28 June 2015


I forgot that this year, Madison's city fireworks show would be on the Saturday evening before July 4th. At some point in the past couple of years the fireworks show was moved downtown from it's previous location on the far eastern side of Madison. Now that I live downtown, the fireworks show is literally two blocks from my apartment.

I work/hack nights, and since my sleep pattern is (or at least seems to be) perpetually out of whack, I was up all night Friday night and part of Saturday morning. This meant that when the city started launching fireworks two blocks from my apartment, I had been asleep for several hours.

Yeah. Oh, shit.

I'm not sure at what point in the fireworks show I was awake enough to hear what sounded like my neighborhood being bombed from the air, or what I was dreaming about at the time. It took a little while to realize that the noise from the fireworks was real and not part of the dream. It took a little while longer to realize that what sounded like explosions was really fireworks going off. I was probably more confused than anything-- why the fuck are fireworks going off like hell is breaking loose? It's June-- until I realized that the fireworks show must have been scheduled for this weekend.

It also didn't help that since the fireworks show is downtown, that means that there were a lot of people moving around my neighborhood. That's actually not that bad by itself. I live downtown, so people moving around isn't that unusual and when it bothers me I just remind myself that I live downtown (and like living downtown) and it's just the PTSD being bitchy. The problem is that many of my neighbors live on upper floors that have balconies that face the lake where the fireworks were being launched, so of course that's where people who aren't lucky enough to live downtown come to drink (this being Madison) and watch the fireworks.

One of the nice things about my neighborhood, my social anxiety aside, is that it's a pretty vibrant place. When the weather's nice there are a lot of people outside on porches and balconies. So truthfully, I'm cool with people coming downtown to watch the fireworks with friends. I try to not be the grumpy old guy on the block.

Until they bring their own fireworks and start setting them off from said balconies, close enough that I smell the gunpowder and whatever other chemicals are released by fireworks when fire is applied. That's when things get really scary. It took time, but once I figured out that the city fireworks show was going on, I at least knew it wasn't an immediate danger. I didn't like it, or how my brain and nervous system were reacting, but I at least knew what was going on. When there were more booms and flashes, I knew what they were from. It's not the same with random people and fireworks, that can go off at any time (and often do so very late at night or early in the morning).

Normally, I make it a point to be safely inside a quiet space (usually the computer science building) when I know public fireworks are scheduled, and I'll tend to stay in such quiet places even more than normal until the yayhoos with fireworks have set them all off and things get back to normal. This year fireworks season snuck up on me. So, happy birthday, America.

Now please be quiet, k? Some of the people who went to great effort to make sure America is still here have a bad day when you celebrate with explosions, and somehow that doesn't seem quite right.

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