My son gave four years to the Army, as did my Big Daddy and his Dad too if I'm not wrong. We're an Army family I suppose. That surprises me to write, since I grew up in the stone-age of the 1960s watching coffins come back from Viet Nam on the news every night, and protestors with flowers and that famous song, sung from John and Yoko's bed.
I wouldn't let my kids play with guns of any kind when they were little (I thought war was a human habit that could be stemmed if we didn't encourage our little warriors to play games of pretend death.) No squirt guns, no finger guns, no, don't bite your sandwich into a gun and shoot your brother with it. They had to really work me to get the Ghost Busters gun-like thing, because "It sucks ghosts IN mom, it doesn't shoot anything out!"
Andrew had to blackmail me in the worst possible way to get me to sign the papers for him to join the Army at 17 during wartime under the command of a man who doesn't know that nucular isn't a word. I didn't even get them birth certificates after their home-births till later in their lives, and I established a pattern of sleep-walking as early as their pediatric visits to help
lay the groundwork to keep them safe from a draft. I was born a little too late to be a true hippie, a little too early and lacking in self-confidence to be a dancing queen at the disco. I just thought that people should be nice to each other.
Michael and I just watched a very interesting television show about Jerusalem and the crazy
antics that have been going on there for centuries, fighting over a rock. Somehow our Teacher Lady managed to show us only the beauty of the monuments and leave out much of the blood-soaked history that surrounds the objects we studied. Maybe I just didn't want to hear it. Timor and the Mongols were bastards, I remember that part. If you were to ask me today though I would say that I just spent a semester studying beauty and not blood.
I am starting to realize that the urge to war does not originate with little California boys with
squirt guns though. One thing that fascinates me in footage of riotous discord in the middle-east though: You throw that rock today and it's an Israeli rock, but pick it up and throw it back and it's a Palestinian rock. Somewhere in the Akashic record is the number of times each rock has changed its allegiance and intention.
I am torn in the conflict between my abhorrence of war and my admiration for those who will dedicate their lives to the concept of military service. I detest the former, and have great admiration for the latter. I guess I will have to leave that as one of life's conundrums however, I don't even have the energy to come to a concrete conclusion and defend it in debate form.
What I really want to talk about is body piercing. It's ancient. It's National Geographic. It's those primitive indigenous peoples who go around poking, cutting and marking themselves. Watching it in a school movie with the calming yet authoritative male voice-over about how lucky the brown people were to have the white people show up and put a stop to all of that could make me shudder, and avert my eyes into my best friend's shoulder. How could they do that? Circus side-shows collected a million nickels selling a glimpse of the crazy things people will do to their bodies.
In my skewed view of the world it makes perfect sense to decorate my skin (and yours) with indelible marks till there's no flesh-tone left. It's what I do. The first tattoo seems so significant, it has to hold meaning and be a commitment to forever and maybe signify sticking the big toe into the waters of being "other." After a while I'll wedge any old thing that suits me in the moment, in between all the other images, because I don't want to be the color of human skin anyway.
When I was in high school there was a girl named Nikki who had not one but two earrings in her lobes. It was foreign and unheard of and I wanted to be like her. I went home and immediately forced a second pair of earrings into my lobes. No ice cubes or potatoes here folks, I just shoved them through. It hurt.
The phenomenon of modern, western body piercing started (I believe) with punk-rock culture and the application of safety pins and other things you could just put through your flesh to freak out "normal" people. I missed the 80s, I was a vegetarian and breast-feeding. Legitimate body piercing was transformed by Fakir years ago. Oh, and pirates, they did it too.
I've been cruising along for a couple of decades, decorating away and not really jumping on the body piercing boat. Just because it's body modification doesn't mean I'm into it. Branding, scarification, ritual cutting (including circumcision) and the implantation of shapes and horns and other things kind of freak me out.
Somewhere along the line ears became fair game, and it was no big deal to see someone with twenty-five earrings in an ear. I remember being sober for just two weeks and having my tongue pierced so that I would have something foreign and slightly painful on the outside of my body to reflect the unseen changes I was going through on the inside.
One after another during the last six and a half years I have had metal installed in various places, and I've come to love it. I don't understand the appeal, and I'm certainly too old to be "discovering myself" the way teenagers do. I am though, coming to recognize the feeling I get in the morning when I'm going to do it again.
It's a searing pain, that part never changes. I go to a zone that accepts and slides between the sensations and leaves me floating above that thing called "ouch" That's how I ended up with a hole in my lip, a Monroe (those are jewels applied where Marilyn and other lucky women have natural beauty marks) two holes in my nose, (my ________ and my _______). I am not stopping for some reason, and I feel like I should know better. Now I have a gem on my inner wrist, anchored by a titanium foot that my flesh will grow into and surround, and one on my cheek. What the hell is up with that?
I feel like a decorator crab, adding pretty shiny bits to my exoskeleton, and like an invulnerable super-hero because slowly but surely I am becoming made of metal.
Happy Memorial day, enjoy your barbecues and backyard festivities. Remember those who gave everything in conflicts that may have meant nothing at all, but gave it all anyway. Don't drink and drive. Remember that an amazing group of people wrote some documents that others would die to defend, that give us the right to poke as many holes in ourselves as we want and marry who we wish in our "pursuit of happiness." Be kind to those you know, and those you don't.
Don't bite your sandwich into a gun and shoot your brother with it.