City Heights: Up Close & Personal
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Memory is a capricious thing- it shuffles all of those cards that signify the days, weeks and years of our lives and lays them out in a manner that doesn’t necessarily cleave to chronology– or even the truth.
I cut the deck, turn two cards face up on the table- the Queen of Hearts and the Jack of Clubs. It is March 13, 2003. I say that with certainty even though I do not trust my memory.
I have finished zipping up my suitcase and am nervously walking around the house stroking the cats and staring at the art on the walls as if it were for the last time. I will be taking a red eye flight to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My brother and sister have persuaded me that our mother is close to death. I would have one more chance at total denial of that indisputable fact.
My normal propensity for high drama was heightened significantly by the war drums that had been sounding for weeks, the rumblings that we were about to go to war, to invade Iraq. The sheer loathsomeness of Bush-Cheney had turned into something much darker, frightening and utterly incomprehensible. I was going to be 3,000 miles from My Beloved and my home while George W. Bush was explaining why war was necessary and inevitable.
So there you have the setting- The Queen of Hearts. The Jack of Clubs. But now one more card- The Joker. City Heights is always the Wild Card, the Joker, that becomes part of the mix. This place that I have called home for longer than anywhere else is a shape shifting character that looms large in my life, and so it was on March 13, 2003.
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I crawled groggily out of bed this morning and ambled out to the kitchen. My Beloved turned to me and said “I don’t know how many more State of the Unions I can handle.” Last night we listened to President Obama’s hour long speech, then Republican Savior-in-Training Senator Marco Rubio’s, followed by Congressman Rand Paul’s, as the voice of the Tea Party, which is the other white meat of the Republican party. Afterward, we smoked.
The Designated Survivor One odd little factoid that was revealed during the pre-speech(es) buildup was that Energy Secretary Steven Chu was selected to skip this year’s address.
Because the president, vice president, lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices and members of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff are all sitting together in a confined space in the Capitol, one Cabinet member is chosen to skip the speech every year.
The concept of a designated survivor is an interesting one.