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Random Thoughts About Corn

Yes, this week’s random topic is corn, of all things. So what sort of weird things can I come up with concerning corn?

Corn has sparked a long and dark thought journey.
Fresh Corn

I remember when I was a kid I made up characters for each of the volcanoes of the world. These were people who were attached to specific mountains. One of those characters was a young man who was associated with the Paricutin cinder cone down in Mexico. His favorite food was corn and he would use it for all sorts of purposes.


Why corn? Well, in real life, the volcano popped up in the middle of a corn field. There had been a little dent in the field for about a century. Kids playing around this dent would sometimes hear the sound of rocks falling somewhere down inside, and it was always warmer than the rest of the field. This tells me that the magma had been sitting there for a while, stewing and deciding what it wanted to do.


Legend has it that when the eruption was about to begin, fumaroles popped up around the dent. The farmer put his hat over one of the steam vents and it went flying into the air. It was shortly after this that the lava started to come out.


This eruption wasn’t all fun and games, though. The man lost his cornfield and several people lost their homes in this eruption. There are reports of older residents dying due to homesickness, having had to relocate after living in the same place for decades. I have also read reports of some victims being struck by lightning from the ash clouds.


There are some people who say that I shouldn’t like volcanoes because they are destructive. They even go as far as refusing to watch eruptions that are destructive, as if somehow boycotting the volcano is going to stop it. Because I guess the best solution to dealing with something destructive is to ignore it and hope it goes away.


No, I continue to be fascinated by volcanoes. Just the same way I am still fascinated by hurricanes and nuclear bombs. No, I’m not pro-nuke. I don’t take pleasure in anything that happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In fact, I find it horrific and I’ve had nightmares about it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to boycott the history of nuclear bombs or stop studying them. We must remember, or it’ll just happen again.


Just like we need to study hurricanes and volcanoes. Yes, they have a destructive side, but there is a fascinating beauty to the power of nature. Also, the best way to deal with a destructive force is to understand it and learn from it. So this goes out to all those disaster boycotters out there. You’re not helping anyone, you’re just being ignorant.


You can be fascinated by something and still feel sympathy for the victims of a disaster. So many things in society today are made into either/or decisions. You’re expected to be one or the other extreme, with no nuance in between. The same thing happens with this category, and it’s bullshit.


I am fascinated by the science behind nuclear bombs, but I am also aware of the victims they have claimed, both in Japan and elsewhere, and I consider it an atrocity. I like to study hurricanes, but I am aware of the people who have died over the years. I am painfully aware of the victims of volcanic eruptions, especially the Armero disaster of 1985. There is no either/or here. I study these destructive things and I still feel for their casualties.


Can you imagine what we could get done in the world if we stopped thinking in black and white? We could get rid of nuclear weapons. We could develop affective mitigation plans for hurricanes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters. We could solve the problems associated with climate change. We could get a whole lot done in the political arena that is just sitting there rotting today because of bipartisan bickering.


How many victims have been claimed by that bickering? I could sit here and name several. Women who have died because they can’t abort their babies in medical emergencies. People who fall victim to climate change related disasters every year. Those who die because the medical treatments they need are not FDA approved. Let’s not forget the victims of wars and conflicts over the decades. How many are dying in Ukraine and Palestine right now?


Don’t even get me started on Palestine versus Israel. We will be here all day. My opinion, in short, is that Israelis and Palestinians are both caught in the midst of political bickering by their leadership. They die because certain politicians on both sides hate each other. There are no good guys in that war. You can’t pick teams and root for yours like it’s some kind of twisted sporting event. If you do, I think you’re a disgusting excuse for a human being.


I can always remember the stories Mom told me about Berkeley. Among them were two students staying at the International House, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian. They’d somehow fallen in love and were engaged to be married, and neither knew how to tell their families. In light of recent developments, I sometimes wonder what happened to them.


But we were talking about corn, right? I can remember a friend of mine from early childhood who was allergic to corn and wheat. It wasn’t celiac disease, he was seriously allergic to them, throat closing and everything. Every year he had a special cake for his birthday because he couldn’t have flour.


I guess they weren’t his only health problems, though. When he grew older, he developed a rare cancer. Imagine being in your early twenties and already facing death. It was obviously more than he could handle, because he committed suicide.


I remember the day I learned about this. Dad had lost touch with his parents by being Dad, and when he finally got in contact with them again, he was harshly informed of the boy’s death. I guess Mom forgot that I used to be friends with him, because she told me rather casually that “their son” had killed himself. Gee, thanks, Mom.


I mean, it’s not like it was hard to notice I was friends with the boy. We played together, he slept in my room when the kids stayed over, and I invited him to more than one birthday party. Those are the things most mothers notice with their kids. What the hell, Mom?!


This is what happens when you spend your time trying to escape from life, a common pastime of Mom’s since at least 1991. She would come home from work, get on the computer, and stay there until dinner was served and everyone was in bed. I’d ask her for things as a child and be told, “Not right now. I’m trying not to think.”


Well, she certainly did a good job of that. She stopped thinking for so long that I think she forgot how to start again. She even forgot how to be a human being sometimes. The callousness of the suicide news is just one example of many.


My great grandmother used to say, concerning the brain, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” I honestly think this is why Mom’s brain left her in her later years.


At one time in Mom’s life, she liked crossword and logic puzzles, read every book she could get her hands on, and liked to talk about science. By the end of her life, she couldn’t do puzzles anymore, she struggled to read, and she couldn’t keep track of a simple conversation. It was always frustrating talking to her because I’d realize halfway through our conversation that she was still processing twenty paragraphs back, and then she’d out herself by saying something stupid and irrelevant.


We used to have conversations in the car. In those last years, she would just sit there like a lump, nodding off or staring out the window. Occasionally, a raven would fly by, and I’d cringe as I heard the only line she ever uttered on those trips, “Wow, that’s a big bird.” Said in monotone. Every… single… time!


When she did speak, she was cruel. I remember being insulted by Dad on a regular basis, but most of the things he said were empty and meaningless. He tried to push buttons, but he was too stupid to figure out what those buttons were in the first place. Mom would cut to the bone. I can always remember the time she blamed me for her health problems, saying that if she hadn’t had me she wouldn’t have gotten sick.


I hate dementia. But I have to wonder if Mom would’ve gotten it if she hadn’t spent so much of her life trying to escape it. Because it wasn’t just being on the computer all day and night, it was sitting around and doing nothing for her body except eating junk food and mainlining Coca Cola.


I hate Coca Cola. The taste is disgusting. Any Coca Cola product I’ve ever had has the same nasty aftertaste, and I find it disgusting. I’m not sure what it is, but whatever it is, it’s in everything they make.


Is it caffeine, which I also hate? Is it some sort of additive? I don’t know, but it tastes like ass and I don’t know how anyone can stand it. Maybe it’s just me, though.


All I know is people seem to get addicted to Coca Cola products, and just Coca Cola products. I’ve met more than one person who’s tried to give up Coke. They move to Sprite for a while. Then they move to the next Coca Cola product, and the next one, always seeking out that damn taste. I’d say it was high fructose corn syrup except for the following story.


I remember when Mom discovered Mexican Coke that was made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. She started by having one Coke on the weekend when we watched anime. Then it became two, then three, then four. Then it was four and whenever we went out. Then it was four, whenever we went out, and any trip to the market. Her bedroom literally filled up with Coke bottles.


She finally stopped drinking the Coke when she was hospitalized with complications of aortic valve stenosis, which I am convinced rapidly increased because of that damn soda. Her cardiologist in Washington state said that she wouldn’t have a problem until her eighties, but it struck her at 74. The doctor told her to stop consuming caffeine, and that included Coke. I was more than happy to make sure that she never saw another one of those detestable bottles again.


Whatever the cause of her illness, I had to clean up the mess. Literally. She crapped and peed her pants on a daily basis. She could barely walk, so I had to bring her everything she needed, and then I’d have to pick up the crumbs she dropped on the floor. I cleaned her oxygen machine, I replaced her hoses and cannulas, and went into town to get them when she was running low. I slept with one ear open for the high-pitched alarm on the machine. I worried whenever a storm hit, the wind came up, or the power went out that Mom would run out of oxygen.


There is such a thing as caregiver fatigue, and I had it. Of course, most people weren’t particularly helpful. A lot of them would say things like, “Well, you owe her. She took care of you when you were a baby and now you need to pay her back.” My hands were shaking and I was jumping at anything that sounded like that damn alarm, and this is all the advice they had.


You know what? Fuck all of those people! The self-righteous little shits! They’re the same kind of people who tell an abuse victim they need to forgive their abuser, or that what bothers you today won’t seem so important a year from now. It’s worthless armchair psychology, and it’s just as bad as boycotting disasters and hoping they’ll go away. Or picking teams in the Israeli-Palestinian war.


I miss Mom. I don’t miss those people, and I use that term loosely.


Well, that’s all I have to say about corn. That got dark quickly, but sometimes that happens in the world of random free-writing. We shall see what next week’s topic brings.

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