Monday, May 21, 2018

We Don't Have To Live Like This

Once, when my youngest daughter was in middle school, I received a call from the school. It was one of those recorded messages from the principal.
 It said there was a lock down and they were ordering the kids to shelter in place.
 I was in the middle of Target trying to process what I was hearing.
It was 15 seconds into the message before they got to the part where they mentioned there was a spring swarm of bees in the courtyard and this was just a precaution so no one got stung by them.
 15 seconds of my brain trying to grasp what might be happening.

Friday was this same daughter’s final day of high school. A bittersweet moment full of change and promise in a person’s life.
 While I waited for her to come home from school, I watched my computer screen fill with images of students and parents in Santa Fe, Texas.
A Facebook “friend” posted a photo. It was from someone who was, to her, a “friend of a friend.” That’s how Facebook works.
 The woman was looking for her daughter, a Santa Fe student.
The comments were filling with notes about who to call and where the meeting place was.
 She had tried them all.
 Later, we all learned that her beautiful, beloved child was among the dead.

My children’s high school is right down the street.
 On quiet winter mornings, if I am outside at just the right time, I can hear the marching band practice and the morning bells go off.
 Or the fire alarms.

My kids have spent 6 years at this school.
When my son first started there, the school secretary sat right out front in the lobby at her desk. Behind her was a half wall, open to the attendance offices. She would smile at you and point out the table where parents could drop off the forgotten lunch or sports equipment for practice later.
 A couple of years later, walls and locked doors and buzzers appeared. But she was still there, at her desk.
The lone sentinel.

Then that disappeared too.
 More walls, more locks.
Now she sits behind glass, with a little pass through tray, like at the bank.
 I don’t know if the glass is bullet proof.
 I hope so.

We have lived here, in the shadow of this school, for 17 years.
 It has been part of our lives, from the Homecoming parade down the street out front, with students throwing candy to all the neighborhood kids, to the fireworks every year in the fall for football and in the spring for graduation.
So, as my daughter ran in from school to change her shirt and head to work, I am conflicted about my feelings.
 I am excited for her to be finished, I am sad that the time has flown by so quickly…but I am also relieved.

Because while I would love to believe—while my ability to function every day while my kids were at school required me to believe---that it would never happen here…

I am sure that exactly what they thought in Santa Fe, Texas.
And in Parkland, Florida.
And I’m certain it never crossed the minds of those sweet little babies in Newtown, Connecticut.

And yet.

So, I am glad that we are done.
That my children are done.
I feel relief that we made it this far, without incident.

Then I look around at all the little ones in my neighborhood and I am scared all over again. 
For them.
It’s not supposed to be like this.

We don’t have to live like this.
We don’t have to die like this.

Friday, August 11, 2017

KSLX, Taylor Swift and Lots of F-Bombs

***Profanity Alert--I'm pissed****

I'm certain by now that most of you have heard about the Taylor Swift groping trial that is going on in Denver. (If not, you can brush up here .) But, if you are like me you probably didn't know anything about it until last week, even though the incident in question happened 4 years ago. And how did I learn about it? Oddly enough, it was through my local classic rock radio station on the way to the gym one morning. The morning show DJ's were on, doing their thing, and one of them brought up that the trial would be starting. Now, these guys go by Mark and NeanderPaul and I am not sure which one was talking, but he prefaced the "news" with a statement about how they don't play Taylor's music, but that this was a big deal because she is so famous, etc., He then gave an overview of the incident, firing of the DJ, lawsuit, countersuit, etc. 

There must have been a look on the other DJ's face while he was doing all this talking, but since it's radio I don't really know. When he finished he said to the other guy something like "What do you think about this?"

And that's when it happened.....

The asshole actually said-- 

"Well, I'm just trying to think...does Taylor Swift even have a grabbable ass? I mean, is it an ass anyone would grab?"

Before I go any further, please allow me to say FUCK YOU to both Mark and NeanderPaul. 

Fuck you to which ever one of you said it
Fuck you to the other one, who just laughed along and did nothing to correct it.

You want to know why women get so angry over these things? You want to know why it seems like the feminists are up in arms over rape culture all the time? Here you go. This is a perfect example.

Some assholes on the radio in Phoenix have decided that there is no problem with going ahead and determining the merit of Taylor Swift's complaint that she was sexually assaulted by passing judgement on the look of her ass. And let me be clear...the tone of his voice indicated that he felt some doubt about the worthiness of her ass.

There are so many things wrong with this that it's almost impossible to address. 

Do men only assault and rape super sexy women? Women, who by these losers standards, are much more attractive than Taylor Swift? If that were the case then we would be in good shape since she was named Maxim's #1 of the Hot 100 of 2015. Surely, if she's not sexy enough to be assaulted than the rest of us are safe too. No other woman in the world will ever be groped again. Of course, that isn't how it works, is it? And yet they felt no compunction about sitting in their little broadcast booth and spewing that kind of garbage to everyone who was listening. Every man, every teenager, every kid in his parents car. 

The implication was should only believe a woman's claims if you look her over physically and find her attractive enough to be assaulted. Otherwise, she's probably lying. It's the same shit you hear constantly in various forms. It is a close cousin to things like-

"What was she wearing?"
"Was she drunk?"
"How many men has she had sex with before?"
"Was she nice to you?"

So let me help out Mark, NeanderPaul and anyone and everyone else who thinks like they do, with some actual facts from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Rape Response Services Online.

* 1 in 5 women will be the victim of rape in their lifetimes
* Nearly 1 in 2 women will be the victim of a sexual assault in their lifetimes
* 17.7 million women in the United States have been victims or rape or attempted rape in
   their lifetimes.
* In 8 out of 10 cases of rape the victim knew the person who assaulted them
* 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are women.
* More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report their assault
* 63% of sexual assaults are not reported
* The prevalence of false reporting is between 2% - 10%

Read those last 2 again.

And all those women? The ones in college who don't report it? The 1 in 2 sexually assaulted in their lifetime? They are the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of people like Mark and NeanderPaul.

And some of them were in their 40's and 50's, not just their 20's. Some of them were overweight. Some were not wearing make-up and didn't have their hair done. Some of them were not what would be considered "traditionally attractive," let alone super sexy.

And yet....they were assaulted anyway. To imply anything else is irresponsible, disrespectful and very, very, wrong.

So it bears repeating-

Fuck you Neanderpaul
Fuck you Mark
Fuck you KSLX


Sunday, June 18, 2017

There Is So Much We Do Not Know

My husband has pointed out that my Facebook post about Thing 2’s friend, drugs, alcohol and guns was rather vague. That someone might think she was somehow involved and injured or something.
That was not the intention.
She was not involved any way.
She is not physically injured in any way.
But her heart hurts. Greatly.

And there is so much we do not know.

What we do know is a small amount of what is, no doubt, a large story.
There were 2 boys.
Friends to each other.
They were partying together Wednesday night.
They both slept at one of the boy’s houses and were the only people there.
Thursday morning, at 6 a.m., there was “an altercation.”
There was a gun.
Now one boy is dead and the other is in jail.
The shooter is her friend. Someone she knows well.

There is so much we do not know.

When she was an infant, we lived in a small house in a declining neighborhood.
We moved to avoid any problems with guns, drugs and violence.
We stretched ourselves financially at the time to move to a nice neighborhood, believing that would shield us from the problems that come in “certain areas.”
We were wrong.
As it turns out, there are guns and drugs and violence in all neighborhoods. Even the ones nicer than ours.
And no matter where you live, that toxic combination is a powder keg. All it takes is one match.

There is so much we do not know.

In Hollywood, it is all so clear. The line between Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, is so clearly marked for you.
Shooting always follow a formula. Either the shooter is an evil person who shoots the innocent out of the blackness of his heart, or he is a righteous person who shoots the evil ones in order to save the innocent, thereby becoming something of a hero.
It is so hard to explain to a 16-year-old that Right and Wrong can be a fluid concept. That the rightness or wrongness of your actions can change from moment to moment in a situation. That you can be Right, until the moment you are Wrong and vice versa.

And still, there is so much we do not know.

The story was all over the local news. Her social media feeds exploded since most kids in her orbit, meaning her school, knew at least one if not both of the boys.
He’s a Murderer!
It was Self Defense!
Maybe both are true. Maybe neither is true.

There is so much we may never know.

I have met “the shooter” several times. He has been in my house, I have given him rides to and from school. There are things I know about him from my own personal observation.
He struggled in school.
He played baseball and ran track.
He was constantly trying to get back on track to graduate.
He wanted to join the military.
He was unfailingly polite. Always.
He was a country boy through and through.
He was making bad choices with drugs and alcohol.
He had a gun.

I never knew the boy who died. My daughter didn’t either, but from mutual friends since he was killed, there are things we have learned.
He struggled in school.
He was perhaps coming back to try and get on track to graduate.
He had a big smile.
He had a lot of friends.
He was making bad choices with drugs and alcohol.
He had a gun.

There is so much we will never know about them.

There are things I know without knowing them.
I know that right now there are two mothers who have been ripped open to their core. Two mothers who will never recover from these events. Two mothers who have lost their sons, one literally, one figuratively.
There is a mother nearby right now choosing clothes to bury her child in.
She most likely wakes in the night, wracked with grief.
There is a mother nearby right now choosing a lawyer to try and save her son.
She most likely wakes in the night wracked with fear.
There are brothers, grandparent, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors of both boys who are shocked. Saddened. Who will be forever changed by this.

My daughter will be forever changed by this.

There is so much more, but we do not need to know.

So I try to help her navigate her grief and fear for her friend, while learning the lesson that is so apparent in this all.
That there is nothing that could have happened to start this altercation that was worth this. That, if they could, they would take back whatever was said, whatever was done, and let life continue as it was before.
That nothing good has ever come out of the combination of drugs and alcohol.
That adding guns to that mix is surely the most efficient way to make sure something awful happens.
That violence doesn’t help your situation, it makes it worse.
That it is important to choose friends who share your same beliefs on these things so that you do not find yourself in an unimaginable situation.
That when you know people are making bad choices, you need to walk away.
That people can be nice, and funny, and enjoyable to hang around with at school, but you will still need to walk away.

There is so much we do not know, and nothing we can do.

I explain to her that what is done, is done.
There is nothing we can do to change anything.
There is nothing we can do to help anyone, as we have no actual involvement in these events, but rather we are just witnesses to them, the same as strangers from across town.
There is nothing we have to offer except prayers.
So we pray for the families.
We pray for peace in their hearts.
We pray for a lessening of their grief.
We pray for wisdom for the police officers investigating.
We pray for the truth to come out, whatever that may be.
And I pray for my daughter’s heart.

There is so much….
That we do not know
That we will never know
That we do not need to know

What we do know is enough to know that we will be forever saddened by these events.