Splash Down

As a humanist and space enthusiast, my emotions are split over today’s headlines. America has solved the problem of being reliant on Russia for the transportation of their space cargo, but they still haven’t figured out how to increase the odds of customers being able to walk out of a Walmart alive.

On the afternoon of August 3, 2019, 20 people walked into an El Paseo Walmart and were shot. The shooting has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.  Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old also from Texas, was arrested soon after the shooting and later charged with capital murder.  The FBI claim evidence confirmed the shooter is a white supremacist, anti-immigrant, and declared the incident a hate crime and domestic terrorism.

2019 was a big year for mass shootings.  According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were more than 370 mass shootings in the US in 2019, with mass shooting defined as any incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, were shot but not necessarily killed. That’s an average of about eight mass shootings a week.

We seem to be in an age where the world takes two steps forward, and on another front, travels five steps back.  Round and round it goes.  How wonderful it is when a group of minds is focused on a scientific endeavor. Reshaping the space industry in one move–the successful splashdown yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico!  WOW!  It should feel like a great victory for us all.  Yet there is a shadow hanging over it.  It is not unlike a child sitting behind the steering wheel of the family car pretending to drive, and the parent scolds, “You’re not old enough for this yet.”

A diagram of Crew Dragon’s return to Earth.SpaceX/Twitter, 2020
PERSONAL PANDEMIC UPDATE

On the home front, starting in August I’m returning to the office for 20 hours a week.  After working from home for SIX MONTHS I am quietly entering back into a semi-regular work week.  Whatcom County is expected to go to Phase 3 of the Washington State reopening plan this month.  If you think the lockdown was tough, get ready for the bridge era of returning to work before the vaccine!

Managing foot traffic and cleaning stations throughout a 3 story building is a challenge.  It took our reopening team 3-4 months to put together a detailed plan.   There will be new etiquettes for people working or entering a compartmentalized office building.  There are so many new areas to consider that go beyond the typical janitorial maintenance, such as air quality and airflow, surface protection, body temperature reading stations, instructions of what to do if a positive COVID individual is reported, etc. This is a different challenge than what restaurants or grocery stores are dealing with.  Honestly, it’s exhausting to think about.
Well, If Space X can go into orbit and return two astronauts safely, then I guess we can do this!  *takes a deep breath*  Here we go…

Have a good day-
SPL

 

 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_El_Paso_shooting

https://www.inverse.com/innovation/spacex-falcon-9-stunning-images

https://www.vox.com/2019/11/18/20970841/duncan-oklahoma-walmart-shooting-gun-violence

Prose poem: Smells Like Winning

Photo by Takemaru Hirai on Unsplash

In the winter of 2018-19, I walked by a cemetery and crematorium to catch my bus.  Dragging my knuckles home after an unsatisfying day, uphill no less, pass the body markers of others, and the rush of evening traffic. —These are moments poets DREAM of!  I am thankful for the times we walk among metaphors.

With a 45 minute wait for the bus, I recorded memory of my migration “Smells Like Winning” in the form of what I call Spoken Free Verse. It is a writing exercise; the challenge is to compose a prose poem in a ONE take recording.  Below is the transcript, the audio file deleted.  In October 2018, while recovering from a bike accident I posted some of the free verse transcripts and the original audio.  The poem “Smells Like Winning” seemed too dark and I was hesitant to share that side of me at the time.  Please, don’t be frightened, remember some pungent truths are blown away simply by the scent of a cinnamon candle.

Smells like winning

It’s seven minutes after five and I’m sitting at the 540 bus stop on Woburn.  Its a loud, busy road connecting Alabama and Lakeway. The UPS and Post Office trucks clank by with chains on to help maneuver around the back roads that still have ice and snow. I have a 45 minutes wait for the next bus. The sun is setting somewhere behind me. Dusk officially starts.

Looking down I notice the heel of the black winter hose gave out today, a Thursday.  It couldn’t hold itself together for another day. I imagine it was that hard strut from the fax machine that did it in.  Friday marks the end of my first week; a new job with a new bus schedule. 

If I wanted to, I could walk up the hill past the cemetery and crematorium to the bus on Lakeway, takes 26 minutes.  If I did want to walk there it shaves 15 minutes off my commute home. But I don’t want to. Yesterday I did that, walked up the hill to Lakeway.  Hiked up that sidewalk with bumpy ice-slush and old snow beside the rushing cars set out like hunting dogs that haven’t eaten in weeks seeking a sniff of a fox. 

Yesterday I walked up the hill.  I noticed forgotten gravestones deep into the tall trees where the lawnmower can’t reach.  The stones are small, dark, gray, crumbling. A noisy creek snakes around the bottom of a ravine.  I stop to listen. The crematorium comes into view by the stoplight. Stagnant cold air holds a blue haze over the building, but there is no smell of wood burning.  The contemporary style building sits on the busy corner of Lakeway and Woburn. It took me a while to remember what they do there. I keep walking faithfully towards my bus stop thinking about the smoke as I get closer.  As I walked into and under it, around the traffic light, hairpin to the left 

My eyes weep in the wind.
I worked hard this week.
Rebuilding my life.
Breathing hard up this steep hill.
Taking in the smoke of the ones who lived before
filling my lungs with foreign moments

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