Thursday, September 29, 2016

A meditation on Parent Moments: Far Flung, by Laura Montgomery

First, I review; then, I meditate.
Preliminary: You must know that I am writing this with my fat black Manx cat SugarBelly resting in the crook of my left arm. and looking over her shoulder at the keyboard from time to time in anticipation. I believe it's because one of Montgomery's earlier books is "Manx Prize," and SugarBelly thinks it's about her; and, by extension, she thinks every book and story Laura Montgomery writes is about her. I have ceased to argue the point. I think Mark Twain had observations about men and cats which apply. The reason I pass this bit of feline intrusion along is because at some point, SugarBelly will turn around, and start attempting to use the keyboard. Therefore, any unexpected change in point of view should be regarded with suspicion.
The review: Far Flung is a novella-length (53 pages) work painting the picture of a small population of adventurer-engineers who determine that libertarian principles will be better served by forming an independent nation. They acquire a decommissioned mining platform, add to it, and construct huge sea-going island, which they christen New Oregon. Most of the N.O. crew are from the United States, and they have formally renounced their US citizenship prior to declaring a new entity.
They are opposed in this endeavor by factions in the United States, some governmental, others private. The governmental factions are headed by the IRS, which regards the new nation as a fictional construct, designed to free the NO citizens from their tax burden (including prior accumulated debt). Other governmental agencies are interested in nationalizing new technology being pioneered in New Oregon. And finally, in the private sector, families of the relatively young crew/citizens of New Oregon want them to return to the US because of concerns for their safety.
All of this is brought to a head when Venezuela, pretty much acting as a rogue state, decides to annex New Oregon, claiming it has entered waters under their control. Since this is patent lie, provable  by satellite imagery and GPS recordings, it's clear that they are relying on brute force to impose their will, and give a black eye to the US in the process.
Communications have been established between the US government and the crew of New Oregon . As a libertarian state, New Oregon refuses to ask the US for aid, because they can't pay for it, and accepting it would revoke their independent status.
And as a kicker: the Secretary of State for New Oregon is engineer Betha Tenney, the daughter of Navy Captain Adam Tenney, who has been sent as an observer to the negotiations. This permeates the drama of the  "rebels with a cause" narrative with a personal tension, which brings the theoretical home to roost.
Thus endeth the review.
The meditation.
A quick quick bit of family background: My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA and I have between us 10 children and nine grandchildren, with one grandchild on the way. MY (biological) firstborn son, Jordan has two sons of his own, Heath and Eliott. When Heath was a newborn, March 2013,  Jordan was on active duty in the Georgia Army National Guard, and deployed to Shindand Air Base in Herat Province, Afghanistan.
A bad thing happened.
What with this and that, three years passed.
Last night, Vanessa and I were babysitting six month old Eliot while big brother Heath and Mommy Courtney were at church. Vanessa was moogling a laughing Eliott, and I was faithfully reading "Far Flung" in preparation for the review. And as I'm reading about the anguish Adam Tenney is experiencing, knowing that his daughter is in a situation in which she may be killed, and that she has freely chosen the path that lead her there, and that he is utterly POWERLESS to do anything to help her, Jordan calls me to tell me he's on his way to pick up Eliott. A short time later, he comes in the front door, the same door he's used since 1992; but now, he's using a cane. He eases himself into a seat on the couch, and we chat.
It's been three years since a 155 mm rocket blasted him into a concrete wall in Shindand, smashing his knee and giving him a traumatic brain injury. He has come a LONG way ; he has a long way to go.
After he and Eliott left to rejoin Mommy and Heath at home, I TRIED to return to "Far Flung." I couldn't do it. Reading about Adam Tenney experiencing the same thing I had experienced; and still experience; it was just too much for me.
So, I had a Parent Moment, and I cried.
I briefly raged. See, he had a college degree when he enlisted. His best friend had served two deployments in the Marines, and we have a family history of service including WWI, WWII, Korea & Viet Nam, plus all the non-combat service; so I GOT it that he wanted to serve. BUT he was supposed to be a cannon crew member, he was field artillery, NOT infantry! Not guarding an air base! I didn't rage long, though, because: he is a man I am proud of, and he told me: "I don't like the outcomes, but I'm proud of my decisions." And I can't rage at that. he is an honorable, righteous man, and a good father and husband.
And after I had my Parent Moment, I moved on, and breathed, and did the next right thing, which was to go to sleep.

My nam is SugarBelly Patterson, and I don't approve thsi coz he wasn't scratch my hed. 

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