What is Drastic + Dramatic

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nuclear Bombs and an English Major

Ahh, finally I can breathe without breaths taking up energy needed for deadlines. Free breathing, it's nice.

Whenever I exit school I see this plume of white smoke some distance to the north. Often it makes me ponder what it must have been like waking up all dandy, breathing free on a pleasant morning in August, year 1945. Then suddenly a lightning geyser punching through the ground, rocking even the dust of the earth beneath my sandaled feet. Standing some distance to the south I wouldn't die, but every eyelid blink would try for days to scrape the inverse x-ray pillar scarred to my retinas.

From where I see the smoky finger poking at the sky, my guess is the town of Pleasant Grove would disappear, become a giant gravel pit, every slab of cement an unmarked headstone. I used to live in PG. I want to say I remember what that plume is from. I can't. And I guess I can't help that I wonder what an atomic bomb shock wave would feel like.

I picture the people in the surgical clinic upon which the "Little Boy" released his nuclear tantrum: one minute bowing to check on a patient; lifting the page of a patient's chart; the patient turning his sick face toward the window, his breathing subtle like the leaves nodding sleepily at the summer morning sun--

then in the profound silence of full volume noise, an instantaneous slurping of every atom of air, simultaneously resisted by a force that turns teeth to ash, snatched their bodies, etched for an instant in the transparent monolith of time, just long enough for the entire earth to pause, a pop of light surrounded each human statue, radiating skeletons framed in black silhouettes--

and after that moment, a melting hole, their stunned souls rising on a smoldering halo of smoke.

This video has bounteous dramatic effect...but it's rather close to what I imagine. No way so many humans (140,000) on earth could have woken that day with a feeling that it might be their last.

"The bomb was delivered by a US B29 bomber, nicknamed Enola Gay, from the Pacific island of Tinian. Dropped by parachute it exploded about 580 m. (1,885 ft.) above the ground, and at the point of detonation the temperature probably reached several million degrees centigrade. Almost immediately a fireball was created from which were emitted radiation and heat rays, and severe shock waves were created by the blast. A one-ton (900 kg.) conventional bomb would have destroyed all wooden structures within a radius of 40 m. (130 ft.). Little Boy destroyed them all within a radius of 2 km. (1.2 mi.) of the hypocentre (the point above which it exploded). The terrain was flat and congested with administrative and commercial buildings, and the radius of destruction for the many reinforced concrete structures was about 500 m. (1,625 ft.), though only the top stories of earthquake-resistant buildings were damage or destroyed. Altogether an area of 13 sq. Ikm. (5 sq. mi.) was reduced to ashes and of the 76,000 buildings in the city 62.9% were destroyed and only 8% escaped damage" 
(from this photojournal website:

Several MILLION degrees? Holy crap. [moments and moments of silence]

It's so hard to segue from horror to anything else...

But anyway, I picture this walking out from school. Not sure why. I mean, I could think happy thoughts, right? Like "oh, i bet that's a magical candy factory sending sweet fumes of confectionary sugar into the air" (*note, powdered sugar/sugar dust is also highly explosive) but no, I think of my Japanese brothers and sisters on those fateful days in August 1945.

Why do I think I can even pretend to visualize such a horror? Mostly because of media and movies, is my guess. Maybe I was watching from heaven. I would be the kind of spirit to request to watch such a thing. Somehow to develop compassion for others, if that's how pre-mortal heaven works. Or perhaps I was there, if the pre-mortal or pre-this-life precinct is governed by reincarnation. And that's why I am drawn to think of such things, because my soul was once propelled into its next life from that nuclear force. I don't know. I tend to ponder on the more macabre. That also prompts a "why?" which also receives another "I don't know." More often than not life ends in death, so it's an inescapably intriguing part of existence. In my opinion.

But I love the living part. Despite a somber regard for this historic event at this precise moment, I'm actually quite happy. Indeed, profoundly peacefully happy. I have high hopes for next semester, and small, productive goals to keep me busy until it comes, to keep my brain engaged. This semester really put me to work, and I don't want to lose that ethic or momentum. 

one goal is to read the Chicago Manual of Style. It's a rule book about grammar. Thrilling, huh? The way I see it, it's the Louvre of Language. I'm that kind of person. Who really will read the dictionary sometimes. I know. I think I could have been a dictionary in another life. Or some human equivalent. Maybe a medieval scribe. I love writing. Even after hundreds of double-spaced typed papers this semester, I still love writing. I love it even more I think, because this semester made me better at it. I am so grateful for the opportunities proffered me at school. The first person I thank for my success is God (if I fail anything, it's my own fault; if I win, it's all on God. He's too good to me, frankly). The next first.one (1.1) person I thank is Grandma Bonnie. She funds tuition and books. Without her, I wouldn't be going to school right now, frankly. And then Aunt Jadine is 1.2 because she's the woman. She makes school costs reimbursement happen. I am blessed. Beyond.

Did you know next semester they're making me Editor-In-Chief for Touchstones magazine, UVU's literary journal? Oh dude, I'm nervous. But so excited. I really want to do this editing/publishing thing with my life, so more than it looking good on any resume, I really want to learn everything it can teach me! I still can't believe I'll be the kind of top leader person for the semester. This past semester I was a Poetry Editor. That was a fair amount of work. Now I'll have more to do, but I'll have amazing people around me. Spread the word if you know any students enrolled at UVU who write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or drama, or do photography, sculpture or art, and tell them to SUBMIT their stuff, or if they want to be part of the staff, to send in an APPLICATION because it's going to be so much fuuuuun!!

Things are looking mighty fine in this current life of mine. Just got to keep seeking first the kingdom, then I'll be citizen of a first-rate nation that supplies every needful thing. No matter what happens, I'm good with God.

So...farewell Fall 2011. 


J. Coombs said...

I like to consider the effects of a nuke on Happy Valley as well, sometimes (not for any morbid purposes). And that steam cloud, or smoke plume always makes me think about it, too. I thought you might like this video clip, since you were talking about Hiroshima.


emilyf said...

oh officer Coombs... that's funny. :)

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