Thursday, May 2, 2013

Trapped in Coach with a Nazi

So, I think this whole "class reunion/looking up dead people/preparing memorials for them thing is getting to me.  I dreamed my boy dead yesterday.  Not the first time I've done that (about the fourth, I think), but this was was particularly rough because I couldn't make it stop.  I'm on my knees, touching the glass over his face (horrid, cheap glass-topped coffin), and willing the dream to stop, but it won't.  Waiting for that rising sensation that tells me, "Oh, okay, this is a dream, and I'm waking up now."  It didn't come.  Not for a long time.  Not until I had come to the devastating realization that it wasn't a dream.  I wasn't crying when I woke up, but boy, I sure was after I awoke.  My boy came in, hugged me, and I had the sinking feeling THAT was the dream, you know?  That he really was dead, and I was dreaming he wasn't.  I cried a lot, and it left a shadow on the rest of my day.

Today, I didn't kill anyone in my dream, but I did dream reunion.  The whole time.  When I'm drifting, I dream Photoshop and Excel because of all the memorials and spreadsheet work I've been doing, but once asleep, I dreamed miserable "hammering out the details" stuff.  Bill showing off his fancy 10 inch Galaxy tab, and me feeling like I was expected to explain why I've only got a wi-fi iPad 3 (I won it in a contest, if you're wondering).  That self-aggrandizing wanna-be actress, Wendy, was there playing bad wanna-be Irish folk songs to anyone she thought might be impressed while Melanie floated authoritatively about in a flowing mu-mu, declaring this and that.  Except she kept turning into the other Melanie--the poor, breathtakingly tall, kind, acne-scarred girl who had such a hellish time in school.  Trying to figure out how I was going to broach with Bill just what a crappy, scary, high-crime area he lived in, and how hosting a huge class reunion in his front yard was probably NOT a good idea.

I may be too absorbed in this.


You  know, we watched an excellent six (?) part documentary on Auschwitz a couple of weeks ago.  Mostly for our boy's benefit, but I admit, I learned things I hadn't known, too.  It was very well done, and I really recommend it:


There was one part that I had a hard time explaining to my boy.  How one of the women interviewed, a camp survivor, could tear up and talk about how terrible it was to return to her family's home after the war and find it occupied by people who wouldn't let her in, who wouldn't give her back her home.  In effect, the Poles moved into these Jewish homes and, when the true owners came home (those few who did), they saw nothing wrong with saying, "No, go away, this is my home now."  Horrible, no?  Yet this woman, and so many like her, seem to completely miss the horrifying hypocrisy of descending upon Palestine, violently driving the Palestinians from their homes and out of the country or into camps, moving onto their farms, their orchards, their neighborhoods, and then condemning them for wanting their homes BACK.  Labeling them "terrorists" (a term Israelis once used to describe themselves in their attacks against British soldiers and Palestinians) for fighting back against occupation, exile, and murder.  My boy was angry--how can she not see?  How can they not see that the very thing they're (rightfully) decrying in this documentary (not being allowed back into their homes, being robbed of all they had) is what they have visited upon the Palestinians?

It was hard.  It was very hard, finding a way to explain that because, objectively, there is no excuse for it.  But we explored it together, and here's what we came up with:

Maybe, after being exposed to pain, terror, horror, and suffering to that extreme degree, you lose sight of the suffering of others.  Maybe it becomes nearly impossible to really empathize with others because you have been viciously tempered to focus on your own survival and the survival of those you consider your own. Maybe you come to view your group as more deserving of good because you've suffered such bad.  Maybe you become so focused upon the goals and hopes and dreams of your people that you completely lose sight of how achieving those things affects others.

Maybe you stop seeing the humanity in others because you were treated so very inhumanely yourself.

It was a good talk.  No, it doesn't make me any less determined in my defense of the Palestinians or my condemnation of Israeli apartheid, but it did bring me in from a different angle, and it was eye-opening.


Speaking of Auschwitz, I was reminded of my flight home from Frankfurt back in 1995.  Unlike the heavenly flight TO Frankfurt, which left me sharing coach (smoking coach, even--I smoked a LOT back then) with only two other people, the flight home wasn't a red-eye, and it was PACKED.  Jammed in next to me?  A small German woman who spent hours explaining, excusing, and flat-out lying about the camps.  The extermination.  The "Final Solution."  How I had to understand how much better things were for the German people while this was going on.  How there was finally WORK for the Germans (yikes), how the Jews had brought so much of it on themselves (an argument always guaranteed to bring up my hackles, regardless of the victims' ethnicity), how the "holocaust" was nothing more than a Jewish media creation, and, finally, how, if we Americans really understood Gypsies/the Romany people, we'd know that anyplace with fewer Gypsies is a better place.  As for homosexuals?

She grimaced and made an ugly "Tchah!" noise.  

I was very lucky when I was a teen.  I had a friend whose mother was German.  Her name was Inga (Ingaborg), and her family had been Lutheran, though they converted to Mormonism when they fled Germany.  Yes, fled.  See, the German military started making noises about inducting boys, and Inga's family had no intention of becoming a part of what Hitler was doing.  When the questions about their ideology became pointed, they fled in the night.  They eventually wound up in Utah, where their family spent weekends traveling to Topaz, the site of a Japanese internment camp, to bring food, clothing, games, and blankets.  She said they lived in terror that, after fleeing Germany, they would wind up in an AMERICAN camp because of their German-ness.  Inga taught me a LOT about Germany, Naziism, war, and she was the first person to ever speak to me about Japanese internment camps.  No public school did that for me.  With that grounding, I was finally inspired to look at my Frankfurt to Camden row-mate and say, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I'm all done listening--you defend the indefensible, and worse, you paint victims as deserving.  You should almost certainly shut up now."

It's probably a good thing I don't speak German, because she responded energetically in her mother tongue.


The dog's first training session is tonight.  Four months was all we could scrounge together for, and it's going to have to be enough.  He's already "trained" in that he does tricks, he comes when he's called, he stays when he's told, and he even "self disciplines."  You know, he growls at the TV, then jumps down and slinks off to his kennel without being told.  He's great with people (even with the house full of new folks we had last month, he was in heaven).  His problem?  He's not so good with other dogs.  He CAN be--if the circumstances are right, he's completely thrilled to run and play with new dogs.  But his greetings are inappropriate (a lot of tugging and whining, which degenerates to growling when he can't get in close to sniff), and other dogs interpret it as aggression.  So we're hoping to teach him how to better interact with other dogs.  Barring that, we're hoping to teach him to not respond at all.  Wish us luck!  Wish HIM luck!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, there will be NONE of that "Dog Whisperer" claptrap!  Our dog isn't a WOLF, we're not WOLVES, and that silly "alpha roll" crap is no way to treat a dog.  

Our Charlie is the Cairn in front.  That's Charley, the Corgi, behind.  One of Charlie's successful doggy encounters.
And that's it!  Day two of mostly meatless.  Last night's stir-fry?  Bleh.  Bland.  And that's not because of the missing meat, that's because I was limited, sodium-wise, to two tablespoons of "less sodium" soy sauce.  So things were very plain. The rice mix was tasty (Wegmans whole grain five rice blend), and the peppers were good, but overall it just wasn't very satisfying.  It was filling, though.  Definitely that.  Tomorrow night, we're going to try the "Don't Have a Cow" imitation ground beef crumbles with tacos.  See, I can't do fake meat by itself because I like meat.  But in a taco, surrounded by salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion?  I'm thinking it'll be just fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment