Books Read in 2007
DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
8 September 2007
It's the "dog days of summer," defined as the period between July and early September, when the weather is at its hottest. It's not actually at its "hottest" right now, but it's decently warm.
The kids are going back to school. Our streets are clogged with bicyclists, and there is a line of cars in front of the grammar school, picking up and/or dropping off the little guys. It didn't used to be like that. You used to be able to wave your child goodbye from your front door and watch him/her walk off the three blocks to school alone (or in the company of friends), but in this day and age, parents have reason to be more cautious than that.
My mother would never have considered driving me to school every day. She walked a mile to school along country roads when she was 5. No reason why we couldn't walk to school.
She did drive us when it was raining, but there are all sorts of considerations, not the least of which is that once you left your parking spot on "the hill" (where our flat was located), you might not find another one. We did not have a garage, and it was not unusual to drive around for 15-20 minutes before finding a place to park.
Walt and I recently drove by the place where I spent all of my growing up years and I was amazed to see that they are actually cutting a garage into the side of the building. There was a very deep basement under our living room and it's amazing that nobody thought of doing that before.
I walked to school. OK, it wasn't uphill both ways and I rarely had to walk in the snow (it snowed once in all the years I lived in San Francisco and it stuck on the ground for a good 30 seconds, if that), but it was nearly a mile and there were steep hills involved.
We weren't afraid of being snatched off the street by perverts in those days, so our mothers thought nothing of letting us walk to school from an early age. I used to walk up our hill, past Macondray Lane (the setting for Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City") and down the next hill to meet my friend Gayle. She and I would then pass by and pick up Maryanne and sometimes Georgette would be waiting for us a little farther on as well. A little gaggle of girls all walking together.
Funny the things you remember. I remember that Gayle always spent most of the walk telling me the plot of whatever show she had seen on TV the night before. We didn't have a TV and she did, so I looked forward to those capsule summaries. Whenever I could, I finagled an invitation to Gayle's house for dinner so I could watch this wonderful new invention myself.
I went to St. Brigid's School for 8 years and the one memory that stands out in my mind the most clearly occurred when I was in about the second or third grade.
They had apparently done some sidewalk repair in front of Georgette's house because new cement had been poured recently and written in the cement was the F word. I remember that so very clearly and I remember feeling like I wanted to vomit.
This very, very clear memory has bothered me my whole life. Not the incident itself, but why I reacted that way. How did I even know that word? It was a different era and words like that were not spoken in in our house. You would never hear something like that said in the movies or on radio or television. I don't know if I even knew what it meant, and yet on seeing that word, I remember feeling an instant rising wave of nausea.
It's so very odd to think that out of all the days that I walked to school over 8 years time, this is the only memory that stands out so clearly.
I suppose it must be nice that I have no traumatic memories, other than the word in the cement, to remember. It saddens me that we are so much more aware of "things" that can happen to kids on their way to and from school...or even when sleeping in their own bedrooms.
My bedroom window was level with the street. My mother always wanted me to keep the curtains closed because she didn't want people walking by to be able to look in the window and seeing me sleeping. But nothing ever happened. It saddened me the day that I drove by our old house and saw that someone had installed bars on the window. Another sign of the increasingly unsafe times.
I'm sure the dangers were there all
along and we just were blissfully unaware of them, but I have to say I'm
glad that my kids are grown and I don't have to deal with them.
The Petraeus report is due out next week. Why am I not surprised that this week we have foiled a terrorist plot and are expecting a message from bin Laden. The timing of "controversial report" with "terrorist activity" over the past several years has just become too convenient to feel coincidental any more. The timing of these things has become entirely too predictable to even worry about any more. It's "The boy who cried wolf" all over again. One of these days it's going to be real and serious and nobody will pay any attention because we've had too many of these convenient coincidences.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
My sister, Karen, in front of our flat.
Our door is on the left, our neighbors' on the right
This is entry #2720