per no one’s request. login to life.

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note: this is a glimpse of my ongoing processing about the movie theater tragedy in colorado. i have cognitive dissonance when i use the words “shooting” and “movie theater” — i simply can’t accept that someone could do this other human beings. 

i’m in a “no caps” mood today. i’ll use proper grammar and punctuation, but today i’m feeling pretty elemental.

i remember feeling how i also feel today: as if i am hunkering down. reassessing. taking stock. getting perspective.

i live in the metro washington, d.c., area. it’s also known as “ground zero.”  where i live is about 18 miles southwest of the state line.

i was here when the “DC sniper” was on the loose. we hunkered down then. i can’t remember that coward’s name. there were two cowards, actually, who stole days and months from us, caused us to live in fear.

i was here when 9/11 happened at the pentagon. we reassessed then. i only remember one guy on the flights; he looked like evil incarnate with his dead eyes and expression.

i was here when the lady chose my local target store (less than a mile away) to be her final resting place as she shot herself in the electronics section (just adjacent to the children’s section) about three months ago. i took stock then. i don’t know her name. i didn’t go back there until three weeks ago (before we left for vacation) when i went to get my dog the xanax his vet prescribed him due to his stress from July’s fireworks. it didn’t work, in case you’re wondering. i haven’t gone back since.

i tend to not bloviate (one of my favorite words, btw) about controversial things because i tend to polarize. i wrote as a post today from my super fantastic efficient twitter account (which i’m still learning how to maximize) “sometimes the best opinion is no opinion” and i still agree with that.

i was here when the tragedy occurred at a movie theater 1,668.8 miles away and almost 48 hours ago. i am getting perspective again.

i went to sleep not knowing about it. i woke up full of hope the day before that happened, thursday. i was in a great mood; i went to yoga, had a wonderful session.  and then i threw the kids in the car to meet a friend i’ve only known from facebook — that was very exciting. she is a friend of my cousin’s and we also met her beautiful and clever little boy, a six-year-old cartoonist i happen to adore. when we came home, the cleaning ladies had finished fixing my house from our messiness. then i took the kids to the pool and i was trying not to embarrass the inept lifeguards. then Thing 3 had a soccer event.  Thing 2 had a basketball game and he finally got a foul against his mark and i was very proud – he stopped the other guy on a drive that looked promising – but not proud enough to buy him a Slurpee at 8:30 when he really hadn’t had a proper dinner.

so then we had some pizza and then we took Murphy for a walk; the sky was filling with lightning and i knew a storm was on the way.  we walked to a nearby pond and we usually go to another one, but when we were ready for our turn to the second one, my youngest said, “mom, i’m scared. can we just go home now?” and we changed course and went home.  the lightning increased and the air pressure changed.  the wind picked up and when we were about a quarter mile from our house, i told the boys to get going, that i would kick off my flip-flops and run home barefoot with the dog. the rain started and it was cold, big drops.

later that night, as the weather was reminding us who’s boss, our family talked in our bedroom about summer trips and the movies and just being a family. i exploited tickle spots (the hip flexors are an excellent spot on my middle son) and we reminisced about vacations and strategized about the upcoming camps. we must’ve been together on our queen-size bed for about an hour. Thing 1 (14 and our oldest) asked if he could just sleep at the base of the bed… he’s 5’7″ and weighs about 135 now. he was kidding. sort of. the wind outside was loud and the rain was merciless.

“out! off to bed! get out i love you.” we said to them all and kissed them and their chlorine-y or showered hair goodnight.

 .  .  .

the next day i saw only the headlines of the movie theater shootings on my smartphone which i wish were stupid. i did a little yoga and then reported for my first day of a new very part-time job at the front desk at a local health club. i was pretty excited and i didn’t fixate on the movie theater in aurora. i had to learn where the fire extinguishers are, where this is and that is and when we clean the towels (every 45 minutes) and where the gloves are to pick up the towels because they aren’t DNA i am familiar with (uuuhhhh…) and here’s the incident report for when someone has a stroke because someone has died on our courts here “in here? the person actually died?” i asked, “well, i don’t know,” the trainer said, “but i think so… i wasn’t working that day and i didn’t ask anymore about it…” and i’m thinking, “did you have anyone sage smudge the place? get it blessed by a priest? what about the bad juju?” and then she went on all sing-songy about this is where we make coffee, but never after 11 am, this is where the disinfectant wipes are because people throw up and bleed and the bathrooms are … we had this incident in one of them and the cleaning people don’t come until after we close and…  my head was swimming, not from the deluge but from the detritus….

suddenly i’m not so sure i want this job anymore.  it’s not because i am above it, it’s because time is fleeting and i really should spend my time doing something i’m totally digging. i have time to figure this out though.

the best thing i heard yesterday at the club was from a potentially former co-worker who is a grandmother. she said, “with children, the days drag on but the years fly by.” and i thought about that. i clocked out. and when i did, i remembered the story about the movie theater and i also thought about how this job at the front desk means i’m the first person someone would see, a mad gunman or suicidal person say, as s/he approached the entrance to the club. i have determined that any job worth having is the one you love and i don’t know if i’d love doing what the front desk does. i’m totally sociable, i can work a room like the best of ’em; i’m an extrovert and all that, but the shooting at the movie theater makes me feel like hunkering down again.

when i came back from my first day of training, my husband was at the table eating his lunch and smiled at me, “how was your first day of work, honey?” and i smiled. Thing 1 came and asked the same question. i smiled and explained that i was half intoxicated from the deluge of information.

 .  .  .

i just returned from a run. i run on paths not near the streets, i have chosen the paths for years. i usually take my dog but sometimes he slows me down and today, i didn’t feel like dissuading him from chasing a squirrel or sniffing a rock. i wanted to think about colorado;  determine what i felt about it and how i could articulate it.  i also learned today why i could run jog a 10:30/mi pace during my vacation in canada and not here: because the roads that border a great lake in canada are flat. my time today was 11:30/mi. it’s better than when i started in january by a minute and i’m totally OK with that. i ran jogged. i did something.

i like the paths away from the streets because drivers who text drive off the road and kill runners, pedestrians and people like me: slow runners joggers. i also prefer the privacy so that when i feel like stopping and crying because i’m hating my jog that no one will see me. i also like the shade under the canopy of tree leaves. i like to see the moss on the path and the water rush or trickle over the rocks in the creeks. i haven’t brought my cell phone because it’s the size of a pop-tart. i am afraid of weirdos on the path.  i haven’t seen any but well… no one expected the sniper, 9/11, the virginia tech shootings, the movie theater. assessing. maybe i’ll bring my phone.

i refuse to look for stories about this movie theater incident. a friend who lives in colorado wrote a powerful post about the legacy of the dark knight and she solidly avoided glorifying this perpetrator while focusing on the sadness of our country’s mental health system. i saw on a recent Time cover that every day a US service member commits suicide. i also read a while ago that every 14 minutes someone in the US ends their own life.

this incident, suicides and other tragedies (Oslo, for instance, whose one-year anniversary is tomorrow) that have prompted yet another reason for me to get perspective, hunker down and reassess my life have left me only with questions about people and their unattended sorrows. these people are everywhere. i don’t mean to say that in a pitchforks and torches “let’s get ’em!” way, but in a “we are one; we all hurt” way.

surely … we have to remember who we are. we are not one-dimensional screen zombies with status updates and likes obsessions and youtube addictions… RIGHT?! please tell me we are more than this. please.

i heard a story about a week ago about a fatal hit and run in nearby arlington where people who were un/loading a metro bus walked RIGHT PAST this individual (it’s on the bus’s camera) who might’ve still been alive and NO ONE DID ANYTHING. not even the bus driver. no one called 911, no one helped him. no one touched him. one guy crossed himself and kept walking. the man died there.

i don’t understand what’s happening to our world. we are connected by screens and logins and @s and #s and invisible binary and digital codes but we are not connected to one another anymore. we need to login to life or we will die inside.

as for the movie theater: where is the ‘reason’ in this tragedy? i am often a professor of kismet, karma, fate and destiny; that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ that phrase brings me peace. i often remember the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila which basically says “we are all are exactly where we are meant to be.” tell me, with all due respect, st. teresa, how the 12 people who are now dead were exactly where they were meant to be. where is the ‘reason’ in this event?

my head is all over the map about this. i want to hide my children. put up walls. trust no one. use only my home gym. stream movies. mill my own wheat and buy a cow and milk it. one last trip to costco should do it.

last night i played with my youngest son who is eight in his room. we built a lego house. it’s sort of a roofless home with a giant windmill attached to the side … i’m putting a picture of it here. i can’t really explain it other than to say it reminded me of osama bin laden’s place without the porn room.

the lego house that Thing 3 built. he wouldn’a had a second floor or that turret off of it if i hadn’t found the steps and then built the supports beneath them. this is his third rendition. the first two were huffed and puffed down by Big Bad Wolves also known as Thing 1 and Thing 2. i feel this one is gonna be OK because 1) i helped build it and 2) i helped build it.

i want to say that our good plans and loving talks with our sons outweighed the bad plans of that man, but something tells me that’s not quite how it works. we planned our lego day the night before, during the storm when we were talking on my bed, probably while that madman strapped on his body armor, checked his tear gas cartridges and inserted the deadly rounds of clips into his guns and loaded up his car to kill 12 people from age 6 to 51.

i am staying away from the politics (guns) in this matter. i have my opinions and i … *sigh* (really, profound sigh) will keep them to myself. i live in an area populated with senior officers in the military whom i know and love and i am infinitely grateful for the service they provide but i wish they didn’t have to do it at all. many of their wives are like sisters to me.  this is virginia, the old dominion, the commonwealth of the first colony in the united states. i do not have a gun, but i understand the sensitivity of the 2nd amendment and the passion of people who wish to protect it. i am not posting anything about this matter to make friends or enemies. thursday i thought i was certain of whom i was going to vote for in november. now i just know i am reassessing everything.

i am trying to determine what makes sense and what doesn’t.  what’s worth my energy and what isn’t. i don’t know what’s happening to our planet. i used to (and still hope) that love outweighs hate (i wrote a blog post about the incidences those words show up on the internet per Google). that peace outweighs anxiety, but…

i considered and then looked at past posts on my facebook and twitter and blog, my fervent interest in not overexposing myself to too much; to be humble, to have realistic expectations and not put too much value on the things TRULY that don’t matter: opinions of strangers, love from outside sources, the meaning of success, rejection from people who don’t know me… and the sting of rejection from people who do know me.

what i am realizing is that life is full of defining moments. we help determine them. we can sit and hem and haw all we want about life: brand people, deny people of ourselves, deny them of our love and compassion. deny them (and ourselves) of their company to supposedly take a stand, to be something else, but does it matter? i mean, does it matter to be That Someone?

i hear the wails of the firetrucks and police cars outside my home, about a tenth of a mile in the distance on a big road nearby.  i remember my oldest saying when he was youngest, “do you hear them mom? the firetrucks are crying.” and i’ve never felt the same about that sound since.  they are crying.

today, i have assessed thus: that at the finish line, all i want to know is that i did the right thing. i’m going to keep logging in to life; i am going to keep trying to connect.

thank you.

5 responses »

  1. you did this…all of this justice. and i hope beyond hoping that someday you will remember planning lego day as the where you were moment, for it should be the piece that stays with you. i remember just how the light hit my son’s face, how he smelled like a delicious infant, how soft the skin of his hand was in that moment before i answered the phone. that is more important than whatever else happened that day in the world for me, and with time and distance i see it now.

    thank you deeply for the mention. i hope i live up to your words. xoxo

  2. You have covered this subject with great sensitivity and managed to put to words how i have been feeling. I cannot reconcile in my head what has happened, yet again. I have 2 children, 14 an 8 for whom I am afraid. What kind of world are we living in? I, too, try to look to joy and beauty in life and in people. I look for and through love. I don’t know how one can look at what happened in Aurora and keep turning to love through all of the sorrow, although I will try. My heart aches for the families and loved ones of those affected.

    • thank you, tammy. our hearts are raw and we are not involved; like you, i can not fathom the grief of the community. “death” is not justice nor is it merciful (in my opinion) as a punishment for this man’s actions. i can’t even really wrap my mind around it. i am deeply affected by this. i do not understand. i just don’t. i don’t think i ever will. i will keep my chin up but my eyes wide open. i don’t want to live that way; it’s not living. i wonder if this is anything like the 1950s for my parents…

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