Des Moines Iowa

Or maybe just I am.

Dad’s first cousin on his mom’s side, Joe Fagan, got up in GOP hopeful Mitt Romney‘s eager to be POTUS face today on the subject of Medicare and Social Security. While I don’t disagree with Romney that given its current trajectory Medicare and SS benefits aren’t particularly sustainable given the current and projected worker to retired person ratio, I applaud Joe for exposing Romney for the corp whore twat he is.

“Corporations are people, my friend.”*

Dear Universe, hear me while I scream until my tonsils burst into flames.

My earliest memories of Joe are his visits when he was attending seminary in Dubuque. He would stop by in the evenings, sometimes bringing along a fellow classmate, and he and Dad would reminisce and argue about current events and politics. It was the late 1960’s. Joe was ten years younger than my Dad, who’d served in the Navy in the last months of WWII. To say that they disagreed in those turbulent times would be understating.

Joe admired Dr. King and supported Bobby Kennedy. Dad didn’t understand civil protests and voted for Nixon – every single time.

But Dad always said, “Joe stands up for what he believes is right.”

The organization Joe worked for in Des Moines for decades until his retirement not long ago has been accused of being “socialist”, which in Iowa – indeed anywhere in America these days – is code for “not American”. But they fought for the underprivileged, the working poor, the over-looked and the people who are and will continue to bear the brunt of the economic slide.

He never sought fame or power or riches. He was a working guy with a wife, who taught school before becoming a principal, and two kids.

By standing up and not letting Romney shush him with charm and platitudes, Joe Fagan was doing what every American has the right to do – question the motives of those who seek to lead us. To rule us.

Good on , cuz!

*This statement – destined to be a POTUS 2012 classic – is apparently already available on t-shirts with bumper stickers to follow I imagine.

Devil's Den State Park

Image via Wikipedia

Skimming back through the spring of 2007, I realized that I never really wrote about Rob proposing to me over Spring Break that year. If I have written about it, I don’t recall or perhaps the references were in passing from one idea to another in a blog entry that was likely totally unrelated to the event.

We spent the March vacation together in Arkansas mostly at Devil’s Den State Park though the week began with us taking Dee to my parents’ home in Dubuque.

Actually, the week began on a Thursday with Rob meeting Dee.

I’d stayed home sick from work. It was just conferences and being one of the drop out prevention teachers, I expected no one in particular to show up. I left a sign up sheet for anyone who did on my desk, asking for name, number or email with the promise to get in touch right after the holiday. I think there were two names – parents I was already in regular contact with anyway.

But I was exhausted and worried about Dad, who had just discovered a tumor in his lower intestinal tract and had yet learned if it was cancer or not (it wasn’t that time) and Rob was due to arrive that afternoon.

And I wasn’t packed.

I am never packed.

The Dubuque leg of the journey went smoothly. My parents and sisters were highly suspicious of this long distance, too quick for their liking romance but were keeping their stronger opinions to themselves. Partly because I had made it clear that I wasn’t polling the audience for input and also because my history with dating was such that they knew I brought no one home to meet the family unless I was sure. Case in point? They’d only ever met one boyfriend – Will.

I was not worried about them meeting Rob and he was completely zen.

St. Patrick’s Day was on a Friday. We drove back to Des Moines in the late morning and spent the afternoon “catching up” before getting ready for a dinner date with BFF and her husband.

The dinner was another meet and greet for Rob. He knew BFF because they emailed too.* Her husband was a high school buddy of Will’s, one of the very few friends who bothered to visit Will when he was ill, at home or in the nursing home. He made an effort to be helpful after and was good to Dee – the only one of Will’s friends who bothered about her at all.

But he liked Rob, in spite of himself I think. I would imagine it difficult to see your friend’s wife in love and happy with someone else, but he rose to the occasion with grace and a smile.

After dinner and a show at the local comedy club, it was home rather early because we still had to grocery shop and pack the truck for our drive on Saturday.

We were crawling into bed when the subject of the future came up and Rob wanted me to know that his intentions were serious and life-long. He rummaged through his suitcase and pulled out a ring box.

As he took out the ring he said, “I can’t say the words yet but I want you to wear this.”

I tried to assure him I didn’t need the ring until he was ready because I knew we would get married, but he insisted.

“It’s stupid that I can’t just say it,” he said, “but I will ask formally. Please wear it.”

So I did.

It was Sunday night when he asked. We were in bed again. So many important moments in my life have found me supine.

“Remember what I said when I gave you the ring?” he asked. “Will you marry me?”

And now its four years later. No time at all really and yet at this point with Will, he was dying and absent from our relationship in every way that really counts.

Not a Hallmark moment. More Judd Apatow rom-com perhaps. But outcomes are what make up bottom lines and the sum total of ours is healthy and in the black.

*She had wanted to check him out a bit, so he began including her in some of the notes he sent me when he had a funny vid or joke to share.

… to enlighten the rest of us damned to the eternal hellfire types.

It’s easiest just to dismiss this little girl as a callous whack-job who’s been so thoroughly indoctrinated in what passes for Christianity in the United States these days that she will likely never see the hypocrisy in her words or her own insensitivity in posting her witnessing to a social media site.

When I was teaching in Des Moines, I ran across this shallow vindictive type of Chrisitianism (as Andrew Sullivan as aptly termed it) quite frequently, so while I would like to be shocked, I’m not.

It doesn’t even make me sad or disgusted.

It does make me wonder why, if there is really a God, he doesn’t smote the world and be done with the sorry, stupid, ungrateful, blind as the three mice and nearly as irredeemable as Hannibal Lector species that he bothered to create in the first place.

I am reminded, slightly out of context, of an exchange between Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Present about the worth of humans and who should really arbitrate on the matter.

Ebenezer Scrooge: [on Tiny Tim] Tell me, Spirit… Will he live?
Ghost of Christmas Present: I see an empty place at this table. I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.
Ebenezer Scrooge: No. Say he’ll be spared.
Ghost of Christmas Present: If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none other of my species will find him here. But if he is to die, then let him die…! “AND DECREASE THE SURPLUS POPULATION!”
Ebenezer Scrooge: You use my own words against me?
Ghost of Christmas Present: Yes! So perhaps, in the future, you will hold your tongue until you have discovered where the surplus population is, and WHO it is. It may well be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man’s child.