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Crystal Zevon

Crystal Zevon is author of 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,' an oral history of the life of her former husband and lifelong friend and co-conspirator

February 24th, 2012 4:38 PM

Occu-Families

Who IS behind the occupiers?

A couple weeks ago, I left Washington, D.C. where I’ve been an occupier since October.  Coming home has been an experience stranger in some ways than living in a tent on a marble plaza in the middle of the nation’s capital.  People I’ve known for years, good friends, are at a loss for words – not sure how to take me, not sure what we have in common now.  While I was occupying, I got the occasional email or phone call of a congratulatory nature.  “I’m so proud of you.”  Or, “Thank you for being there for all of us.”  But, coming face-to-face with me makes people uncomfortable.  Some ask questions like, “Where did you go to the bathroom?” or “Did you take showers?” Sometimes they ask for my favorite story.  I respond by telling about the time we disguised ourselves as insurance industry big shots, got into the luncheon at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and mic-checked Scott Serota, CEO of BlueCross.  I laugh.  They give me a blank look, and I realize they’d rather hear about the homeless dude who was renting out space in our community tents to his pals.  They’re all good stories–true stories. All part of what it means to be an occupier.  Yet, after a short time, conversation steers to what people know and can count on.  One friend actually called to apologize for not staying in touch.  She told me I made her feel guilty.  She said she just wasn’t political, had never cared much about the things I was risking going to jail for.  So, the fact that I was doing it made her feel bad about herself.  That may have been the most honest conversation I’ve had. 

Now that I’ve settled down some, and the initial sense of emptiness after being surrounded by all varieties of humanity 24/7, the constant sense of urgency to change the course of history, has let up just a bit, I’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters.  I’ve talked to a couple of other occupiers-gone-home and we all agree that our former social lives lack the luster they had before we left home.  None of us can watch a TV show to completion, and we’re horrified by the waste and pettiness of our own daily lives.  But, we all agree that what does matter, who does care, are our families.  Especially the children. 

My eight-year-old twin grandsons came to visit my tent at Freedom Plaza.  They stayed four days, and as I listen while one grandson talks about oil spills, draws me a diagram of how oil is extracted from the earth and explains what happens to animals and vegetation after an oil spill, I know the experience changed them.  I know they heard me when I told them about the victims of the BP oil spill who visited us at Freedom Plaza.  I know they are proud of their Nana.

Another friend from the occupation told me about his daughter who, with a group of kids from her school, are nearly finished with a 7 year project where they solicited and received over 1,000 letters on the subject of world peace from notables such as Nobel Laureate and former President Jimmy Carter, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, author Helen Caldecott, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Representative Dennis Kucinich, skateboarder Tony Hawk, poet–writer Maya Angelou, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace.  They’ve put these letters, notes, songs, poems and artwork into a gigantic book that will be 10’ x 12’ and weigh a ton.  They call it “Big Book of Peace” (www.PeaceBookProject.org) and hope to have it displayed in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Boston Children’s Museum.

SEVEN YEARS they stuck with it.  These are OUR kids.  These are OccuKids.  If we can just stick with it, these are the kids who will set the course for the future of our planet.

I’ve determined that whenever I feel myself sinking from the apathy around me, whenever I wonder if I have the energy to go back out there again, I’m gonna watch the video of the kids who made the Big Book of Peace (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1bVYudlNZo), or I’m going to ask my grandson to explain, again, how maybe the sun could save us from oil. 

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