Sunday, May 14, 2006

Drifting in the land of who gets what when where and how…

Sometimes I think I should have been/should become a travel writer. People who read this blog have told me that some of the best entries are the ones documenting a wander around the town. There are obvious problems with this daydream, the greatest of which is that I never go anywhere or do anything. Also, Mary tells me that I am quite provincial. I have no reason to doubt this assessment. I have a love for this province, this Missouri.

Perhaps it’s not accurate to say I never go anywhere. On Tuesday last Jes and I made a milk run to the state capitol for a company that she’s been working for. They had grant applications due and were close enough to deadline that they preferred to send the material via trusted and secure us. I wasn’t much help with the driving, as I slept most of the way there and back, but I do know my way around Jefferson City.

A few years ago I dated one of Senator Joan Bray’s interns, Barb, and I would commute from the ville on alternate weekends to see her. We met when I was performing a dramatic interpretation of Green Eggs and Ham on the T.S.U. quad. Last I heard she was living in D.C. and working as a lobbyist for Emily’s List, but that was a few years ago. As I recall we broke up primarily over distance in that I had a year left in graduate school and she needed to get on with her life. We got caught up in some drama when she applied to the program I was in and she wasn’t accepted.

The drama came from her making a list of alternates, so there were a few weeks there where she would move up the list as people who had been accepted declined the offer. We knew people in the office and so we knew more than we should have about what her chances were. The viability of a future for us as a couple somehow came down to that list, as it wasn’t enough to simply choose each other; there was our youth and potential to think of. No one wants to be the reason that a person didn’t become what he or she otherwise might have.

That’s a factor for Jes and I now. We are going off to H. for the job I have just landed, but we are doing so with an eye towards eventually completing her M.F.A. We are a year away from her application deadlines so she is working on portfolio building. A year in H., perhaps more depending on how it goes, will get us financially stable enough to take that next step in her career. Of course life is what happens when you are making other plans, but you still have to play the cards… and other clichés of significance.

The one thing that I wanted to do in Jefferson City, after we delivered the grant applications, was to visit the Thomas Hart Benton Mural in the capitol lounge. I love Benton, and his social history of Missouri is something of an artistic miracle that is well worth a trip all on its own. In its depictions of the slaves mining lead south of St. Louis, the ousting of the Mormons by fire, a lynching, Boss Pendergast and the dancing girls in Kansas city, the painting offers a great deal of material for senators to object to. Benton had to publicly defend the mural upon its completion, as there were many who wanted to see the room stripped of his images.

His defense was simple in that he’d been asked to paint a social history and that is what he painted. However, speaking truth to power is no simple thing. Being honest about your history so that you know who you are and where you came from is also no mean feat.

I got an email this morning informing me that Missouri Republicans have forced an end to debate over requiring that identification be presented when voting. Blunt could veto the legislation, but he won’t. For the poor and disabled who might not have a driver’s license this is no small obstacle. Is it a coincidence that the people who are disenfranchised by this legislation tend to vote for Democrats? Blunt is facing a tough reelection bid. Maybe I should spend part of my summer helping him out, literally.


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