Tuesday, September 25, 2007

That "N" word again

I last wrote on this topic in July of last year.

NRG today applied for the first US nuclear reactors to be built in several decades. It is expected that 6 more will be applied for in the coming months.

It appears that for the first time in decades, we may be seeing the first glimmer of sense in US energy and environmental policy. Considering the total lack of discussion on the topic in political forums, I doubt it though.

Now if they will just get away from those !@#$ Light water reactors.....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chris, Part III

As promised, this is the last chapter in Chris' tale and my part of it. It is also the hardest for me.

Roll forward 5 years to 1980. I am living in one of the Southern California beach communities. Single, somewhat carefree and enjoying my work. Life was very good and beyond mortgages, motorcycles, surfing and dating, very uncomplicated.

One Sunday I was returning from a great ride on the Ortega Hwy and decided to stop at the Baskin Robbins around the corner from where I lived. In line behind me was Chris. She had seen me walk in the store and followed me in (I am not hard to spot). I had not seen her since I graduated and the news I had of her was a bit sparse since of the 3 room mates, Liz was the only one that semi regularly communicated with Chris.

We chatted over a couple of scoops of ice cream and caught up. She had squeaked out with her degree in Communications and was working minimum wage jobs looking for something "in her line". She had been living with her boyfriend for about a year in the same community I did and had become completely estranged from her Mother. She seemed in good spirits and appeared to be moving forward. We swapped information and then I went on my way.

2 weeks later she called. She had a fight with BF. It got physical etc and she asked if she could stay with me that night. I agreed. 3 days later she had reconciled with her BF and was back with him. During that time I came to understand that Chris had not resolved any of her problems. She was still a "downer" to be around.

For me, this was a very good time in my life. I was enjoying work and play. The OH and I were becoming an item. I was happy.

Over the course of the next 6 months I continued to hear from Chris. I started blowing her off or avoiding her entirely. At various points I told her "I am not your Mother", "Just deal with it" and some other witty advice. I had helped fix her problems once before. I had no desire, interest or energy to share her problems again. There was silence for about a month. I was actually starting to worry, but did not want to call. Then her loser BF called.

Chris had killed herself.

The BF held me responsible. His position was that Chris had been looking to me for help and I had refused it. Liz and I attended the funeral. It was not much of one and I would be surprised if 20 people were in attendance. Notable in their absence was her Mother and her two youngest siblings that still lived with her.

I hope the reasons this has been difficult to write are becoming apparent. I do not accept the loser BF's condemnation, but I do have to look at my part in this. Am I to any degree responsible for Chris' death? If I had tried, could I have saved her from herself? How responsible am I or anyone for problems that wash up on our door steps? Is responsibility universal? Could I have made a difference?

Would she have been a boat anchor and dragged me down with her?

26 years laters these questions still haunt me and I am no closer to being able to answer them.

Thank you for your patience in reading this. It is a story I needed to tell for a long time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chris, part II

During the intersession before spring semester I began to appreciate some of the Demons that were driving Chris. "Promiscuous" did not begin to describe her behavior. Perhaps I was jealous since I wasn't getting "any"? Chris was certainly getting no emotional reward from her trysts. She was running with lots of losers and failed to recognize that 1 of her paramours was actually a pretty decent guy. She treated him worse than the mutts.

In hind sight, I think it was Chris modeling her mothers behavior. Monkey see, Monkey do, rather than doing what her mother told her. Chris certainly was not a happy individual. Being on the edge of flunking out made it worse. Add in she had no strong peers or role models and I expect you can see where this is going.

The other two roomies, Cathy, Liz and I ended up with a project for spring semester, salvaging Chris.

I resented the responsibility. I was in my final semester, I should have been cruising towards graduation and looking for work. Instead I ended up tutoring Chris in Math and Astronomy while Cathy and Liz took on Psych, English, and History. We figured she could handle Volleyball on her own. Between the 3 of us, we were able to keep her on a short leash with her focused on school and work. I will confess to enjoying telling the mutts to "get lost" and "do I have to throw you over the balcony to get you to leave?" I did say a few cruder things too. That was one of the times when being an amazon was FUN.

She finished the semester with an OK average of 2.9 and was off academic probation. When I moved at semesters end I did not expect or desire to see or hear from her again.

I was wrong

Next; the end of the story

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chris, Part 1

For reasons I do not completely understand, I have been struggling to write this particular story for a few weeks. I am still not sure it clearly states the story and my feelings about it.

Chris was a roommate I inherited my Senior year in College. She was a "friend" of one of our roomies from the previous year. Our roomie had decided to live with her BF that year instead of us. He was really cute and good to her, so it was hard to take exception with her ditching us. Our ex-roomie had committed to the lease and so arranged her replacement in the form of "Chris".

Chris (not Chrissie or Christy) was an incoming freshman and this was apparently her first foray from home. As the only senior and the only person over 21 in the apartment with 2 juniors and a freshman, I was automatically promoted to "Grandma" and beer runner. What a joy that all turned out to be.

At first Chris seemed pleasant enough. She was fairly reserved, picked up after herself and seemed to stay out of everyone elses stuff....or at least mine anyway which was mostly jeans and would have have fit her like socks on a rooster.

Then she started bringing home strays.

I am not talking about stray dogs and cats. I am talking about stray guys. This was 1975 and most of the dogs and cats I knew had better grooming habits than some of these guys. Most were college students. All of them would sooner or later (mostly sooner) spend the night. Apartment walls are cheap and when you work and study at late hours while attending morning classes, the 3 AM frolics get old real fast. By mid October I was homicidal. My other 2 roomies were merely peeved and kept telling me to "chill". Easy for them to say, they did not keep the hours I had to. Being regularly asked to make "Booze Runs" did not help. By November, all of us were looking up the definition of "justifiable homicide".

She survived Thanksgiving and we made it to the 6 week intersession at Christmas without committing any crimes of violence. During the intersession, it was just Chris and me since our roomies went home for the break. Thankfully, so did most of the strays. I finally began to learn some things about her. She is the eldest of 5 children. Her father suicided when she was 5. One of her sisters shares the same father, the other 3 siblings all have different fathers. Her mother never finished High School. Their extended family was all in Missouri. To her knowledge, she was the only member of her family to ever attend College.

As I learned these things, my annoyance at her behavior remained unabated. I did however, find myself experiencing some of her angst and it was not pleasant. I felt small.

At the end of intersession all the grades were posted and Chris found herself on academic probation and life got harder,,,,,,,,and easier.

next post....the rest of the story