Tag Archives: hope

The Beatles were right.

20 Dec

I started this blog as a safe place to process the ridiculous things I somehow manage to get myself into without any of the ugliness of the world seeping into it. I never wanted to write anything serious, because I can deal with that in my every day life. But sometimes things change, and this is a necessary adjustment. So take this as a fair warning of a temporary no humor zone.

It’s always taken me awhile to process things; especially big things, like suddenly becoming a grown up, being alone, and calculus. What I, along with everyone else who’s aware of the atrocities that happened in Connecticut have come to realize, is there’s really no safe place.

In America, we carry on our lives with rose colored glasses. I’m fortunate enough to have lived most of my life not knowing pain, or hunger, or thirst, or hate. My parents did as all parents wish to do for their children: they protected us and shielded us from the nastiness of the world. They let us see the good things and experience love. I’ve recognized this more and more as I get older, because even though with all my education, I think I understand the way things work, I still have no clue and I don’t think I ever will. So much surprises me, and I don’t know how to process that.

I have an undying sense of hope in me; an innate trust of all things good, because that’s what I’ve known. Even as a child, after being warned not to stick my fingers into the rabbit cage because it does indeed bite, I repeatedly inserted each one of my tiny fingers between the bars because I thought I could change the rabbit because I trusted it. Bloodied and bandaged, I had only a couple fingers left before I gave up.

And as easy as it is right now to give up because the whole world is bloodied and bandaged with just a few fingers left, I have to remember why I kept trying. We all have to remember why we keep trying. I go through phases where I refuse to watch the news because it hurts too much to see the pain that I’ve never had to live through because I feel like I’m being selfish; like I’m spoiled because I’ve had it so easy. And I feel guilt.

I was in the third grade in Colorado when the shootings at Columbine happened. Before then, we’d never practice code red drills. My older sister and cousin who lived with us were in high school, and I remember being terrified it’d happen to them. I can still remember practicing in my head what, exactly, I would do if someone came into my school. I’d pretend to be dead already. I was small, and I knew I couldn’t fight. So I’d lay there and hope it’d be over soon. And I remember thinking how silly I was being; people don’t kill kids.

As a teacher at a university and community college, part of the training I go through is brief preparation for what to do if there’s a dangerous person on campus. I have campus security on speed dial. I often dream that I’m being overtaken by someone as a way for my subconscious to make a plan. That’s something my mother always taught me: have a plan for every possible situation. So I practice in my head. I have my whole life.

The news and social media networks are riddled with opinions about what to do in the wake of the 27 murders — the shooter’s mother, 6 women at the elementary school, and 20 children; babies. Some say tighten up and enforce current gun control laws. Others say completely ban all weapons. Some are up in arms about the thought of their guns being taken away, while others focus on the need to reevaluate our mental health system in the United States.

I don’t know what the answer is. If I did, I surely wouldn’t be sitting in my pajamas, writing a blog about it in the warm, comfort of my home. The only thing I know how to do is cry, which I hate, because I’m not one for tears. I don’t really think anybody knows the answer.

What I do know is we’re bleeding. Not just America, but the whole world. Senseless deaths happen all too often, and for what? And how do we remember them? By blaming machines? By locking up those who think differently than the rest of us? By interviewing children who witnessed this travesty and blasting it on news outlets for ratings? By becoming even more divided, ensuring a complete political gridlock?

A writing prompt I often give my students is “The world needs more…” and almost every time, several students give the same reply: love. It sounds so simple and so cliche. It’s cliche because it works. It’s cliche because it’s true. One thing I have noticed after the shootings is the outpouring of love. I hope it doesn’t stop.

I’m still trying to process this. Like I said, I’m a little slow, and something so unknowable now has to be known.

I joke about not wanting kids, but in all honesty, I want to be a mother someday. I always have. And even though there are terrible, ugly things in this world, I have to keep remembering the beautiful things and trying to give the world a little bit more of what my students all say. And even though those lives were cut too short and in such a violent, horrible way, they had a small time on this earth, and their death is an awful reminder of just how mortal we are and how important it is to love.

–AM .

post publish edits

I can’t stop thinking and I can’t stop being angry at the conversation surrounding the shooting.

The biggest thing I think we forget is that it takes a village to raise a genius; an idiot; a hero; or a murderer. We created this. We don’t support each other like we should. We don’t empathize. We don’t find solutions, but rather, create more problems and frustrations in line with stringent partisan agendas. We’ve lost our sense of community, and I think that’s what hurts me the most. The only sense of community I ever see is in the short time after a tragedy. And when I say “short,” I really mean miniscule. Within hours of the news, people were already arguing and setting up their camps.

That’s not community. That’s not helpful. That’s not productive.

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Flogging Molly wasn’t a coincidence.

26 Oct

There’s really something magical about the first snowfall of the season.

The leaves are still dried, rotting away in gutters, illuminating the grayness of cement with the colors of their death — reds, yellows, and oranges, turned a musty brown as the moisture seeps into the skeletons left behind. All bets are off when it snows.

It snowed today.

I presented with BFF and a few others tonight to a large group of eager (for extra credit) students, discussing history and travel and humanity. BFF, D (who also presented), and I decided we needed to catch up. D has been teaching several counties away, and we no longer have classes together since he’s working strictly on thesis hours. We wound up at Jonny Carino’s splitting a pitcher of Bellini with three straws since it was too thick to pour into our glasses. The three of us became friends on a trip to Italy a couple summers ago, and our decision to split the pitcher was familiar territory, ringing distant memories of bottles upon bottles of wine in Florence and Rome, huddling up to keep our shit together. D and I almost had a thing on that trip, but he recently began dating his roommate’s ex-girlfriend before the trip, so nothing came of it but dancing, holding hands, and sharing drinks.

We asked how things are going with the two of them, since the last time we drank together his apprehension about a serious commitment wavered. He pulled out his phone and said “Check out what I’ll be picking up when I go back to Indiana over Christmas.” It was an engagement ring. Beautiful. Classic. “It was my great-grandmother’s.” Of course it was.

BFF and I reacted appropriately, offering congratulations and excitement and suppositions that “we’re of course invited to the wedding, right?” but when we made eye contact, like true BFFs do, we knew we were both screaming on the inside.

“I bet you’re jealous, huh? Since you don’t have this,” D said to BFF, who has been in a relationship for the last few years. What a little fucker, I thought. Somehow we changed the subject, but the sting of it stuck: when the hell did everyone decide now was the time to get married?

We said our goodbyes, and BFF and I decided we needed to continue drinking (even though it’s Thursday and I teach in a few hours). So we went to our favorite bar. Well, really it’s my favorite bar, mostly because the bartenders know me by name and have my gin and tonic prepared as I’m walking to the bar. I spent about 82% of my weeks there over the summer getting pre- or post-drunk. I’m an extremely good tipper for those who are responsible for my drunk.

“Dude, seriously, what the fuck,” isn’t really an uncommon way for us to start conversations, and this was no exception.

I mean really, it’s like someone decided that the second you hit your 20s, you’re supposed to have a ring on your finger and a zygote growing in your uterus. College? Careers? Post-graduate degrees? Na, bro. That shit’s for fools.

Clearly we’re fucking fools.

BFF hasn’t been out drinking with me when I’m in usual form for quite some time; mostly because she’s in a relationship, and single beast-me knows how to welcome conversation from strangers.

A homie with glasses and a satchel sits down across from us, offering his hand and a name. [Okay, total side note, but my radiator just kicked on and it almost made me piss myself. Damn old radiators.]

We spent the next hour or so accepting shots of tequila and chatting it up with homie with the glasses and satchel and his friend, Twitchy. Twitchy is awkward as shit, which I find ridiculously adorable. So much adorable, that when they got up to close their tabs, I told BFF I think Twitchy is super adorable and I could totally fix him, to which she replied “Bitch, I swear to God I will smack you in the face if you say that again.” Reason why we’re best friends? I think yes.

I’m not one to refuse strange conversation, especially from not-entirely-creepy guys who tell me I’m pretty, so I allowed it. Where was I from? I’m a German Jew, abandoned in the corn fields of Nicaragua. “Really? I’m a first generation American, too!” Hell-fucking-yeah. Making headway.

I spent most of the night awkwardly laughing, grateful that homeboys came around. I’d finally admitted to myself and to BFF that no matter what pseudo-homeless guy says or does, I forgive him and I never hold it against him — that much in love. (He’s a whole other story and kind of makes me turn into a Debbie Downer, so maybe I’ll save that for another day, but the quick and dirty version: I’ve been madly in love with him for years.)

I know it’s a good night when I (mostly soberly) tip 80% and can’t stop smiling as soon as I sit in my car. I live up the street from this bar, which likely contributes to my frequency of it. The ride home was brought to me by Flogging Molly’s “The Times They Are A-Changing”:

It’s no accident that tonight, when we learn of D’s engagement, we’re also reaching epiphanies of our (hopefully) inevitable happiness in relationships and how ridiculous we’ll feel in a few years (again, hopefully) when we’re with whoever-his-face-is while being courted by nice, drunk-as-fuck awkward guys who buy us shots and listen to me lie and tell us we’re pretty, the first snowfall is here, masking the death of summer in a blanket of silence.

The times are a-changing. I can feel it in my bones.

Or maybe that’s just the gin.

–AM.

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