"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Friday, March 28, 2008

3/28/08: Ethel, LA-Carnie Life

Been gone 10 days already. It's been a week since we all left Odessa. Time has compressed; a lot happens in a short space of time. I feel like I've known Jimmy for six months or a year, and it's only been barely a week. Tricia -- same thing. I feel as though we've run a full two-month cycle in six days. When you're in each others face all day I guess that happens.

I can see how a person could lose track of days, weeks, even months out here. I haven't watched TV or listened to a radio since I left; have no idea what's going on anywhere. This is the world to these folks and it's not a bad way to live once you adapt. I think the trick is finding balance in the sense that you remember: this isn't the world! It is easy to get caught up in the camp drama, which is worse when everyone's idle. Once we start working people get focused on other things and forget, for the moment, all the bullshit.

The mix of people is interesting. Convicts, punks, philosophers, thinkers, feelers, recluses. It's a challenge for many of them to mesh and get along, but although the "dogs bark," they seem to work it out. There really are no leaders, work or otherwise, among this crew; Willie is the foundation and a rock solid one. He's the lighthouse that provides guidance for many of these fragile types who easily stray off course. I learned that he provided dental work for one of them; could never see Charles doing that.

Tuesday's set-up wiped me out! I wasn't feeling great to begin with, and hauling the heavy pieces for the Merry-Go-Round pushed me. My back held up and was nothing more than stiff on Wednesday. We finished setting up Wednesday, tweaked a couple things yesterday, then a much anticipated laundry/Wal-Mart run. I needed socks, Motrin, and some aloe for this vicious sunburn on my neck. After resting up for a bit, we opened at five o'clock yesterday. I was on a kiddie ride: The Berry-Go-Round. It was easy -- even boring. Lotsa single moms to chat with; some even with teeth!

What struck me was the people. Louisiana is a very friendly and polite state. The poverty here is striking, yet the people have an air of both frustration and happiness. Resignation, yet acceptance. That was only one day, of course, and may change. But it's something I repeatedly noticed. The poverty, especially. Kids offering to work, in exchange for free rides! (They got quite a few) Calling me "sir!" It's pretty obvious that this is a huge event out here, as small as our outfit really is. We are situated on the grounds of a church camp that I learned is for the kids "no other churches want." Drugs...whatever. The pastor is a Vietnam vet who seems to view the government the same way I do, and intensely feels social injustice. I immensely enjoyed hearing him talk -- almost rant.

My time here will depend on me. The work is easy most of the time, and I'm adapting more each day. I'm afraid I won't save much money, though, so if the chance at [the supposed job in] Michigan comes, I'll probably take it. I'm in cruise control about the hike since Sunday. It still is the long-term vision. Need to refocus on that...