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Jill Robinson Headshot

I've Got a Bus. Ready to Roll?

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Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times mentioned in his article, "Put Occupy L.A. On the Road", that you can pick up an old bus for as low as $900. This could be useful for shuttling satellite Occupy forces. I might feel bleak about not being able to fit it up with sets of very cute mini-espresso makers in all seven colors, or monogrammed fake badger fur throws from holiday catalogues. But I think how fine (awesome, that's the word I want), to pick up a bus and drive it down from wherever it's been left out of the loop and place it right here where I live in this patch of luxury, deluxe, up-to-date, modern, classy flats right round from the Veteran's Administration Center where, when I was growing up in the last century, the Japanese Americans were placed behind loops of barbed wire in internment camps.

There's a recreational park here now. Internment Park. Very few people. One woman looks like we might have marched together in the 60s. She might be a passenger for the bus. But passenger implies leader. The Occupy people, as in the basic democracy idea, seem to get around this. Then, do I fix the tires? Fill up the tank? Okay. We're not planning any long trips. We'll be right here. Don't have to define roles. It will be just a bunch of us, cross about a lot of the same things, placing ourselves right here until something really is fixed. And we mean it.

I walk over and sit on the bench, smile at this woman. She moves to another bench. One good thing about smoking is you could always ask for a light. Never so strange as a smile.

There's no one here who is smoking. You live longer that way. Once a highly desirable idea, living longer. You could help out on the farm. Keep the stew pot going, watch the kids. Sew buttons on. Walk the dogs.

Now right here where I am, this job issue is serious. Everyone's home walking their own dogs all day. This is the one way to communicate. They nod at each other.

'I have a dog too,' they're saying. We're American, keeping fit, taking care of our own little dogs. Nodding says it all.

Thanks, Steve, for the bus notion. I could paint blue coyotes on the bus and rumble it over to Internment Park. I'll put up a sign. Coyote Canyon. Occupied. Bring sleeping bags. This gets appealing. And what would be the problem be with growing our own Victory Gardens? As kids we all had vegetable gardens.

I'm talking about long, long ago during World War II, when food was rationed, so was paper, you wrote on both sides. Very carefully.

Water was also revered. I bathed in the same tub with my kid sister and brother. A shower, just for you?! Now that would have been ultra-deluxe.

The vegetables were grand. I was great with string beans and sweet peas. I imagined these were flowers Narcissa Whitman planted on her way west. She'd lay some in her baby's blanket so when the wagons moved on, that baby dreamed of summer.

In Where I Was From, Joan Didion wrote about her pioneer ancestors. She mentions another Narcissa who had a recipe for deer soup that, "...was pretty good if you haven't anything else to eat." We'll make simplified things like this in the campfire by the Bus.

The pioneer women also had squash and beans in the gardens they left behind as they moved on. As we will.

When we grew string beans, I was oldest and tallest, so I got to tie them with ribbons onto the beanpoles, which we jammed into the gravel topped patches out back behind the laundry yard.

"Do you have to make everything look cute?!" my friend, Sue Sally said, as she snapped off a string bean, frowning at the checked ribbons all perky on the poles.

Sue Sally used rubber bands to keep her braids neat, rode her horse to school. We'd go watch polo on Sundays at Will Rogers' Polo Field up 26th street. This was wide-open land then. The park I'm talking about here in the Veterans' land is fairly wide open too. Room for three or four cheery Occupy buses, lively with families, posters, kids to tumble over, toss balls at little dogs. No more Internment Camp here. We'll call it Determination Park. Yes.

And there's bound to be someone wanting to bring a barbeque. We could roast the veggies we grow, and why not plant a tangerine tree or so? Do parks need to be empty and bland, waiting for people to engage in properly laid-out public administration games? What about making the park a place for new games - storytellers, artists, some of us, speechless from no hope, might dance some hope right up. Bring your accordion, cymbals, drums and a sax, please. Let's Occupy for original energy. For the vast wild American spirit. I got a bus. You got a pack of seeds? A paintbrush? We got another holiday coming up.

I'm not going skiing. Say, what about we Occupy a Wonderland, e.g., wondering how to fix it all back up.

Thanks, Steve.