Drove to Chicago in a van…*

Past weekend I went with da family to Gatlinburg, TN. We spent four days among mountains and hills. Mountains alter morning hues, rendered softer and mythical. Living in Illinois, and having always lived in very flat places, my family is quiet in awe of hilly places; even construction site heaps invaded by weeds intrigue us. (That’s joke. I’m trying to be funny.) But, back in Illinois, I’m very happy with my home sweet home, flat land Illinois. I’m also very happy at the hell raised by my fellow Illinoisans and Chicagoans at BP’s planned dumping of ammonia into our lake. They’ve backed away from that, if you haven’t heard. But now the Indianans have given them a special permit to emit air pollution; they needed a permit because it allows them to double the air pollution allowed by current federal law. I try to sympathize with our Hoosier neighbors, but their elected officials seem even worse than our own

In other news, I sat by the screen door yesterday, opened to 70-degree weather and finally read Kurt Vonnegut. It’s sad discovering great writers after their deaths. A Man Without a Country which was his last, is the book I read. His humor is astounding. I want to read Slaughterhouse Five but I’m wary of explicit sexual content, which is why the book has been often banned. I think I’ll read Fates Worse than Death. But not before Ramadan, hopefully because I’ll be floating, flying, deluged with Quran. Anyway, here’s one of my favorite bits from A Man Without a Country:

But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

* That’s from a song called Chicago, from an album called Come on feel the Illinoise by a an artist called Sufjan.

One Response

  1. almost buzzing like honeybees… I remember reading a similar phrase in a prose poem about three girls.

    I want to read Kurt Vonnegut now–preferably on a nice breezy day, by the window. =)

    masalaam

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