Wednesday, September 14, 2005

global tragedy and personal pettiness

I have no connection to the tragedy in the Gulf, I don’t know anyone who lives there, has lived there, was there, was directly affected – nothing – so I feel a bit like a local TV news station who has finally figured out a way to connect myself to the disaster no matter how thin the line.

And I’m not normally the type who gets all worked up over these things, I’m concerned of course, but I’m not one who cries over stories on TV or in the news about disasters, plane crashes, missing children, murdered wives or an of that other stuff. But for some reason this has really hit me, to the point that I was pretty unsuccessfully fighting back tears last weekend watching a slide show of images and trying to sing.

So my local news connection is that my younger brother is a forensic chemist for the KBI (that’s the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for us commoners), so basically he’s a CSI – just like on the TV show except for all the glamorous people, action packed hunting down of criminals, questioning of suspects and wrapping it all up in a matter of days. Pretty much it means he’s a geek in a lab coat who may on occasion be sent to a crime scene to collect some DNA or testify that “yes sir, that is 99.8% likely to be him,” but mostly he hangs out in a lab with blood and semen and grows pot in his office so he can track the various strains back to the right bad guys.

Well James was called down to Louisiana to help with the identification of bodies recovered from the city. He would go down and collect DNA samples from the bodies and help try to identify those that were unknown through the various scientific ways available.

My mother told me this, I barely had a moment to think that was pretty cool that he was going to be able to go down and help people, if not with something happy, at least something that might give people some closure. But she follows the sentences of “he was asked to….” with “but thank goodness he’s not going.” What she said was that he decided that it would be too tough leaving my sister-in-law and the kids at home alone for the two weeks they asked him to help out.

My brother and I are not extremely close, so I don’t know all the details of why that would be too hard, and it may have been a legitimate conclusion, but what disturbed me more was that my mother didn’t seem to hesitate in saying it was good he didn’t go. Her reasons why? It would be so hot. It would be so dirty and such tiring work. Yes, because we wouldn’t want to inconvenience ourselves just slightly for 14 days to help out people whose lives have been destroyed for who knows how long.

I then of course, had to pick a fight with my mother about politics, the weather, the best way to make toast…it’s how we work about 75% of the time, so instead of arguing with me she just keeps saying “ok” to everything that I say in that ever so condescending voice that only a mother can have. This of course just angers me even more so I make the next attack personal. I tell her that I’m sorry for trying to have an intelligent discussion, but that my friends and I don’t just discuss who was wearing what to church last week and the latest celebrity gossip but that we actually like to discuss what’s going on in the world around us.

Needless to say when she told me that they’re coming to visit in a few months… and that they’ll be staying at my house…

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