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Anne and I were sitting on the stairs to my house. It was the middle of June and the thermostat that hung by the front door rose into the red. We were having oranges. We took our time in peeling them and removing the stringy outer layer. It was just something to do with our hands while we sat. We tossed them into a plastic bag on the step between us.

I had not seen Anne for a long time. Same life, same job, but she had lost 15 pounds since last time. She didn’t look at me as she talked, like how she use to. She stared at the street. She was a shell of what she was when we were in college together. I took so many photos of her then, I knew her well.

“A friend of mine left me a voice mail a few days ago. I saw the phone ring but I chose not to pick it up. It was Sam? Do you remember her?” I said.
“You mentioned her a few times,” Anne said.
“The voice mail said: ‘it might seem strange or weird to you, but I don’t think we should talk or keep in contact with each other anymore.’ That was it. What surprised me most was my response. I sent her a text saying, ‘Strange message indeed. But that’s fine. Have a nice life.’ I wasn’t hurt by it. I didn’t ask her why. After that, I deleted her phone number. Took her out of my address book, deleted my subscription to her blog, and took her off my email and instant messaging contacts. After dinner, I realized that I left a few of her postcards in my mail sorter, so I took them out with the trash that night. I had no feelings at all.”
“Were you upset by her?” Anne said.
“No. That was the surprising thing because I thought I would be. I was empty. I might as well have been looking at my own face in the mirror while brushing my teeth. I didn’t feel anything. I use to love her.”

An ambulance drove by. The siren punctuated the air. It was followed by a firetruck and a group of kids on bicycles. They were huffing their way down the street towards the smoke. It was likely the corner liquor store; there was nothing else around that way. A woman who lived down the street was out walking her dog, she waved as she past us. Anne and I waved back. I her offered an orange, but she only smiled and kept walking.
“How did we become like this?” Anne said.
“I always think that people come and go. But this feeling, it was as if she never existed.”
“Maybe she’ll regret it. I’m sure she’ll come back and contact you.”
“No. I don’t get that feeling.”
“Maybe you don’t want to then.”
“If I didn’t want to, I’d just disappear,” I said, “I don’t have any more oranges. Do you want some apples instead?”
“Sure. That’s fine.”
“I picked them up from the farmer’s market under the overpass. Let met get a knife.”

I brought the apples outside. I began to peel them with the knife, trying to separate the skin from the meat in one spiraling piece. It curled around my hand. Anne lit a cigarette with a matchstick. I watched the tip glow in front of her face.
“You’ve started smoking?”
“Yeah. I have no idea why. I guess I’m just looking for ways to be self-destructive,” Anne said.
“I’ve started drinking again. Drinking heavily again.”
“Me too. I’ve been drinking a lot of wine. I actually drank last night before I took the Amtrak here,” she said.
“I was drunk about an hour before you got here,” I said.
"What the hell are we doing? Here take one,” I said.

Anne held the fruit in her palm and looked at it before biting into it. “It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fruit. I kind of like it. I can’t remember the last time someone peeled an apple for me. It feels so cold in my hand I want to put it against my cheek.”
“You can.”
“Yeah. But I wouldn’t able to eat it anymore. My mom and friends worry about me. They always tell me I look unhealthy.”
“You do look unhealthy.”
“You missed out on the first few weeks, I couldn’t hold down my food and threw up whatever I ate. I cried all night and day. Crazy tears.”
“I’m tired. It’s not worth it,” I said.
“Compared to you, I feel too much. Even when I know it’s not logical. He doesn’t want me anymore, but I still keep trying to get him to take me back anyway.”
“You want him to pity you,” I said.
“I don’t.”
“Then what do you want?”
“I don’t know,” Anne said.

I cut the last of the apple. I hardly ever go to the farmer’s market but on Sunday, on a whim, I went and bought bags full of fruits and vegetables. That same afternoon, I bought a set of new cutting knives from Target. That night, I saw my reflection on one of the blades as I was setting them into a kitchen cupboard. My hair was tangled in odd places and my eyes were sunken in.
“You’re bleeding.”
“I didn’t even notice.” I stopped peeling and turned my palm towards me. It was a cut along my thumb, deep enough for a skinny stream to flow down to my wrist. I wiped it on my pants and we went inside. There weren’t any band-aids so Anne wrapped it with a kitchen cloth and I put pressure on it.
“How did you not notice?” Anne said.
“I don’t know.”
“I wish I was like you sometime. Numb to everything.”
“I’m not human. If you were like me, I’d be sad.”

They put out the fire down the street. The smoke stopped and the kids who huffed their way past us just an hour ago returning. They walked their bikes instead of riding them. Far away, the sun was setting over the city. "We should go inside before the mosquitoes get out," I said.
“I’m glad you remember they always attack me first,” Anne said.

I threw the apple and orange peels in the trash bin next to the back gate and walked up the stairs to the front door. Anne was there already. “Cruel isn’t it,” she said.

I nodded, closed the door and turned the porch light on.

The Environment
text message marketing
Image by khteWisconsin
* Warning: this text contains Politics *

Amongst other things, Flicker is a reflection of the world. So for those of you who like taking pictures of our natural world, you may want to consider the following:

As you may know, there is a whole bunch of United Nations proceedings currently taking place and soon a Climate summit of sorts will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The article on the front page of the Financial Times quotes a European Official as saying:
“So far, we thought the problem was the Chinese and the Indians. But now I the problem appears to lie most clearly with the US”. The article goes on to say the problem is specifically with the US Senate holding up global progress on the matter. According to Harry Reid, the US Senate Majority Leader, environmental legislation may very well have to wait until next year in lieu of the all consuming Health Care Reform debate taking place in the US.

There you have it – America is the most internationally renowned environmental pariah on the planet. Now I have a voice, and I have a choice about my opinion on the matter…and here it is – Bologna! Nope! Not on my tax dollar!

Firstly, Mr. Reid’s excuse that the US Senate is too busy right now to deal with the global environmental crisis is abject garbage. Despite the fact that I can’t imagine why any US Senator would think that multi-tasking wouldn’t be part of the job, other evidence also suggests that this is a complete lie.

Take a look at Maplight offers a searchable database of campaign contributions and other cash payments to Senator’s together with their voting history on legislation that would effect the contributor purchasing legislation. Hmm,…look at those dates!? Hmm,…look at those legislative topics!? My, my, my, isn’t that a lot of money – unrelated to Health Care Reform – for the Senator to take receipt of during the Health Care debate without the party paying the money sitting down with the Senator and giving him\her voting instructions or explaining the legislation that they wrote? Yeah it is. And if you don’t think so consider that the Senate is currently considering an amendment or "rider" to the Interior/EPA appropriations bill that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from using its existing authority to limit global warming pollution from power plants and factories. Then there is Senator Vitter’s currently working on an amendment to gag the President’s well-respected climate change advisor Carol Browner.

A third amendment aims to obstruct EPA’s ability to complete the Renewable Fuel Standards rule and hinder their ability to ensure ethanol fuel blends will not endanger air quality and public health. All told it is probably accurate to say that the Senate is too busy to consider passing effective Climate Change right now. But unfortunately, it is not because of Health Care but rather because of engaging in efforts to the contrary on behalf of polluters so they can line their own pockets.

It gets worse. The primary Global Warming initiative that the U.S. is dragging their feet on is the Waxman Markem Bill. It includes a whole bunch of stuff heralded as the U.S.’s arrival on the scene to fight Global Warming. The bill has a very apt nickname, however, for what it really is “The Coal Preservation Act”. The Bill will increase the amount of C02 in the atmosphere and turns over management of the widely acclaimed Transferable Discharge Permits to Wall Street. The people who brought the Mortgage Backed Security Crisis.

It still gets worse. No not the correlation coefficient between cash paid and voting behavior but the “STOCK Act”. What is this “STOCK Act” that our National Politicians are redoubling their efforts to make sure that it doesn’t even come to a vote? The “STOCK Act” would make Insider Trading (using information not available to the public but gained via their political position) by Congresspersons illegal. Yes folks, American’s not only need to worry that our National Politicians are selling legislation that doesn’t represent the best interests of flesh and blood taxpayers, but that they are making voting decisions based upon what is best for their personal financial portfolios. But don’t despair, there is some evidence that suggests they do vote according to what special interests paid them to do, and then simply make changes to their portfolio accordingly. (Doesn’t take that much time away from the Health Care debate to talk to your broker).

In a review of 6,000 financial transactions our national politicians consistently beat the market rate of return. Warren Buffet isn’t even that good. And once again, U.S. National Politicians found time to fight the STOCK Act while the Health Care Debate supposedly took away focus from its obligation to fight the Global Environmental Crisis.

My message to U.S. National Politicans? Even though you can successfully excuse or spin the “Cash Party’s” machinations away in the minds of the American people, don’t expect the same of the rest of the World. They are not captive to your bologna. They are not pacified with having been given a right to vote that is of increasingly dubious significance. A tip of the hat to the Financial Times for pinning the problem down to the conduct of the US Senate.


text message marketing
Image by dgrinbergs
Tracfone new-customer marketing: text message on cell phone; junk mail post card in background.

I consider this aggressive and obnoxious; I jut got your phone with 14 months of service and 13+ hours of time; don’t hassle me, Tracfone! (I thought I opted out of every damn marketing scheme.)