Settling in

I’m sorry for another boring vegetable picture. The garden is doing so well right now.  There’s always something to pick every day.

Still settling in, there’s still so much to do.  It was wonderful to go away and get a perspective on my life.  I needed that so much.

It was interesting coming home.  The day after we got back, I ran into a lady I have known for 10 years or so.  I would call her a friend, but since Clothilde was born she always says the rudest things to me. For some reason, two children were ok, but THREE….three are ruining her world.

I said hello and asked her how she was doing.  Her response was, “Are you pregnant AGAIN?”

It’s very rude to ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless it’s very obvious.  It’s true, my poor belly has not yet recovered from Clothilde (or Rose – Rose was a big baby), and I was wearing one of my drapey sundresses that billows out in the front.  It’s comfortable, you know.  I had just gotten back from a 9 1/2 hour flight.  I never know what to say to something like that.  “No, I’m just fat and out of shape.”?

All I said was, “No.”  To which she replied, “Good, because I was going to say Stop overpopulating already!!”

This person is NOT my friend anymore.  I am not going to talk to her again.  Before I always made excuses for her.  Well, she had a bad family experience.  Well, she was nice to me before.  But after being away from that and seeing it again, it’s ugliness is revealed.  It’s best not to even let people like that abuse you.

It was very interesting coming back to this country.  When we went through customs to the EU in Denmark, there was a man behind a counter who looked at our passports, then at us, asked us a few questions, stamped the passports, and let us through.  It was very easy, and took just a few minutes.

When we came back to the US, however, we first of all had to fill out a stupid form on the airplane.  One of those kinds they make you fill out for Medicaid, or anything for Social Security, where the blanks aren’t really well-thought out or long enough to write what you are supposed to.  We had been warned about this, becuase my dad had tried to take two sausages back, but they had been wrenched away from him by customs, probably because the US pork industry had a good lobbyist.

We only had cheese to declare, which is allowed.  To get off the plane, they crowded everyone into an over-packed bus, standing room only, with airport employees shouting angrily and still cramming in more people, even though there was an empty bus behind us, waiting.  It was like the bus to Auschwitz, except a shorter ride.

Once in the airport, they had the blue-tape cattle gates set up for us.  More low-paid officials getting off on their sense of authority and barking orders, waving directions with walkie-talkies in hand.  It reminded me strangely of public school.

We were sent to the  most non-intuitive, non-self-explanatory computer machine, where we had to fill out the form all over again – for some reason.  All around the officials were barking orders and yelling at people who they thought looked vulnerable (like in the steriotypical Soviet state).  Then it took pictures of us (I guess to perfect their facial recognition technology for military use) and scanned our passports.

But that wasn’t all.  We again had to go through more cattle gates.  They didn’t queue us up so much as send us back and forth through the half-full room.  We waited for a real-life woman with the practiced stern lines of authority etched into her forehead, to look at our passports, and stamp the form we had filled out again on the computer.

The luggage claim in France had seats next to it, so you could sit and wait for your bags.  No one was shouting or yelling, but they did have an 18-year-old soldier with a machine gun standing around looking bored.  The luggage claim in the US had more cattle gates, and underpaid officials.  They obviously didn’t want to make it easy to get your stuff.  There were too many people to fit in the cattle gates they had open, so people naturally lined up along the entrance.  THIS was NOT acceptable to the little man who thought he was in charge.  He got all shouty, and opened up a longer line, and screamed at us, “ALL OF YOU, GET UP AGAINST THE WALL, YOU HEAR ME?  UP AGAINST THE WALL!”

Like they were going to shoot us or something.  People around us were muttering that they never wanted to come to this country again.  Someone near us said, “It’s like the Gestapo!”

But we were not done.  We had to have all our luggage scanned and peered into by strangers (again).  Then we had to have our passports looked at by another person, and the stamped form, too, as if we had faked it or something.  

 It was all designed to humiliate, waste time, de-humanize, but at the same time was so incredibly useless.

There’s an encouraged sense of “We are Free” in the US, but when you really see how it works, there is no freedom.  It’s kind of like how we can vote – but you can’t vote in someone who would actually change anything. It’s all about PR. It’s about keeping the masses subdued and competing with each other.

Mirin got really upset at having to wait in the long lines with all the shouting.  He was exhausted, and frustrated because it had been so easy in Denmark.

“It doesn’t have to be like this!” he kept saying.  “Why are they doing all this stupid stuff?”

The only thing I could say was, “This is how our country works.  It’s just like this.  This is the culture we come from.”

I was impressed with how well my public school education had prepared me for the experience.  It became clear to me how it was all to create a tolerance to the cattle gates and the orders, and most of all for the sense of shame and obedience.

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