Hard Truths Abolish Life’s Peripheral Pleasures (for Jean)

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Living with mental illness reminds me of the perpetual tightening of sight associated with macular degeneration.  A close friend’s mother is facing a destiny of dusk, the light of day dimming earlier and earlier like the cold and snowy late months of fall.  She’s waiting for disease to throw the switch as though she hadn’t paid her utility bill.  She asked me one afternoon during a summer visit, how dark is dark; how blind is blind; once it’s dark and I’m blind will I continue farther into the cave and deeper into its darkness; or is my blindness an unmarked dead-end?

I sat in front of her incapable of producing some quip of levity to lighten the despair.  I didn’t know how to answer.  Or, what to say.  The absence of chit-chat hung between us like humidity.  Finally I answered the only way I knew how: honest and awestruck.

I said, I’m not living with an insensitive eventuality; my conditions (serious mental health and cardio-pulmonary compromise) are likely to flatten me, like being crushed by an immense breaking ocean wave, or belly flopping into the speeding approach of pasture, absent of any canopy of resistance my last minutes hopelessly free-falling like aimless snowflakes.  Then it happened.  Stopped.  Quiet and conscious while the tiniest pieces of life clung to daylight, right before it too, daylight, stopped.

acandystoreYou and I are the little boy and little girl whose noses are pressed flat against the confectionary store window.  Our yearning is painfully apparent to the plumply indulgent chocolatiers who’s moving each bit of life with the careful determination of a chess master to capitalize on each enticing, heavenly, and scrumptious creation.  We’re accustomed to forfeiting the peripheral pleasures which adorn life for those unscathed by physical mutiny.  We’re weary of the world’s pace, gaining speed to get anyplace but right here on this bench.  And we’re disinterested in watching a generation plow through a banal life ignoring its dangers and instead pursuing schedules chock full of unwieldily opportunities and difficult-to-deny distractions, especially those who’ve never stared into the intense and stoic countenance of a doctor about to tell you the most incomprehensible truth.

To wonder and inquire about your predetermination is natural and reserved for the courageous.  To have courage in light of the truth you must’ve stopped pursuing distractions, stopped running away from things, and stopped denying your mortality.  And life’s hard truths can only be understood by the courageous.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

This Christmas, He Gave Me A Look From Outside, Inside.

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“Surprise!”  is what I used to say, years ago, early on in our twenty-eight year relationship.  Back when we hadn’t really yet learned each other’s tastes (or better, tolerances).  Fifteen years ago I’d stand there, his gift balanced by my sweaty hands, my nerves knotted and twisted like the Strangler Fig tree, praying for his hullabaloo upon opening the gift, followed by a tight embrace, further followed by his quick kisses like a woodpecker atop some pine. A decade ago I’d pluck the gift from beneath the tree with little ceremony, hand it to him, then sit back and watch as he tested-then-tore layer by layer of packaging, similar to a child tasting her way through a box of chocolates.  The past few years like a couple of archaeologists, the dig was more fun than the discovery!  At last he found the gift and I present-modernwaited for the inconclusive and rudimentary sentiment followed by a brief embrace and a kiss as light as a hummingbird.  Three years ago I’d started to hear “How’d you know I wanted this?” his amazement falling to the side of curiosity rather than tickling admiration, and my answer, diluted through the years like cheap gin, “I thought you could use this,” at which he cocked his head like our dog’s misunderstanding, and then I presented the real gift, “There’s a gift receipt taped to the lid should you choose to exchange it for a color more to your liking than orange.”  I’ve learned over the course of twenty-eight years that we buy lovers/partners/spouses clothing we’d like to see them wear, and definitely not the clothing they like to wear.  So after two decades of my repeated attempts to upgrade his personal style year after year by giving him exquisite gifts (which he surreptitiously found ghastly) I learned that a gift receipt, like the “get out of jail card,” nullifies my responsibility for his disinterest in modern style, and ensures that he can exchange the atrocious article for an object of his liking.

But this Christmas his gift to me was different than the previous twenty-seven.  Very, very different.  Absent was the gift receipt.  He handed me the gift without fanfare, explanation, or apology.  He simply said, “Merry Christmas.”

Hidden beneath wrapping paper we’ve had for twenty years was a book.  But not some book he’d like to read.  No, this was a book I’d already read and reread; I had a greater degree of familiarity with the final pages, but the earlier pages popped once more like bubble gum.  The book he gave me was “Becoming not Became: The First 100 Posts,” by T.M. Mulligan.

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I was dumbfounded then speechless then crying.  I was flabbergasted to hold Mr. Mulligan’s first 100 posts printed on heavy, magazine-grade paper and hardbound.  It’s rare indeed, to hold yourself up to yourself, to be reflected, to permit yourself to be tickled, concerned, angry, interested, and entertained.  I suppose narcissism might come to mind; but if you’re beautiful or handsome why not enjoy a modicum of self-appreciation.  Or, like me, those 100 posts represented dear friends, young and old, whom I haven’t visited, but whom all came together under the same roof for me.  I shall take my time reading these posts and thoroughly enjoy each one’s company greater than before.

Thank you so much, Nick.

 

We Can’t, We Simply Can’t Forget Those Kids

It was similar to forcing yourself to perform a task you loathe and delay as long as possible.  But the timeliness of memory forced me to remain seated and prepare a list (found below) of the children and adults slain in Newtown.  But what caused unrelenting heartache was recognizing their ages, or, recognizing their lack of ages.  These students had barely rounded their first turn of life.  Life, as we all know much too well, is plump with memories, old jokes but new laughter, an eternity of firsts: love, kiss, bike, pirouetteagirldancing, strike out, airline, stitches, lipstick, heartbreak, failure, beer, hangover, diamond ring, varsity letter, loss, win, marriage, aweddingakisshouse, flat tire, hook line and sinker, kids, grand kids.  Yet these moments shaped us like a sculptor’s tools; these moments pop up like toast reminding us that life is really what we’ve learned by living.  Those children and adults abruptly had their lives erased like lessons on a chalkboard.

So I’m making a bold request of everyone that follows, reads, discovers, trips upon; all my social networks like Facebook, twitter, tumbler, stumble upon; bloggers, other bloggers and anyone else that has access to e-communication to perform the following:

Once a week write a post, tweet, tumble, message, or group email selecting one victim from the list, entitle the post, etc. something like “For Charlotte Bacon, Age 6, Newtown” and write one of your many life experiences as though you were saying it to Charlotte.  Then end it with “I promise to remember Charlotte, age 6, Newtown and what her life might’ve been.”

Because your magnanimity and writing and the far reaches of the internet together we can keep their memory alive.  To forget even one of these children is a profound example of selfishness.  Instead, we should add them to the list of precious things we hold closest to our heart.

SIX YEARS OLD

  1. Charlotte Bacon
  2. Olivia Engel
  3. Ana M. Marquez-Greene
  4. Dylan Hockley
  5. Madeleine F. Hsu
  6. Catherine V. Hubbard
  7. Jesse Lewis
  8. James Mattioli 
  9. Emilie Parker
  10. Jack Pinto
  11. Noah Pozner
  12. Caroline Previdi
  13. Jessica Rekos
  14. Avielle Richman
  15. Benjamin Wheeler
  16. Allison N. Wyatt

SEVEN YEARS OLD

  1. Josephine Gay
  2. Chase Kowalski
  3. Grace McDonnell

ADULTS

  1. Rachel Davino, age 19
  2. Victoria Soto, age 27
  3. Lauren Rousseau, age 30
  4. Dawn Hochsprung, age 47
  5. Anne Marie Murphy, age 52
  6. Mary Sherlach, age 56

My Letter To The President of the United States, Barack Obama

LETTER SENT VIA EMAIL: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

 

Dear President Obama:presidentseal

I’d like to propose four ideas in the wake of the Newtown slayings:

  1. Dispense Ammunition like Rx Medicine: Our Bill of Rights protects ownership of firearms. It doesn’t include ammunition.  Using the pharmacy model dispensing Rx, apply similar laws to dispensing ammunition. If you wanted bullets, you’d go to the police station where you’d be screened and hand you a “dispense order” for thirty rounds monthly. “Munitions Depots” watched by the ATF like the DEA watches pharmacists and pharmacies.  Also added is the “Dangerous Possession Tax,” levy a hefty “Deadly Weapon Permit,” require high annual licensing fees for all gun owners.

    veteran
  2. Protecting All Freedoms: Redeploy returning veterans to patrol “gathering places” i.e. schools, churches, movie theatres.  These veterans are highly trained and experienced gorilla/urban conflicts. Two or three armed soldiers in combat fatigues is a significant visual deterrent. Local police could put cops back on the street. How many conflict prepared and experienced veterans are coming home jobless? Highly trained, disciplined, and responsible veterans provide visible safety at gathering locations and employing them to secure gathering places provides professional safety. What if one armed veteran had been at Newtown?
  3. Get Tough on the Supply Chain: Levy high taxes on manufacturers of deadly weapons, munitions manufacturers, suppliers to the making of deadly weapons and hold them accountable for the inventory and retail sa
    glockles of objects designed to kill. If they sell both military-grade and street-grade weapons, insist they cease the manufacture and sale of street-grade weaponry. And if they resist, terminate all military contracts.
  4. Implicate the Supply Chain as Accessory:  Any gun store operator, salesman, vendor, supplier, manufacturer, gun show producer, gun show exhibitor, enthusiast, or owner are subject to the following: Any firearm used in a capital crime traced back to you, you (and others in the retail supply chain will be held proportionately responsible for the weapon’s retail availability and will face prosecution resulting in fines, civil action, and may include prison terms.gunstore

Mr. President, the Bill of Rights protects ownership of firearms meant to kill or massacre. But what about my right to safety free from deadly harm? It appears that owners of firearms enjoy a greater degree of Constitutional Rights than us sitting ducks.

Thank You!

Thank you for contacting the White House.

President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible Administration in history.  That begins with taking comments and questions from you, the American people, through our website.

Our office receives thousands of messages from Americans each day.  We do our best to reply to as many as we can, but please be aware that you may find more information and answers to your questions online.  To follow news and learn more about President Obama’s plan for an America built to last, you can sign up for updates from the White House, read the White House Blog, or visit WhiteHouse.gov/Engage.

For an easy-to-navigate source of information on Federal government services, please visit: www.USA.gov.

Thank you again for your message.

The Office of Presidential Correspondence

Our Cultural Conflict: “I-centric” vs. “Us-centric”

I’m still crying.  Especially for the amount of preciously rare innocence lost that day.  I fear a crevasse of cruelty ripped open our discouraged plains of humanity and swallowed acres of hope, kindness, and gentility.  The displaced societysurvivors have been inoculated with indifference.  Recently, our society welcomed the technological efforts to promote the importance of the individual thereby neglecting the citizen’s toil required to maintain a individualcohesive and unified society abiding by civil law, ethics, and respectability.  This change strongly suggests a recent shift and an alarming unraveling of the knotted threads which bind us together as a cohesive society.  It  suggests that the aggressive “me-me-meism” trumpeting self-importance repudiates the codes of propriety and civil obedience.  It’s appearance is fueled by social networks promoting the innate yet invisible importance of the individual, and their  dull and oft mundane daily rituals as provocative, riveting, and jocular.  This “I-centric” movement supplants the laws of society with a horde of myopic pronouns (I, me) living in the surreal world developed by the late physicist Dr. Berners-Lee.  This environment is wholly the fabrication of a society of scientists working together while at the same time relying on fixed rules, regulations and laws.  The “I-centric” movement relies upon the ICQ protocol to herald their importance and distinguish themselves.

electricity2 That is, until the power goes out.

 

Newtown Might Be Anytown

cryingobamaSince I first heard President Obama fight back agony so wrenching it overwhelmed the indomitable propriety of his office, I sensed a depth of heartache rarely freed by a sitting president.  President Obama’s valiant attempt to sandbag the stalwart character of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was breached nevertheless as the surge of emotion overwhelmed his duty as the harbinger of serious information to America‘s citizens.

Every time I read an article, listen to President Obama’s painful pauses, or watch television coverage I simply cry for everyone involved.  And everyone is involved.  By everyone I mean everybody; all of us; each of us.  It’s impossible to locate anyone unmoved by this horrific incident.

It’s all part of an escalation of rights protected by the constitution, to the safety of the innocent, to the invasion of privacy at pat down check-points, to righteous citizens hawking firearms at uncontrolled, unregulated gun showgunshow free-for-alls at which anyone — anyone regardless of their background — can purchase a firearm because, by law and by money and by lobbyists and by radical firearms enthusiasts, gun shows are not gun shops, gun shows are for the gun collector, the gun enthusiast.  But what do these collectors and enthusiasts feel or imagine as they feel the firearms heft, the iciness of the steel, the clip or chamber, the single cartridge trigger or the semi-automatic trigger; what do they feel or imagine that propels them to dodge laws, drop a few hundred dollars, and leave pleased as punch.  They must imagine the kickback of that first round, the power the firearm possesses, the. . .the. . .____________ of ownership.  It’s the blank I’m curious about; the “what” as to why they insist on owning firearms.

Which is their constitutional right: “To bear arms. . .”   But the Constitution doesn’t mention ammunition.

policefront deskSo here’s my idea:  Treat ammunition for publicly owned firearms in the same manner our society treats prescription drugs.  If you want ammunition you need to go to your local police department; there pharmacythey’ll write you a legal dispense order for thirty rounds only and non-refillable within a thirty day period.  The federal government would monitor ammunition shops like they monitor pharmacies.

Have all the lawless gun shows you want!  Have all the gun shops you want!  Let everyone carry concealed weapons!  And most of all, appease the self-righteous, entitlement-wielding, insensitive and ignorant myopic NRA by letting them bear as many bloody arms as they can carry!

But you can’t have any bullets.