Life

Spiders Eat Mosquitos

spider-595301_1280Last night Mini-One Mean woke up in the middle of the night. Mini is usually a great sleeper, rarely waking in the middle of the night. Even as an infant, I was blessed with a baby that slept like a baby. I am probably one of the only women who in the first few months of motherhood was “well-rested.” Okay, enough bragging.

Last night was different. Mini was shouting from the crib, “Get you! Get you!” and of course, like the paranoid woman I am, I thought someone was in his room trying to kidnap him. Is it me or is the fear of kidnapping something that you always think about as a mother? I literally worry all. the. time. that my kiddo is going to snatched up by a stranger never to be seen from again, and you’ll all see me on the news trying to fumble through sentences of “Bring back my baby!” It’s probably super melodramatic of me, but the fear is real.

Mini was also screaming, “Scary!”Convinced a kidnapper was in our home (and of course the husband is traveling for his work, so I was alone in the house–this clearly only amplified the fear), I jumped out of bed. I didn’t even bother with my glasses, which in retrospect was fucking stupid because what if I was going to be asked to describe the perpetrator? I am blind. Like severely blind. My contact lens prescription is a -9.0. I take my glasses off and colors merge into one another. It’s madness.

I went into Mini-One Mean’s room. I held my kiddo in my arms and could feel Mini shaking. Mini is generally pretty fearless so the shaking made me nervous. I grabbed Mini’s favorite stuffed animal and blankets and marched back to my bedroom. The bed had extra space given Mr. One Mean was traveling. I generally do not believe in co-sleeping. I am not going to get into it here. This isn’t a Mommy Blog. I think it if works for your family that’s great. It’s not for me or my husband. As a result of our no co-sleeping policy, Mini-One Mean does not get into our bed at night. Last night was an exception.

The shaking got to me, and I caved. I let Mini calm down and then the child was returned to the crib. As we lay together, Mini-One Mean–who has recently begun to call me Momma, which I don’t love (I’m a fan of Mommy as a name), chatted me up. At one point, “Give Mini a kiss” was uttered and my mother heart melted. I had to be firm and so I reminded Mini it was time for sleeping.

Turns out the child thought there were spiders in the crib. Once I had convinced Mini-One Mean there were no spiders, all was good.

An hour passed between the initial crying and my return to an empty bed. Of course, I was unable to sleep so I picked up my cell phone and began to peruse social media. It was then that I saw the shooting in Dallas was occurring. Mini had woken me up as the trauma was starting, startled by something scary.

Earlier that day, I had seen something on Facebook or heard something on the radio–I can’t recall where I heard it–about being afraid to go to sleep for fear that he or she would wake up to more violence–and there it was on my little screen. More violence.

I’m not going to use this space to get political. Though is this really political? It shouldn’t be. Still, the violence of this week has been politicized, which is maddening. So many lives are being lost senselessly, and my social media feeds are filled with ignorance and rage.

When I had my daily text chat with the husband, I confessed my inability to focus on job applications and writing.

“I cannot concentrate today.”

“Why?”

“Slept like shit.” I told him about our kid not sleeping and continued, “Then the news…” I couldn’t really type. I explained my being upset over the violence and didn’t get a response. I’m sure the Husband wasn’t sure how to respond.

It reminded me of when the Paris shootings happened in November. I sat in front of the TV staring at the news. I did the same today. I just sat there (both times) crying. When I got in the car to pick up Mini-One Mean from daycare today, I cried the entire drive to the school–it’s a 30 minute drive. I had to gather myself before going into the building.

While I’m not part of either community whose been under attack this week, the violence is too much. Two weeks before there was the massacre in Orlando, and that was too much too. For the past month, it seems me (and the rest of the country) keeps waking up to horrifying news of violence. Human on Human killings.

Enough.

As nighttime approaches, I now echo the same fear that I heard the night before. I don’t want to go to sleep only to wake up to more violence. What’s even more wild is that I feel guilty for being upset. I think about how lucky I am that generally I’m safe pretty much every where I go–except maybe work because let’s face it, school shootings are a reality in this country. I can go to church or the grocery store or the mall and for the most part, I am not concerned about my safety. It’s a non-issue. Meanwhile, around the world people are trying to escape war. In my own country, there are groups of people who do fear for their lives. This is not okay. It has to stop.

I almost kept Mini-One Mean home today. I debated spending the day playing and hearing Mini’s little voice around the house while I folded clothes. It felt selfish to keep the kid home given the today the school had water play, which is like every kid’s favorite thing ever. I was grateful for the hour we spent snuggled together as I soothed Mini, assuring there were no spiders in the crib. “Spiders are good. They eat mosquitos,” my child whispered back to me.

 

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Building Endurance

running-573762_1280Sometimes it feels as though my M.F.A. is just this title that I have earned. I earned it, but then haven’t done what is necessary to keep it. The M.F.A. taught me to be a writer and an academic. Since I’ve been teaching high school full time, I feel like I’ve lost my writer identity.  In fact, I feel as though I’ve lost much of my identity. At one point in my life, I was a runner too.

After I had mini-One Mean, I got a little lost. I lost track of a lot of things. Really though, I can’t even blame mini-One Mean. After I got married, I stopped running to the extent that I was running before getting married, and even my clothes got frumpier and my appearance began to wane. After the child was born, I struggled to get back into shape and even now, I am almost as heavy as I was when I was in the full throes of pregnancy. It’s disgraceful.

Since summer has begun, it’s been really awesome to have the time to reestablish who I am. I have begun to wake up early–I’m such an early bird–to run and then I’ve been bringing mini-One Mean to daycare so I can write. While the writing is rusty and the running is a sludge, it feels so good to rediscover me.

I’ve always worried about not being enough. Not being enough in my classroom for my students. Not being enough for my husband. Not being enough for my kid. Not being enough for my sisters, my parents, my extended family. Not being enough for the world of academia, a place I so desperately want to be a part of. And maybe that’s the issue, maybe I’m too desperate. Too pathetic.

I remember being in middle school and my sister–who is younger than me–being way more popular. She is, by far, the more beautiful of the three of us, and has always had this exotic appeal to both girls and boys. I remember she was invited to some birthday party by a girl in my grade–my sister was a year younger. I was so upset. I asked this girl, who I thought was my friend, why I wasn’t invited. I may not have been cool, but I sure as hell was brave. I would never do that today. Now, I’d just fester as pictures of an event would be posted to social media. She told me I tried to hard to be friends with her and that it was annoying. You’ve got to love middle schoolers and their candid abilities.

That moment always stuck with me (and stung). I didn’t want to come off as pathetic, as too interested. I even played games like this with my now husband. At the beginning of our dating, I would pretend to be unavailable to seem more desirable. The fear of not being enough is one that drives me and as the years have passed since getting engaged, that fear has returned.

Am I enough for my husband? Does he still see the ambitious (and fit) woman? Of course not. She’s been long gone. Though, she may be resurfacing.

This morning I was running along our street. We live away from it all, and I have a perfect 3 mile loop in my area with a mile long street composed of brutal hills. The road with the challenging hills has not been incorporated into my running path, but it will be soon. As I ran, I had to stop to catch my breath and could feel every ounce of extra weight. I could feel the weight on my hips, thighs, and back. All the excess had buried me. My heart was beating hard and trying desperately to keep me alive, getting blood to my organs. It would have been easy to just stop, give up, and walk, but I’m building my endurance. In a week, I’ll begin to incorporate the scary hilly road, and forcing myself to stop less. I also (and I’ve always done this) sprint at the end of my run, so when I entered my house I was panting.

“Are you going to alright?” Hubs asked. He is in great shape. He is very devoted to his fitness because of the line of work he is in, so I’m always a little embarrassed when he seems me after yoga or running.

“Yes, it’s going to be while, but I think I’ll be fine.”

I realized, I really am going to be fine. Maybe my ability to focus and write for hours on end will take awhile to return, but it will as will my ability to feel like the first 3 miles were the warm up.

Before I got married, I trained for a half marathon. I never ended up doing it (cc: my ability to follow through), but I did train in beast mode. I had a buddy who did long runs with me and at my peak of fitness, I could run 8 miles without needing to stop and without feeling like the grim reaper was chasing me. For many, 8 miles is a breeze, growing up as a chubby and unfit child, 8 miles has always felt like a major accomplishment. At one point, I had the endurance. I would get stronger the longer I would run.

I had a similar experience with writing. At one point in my writing life, I wrote a novel. Again, for some writing a novel is easy. I don’t know who these writers are, but they must exist. For me, it was difficult. I too would get stronger the longer I would sit and write.

In the first draft of this post, I was going to ask for tips, and I guess I still am asking (I’m always open to ideas and suggestions about building discipline. I’m not a disciplined person–hence the insane weight gain.) Though it seems maybe when I lost myself underneath the pounds of fat, and lazy evenings with my husband, and the stressful days at work, and the endless hours of being a mother, all I needed to do was keep up my endurance. Keep on digging. Keep on working.

It seems so simple. Doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting My Embouchure Back

trumpet-362178_1280

It’s been ages. I know. I don’t know where I’ve been, probably buried under paper grading, dealing with teenagers and even worse adults that act like teenagers, trying to figure out the balance between discipline and patience (in regards to the toddler that now shares a roof with me and Mr. One Mean), doing hot yoga a couple times a week, attempting to do something with my lawn, and the like. That rut I was telling you about ages ago still plagues me. I can’t quite seem to find myself. I have been writing and publishing and working towards that elusive academic job, but, of course, to absolutely no avail. This past year was my best writing year in a long time, probably since grad school, but as Mr. One Mean likes to remind me, who is calling to grant you that interview? Dude is tough, but he keeps it real. I appreciate that. I need that.

I keep trying to visualize myself on a college campus, making a living wage, in my office with students who want to discuss craft. It’s a real dream. In terms of the craft of teaching, I’m definitely improving. In my classrooms (high school and college), I’m doing good work. I can feel it. My students seem to be receptive, hell, some of them might even be learning. In regards to the rest of my life, that is not the case. So much of it is messy and chaotic and I definitely am in the midst of an existential crisis, though what writer isn’t?

So, as summer approaches, I’m eagerly beginning to form my writing plan. Look, I know a lot of you are already on summer vacation (lucky academics!),  but where I live we still have 2 more instructional days and 4 days of exams. It’s really quite horrible. As much as I enjoy teaching (and strangely enough I’m kind of passionate about it), I’m ready to not see the stinky faces of the teenagers I’ve attempted to impart some knowledge on. Everything is moving in slow motion, and I just want summer to be here because summer (even the oppressive heat that comes with it) is the greatest time of year. You pumpkin and fall lovers need to can it. The leaves are pretty, but raking, while an excellent workout, is not my idea of pleasure. I mean come on, multicolored leaves versus lush green and hazy, hot days? There is nothing better. Okay, the crisp air is nice in October. Hush. I’m coming around to the other seasons.

Summer has often meant laziness for me. It’s been a time to decompress the daily interactions with young people that I so love but often find myself getting irritated by. It’s writing that helps me quell the crazy. This summer I’m definitely going to need to get some of that crazy out. I need the nourishment.

Recently, I started writing a short story. I hadn’t written fiction in years and while I teach the craft of fiction and am specialized in fiction, I find the personal essay a more natural form, so when this character popped into my head, I thought, “One Mean, you need to get this chick out of your head and onto a Google Doc.” So I did. And it’s been fun, but I’ve totally hit a wall, and frankly, I don’t think it’s the character or what I presume will be the plot of the story that is stalling me. I fucking rusty, folks. My fiction chops need warming up.

Years ago–like high school years ago–like when volcanic rock was beginning to form land masses in the ocean–I played the trumpet. I was (am) a terrible trumpet player. I was good enough to get through the music and not good enough to warrant pursuing a career as a jazz artist. I was self taught and was transiting to the trumpet in order for the marching band to have balance. The band didn’t need another flute player. I was a good flute player and decent enough musician that I taught myself the notes on the trumpet (mostly by banging the keys of the piano at home and matching the pitches on my trumpet) and called it a day. Honestly, I have to think my poor parents regretted the day they brought home that piano and then later the flute and that trumpet. Anyway, I digress. The hardest part of learning the trumpet was getting my embouchure right. The flute was vastly different from the trumpet, both required the same muscles but not in the same way, sort of like nonfiction and fiction. My mouth was sore for months. My lips would feel numb, though I have been told–not that I would know because I’m such a prude–brass players make the best kissers. In high school a dated two boys, one in band (a baritone) and one not, and I can attest to the fact the baritone was hands down the better kisser so maybe there is some truth to this. My band director was a trumpet player, so he took great care making sure the brass sections were warmed up. We would buzz on our mouthpieces, take great care with our breath, buzz without mouth pieces to enhance the strength in our mouths, and we’d finally put our mouthpieces in our horns and play. When concert season would start, I’d happily put my trumpet away and resume (Confession: I never stopped practicing the flute, which is why I was first chair) my flute practice. My flute embouchure was always working (just like my nonfiction chops are stronger), but in the spring when we’d reveal our fall season opener, I’d have to dust off my trumpet and once again the soreness to my lips would return.

When lips are sore from playing a brass instrument, the whole mouth is involved. The sides of your mouth–the muscles you forget are there unless you play an instrument–ache. Your lips feel mushy (I know I’m so articulate) and numb. It feels as if your lips are full of push pins or maybe what tenderized meat would feel like if it had feelings if it was, you know, alive. When you cool down your lips (like the way you cool down after a jog), your lips don’t fully regain feeling until you’ve had a cold drink. In fact, drinking cold water during a performance is frowned upon–nay, forbidden–because all that warming up gets washed away with the ice.

It is in this way that I feel about my fiction writing. I’ve been practicing my trumpet for a few hours, and my chops are busted. My brain mushy and numb. I’m dusting off my instrument after several seasons of it being enclosed in a case and stored on the top shelf of my closet. The case nearly falls onto your head as you stand on your tip-toes to reach it. It’s heavy and cumbersome, but when you open the case, you’re glad you did because you know good times are about about to roll.

The AWP 2015 Learning Curve

I’m wondering, how many of you were out there in Minneapolis this year? Anyone? What did you think?

I bumped into a peer (it’s not accurate to call this person a friend) from grad school who is now an editor at a pretty solid magazine, who was at the book fair managing the table for his or her press. It was this super-fake encounter. A discussion of art for the sake of art and not making money off a writing (those words were uttered–not by yours truly–but uttered nevertheless) ensued. I can’t say I’m proud of the fact this conversation happened. Though my peer (Good grief that sounds so snobby) seemed sincere about helping a sista out, so if our conversation leads to some baller publication, I’ll let you all know and then write a baller post about the importance of networking.

This year at AWP 2015 in Minneapolis I learned a few things…

1. I am not a fan of the midwest. I’m not saying the people from the midwest aren’t awesome; they are. My favorite comedians are all from the midwest and some of my closest friends are from the midwest. What I’m saying is I couldn’t live in Minneapolis (or Chicago, or Iowa, and definitely not anywhere in Ohio).

2. I HATE the Skyview thingy in Minneapolis. I have a pretty good sense of direction and got lost several times. At one point, on Saturday, I got lost in what I referred to as the SkyWorld and because it was a weekend it was empty and dystopian and because my mother embedded the fear of getting raped in me so very deeply, I practically ran out into the street at one point to avoid some dude in the SkyWorld. Needless to say, I’m not into it.

3. TC is warming up to me. This time TC was friendly and dare I say warm. This thrills me.

4. Chapbooks are totally having a moment. It seemed like no matter where I was: the airport in my hometown, airport in Minneapolis, the bathroom at the conference every one and their damn mother is getting a chapbook published. I’m not sure if this is a thing that mostly poets are doing (and I’m obviously not a poet), but I’m seriously wondering if I need to get on the chapbook train. Thoughts?

5. I am out of the loop. When people say names of important writers or editors, I’m like “who?” I am not sure if it’s because I’m working full-time in a job that doesn’t allow me time to read, or if it’s because I’m not working at the college level, or if I just never got into a rhythm of working to be informed. If anyone has any tips on getting with the program, it would be greatly appreciated. I do think some of that knowledge comes from submitting and learning the magazines where one submits. That is something I am definitely working on. I really want to work not only on getting more publications, but I also want to work my way into this community of writers so that next year in L.A. I know what panels to sit on to meet the “celebrities.”

What did you guys learn at AWP? Did you leave totally inspired? This was the first year I didn’t leave inspired. Instead I left with my competitive streak in tact. It’s on, people. It’s on like f**king Donkey Kong.

Well, S&^!

Randomly, I was looking for a poem I had written and posted here. I had nearly forgotten that I had this blog.

Shame.

On.

Me.

I was totally sucked into my stupid high school teaching job. Meanwhile, this perfect space was waiting. I looked and saw that I hadn’t written anything since January. Nearly a year has passed. 9 months. I could have incubated a baby in that time.

Crazy.

I’m currently teaching a creative writing class at the high school level. This is fun and depressing. Have you ever read teenage poetry? Mostly, it’s awful. Mostly, it’s about breaking free from the tyranny of parents or about having a crush. Today, I spent nearly the entire day working on writing end comments for my students’ poetry.

As this year has passed, I realize (at this very moment) that everything I write is for someone else.

End comments for my creative writing students.

End comments for student essays

End comments for online students

Emails to a crazy PLC lead who is driving me to madness

Emails to administrators

Emails to my contractor who is taking an ice age to finish work on a tiny house

Emails to the parents of my students

More f***ing emails

My time is spent in meetings. An absurd amount of meetings. The amount and content of those meetings would be something Stoppard and Beckett would find too absurd.

Meanwhile, it’s all being ignored. All meaning the important stuff.

How does one even fix this problem? I guess, just like weight loss or quitting smoking, or deciding to become a marathon runner, it must come from within.

As I looked through old posts on this blog, I see that this is a running theme. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time.

Right now, as I type this, I’m in my classroom. School has been out for almost two hours. I’ve been to a meeting and have written my last end comment for the day. I have a mountain of papers to grade and should probably stay another 3 hours to get close to finishing it by Friday.

Instead, I’m going to head home and read and plan my writing for Nanowrimo and finish the laundry.

Sorry for the random stream of consciousness.

One Mean MFA is f***ing back.

Back from the Dead

It has been entirely too long since we’ve spoken and for this I apologize.

I am pleased to announce that the paper was a success, despite my amateur knowledge of  journalism and inexperience, as well as a lack of support from the administration. I now have a small amount of knowledge about journalism, media law, and AP style. Oh, and I can sort of use Photoshop now. I hope all you’re seeing is what I like to call “resume building” or “lines on the CV.”

I also managed to survive teaching a night class at the college, but have decided that I will not be doing it again this spring because my waistline paid dearly for the late night dinners and my ability to stay awake past 10 was beginning to wane.

Husband and I also survived our first year of marriage without any major issues. We still love each other and can say we are more successful in our marriage than over 70 percent of celebrity couples. In case you’re not sure, I made that statistic up. Pulled it right out of my a&$.

Husband and I also spent our first Christmas together. We were with my family and spent quality time with Frankenmommy and Black Sheep sister. I think he was a little overwhelmed at how much food there was and how much talking at the table over coffee went down, but he survived, and I’m so grateful he was with me. I needed him by my side when my family got a little crazy and mildly negative and somewhat depressing (post to follow). I think he enjoyed it. It’s tough to tell. I’m not sure how well I will fare when I’m not with the crazy Italians for the first time next Christmas.

Looking up, it seems as if this semester hasn’t been so bad, and yet I still dread waking up to go to work and do not enjoy cooking, reading, or writing nearly as much as I have in the past. I feel as if my identity is slowly slipping away from me. So in an effort to regain who I am, I have made the following resolutions. They aren’t necessarily new year’s resolutions because I’ve been working on them since October, so please cease with the eye rolling, I get enough of that at work.

This is how I reclaim my identity…

  • Keep the house clean by not going to bed with a messy house. (It saddens me that I even have to make this part of my identity recapture project, but alas I do. I was once the biggest neat freak ever, then all of a sudden over this past year and half, things have gotten messy. It’s been awful. It’s time to reclaim the Lysol and Clorox and make things shiny.)
  • Complete at least one organization project a weekend. (This is partly because I fear becoming a hoarder. My father is a hoarder, and I think having an organized house leads to other aspects of your life being organized, including one’s finances and ability to manage time. These “projects” may entail cleaning out a drawer, or a closet. They will be big some weekends and small other weekends. It will depend on what I have time to do. I’m hoping to have the house in order by May. I’m not delusional in thinking it will happen overnight.)
  • Devote at least 30 minutes a day to writing. (I’m happiest when I’m writing, and 2012 was a year that I did not feel so good about myself, the direction my life was taking and it’s time to get that back. Writing is a calling, and it’s been yelling at me for months. “Come back!”  I’m coming back thirty minutes at a time.)
  • Submit at least 1 story or essay a month. (I have quite a few essays and short stories sitting on my hard drive and flash drives that are dying to be available in print or online. Enough is enough, I need to suit up and send them out. I’m not going to get a professor job with my fiction and essays sitting on my computer. They need to be on your Kindle or your bookshelf.)
  • Read at least 30 minutes a day. (This one, so far, as proven to be the biggest challenge. I have been unable to find anything to read that holds my attention. I blame Facebook, Twitter, and my insatiable addiction to television. While I know I read meaningless crap everyday, it is time to refocus my love of reading. There was a time in my life when you couldn’t find me without a book in my hand. I used to devour books. I miss the attachment I had with characters and the near euphoria of experiencing a damn good story. Not to mention, this 30 minutes a day will only make me a better writer.)
  • Take better care of myself. (This includes grooming–ladies we all get lazy with the shaving of the legs and washing the makeup off of our faces before bed–well no more!–I refuse to not take good care of myself. Taking care of my grooming and putting more care into my outfits and how I look when I leave the house will help me regain some of the confidence I’ve lost. Husband is always telling me how sexy it is when a woman is confident and how unattractive low self-esteem is. Well, I need to be sexy in my eyes in order to be sexy in his, so a-grooming I will go!)
  • Be a better Catholic. (These past few years I’ve neglected my spiritual health. It’s so easy to just not go to mass. I know many people do not agree with the teachings of the Catholic faith, but I do and since I do, I should be practicing what I believe and get my a** in church. It’s one hour, once a week. I do my best during the week to be a good Catholic, and going to church regularly helps keep me in check.)
  • Follow through. (In general, this is difficult for me. It’s one thing to set all these goals, it’s another to follow through on them. The thing is I struggle to follow through on small things like laundry. I will start a load of laundry, get it into the dryer and leave it there for two days. I think if I can start by following through on things like laundry, good eating habits, exercise, and so on, I can make these goals a reality.)
  • Spend less time at work. (Let’s be honest, that place is sucking my soul right out of my body. I know it’s a clichéd image, but damn it, it is the truth. It’s not just soul sucking, it’s soul crushing. As an example, the newspaper was a huge success this December. It was the first issue the school saw in over a year. It was well designed, the kids did everything, sold the ads, did all the writing, fact checking, editing, and so on. When I was hired to be the adviser, the principal wanted me because I had helped the students produce the first literary magazine issue in over 5 years. The principal was adamant that I do it and demanded that we have a hard copy of the paper. I was then not given the resources to do this. The class ended this semester, so I don’t have a newspaper class in the spring. We had to meet after school. The computers did not have the necessary software to layout the paper. I fought and fought. The kids were so determined to lay out the paper, they did it on their own computers, which they brought to school with open source software. We even met on a Saturday to finish laying it out. When the paper was finally delivered to students, the faculty and students flipped. They loved it. I was then, however, snubbed repeatedly by the principal AND have yet to even get a thumbs up, head nod, let alone a “good job.” Now, I didn’t spend my month of December at school until 7 p.m. to get accolades from my principal, but acknowledgement that it was even glanced at might have been nice. This, of course, is just one incident of many that have pushed me over the edge. I’m no longer volunteering at school this spring. I leave fifteen minutes after the bell rings, unless there is a meeting. Frankly, that place can suck it. Life is too short to be spending it where my dedication is under-appreciated. If people want devoted teachers, then they ought to give them some damn adulation. I’m a newlywed and staying at work until 7 p.m. is madness.)

And so these are my goals. They are lofty and ambitious, but I’m feeling feisty this year.

Aurora Colorado Shooting and My Concerns Regarding Humanity

I’m sure you’ve heard about the shooting in Colorado by now. If you haven’t here is the link from CNN.

I don’t ever comment on the news, politics, or anything that might be slightly controversial even thoughI am news obsessed  But this morning I just couldn’t take it anymore. I have to get some thoughts out of my system and send them out into the universe.

When I turned on the Today show this morning, I was shocked and deeply upset by the news of the theater shooting in Aurora. I sat down with my coffee and oatmeal and couldn’t eat or drink because I was crying. I even stopped to say a a few Hail Mary’s, because I didn’t know how else to react. I don’t know any of the victims, but I am fellow human.

And, I have to say, for the first time ever, I’m a little worried about leaving my house to go to a place where there may be crowds.I’m not agoraphobic. I enjoy crowds and being around people. I did attend the Jon Stewart Rally in D.C. and had general admission tickets to Gaga for crying out loud. Crowds don’t really bother me. I have also attended midnight showings of Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and a few others. Never would I have imagined something like this happening at a movie.

While what happened in Colorado is tragic and abhorrent, I also feel deep sadness for the people in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and of course, Israel. Yesterday, there was a suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria yesterday that killed a bus full of tourists. I mean, what the hell? It seems there is so much turmoil everywhere, and I just hate it. I feel so terribly helpless and sad. The thing is, those international events of violence are part of a revolution, and while they are tragic in their taking away the lives of the innocent, unfortunately death and violence are a product of revolution and of course religious extremism (which is a whole other topic and I’m not about to digress). I don’t like it, I’m not justifying it, but I get it. However, my brain can process violence caused by war.

Shootings in schools, malls, college campuses, and movie theaters; random killings of innocent people just because–those kinds of massacres make me afraid to produce children. These events make me want to build a bunker so I can shelter myself, my family, and my friends. Acts like this make me question my faith in God and in humanity.

I think one of the reasons that makes a situation like this so upsetting is that the killer showed warning signs, or had a manifesto, or was bullied. Of course, oftentimes society doesn’t get an answer because the killer was shot or took his own life. At least in the this case, society may get answers, although to what end. Knowing his motive isn’t going to change anything. It didn’t change the way we felt in Norway when Anders Behring Breivik shot 69 teenagers. It was only more upsetting to find out why he murdered those teenagers who were at a camp learning about tolerance and diversity.

Of course, even though I’m tempted to hide and never come out of my house, I know that is not going to be happen.

I was a senior in high school when 9-11 occurred. A club I was involved in had planned a trip to New York. We had been planning it for almost a year, and our club sponsor had no intentions of canceling the annual trip. The trip was scheduled for 3 weeks after the attack, and we were all weary of flying. Some of the parents pulled their kids out of the trip. My mother did not. She wanted us to go. I asked my mother why she wasn’t pulling my sister and I out of the trip and she said, “One Mean MFA, when it is your time to go, it is your time to go. You can’t stop living because of tragedies. If that was the case, you’d never live your life.”

I remember thinking she was wrong. I wanted her to come with my sister and I because I was afraid. Of course, the minute I saw Ground Zero (still smoking from the attack) I knew how important this trip was and that it was going to shape me in some way. I remember a few things very vividly from Ground Zero. I remember the smell, the energy of the place–there was such a sorrow in the air (cliche, but how else can you describe the feeling of death all around you?), and I remember the disdain of the native New Yorkers who shouted at our group for stopping to see Ground Zero. One man shouted at one of the teacher chaperones telling her, “this isn’t a tourist attraction. Why don’t you go see the Statue of Liberty instead?” She countered by saying, “It’s important for them to see this. It’s important.” He was hushed after that. That visit to Ground Zero was a lesson in the evil that lives on this planet. That humans are very capable of destruction. Still, time moves forward, people heal, and life goes on. The Earth continues to spin with the good and the evil together. There isn’t much we can do about it.

What happened in Colorado is simply devastating and, quite frankly, frightening. Acts of terror, like the one this morning, can happen anywhere; in a small suburb outside of Denver, on a college campus like Virginia Tech, at a high school–anywhere, at a mall–anywhere. That’s what makes them so horrifying. Where is the next one going to happen? Still, I know I can’t go hide for eternity to avoid being a victim in something tragic. As Husband, so eloquently put it, “something is going to get you.”

Even though these events make me question humanity, seeing the victims being interviewed is shocking, some discussing bravery, remorse, and regret not sure why they were spared while a friend or family member was not shows me that not all people are bad, most are just victims of circumstance. Of course, the media finds ways to make tragedies about politics discussing how the Obama campaign and Romney Campaign have pulled attack ads in Colorado–as if they are doing the people of Colorado a favor. This isn’t about politics, this is about the tragic human condition. The same is true for Bloomberg who is calling for Obama and Romney to explain how they would prevent attacks like this. Can’t society be given a time to process this before we decide who the hell we’re going to vote for?

Tragedies like this are tough on everyone: victims, the families, politicians, and society. The responses to these acts are just as tough. The news is calling on “experts” to discuss gun control and speculate on motive, and analyze how this will impact the election in November. Meanwhile the rest of America is wondering if it’s okay to go see The Dark Knight Rises, not necessarily because they are afraid, but if it’s socially acceptable now that this tragedy occurred (what is the etiquette in a situation like this?).  Then, of course, there are people like me who are deeply concerned with the welfare of humanity and know only one way to put a Band-Aid on the symptom: say the Rosary.