Day: 12/15/2012

Slaughter in a quiet suburb

Yesterday, while putting together awards, a too-long deferred project, I happened to click onto WBZ radio, Boston‘s CBS affiliate. The events in Newtown were just being broadcast. They didn’t know exactly how many children and adults had died. The massacre had just ended — to the degree that such tragedies really ever end. I’m sure that for all the families who lost loved ones, it will never end. There’s no “over” for the slaughter of innocents.

This is the kind of horror story that leaves you with questions that can’t be answered. Even if you know everything there is to know, you still couldn’t make sense of it because it doesn’t make sense and can’t make sense. There is nothing sane, sensible, reasonable or explicable about it. What could possibly make someone — anyone — think murdering children is an acceptable or sane response to anything? No matter what dark secrets or strange thoughts are tangled in the head of the kid who took all those lives … nothing makes it more understandable because our minds reject any answer. There is no reason good enough. Nothing makes it comprehensible nor should it.

I can and will say that had the shooter not had guns, this would NOT have happened.

I do not care how treasured our “rights to bear arms” is to Americans. This is exactly what is wrong with having guns, so many guns, in so many hands. However true it is that guns don’t shoot themselves, the fact is that if they were less accessible to everyone and there were more controls on them to make sure that those who own them understand the responsibility that comes with owning deadly weapons — like the need to keep them out of irresponsible hands — many deaths would not occur. If the same young man had to take whatever weird revenge he sought with a bat or even a knife, he would have been stopped long before the body count had grown so godawful huge.

funny-hilarious-photos-1

Morons at play

Guns don’t kill people all by themselves, but in the hands of people, guns do a lot more damage than the same person could do without guns. These were legal, registered guns.

Why a kindergarten teacher had an arsenal at home where she also had one (more?) mentally ill children is another one of those questions that can’t be answered. Personally I think if all guns disappeared tomorrow and we were reduced to throwing rocks at each other, it would be a better world. Since that’s not about to happen, at the very least, regulating guns so that those who own them are required to keep track of them (how many guns just “disappear” only to reappear as the weapon at a crime scene?), some degree of mental stability has to be established before being allowed to own them, anyone who owns guns has appropriate means to secure them and knows how to properly maintain them … these are minimal sensible requirements. Soldiers aren’t just handed weapons to use indiscriminately. They are taught how to use them, maintain them, and woe to any soldier who just happens to “lose” his weapon.

Yet in the private sector, most states have no requirements other than your ability to fill out a form and wait a few days. Most illegal guns didn’t start out that way, either. They were legal when they were bought … but they roamed to other pastures. If there are simply fewer guns and those who have them are required to account for their whereabouts on a regular basis, secure them when not in use … in short, to be at least as responsible with their guns as they are with their cars for which you are required to take a test, have a licence and registration, and maintain insurance … there would be fewer horrors like that which took place in a quiet Connecticut suburb.

How can we allow mass murder by deranged gunmen and then turn around and say we don’t need gun control? I actually saw posts on Facebook blaming it on not having enough guns. So, now we should arm children so they can shoot each other in schoolyard disputes? That’s your answer? I saw other posts pointing out that we’ve banned school prayer. And you figure that a prayer in the morning would have prevented this tragedy? Really? Has prayer prevented war? Genocide? Plague? Not that I’ve noticed.

dar-humps-19

God gave us brains to use. God gave us a conscience to guide us.

In all ten of God’s commandments … nor in anything that Jesus said … is there anything indicating that good people should own weapons. Quite the opposite, actually. Our constitution says that our citizenry is allowed to maintain militia and guns to protect the population, not that ever Tom, Dick, and Jane can have a personal arsenal to use as he or she feels inclined, with no restrictions, no oversight, not even an insurance policy.

It’s outrageous and it’s wrong. If we don’t start to use brains instead of that knee jerk reaction that “Oh my God, the government won’t let me buy an assault weapon! That’s outrageous!” there will inevitably be more of these mornings where families are burying their dead and wondering how it happened. If you want to know how stupid people really are, check out this disgusting website. If you suspected we let insane idiots own arsenals, this website will confirm your worst fears.

It happened because a mentally ill kid was able to get his hands on guns and instead of acting out in a non-lethal way, he instead murdered his family and all those other people too. That’s what happened. Why did it happen? Because we didn’t stop him, that’s why.

Blog of the Year – 2012 … Four Stars (Gee) AND a new recipient!


Having received the Blog of the Year Award last week from Tyson at Head in a Vice , then a second from Sharla at CatnipOfLife, and yet another from Bette Stevens at 4WRITERSANDREADERS … and, as it turns out, one more from Sharla via her other blog, Awakenings  … I’m all the way up to four stars. I’m dizzy from all the attention.

Boy, this is really cool. I feel so appreciated. Wowie zowie! Thank you all my friends. I’m not sure I deserve it, but I really like it!

It was just yesterday that I realized I had to address this award right now. The year is almost over. I am not ready. I am never ready. Ethelred the Unready (my favorite of the ancient Kings of Britain) had nothing on me. I dare anyone to prove that he, she, they or it are any more unready than I am.

I cannot believe how quickly time is passing. The Christmas tree is up, though half the lights are still refusing to do the thing that lights are supposed to do … and while we have no snow on the ground (Thank you Lord!) , the weather reports are full of dire predictions, leading me to assume this will be a white Christmas — if they aren’t just making the whole thing up so that they have something to say.

The tree — which we keep in a box in the attic because we have four dogs and bringing a real tree into the house would indicate a level of insanity exceeding even this family’s quotient — went up on Monday afternoon while I was sitting around waiting for the radiologist to figure out how to make the x-ray machine take a picture of my lungs so that I could enter the holiday season reasonably certain that nothing alien was growing in there (it isn’t).

He never did get it that particular machine to work, so we had to walk across the road and through the ER at the other hospital to get a picture. That machine, though older and far less fancy, worked. As my reward for being such a patient patient and suggesting that if a reboot didn’t do the job, probably the machine was broken (I’m such a genius!), he let me watch the digital image of my lungs appear on the big screen.

Bright lights, bright nights

Bright lights, bright nights

It was very rewarding. There was nothing to see. When you are visiting your oncologist (what? you don’t have an oncologist? doesn’t everyone have an oncologist?) is exactly what you yearn with all your heart to see. Nothing is good. Nothing is delicious and boring and means that you have a moderately good chance of being around next year to see another picture of nothing.

Once upon a time, I had goals, aspirations, dreams and hopes. I was going to write a novel. Hollywood would buy it, I’d be an internationally renowned author. rich in honor and rolling in the big bucks. Kind of like Stephen King, but not in Bangor. I’ve always preferred the coastline of Maine‘s rocky shore. I wanted one of those houses that sort of hangs on the cliff and looks like it’s going to fall right off. These days, several catastrophes later, I think I’d prefer being a few hundred yards back from the cliff. I’ve seen too much television footage of houses falling into the ocean. I don’t think I need to become newsworthy because my house fell into the Atlantic. What good is renown and wealth if one is swimming with the fishes?

Today, my hopes and dreams are more compact and down to earth. I want to live another year … preferably many more. I want to have enough money to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, medication that will prevent my demise, and I want the same good things for everyone. There was a time when I would have assumed these were things everyone had, not something that needed to be wished for. Many things once taken for granted are now gifts to be treasured.

There is definitely something to be said about this virtual world of ours: it is a world of sharing, caring and preparing: Sharing around the world, Caring for others, Preparing for the future. Whatever endeavor you are engaged in at the present moment or seek in days to come, there is always someone willing to tell you his or her story which will in provide a beacon of light down a sometimes dark highway.

One way or the other, soon enough white flakes will fall and then, as in one of the old black and white movies of which my husband is so inordinately fond, the page of the calendar will flip over, the ancient Mayans will slink back into their tombs until their next resurrection and anyone who told his or her boss to screw off will be pounding the pavement (or these days, the keyboard) in search of green(er) pastures.

If I can’t digress, what is the fun of blogging? If I have to stick to the subject, built a logical case for whatever drivel I’m spouting and just be limited to saying stuff that make sense, what will I write about? My life doesn’t make sense. Does yours? If you have a life that is orderly, sensible, a life in which you can predict what each day will bring, then you are probably still very young, so you can still look forward to the craziness of the future. Life happens to everyone, sooner or later. And some of the craziness is fun! Some surprises are good.

Having given awards to pretty much every blog I read and enjoy, and excluding only those who actively refuse to accept awards, I feel inclined to say “back at you” to many of my friends and to let as many people as I can know that I appreciate them. You whose blogs I read, who inspire me, encourage me, and bring me joy and make my world a better place — who make the whole world better because you are in it — all of you deserve awards.

To every one of you who promote causes you believe it, continue to fight the good fights, try to right wrongs, attempt to enlighten, inform, amuse, and raise the consciousness of those who you are able to reach, all of you deserve this award. And, you’re going to get one, even if you have one, even if you have two or three or four. What you do about them is up to you, but know that I notice you, appreciate you, and am grateful you are part of my life.

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple and easy:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.
  2. Write a blog post and name/tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!).
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join The Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars.

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Because this is an award that you can “collect” and get many times, I’m going to give it back to people who I know have gotten it before.  I think I’ve given awards to all of you before, at one time or another. Some of you have been happy about it, some of you have ignored me. I’m not giving it to anyone who has pointedly told me to get lost. One clear rejection is enough for me.

The point of passing these around is not that you’re getting the Oscar of blog awards … or even that you’re getting another award or if the award thing delights or annoys you. It’s recognition from me, a fellow blogger, that you have made a difference in my world, changed my thinking, helped me learn, enabled me see differently through the camera’s lens, through words, via movies or books or ideas or any combination of these things.

You are important to me. You make me laugh, make me feel, make me think, teach me stuff. Some of you suggest ideas, movies, or books I might want to read, watch, or learn, technology, cameras and accessories I might want. Some of you champion causes important to me … and some of you are living lives I wish were mine. Many more of you are living lives a lot like mine and I empathize and sympathize with you. You make me feel less alone.

All of you have touched me. It may not matter a lot to you, but it makes a big difference to me.

For those of you are getting this award again and need one of the other versions with a different number of stars, I’m including (thank you again Sharla) all six of the award medallions at the bottom of this post.

Because I got another star today, I’m giving out one more of these to someone whose blog I really love … and you can tell how much I like his writing by how many times I reblog  his posts … like, uh, most of them I think.

Here you go — a star to:

Beasley Green: Write up my street … because he manages to make me laugh and think at the same time, which is not unlike chewing gum and walking at the same time (something which isn’t as easy to do as it might sound to the uninitiated). I know you’re busy, but please, write more!

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I’ve probably forgotten somebody, maybe more than one somebody. If I did, it’s an accident, I assure you … unless of course you are one of the people who have explicitly told me to not give them awards. I wanted to make sure all of you know that you are important and that I honor you.

Feel no obligation to do anything beyond your comfort zone. I ask only that you play nice and remember you really don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.

May your holidays be bright, may all good things come to you and yours. May we all move into the New Year with joy and purpose, overcoming all the problems that assail us and coming out the other side.

Revel in the season! Be happy whatever it is you celebrate … and may you enjoy everything you can in any way that brings you peace and joy.

My lance, my windmill, and my mighty steed

Nothing is simple. No matter how it looks on the surface, no project goes as planned. No vacation is perfect. Some part of the meal will not be ready when the rest of the dishes are done. Guests come early or late, leave too soon or not nearly soon enough.  Complications are the inevitable companion to everything.

Old South Church steeple

Old South Church steeple

Our fondest illusion, the one we hold most dear, is that we control our own lives, design our destiny. It’s the greatest promise of youth, the one that gives us the energy to charge off into life. We need to believe if we do the right stuff, go to the right schools, work hard, plan carefully, save against a rainy day … if we do “life” right, we will get what we want.

Good work gets rewarded, kindness will be returned, generosity appreciated. Moreover, if we eat right, keep fit, exercise, avoid drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, we will be healthy forever. Even if we don’t, statistics are just numbers: the bad stuff won’t happen to us. And of course, when we marry, it will be the right person and ours will be the love that lasts.

Crosswalk shadow

From the smallest things that go wrong, to the marriages that don’t last … to the jobs we lose when the company goes belly up or we are declared unnecessary or obsolete … we get stripped of our illusions. We learn that doing the right stuff doesn’t always yield the results we expected or the rewards we deserve. We discover that injustice comes in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from the tiniest indignities to incomprehensible disasters. No one is spared, no one is immune. Whether slowly but surely or suddenly and without warning, we realize we are passengers on the bus that is life.

We are not driving the bus and don’t even know what road we are on.

Our plans for immortality are interrupted by unexpected illness. Friends and family are taken from us. The sickly partner lives, against all logic and reason, a long life and the apparently healthy, fit one is felled by accident or disease. We plan for a future that is never ours. There is a future, but it’s inevitably a surprise. Perhaps that’s the way it ought to be.

Bridge over the Little Colorado

Small choices are always in our grasp … the clothing we wear, which movie we see, with whom we share our lives. Beyond that, we might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Rich or poor, it’s the same for us all. Control is illusory. Man plans, God laughs. So why not laugh too?

Bus Crash

After a lifetime of trying to drive the bus, I got it. I could try my best and do what I can, but in the end, the bus is going wherever it’s going and I have nothing to say in the matter. I can enjoy myself or I can be miserable, but I’m not in charge.

I’ve gotten better at enjoying the ride and not making myself and everyone else crazy because I don’t like the bus, don’t know the driver, and apparently have no idea where I’m going. Although I still try to wrest the steering wheel from the steely grasp of the driver, I know I’m going to lose.

For every battle in which I engage and take away some small victory, there are dozens that I emerge from beaten, tired, pissed off … and in exactly in the same place I started. I keep relearning the same lessons. I recognize the futility of what I do, but sometimes I do it anyhow. I need to fight back, rail against fate. However futile it may be, sometimes I have to tilt at a few windmills.

That’s why I write. Because words are my lance, the world with all it’s injustice is my windmill. The internet? That’s my mighty steed.

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