No one talks about it, except the media. It must be weighing on the minds of those living in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California, but no one I know mentions it. I don’t mention it either. If I do, the possibility becomes real. I don’t want that kind of real.
No one does.
I just want to live my life. We all do. These past few days, I’m afraid to turn on the news. Instead, I watch Orphan Black or Seinfeld reruns. I can handle a sci-fi thriller about clones or Jerry’s flawed girlfriends. They’re rather refreshing, compared to nuke-news.
Each morning I’m thankful to wake up. Whew! I’m still here, we’re all still here. Outside my window, chirping robins advertise loud enthusiasm to mate, that’s a good sign. Facebook is still up and running. My house is still standing. Dogs are still pooping. Life goes on, all is well.
But—but—should I prepare just in case? Like I do for earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and terrorists? Never got the memo, How The Average Citizen Prepares For Incoming Nuclear Missiles. I’ll have to Google that one. Somehow I can’t make my fingers type the words—too bizarre, too surreal. So I turn on Spongebob. Patrick chases jellyfish with butterfly nets as Squidward looks on. Not as intense.
I go about my daily routine with friends and family, celebrate birthdays, work on my novels, go to lunch. Which is what I should do, since what happens across the Pacific Ocean is not in my control, and our U.S. military has our backs. This is what they train for. I cross fingers and pray nothing happens, though this black cloud loiters in my subconscious.
My father-in-law fought and was wounded in the Korean War in the early 50s. He reminded me, that although the fighting ended, after sixty-plus years, the war has never been resolved. The situation has festered all this time, from dictator to dictator, generation to generation. The current dictator grew up playing video games and now itches to play a thermonuclear reality game.
The last time I remember feeling this kind of fear was 1962, when I was eight. Cuban Missile Crisis. At the sound of an air-raid siren drill, teachers instructed us to scramble under our desks, heads down, hands on our necks. A safety illusion, for sure. I was too young to understand what the word nuclear meant, much less what it would do to my desk or me hiding under it. But the word scared me. The fear of destruction was real. A fear that pounded my heart, seeing black-and-white film images of trees blown off their stumps and billowing mushroom clouds. They said humans would be vaporized, like in the sci-fi movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Come to think of it, how did they film those nuclear bomb tests back then, without destroying the cameras? Amazing.
As I watch the series, “Genius” on the National Geographic Channel this week about Albert Einstein, I want to admire him, but I hate him at the same time for messing around with atoms. Truth is, if he hadn’t discovered atomic power, someone else would have. The timing of this series right now is ironic with the ongoing, daily nuclear threat discussion.
Maybe I’ll feel better if I stock up on duck tape, visqueen, and a beefy dust-mask from Home Depot. Expanding my emergency preparation stockpile might help me sleep better.
But then, I’ll have to work through my feelings of being conflicted about Albert Einstein. After all, this nuclear business isn’t the scientist’s fault. Or is it?
Talk about conflicted.
POSTSCRIPT: When writing this piece, I messaged JBER, the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson military base, a stone’s throw away from my home in Eagle River, Alaska, to inquire about citizen preparedness. Here is their response.
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