Nightmares, real and imagined

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July 31, 2011 by 8junebugs

Recently, we finished a monumental effort to steep yours truly in the Buffyverse. (I’ve heard that’s a controversial term, but it’s also awfully compact and convenient.) We’d debated this staggered, two-series marathon for several years — my personal pop culture reference database was woefully bereft when it came to the fictional adventures of vampires and demons, and the slayers thereof, in the late 90s, but it wasn’t a huge priority for me — seven seasons of one series and five of another aren’t, usually. And then I was faced with a voluntary-but-uninterrupted Cosmos marathon and thought to myself, “Self, one can only take so much Carl Sagan before one needs to watch David Boreanaz brood.” (Aside: One of my former colleagues talks exactly like Carl Sagan. But exactly. It must be the Brooklyn thing.)

So we picked sci-fi over science. For MONTHS. And I had nightmares about vampires and demons. For MONTHS.

I’m also all caught up on Whale Wars and we went into the new Torchwood: Miracle Day at full speed. We collapsed our usual pre-new-release Harry Potter marathon, and I finally made Graham watch Bring It On (with the help of a great deal of scotch).

We still have at least one episode of Cosmos left, not because I hate science, but because Carl Sagan’s voice is the world’s best lullaby. Plus? I’m going to watch it again later anyway. It’s brilliant, but it’s going to take time to absorb stuff I was never/badly taught as a kid.

Other than that, though, we’re out of TV to watch and a little TV’d out, if you want to know the truth. Until we sat down after dinner the other night and whined, “There’s nothing to waaatccchhhh.” So we turned on our previously recorded Gang Wars: Oakland, a 2009 series that claimed there are 10,000 gang members walking the streets of Mah New City.

“Great,” Graham said. “Now you’re going to have more nightmares.”

I didn’t have nightmares. I’ve been here for four months and I like it. I’ve lived in and around cities long enough to learn that you do the best you can to stay safe and waste as little time as possible being afraid of your neighbors. People are people, no matter where you go. Pretty much everyone’s doing what they can with what they’ve got, wherever they are.

Gang violence in Oakland is not my nightmare.

You know what is my nightmare? More kids growing up with limited opportunities, truncated education, and fear. Kids who can’t see any way but the one right in front of them. Smart kids who don’t get to learn. Talented kids without an outlet. Parents who think their own experience is the living end. Legislators who care more about being right than being good, or being kind. The “I got mine” mentality informing policies that’ll keep people who ain’t got nothing — and their kids — from ever getting anything…because somewhere along the line the American Dream became a zero-sum game. A government gambling away a future they won’t even see for principles based in pomp and circumstance.

All that? Scares the ever-loving crap out of me. Thugs in my city can put the homocide rate at a record high, but they’ll never hurt as many people as what passes for leadership in Washington right now.


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