Friday, May 18, 2018

More Thoughts And Prayers - Really?
         Reflections On Another School Shooting

            This is the truth. For the past crazy year, every morning when I walk out into the kitchen and family room to take care of our two German shepherds, I pick up my charging cell phone to check the news and say to myself, “What kind of shit is happening in the world this morning?” 
            I’m never disappointed . . . and I say that facetiously. Natural disasters and random, bizarre accidents aside, something insane constantly is occurring around the world – in foreign countries, in our own government, and in plain, old, average communities in our United States. Today was no different.  
            No sooner had I drunk my cup of coffee, than it happened – an alert on my phone announcing a school shooting in Santa Fe. At first I thought it was Santa Fe, NM, but then found out the town was in Texas. No matter. It still meant probable injuries, maybe a death or two. (Are we becoming so accustomed to events such as this mass murder that the news doesn’t faze us?) By the time the morning was over, I learned that nine students and a teacher had been killed; another ten people had been shot. Twenty people. Twenty people (and their loved ones) who, I would assume, thought they were beginning another average day, had their lives changed forever. 
            So, what is going to be done about yet another tragedy in our country? Are we going to send a hefty batch of thoughts and prayers? Sure. We’ll do that. Is that all we’ll do though? Probably it is . . . and that is an additional disaster, a pitifully sad state of affairs. Politicians will again bluster their outrage, sputter about mental illness, rant about the unfairness of bullying, sidestep the issue of more responsible gun control, and cozy up to special interests who want to maintain the status quo. It’s a fact. 
            Aside from that, however, are those pesky thoughts and prayers. Offer them. Give them. Believe in them if necessary, but know they will not bring dead children back to their parents. They will not do that. Anyone who has lost a child for any reason, whether in a barrage of bullets in a school shooting, on a battlefield, in an accident, or to illness such as cancer - anyone like that - knows the stark reality of absolute loss. Trust me. I know this is true because I am one of those parents.
 “Ah,” one might say. “He’ll always be with you in your heart, in sweet memories, in unforgettable recollections.” 
Yeah. Right. True. Such a comment does hold some veracity; it does, but it falls short to those of us who have lost a child. The void is forever. And for the parents of the students who died today, for those people, I am so, so sad . . . and a little bit angry. Today will begin a new reality for them. Sure, most of them will “get through”; they will carry on, but it will never, ever, be the same. Life, in an instant, has been altered. 
In reality, perhaps that is true for all of us. To some degree maybe all of our lives shifted a bit today for despite all the thoughts and prayers, the tragedy that occurred this morning at a high school in the state of Texas cannot be removed from our consciousness; it cannot, unless, of course, we are spiritually dead already.    

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Live and Let Live – 
         A Character Sketch 

From the moment that Cecelia had first noticed her own refection in the small, makeup mirror on Mama’s bedside table, she understood. She was cockeyed, plain as day. Though she was six at the time when she finally took a good, long look, she could tell things weren’t quite right. One eye was bigger than the other – the blue one on the right was larger than the hazel one on the left. Both were lined with thick, chocolate-colored eyelashes, and that was nice enough, though the lashes on the right curled up into themselves while the left ones were pencil straight. And her nose? It was small and well aligned until the very end where it turned up a touch more than slightly. She could look right into her nostrils and she stared initially for minutes wondering just what was up there hiding in the dark. 
Her mouth was another issue. When it was closed, she held it rosebud tight, but when she opened it, it gaped open, drawing up on the left as though tugged by an unseen puppet master. If she stuck out her tongue, that in her assessment was amazingly normal, it curled into a perfect U. Maybe that wasn’t so bad. The straw to her Sippy cup always had fit her mouth to perfection. 
Her teeth had no intention of cooperating in any ordinary manner either. They erupted through swollen gums much too slowly and in crooked disarray until she was twelve. Temporary braces had helped, but an annoying retainer had become Cecelia’s partner for life. The moment she abandoned it, every tooth developed a mind of its own.
Cecelia’s first look at herself certainly had not been the last. For years afterwards, she had been drawn to mirrors, to window reflections, to any looking glass she could find. She simply could not understand why she, unlike anyone else in the family, had been created in such a misaligned manner. Why look at my ears. One lies flat against my head like a gnarly, old growth of some kind and the other pokes out . . . and a little too far to my way of thinking. Well, at least my hair covers them.
Her hair. That was another issue altogether. It grew it seemed, in fits and starts, at times taking months for a nest of unmanageable curls to appear; at other times, it grew inches in a month, the locks falling into wild, tangled, waves. Oftentimes, Cecelia simply pulled the mess back and tied it in a ponytail at the nape of her neck with a ribbon of some kind . . . always making sure the ears were hidden though. 
Cecelia’s muddled proportions did not stop with the features of her head, however. Her arms were not even, the left being at least half an inch longer than the right; her right hand was thicker and fleshier than the left; and her feet were not the same size either . . . at least a half size difference in length according to the grouchy, shoe salesman at Macys down at the mall. Well, what am I supposed to do? Buy two pairs of the exact shoes? 
By the time she was sixteen, after ten years of marking the discrepancies of her body, Cecelia gave up – not with life, but with judging herself. I am who I am. Folks can take me or leave me.And her outlook worked. Despite the fact that Cecelia’s features were a bit askew, everyone who knew her overlooked them just as she had learned to do for her personality was one to be emulated. She bore life on an even keel. Oh, she had normal ups and downs but overall her disposition was one that was balanced and calm, a complete contrast to her awkwardly put-together figure and visage . . . and that was a paradoxical juxtaposition all to itself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Excuses, Excuses

         I suppose everyone has excuses for not accomplishing what they should at times. Perhaps it doesn’t matter to most folks, but for me, not completing tasks I have committed to doing is bothersome. The following is what’s been going on for me.

I have been neglecting my blog. It’s a fact. Why? I have many reasons, most of which don’t hold up . . . not for someone who loves to write. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I have. I’m working on a new novel, but even that has being going in fits and starts. In the past, I have been at my computer for several hours early in the morning or all afternoon. I love becoming totally engrossed in creating a character or imagining a scene. Lately, it has been harder, and thus the excuses.
First. Okay. So, I have a new German Shepard puppy, Molly, but she is seven months old now. She is much less demanding. She can fend for herself or play with her big half-brother, Jake. That excuse is wearing thin.
Second, my husband has been around a great deal lately . . . not that that’s a bad thing; it’s simply a distraction or a disruption. “Let’s go walk the dogs.” “We need to plant the garden.” “I want to check out MSNBC.” “We should make a Costco run.” “The Warriors (or the Giants) are on in a few minutes.” Needless to say, I have found it difficult to carve out enough non-interrupted time to concentrate the way I like.
Third, I have been reading like a fiend. Seriously. I have been drawn to a number of non-fiction books about politics and about the world we live in currently. I read Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, Russian Roulette by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, What Happened by Hillary Clinton, and A Higher Loyalty by James Comey. Fascism by Madeline Albright is on the stack in front of me. And The Soul of America by Jon Meacham is due to arrive today. I even read a children’s book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo written by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss (illustrated by EG Keller) and presented by the one and only, John Oliver. This little book is a gem! I read Still Me by Jojo Moyes, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Camino Island by John Grisham, and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. Right now, I am smack in the middle of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. Plus something “juicy” always captures my reading interest on Facebook when I tune in for a few minutes each day. 
Fourth, and this is a weak one . . . I’ve been pulling weeds. It’s spring. Everything is growing like crazy. Those pesky weeds beckon my Virgo spirit and I want to clean up, so I pick and pull until my fingernails are dirty and broken (even with gardening gloves) and my allergies are giving me fits. The sun is lovely though and I sweat through another session, satisfied that at least another section of the property looks tolerable.
Fifth – Words with Friends. Silly, isn’t it? I like playing though, win or lose. It’s another means of staying connected to friends and can be strategically interesting. 
Finally, and this is probably the most meaty excuse for neglecting my blog - I am distracted by the news, most of which I find disconcerting. Perhaps I think too much, but I would be happier if our country was not so divided, not so angry, and certainly not so volatile. Every morning I wake up, stumble into the family room and kitchen to take care of the dogs and, of course, check my phone that has been charging all night. “What crazy shit am I going to read about now?” It’s the same question each morning. If it’s not a natural disaster somewhere that grabs my attention, I learn that an insane or misguided person is up to no good. “Why don’t you blog about those things?” one might ask. Believe me, I think about it, but I don’t want to come off as a pontificator, as if my opinions are right or more correct than those of others. On my blog, I have tried to stay away from controversial issues that can be off-putting or seem judgmental though a few times I haven’t been able to help myself.  
I know I can always write a creative piece, a scene or character sketch and blog that, but, really . . . who actually cares? Those blogs are writing practice. Occasionally, a reader will respond, but in reality, I believe readers ignore them. It’s too long. It’s not important to me. It’s not relevant. It’s not interesting. I do not have time.
So, here it is, for what it’s worth – my first blog in two months (though it is number 259). My goal is to be better organized and self-directed and in the future - two blogs a week. No more excuses.