For the last four days I have been in Boise. On the eve of my return home to Pocatello, here is a wrap-up of my trip.
Every trip I have taken to Boise by myself has begun with an audio book. Over the summer when I visited Boise for the IHC Conference at Albertson College of Idaho, I listened to My Life by former President Clinton. On my trip here for the Frank Church Banquet I listened to A Reporter's Life by Mr. Cronkite. Another book that comes to mind is In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike, a book I have read, listened to, and absorbed on many occasions. This trip I listened to Maya Angelou read A Song Flung Up to Heaven. There are many reasons for which I picked this book--being so close to election day, I didn't want something too political, but being a purely academic-type trip I couldn't escape the idea of a book with some history involved. And Maya reminds me of someone in Arkansas that I miss horribly. I was not at all surprised by how much I enjoyed the book and given the chance wouldn't mind reading it again.
As I am sure I have mentioned, I have no sense of direction. The compass that most people have embedded in them is missing in me. Always has been. Needless to say I get lost easily. And it probably doesn't help matters that I at times don't know my left from my right. While in Boise this caused me more in-the-car time than was needed, but I had the opportunity to listen to some great music. First of all, while in a parking garage of all places, I happened to stumble across a country station that was playing a new song by Kenny Rogers--The Last Ten Years. The song itself isn't incredibly clever (in comparison to songs like "The Gambler"), but I enjoyed the reference to losing Superman, Ray Charles, and George Harrison. No surprise there. Before I speak to the issue of a particular song--Allysa Lies by Jason Michael Carroll--I will just say that songs you've heard a million times before have an interesting impact on you at moments in your life when you were meant to hear them again--Journey to the Past by Aaliyah and The Difference by Matchbox made their way into the CD player numerous times and are engraved in my mind right now for the message one sends and the images the other invokes.
The song "Alyssa Lies" receives its own paragraph for highly personal reasons. When I was a senior in high school, Martina McBride released "Concrete Angel." When the music video came out the end of it had a child abuse hotline to call and the video was somewhat controversial in its startling, yet honest depiction of a little girl's battle with an abusive parent. Even now I get choked up when I hear that song and there are days I can't even listen to it, but I had never seen the music video (by my own choice) until Tuesday. Surely avoiding something else, I turned on CMT and was watching music videos when "Concrete Angel" came on. My first reaction was to shut it off, but I didn't. I watched that music video for the first time Tuesday and find it ironic that within the week I also heard the Alyssa song. There aren't too many things on television these days I can't handle--I've watched people eat quite disturbing things on reality shows, have seen more blood and guts on the crime scene shows lately than ever before in my life, and though I hate them can even watch scary movies--but that video for "Concrete Angel" about did me in and hearing "Alyssa Lies" for the first time was equally dramatic.
It's funny to me that I can talk about all of these non-political, mostly personal matters without flinching, but when it comes to talking about what I've done here in Boise--as far as what I've learned from the numerous political manuscript collections I've looked at--I can't find words. I don't know if its my whacky sense of history that prevents me from really expressing my thoughts on these collections for fear of revealing how truly nerdy I am or if I just don't think anyone but an historian could understand the magnitude of what I have just experienced. In my mind I thought I would deduct certain things from looking at these collections, but I can assure you that nothing I thought would happen actually happened and what I have learned in four days is truly remarkable.
Though this trip has opened my eyes to many things and has left me annoyed with campaign advertisements, I am ready to go home to my fourteen roommates. Now more than ever I am ready to plug right along on processing the Stallings papers. Now more than ever I can see where this is going and it is a wonderful sight.