January is finally gone, or will be by the time this gets printed.
Today as I write, it is cold and gloomy outside and there is enough snow
to make a fat snow man -- if I wanted to! I thought the month would
never leave. I have lived long enough to know that January comes
around every year. The skiers love it, we need the water and all that
good stuff, but is always the low spot in the year for me. I tend to
forget that almost before I know it that little crocus will pop through
the gravel outside my back door and herald spring, and the sun will
shine again. But most of my friends are either gloomy or cranky in
January. This year I was both.
The month was named for Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways,
with one face looking forward and one backward. We are supposed to be
philosophers and think deep thoughts about the year just passed and the
year to come. But this year we find ourselves looking back more and
trying to figure out what to expect in the year ahead.
September 11 was all too tragically real, but the aftermath is
confusing. They tell us we are at war, but we are having trouble
identifying whom exactly we are at war against. Terrorists can be
anywhere. They tell us we need to double our huge military budget but
they don't know yet just what those billions are going to buy. They
tell us we need to lower taxes and increase domestic spending as we
head into a deficit . They tell us that the Enron scandal is purely
financial and has nothing to do with politics. They tell us that we
have to give up some of our hard earned individual liberties, but those
liberties are the very things we are fighting for.
We wonder whether John Walker Lindh is a good American kid as his
parents say, or a Talib who allegedly plotted to kill Americans. We
wonder what should happen to Andrea Yates who killed her five children.
Although nobody seems to be holding her husband to be in any way
responsible, one wonders who insisted on five babies in seven years for
woman whom he and her doctors knew had been seriously mentally ill since
the first baby.
They even tell us that Harry Potter is a product of the Devil. And
television, our escape mechanism, isn't helping any with all the
gruesome reality shows. As Ellen Goodman writes, "'Who Wants to be a
Millionaire?' has been followed by 'Who Wants to be a Sadomasochist?'"
It's been a lousy month.
But there have been a few funny things. Maureen Dowd always comes
through with something to laugh at, this time the 12 foot high partially
nude statue in the Hall of Justice that has been there since 1933. She
reported that "Beverley Lumpkin, ABC's Justice Department reporter,
revealed that Mr. Ashcroft had decided to throw the equivalent of a
blue burka over the exultant "Minnie Lou," as the statue is fondly
nicknamed, after seeing pictures of her breast hovering over his head as
he announced plans to fight terrorism." I guess we should thank the
official keeper of our morals. But it's such fun to shock Mr. Ashcroft
and so easy to do.
Maybe February will be better. Februa is the Roman festival of
purification, held on February fifteenth. That does sound better than
gates and doorways and looking two ways.
And there is really great news. We had a wonderful celebration here
last week when the Olympic torch was carried through Grand Junction.
And the Winter Olympics start tomorrow almost next door to us.
Since we are in the same time zone as the games, we will probably get to
see more of the events live on television than we have in the past.
Note to NBC: Please tell your announcers to shut up and breathe now and
then so that we can see the events for ourselves without your telling us
what we are seeing.
Janus has moved on and Februa is taking his place. Maybe things will
look better. At least the sun will probably shine oftener. So welcome
February and the Olympics.