Posts Tagged With: Claremont

On Virginia


I just don’t even know what to say about Virginia this weekend.  I’m so tired of this stuff that I don’t know what to do at this point, nor do I really feel like doing something is going to help much.

I mean, I live in California.  I donate as much as I can afford to the ACLU.  I’m 100% against Nazism, as is everyone I know.  I don’t have hopes that anything I do will make the president denounce these people, or that by saying something I can make these folks feel ashamed of themselves.  I’m tired.  I just don’t want to do it anymore.

I will also say that I 100% realize that being tired so easily and being able to just give up is a function of my own white privilege.  I’m blonde and blue-eyed.  The Neo-Nazis are gonna leave me alone if I ignore them.  Not everyone can say that.

But I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know what I can do that will make a difference in a world where we have a president that is more outraged by Nordstrom’s refusal to carry his daughter’s handbag line than he is by alt-right terrorism.  I don’t know what to do in a world where that galvanizes his supporter base instead of alienating it. I don’t want that base to be my friends and neighbors, even though it often is.  Whatever we feel about him and his business sense, I would hope that we could at least agree that domestic terrorism isn’t okay.

I wish I had more to offer besides a refusal to be silent despite my strong desire to toss up my hands.  I don’t have any salient points, and I’ll admit it.

The whole episode makes me think of the time when Neo-Nazis protested in Claremont, oh – not quite 10 years ago now.  I read that it was happening in the Courier, and everyone was flummoxed.  There weren’t actually any Neo-Nazi groups in Claremont, but for some reason they had picked the city for their protest.

I’m not even sure if they were actually protesting anything so much as they were trying to be ornery in a city they knew wouldn’t be pleased.  There was an entire corner of counter-protestors that was bigger than the Neo-Nazi group.  I had thought about joining them several days before-hand, but I had to work that morning so that ended the ambivalence.

I did drive through the intersection on my way to work, though.  I was struck by how unhappy the Neo-Nazi’s seemed.  It wasn’t even an angry fervor.  The entire crowd of them had that pissed rebellious-child look that made me think they all REALLY didn’t want to be there.  They stood quietly behind their banner with those insolent looks on their face, using their laminated canvas like a shield, sulking.

It was the counter-protest corner that was alive.  Colorful homemade signs flew above the crowd, and the throng chanted and writhed on their corner, insisting that the Neo-Nazis weren’t welcome and shouting messages of peace.  The vibe was not at all what I would expect.  The Neo-Nazi’s looked back at them in silence, just giving them and the police the stink-eye.

Police directed the traffic through the intersection, and made sure that the two corners across from each other didn’t mingle.

It was non-violent.  I only had that 3-minute glimpse of it all before the policeman waved me through the intersection and I sped to the freeway ramp in the distance. It stuck in my mind, though.  Why would the Neo-Nazi’s purposefully go to a city to make them pissed and then just end up silently pissed themselves?

Like I said, I don’t have anything to offer really.  Just that small memory.

Maybe I should try and get up some patriotic gumption ala West Wing; that this country is remarkable because it seeks to protect even those who would destroy it.  People died, though, and I don’t think I can quite manage it right now.

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A Week In Review:


Having a mini composition book, and a phone that looks like a mini composition book is not as cute and adorable an idea as it may first seem.  I keep thinking the book is the phone and leaving home without essential things.  One of them has to go.  It won’t be the phone.

Cadbury Creme Eggs are out in force.  They are like a perfect, egg-shaped sugar coma, just waiting in the shiny foil for you to take a bite and enter heart-racing bliss.  I have already eaten more than are good for me, although so far I’ve kept it below one a day.  So far… I walked into the campus bookstore today and saw them at the counter.  Resistance might be futile.

I am going to a girls gathering this Saturday and it promises to be a great time.  All my favorite people will be there.  The only problem is that they are all Brian’s favorite people as well.  “If I buy a wig, can I go too?” he keeps asking.  Um – let me think about it… No.

There is a shop in downtown Claremont that carries blooming teas.  Those are the kind in the Marie Antoinette movie, where you put hot water on them and the bud blooms at the bottom of your dainty porcelain cup (because if you’re drinking blooming tea, it’s out of porcelain, preferably with gold somewhere).  I fell prey to the loose-leaf Lady Grey tea this time, but it’s probably only a matter of time before I can’t resist the other.  I’ll have to buy an appropriate cup.  Most of my mugs were purchased for volume and not class.

I misread the publishing date on a book I was dying to read.  It’s coming out May 6th, not March.  I am now upset that I have to wait, but I’ve been consoling myself with murder (in the form of Agatha Christie novels).

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There was a fire on the way home last night.  We could see the fluffy, spiral plume of smoke for miles as we drove home on the freeway.  It was a sickly yellow, sort of cream and brown as well.  It rose off the hillside of dead grass and into the blue sky.  I watched it as we sped along, trying to see red flame beneath the yellow, but I couldn’t.  I watched, noting that the plume up top was large; immovable, but that smoke rolled off the hills beneath, curling to join the rest.   The sunset made the cloud a deathly red.

KPCC, our local public radio station, is calling it the Azusa fire.  Evacuations from last night have been lifted and the fire burned a few hundred acres.  This is all the technical information I have about it.  Azusa is close to us.  I used to go to school at Citrus College in Azusa and my friend Emily works there still.  It’s not the proximity of the fire, that I care about.  I have been closer to fires.  It is fire in general.

I can’t see a plume of smoke coming from a low hill without thinking about Vesuvius, and wondering if the people of Pompeii also watched a curling cloud of ash rise from the hills as unconcernedly as I always do.  I even watch with a sense of wonder.  I thought this during the Claremont fire, over ten years ago now, as well, about the vacationers in Rome on their last days on earth.  Gray ash rained down from the heavens for two days and the world smelled like camp.  The light was eerie, like a foggy day only the fog had no substance; no dewed weight.  It was dry, made of filaments, and warm.  My clothes were smeared with white and black bits clung to my hair.  My lungs felt heavy.  the night was especially black.

I was bussing tables at the local dinner theater during the Claremont fire, and still living in my mother’s house.  During the first act of the show, our break, some of the staff climbed to the top of the hotel next door.  Just past the high school we could see the glow in the darkness.  The flames crawled nearer.  We watched them spread toward civilization, flickering and gaining hold on the burning grasses faster than an incoming tide.  One of the waiters got a phone call from his mom.  He had been evacuated, and he couldn’t go home that night.  Even I had packed a box and put it in my back seat, not wanting to tempt fate.

It’s strange how a plume in the sky turns into something real as it creeps toward us.  Instead of being something to watch with fascination it becomes something to run from as it crawls across the dead hills.  Is this fascination why few in Pompeii got out? Is the distance why I tend not to pay attention to reports of fires during California’s long fire season?  I don’t know.  But I know that natural disaster has always plagued humanity, and that it always will.

The plume had dissipated this morning, but the sun rose through a milky gray haze that settled evenly over the horizon.  The evacuation order was lifted.  This fire is done.

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