One of my favorites of Tara’s infamous stories involves her two young nephews. Jackson is the eldest at 4 but is flees helplessly from his brother Aden, whose bizarre growth spurt prompted Tara to compare him to King Kong. So one day Jackson is playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine playset, and presumably all the trains are running on time. Then King Kong storms in and leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Instead of giving his younger brother a playful (or not so playful) shove or running from the room in terror, all poor Jackson can do is utter "Train? Train?" in a despondent voice.

All of us in our library posse find this hilarious. As a result we are all going straight to hell.

For some reason, this story came up while Tara and Cassie and I were loitering outside the library after a particularly dull and excruciatingly boring class tonight. And then Dr. Dee exits the library and heads straight for me. Keep in mind that I am extraordinarily behind in her class as I am in all my classes this semester. And an hour earlier, a guest speaker had put me on the spot about not yet finishing my first master’s degree. When she brought up the example of her pushing her son to finish the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, I ended up revealing that I hadn’t made Eagle Scout either. So my lifetime of slack was on display for all to see tonight, and she confronted me about my lack of accomplishment in her course. She wasn’t unkind or angry at all, but still, it was an uncomfortable scene. Yet I acquitted myself well, dodging, weaving, rationalizing, distracting with humor, and not curling up into a fetal position in a moment when lesser men would have easily crumbled.

Now I can say I know exactly what Jackson felt like at that moment. "Train? Train?"

This all puts a spotlight on something I’ve been feeling for quite sometime now. Everything in my life is going really well, I have no reason for complaint, but I just can’t seem to give a shit about school anymore. A few weeks ago, I would chalk it up to impatience. "Can I be a librarian now please?" But it’s more than that.

Last night I was so furiously despondent that I came dangerously close to dropping a few hundred bucks on a small pile of consumer goods at Borders. Yet with great restraint I managed to emerge from the store with only one purchase: The Day The Earth Stood Still on DVD. Sure, I just watched my aging tape from AMC on Saturday, but it is one of my favorite films. Michael Rennie is so utterly, utterly perfect: smug and arrogant without being haughty, a biting tongue, yet a man with a giant heart who looks utterly despondent looking upon the graves at Arlington.

Klaatu has come to Earth to save us from ourselves, and for his trouble we shoot him. Twice. See, we represent a potential threat to the galaxy with our Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Klaatu threatens to open up a can of Gort-sized whoopass unless we start acting like responsible citizens of the universe. Sound at all familiar? Call it Operation: Earth Freedom.

But Dubya is no Klaatu, he’s a slack-jawed Neanderthal, a grinning baboon who revels in being a strutting alpha chimp. Fifty years of diplomacy is all gone in an instant, and gone with it was a dream that was a brief shining moment in human history, the idea that law and morality was above power and strength. Now it’s back to whose cock is the biggest. We take out Saddam not because he violated international law or because the international community decided he represented a danger to the world, but because we can.

Where is Michael Rennie when we need him to tell us those magic words that will save the world from destruction despite the fact that we need destroying? Now it all seems so utterly pointless, the things that I love about America don’t matter anymore because we all cheer Dubya and gleefully hand over our rights and freedoms. I can’t seem to care about my career because I’m thinking about making sure my passport is up to date and wondering which country I should relocate to in a couple of years when the shit really hits the fan and I don’t recognize America anymore. I watch the news for as long as I can stand, and I see the same images over and over. No POWs, of course, after Dubya asked the networks not to, but I see that kid who got shot in the hand laying on a stretcher with the amount of morphine he’s been given written on his forehead, and people running around in gasmasks, and the smoking buildings, and the tanks driving through the sand, over and over again. I’m pissed and there’s nothing I can do, it’s like someone trashed my playset, and all I can do is sit there and say "Train? Train?"

Of course, I still have to do my fucking homework. After all, they’ll still need librarians in Ireland or Canada or New Zealand after we close all ours to pay for more smart bombs to use on whatever country we’ll invade next.