Sunday, July 4, 2010

the big bang

the fourth seems to bring out the patriot in all of us, yes? facebook status updates paint arbitrary lines of stars and stripes and you are either for jesus and soldiers or you believe in the freedom to choose pabst blue ribbon on a warm sunday afternoon. perhaps you consult martha for how to decorate your large backyard full of loving thy neighbor and slightly dangerous sparklers while leonard cohen waves his gravelly voice in the air like a weathered flag. there is no "all and sometimes none of the above" choice except to not update your status at all. passive aggressive social networking is somehow more american than apple pie and the world cup frenzy has somehow overshadowed baseball. so there's that.
remember the fireworks in the backyard of our youth? the excitement of getting to stay up late tempered with a bit of 'be careful you don't blow your hand off.' now we watch commercial displays that never quite seem good enough to justify the crowd and the parking and the absolute overwhelming 'LOOK HOW MUCH FUN WE'RE HAVING'-ness of it all. perhaps i am a bit of a curmudgeon these days. but it has nothing to do with how easily we forget anything besides the first few phrases of the declaration of independence until we hear npr recite it. it is more about how listening to it simultaneously gives me a sense of pride and boredom, feeling detached from the idea of the king and his army, wondering if i'll make it to my friend's bbq this afternoon or if we will visit bryan's dad in the hospital, so grateful for good surgeons and the fact that he has amazing health insurance.
perhaps this is the crux of it, this idea that my decisions and choices today are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things and the very fact that i am able to spend the day with my daughter and my man, relaxed and eating watermelon in the air conditioning, full of ice water and cable television and the safety of nightlights and muffled walls protecting my toddler from the gunshot sounds of celebration that she did not enjoy so much at disneyland a few weeks ago so i'm pretty sure she's not going to enjoy them this time around either.
i am grateful for the freedom to feel ambivalent about the celebration of the good old united states of america, watching the history channel and silently berating myself for having absolutely no idea how the states got their shape. i am respectful of every sacrifice, every struggle, every voice in the crowd, every thinly veiled ethnocentric tendency waved proudly in the air. i am also a tad intimidated by the expectations.
i love the fourth of july much in the same way i love la.
without the crowds and at my own pace.
the fact that this video is the most beautiful thing i have ever seen while the soundtrack is by a band i cannot stand (which has brought out the mccarthyism of some of my friends) somehow makes sense. as much sense as my desire to stay inside on a holiday that fundamentally requires venturing outside to participate.
and as much sense as the fact that mel gibson played the patriot.

Running on Empty from Ross Ching on Vimeo.


  1. 'LOOK HOW MUCH FUN WE'RE HAVING'-ness of it all" Love that "ness". Gonna coin the phrase often. Forgive me for plagiarism. How the states got their shape? I had to buy myself a puzzle of the good ol' USA. That's how bad I am at geography. Lost some pieces by the way, and now I am as lost as ever.

  2. Yes. To it all. The ambivalence of this holiday for me always surprises.
    Thank you for putting into words so well... :)

  3. I LOVE Leonard Cohen, longtime fan:

    "Sail on, sail on
    O mighty Ship of State!
    To the Shores of Need
    Past the Reefs of Greed
    Through the Squalls of Hate
    Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on"
    Happy Fourth Krista!

  4. A couple of things rise to the surface for me.

    1. vivid memory of laying on my back on the scratchy green wool army blanket, practically in my dad's armpit, watching the fireworks explode pretty much directly overhead. I don't remember how old I was when I stopped doing that and went off with my own friends. I wonder if he does.

    2. your thoughts and analysis may push me over that questionable boundary where I now like you so much that I try to hunt you down on facebook.

  5. love that last sentence of yours

    happy fourth, lady.

  6. Like minds, like hearts. I spent the 4th indoors and yes, Paul sat watching the History channel. He quietly strummed on his guitar and I sat enjoy the simple elegance of the serenity. Somehow the world couldn't be any more perfect. (Hugs)Indigo

  7. I really do enjoy being patriotic, but it only happens a few times a year.

  8. I was just remarking to friends that the only time I let myself feel that unabashed pride is on the 4th and I'd let myself have one day a year to let the cynicism retire elsewhere while I enjoyed a fireworks show and didn't cringe at the band playing "Proud to be an American."

    Lovely post.

  9. this is a beautiful essay - thank you

  10. Beautiful writing, Krista. Sometimes I wonder when we celebrate how much it is that we celebrate the actual event, and how much it is just the getting together with family and friends.


use your kind words.