Thursday, February 11, 2016

Can I talk about guns?

Yes with the orange, and I can also march for causes that require fuchsia.
This isn't an anti-gun post, though that might be what you'd expect of me.

We had a robbery before Christmas, and afterwards a couple friends asked me if it changed how I thought about guns. I gave it some sincere thought and said no, that I still would not be willing to have a loaded gun in the house. And I wouldn't shoot someone over property.

I'd like to say that I can't imagine shooting anyone, ever, under any circumstance, but if someone were hurting my kid, I believe I could do just about anything.

I'm not actually completely anti-gun, in that I think people who hunt have the right to own hunting guns. I have, it turns out, a number of friends with guns, who, as I understand it, keep them locked in a steel case, and keep the ammunition separate. They don't have a loaded gun sitting around the house or in their purse when they go to Walmart.

I'm not trying to take their guns away. But I don't think anyone has the right to own machine guns or assault weapons. And I believe the NRA is an evil organization.

So.

Recently we discovered that a skylight had been opened. Like, unscrewed and taken off and then put back on, but not completely. As it turns out, our skylight was never properly installed. So it had been take-offable for years. It just hadn't happened before.

Was this connected with the robbery? Had someone come through, coincidentally on the day we had contractors here? Or had someone opened it and decided that the drop to the floor would just be too far and too dangerous?

I was freaking out. What if we went to bed one night and someone came in? What if they encountered my mom or one of the kids and hurt them?

We got alarms put on, and then had steel bars installed. 

But prior to that, I felt so vulnerable. How would I protect my mom and my kids if someone did come in? I could see the lure of owning a gun.

I still do not want one, and would not be OK with having one. But I do understand the appeal of knowing you had a loaded gun and wouldn't hesitate to shoot. Someone enters your home and threatens your family? You have a trigger to pull.

I see how this idea would promote a sense of safety.

And that's where I am, which is a place I never was before. I will never have a gun in our house, but I think I understand it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

After all, you're my wonderwall

Love? Or assault?
I know for a fact that my husband, and my son, and my mother love me dearly. Dearly. But nobody makes me feel so loved as my girl.

India loves with her whole being. She loves out loud and very physically. Sometimes it's overwhelming but it also feels amazing to be loved so overtly and tremendously.

She gives compliments out of the blue. "Oh, Nana! I love your shirt!"

When she's happy about something she'll say, "You're the best mama/daddy/Nana ever!" (The flip side is "You're NOT THE BEST mama/daddy/Nana ever!")

She adores when I solicit her opinion. Before a Christmas party I said, "India, do you like my dress?"

And she said, "It covers your gagina. You look beautiful, Mama!"

(So like with my therapist all those years ago, the bar may not be all that high.)

I am a hugger, and so is she. After the snow she ran over and hugged the knees of a surprised neighbor and told him he'd done a great job shoveling his sidewalk.

It took me a long time to learn that not everyone likes being hugged and that I should ask first. Who doesn't like being hugged? Lots of people, turns out.

She hugs Jordan more often and more enthusiastically than he wants to be hugged.

She hugs Nick and Betty. And she hugs me most of all.

She launches herself at me and wraps her whole body around me, arms tight around my neck. "I want you!"

"You've got me!"

"I want you!"

"You've got me me forever!"

"I want you!"

We could do this endlessly. At some point I usually start singing,  "You've got me! Let's call it a night. Goodnight. Don't let the frostbite bite."

I want to tell her she has no idea how much she has me, and that she really does have me, heart and soul, forever. Forever.

Sometimes she will hug me and put her face closer and closer to mine until our faces are mashed together uncomfortably. She wants me. She wants all of me.

And she doesn't want to share.

It used to be that Jordan would get into bed, put his thumb in his mouth, and go to sleep. He really only stopped doing it recently, because India gets so much attention at night.

She gets lots of cuddles because she demands them. He now wants them, too.

So we will read books, and then I will pick my son up and carry him to his bed. India follows us, and tries to create chaos. I kiss him goodnight, pry her off him, pick her up and carry her back to her room.

And then we cuddle. And then Jordan comes in, and says he needs to be cuddled. So I tell India to stay in her bed, that it is Jordan's turn and I'll be back in five minutes.

Naturally, this works not at all.

She pads down the hall wailing and then stands at the side of Jordan's bed. "Mama! I need you! I need you!"

She can't get in bed with us because they harass each other and everything goes all to hell. The carpet itches her. The bathtub...I don't know what's wrong with the bathtub. It's full of stuffed animals and awesomeness. I think the main problem is the bathtub is not the bed and she is alone and alone in a tub is not where she wants to be.

So last night I was lying in bed with Jordan, my arm around him, my back to India. Truly, it's not fair that he gets less cuddle time because she's there and demanding vociferously. But that is how it tends to shake out. And I don't know what to do about this.

She stood next to the bed wailing and I asked her to please be quiet, because otherwise Jordan couldn't fall asleep, and it was sleep time. She whispered OK.

And then she mashed her face into the side of mine, and quietly droned into my cheek, "Ahhwaatyou. Ahhwaatyou. Ahhwaatyou."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Let me be empty and weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight

Over the weekend I got a message from a reader. The son of a friend had died by suicide. She was looking for guidance.

I get messages like this from a friend or a reader three or four times a year. And I occasionally get questions when a friend is worrying about someone. Several times a year is not that often, one might say, but when you are talking suicide any frequency is too often.

(On a side bar and a lighter note, people send me penis-related articles, videos, and information on art installations with slightly more frequency. I do not know how I became that person to so many.)

The messages always make me sit down and cry. Always.

I sob for the pain of those dealing with fresh loss. I weep for the person who got to the point of no alternative.

Nick and I were talking about it and he said, "Wouldn't you have some idea that it was coming, that the person was depressed?"

Not always, no. But you might have some indication. It's worth knowing what to look and listen for.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a list of warning signs. There are also FAQs on how to respond, for example, when someone tells you they are contemplating suicide.

And, if someone has died by suicide, they have resources for coping with loss.

I wrote about this last year, and that post has more links and my thoughts on how to be there for someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.

Depression and suicide are still highly stigmatized. It's an awkward thing to talk about, and people will not necessarily let you in, no matter how close you are.

For many of us, winter is not our friend. People who aren't affected think it's the cold. "But it's been such a mild winter!"

It's not the cold. It is the dark. Or rather, the lack of light.

(In summer it's not the heat; it's the humidity.)

In winter the darkness starts early and lasts too long and for some, it is suffocating. One cannot simply cheer up and go dancing.

Years ago I took First Aid and CPR. And it stressed me the hell out, because once I knew what to do if someone was having a heart attack or choking, I felt like I had to be ready to respond when I was out and about. It was awful.

I'm not suggesting hyper-vigilance. You don't need to be constantly scanning the room for the potential choking victim.

I'm just saying that people struggle, and you may know someone who needs you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel...

When I read that David Bowie had died, I felt like I'd lost a friend. And I am not quite sure why.

But I see that I'm in excellent and broad company. Because just about all my friends, regardless of age or what type of music they primarily like, are upset about his death. Everyone is posting Bowie pictures and lyrics.

Somehow, we have all lost our own particular friend. It's really interesting.

The only other celebrity death that has gut-punched me is Robin Williams. But that was different.

I understand being sad about the loss of a great artist. But this is more personal than that, seemingly for each of us.

The tributes are lovely.

I didn't know him, not even by six degrees. The closest I ever got to him was seeing him perform at UNC on his Glass Spider tour. They weren't the songs I knew by heart and loved, or even knew...it was just, you know, David Bowie!

When I was in junior high, Debbie, who was a year older and one of my best friends, became obsessed with him. So I did, too. We listened to him almost nonstop when we were together.

She had broader (and better) musical taste than I did. She introduced me to the Ramones. When I was listening exclusively to Top 40 and show tunes.

And then, when I moved to India, she sent me tapes of her Bowie records. Diamond Dogs, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, Changesonebowie, Changestwobowie, and, oddly enough, an album on which he sings bizarre little songs like Please Mr. Gravedigger and The Laughing Gnome. I recognized one of the songs as a nursery rhyme when reading Mother Goose to my kids a few years ago.

I hadn't thought of them in ages, but I bet you I could still sing all of those weird ditties.

Even in 7th grade, Debbie knew she was different and embraced it. She wasn't going to be mainstream in the northern Virginia suburbs, even if she tried, so she worked to stand out as different. She was really bright, and eventually went to college at St. John's. It suited her.

I knew I wasn't the norm in junior high but tried so hard to blend. It wasn't necessary in high school, because we were all just who we were. But I wore bucs and rugby shirts at UNC and acquired a southern accent, trying to look and sound like everyone else.

In Delhi I listened to the tapes over and over and over, even though, with the way Debbie recorded them, each side of songs ended well before the side of the tape did, so I'd have to fast-forward to the end and then flip it. And rewind to get to favorite songs to play them incessantly.

If I was listening on my (yellow! waterproof!) Walkman and didn't want to use up the batteries, I'd wind the tape with a pencil.

This seems so laborious and quaintly ridiculous now.

In retrospect, I think Bowie was perfect for us not just because we loved his music, but because he was so many people. Even when he was dressed conservatively, you knew it was a persona. He put them on and took them off.

He got to choose.

He could choose to be whoever he wanted today, tomorrow, whenever.

Who gets to do that?

Maybe this is what made him perfect for so many people. Was that what made it so personal? And, undeniably, brilliance is brilliance, across genres.

Rest in peace and stardust, David Bowie.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mama said gross you out

I'm afraid this might be a chicken for dinner kind of post because really, not much has been going on.

I mean, since recently. Because I got my hair cut on Tuesday, and once it got terribly cold on Monday I was all oh my hell there is no way I'm getting my hair cut over my ears I need every drop of insulation possible. And my hairdresser agreed. So this spring, we chop.

Also, I do not know why I always take the cold so personally but I do.

Anyway, I hadn't seen her since October so when you're looking at catching up on that stretch of time, there was Austin and Thanksgiving and lice and a robbery and Christmas and New Year's. Which was a lot.

But since then it's pretty much only been dandruff, which my friend Jess suggested was really just head irritation, and she turned out to be right. Because it has dramatically improved since we stopped irritating his little scalp.

What I'm saying is, scalp irritation is all we've got, and we're running out of that.

And here I must confess that I found the removal of the dandruff/scalpy stuff flakes highly satisfying. I am one of those people who can't bear not to squeeze a pimple, pick a scab, etc. I've never lanced a boil but I bet I'd love it.

Yes, I know these are revolting. I don't know why I find them so compelling.

And me, I get grossed out touching raw meat. Which actually means it's rarely chicken for dinner.

Years ago I worked with this gorgeous Italian guy. He had a strong nose, which I happen to love, and when you got close enough you could see that he had all these blackheads.

Close enough like sitting work-appropriately far from each other and discussing a project. Not closer.

Anyway, every time I saw him my initial thought was always, "Oh my god can we please make out? But first could I squeeze all your blackheads?"

So now you know.