Showing posts with label driver's license. Show all posts
Showing posts with label driver's license. Show all posts

07 February, 2020

Hard skills: driving

Dad taught me to drive. My experience with driver's education wasn't a particularly good one. My instructor was more interested in his Mountain Dew in cigarettes, and I had to drive with a car load of bullies and other kids from school who didn't like me and would do things like flick my ear and kick the seat, all while the instructor chugged his green pop and chain smoke Basics.

So when it was obvious that I needed more practice before the driving test, he took me out in his 1989 Chevy S-10 Blazer. This was no small thing. He special ordered it from a dealership in Indiana. I remember the day we drove to trade in his truck and pick it up because I remember the cicadas. Walls of fat insects flying hurling themselves against the giant plate glass windows, flying and hurling and either falling dead or bouncing until they fell dead:

on the ground
in a rotten ankle tall pile
of failed cicadas.

 And then one of them flew into the Blazer and hid under my seat. The sound it made sounded like it as waiting to devour my kicks.

Dad loved to drive and I think he wanted to be able to share that with me. Because he was sick most of my childhood, there were a lot "father/son" kinds of things we simply weren't able to do.  But I WAS worried, because even though my driving instructor was a bully ignoring, Mountain Dew chugging, chain smoking USE LESS instructor, I did manage to scare him at least twice to the point that he nearly choked on his Pepsi product. And my Dad wasn't exactly KNOWN for his calm nature.

But he talked me out of the driveway and away. He took me down back roads near the house; very little traffic, but narrow and windy in places. And he talked to me about why he liked to drive. It was a chance to let his mind go, he said. He could focus on driving and not have to think about anything, or he could think about things, decompress, or just listen to the radio. Dad was the only adult who had told me it was OK to listen to the radio while you drive.

He never used the word meditation. But that's what it was about for him. A meditation. And yes, I'm sure he also felt those feelings of independence I used to feel when I drove. But he didn't attach driving to his freedom, his masculinity, or his economic status. He drove because he loved to drive.

I don't know how he'd feel knowing that I don't especially like to drive. But I do like to be in motion. This sometimes takes the form of travel. A lot of times it just takes the form of walking. I like to walk and meditate, or walk and think, or walk and listen to music. I like to walk and take in the world in small, deep draughts.

I like to think he'd understand.

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06 March, 2015

In the Footsteps of Earth Shakers Along the Dirty Sacred River

[Link to the previous post]
The Louisville Teach-In
I couldn't do anything like this without her love, support, and spark.

When I decided to re-enter the harrowed halls of higher education , it was not without some hesitation. None of the problems that caused me to leave had been resolved... and, as a matter of fact, had gotten worse. The corporate take over of higher education has essentially infiltrated every aspect of the grand institution to the point that the powermongers are getting their fingers into the classroom. Because that corporate mentality dictates that money trickles up while shit and labor trickle down.

Being a passionate educator is doing the Good Work of the World. I believe that as firmly as I believe that Capitalism does more harm than good that the only thing the government ought to be doing is divesting itself of power and dumping all of the money wasted on congressional salaries into schools, hospitals, homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless, and help for the helpless. I also believe that the corporate take over of education is nothing short of an attempt to undo the last bits of Democracy existing in our grand corporatocracy.

When I decided to re-enter higher education, I promised myself that I would do more than be an armchair anarchist, more than some philosophical fondant, the acceptably compromised and disaffected liberal -- that niche of teachers who made me as sick to my bones as the neofascists out at Arizona State University. It's not enough to wear the hat, to talk the talk of (r)evolution.

I knew I'd have to put up or shut up.

 Me at the Teach-In Courtesy @ElizabethLGlass

I've been keeping my ear to the ground to get a sense of noise. Kentucky is a notoriously anti-union state and it's only getting worse with the Randian/McConnell push for "right-to-work"* legislation. Fear of reprisal and job loss keeps a lot of union-minded teachers quiet while the Libertarians strut around misleading people into believing that all unions are bad and that the power paradigm cannot be shifted. In other words, folks are adopting the same attitude that made the Middle Ages so fun and full of warmth.

When I heard the rumblings of National Adjunct Walk-Out Day (#NAWD) I knew that was an opportunity to finally start having the discussion in public that I'd been having in group offices, Facebook feeds, emails, and in bars for more than a few years.  I knew it would be a hard way to go all by my lonesome.

But I knew I wasn't a lone. Not really. Amanda, true love of my heart, cast her lot in with me knowing full well my inclinations. When I told her about #nawd and my intention to organize some event, she immediately thought it was good idea.

FW Kate. Courtesy, Patrick Danner
It wasn't long before I met other like-minded and action-oriented folks, Fellow Worker Kate Lafferty,
her boyfriend FW Patrick. I met Elizabeth Glass, who is no stranger to tilting at windmills and other large social causes. When Kate and I started talking about #nawd -- to be honest, I don't remember who brought it up -- I immediately discovered a friend who would do more than talk. There is nothing more comforting for a would-be organizer than to find other like-minded people.

We not only got the college president to vocally and publicly support the Teach-In, we organized simultaneous events at two campuses; got endorsements from the Kentucky IWW, Kentucky Jobs with Justice, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, and the SEIU; the put together materials so that our colleagues could present in their classes on the day of; attracted enough attention to merit the attention of one local media outlet, as well as being included on the #NAWD map

We spoke to a decent sized crowd at JCTCS, and there was a small meeting at the University of Louisville, led by FW Reagan and Daniel Runnels, a part-timer in the Spanish Department.  It was an important and declarative first step in what is nothing short of (r)evolution.

Margaret Mead is often quoted as saying "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I'd say that's about right.
*Right-to-work: really means the right of the boss to fire you without reason, pay you less than what you're worth, and strip you of your right to free assembly in a union.

09 February, 2014

During "Kimball's Rachael" and On Through "The Most Dangerous Woman"

The cubby
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has been kind enough to like the new Facebook Page. Just over 100 likes in less than a week! If you like what you read, and what you will eventually hear and see on the blog, please pass it around. I can, do, and have absolutely no problem talking to myself. Some would even suggest that I'm talking to myself most of the time, anyway.

But it always helps to have some company.

This week, after my third run at the windmill that is the Jefferson County DMV, I managed to get my driver's license switched and get my truck tagged in the Commonwealth. The last time I had a Kentucky license and a Kentucky tag was in 2001, when I landed back in the state after a year or so of living in New Orleans. It was significantly less complicated to get my license in 2001, because I was living in Menifee County. That meant I could go to the courthouse in Frenchburg, where I met a wizened old woman in a back room whose sole job was to give out marriage and drivers' licenses. In any other Office of the Clerk of Courts, she would have been kindly but firmly retired. In a place like Frenchburg, in a county like Menifee -- which once held the distinction of being the county where escaped criminals could go to hide and not have to worry much about the constable from any of the surrounding counties trying to come in and find them. Menifee is mountainous country, and like all mountainous country, it depends -- even to this day, I believe -- on the anonymity provided by the mountains and on the walking memory of those who live there.

The old woman in that small, dark wood-paneled room in the back of a courthouse that probably hadn't seen any updates since electric lights and indoor toilets looked me up and down, squinted at my Louisiana driver's license and squinted at me. For those of you who have grown up with the crutch of personal technologies, when an old woman or old man squints at you like that, it means that a complex series of computations is taking place. Not only are you being sized up, but if there's any connection between you and some folk or family in the region, that connection be ferreted out.*

Once she determined that I was neither related to troublemakers, sinners (that she knew personally) and that I was probably not on the run from anything, she went about transferring my license. The only time she hesitated when she looked at my weight a listed on my Louisiana license. I had lost a lot of weight down there with all the clean living and sweat lodge summer heat, and the number listed was clearly more than I weighed at the time. She only rolled her ancient eyes, shook her head, and finished the transfer.

For those of you not acquainted with the Dixie Highway Branch of the Jefferson County Clerk's Office, I invite you to watch the 1985 cult classic movie  Brasil.**

There is no walking memory in a place like this, only the technological crutch of the Commonwealth's Department of Motor Vehicle's computer system, which is never wrong -- according to people who work there -- and simultaneously never correct -- if you ask at least 75% of the people waiting for their number to get called.

Now, while it might seem a bit unfair to expect a metropolitan city like Louisville to depend on the subjective nature of the walking memory via some lifelong resident rather than the imperfect nature of technological appendages, I submit that not doing so will do more long term damage than any computer virus. With our increasing dependence on these pieces of molded plastic and silicon, we are missing out on that grand opportunity to stand before someone who, in a single prolonged squint, will know more about you than the last person who saw you naked.

That singular experience, more than any, is a humbling and humanizing force. When we are dressed down, not only for our potential sins, but for any sins by potential familial connection, something of our true nature breaks out. I am convinced that somewhere out there, walks some living memory who will someday squint at me, and see my father, and his father, and his father. And to be honest, I shudder to think about meeting those wizened eyes, though the world is small enough that I will end up meeting them sooner or later.

With any luck, (and Dad, I think you'd agree if you were alive to say so) whoever it is will judge me by my mother's people. The outcome will be more favorable.

*This is not always to your advantage.
** The movie offers no sound advice for dealing with the bureaucratic nightmare; but it will prepare you for the varying levels of confusion, the flurry of paperwork required to requisition an ink pen to sign the receipt and pay the taxes on your vehicle.