The news from lake ‘poc-egon

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

And now, the news from lake ‘poc-egon.

The Pirate House woke up some time this Labor Day morning between eight and nine, but it wasn’t until Didi actually left the house to go to the 99¢ store some time around twelve-thirty did they notice that the black Jolly Roger flag they hung outside their front door, the standard from which they took their name, was gone.

They stood on the porch and they craned their necks — they looked high up the street, and far back down it, but did not see a thing. The side gate door through the picket fence, however, was open. All the signs pointed to theft. Obviously, this was a job for a master sleuth.

Steve and Didi each shrugged their shoulders and went along with their day.

Pirate flag, missing. Gate, open.

Didi went on to the store and Steve worked on learning Quick Attack! songs on bass and played some video games and allowed himself to go six tabs deep in Wikipedia — not writing the blog post he promised himself, nor thinking about it, but simply letting it sit inside him a little longer.

Steve had been thinking a bit lately about life and death. In part because he had been hanging out lately with his good friend Katie, who was about to bring a new life into the world any day now — maybe as he sat around, playing video games, he’d get the text message, a simple “Here she is”, and the weight in pounds and ounces.

He’d also been thinking an awful lot about life and death because he’d just listened to Garrison Keillor, and Garrison Keillor always seems to have a character who’s been thinking an awful lot about life and death lately. This time it was a distant cousin of the Krebsbachs, who lived out on a farm with her husband about five miles out of town. Kids were all grown up, and she seemed to remember to mention to everybody within earshot how death was present, was nearby, and tell them to the week how long each of her dogs had left to live, from the smallest chihuahua right on up to the biggest chihuahua. She had four chihuahuas, but if you squinted, the big one was almost the same size as a terrier.

Steve was determined to get every moment of respite he could from this weekend, time to relax outside a new job that looked like a bigger commitment from the inside than from the outside — as if that was really any surprise. He listed again for himself his priorities and his compromises to those priorities, and what he gains from making those compromises, still feeling like he’s coming out ahead, he hopes.

Because he doesn’t write as much as he wants, and he knows it. All the time there’s something going on somewhere that he’s obsessed with, he feels like he should be doing more, but isn’t — this week, it’s the class war, or some way he can justify to himself that what he’s doing with his life is neither being a tech-yuppie nor a beaten, listless commuter. As if, through sheer force of political conviction, who he is could be more important than what he does. Because it seems like all he does is go to work instead of fight the class war, and play video games to “let the writing sit” rather than to write it. Steve is convinced that those other political activists who are aiming to change the world are doing it wrong — everybody changes the world in some way, big or small, just by living on it. The point instead is to change the world in a way you can be proud of.

Steve smells the wonderful food his roommate is cooking in the other room and remembers the wonderful food he had last night, shared with a family he likes to be around and his loving girlfriend. He thinks of the kitten he’s getting next week. He thinks of all his friends he now gets to see on some sort of basis in the town where he now works, and those he’s about to make in the town where he lives, and the one friend so new she’s just days from being born.

He hopes who you are can be more important than what you do, at least for now. For now, it seems like enough.

And that’s the news from lake ‘poc-egon, where the women eat bacon, the men wear dresses, and the children (or at least, the one to come) are all above average.


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