War

Today is the fourth anniversary of the start of the war and I went to a candlelight vigil (arriving late) in my neighborhood. I didn't have time to go home and get my peace flag from out of the window, and to put on my Out of Iraq button, which I wear on my hat. It was another day of early spring so I didn't wear the hat. I also didn't bring a candle, but figured someone would have an extra one, and I was right. My father used to keep yarmulkes and a small prayer book in his glove compartment, so he'd be equipped if he needed to go to a funeral. I now have the candle in mine. I should keep an extra peace flag at the ready. I had on my Cancer Sucks button but I didn't want to dilute the message so I put it in my pocket. The event was local but two TV stations were there. As I said, I got there late. There were about 100 people on a triangular piece of land that had an American Legion commemorative stone on it. I don't know if that's why the corner was chosen. Once I saw a man get out of his car in broad daylight on this corner and catch pigeons in a bag. Tonight it became clear that people were reading the names of the dead from our state, alphabetically by city. Unfortunately there wasn't a mike so it was very hard to hear. Also some of the big signs were facing toward the center of the group, with people standing between the signs and the street, so that people driving by could see only a crowd and not anti-war signs. Nit, nit, nit. I am so critical. I won't complain about the wind, which kept attempting to douse out our candles. It was a respectful event. I saw about four or five cops on the perimeter, and they were laughing and lounging. I saw them in riot gear a year or so ago, at an afternoon weekend protest in a small city park, where there were about 200 people, standing and lying on the grass.

I went to this event because I can't go to the big rally downtown tomorrow night. I could go but I made a plan to meet a friend that afternoon and for dinner. I haven't seen her for about a year, and in that year her husband died of a brain tumor. He started chemo, then stopped when it became futile. Same with radiation. That was this summer. We will see an exhibit of Palestinian clothing at a museum on the south side, then we'll have dinner.

I went to the event because I have been against the war since it started. I started to tell myself, Oh, Cancer Bitch, you've got your own problems, you're feeling run down and you might be getting L's cold, you don't have to go. But I decided I should. You can argue that vigils and rallies don't matter, but they *are* reported, and are a public manifestation of opinion. And I was keeping the number of participants steady; I replaced the person who was leaving and who gave me his candle. At the rally I was looking for women from Code Pink. I would tell them, O I haven't done anything lately because I have breast cancer, and then they would fall all over me and say, O that's so great that you're here, etc. etc. But they weren't there. They'll probably be at the one downtown tomorrow.

I thought I could have brought a yahrzeit candle. This was a funereal gesture for all the soldiers who died. Did their families realize we were standing around for their sons and daughters? Would it matter? Support the troops, send them home, said the signs. A very gentle message. Not aggressive. And the war goes on, and meanwhile the prosthetics industry is booming in research and development because of this war.

Yesterday and today I spent too much time on the web looking at chemo-head headgear. I don't like most turbans and scarves out there in cyberspace and catalogues and I would want to try them on anyway before buying them. I did send off for temporary tattoos for the scalp. The medium is henna, and the design is a swirling leaf pattern. I also sent off for eyebrown stencils. A girl has to plan. My friend S has agreed to apply the henna. She has an MFA in art so she should be able to combine a peace sign with the leaves.

5 comments:

mare said...

My love - my American love - post on the war today. Me, maybe not being American? Maybe not being human enough? I didn't know. My thanks to both of you for the reminder. No one should ever forget war.

BC said...

The Henna idea is excellent. My "S" told me you were considering it. I asked her what she would do if it was HER head.

She said she would have something that said "If found, please call ..." It wasn't like my wife to make a joke like that. It was a moment of joyful laughter and a brief escape. Laughter is good. I look forward to reading your blog every day. We are with you daily. You & L both. The irony of all this is really almost beyond belief. Ours was a long day today ...

Writer said...

I LOVE If Found Please Call...

Anonymous said...

don't dismiss the smooth scalp, it can really be quite beautiful and a statement in itself

Chapman said...

When my girlfriend's hair fell out during chemotherapy, I shaved my head as an act of solidarity. Now that I'm middle-aged and suffering from male pattern baldness my dome is naturally chroming. I'm still coping with the hit to my ego. Men (at least this one) have the vanity gene too. Must be on a shared chromosome.
Anyway, it seems to me that the solidarity shave is more effective for kids. Most of them don't want to stand out on the playground veldt. It's too dangerous. Adults, on the other hand, don't need to keep their heads down (so to speak) quite as much. In fact, an empathetic response to a shaved head, that sense of being a little special, might be unexpectedly welcomed by someone who's feeling emotionally beat up on by cancer and chemo.
Hey, way back in 1979 an actress named Persis Khambata, a former Miss India, shaved her head for a role in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." (I looked the date up. I am not a trekkie.) It was the first time I had seen a woman with a shaved head and I thought she was starkly beautiful. It's surprising to see a woman without hair, but once you get past the initial shock it can be very appealing. I think what made it work for her were her strong features. I'm betting Cancer Bitch will have similar success with it.