Dakota…in Oklahoma!

There’s a bright golden haze on my post-graduate career!

That’s because this past week two weeks ago I visited Oklahoma, the sooner state, which is a stupid nickname if you look up the reason for it on wikipedia.

aaron oklahoma

My impressions of Oklahoma are mostly colored by the musical, Oklahoma!, which is a karaoke favorite of mine, and Senator James Inhofe, who is a least favorite of mine. So its an oil and gas and farming state in the middle of Bible country. So I was disappointed not to see any corn, but going along the highway between the airport and the Embassy Suites I did see some signs celebrating Jesus and also Toby Keith, who is apparently the Jesus of Moore, Oklahoma. Amidst the strip malls with Kohls and Chipotles and AMC movies there was a big sign telling me I was driving by “the Home of Toby Keith.”

tobyKeithAmericanRide

Cool?

Unfortunately, then, I didn’t see much of Oklahoma culture. The closest I came to experiencing something new and different was the mini-field trip the journalists took to Oklahoma City to the site of the bombing which took place 20 years ago.

I found the museum more interesting than ‘good’. It’s not a happy event, so there’s that. The first part of the museum tour is a bit…inelegant?…as you’re taken into a room mimicking a hearing in one of the offices of the Murrah Building, when SUDDENLY THERE’S A BOMB FLASH AND EVERYBODY GET DOWN etc. From there you are taken to scenes of the destruction, although you’re also given a history of the buildings that were either destroyed or damaged when the bomb went off.

Scattered throughout two floors are bits of wreckage from the day, some displays describing the history and the emergency response team, the investigation, etc. Probably the best, or at least nicest touch, in the museum is the interactive exhibit where they’ve recorded the families and friends of victims talking about them, thus celebrating their memories even in a small way, which is how we ‘should’ recognize these kinds of events.

The part of the museum I found a bit distasteful were the overbearing religious messages and the large section of the museum essentially dedicated to preserving Timothy McVeigh in infamy. While the punitive zeal surrounding the trial is understandable for such a gross man (and his accomplices), to make him the central character in the story of the Oklahoma City Bombing is wrong. Yes, it was an act of ‘terrorism’. But no, this wasn’t some sinister conspiracy at play, it was just some crazy murderers who achieved an unthinkable one-off act of violence. Although no domestic psychopath has really reached the magnitude of the bombing episode, you can also see McVeigh as a forerunner to the lone gunmen acts from this century, the Dylan Roofs and Eliot Rodgers who aren’t just killers but also vain crusaders, murderous media whores who think they’re sending a message. I don’t know if this started with McVeigh, but you can see from that point in 1995 to how the modern media has indirectly encouraged these episodes by repeatedly giving them and their deranged ideas undeserved exposure.

TIMEcover

I found the grounds outside to be far more moving than the museum tour. There is a tree which survived the bombing and stands set off from a reflecting and a sad sculpture titled “The Field of Empty Chairs”. It’s nice to just walk around there and think about things like senseless violence but also hope for the future.

Oklahoma_City_National_Memorial_viewed_from_the_south_showing_the_memorial_chairs,_Gate_of_Time,_Reflecting_Pool,_and_Survivor_Tree

There’s not much else to say, even about the conference. I was intimidated. It took me four beers during free happy hour to introduce myself to people. A lot of them were ‘real’ journalists with jobs and credentials that made me want to be a journalist so that I could come back to the conversation some other time when I didn’t think they could see right through to my core laziness.

But I did collect some business cards. And I made some too. $500 for 20, good deal. Wait.

Advertisements

Dakota Escapes the Capital, and a Really Bad Day

First the bad day, two weeks ago I:

  • got fired (which I expected, and would have quit but figured I’d ride the money train to shame)
  • got fired again, kind of sort of, from a different job, in a strange way, more like put on probation but indefinitely, so it was like they were expecting me to quit? But if they wanted me to quit why didn’t they just fire me?
  • got hit by a car while riding my bike and so was
  • late to work for the job I’d just been quasi-fired from.
  • Lost my wallet
  • Broke my phone
  • Went to the hospital with no wallet and no phone and was promptly
  • Harassed by the trauma team who have apparently never treated an anxious person or, more curiously, never taken an x-ray from a patient whose arm is broken or in pain.
  • Left to die and rot away on a hospital bed because………
  • Arrived back home at 1 am, six hours after I’d checked in.
  • Rang a doorbell to be let in (more on this later)
  • Finally resolved to sleep next to the door of the apartment until my housemate arrived home from work to let me in.

Not one to let a horrible day rest in peace, the ramifications of this shit show extended into the following week.

Little did I know that my attempts to avoid sleeping out on the street would lead to exactly that, as the sweet old lady in apartment 1 ran into me in the laundry room the very next day. Having rediscovered my wallet, sans a few items, I offered to pay cash for using her laundry card. This triggered memories deep within of the past Friday and the sweet old lady threatened to report me, ran me out of the laundry room, and then did report me to the landlord, who threatened to evict everyone if the “strange man” hadn’t left the apartment ASAP.

And I do admit, I am a strange man! But I do really wish, if I am to keep getting fired or evicted or thrown into unpleasant misadventures that the impetus be something more grand and notorious than spilling coffee, losing my keys, asking to borrow/exchange $3, looking awkward, etc etc.

Or at least the sex would be stranger.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a walking plague. Almost nothing I leave behind will have ended cleanly. At the job I was half-fired for that I subsequently had to resign from, the manager chewed me out today for losing the room key. A key which I had up until Friday.

I finally got a prescription for new medicine on Friday, lost that over the weekend, was able to get the prescription again, only to find out from a comatose pharmacy staff that my health card was being rejected.

No, DC is a miserable city and my time here ends miserably. Over the week I said goodbye to friends and encouraged them to visit me in prison. The only thing left to do is apologize to people who don’t deserve it, so without further ado:

Javier, I’m sorry I spilled your coffee. And I’m sorry I didn’t mop the floor the way you wanted. And I’m sorry for training at another job which I told you I had when you hired me so I’m not sure why that upset you but I’m sorry for that too.

Sarah, I’m sorry for living next door and making it awkward for you and your drug dealing boyfriend to fight and deal drugs. I’m sorry for judging you and for not coming to you first when I asked for him to stop dealing drugs. I’m just sorry about that living situation in general.

Lady in Apartment 1, I’m sorry I woke you up at one in the morning and I’m sorry for being a subletter not an official tenant and I’m sorry to disturb you with my strange request of $3 cash for a laundry card.

Girl from the Internet, I’m sorry we never met in person but I was starting to become suspicious about how someone who works at a restaurant part time can travel and visit 40 baseball games around the country a year. 

Aranza, I’m sorry that I took away your phone and locked it in the teacher’s lounge but also you should apologize for writing “profesor esta mierda” on that piece of paper because, first of all, that’s really not nice, and second of all it really had nothing to do with the question I was asking.

Marcie, I’m sorry for locking the bedroom on my way out and also for leaving shit in the broken toilet. However, in fairness, you did decline an interest in fixing utilities or turning on the A/C or the lights or not being a scary crazy dog lady. Please accept the towels and piano bench I left behind as recompense. 

I feel better already! Meh.