to be, Hispanic.  If I was any sort of leader or coordinator right now, in a gameshow environment, and I had to blindly choose from groups of white people, black people, Asians, natives, Hispanics, or anyone else, I’d be racing for that Hispanic button.  Mariachi played through tinny speakers is a small price to pay.

The Amish and related step-down traditions, the Mennonites for instance, are a real powerhouse too, but kind of a self-limiting one.  I’ve entertained brief fancies of convincing Nick we should go off and join the Amish, but I don’t know if it works that way, and I do know I probably couldn’t hang.  Just the fact that the work of being a fuel tender seems now, in contrast, like too much work since I found something easier, kind of dissuades me from wanting to spend my days building barns or canning shit tons of food.  I mean, if you’re Amish, do you ever get to just lay on the couch for several hours, for no other reason than that you want to?  Or do you have to be industrious all the time?  I don’t know, but this concerns me.

I’ve never had any direct encounters with the Amish, but I was in school with two Mennonite gals in 5th grade, right before we moved to the Navajo Rez, and they were two of the only girls who weren’t overt assholes, in my opinion.  The school where I attended 5th grade and my brother attended 8th was quite the traumatic year for us, honestly — it was an in-between-other-places maneuver on the part of my parents, when my dad transitioned out of the oil field and back into teaching.  

Were the two Mennonite girls sisters?  I think they weren’t.  They were in 4th and 6th grade, respectively, but the school was so small that grades 4, 5 and 6 were all combined, so everyone of that age range was in “my class”.  The older girl was already stout and jolly and very smart, and the younger girl was more reserved but still with a sunny disposition.  They wore their pastel midi-length dresses every day, and their long, dishwater blond hair up in neat buns with little white caps on top.  

I was experimenting with leggings, various stacks of scrunch socks, and clothes involving neon and glitter, at that age, and my mom braided my hair for me each morning.  I wore large glasses — in fact that was the first year my vision had been tested and found dramatically lacking, so the revelation of my first pair of glasses cannot be overstated.  I didn’t even know we had patterns on our kitchen linoleum until after returning from the long trip to the optometrist’s office, with these glasses.

The school was large, bordered by a football field where “our” team had lost every game for the last twelve years, ornamented by an actual civil war era cannon to be shot in the event of a victory, which is even sadder.  My brother was forcibly conscripted to the football team, regardless of his wispiness and total disinterest, as the entire school boasted only 150 students, K-12.  I was conscripted to the girls basketball team, as if my height could make up for my total disinterest, and I was a disgrace on the court.  Our parents didn’t come to games, though — they gave even less of a shit about sports than us, if possible.  

Scholastically, an attempt was made to enlist me in the cult of the mean girls, who were also pretty, and the only cost of membership was to be demonstrably mean to girls who were nicer than me and slightly less pretty, which I wouldn’t do.  Upon refusal, I wasn’t considered pretty anymore and they were mean to me, lest they risk their own social standing.  The Mennonite girls didn’t subscribe to this hierarchy.  

I made one good friend — a boy named Billy, who was in the “class” below mine, 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but he was technically in 3rd grade and was old for his class, and I was young for my class, so we were a year apart.  We became aware of each other after a game at recess that we were winner and first-runner-up in, respectively.  

The game was, release all the children onto the football field where one child is designated “It”, and the It grows its It ranks by running around and tagging whomever isn’t fast enough to avoid being tagged, and so through time the Its outnumber the Not-Its.  Billy and I were very fast and agile, despite my basketball failures, and we were the last two Not-Its on the field, sprinting and twisting around til the very end.  

I remember having conversations with Billy that were as interesting and nuanced as any I’ve had as an adult.  If I could overhear those now, I wonder if they’d sound like childish jibber jabber?  It’s funny how you don’t feel like a kid, when you’re a kid, except for being physically smaller.  Our personalities were a perfect match, and I felt easily like myself, my real self, talking with him.  

Anyway, the school was bordered by its tragic but well-kept football field, where teenagers to include my brother skirmished, whether they wanted to or not, and the school grounds were bordered on one side by a row of houses, where the teachers and their families lived, and nothing else.  There was no town — it was eleven miles and across a state line to the nearest town, Elkhart Kansas.  The Oklahoma panhandle looked just as you’d imagine, and my brother and I would ramble around in the brush, gnawing on black licorice and startling a baby rattler, at one point.  

We each had our own room in both of the two houses we lived in here, one first and then the house next door, second, for some reason.  I think my parents didn’t like that our first house was the original schoolhouse, containing an expansive basement that served as the current storage for all the other teacher houses, and so people would be picking around in our basement with no warning.  

This first house was large and quite old, and we’d visit each other in our respective rooms a lot, being unaccustomed to such separations of time and space, as siblings.  This house had a foyer that opened onto a very large living room, and we never owned much furniture so there was this sense of the house being even larger than it was; too large, really.  The foyer had a small door set up several feet on its side, and this door opened into an actual room, the size of a large walk-in closet, but with its floor above the level of the house’s floor otherwise.  It was odd, and seemed secret, so of course I’d go sit in there quite a lot.  I didn’t have glasses yet, or know that my eyes were bad, so perhaps this is why I gravitated to smaller spaces, simply so I could see my surroundings better.  

An ultimate trauma happened at this school — a boy from 7th grade caught a horny toad, placed it on a cinder block, and then smashed it with another cinder block at recess one day.  I was floating around on the periphery, not doing much because that’s all there was for me to do at recess, and I don’t think I was in a position to intervene, or I didn’t gather my resources in time.  He lifted the cinder block to reveal a bloody reptilian flat mess, and he laughed while the boys around him reacted variously.  His name was Shaun, I think?  He had a sort of blonde faux-hawk mullet, and was handsome in a vicious way that I found appalling, perhaps even before this incident but certainly after.  I didn’t know what kind of problem could result in an action like this, killing something for no reason at all.  Future psychopaths of America right there.  

The football team finally won a game, the one year we were there.  One game, the first in twelve years.  The cannon boomed repeatedly — I guess it still worked, and they just kept firing it.  Blanks, obviously.  It was the biggest deal in the world.  It happened early on in the school year but I think my brother and I were already done with that fuckin place, by then.  We never missed it, but I have missed Billy and wondered what happened to him.  I think it’s far better that we moved.  It wasn’t a good place to grow up.  In all our evidence of urban churn, it’s easy to worship the idea of small-town America — and this wasn’t even a town — but I don’t look back fondly on that year, and I pity the kids who stayed there.  The reservation was healthier, in some way I could probably articulate if I tried.  

Just last year, Nick and I stopped for gas at the only truck stop along I-10 that has a Starbucks, in this big open place in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, and we saw a Mennonite family at the gas station.  Mom, dad, two kids, in a modest but well-kept minivan.  We talked about them for several miles down the road, after we left.  All four were the correct weight, first of all, whereas the truck stop had been otherwise besieged by very sick walruses, lumbering with obvious pain and difficulty to and fro, as is the baseline normal at any truck stop or gas station in America.  Second, the Mennonite family exhibited a high level of decorum, although the mom did playfully chase the kids around the minivan, and then they’d reverse and chase her.  They all seemed happy and oriented to one another in the best way.  It was a beautiful experience, just seeing these people at the gas station.  

“And *they’re* supposedly the crazy ones,” Nick exclaimed, cancelling his turn signal once we’d merged back onto the freeway.  

I said, “I wonder what they actually believe?,” and googled it.  Essentially Christian.  Various brands of Mennonite can be found on 6 continents and in 87 countries.  An emphasis, rather than a rule, of peace, community, and service.  A commitment to living among other communities, rather than as an enclave like the Amish, in order to serve as “salt and light” to the world.  Military service not permitted but law enforcement and legal careers okay.  A variety of attitudes about and inclusion of transportation and communications technology, but a tendency to eschew politics.  An expectation for unmarried singles to remain chaste, for marriages to last a lifetime in monogamy, and a dissuasion from divorce.  A reasonably inclusive attitude towards same-sex union, and the ordination of some openly gay pastors here and there.  A likelihood to organize and volunteer for disaster relief, and to establish thrift shops.

I couldn’t actually tolerate a lifestyle conjoined with a community religion but it’s still nice to admire some of the effects it can produce.  I like being a moral indie.

Well, the sun has come out, in the course of this blog, and my breath still fogs the air out there but the hard frost is melting, turning everything sodden.  It’s another good day for a good lift!  I got a new personal record on my overhead press yesterday, 80 pounds for reps which is 65% of my bodyweight!  I struggled to break 60, 65 for months and months.  It’s nice to know that you can just keep at it.  The trick is, when the bar gets stuck and won’t move, to double down on making the rest of your body a tree trunk, rather than getting tunnel vision about pushing the bar up per se.  I got a cramp in my quad on one set, if that’s any indicator of how much the lower body is involved.  

Nick got 115% of his bodyweight for reps, which is ridiculous.  He’s told me before, “I’m the worst person you could compare yourself to, so just…try not to, if possible.”  At least I’m a girl and all my gains are remarkable, from a certain standpoint.  Shad, our fuel tender, is a very strong young man who would otherwise be the star lifter in any scenario, and he even has a hard time feeling proud of what he gets, in the face of Nick’s almost supernatural strength.  Our 2nd hand pandemic lockdown gym has served us so well, and was so worth the hassle of locating and transporting, back in April, when it became clear that commercial gyms weren’t going to be available for a long time.

We have been able to work out at a commercial gym in our standby town, between fires, but it’s a pain in the ass.  We have to wear masks, which tend to get sucked violently into one’s mouth during a sharp inhale, and reduce oxygenation just when you need it most.  Additionally, the gym closed down around us last time we were there.  Literally, we were mid-workout and they started turning off lights.  It was still two hours to close, based on the posted signs, but the staff regretfully informed us that new COVID hours were in effect.  

The insanity of the fake pandemic and its effect on everyone’s attempt to do everything is not to be believed, only endured again and again in each new form.  Nancy Pelosi arranged to get her hair done at one of the San Francisco salons she mandated closed indefinitely, on Monday, and the owner of the salon got on the fucking horn and called Fox News and now it’s a scandal.  Video footage shows a mousy, wet-haired Pelosi, traipsing about the salon with no mask on.  The owner (not the same contractor who arranged for Pelosi’s Brazilian blow-out, as if that could help her situation) was incensed.  She’s got two young kids to feed, she did receive the Payroll Protection and blew through it in about two months, she made all the necessary updates with plexiglass and bullshit to meet specs to re-open in July, then no July re-opening was available because they have to keep this lockdown going until all — not just some, all — small businesses have failed.  It took the salon owner 12 years to establish her place of business and now, in Pelosi’s home district, the homeless are literally shitting in the streets and no one’s allowed to do anything about it.  I love that she called Fox News, and I hope she doesn’t get suicided by some Hillary hitman.  

I’m all for haircuts on the down low — I received one back in May which was, incidentally, the worst haircut of my life and for which I had no recourse, since the whole thing had been illegal to begin with.  I’m still growing out of that monstrosity.  “Freshen up my layers” doesn’t mean “cut eight inches off the length, and then take a random section and cut another four inches off of that”.  It’s what I get for trying to groom myself in the middle of a fake pandemic, obviously.  Nick’s illegal haircut went better, but that’s so long ago now he essentially just has a Jew ‘fro at this point, and looks just as fantastic unkempt as kempt.  I often ask him, “what’s it like to just be perfect all the time?,” and he rolls his eyes.  

Anyway, getting a haircut on the down low is one thing; arranging for it to occur on your own behalf at a place of business you and your cronies have deliberately destroyed for no good reason is another, and absolutely should be network news.  

Meanwhile, photos of the BLM/Antifa tour buses are emerging, parked in formation at truck stops across the country.  Each one has to be in the 1/2 mill price range — some really fancy shit.  Out of (something like) 170 rioters arrested in Kenosha, 102 were from out of state — like, way out of state, California even — so the level of manufactured unrest is all making a lot more sense now.  The whole operation looks expensive and very well funded, up to and including their immediate bail in each city, when they’re arrested, so they can go out and antagonize and injure the same public servants they did last night, who must understand by now that their lives are regarded as well and truly expendable by the entire Democrat party.  I could just vomit.

Nick and I listened to an interesting talk by Dinesh D’Souza, yesterday while we ate breakfast in the truck, since it’s our warm shelter now.  He said that fascism as an extreme product of the Right is actually a lie told, initially, by the Left, and repeated so many times that it’s taken as fact now.  But it’s not.  The Nuremberg Laws were originally inspired, at least in part, by the Jim Crow Dixe-crat playbook of the deep South.  This fact has been explored and published, but with its rightful attribution to American Democrats obfuscated in favor of a generalized attribution to America and Americanism, instead.  A dodge.  And some other points — Marxism and socialism, ie class-based discontent, were slower to take root than its advocates had hoped, because it turns out that even in stratified economies, people still care about their countries.  People on all the rungs still experience national pride.  And so the original socialist project was modified to take this into account, in the form of national socialism.  

The talk brought up a lot of questions for me — primarily, how the fuck is it that I feel I’m approaching all of this “from scratch”, as it were, apparently unprepared to grapple with any of these ideas by my otherwise extensive education.  I think that’s pretty suspicious, now that I consider it.  I mean, one of Nick’s friends is in a required class at ASU right now discussing social justice, inclusion, and reparations.  I’ve had a look at the syllabus.  Reparations are discussed from the perspective of “you’re a racist if you disagree”.  I’d be fine with that if ASU also required a counterpoint perspective, but of course that’s a pipe dream.  

Nick’s other friend, the sober guy who inherited a large bar and restaurant from his dad in downtown St. Louis, and who were were there visiting on the same night David Dorn was murdered, and who lost $60k in the month of April alone (this was May), has been operating under a set of COVID strictures that make it impossible to break even, let alone profit.  Meanwhile bands of thugs have been rambling in and stealing entire bottles of liquor off the shelves as they please, roughing up staff and customers alike, and nothing can be done about it.  The friend has so far avoided committing murder but it’s feeling like a tough call.  But even the impossible COVID strictures thus far are now giving way to even stricter measures, starting today in fact, even as the CDC admits you’ve got at least a 5x higher chance of dying of the seasonal flu.

And I’m just chillin at the fire camp, with my lover and our bugaboos.  Trump 2020.                                         

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