BLESSED ARE THE
16 March 2003
"Are you going to wuss out on me?" Olivia barked into the phone.
It was Friday afternoon and I was at work. Dr. G was away and I was taking a rare
moment to actually organize my desk. Outside the skies were dark and ominous. It had
poured rain that morning. Weather persons were predicting a huge storm blowing in, lasting
all weekend. Cindy hadn't even brought her bike to the office, knowing it would be
impossible for us to ride.
A week ago, I planned to go with Olivia to the peace march in San Francisco on
Saturday. I'd lived through Berkeley during the Vietnam era and had never attended a peace
march or rally. I'd never held a protest sign. I'd never let my voice be heard.
"Yes!" I said enthusiastically a week ago. "I am definitely going."
That was before the storm blew in.
One thing I knew on this Friday afternoon: I did not want go brave the storm,
either on the freeway, or huddled with other wet protesters in the City Hall plaza.
"I'm going one way or the other," Olivia said. "I want to be
"OK," I said, finally. "I'm coming. I have no right to protest the war
unless I am willing to get out there and be counted."
As I drove down the freeway, I drove through several squalls of pouring rain.
"I've got to be out of my ever lovin' mind," I told myself more than once. I
hadn't even brought a decent coat with me. Just my wind breaker. And I'd forgotten
It was raining lightly when I got to Olivia's. A friend of hers was there. The three of
us went out to dinner. It had stopped raining when we came out of the restaurant.
The friend went home. Olivia and I talked awhile about her upcoming move to Boise (in 2
weeks) and then decided to call it a night. I went to sleep in the reclining chair
watching Jay Leno--just like at home.
When I woke up at 3 a.m., the predicted storm had hit full force. There were gale winds
and torrential rain pouring down on the lagoon outside the living room door. I groaned.
What in the world had I gotten myself into? I got a drink of water and went back to sleep.
When I awoke at 6:30, Olivia was in her office working at the computer. The sun was
shining down on the lagoon. She was actually reading the letters to the editor on MSNBC,
which printed the part of my journal yesteray, which I posted as a letter to the editor (as of this
writing, 24 hours later, it's still the entry at the top of the page!)
"Look," she said. "The sun is out. Maybe we'll get lucky."
"Yeah, right," I grumbled, noting the black clouds off in the distance.
We had breakfast and made a stop at Trader Joe's so I could buy chocolate covered soy
nuts (114 nuts for 4 WeightWatchers points). The sun was still shining. We drove to the
BART station and got on the train.
These were "Pink Panthers for Peace"
We met them getting off a BART train.
When we came up out of the ground at the Civic Center Plaza, you could not
have asked for a more lovely day. The sun was shining. The skies were blue. There were
beautiful clouds floating overhead. There was not a drop of rain in sight. God was obviously
in favor of this peace rally.
It was quite an experience. It was a cross section of, believe me, everybody.
Every race, every age, every political ideation. There were small children with crudely
lettered hand-made signs, there were grandmothers with pictures of their grandchildren,
there were people dressed in black with skeleton masks. There were
politicians and mothers and rappers (perhaps some rapping politicians who were also
mothers, for all I know). There were people representing churches. There were people there
for the fun of it, and people who were deadly serious. There were people with long
unkempt hair, and people with carefully coiffed business looks. There were dredlocks and
spiked hair. All were uniform in their concern for the approaching war and their strong
opposition to it.
Police with guns ringed the crowd and helicopters flew overhead. At the mic there were
speeches and music and announcements. Soon the crowd would begin moving toward a nearby
park for another gathering.
Olivia, who has a back that looks like a roadmap from all the surgeries, who
has had several spinal fusions and hardware implanted in her spine to help control the
pain, and who walks with a cane (but refuses to let that hamper her) gets nervous in
crowds. If she gets jostled, it can throw her system out of whack, so once we'd been there
and "been counted," we decided we wouldn't stay for the rest of the rally, or
for the march.
Instead we went by cab to Pier 39 and had a lovely lunch overlooking the Golden Gate
bridge, and then back home again.
When we arrived back at the car, the sun was still shining brightly and I was very glad
I hadn't "wussed out" but that I had made the effort to stand up and be counted,
Tomorrow night I will take part in a candlelight vigil here in Davis.