Weak

A little piece of mine published recently on The Drabble.

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By Amye Hartfield

“It’s weak,” she announced, eyes sparkling. I laughed. I cried. I cried because she hadn’t spoken in months. I cried because her salty humor still existed. The disease hadn’t swallowed it as it had her bent body.

“Mom, it’s steamed vegetables,” I smiled, stabbing a broccoli crown, raising it to her paper lips. They remained closed and curved upward in a defiant smirk on a normally barren face. She was with me again, for a moment. Then, like lowering a yellow shade, her withering face went blank again. Wiping my eyes, I lifted another bland forkful to her open mouth.

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What’s making me happy

In honor of one of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, I thought I’d begin writing a regular post about what’s making me happy.  Ideally this will be something that you can also check out.  In other words, not just something personal like my daughter’s laugh…But I can’t make any promises.  There may come a time when I record my daughter’s laugh, post it and write about it.  (Hmmm…Note to self.)  Anyhow, my goal is to introduce you to something new that will make you happy because that’s what the segment on PCHH does for me.

This week it’s Santa Clarita Diet.  (I promise, no spoilers here.)

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The second season of this show just dropped on Netflix.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did the first season.  The casting is spot-on.  Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant (YAS!), Sklyer Gisondo and Liv Hewson.  Additionally there are a few really great cameos along the way.   They all have great chemistry.  The writing is smart and funny.  The show doesn’t take itself seriously at all and owns it’s silliness completely.  It is a laugh out loud, endearing comedy at it’s best.  I knew Drew Barrymore could pull off physical comedy, but I was delighted to see that Timothy Olyphant easily matches her with his delivery and facial expressions.  It is a leap from Justified’s Raylon Givens, but the charm is similar just in a different context.  A funnier context.

The premise, if you don’t know, or haven’t seen the trailer, is that a suburban family is thrown into the world of the undead when the mom, played by Drew Barrymore, is stricken with a virus that turns her into a flesh eating zombie.  Only she’s not a shambling, decaying creature, just a nice real estate lady that needs to eat other humans.  It’s a surprisingly refreshing take on the zombie genre that I’m really digging.  Similar to the way that Shaun of the Dead captured the humor of the genre, SC Diet is expanding that by not only satirizing the zombie genre but also spoofing on privilege, suburbia, family life, teen angst, and marriage, just to name a few.

It’s really a cheeky cultural commentary with lots of laughs.  But honestly, you could watch it without using your BRAINS (see what I did there?) and enjoy it just as much.  It’s quirky, silly, well-written and fun.  It’s a quick watch, only 10 episodes.  Easy enough for you to binge over the weekend!

I hope it makes you as happy as it made me.  Enjoy!

(If you’ve seen it already let me know your thoughts!)

Stalled

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I have several opinion essays in the works but I can’t seem to finish them.  I can’t get myself in the right head space, more precisely, into the intellectual head space to finalize them.  Work is getting in the way.  My darling daughter steals all my attention with her cuteness.  What’s a writer to do?

I realize that stalling out on a writing project is part of the process.  There are myriad advice websites, blogs, etc. about how to break through writer’s block.  It’s not really writer’s block though.  I mean, I’m writing now.  It’s just a stall, not a total block.

There are a few reasons why I believe this creative stall happens to me.  The first reason is I have a lot of opinions.  With current events being what they are — constantly controversial — and my own personality being one designed to want to voice my opinions, I tend to get started on one piece and then immediately get distracted by the next bit of news.  I want to write about all the things all the time and that’s just not possible.  So I stop writing

Something else that negatively affects my follow-through is overthinking.  As stated previously (and in my other blogs) I have many thoughts on thoughts on thoughts.  I tend to get carried away when writing, especially if it’s something about which I feel passionately.  Then suddenly I have no idea what my initial point even was, I’m way off track and I’m all out of passion on the subject.  Staying the course is often my weakness.  Veering off the road, so to speak, happens often.   So I stop writing.

I also can have slight delusions of grandeur when I write.  In other words, I envision my piece being Pulitzer worthy or at the very least on par with the NYTimes writers.  Ha!  So I tweak it, and tweak it and tweak it to death trying to form the most perfect, life-changing sentence ever constructed in the history of the written word.  By doing so, I sabotage my own authenticity.  It’s not a good look and can make for a tedious read at best.  So I stop writing.

And yet, there they sit.  Over 30 drafts worth of half-assed blogs, commentary, stories, etc.  And here I sit, lamenting to you about it instead of working on any of them.  I’ve stalled out mentally and now I am using you as my creative jump start.  Hopefully this will clear out the pipes and inspire me to finish a few drafts.  Thank you for your good writing vibes (if you are, in fact, sending them to me.)

Here’s to the stall-out!  May it only inflict us briefly and serve to re-charge, re-tune, and restart our writing engines!

 

 

 

Dear little human

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Dear Little Human,

I hear you will be joining us sometime soon.  I’m Rover, aka Buddy-pal, aka Red dog.   I can’t say that I’m completely thrilled that there is another little human on its way.  In truth, I’m feeling a little dismayed.  The first one, well…it was tiny and used to just lay around.  That was fine.  But then it started moving around more…and more….and then it got up on its hind legs.  Now it runs everywhere on two legs.  It makes weird, high-pitched noises, smells funny, and is always trying to poke my eyes.  (Why the eyes?)   I don’t know what happened, but it seems to be getting louder and faster as time passes.  I’m not sure if all little humans are that way.  If you have a choice, little human, you should just lay around.  That’s mostly what I do.

I do, however, like to play fetch.  Will you be able to throw balls for me?  The other little human tries, but is not very good at it.  The balls don’t go very far.  If you can throw balls across the yard then you and I will get along great.  If not, then just demand to go outside.  That’s also what the other little human does.  It squeals and bangs on the door.  That seems to force the alpha humans in the house to let it outside.  They have to go with it though and once outside, one of the them usually will throw the ball for me.  (It begs the question, are they really the alphas anymore??)

What about eating?  The first little human didn’t seem to eat much when it was tiny, at least not that I could see.  (It was always laying on top of the alpha mom.)   But then the bigger it got, the more it started eating food.  And the more it started dropping food.  Yes!  That’s what I’m talking about!  I get to sneak food all the time now and that never used to happen.  That’s probably the best thing about little humans in the house.  Free human food.

Also, the two alpha humans like to go for walks a lot more now.  We gather up the little human almost every night and go walk outside.  That’s, like, my third favorite thing to do (after fetching and eating).  So I guess that’s another good thing about little humans in the house.

Ok, ok, I think I’ve convinced myself that you can join our pack.  It’s a good pack.  There are some rules in this pack.  I should tell you the rules.  They are as follows:

  1. No pooping in the house.  (The humans do this in a big bowl thingy.)
  2. No peeing in the house.  (They also do this in that bowl thingy.)
  3. No barking in the house.  (The other little human makes all kinds of other loud noises though.)
  4. Stay off the furniture.  (But the other little human climbs all over it so…not sure what that means for you.)
  5. Be good.
  6. Throw balls.
  7. Drop/throw all your food

Ok, I added those last two rules.  But they are pretty good ones and you should know them before you get here.  That’s how you and I will become best friends.  See you soon, little human.

About that sex talk…

450px-Sandro_Botticelli_-_La_nascita_di_Venere_-_Google_Art_Project_-_editedMy husband and I watched the Oscars together a few weeks ago.  I lounged on the couch and he thumbed through his FB feed.  The award show was more background noise than anything.  Then I heard the name Kobe Bryant.  My husband looked up from his phone, confused.  I sat up and turned to the TV, equally confused.  Why was Kobe Bryant at the Oscars?  He just won an Oscar, in fact.  He won Best Animated Short Film.

“Isn’t he a known rapist?” my husband asked.

I grabbed my phone and googled to confirm.  Indeed, he was accused of rape in 2004.  The charges were dropped however, when the accuser refused to testify.  But that’s not what really hung me up.  As I continued reading the Wiki article, the part that really stuck with me was a description of their sexual encounter.  In particular details that he enjoyed strangling his sexual partner during intercourse.

Now, regardless of the truth of those details it’s not the strangulation that ultimately bothers me.  Sex can happen in all kinds of consensual ways.  I’m not here to judge.  Erotic asphyxiation is a type of S & M that is valid and some people enjoy it.  Adults can choose to have consensual sex with each other however they want.  Kobe said his “thing” was choking his partner during sex.  The way he (supposedly) said it though came off immature to me.  As if he would do this thing because it felt good but never really took the time to understand it.  And based on the allegations, he had no clue how it might affect his partner.  There’s something to be said for acting on an impulse because it feels good and knowing oneself well enough to understand the impulse.

The whole thing got me thinking about how porn is teaching our kids more about sex than we are.  If there’s one glaring and seemingly under-discussed topic in the whole #MeToo movement it’s sex education.  However, with this string of awful stories surfacing about men in power it’s no longer an option to let the sex talk slide.  We need to talk about sex more now.  We need to understand sex better.  We need to share our knowledge and sexual experiences with younger generations.  Right now, they are learning from porn or from YouTube or from each other.  That, in my mind, is a recipe for a continuation of sexual assault.

When young girls don’t understand anything about finding pleasure for themselves; when they are taught by 50 Shades of Gray or any number of other sexually repressive cultural phenomenon, how will they even know what to ask for from their sexual partners?  When young heterosexual boys don’t understand anything about a woman’s body, the entire sexual experience is ripe with opportunity for misunderstanding.  When we can’t talk to them candidly about sex, how can we expect them to talk to each other about it?

We can’t be hushed about sex.  We can’t use euphemism anymore.  We can’t give body parts cute little names.  We need to be open and honest about it with our kids.  Girls need to know about orgasms.  I’ve met an alarming number of adult women in my adult life that have never had an orgasm.  How can that be?  When there is shame and judgement and often times hostility aimed at a woman’s desire for sexual pleasure it is not surprising that she represses it.  When we only go as far as offering condoms because the rest is too uncomfortable; when we squirm and blush and dodge deeper conversations, the only lesson we are teaching is that sexual knowledge is something to avoid.  In our quiet acceptance of sexual taboo, we have been complicit.  Young girls enter college, a place where one in four will experience sexual assault, armed with nothing but birth control (if they are lucky) and some scenes from movies.  Young boys enter college, a place where the pressure to “become a man” peaks, with nothing but pornographic images of big tits and blow jobs.  What kind of bumbling confused hormonal situation have we created for them?

I’m not making excuses for sexual assault here.  Just because a boy doesn’t know what or where the clitoris is doesn’t excuse his choice to force sex with a woman while she’s unconscious.  What I am saying is that our approach to the sex talk has to change.  Our language around sex has to change.  Our willingness to speak shamelessly about our own experiences has to become a priority.  Sure, sex is complicated.  Sure, they will make mistakes even despite our best efforts to educate them.  But, if we can take away the confusion and the guilt; if we can correct the fabrication of pornography before it hits the sheets, then maybe they will learn to respect sex, to enjoy it and to talk about it honestly.  Most importantly, maybe they will learn to understand their own sexual identities and inclinations better so that they can share them with partners in a fulfilling way rather than a violent way.

Dear Baby Brother

Dear Baby Brother,

My name is Evelyn. I’m a sister. Do you know what a sister is? I’m not totally sure either, but Mama and Dada keep telling me that’s what I am now. Or that’s what I’m gonna be soon.  So I don’t know what that means, but I hope being a sister is a fun thing.  What do you like to do?  I like to play outside.  When you come out of there maybe we can play outside together.  Do you come out of the belly button?  That’s a little hole thingy in the belly.  I have one too!  And Dada has a belly button.  Will you have a belly button?  Well, when you do come out, I’ll show you how to feed the chickens.  Yes, chickens!  We have 3 chickens and I take them a bowl of food almost every night.  I wonder what they eat the rest of the day?

I have a peg game that I really like.  It’s mine though, so maybe Mama or Dada can get you one too.  I’ll show you how to play it someday.  I also have lots of books.  I don’t know where we’ll put your books because mine are on all the shelves.  I’ll be taller than you.  Maybe we’ll move my books up higher and put yours on a littler shelf.  How tall will you be?  If you are taller than me you can help open the pantry door.  It’s sometimes closed and I can’t reach the knob yet.  Maybe you can reach the knob.  That’s where Mama and Dada keep all the snacks.  Now that I am a sister, I wonder if it means I get to eat more snacks.  It should.  Being a sister sounds like hard work.

Will you be a sister too?  Mama and Dada are always calling you baby brother.  Is that your name?  What is your name?  They didn’t tell me that yet.  Does everyone supposed to have a name?  It sure does seem like it.  People are always pointing to everything and then saying a name, like ‘dog’ and ‘tree’ and ‘teeth’ and ‘books.’  I already know all those names.  Our dog’s name is Rover.  At first I thought all dogs were Rovers, but I don’t think they are.  I’m not sure which ones are dogs and which ones are Rovers.  The one at my school is Bella, not Rover.  You’ll like Rover.  He’s big and rolls over on his back so you can pet him.  He likes to run after balls.  He’ll run and run and run and run.  Someday I’ll be fast enough and I’ll run with him.  I’m getting faster, watch this!  Can you even see me in there?

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello from Sister.  You are making Mama look really big.  It’s funny.  They tell me that I’ll get to see you real soon.  Baby brother, when you are out of there, let’s be friends, ok?

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Movies from my childhood – just for fun!

I woke up thinking about the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off this morning, though I have no idea why.  It was the scene where the principle says “9 times” and Ferris’ mom asks “9 times?” and the principle repeats “9 times.”  It’s the way he says NIIIIIIIEEEEEENNNNEEE that makes me chuckle.  Then Ferris hacks the computer and changes the absences before his very eyes.  Hilarity ensues.  fRXK2VW

Growing up I was more of a movie person than a book person.  I am glad to say that I am now very much a book person, but I didn’t read much as a kid.  I’ve always loved movies, though.  I thought it would be fun for both you and I to reminisce a little on this lovely weekend.  What do you say?  Here are some of my favorites from childhood.

Little Mermaid

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Ok, so I hate to be a cliche on this one, but I cannot deny it.   Most of my early childhood was spent pretending to be Ariel with my BFFs.  To this day, many years later, I can sing every song from that movie by heart.  I had the soundtrack on cassette tape!  Nowadays the movie may be viewed as having a repressive message — woman sells her voice to be with a man — but I watched it religiously and still turned out to be an opinionated independent woman.  So there!

Clue

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I re-watched this movie not that long ago and I must admit, it’s still hilarious.  The cast is great, the writing is great.   The board game is terrible, but the movie is gold.  One should never watch this movie with me, however, as I tend to quote every single line.  Oh yes, I’m that person.  I still found myself laughing at the clever dialogue and quirky characters.  It stands the test of time in my opinion and I look forward to watching it with my kids.

Big Business

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Bette Midler had a good run in the 80s and early 90s.  Big Business is by far my favorite Bette movie.  Ya, ya, Beaches was a sweet, sappy tear-jerker of a movie.  I watched that one many times as well, but never quoted it with friends the way I do Big Business.  That’s right, we still quote it to each other.  How’s that for having a long-term impact on a little girl?  Plus, you get Lily Tomlin in this one.  C’mon!

The Ewoks

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Terrible, I know.  I mean, really bad.  But I loved it so much.  I badly wanted an Ewok when I was a kid.  And one of those little bracelets that gives me the life status of my family members.  (Way ahead of its time on that one.  I believe they call those Apple Watches now.)  I haven’t re-watched this since I was young.  I probably shouldn’t.  This one is best kept safe in my pre-CGI memories.

The Princess Bride 

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Probably no explanation even required here.  Classic, right?  Absolutely, it stands the test of time.  Absolutely, I still quote this one with friends.  Absolutely, I will watch it with my kids.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

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Yes, this is a Christmas movie.  I only watch it during the Christmas holidays.  However, I make it point to watch it every Christmas and have done so since I was a kid.  That’s got to mean something.

Flight of the Navigator

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Whenever I drive down the highway and spot a truck hauling something large with a flapping tarp over it…I think of this movie.  It’s another one that I haven’t re-watched recently.  Also another one that I fear will diminish if I do re-watch it due to the low-tech effects.  Still, it is one that my siblings and I recorded onto a VHS and watched repeatedly.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see the VHS tape label with Flight of the Navigator written in my sister’s handwriting.

Short Circuit

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“More input!”  and “Number Johnny Five, alive!”  We tossed around both quotes as kids.  And though, again, I haven’t seen this one in a long time, it does give me that warm nostalgic feeling.  Artificial intelligence, military weapon-bots, etc. are all still pretty relevant today.  This movie had a cutesy approach to both, which I loved as a kid.  Number Johnny 5 was not quite as scary as The Terminator.

Last but not least…

The Goonies

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There were very few sick days spent at home during which I did NOT watch this movie.  For certain, I have seen it many times since childhood and no doubt will continue to watch it with my kids and someday maybe even grandkids.  It’s the perfect kid adventure story.  For a girl that spent more time riding bikes and climbing trees than playing with dolls, it made me tremendously happy.

So that’s it!  That’s my list.  I’ve left out many, to be sure, but these are the ones that first popped in my mind.  I hope that you too were able to enjoy them growing up or even now that you are grown.  I know some of you did because we watched them together as kids.  I recommend checking them all out either as a practice in nostalgia or because they are just damn good flicks.  Have a great weekend, friends, and remember…

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The value of life

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Hundreds of billions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies…

In all of that, here we are.  Here, we became us.  From the most unlikely odds, our planet became the earth we know.  From the most unlikely odds, humans were born from that planet.  It occurs to me on occasion just how special we are.  It doesn’t occur to me often enough, I don’t think.  Life grinds and I forget how special this whole thing really is.  I forget to see the forest because I’m shadowed in the trees.

In all the pain and suffering that we inflict on each other;  in all the power grabs and rat races and struggles to survive it is so easy to become disenchanted with life.  It is so easy to take life for granted.  It’s almost as if it’s an automatic response of our brains to devalue life.  To oversimplify it.  To make it meaningless.  Is it so that we can feel strong comparing ourselves to others?  Is it so that we can shield ourselves from the suffering we see?  Is it so that we can justify our action or inaction?  Why do we ever forget how precious and special we are?

To take another life…I fear that for some the notion is too easy.  And it’s easy because we do not value that which we do not understand.  We fear it.  We make “the folks on the other side of the aisle” less human than us.  Less alive.  We assign qualities to them that are dictated by our own experiences, by the media, by religion, and we never let them have a life.  And my real concern is that our disconnect with each other, and maybe ultimately our disconnect with ourselves,  is fostering a dangerous dark habit.  A habit of minimizing human life.

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Hundreds of billions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies…

We can learn so much from each other.  Our combined experience and knowledge is powerful beyond measure.  And yet, we diminish it.  We diminish each other for being different.  Our minds want to simplify things, to quantify them, to categorize them.  We make it Us versus Them when it’s really always Us versus Us.

I do not know where we go from here.  I do not know how we escape violence or inequality or poverty or power.  But I do know that we have to value each other before we can accomplish anything.  We have to value ourselves.  And we have to value this life that we are all living together.

The more we learn about the world around us, the more we must recognize and value the thing we call life.  The universe is vast.  More so than any of us can fathom, I think.  We are the only life in it.  And we, we are tiny among the stars.  But at least we are a WE.  At least we are a people living together.  Who knows what, if anything, will come from the hundreds of billions of galaxies we discover.  Who knows what the stars will teach us about ourselves.  I, for one, find comfort in that.  In the unknown.  I find comfort because I see that whatever we find, we’re in it together.  Whether we like it or not, we’re in it together.  Though I have moments of fear, I have far greater moments of hope.  I have many more moments of gratitude.  The value of this life is as vast as the universe.  For among hundreds of billions of galaxies we became us.  Life began.

Note: I honestly had no idea that Stephen Hawking passed away when I wrote and posted this morning.  I’d like to dedicate this piece to him.  One who truly understood both the great mystery and the great value of life.  “Look up at the stars not down at your feet” 

If you follow this blog…

After several months of writing here more regularly,  it’s high time that I introduce this blog.  I’ve made you a list–bloggers love lists–to give you some insight into the little world I’m creating for us here on this blog.  Here are 10 things for you to know about Charly Slipp and the ephemeral life.

  1. Ephemeral is my favorite word.  I, in fact, have it tattooed on my body.  If you read this blog regularly it will become clear why I chose that word for its title.
  2. I’m all over the place.  Meaning: There is no single topic or style I’ve chosen to use  within the sanctuary of this little rectangular screen.  It’s all up for grabs in my mind.  Writing requires practice and sometimes, I’m sorry to say, purging ideas.  I know you’re very excited to experience my word vomit, but I can promise you that occasionally I’ll write something meaningful, maybe even beautiful.  But alas, you may have to swim through some of my more mundane ideas to get there.  Hopefully not.
  3. I’m sarcastic.  And self-deprecating.  See above for examples of both.  This is good for you to know moving forward.  If you see an absurd sentence that seems outlandish or contradictory to what you know about me, it’s probably meant to be sarcasm.  I know, I know, sarcasm doesn’t read well.  I’ll try to edit myself, but I make no promises.  Also, about the self deprecation, I just don’t want you to worry when I’m ragging on myself in a post.  It’s kind of my thing.
  4. I pontificate.  Occasionally.  Don’t worry.  What I will promise you is that not all of my posts will be this way.  I do seem to be on a bit of an Op-Ed kick lately.  I grew up in church with a preacher for a father, what can I say?  It will pass, though.  I’ll write some less, uh, obnoxious, preachy pieces….hopefully.
  5. I love vocabulary.  I’ve been told that I am loquacious.  I make no apologies if I seem pretentious because of the words I choose.  I try to be conversational, but in truth, big words are my vernacular (preacher’s kid, remember?)  I will promise, however, that I’m not using fancy words just to use them.  I love the cadence of a sentence so if an SAT word is what gets me the rhythm then that’s the word I’ll choose.
  6. You are my test audience.  I hope you’re not offended by that.  As previously stated, this blog is more of a practicing forum for me.  It’s a place where I can work on various styles.  I, of course, want to entertain you, and/or inspire you, but full disclosure there are many selfish reasons that I’m writing this blog too.  All that to say, if you have an opinion about my pedantic opinion, tell me.  That’s why I’m doing this.  (Insert shameless request for comments and likes here.)
  7. I will be authentic.  I won’t write anything here for the sole purpose of stirring you up.  I’m not a troll.  If what I write is controversial or dark or hard to read, it’s because that’s how the writing came to me.  I’m not baiting you. I want to be real with you.
  8. I am grateful for you.  It may not always read that way.  You may not be grateful for me in return sometimes, but please know that I appreciate the time you give me.  I hope that I make you smile, maybe make you cry and definitely make you think.
  9. You can expect to see a blog at least once a week.  Making that commitment wracks my nerves a little, but I feel I owe it to you.  I don’t think I’m ready to post on a specific day every week.   I know I would be a better blogger if I did, but I certainly don’t claim to be a good blogger.  Not yet, anyway.
  10. You inspire me.  Those that read this, that know me, that also write or blog, you inspire me to keep writing.  Your stories inspire me.  I read and listen and watch you more than you realize (sorry if that’s creepy.)  Life inspires me so I’m glad that you share yours with me.   Inspiration is ephemeral.

All that to say, welcome to my ephemeral life and all the stories, rants, lists, reviews that go along with it.  Keep an open mind.  I’ll do the same.  Remember to laugh.  I’ll do the same.  When the day is done remember the small moments, for those are what make up all our greatest stories.

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The clichés of a**holes

We The People

Note: I began writing this shortly after the Parkland shooting.  I’ve read through it many times now and I know there is so much more I could say.  For the sake of brevity, though, I will not go further than I have here.   Also, full disclosure, my initial draft was pretty snarky.  I’ve done my best to tone down some of that sass because it’s time to have real conversations about guns rather than just insulting and arguing.  Here goes…

It is possible to love guns and not be an asshole about it.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  It’s possible to want to change gun laws and still believe in the right to bear arms.  Though the NRA likes to boil everything down to a few blithe sayings.  These are the cliches of assholes.  They are wholly unnecessary and counterproductive.

“You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands.”

THAT is an asshole thing to say especially to anyone who has recently had to hold the cold dead hands of a loved one killed by gun violence.  But moreover, nobody wants to take your guns.  I know there’s a brainwashed terror of gun owners that the government is “coming for your guns,” but it’s just not true.   It’s shortsighted and obtuse.  Owning something that can take another life, well, that’s complicated.  It has to be.  It will never be as simple as “let’s just confiscate all the guns”, in the same way that it will never be as simple as “give everyone all the guns.”   It’s a bit boorish to equate regulation with confiscation.  One does not automatically mean the other will occur.  There’s no slippery slope here.   We have speed limits on our roads to make driving safer.  We didn’t impound all the cars in the country when people starting dying in accidents.  We regulated them.  I recently listened to an interview in which a pro-gun representative compared guns killing people to spoons.  Spoons?  Really?  It went like this: “People have heart attacks from eating too much ice cream with spoons, but we don’t take all the spoons away.”  That right there…that’s being an asshole.  There’s no other way to describe that incredibly insensitive, stupid, false equivalency.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” 

No shit.  As if we don’t already know that guns themselves don’t have self-determination.  They don’t act on their own.  They are inert, cold, unfeeling.  They are tools.  And yes, it does usually take a human person enacting force upon the steel trigger to make the gun deadly.  Thank you for the physics lesson.  No one is saying that there aren’t deeper issues here with mental health or with bullying, or with criminal intent.  It’s true, those things exist.  It would be wonderful if we could legislate our way to a perfectly educated, rational, compassionate, kind and thoughtful nation of people.  But somehow we haven’t mastered that yet so maybe let’s start smaller.  For example, by making the tools that allow mentally disturbed people to kill others harder, or dare I say impossible, to obtain.  I take glassware away from my toddler because she’s not equipped to handle it.  She may drop it, break it and cut herself.  That doesn’t mean we don’t have any glass in our house.  It also doesn’t mean that I believe that we should take ALL the glass out of the homes of all the people.  It just means that I make glassware inaccessible to her because she’s a child.  We need to find ways to make guns inaccessible to people who cannot manage them safely.  Maybe that means stricter permits, maybe that means annual license renewal, maybe that means raising the age limit, maybe that means teaching more vigorous gun safety classes for gun owners.  I don’t know, but I believe that if we put our heads together we can get creative and come up with a way to make everyone safer.  Let’s not just shut down the whole brainstorm by spouting some cliche that states the obvious.

“The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

Well shit.  If only there was a test that we could all take to determine who is bad and who is good?  Do all people that take guns and shoot other people think of themselves as bad?  Do others always know that they are bad?  Maybe in some cases, but the Vegas shooter had NO RECORD of “being bad.”  And where exactly would we have posted the “good guy” in that situation?  To further my point though, very few humans actually engage in malice with the full knowledge and intention of doing harm to others.  Sadly, most believe that what they are doing is justified.   They believe they are correcting a problem or that they have no choice in the matter.  They believe they are the good guys.  Dylan Roof believed he was a soldier acting in some secret race war.  My point is, not all bad guys are actually bad guys until they go on a shooting spree.

But look, I’ll go with this one.   Let’s run this thought experiment through.  So, we put armed guards in schools.  They’ll be our good guys.  Let’s even arm them with the oh-so-coveted AR-15.  Give them maximum killing capacity.  My understanding of most of the school shootings is that they were premeditated.  In fact, that most of time the killers had an arsenal of weapons.  Now, assuming there is funding somewhere in the budget to pay for two fully trained armed guards at every school, all we’ve really done is add a variable.  Banks have security measures and they still get robbed.  If a person is compelled to do a thing, especially if they believe they must do the thing in order to rectify wrongdoing in the world, and if they have an arsenal at their disposal, then they will plan for the things that will stop them.  They will consider all the variables.  It won’t necessarily alter the outcome.  Sure, sure, maybe they won’t get off as many rounds.  Or kill as many kids.  That’s what we’ve come to though?  Just bargaining with the quantity of deaths?  There is one surefire way to eliminate the death altogether.  If there is no arsenal.  If they have no guns, or at least no automatic guns, then there is no mass killing.  There is no stand off between armed “good guys” and armed “bad guys.”   I know the NRA loves this solution because it means more guns.  And I don’t blame them for loving this solution or the “arming teachers” solution.  They are the NRA.  That’s what they do.  But we don’t have to be controlled by that rhetoric.  We have the freedom and ability to disagree with them and still respect the constitution.

In the end, the NRA is just a business.  They are selling a product, albeit a deadly one.  We the people, need to have the wherewithal to see that product for what it is without feeling like we are betraying something innate to our liberty.  The right to own a gun isn’t the real problem.  The refusal of gun lovers to discuss the nuances of that right IS.  You’re not an asshole if you own a gun.  You’re not an asshole if you’re a member of the NRA.  But you are an asshole if you shut down painful conversations by being glib.  The time for spouting propaganda fed to us by the NRA is over.  It’s time to set aside the cliches and have a real conversation.  Maybe we’ll actually save lives in the process.