Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I had bad dreams last night. The one I remember most clearly is -- Patrick and I were living in a large, rundown apartment building. Our bathroom was a disaster: paint peeling, broken plumbing, water on the floor, the kind of bathroom where you expect the tub to crash through to the floor below. The apartment itself had a very fragile lock on the door. Patrick piled up pans in front of the door. If someone forced their way during the night, the falling pans would wake us.

I know where this dream came from: a YouTube report on the barracks at Fort Bragg. The report was done by the father of one of the soldiers, just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.

The building that starred in the report had been built in the 1940s. Inside stair railings were rusted. Ceiling tiles were broken or missing. Lead paint was peeling and flaking. There were large, black areas of mildew on the walls. Sewage backed up into the toilets and basins. Broken pipes leaked sewer gas. And there were fragile locks on the bedroom doors.

The soldiers had been told twice, each time they left for a tour in scenic rural Afghanistan, that they'd have new barracks when they got back.

When I read stories like these -- and many other stories about the way this country treats ordinary people -- I am left with a deep sense of vulnerability and alienation. Living in the US is like living in a big, crowded, rundown, scary apartment building with bad plumbing and insecure locks. In my dream, I was complaining to the building manager, but I did not have a sense that anything was going to change.

I'm still recovering from the nightmare. I will probably feel better about making changes -- in the real world, not in my dream -- later in the day.


Post a Comment

<< Home