Tuesday, October 6, 2015

No Title

This is not my story. It is someone else's story. I didn't live it. I don't re-live it. There that story is, though, whenever there is another story of some fucked-up young male (typically white) who decides to shoot up a school.

It is long ago, long before the media tracked these awful stories. There's a kid. (A kid who happens to be a white male.) He comes into the school, armed with a gun, and takes hostages. This one has a good ending, though, as good as any ending a story can have that begins with some fuck-head coming into a school with a gun.

One by one, he lets the hostages go. My former teacher, a man who befriended me and who, with his wife, welcomed me into their lives and their home, is one of the hostages. He is the second-to-the-last to be let go. He gets to go home to his wife and his baby.

A happy ending.


I have another friend from high school. He's the kind of guy you Fbriend because, you know, you wonder "What ever became of X." He has become a major-league arch-conservative. I do believe that I might be the antithesis of everything that he is. But I don't un-FBriend him.

It's not that I haven't un-FBriended old high school folks, particularly in the last presidential election cycle, when I realized they are so anti-abortion as to have forgotten their own or so religious to have forgotten their own alcohol-fueled slut-to-the-extreme actions of their "youth." Those born-again folks truly are hard to bear.

But this guy. This guy. This guy? I don't un-FBriend. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because he is the Ted Nugent that I know. Or "know."


I wonder, when the conservative guy ridicules those folks -- ahem, like me -- who beg for something to be done to stop this violence done in the atmosphere of the imaginary gun control of the land -- if he ever stops to think about that mutual friend of ours. I wonder if he stops -- for even a fucking minute -- to consider that maybe...just fucking maybe...we could do a bit more.

And then I chuckle to myself, like I did just now as I was writing that last convoluted sentence, that, no, he doesn't.


And that, dear friends, is why nothing will ever change. Because I am completely wrong.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Groundhog Day at its Worst

Another mass murder by some 18-24 year old white dude with a grudge. Again and again and again.

Nothing anyone will do about it beyond wringing their hands, or, you know, saying if only someone had a gun to stop him.

Stuff happens.

We'll look at the shiny object for a day. Maybe two. If they're first graders, maybe a whole week we'll devote to being just sick to our stomachs.

But Halloween is coming. And then Thanksgiving. Christmas. And so on and so forth.

We'll go on.

Stuff happens.

We'll file it away in our brains and take to Twitter and Facebook and blogs to bemoan the tragedy.

But nothing will change.

Because stuff happens.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Soap on a Rope

It is 1987, and my best friend, Lori, is visiting. Her visit happens to coincide with a visit from Pope John Paul II.

It is mere months after my father died, and maybe that's why I remember it with seeming clarity this many years later. It also happens to be mere weeks before I'll be visiting her, with Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" newly released. I remember her uncle driving us somewhere-or-another and one of the songs coming on. #Bruuuuuuuuuce.

That visit to her on the East Coast marks my first time visiting my Dad's final resting place at Arlington.

Lots of memories can be dredged up by a visit by Pope Francis.

But back to September 1987, when she is visiting me. This, of course, is far before kids. It is, also, far before meeting future husbands.

She is here. I live...I don't know...by then I was probably in that studio on Sacramento at Gough. I paid a pittance for it then. It's probably $4,000 or more per month now. Out of the reach of many, surely, which I'm guessing Pope JPII bemoaned, and which I sure as hell know Pope Frank would bemoan it now.

Damn, I keep sidelining this post.


Not sorry.

Okay. Lori is in that time. I am in that time. And, beautiful Jewish girl that she is, she is all for heading down to Geary Blvd. to see JPII ride by in his pimped-up Popemobile and feel the adoration of thousands of folks.

I am moved to tears. I really am. When I glimpse him. And Lori is, too. Because she might not believe in what he offers, but she knows a real good dude when she sees him.

At the time, I believe. Oh, how I believed.

But even now, not believing one iota of any of it, I would be moved to tears were I to see the 2.0 version of a great pope pass by on the street.

If ever there was a reason to have "the land of the label free" tag for a post, this would be it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

True Story

Text messages between the husband and me.

Me: When are you heading out?

Him: I will leave here about 9:30. Traffic will be bad before that. It should, all things being equal, put me back there around 5 or 6 p.m.

Me: Okay. Be safe.

Him: Will do.

Me: And happy anniversary!

Him: OMG that's right! Happy anniversary. I love you!!

Me: Love you too!

Him: Did we get a card from your Mum?

Me: How else would we know?

Him: Ha! Thank God for Louise


It's a running joke. We never know our anniversary. We know it's some midway point in September. But the only way we really know is when my Mom sends us a card. I imagine if we'd gone the traditional way and had a big old wedding, we'd remember the date. But we never did traditional. And there's no point in starting now.

Here's to -- um, how many years -- 16 years of marital bliss. And nearly 20 years of unbridled love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

No Title Because I'm Not Sure of the Meaning

I would have titled the post "Paradox,' but then I made the mistake of Dr. Googling it and realizing that it wasn't really what I meant. Or I'm not sure that it is what I meant. And I have a real professor reading this blog, ready to ridicule me for my misuses.

No, she wouldn't. She would understand.

What I meant was I can't start wishing for winter break so Eldest is home because that's just wishing that Le Daughter is gone that much sooner. You know what I mean, right? And if you don't? Give it up. You won't ever.

It's easier now. It really is. Because it's done. And it'll be done again. And, finally, when Youngest goes, once again.

I want for that kid of mine to go forth. He will. And then she will. And, soon enough, the other he will as well. And I will pine for all that they were and all that they are and all that they will be.

I'm ready to play that doddy old woman you make a wide path around. Hell, I'm already playing her.

So how it is that I keep going forward?

I'll tell you. It's really simple.

It never was about me.

This whole thing.

It never was.

It is and always was about them.

And that is how I sleep.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Love Knows No Bounds

Honestly? There's too much I want to say about Eldest heading off to college at the crack of dawn on Monday. Pete is going to drive him down to UCSD because no one wants to sit with me for 10 hours on the drive day, weeping. And no one, not even that man I married, wants to hear me wail 10 hours back home.

It’s not about me, though. It’s about him, Eldest, Ryan. Yeah, that’s his name. Ryan. It means “Little King.” That’s right, all of you effed-up parents who named daughters “Ryan.” It means “Little. King.” “King.” So, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “Now you know.”

The thing that causes me such distraught right now is how, after the summer of my freshman year of college, I never lived at home again. Never. As in, “never.” Ever. I will watch him leave Monday morning at the crack of dawn and know that he’s gone. And, so, tears. Too many tears.

This is the point that we’ve been leading up to: sending that adult boy who, for better or worse, we helped form into a man.

He is an amazing young man. He is. But he is also every form of him that came before. The colicky little fuck we danced with for weeks on-end for hours on-end so he would just shut the fuck up and go to sleep.

He’s the little boy who stroked my cheek when I passed out on the couch with a newborn daughter sleeping on me. “Are you okay, Mom-mom?”

He’s the lad dressing up in too many costumes to count. A superhero, he was. A future Toastmaster. A boy reading road signs at 3, impressing the shit out of his parents and any other passengers in the car.

He makes his way. We all do.

And when he swears, now, that he is never going to have kids, I believe him. I believe him just as my father believed me when I swore the same thing when he’d say, “You’ll be a great mother” long after I had sworn off ever having kids.

When I believed in that capital-G “God,” I’d ask capital-H “Him” every night for years to keep my kids “safe, healthy, happy and free from harm.”

But Sunday night, I’m going to try my hardest to believe that the capital-G dude exists and that he’ll keep my kids “safe, healthy, happy and free from harm.”

Go on, boy. You got this. It’s a long ride, but it’s worth all of the E tickets in the world.

And, remember, Mom-mom loves you. And you will always remember that here (pointing to his head) and here (pointing to his heart).

Because she does. We all do.    

Friday, September 11, 2015

Time Goes by for Most of us

I am pregnant with Youngest. I am only "just" pregnant. But I am pregnant nonetheless. We are at my mom's in early September because Eldest won't start kindergarten for another year, so we are availing ourselves with cheap airfare and near-empty airports and flights. Bethany Beach is still wonderful. There is that ocean I barely remember, having lived nearly all of my adult life on the other coast.

Le Daughter remains enigma. Eldest dresses in his latest get-up: Tarzan. We all relish in the joy of little kids racing waves, "helping" Dada build castles and rollicking with nary a care in the world.

One morning, I am using Mom's blow dryer when she storms through the bathroom, flinging open the door and saying, "Come see."

I do. And then I do not. I do not see. I block all images from my mind. Pete remains at Mom's house, eyes glued to the screen. Mom and I take the kids to the boardwalk, fleeing reality, fleeing images that will surely fill me with rage and despair.

I choose not to watch. But that rage? That despair? I carry it within me through my pregnancy. When, years later, Youngest goes to kindergarten and 1st grade and 2nd grade and everyone is appalled at the number of horrid kids in his grade, I posit my theory: all of their mothers, carrying those little ones within at the time of 9-11, are filled with that despair. And that rage.

And we transfer it into those forming within us.


Can it really have been 14 years ago? I listen to Springsteen's "The Rising," and I remember the telethon right after. I remember Petty's "We Won't Back Down" (or whatever the hell it's called). I remember giving money to help the fallen.

I watch almost none of the coverage. I call the managing editor at The Chronicle and I tell him of my utter fear of boarding a plane back home in the midst of all that. And he tells me something that makes me board that plane after four hours waiting in line. A period of time where I shred an American Airlines employee for encouraging the passenger in front of us to stick his knife deep down so he can get by security. "Could you at least see his knife before telling him how to smuggle it onto a plane?" I don't say, "How many fuckin' colleagues do you have to lose to terrorists before you wake the fuck up?" But I think it.

And I think it again when that passenger, knife secured in his checked luggage, ends up seated in front of me on the flight "home."

And I think many things in the following months, probably forever dooming Youngest and his ilk to despair and rage, as they raise the terror alert so I will only bring one child with me each day and leave one with Pete so, you know, at least someone survives.


There is a PSA of sorts running that shows one year in the life of a little girl, borne into middle class security and thrust into civil war over the following months. We didn't come to that point. There's nothing saying we won't ever. But we didn't. But many others did.


I'm writing this in the security of my home, with no fear. Yes, 14 years later, with "The Rising" soundtrack playing in the background on my brand new smartphone, I have no fear. I have stupid fears of children growing up and leaving me, mind you, but I have no fear of the unspeakable touching me in the here-and-now.


I have no ending to this post. Save this: come on, rise up, come on, rise up, come on, rise up, come on, rise up. Come on, rise up. Come on, rise up.


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