At Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Leana Wen cared for people hurt by the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon finish line. She worried that the next patient she treated would turn out to be her husband. Ten days later, the sounds of sirens still shake her.
I don’t quite understand:
Shouldn’t we be still now?
Shouldn’t we be looking each other in eyes?
Shouldn’t we be smiling as our paths cross?
Shouldn’t every day be different now?
Shouldn’t it all look different now?
Shouldn’t all the right things matter more?
Shouldn’t going on as if nothing had changed be the wrong thing to do?
I don’t understand it at all; shouldn’t time have stopped?
Today would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. This picture was taken in 1990 or so, we were biking along the Potomac River. I miss her so very much.
Moments ago: So, it’s Sunday around 5pm and I’m finally washing (some) of the massive amount of dishes that have been piling up. I find myself gazing out the window at a bright blue and sunny sky that’s just beginning to hint of the dusk to come. The house across from my kitchen isa dark brown three-story and I’ve looked, blindly, into their windows many times. I picked “Timeless Pop/Rock” off of Songza and that means I’m wiggling slightly to the sounds of “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne as I curse my housemate for not cleaning his huge stash of Mason jars that result from his massive canning binges. (That was a terribly long sentence, apologies. I’m not changing it.)
I attempted to order pizza delivery about an hour ago. I pondered my choices at great lengthy via GrubHub before picking a pizza and salad, placing my order and changing from a robe into a shirt in honor of the delivery guy’s imminent arrival. And then the pizza place called. And I didn’t answer because I never answer numbers I don’t know (and my friends and family will say I don’t answer the ones I do know). Of course when one has ordered delivery one should always answer their phone. But anxiety can override the simplest logic. To your complete lack of surprise the pizza folks were canceling my order-they or perhaps I was too far away.
I went back online immediately to search out my 2nd best pizza option when it occurred to me that perhaps I didn’t need to order someone else to make something for me and then bring it to my door. At the very least, if someone else is cooking for me then I should at least have to leave my house to get to the food. But leaving the house seemed rather monumental and I had the memory of grocery shopping not that long ago so I decided to stay in and cook for myself.
At this point I think I sound like I’m about 24 and living on my own for the first time and reveling in my adult decisions. I should make it clear that I’m a 33 year-old woman who has lived on her own in some manner or another for the last 16 years.
Still reveling in adult decisions.
Which leads us right back to me at the sink. Where I found myself wishing that I had bought some fresh parm to grate over the grilled asparagus, onions and garlic that I was going to have later. With a drizzle of lemon and butter, of course. And that got me thinking about when the fuck I started grilling asparagus and purchasing (or wishing I had) parmesan-reggiano to grate on it? Also, when did I decide that an “adult decision” included making one’s dinner rather than ordering delivery or eating ramen (both of which I clearly still do)?? Of course I also have sincere conversations about the merits of health plans and discuss mortgage rates with a vague interest. And many, many, many of my friends have children (children that I love more than I can fathom) which necessitates a different perspective on the future and the investments one makes (of course I mean all matter of investments-not simply monetary). So those are probably all “adultish” things to think about. And my concern with the idea of what it means to be an adult and why I find it so necessary to define it (and define myself as either/or)-that seems as childish as it gets.
“Take it Easy” is now playing (no joke) and I think it’s time to go back to the dishes (I haven’t even finished the silverware and that’s where I start!). And later I’ll grate some Vermont Extra Sharp Cheddar over my asparagus.
I’m so hurty and angry and sad and frustrated, (and I’ve been this way since Monday), that I haven’t a clue how to write anything. Anything of interest. Anything that makes me feel better. Anything that conveys my mess of emotions and thoughts. I’ve cried every single morning since Monday. I couldn’t listen to much of the radio, not even NPR, after the bombings-the repetition of reporting and the amount of speculation as to who, what, why-it was too much. After the arrest on Friday I also turned off the TV and radio (I had spent most of the day glued to the news stations, I’ll admit that freely) because I couldn’t listen to the combination of elation and the expressed need for the suffering of the suspect in custody. I dip in to the news via the internet and radio now-just enough to know if new, important facts have come to light-and then I put music on or shut off the computer and get the hell outside.
I need to put down some of what is sitting and eating at me. My feelings are huge and complicated though mixed in are emotions that are simple and clear. And if that makes any sense to you at all, please fill me in.
I was told yesterday that “perhaps I am still too close to the situation” to have any perspective. That person was trying to convince me that the police/FBI actions that started late Thursday night and ended Friday evening were “military action” that were completely overblown and tantamount to putting Boston in a police state. He couldn’t fathom why I, a liberally minded woman, would disagree. He kept refusing my information: we weren’t on a mandatory lock-down, it was a highly recommended shelter-in-place situation, people outside of Watertown who did drive or walk or bike were not punished in anyway. Businesses did open and were not forced shut by angry police with guns. In Watertown it was a different story of course-they had strong reason to believe the second suspect was still there and possibly armed with explosives. Even the people of Watertown weren’t locked in their homes-as is evidenced by any news footage of that day as people milled about near every news crew, even when they were asked to leave by police. Somehow though, my friend refused to hear me or take anything I said as legitimate because apparently, if you’ve been through a situation it negates your ability to have any perspective on it. The fact that this friend-a liberally minded, generally intelligent fellow-could say that without giggling angers me ever so much further. It felt right up there with “don’t trust a woman’s emotions or thoughts when she’s got her period”.
OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE
I’m ever so sorry that your search for proof that the police have too much power and that their speedy reaction time to the suspects was actually a sign that our country is becoming more of a police state is not going to be found here.
And then they have the audacity to tell me that the people of Watertown and the rest of Boston cowered in fear and because we voluntarily stayed inside when asked that we’re all a bunch of cowering sheep. This to a city of people who got up Tuesday morning and went to work and to school and to the growing memorial at the finish line of the marathon. This to a city that when the “shelter in place” recommendation was lifted were willing to move about again even though the suspect hadn’t been caught.
I can’t vouch in anyway for the treatment of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after his capture late on Friday-I do not carry blind faith in our justice system or even in our police. I think the use of the “public safety exception” to get out of reading him his Miranda rights is absurd and totally shitty. Particularly considering the kid can’t talk because of a bullet to his throat so any immediate questioning that might have given urgent public safety information is actually impossible. This is an American Citizen!!! Declaring him an enemy combatant is simply insane not to mention completely unjust and something that should be terrifying to every other American.
I’m disgusted and horrified by the bombings on Monday. So many lives irrevocably damaged and changed in an instant. No reason we might ever get from the suspect will be enough to settle our hearts and minds. Bombings like this happen every day around the world, often with more lives lost and more limbs destroyed; that doesn’t not negate the terror and pain that was felt here in Boston on Monday afternoon. I pray that such horrors grant us all more empathy and compassion for those who must live in real war zones daily. The events of late Thursday into Friday evening were likewise horrendous-the point blank shooting of an officer in his car, the brutal shootouts, the fear of the residents of Watertown when they learned a man armed with guns and explosives hid in their neighborhood-these events, these emotions-they will never go away.
After the arrest on Friday night the people of Boston took to the streets with great enthusiasm and relief. The mostly empty streets became mobbed with cheering crowds celebrating this being “over”. While I shared the relief of my fellow Bostonians I can’t say I’ve felt in anyway that this is over. The suffering and loss experienced Monday and on Friday will never be over. There is so much more to come with the gathering of evidence, the trial, and of even more importance: the recovering and healing of the victims and their families. I’m proud of my adopted city-proud of the strength of heart and willingness to support each other. I worry that once the immediacy has worn off, the adrenaline of everything that our compassion will subside and the anger will rise in its place. I pray that the strength and empathy displayed this week will continue to grow and that simply because “our” suspect was arrested does not mean we will forget the bombings and shootings that people face every single day.
That’s where I’m at right now. Much more inside but it’s not yet close to being something decipherable on paper. Healing and peace, that’s what I wish for us all. Every single one of us deserves to heal and to be at peace.
(I wrote this awhile ago but kept it in my drafts-seems like an appropriate time to remind myself of this when clearly I’ve lost my balance on the teeter-totter, medications or no.)
It’s all in how I’m looking at things
I never see how extreme I’ve been in my thinking/acting/feeling until I’m climbing out of it or looking back up at it
I think the meds give me a bit of a balance on the teeter-toter, it’s still wobbly and patience and skill are needed to keep it level, it’s up to my will-power and my choices and my courage and my willingness to maintain that delicate balance
I have to push through, I have to make myself do it, I have to ask for help
Revelations? No. And yet, absolutely. Knowledge and action are two very separate things until you choose to combine them.
As I choose to get out of bed, choose to get dressed, choose to eat, choose to leave the house, choose to communicate, choose to just be and notice and enter the world again I am reminded that I like it. The world, the people, the snow on the trees and my roommate making homemade chicken soup. When I remember how much I enjoy this world, my life, I’m astonished that I ever thought and felt that my only choice was to kill myself. That the ability to leave my bed much less my room or my house had left me. That all I did was lie about how I was and what I was doing because I was so ashamed and in such deep despair. The better the perspective I gain on myself, the more I see how very lost I was and how lost I kept myself, unwittingly perhaps but still my own captive.
Nothing lasts forever. Every emotion I have, when I have it tells me that it will be with me for eternity, that I will always feel as deeply as I do in that moment in that way. That’s a lie. But only from a certain perspective can I see that.
(Keeping the perspective that I write about above certainly has proved to be incredibly difficult. It’s exhausting to feel this full of shame and sadness. Somewhere I know that I can let it go and be present and be me and not be lost and stuck. That knowledge comes and goes so often, I wish I could make it stay.)
Earlier this week, a massive storm tore the roof of the library at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, damaging thousands of books.
In response, my latest post on Book Riot is a reflection on how libraries respond to disaster, from the practical (air-drying or freeze-drying books) to the more philosophical (continuing to be community centers, even when buildings are rendered unusable). Check it out:
- This photo is amazing. Doesn’t it look like the books are on the march? Best wishes for a complete collection recovery!
- You may also be interested in this Storify story compiling tweets, photos & links from Ports in A Storm: The Library as Disaster Recovery Center, held just this Monday.
The Man of La Mancha reference is certainly accurate here, I’m tilting at all sorts of windmills these days.
I am more so the windmill at the moment: arms akimbo, flailing about with no restraint or understanding.
I spent the weekend with an eight-year-old who delighted in spinning with her arms out until she got too dizzy and collapsed in a pile. I’m so dizzy already-when does the collapse come? What will I land on? How much will I take down with me?
Even in my dreams I’m hurting those I love-in reality it’s just as true.
Making a mucky mess of it all, as I’ve always done.
Sitting in my self-pity and justifications and excuses-spinning my arms to keep from sinking into the ooze completely.
My ability to ask for help is shit. My ability to follow through when help is offered and accepted is well, shit.
Cycle after cycle after cycle I spin-feeling that I’m moving when I’m just in one spot-the same spot I’ve always been-arms thrashing and grabbing and in the end, mangling, everything and everyone in reach.
Good times in NC. Shrimp boils, ice cream mustaches, booze, kisses, wind and sun.
In NC for a dear friend’s 40th bday.