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Once upon a time, I made lists for my “favorite smells”, “favorite sights”, and “favorite sounds.” One of my favorite sounds is emitted from the flags in the above picture. There is a piece of metal towards the top that is bound to each rope that attaches to the flag and it makes this clangy noise against the pole. There is something distinct about it though that caught my ear the many times I visited this part of Washington D.C., the Washington Monument. It was particularly windy when I heard it the first time with my best friend, and she was amused because I said something to the effect of “I could listen to this all day.” It’s funny that the real sight there is obviously the Washington Monument, but I kept my back turned to it for a while and just listened and watched the flags swinging violently, almost in unison with each other.

I still have a lot of fascination surrounding Washington D.C., even if I’m not keen on the politics that go on there, and like many, I’m counting down the days until this country is not run by the current administration. It seems only yesterday that I spent my birthday in college watching all the Bush/Gore coverage, only to find out the outcome the next day. And then four years later, I took Mia and Romy, the girls I was tutoring/nannying, to the voting booth and let them push down the levers I wanted. I jokingly put my finger on Bush, instead of Kerry, and they said, “Nooooo!!!!” and I then said, “Just kidding; go ahead.” The joke was on me apparently.

Even with a general lack of patriotism or faith in this country these days, I still enjoy July 4, its original meaning, and the celebration that accompanies it. Growing up, every July 4th my family would go downtown (Pittsburgh) and watch the fireworks from a parking lot in Station Square. Station Square is the location of a former station of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, and lies adjacent to the river. Some of the original buildings are still there and since it is located across the river from downtown and Pittsburgh’s skyline, there are great views to be had.

I was usually donning red, white, and blue attire, scrunchies, slap bracelets, hi-tops and all. We ate dinner beforehand at a nearby restaurant, and then we’d go to a candy store to buy flying saucers, or satellite wafers. With darkened skies approaching, we unfolded our chairs in the parking lot, and waited for the fireworks to be shot off from various barges into the night. I absolutely loved it.

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I will probably do something similar tomorrow, albeit without the patriotic outfit, but I have nonetheless been reflecting on two pieces of “art”, or craft, that I made in a political spirit. Around the time of 9/11, I was on a decoupage kick in college; after the towers fell, I made the above piece as my way of reflecting on this country, its politics, its messages. I skipped class and gave up social opportunities to make this flag, which on the surface probably looks ordinary. The red and white stripes are mostly cut-outs of clothing and material goods from magazine pictures, evoking our global economy and consumerist habits.

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The blue background (a little worn these days, but that better matches my spirt I guess) comes mostly from denim, blue jeans, one of many American “classics.” Each star contains a word, such as money, child, died, mission, terrorism, malignant, tears, elevator, effort, collapse, etc. I punched out the words from magazine articles about 9/11. Making “art” has long been a way for me to work through something, not necessarily to make sense of it, but to come at it from many angles, reflect, analyze, comprehend.

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Recently, I began another project that I envisioned while working on my frozen treats. I thought about making bomb pops, the red, white, and blue popsicles. Within a minute, however, I thought, “No way am I making something with the word ‘bomb’ in it.” I started to think about how I had never really considered the bomb pop before, its shape, its American-ness via the colors. Instead, I came up with my own version.

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Enters the “Peas Pop”, or “Peace Pop.” (Thank you English for these homophones) Is it a pea pod or a popsicle? Is it patriotic or anti-American? Is it art or craft? It’s whatever you want it to be, but it’s mostly the hope that it will someday be American to eat “peas pops”, not bomb pops, to support peace, not war, to promote love, not hate. Happy July 4th.