“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Sandy Hook Elementary School Hoa Nguyen Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School
by Hoa Nguyen (Newtown Patch)

                   

“Weary at the close of day, wondering if tomorrow brings me joy or sorrow.” ~ Leon Redbone

Friday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 50’s.

I’ve picked up some new followers recently, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some new voices commenting, which is always nice. I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you out in the ether who take a few minutes to peruse what I put here. When I first began this blog, I didn’t really know what my goals were, but I hoped that along the way one or two people would stop by. That this has come to pass gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I mean, someone besides my family and dogs is tuning in, and hey, that’s a nice feeling. So thanks.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Curbside Shrine by Emmanuel Dunand AFP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Curbside Shrine
by Emmanuel Dunand (AFP)

I’m hoping to get the house ready for Christmas this weekend, and while Alexis is out of town I’m going to work on Christmas stockings. At the very least I need to finish a stocking for Olivia. I’m hoping that I’ll get inspired once I go to the craft store, but right now, my creative side is coming up blank.

I stopped by my mother’s house yesterday with Olivia. I was watching her while Lex was trying to get ready for their road trip to Mississippi. My mother was glad to spend some time with her great-granddaughter. I am sad that Lex and the baby won’t be here for Christmas, but I remember when the kids were young and how we felt pulled in so many different directions at holiday time, so I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. My mother, of course, does not understand and thinks that it’s weird that Mike wants to see his family. How is that weird?

Oh well. We are talking about my mother, after all.

” . . . how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.” ~ Bob Hicok, from “In the Loop”

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, 50’s.

I began this post yesterday afternoon and had planned to come back to it in the evening after Corey and I ran some errands, and then what happened in Sandy Hook entered my consciousness, and I just couldn’t go on with a bunch of drivel about my life, all of which seems terribly insignificant and unimportant when compared to what happened.

Connecticut School Shooting
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Woman Waits to Hear News about her Sister
by Jessica Hill (AP)

So I wrote, just wrote whatever came to mind, uncensored, raw, without thought to structure or logic or development, and it helped, a bit. But I suppose the emotion that most of us are feeling (and yes, I am assuming here) is raw. How did this happen? Why did this happen?

And dammit, who are these people who think it’s a good idea to go to an elementary school and take out as many six and seven-year-olds as possible?* And this was before we learned today that the gunman wasn’t satisfied shooting his victims once but rather chose to inflict the children and adults with between three to eleven wounds. Who does this?

Truthfully, my overwhelming question is why in the hell didn’t this guy just kill himself if he was so mad at his mother, mad at the world, dissatisfied with his lot in life? What possesses a person to take a weapon into a school filled with young children and decide that this is a good thing? And yes, obviously his thinking was not logical, but I refuse to give him the excuse that he was a psychopath. That’s just too easy. And no, I won’t name him because the last thing he needs from me or anyone else is publicity.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth (IV,iii)

And so, like many others, I watched hours of news coverage, and even as I did so, I had to wonder why. Why was I watching? What was I hoping to glean from the talking heads? I mean, everyone was saying the same thing, and no one had anything new to report. It was all just a hodge-podge of sad commentary by dour-faced journalists, many of whom chipped in and said that perhaps now we would have a real discussion on gun control, and you could tell that they didn’t believe it even as they said it.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting Children Being Led from Building by Shannon Hicks AP slash Newtown Bee
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Children Being Led from Building
by Shannon Hicks (AP/Newtown Bee)

And yes, I am particularly cynical and bitter today. Having no answers makes me this way.

Seriously? All I could think was that if someone had done that to one of my children, or if it had happened to Olivia, I could not be responsible for the rage that would consume me. Odd words for one who abhors gun violence, from one who purports to hate violence of any kind. But it’s different when it’s one of your own, right? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

The loss of a child is an unbearable thing. But to lost a child to violence—this I cannot even begin to comprehend. When I hear news stories about young babies who have been beaten to death, my mind immediately jumps to a place of logic, for it is with logic that I try to face the unbearable: Why didn’t they just give their child to someone who really wanted it? If having that child was such a burden, just open a door and step outside. Finding a family who desperately wants to have a child is not hard.

Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting Mary Altaffer, AP
Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting
by Mary Altaffer (AP)

But then multiply that senseless death by 5 or 10 or 20? What then? How to begin to process such senseless devastation, for surely it is devastation that has been wrought upon those families—the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends. The repercussions of one man’s violence will spread and multiply for years.

Consider the first responders, the carnage to which they had to bear witness. How to live with those images? How to survive the nightmares that will surely follow?

Consider the survivors and the families of survivors, filled with gratitude and then overcome with guilt. How to resolve the antithetical emotions?

“For the poison of hatred seated near the heart doubles the burden for the one who suffers the disease; he is burdened with his own sorrow, and groans on seeing another’s happiness.” ~ Aeschylus

What happened yesterday morning in Connecticut will stay above the fold and at the top of the hour only until the next great tragedy usurps it and takes its place. That is the way of the news cycle, and unfortunately, that is the way of the human mind. We focus on what is put before us.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Emergency Responders, Media, Parents Gary Jeanfaivre Newtown Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Emergency Responders, Media, Parents
by Gary Jeanfaivre (Newtown Patch)

But how many other disgruntled employees, displaced teens, disassociated spouses are out there at this very minute stewing over injustices perceived and real? The violence does not end, will not end, certainly not in my lifetime.

And that violence will be visited upon countless other innocents in more ways than we can conceive of our begin to enumerate: guns, knives, poison, baseball bats, letter openers . . . The means are endless, and no, we cannot outlaw every single item that could be used to visit harm upon another. But does that mean that we should not regulate those things that can be regulated? Consider, in China a crazed man attacked students at a primary school, but none died; he used a knife. Students lost fingers and ears but not lives.

It was so easy to strip travelers of anything remotely sharp in the fallout of 9/11: no nail files, no box cutters, no pen knives, no multi-function tools, no aerosol cans, no large containers for liquid, and on and on and on, ad infinitum. We did that. This country and many others enacted those laws. So why so reluctant to enact or amend the laws we have regarding firearms? Yes, it’s in the Constitution, but when the Constitution was drawn, firearms were necessary to many aspects of life. Is that still the case today?

The times have changed, the circumstances evolved, yet our approach remains steadfastly 1950’s Cold War mentality when it comes to weapons.

“Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish” ~ Thomas More

But in spite of everything that happened, I refuse to believe that there is not goodness in this world. In the face of certain death, how many teachers thought only of extending their classroom role to that of protector? The teacher who read to her students during the gunfire? The teacher who shielded her students, losing her life in the process? The principal who ran towards the gunman, not away?

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting David Goldman AP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
by David Goldman (AP)

When we talk of heroes and role models, we should talk of these people, not NBA stars or mega movie stars. Everyday people doing their everyday jobs in extraordinary ways.

The ramifications of yesterday morning are still unfolding. I am not understating when I say that a lot of people are going to need a lot of therapy just to be able to close their eyes at night. The people of Sandy Hook, like the people of Aurora and the people of Blacksburg and the people of Columbine and the people of too many other places to name individually need our support now, a month from now, a year from now. The people of this nation need change. Now. The people in charge of this nation need to step up to the challenges. Now.

But it all begins with each one of us and what we are willing to do, or do we just go back to business as usual? Do we just retreat to the safety of our living rooms, the glow of our holiday lights, the warmth of our family’s arms? Or do we look at our children, say a prayer of thanks, and vow to work for change?

*List of victims; all the children killed were 6 or 7 years old.

Music by Vienna Teng, “Lullaby for a Stormy Night”

                   

Beyond Even This

Who would have thought the afterlife would
look so much like Ohio? A small town place,
thickly settled among deciduous trees.
I lived for what seemed a very short time.
Several things did not work out.
Casually almost, I became another one
of the departed, but I had never imagined
the tunnel of hot wind that pulls
the newly dead into the dry Midwest
and plants us like corn. I am
not alone, but I am restless.
There is such sorrow in these geese
flying over, trying to find a place to land
in the miles and miles of parking lots
that once were soft wetlands. They seem
as puzzled as I am about where to be.
Often they glide, in what I guess is
a consultation with each other,
getting their bearings, as I do when
I stare out my window and count up
what I see. It’s not much really:
one buckeye tree, three white frame houses,
one evergreen, five piles of yellow leaves.
This is not enough for any heaven I had
dreamed, but I am taking the long view.
There must be a backcountry of the beyond,
beyond even this and farther out,
past the dark smoky city on the shore
of Lake Erie, through the landlocked passages
to the Great Sweetwater Seas.

~ Maggie Anderson

“I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

I wrote this last night, but decided to mull it over and come back to it in the morning. Still feel the same way. Apologize for the disjointedness (is that even a word?)………..

President Jimmy Carter Signing an Extension of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Ratification (1978)
(Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Friday night. Cloudy and humid, high 60’s.

I’d never heard that Lincoln quote before, about using a teaspoon to bail out the Potomac River. Isn’t it wonderful? Reminds me of Eliot. I still feel that I’m measuring out my life in coffee spoons, and now I can add teaspoons to my list of metaphors for not being able to get things done.

So I’ve spent a lot of this week amassing a bizarre list of things that I’ve noticed that perplex me, but I have to warn you, this post is all over the place. Here are a few:

Suffragettes (1908)
Wikimedia Commons
  • Why, when there is a clearly marked turn lane, must there always be the one person who pulls into it diagonally, thereby blocking at least one lane?
  • How do I always manage to park in a puddle, and why do I only find out this reality once I have stepped into said puddle?
  • Why do the cars in front of me always seem to be in a conspiracy to keep traffic moving at least three miles below the speed limit?
  • Why do defoggers only work on the magical setting, you know, the one that comes from moving the different settings several times until you reach that nirvana that can never be duplicated?
  • Why are there no Obama signs in my neighborhood except for mine? Did the Dems just decide to concede Virginia’s swing state classification to the Mittens and concentrate on Ohio? It would appear so . . .

“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.” ~ Heraclitus

And then there is this (true story): While driving Brett to campus the other day, I asked him what that window decal on the car ahead of us was supposed to be. I assumed that he would know because it looked like some kind of character out of a game.  It was pink, and smiling, and cartoony. To wit, he replied, “It’s a uterus.”

Demand Equal Rights

Now, let me pause here as I am certain that you are pausing also. “A uterus?” I asked. “But why?”

Brett replied that the uterus has become the new pink, the new breast cancer, the cause de célèbre, if you will.

Okay. I need to say a few things about this one. First, I am a firm believer that what goes on in my uterus is my business and no one else’s. I find it to be a very personal relationship, one that I do not particularly care to share with the whole world. Second, I also believe that I am a pretty radical thinker, open to new concepts and ideas, welcoming a steady stream of new data into my hard drive, as it were. But a uterus?

Seriously?

Apparently so. The uterus decal is a woman’s way of saying something along the lines of this is mine, or perhaps, I’m female and I’m proud of my lady parts, or maybe, This is how I look on the inside. Yes, yes. Don’t get testy. I know that it’s a political statement, but still, I think that I’m almost offended—a pink, smiley uterus with eyes. I think it’s the eyes that creep me out. I’m going to have to ponder this little detail some more and perhaps come back to it later.

“It is in the treatment of trifles that a person shows what they are.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Other things I’ve been mulling over:

  • Why are Republicans so caught up in having fake tans? They’re kind of like the Real Housewives of Orange County in that vein.

    Equal Rights Conference (1922)
    Wikimedia Commons
  • Will there be any paper magazines in a decade? Newsweek will no longer be in traditional print. That saddens me probably way more than it does them.
  • Why do people in Hampton Roads act totally insane when there is news of a tropical storm or hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic. There was a run on water in the Wal Mart Market this afternoon. You would have thought those jugs contained gold.
  • Did you know that I also have accidents with shopping carts? Just thought I’d mention that.
  • I can’t find a decent ringtone for UB40’s “Red, Red Wine” on any reputable sites. This is not earth-shattering, but I’ve been wondering about it.

“I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on.” ~ Rita Dove

Getting back to that whole uterus decal thing—and yes, I am, sooner than expected—I can’t help but think that these same women who are displaying their female reproductive organs on their rear windows would be highly offended if they pulled up behind a truck with a big old decal of a penis and accompanying testes. I mean, wouldn’t that cause an uproar? Bad taste! Offensive! ya da ya da ya da . . .

A Bumper Sticker I Could Live With

Look, I understand militant feminism. I stopped wearing a bra when I was young (truthfully, I didn’t really need one, but that’s beside the point) because I heard that’s what real feminists did. I was on the forefront of fighting for equal pay for the same job before most of you were born. I adopted the Ms. moniker proudly, declaring to all within shouting distance that my marital status did not need to be indicated in a formal title, after all, Mr. did not indicate marital status. I mean folks, I still have an ERA NOW button. I understand that women are taking back their uteri (is that the correct plural for uteruses?), demanding that men-folk stop sticking their noses where they don’t belong. I completely agree.

But a smile? Eyes? Just ewwwwww all over the place.

“After all it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.” ~ Evelyn Underhill

So, I’ve also been considering a few other things:

March for the Equal Rights Amendment
  • I wonder what would happen if one night I crept into the yard of the guy in Lex’s neighborhood who has 20 Romney/Ryan yard signs in his teeny, tiny front yard, and swapped one out for an Obama/Biden sign? Not in the front, but somewhere in the middle . . . how apoplectic do you think he’d get?
  • Is it really sad that I can’t wait for December so that I can go see Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie?
  • Is it pathetic that I wish there were going to be more Harry Potter movies?
  • Should that last question really have been more along the lines of how pathetic would it be?
  • Does anyone want to sew Brett’s costume for me?

“The devil is in the details.” ~ unknown

Okay, back to this.

2011 Reintroduction of the ERA
by Rebecca Koenig

People, please. Feminism came about because women wanted to be treated as equals, you know, that whole equal rights thing? It’s a pretty basic concept, but somehow it’s morphed into something I don’t recognize, something that promotes misandry, something that contends that the owner of the vagina is better than the owner of the penis. If I’m making you squirm, good. Misandry is no better than misogyny. And let me pause here—I am not talking about sexual orientation. Unfortunately, at some point, the Rush Limbaughs of the world began to pair the words feminist and lesbian. The first can be the second, and the second can be the first, but not necessarily so.

Who you share your uterus with is none of my business. What you do with it is none of my business. Do you really need to shout to the world that you have a uterus? If this makes me old fashioned, then I guess I am, but I’m still a feminist, in the truest sense of the word because I do not believe for one second that one gender is better equipped (no pun intended) to perform a job or hold an office or make a decision than the other gender.

And by the way, if you are so inclined to try to turn this into a debate about rape culture, don’t bother. This is definitely not about that and that is not about this. It’s essentially this: I’m for human rights, equality for all. It doesn’t get much more basic than that.

Oh, whatever. As Bukowski said,

“I decide that the only definition of
Truth (which changes)
is that it is that thing or act or
belief which the crowd
rejects.” (from “The People Look Like Flowers”)

More later. Peace.

Music by The Chromatics, “Into the Black”

                   

The Strongest Of The Strange

you won’t see them often
for wherever the crowd is
they
are not.
those odd ones, not
many
but from them
come
the few
good paintings
the few
good symphonies
the few
good books
and other
works.
and from the
best of the
strange ones
perhaps
nothing.
they are
their own
paintings
their own
books
their own
music
their own
work.
sometimes I think
I see
them – say
a certain old
man
sitting on a
certain bench
in a certain
way
or
a quick face
going the other
way
in a passing
automobile
or
there’s a certain motion
of the hands
of a bag-boy or a bag-
girl
while packing
supermarket
groceries.
sometimes
it is even somebody
you have been
living with
for some
time –
you will notice
a
lightning quick
glance
never seen
from them
before.
sometimes
you will only note
their
existence
suddenly
in
vivid
recall
some months
some years
after they are
gone.
I remember
such a
one –
he was about
20 years old
drunk at
10 a.m.
staring into
a cracked
New Orleans
mirror
facing dreaming
against the
walls of
the world
where
did I
go?

~ Charles Bukowski

“Listening to both sides of a story will convince you that there is more to a story than both sides.” ~ Frank Tyger

Kelly Bensimon: “Bethenny has knives on her tongue. She’s trying to kill me . . .”
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ~ Abraham Lincoln   

Over at gawker.com, Richard Lawson did his final recap of the “Real Housewives of New York”: the lost footage. Yes, RHNY even milked a lost footage show out of the ashes of nothingness.

It was classic Lawson: witty, sardonic, and chock full of spot-on visual imagery. And the comments in response to Lawson’s recaps are almost as much fun to read as the post itself. Here are the last two paragraphs:

Finally, finally, finally . . . we are done. There are no more reunion specials to look at, no more lost footage, nothing. Andy is silent for now. Everyone has been loaded into the freezers and left for later. Someday not terribly far off, Andy will look out at the sky, feel the winds changing direction, see the birds flying in telltale patterns, and he will know that it’s time again. To shuffle down to the basement with his big ring of keys and unlock them. Lay them out on the chamber tables to defrost. Well, some he will leave in the freezer forever, their hearts slow and cold. But others he will thaw out, breathe life back into again, stroke their hair, whisper “Welcome back. Welcome home. Did you have any dreams?” Someday that will happen again, and we too will notice the signs. Notice eddies swirling in new ways, see the plants bending toward a different light. And we will know.

But for now there is just silence. The gauzy hush of a summer in New York City. All the green disappearing into yellow, into brown. Bethenny is, yes, getting married. There is no question. There is no mystery. All our questions have been answered, we are satisfied, closed, already moving on. Moving like sharks, still alive. That old dog watching us, knowing something eternal that we don’t. Well, not just yet, at least.

Oh that I could write like Lawson, have Lawson’s job . . .

The Jelly Bean Song is Lawson’s homage to Kelly I’m-crazier-than-a-loon Bensimon, who subsists on jelly beans and beer and/or wine, even though she doesn’t drink or eat processed foods (in her words). For Kelly, saying it makes it so even if it’s all in her head.

Until next season. Peace.