Posts Tagged ‘Montana’

Montana, a Fond Farewell

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I wanted to start off with my first memory of Montana, but I honestly can’t recall. That’s not to say the state is dull and boring, just that my first imperssion came when I was nine or ten years old, and it wasn’t all that impressive. If it didn’t involve dinosaurs or Ninja Turtles or outer space, I probably wasn’t interested. Back then it was all just forests and mountains and miles of highway from the backseat.

So in all honesty the first thing I remember about Montana is not wanting to move there. I’d lived a decade in Washington, and had friends and family there that I liked. There was snow in the winter and enough heat in the summer to dry off after a run through some sprinklers just by lying on the pavement. What about this remote state (a million miles or more to my preadolescent mind) so excited my parents? I had no say since I was just a kid and half the time I didn’t know that sometimes the things ‘for my own good’ really were.

Thank goodness I moved at a fairly young age. It was harder on my siblings when they changed states while in high school. We easily make friends when we’re not teenagers; as teenagers we find it easier to make enemies. Luckily I was still young enough (and without obvious flaws) to make friends. I did it twice, in fact, since we went first to Billings and only two years later to Corvallis.

Having moved back to Washington, I often consider how things would have been different if I’d never left the state. My two greatest passions sprouted in Montana: computers and music. Who’s to say that things would be the same if I’d gone to Wa-Hi instead of Corvallis High? Obviously I can thank my dad for helping me grow to like technology, but my interest in music may never have taken root without the friends I had in Montana. Without Chris and Josh rocking out to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, would I have ever taken a keen interest in music, or picked up a guitar, or started learning about music theory? It’s hard to say. Maybe if I’d stayed in Washington, I’d be into music, but I’d have come into it via country and western, instead of rock and punk.

Montana embraced openness like no place I’d ever been. The sky was big and wide, and so was the friendliness. I knew several families who never locked their houses at night. The people there have an independent streak a mile wide and it shows through, in the libertarian sensibilities of the electorate and the bohemian tendencies of the music community. I’d like to think that warmth of the state rubbed off on me, if not some of the conservative political views.

So many things about my life would be different if I’d never lived in Montana. Probably the thing I’m most thankful for is my wife, but the list goes on. I made so many friends there, in high school and at college. Childhood friends and friends made later in life are subtly different. As kids you most often make friends due to convenience of location, or preschool class assignment, or other, more superficial factors. We can’t judge personalities as children. Friendships made later in life tend to stand the test of time, having been made due to strong personalities or shared interests. Most of mine fit the latter categorization. I can remember my childhood friends’ names and one or two quirks of their personalities, but not much else. I have a feeling that forty years from now, I’ll still be able to tell you many of my college friends’ favorite songs.

It was a complex and difficult decision to leave, but we saw the chance and had to take it. Our move to Washington isn’t necessarily final; we may be back some day. My parents are considering retiring there, and my wife thinks it’s a good place to raise kids. It’s got a lot going for it. In my own biased opinion I think I turned out fine. When I drive to Walla Walla for a visit I have a certain set of nostalgic steps that must be followed. These include stopping for ice cream to help battle the vicious summer heat of eastern Washington, and listening to Tom Petty. In time, I’m sure I’ll cobble together a similar set of rules for going back to Montana.

And Dave will vote for…

Monday, November 6th, 2006

I don’t like the idea of media outlets (which, technically, this blog is) telling people how they should vote. Choosing our representatives is an important, personal issue. People have to decide for themselves, and I consider it almost sanctimonious to tell people how to vote.

Before I reveal who I’m voting for, I only have one thing to say, and it’s this: our Congress has failed us completely and utterly. It is, as far as I’m concerned, the most cynical, lazy, corrupt, and craven legislative body we have ever had the misfortune of being represented by. When I read about how utterly poor a job the 109th Congress has performed, how insecure our democracy has become (and I am a constant defender of technology, by the way), what they will do to take away others’ votes, and how swiftly our basic liberties are being chipped away, it makes my blood boil. It would be funny if it weren’t so damn serious. Tomorrow is America’s chance to give these snakes, charlatans, pigs and cowards their performance reviews, and to tell them to get the hell out of our government.

I will be voting for Jon Tester. Conrad Burns has embarrassed Montanans too many times. From references to the ‘niggers’ in Washington, D.C. to his assertion that out-of-state volunteer firefighters are doing a ‘piss-poor job’, this bitter, shrivelled old fuck has let us down too often. He says he delivers for Montana, but Tester’s plan of attack — to get the appropriations we need without sneaking them is — is the kind of reformed thinking we need in Washington. Tester feels more honest, as well. I hear that Bush and Burns have a secret plan to end the war in Iraq… and we all know how well secret plans work out (*cough, cough,* Nixon). He’s also run a cleaner campaign. I am sick to death of all the political ads, but I’ve noticed that Tester’s ads occasionally do not attack Burns at all. Burns also pledged to only serve two terms (this would be term four, by the way), but now he has become the entrenched, stagnant Washington insider he swore we would never see. Finally, I have one word — Abramoff. If ever there were an embodiment of the sleaze that the Beltway encircles, it’s Burns.

Ah, how we have almost forgotten the lower house. All the attention has been focused on Burns and Tester. The fact that he voted for the Military Commissions Act alone is enough for me to want him out of office. The icing on the cake is that Lindeen touts independent thought and review for legislation, not towing the party line. Rehberg is not nearly as big a scoundrel as Burns, but his near-automatic approval of the Bush angenda makes me angry enough to want to boot him.

I am a strong believer in term limits; we need to give politicians a reason to justify their continued employment. And I don’t think that how long a candidate’s family has lived in their state matters much, either — Mansfield wasn’t a native, but look at the amazing things he did.

My politics fall well left of the Democratic party’s ‘safety zone’, but I am going to trust them this time around, to steer our miserable Houses into some direction besides ‘staying the course.’ In the end, you should vote after careful research of the facts, ignoring what the ads say, and with everyone (not just yourself) in mind. Please vote. It is, above all, our most important duty. The government represents us, after all, and we have a strong voice. Tomorrow, let it resound, from school gyms to University Commons to city halls, that, to quote Bob Dylan, “a hard rain’s a-gonna fall” and, to quote Twisted Sister, “we’re not gonna take it anymore.”