Saturday, December 22, 2012

Megan, you're such an asshole.

Time to start with some lighter topics.  I can't fix the world myself and I desperately need to laugh or make fun of myself rather than cry over the news today.  So here I go, in an attempt to do both.

Yesterday the kid and I headed to Amherst to see my parents.  It's their 35th anniversary this weekend, and I wanted to spend some time with them.  I also needed a day where I spent some of it doing something relaxing, and I find driving relaxing.  I'm generally happy to get where I'm going, I can't do anything else (clean, work, read news) so I get my playlist going, let Henry watch some How to Train Your Dragon (I don't know who invented car DVD players but if they need a kidney both of mine are theirs for the taking) and hit the road.

I decided to take my parents out to dinner in the town where I went to high school.  I never really go there except to visit my parents-I'm not the best about staying in touch with people, and I didn't really have a great time growing up there.  My parents also moved from the house I grew up in to a new house when I left for college.  Yes, my parents moved when I went to college, and didn't tell me.  Seriously, I got a call near Thanksgiving to let me know to not go to the old house because they didn't live there anymore.  I guess I should be glad they told me.

It's not like I had a terrible childhood, I was just very shy and awkward and attempted to make up for it by trying too hard.  I didn't hit my stride until my twenties.  People who knew me in my twenties are probably scoffing and saying "You call that hitting your stride?  You were still at the level of an unsocialized, talking rhinoceros who someone let drink Jack Daniels" but trust me it was an improvement.

Anyway, on to me being an asshole.  When we walked into the restaurant, the guy at the stand looked really familiar, but I was trying to corral Henry and I just didn't put it together.  If you have a small child, you know eating dinner in public is not a relaxing event.  If that child has not had a nap, it is the equivalent of eating a meal next to a ticking time bomb that is certainly going to explode and act like a total asshole and embarrass you in public.  It's not their fault, but there it is.  So the guy comes to say hi, and it's someone I actually knew pretty well-I was also good friends with his sister, but I just didn't put it together.  That plus having one eye on a small child who was slowly transforming into a crabby stomping dinosaur made our conversation too brief, and I felt really bad about it.  I'm pretty sure this guy lost no sleep over it but it's probably going to be one of those embarrassing things that decides to replay in my head at night when I can't get to sleep, and my subconscious feels the need to scream "YOU ARE SUCH A DORK" and chortle at me while I cringe and accept that as correct.

Here is the thing about me.  My vision sucks.  I have a problem with my optic nerve, so it's not really my vision, it's the way my brain and eyes communicate.  I can look like I'm looking at one thing, and really be seeing something else-something above or beyond it.  Face recognition is really hard for me, and if you're moving, there's no way I can pick you out.  I've walked past my husband and my mother, among others, without seeing them, making them both chase me down like we're on a blind date instead of people who have known each other for years.

This leads to lots of misunderstandings.  People have told Ben, "I saw your wife and she looked right at me and didn't say hi, is she mad?"  Which is a nice way of saying "Your wife is a total cunt but I'm going to see if you have a good excuse for her."

Please know that there is literally NO ONE I know who I dislike to the extent that I wouldn't at least say hi to them if I saw them.  If you see me, and I don't say hi, it's because I didn't see you, or I can't figure out who you are.  I would never be that rude and chances are I'd really like to talk to you.  My eye problem led to a lot of my social awkwardness and a lot of people thinking I was cold or stuck up when I wasn't-I wish I had figured out a good way to address it when I was younger, I could have saved myself a lot of time and a semi-alarming drinking problem I developed in a sad attempt to relax myself enough to fit in at parties.

So to everyone out there that I may see this holiday season-Hello!  I've missed you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What can you say?

I've spent this week in a constant state of distress.  I'm not even sure how to put any of this into words.  It's not like I didn't know what type of violence we're capable of.  I read the news.  I see what goes on in the world. I try to step out of our America-centric media sphere and get an inkling of what goes on outside of our hemisphere.

I think it all started with the Israeli/Palestine conflict, or, I guess I should say, increase in conflict.  Days of bombings on both sides, children dead, communities torn apart.  I'm always amazed by how much death is justified by faith.  If there is a God, I imagine He's just rocking in a corner, mystified and horrified by what He created.

The violence that happened in the US recently is an eye opener to us, but in too many countries it's the status quo.  In too many places mothers can never be sure if their children are going to come home.  We send our own kids and brothers, sisters, wives and husbands, moms and dads, to fight wars that we never agreed to, or don't understand the real causes for.  I feel for every parent in Afghanistan who's just trying to have a life and raise a family, and never agreed to be the centerpiece for a bloody battle we even remember any more?

I read posts from people about how the Bill of Rights guarantees their right to bear arms, to let anyone who wants to buy an automatic weapon have one, that they need these weapons to "protect their families". Where the fuck do you live, Somalia?  Where in America do you need to fire 30 rounds to keep your family safe?  Either fucking move or improve your marksmanship.

And here's the fun thing about the Bill of Rights and Constitution.  They don't give you the right to do whatever you want.  And if you think you'll ever have to rise up against a "tyrannical government", I advise you to look into the US defense budget and ask yourself if your guns are even going to help you if that happened.


So that's a lot of bitching from me, maybe I should try to offer some answers.  I don't know though.  I know more guns aren't it.  I know armored backpacks aren't it.  If I have to send my kid off to school packing a side arm and a bulletproof vest, then we've already lost any freedom I could have hoped to give him.

I have had some rays of hope this past week.  Ben told me about a teacher in Rockingham, a football coach, who requires his players to spend time in the class the coach teaches.  This class is for profoundly disabled students.  This coach has brought kids into that life, and shared his classroom with them, and has created a new norm.  I read about a quarterback who looked out for a disabled student who was getting bullied.  I read about teachers who gave their lives to protect their kids.  I saw kids in Islamic countries holding signs that their God doesn't condone violence.  Because it's our God too.

We have so much potential.  I want to have faith that we'll realize it, and not spiral into oblivion.

This might have not been the best post for the theoretical end of the Mayan calendar, but perhaps it really is the end of a cycle, and the start of a new life where we value our children-not just the ones we bring into the world, but the ones who will run our world.

End late night rant.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Today was a really bad day.

Like so many people out there right now, the world isn't making much sense to me right now.  I opened my news page at work to read about a shooter, three people injured.  Over the day I watched that story grow and morph into a nightmare-a gunman at an elementary school, twenty innocent children and six adults dead.   Children, gunned down in their school.  We still don't know why, although I'm sure the media will hammer us with the gory details in days to come.

My heart is broken for every person in that town.  Not just for those who have lost loved ones, but for the surviving children who are forever marked by this.  I resisted the urge to run out of work and go pick up my kid, and never let him go again.  I probably should have stopped reading or listening to the news, but that just seemed like a betrayal, sticking my head in the sand would be an insult to the families who can't hide from this.  So I listened to NPR on the drive home and cried the whole way.  Looking in the cars around me I knew I wasn't the only one.

This day reminded me of another awful day, the day of the Virginia Tech shootings.  That too started out with reports of a couple of injuries, then quickly spiraled out of control as a nation watched in disbelief.  Just like then, I can't get my head around how a person could walk into a school and open fire on people who had never done them any harm-to people they had never even met.

I think the root of all of my distress is the reminder that no matter how hard we try to cushion our children, we fail.  I can spend thousands of dollars on safety gear, strap my kid into the car, cushion the hard corners of life, but I couldn't have stopped this.  We can't protect our children from life, and as a parent, that knowledge leaves me vulnerable and devastated.  I can't imagine getting that call.  Or the desperation a parent must feel knowing their kid was in harm's way and they couldn't protect them.  I'm watching my son play and know that I would not want to live in a world without him.  He probably is wondering what the deal is with the excessive hugs he's getting today.

There will be a lot of conversations in the next few months.  Maybe it was a gun problem.  Maybe it was the pervasiveness of violence in every aspect of our lives.  Maybe it was mental illness on the part of the shooter.  Maybe it was all of these things, and more.  I hope that as a country we can pull together and start having real conversations-not blame throwing, not partisanship, not knee-jerk reactions-about how we allowed our society to break down so much that this sort of thing could happen.  I hope we can band together and realize that nothing, no ideal, no political belief, is worth the safety of our kids.  They depend on us.  We have to do a better job, be better people, for them.