A lesson in overcoming sentimentality

You never realize how much nonsense you own until it’s time to move. And the writing is on the wall in its clearest incarnation when you are moving across seas and can only take what you can carry. No chance to shove entire drawers of odds and ends into a box and tape it up to open and discover its true contents later on. There is no later on, there is no one of these days. What you can carry you take. What doesn’t fit you must let go.

In this day and age where not even overhead space on a flight is complimentary, you must be shrewd in deciding what goes, and what stays.

This is my current dilemma.

I’m moving to France for a year, and afterwards, I have no idea where the wind will blow me. Will I move from Lyon to Paris? Will a door open across the border in Geneva? Or will I end up in Dakar? Who knows. And so I need to pack as if I am about to be come a global nomad of sorts.

I admit, this has long been a secret dream of mine. To just blow from one country to another on the wings of the freedom that holding an American passport brings. A modern day rolling stone of sorts. A MacBook toting, Canon wielding, orange penny-loafer wearing rolling stone. Ready for whatever life throws at me and determined to get my dreams whatever the consequences of seeking them may be.

But what about these everyday American essentials? Like my mini lint roller and the two-pack of refills I am yet to use. My various Hydroflasks, my bottles of perfumes that I love but never wear because i’m saving them for a special occasion that never seems to come. My row of sunglasses that I select from depending on my mood: the retro ray-bans when when I’m feeling extra chic and confident, the vintage style, slight cat eyes for when it’s time to channel my inner French girl or the every days ones that are already slightly scratched so I don’t have to worry too much about them and can toss them in any pocket or bag at will.

What will become of my variety of stationary items that come in handy each in their own regard. My watercolor paints that I use every few months to de stress, my crayons that help me to illustrate my Econ charts, or aid in stress relief. The endless pens all of varying nib sizes 0.5, 0.3, 0.7. And all the pencils from the Bic to the extra fancy one from the Japanese stationary store in San Francisco.

Don’t  get me started on the miscellaneous items. Essential oils, naturopathic remedies that I’m not quite sure work, and I couldn’t tell you exactly what I am trying to treat, but all these small bottles of pills and potions were purchased at Whole Foods for an arm and a leg in moments of existential despair. These $25 here and $17 there that add up and so I NEED them to work and am determined to continue using them until I feel some positive effects. Will they fit in my carry on luggage?

My ‘piggy bank’ Chinese cat for good luck that a friend gave me years ago. My foam rollers for when I have time to waste and want to give myself a hairstyle. A different one. Where will all these things fit?

Out of everything I own, nothing is more precious than my books. So much so that when, in a moment of delicious morbid pondering I asked myself what I would do if a fire broke out in my house, I decided that I would evacuate my books and then come back to fan the flames and then see what the rental insurance company had to say for itself the following week.

My beloved books! How must I carry them all with me and tote them around the globe?

E-books don’t compare. There is nothing better than the smell of paper. What to do?

These are the decisions that I will have to make over the next 8 weeks. How to narrow down a studio of possessions into a checked bag , a carry on and a backpack.

It will be a lesson in overcoming sentimentality and truly being unattached. Stay tuned for a report on how I fare.

Beethoven Symphony #9

I was sitting in the airport in Geneva waiting for my flight to Berlin. It was delayed 2 hours but I was in no particular hurry because nobody was waiting for me.

An old couple sat opposite me and began a quiet conversation. The lady unzipped a bag and pulled out a wax paper wrapped package and something smaller rolled up in paper towel.

She removed the object from the paper and banged its smooth white surface at the metal corner of the chair. Then peeled away the outer portion with a sort of deftness that made me think this was a regular activity. De-shelling a boiled egg.

Two bites later she had eaten half of it and was handing it to her husband who finished it off with three bites. Then they unwrapped the home made sandwiches and began to enjoy.

Little house on the Prairie. Pop, Ma. Why did I think of this? Was it her mid calf length wool skirt or his earned toned garments?

Yes. My first impression of happily wedded bliss. Was this a real life version?

I thought of my grandparents. The first couple in real life I knew of who stayed til death do us part. I didn’t know much about them or their relationship. They lived in the same house but slept in different rooms on opposite ends of the house. Hers with a dressing table on which several hand crocheted doilies spread out to give cushion to a jewelry box  here or a hair brush or comb there. His with a mahogany armoire the bottom drawer full of tennis balls and a few white globes interrupting the sea of green. Useless golf balls that only bounced once and so low that you had to bend down to catch them and try again with more force this time, but always the same. A waste of time, but at least the sound was louder.

‘Grandfather can we borrow a tennis ball to play with please?’

The answer was always yes. We returned them before we went home so they would be there for us next time.

She played the piano and he fixed typewriters. I never heard them call each other by name but I saw them look each other in the eye.

Seated at the dining table they eat without speaking, but what is there to talk about if Beethoven’s Symphony #9 punctuates the silence?

5 days in Berlin

I landed in Berlin on a Friday evening and though it was pitch back like the dead of night I looked at my watch to discover it was only 6:30pm. I made my way from the airport onto a bus and then walked the longest half block of my life to the train station. During that time several wild dogs raced past me as if they were being chased by even wilder dogs. On my train ride, I observed several unassuming commuters holding half filled bottles of beers with no hint of shame or disgrace to be drinking alcohol while riding public transportation.  Over the next 5 days I was able to understand and appreciate the meanings behind what seemed very bizarre place at first and discovered once again that things are not always how they seem.

Here are a few of my discoveries:

  1. Don’t be alarmed by the public drinking. In Berlin, in the evenings and on the weekend, people walk around drinking beer with the same nonchalance as people everywhere else walk around drinking bottled water. When I got onto the train during my journey from the airport, I was shocked to see a young woman siting opposite me holding a half full bottle of beer. I immediately thought ‘Wow she couldn’t wait?’ And then wondered if she was going through some rough times. Several stops later more people embarked, also clutching and sipping their own brews. I quickly realized it was a cultural difference and regretted my hasty judgement.

  2. Berlin is full of beautiful cobblestone streets. This gives the the city a real ancient and romantic feel about it, it made me think of couple waking hand in hand and sweethearts buying each other bouquets of flowers. But after walking an average of 7 miles everyday, alone might I add, it began to take a toll on my feet. As it turns out, walking on uneven surfaces isn’t the best for shoes with hard leather soles. I think next time I’ll pack some comfortable walking shoes. Plan accordingly!

  3. Don’t be surprised if you see dogs running wild on the sidewalk. They aren’t actually wild! It’s been years since i’ve seen a stray dog. I though that was a phenomenon of the ‘developing world’ and so when during first few days in Berlin I noticed dogs running wild on the sidewalks I thought perhaps Europe wasn’t as keen about animal welfare after all! I would soon discovered that these dogs were not in fact running wild, but were under the watchful eyes of their owners who walked several paces behind them and as it turns out, could get them to stop with a simple shouted order.

  4. Do you want to be able to pay for restaurant food after you’ve eaten it?  Carry cash*! Most cafes, restaurants and stores – especially small boutique types do not take credit cards. I found this out the hard way when one night I ate dinner and then tried to pay for it only to have the waiter kindly inform me that I would need to go to the ATM and get cash and he would escort me there. Most places do not take credit cards no matter how many times you ask. Just bring cash and do as the Romans do.  

  5. Don’t speak German? Entspannen Sie Sich! Unlike other countries/cities where people take personal offense to visitors not speaking their language (America & Paris I’m looking at you both), in Berlin almost everyone speaks English with as much willingness as they speak German. Only once I was lost and asked a bus driver for directions but he only spoke German. Despite this he was able to, with a combination of hand gestures and a well placed ‘Okay?’ point me in the direction I needed to go, and he did so without contempt for my linguistic handicap. 

  6. Be prepared to rethink your concept of sleeping ‘When night time come’. In the autumn it gets dark EARLY! The first day I was out exploring and then noticed it was getting dark and thought I would soon return to my lodging, call it a day and soon get ready for bed. Then I checked my watch and saw it was only 4:30pm!

I have 3 more days in this beautiful and interesting city and I’m quite looking forward to what is in store!

*Even movie theaters in Berlin only take ‘German debit cards and cash’. To be on the safe side withdraw enough cash to last the duration of your trip to avoid repeat ATM fees.

The Joy of Sharing

One of my most vivid positive childhood memories was of the day I discovered the joy of sharing.

I was 5 or 6 years old and had to get a routine immunization shot. Usually I got them the same time as at least one sister but this time for some reason it was just me. My father took me to the clinic in the afternoon just when a lot of cars started appearing on the road. It was the time of day when it seemed as if everyone suddenly realized they had somewhere to go.

A nurse with shiny legs administered the uneventful shot, a needle to the right buttock. I felt it but neither flinched nor exclaimed. I knew that children were expected to be affected when they got injections. It was a valid reason for crying. I remember sitting upright to see the nurse smiling. She was clearly used to children bawling and carrying on. Not me, not that day at least! 

She didn’t even cry. Well well, what a big girl. Maybe daddy will buy you a hot dog for a treat? What about that?

I don’t recall knowing what a hotdog was at the time but I knew it was something I didn’t eat. Still, I understood the sentiment and for a moment I felt like I had missed out on a reward, if a hot dog was the treat for not crying during immunizations, and I didn’t eat hotdogs, what was the point of keeping my composure then? But to my surprise my father, never one to miss the opportunity to declare how different we were from everyone else announced triumphantly,

“Well, you know, we don’t eat meat, but maybe she’ll some ice cream.”

Oh! Yes! All was not lost. 

On the way home we stoped at a gas station and parking only a few feet away from the entrance he walked inside and came back what seemed like a few seconds later and handed me a flat purple plastic package. It was chocolate, Cadbury Fruit and Nut. I immediately recognized it as my mother’s favorite treat and for a moment thought it was meant for her.

“Hold onto that.”  

“Oh! this is mine?”

“Yes, yes.”

I gripped that poor chocolate bar so tightly until father had to take it away from me so that it wouldn’t melt on the drive home but it was too late, by the time we got home the chocolate bar was flexible in its the plastic covering. 

I was so eager to eat it immediately but instead father took it and tied a piece of string around it and lowered it into a drum of cool water that was in the front of the yard. In these days we either didn’t have a refrigerator or the current was off, I can’t remember which one. 

Later that evening after we sat and ate the requisite rice peas and vegetables, the chocolate bar was fished out of its cold pool and sliced into eight equal portions and everyone enjoyed with equal measure, but me a bit more so.

Aside from when it was someone’s birthday and we bought ice-cream, it wasn’t often we had extra things besides the usual meals. But that night we did and it was thanks to me.

I remember this night so vividly because I was surprised at myself for not feeling angry to not have the entire chocolate for myself. To pick and enjoy for several days while my sisters asked me for a piece and I decided whether or not they deserved it. Maybe this is what I would have done if father didn’t decide for me from the get go that it was to be shared. I don’t know and I’ll never know. After this experience I learned the joy of sharing and it has stayed with me since.

This was my earliest memory of the joys of sharing. I remember on the way home imagining and wondering how i would ever be able to finish this huge treat by myself but very much looking forward to the opportunity to find out! But as soon as we got home and father said I would share it with everyone it was as if my dilemma was solved! I didn’t have to eat it all for myself, I could share it with everyone else. 

Welcome to France

A little over a month ago I moved from California to France. Whether or not the move is a permanent one is yet to be determined, however, in a literal attempt to liberate myself I sold or gave away everything I owned that did not fit in one of my three suitcases.

Before I left I was eager and entirely optimistic. I’ve wanted to live in France ever since I opened my first Hexagon textbook in second form. I knew then that it was just a matter of time. Time went by and my life went this way and then that until finally the stars aligned and I had the chance to move to Lyon to study for a year with the goal of becoming fluent in French and experiencing a full cultural immersion.

 Paris
Paris

I landed in Paris and checking into my airbnb I was surprised to discover that I had a full view of the Eiffel tower. I couldn’t have wished for a more appropriate welcome to France. My plan was to spend the first three days on a Parisian holiday, a treat to myself after a slightly disastrous end to an intense summer. But my exhaustion from sorting and consolidating my entire life, coupled with a fair amount of jet-lag meant that instead of frolicking through the gardens and boulevards of Paris, I took naps during the day and once the sun went down, sat at a tiny yellow dining table eating bread and smoked salmon and tomatoes while looking at the Tower twinkling in all its glory. Maybe it was the sweet sound of silent that I hadn’t heard in so long but these three days of quietude end up being exactly what I needed.

 Lyon, France
Lyon, France

A quick train took me to Lyon on Thursday afternoon and my program began at once with a welcome meeting and then cafeteria style dinner. For the first three nights we were placed in dormitory-style housing where I shared a small room with another girl. She was nice, but her bed was extremely close to mine. So close in fact that I could hear her breathing and then late in the night her failed attempts to stifle laughter as she watched funny offerings on Netflix.

Three days of various orientation activities went by and then it was Sunday morning and time for me to meet the French family with whom I would live until December.

The Sunday morning when we stood in the lobby of the dorms waiting patiently for our new families I felt like a child again. I thought back to those days at Sunnyside, specifically the end of my second term in Junior 4 when as was customary at the end of the term, parents had to come and collect school reports. Because there was a window of time we never knew exactly when our father would show up and so would wait excitedly and anxiously to see the white van driving up the hill. And then how happy I was then to walk with him to the classroom while glancing smugly at any of the boys in my class who I saw along the way who would stop in their mischievous tracks and stare at me and then up at him with a mixture of curiosity and fear.

 Annecy, France
Annecy, France

Yes, I was in France now, and long past my childhood years, yet the feeling was strangely similar. I was waiting excitedly for my new French ‘parents’. We were all nervous.

What if they didn’t like us, what if we didn’t like them? Do we shake hands, or do the ‘la bise’, or be really American and give them a hug? I chuckled under my breath as I heard the girl next to me lament to no one in particular ‘What if they don’t like me and want to send me away?’

I chuckled not because it was funny but because the night before I had the same thought before I went to sleep.

My family was the second to show up. A man and woman both dressed in all black, walking eagerly as if they knew exactly where they were going. The woman was wearing a black hair band that stood out against her whiteish blondish hair. Her outfit was loose fitting and hung  in folds so that I wasn’t sure whether it was a dress, or a skirt, or perhaps a jumpsuit? Three silver necklaces with three silver pendants, one of a globe, one of a skull and the other I couldn’t make out rested at the narrow point of her rib cage Two silver rings on the right hand, two on the left. She wore Doc Marten mary-jane styled shoes. The man kept smiling and based on the pattern of the creases on his face I concluded that it was his default facial expression. He wore a gold wedding band and on his right hand a silver pinky ring with a square shaped black stone embedded. Obsidian? In addition to everything else black he sported a blazer with a crest on the upper left side that wasn’t a skull but reminded me of one. His black sandals the style that is common in little toddler shoes, gave further protection to his black socked feet.

‘Wow, they look really cool!’

I breathed a sign of relief, then continued to stand and wait.

They stood for a while greeting Christine, the director of my program and asking her questions about some forms they had filled out. They talked probably for less than a minute but it felt like a long time to be standing waiting to be noticed. I smiled, I tried not to grin until finally Christine looked in my direction and said ‘Et, voila….’

I want to write about something but I don’t have anything to say.

I want to write about something but I don’t have anything to say.

I want to tell you a story but there are so many I don’t know which one to choose. 

This must be what it feels like to try too hard. 

Except I’m not really doing anything at all. 

Just sitting here in this cafe drinking an overpriced coffee thinking that being in this ‘space’ is going to somehow inspire me, or provoke me to have beautiful thoughts that will translate into well crafted sentences that don’t ramble too much, and all come together in a slightly or highly  enlightened message or at least a passage worth reading, and if I’m lucky, one that resonates with someone….anyone?

Instead, I just spent the last thirty minutes drinking my four dollar coffee and staring out the window at passers by. Now my fingertips are tingling and not due to frantic typing as they should… No, my fingertips are alight because when the barista asked me ‘what size’ I said ‘regular’ not knowing this meant supersized and I should have specified ‘Small’. What was it, a fifty cents difference? Negligible for the wallet but drastic for my nerves apparently.

What did I do that one time, when for weeks on end I wrote up a storm? Or those nights when I lay propped up on my pillow and wrote until my #2 pencil was so worn down that I had to use my fingernail to peel away some of the wood because I couldn’t stop for a minute to search for a sharpener. I was on fire then. What was it that doused the flame?

I want it back. I need to get it back. But how?

They say leap and the net will appear. Maybe I need to start typing and the words will come, the story will tell itself?

And since I’m apparently asking 21 questions, why is it that it is only when in the shower and the water is on the verge of scorching the skin off my back clean away, why is it only then that my mind is as clear as it will ever be and my emotions are so strong but not wild, so that all of my ideas, my good good ideas come to me and I think, yes, I knew you were in there, just as soon as I dry off I will write this down, I will tell this one particular story. 

And then the second I step foot on my bathmat – gone. Just like that.

I need something to blame this on. But what?

Maybe the fact that I’m about to pick up my life and move across the ocean, to a foreign place, and live in a different language and start over from the very beginning and I’m not sure how it will all play out. Maybe this is what has me frazzled? Maybe I should tell you the story of how I came to be right here, right now?

“Be careful what you wish for…”

“Be careful what you wish for…”

That is one of the refrains that has been drilled into my head since the beginning of time. A caution, a warning. Don’t ask for something you don’t really want. Watch your words, they hold more power than you realize.

I think instead of a warning this refrain should be rephrased  “Be ready for what you wish for…” 

Let me tell you why.

When I think back to everything I’ve ever really wanted, wished for, prayed for, I got it, one way or another.  Even the craziest one of all which I will tell you about some day and you might think it a simple coincidence but I know I willed it into being. But even after all of this I still doubt the ability to self-manifest.

A little over a year ago I bought a semi-professional camera. I wanted to take pictures, good pictures. I wanted to capture emotions, action, to compliment my words with images to tell moving stories.  Capture things that might not be noticed in the moment. I spent hours at my favorite bookstore in Berkeley and read guides, manuals, and then came home and watched YouTube tutorials for hours. For several months I was obsessed. Then I stopped. 

I felt like a phony. Who did I think I was to be a photographer? Maybe I didn’t really have a knack, a creative eye. Self doubt, always trying to ruin my plans. I fought it off a little bit then gave in and my camera sat on my bookshelf with a row of books i’ve read and re read and now only look at and admire.

Recently I got the courage to take it up again and revisited the idea of being someone who could take good pictures. I decided to believe it could be true.

Around this time I started a new job in a communications role, mostly writing and copy editing. Then one day there was an event and I offered to take pictures. They were well received. In fact they were so well received that it seemed as if overnight everybody in the department learned my name and I learned that people love to be photographed.

A month later my sister came to visit and for three days I had a personal muse. I played around with settings, angles, and we walked for miles day after day, exploring Northern California with our eyes, and through my camera lens.

 

My confidence was back. She asked me to take her graduation photos. I agreed. It was humbling, and I felt all the energy I had lost to my self doubt come back to me.

Then boss asked me to photograph another event, a bigger one this time. The photographs again were well received, so much so that even the persecutor within me was silenced. There was no turning back. I essentially became the official department photographer. My images were used officially and I was credited. When this happened I walked around in a daze for two days. How did it all come together so quickly? How did my dream come true, just like that?

But of course it wasn’t really just like that. Even though I doubted it, I took the preparatory steps so that if one day somehow the stars aligned, I would be ready. Once you decide what you want, the best course of action is to prepare to get it.

Today I went to work wearing stone washed jeans and a navy blue button down shirt. My shoes were clean but not spotless, before I walked out the door I had a thought that perhaps I should change into a darker wash jeans because though my workplace is casual I felt the light wash was a bit too casual. I ignored the voice even right after I heard it say ‘grab your camera just in case’.

I got to work and was asked to photograph a shot but official event. I had enough time to run home and get my camera, change and polish my boots, though I didn’t have to, I just felt more comfortable doing so. 

And it made me realize that preparation and some level of boldness is key. If I never offered to take photographs in the first place nobody would have known I had the interest and the skills. The same way they say dress for the job you want, not the job you have, it applies to every aspect of life. Believe yourself to be who you hope to become. Learn what you want to know. Train yourself to be who you wish to become. Decide what to be and be it.

Are you ready for what you’re wishing for?

 

 

Soon come

To my faithful readers who I’ve neglected – I’m still alive!

I’ve been cooking up a few things these past few silent months and can’t wait to share some good news. 

For now I study for my Game theory and International macro-finance exams next week.

I will emerge victorious and return to regale you with more tales of the life of Gillya Scott.

Lamentation (Dear America)

These past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about America’s culture. In particular the gun culture that is pervasive throughout the country.

In 2007 I was a student in West Virginia and one Monday morning in April there was a breaking news report of a shooting incident at Virginia Tech. Now, this was a university four hours away, but as the events of that morning unfolded and what was at first a ‘shooting’ turned out to be a ‘massacre’, it was as if it happened down the road. At the time, it was the most horrible thing I had ever experienced, though it did not happen to me.

When the planes flew into the twin towers, I knew then that America was a place where tragedies happened. In America,  incidents that you couldn’t even imagine, somehow someone else would not only think of, but plan and execute. But I had already decided before then, that America was where I would live, and so despite the fact that on September 12th in a hotel in Port of Spain, I sat together with my father and watched repeated footage on CNN of the planes hitting the towers, and heard my fathers lamentations about this terrible thing that could only have happened in America, and despite his surreptitious warnings that if I wasn’t convinced before, this alone should be enough to assure me that America was not my promised land. But my mind had already been made up.

Woe is me.

After Virginia Tech became synonymous with massacre I realized that this sort of thing can happen at anytime, at any place and so I became vigilante, overnight. From then on, if sitting in a classroom I would always sit near a wall, preferably near a window or behind the back door so that ‘when the shooter comes’ I’m either jumping out the window, or running out the back door, assuming he comes through the front. I stopped listening to headphones in public that way If something started to go down I would be able to hear and make good my escape in time. And as time went by this just became a part of life. I was okay. I did not live in fear. I knew bad things could happen but I felt ready to handle anything.

Now thankfully I have had been in close proximity to a mass shooting, which continued with some regularity after that April in 2007.

Until 2012. It was my first summer living in Denver and working near Aurora. My coworkers and I often had lunch together, and on Fridays it was always a special event. We’d go to a restaurant and eat and chat and laugh and an hour later head back to the office then work hard for several more hours before it was time to start the weekend. It was an intense period because the company had recently been issued an FDA warning letter so there was a lot of work that needed to be done in a short space of time.

The Dark Knight was released at midnight on Thursday and  we decided that on the Friday, we would take lunch together early, and see the matinee release of the film. It was something to look forward to. 

Seven hours later, while we each individually drifted off to sleep in the comfort of our homes, me in my tiny studio apartment, a twin sized day bed I bought off Craigslist, that belonged to a 7 year old boy who was upgrading to a ‘big boy bed’. We had no idea what was unfolding less than half an hour away.

Everybody knows what happened that night, James Holmes, a doctoral student at UC Denver and an all round lunatic carefully and deliberately carried out his deadly rampage with weapons he purchased legally and easily. 12 people dead. 70 plus injured. Tragedy is not the word.

Now I know after every disaster there is a mad race especially on Facebook to see who can post their ‘thoughts and prayers’ status update first. And then a competition to see who is most affected. If there is a bombing in Paris everyone digs out their holiday photos in front of the Eiffel Tower and shares a memory of having been RIGHT AT THAT RESTAURANT! just a few months earlier. “It could have been me!” 

The outage is real, the pain and suffering tremendous.

Lamentations.

After a week or so, all goes quiet. The profile pictures revert to duck faced selfies and the previously suffering and outraged citizen goes back to reposting links to the latest celebrity gossip.

Then three months, or six months or some short time goes by and then, like clockwork ‘Breaking news….’

Five months after Aurora it was Sandy Hook.

Last November it was Las Vegas. This Valentine’s Day – A High School in Florida.

I’m so sick of this country and the evil and unstable people who so easily purchase weapons for the sole purpose of shedding innocent blood.

And I am so sick of people who see something but refuse to say something or take no action when something must be done. 

But most of all, I’m slightly terrified that it seems as if over time our society has become completely desensitized to these mass shootings. The media for one treats it like a carnival. With each mass shooting the obvious excitement surrounding the coverage grows more frenzied. Reporters hunt down survivors so they can show them on air in all their painful glory: tears, choked back words, moments of silence. It doesn’t seem real. A young high school student is shown on CNN, wiping tears, looking at the camera then away, nodding to an unasked question, to convince herself she is alright.

Tears,

“Are you okay?”, the reporter asks, this after the girl reveals her best friend ‘Did not make it‘. The girl nods, wipes away more tears. ”We’re sending love and prayers to you right now….”, the reporter says. The girl cries some more.

Am I the only person who sees something extremely wrong with this?

Where is the FBI in all of this? The same FBI known to target ‘persons of interest’ who they believe to be involved with extremist organizations (Code for muslims) and have in numerous documented instances charged people wrongly with terrorism. Where is the FBI when an American white boy repeatedly declares on social media that he will be a ‘school shooter’. Some concerned citizen does make an FBI report. Nothing happens though. And so the American white boy goes out and buys his weapons, and his ammunition, and makes is plans. And then one Wednesday afternoon, February 14th, he carries out the plan as he had already confessed he would and in the news we are ‘shocked and saddened’.

Eyes are looking but nobody is seeing. People are talking but nobody is listening. 

There needs to be a cultural shift, away from guns and their trigger happy owners. 

People need to ask themselves some tough questions and seek to find the answers.

I have the first answer to the question we should be asking –  it is NO. Under no circumstance is it acceptable for a (deranged) eighteen year old to own a semi automatic weapon. 

Imagine an intoxicated person going into a car rental and asking for a vehicle. They clearly are not in any good condition to operate a motor vehicle, but they show their drivers license, and a credit card, ‘I can pay, I am a licensed driver, the *law states that if these two conditions are satisfied you must rent me a car’. What should the rental owner do? Take the money and hand over the keys? 

Then ten minutes later when a drunk driver speeding going the wrong way on the interstate crashes and kills several people in the process who is at fault?

What ever happened to common sense, and responsibility? If these two virtues were to be reintroduced in our society and among our policy makers, so many of our current problems could potentially be solved.

In the mean time, all we can do is remain vigilant, and hope for the best. As far as my promised land, I know now that this isn’t it.

 

*hypothetical situation

Valentine’s Day Horror Story part 1.

I meant to write a *’horror’ story in honor of valentines day but the week moved so quickly that before I knew it the day of love was long past. Well, it’s never too late to have something to say is it? 

So, once upon a time I decided that things were going so good in my life that maybe it could even be improved were it that I had a boyfriend. Eh eh. Check me well signing up for multiple dating apps, trying to hedge my bets. They said Tinder was for hookups predominantly and I wasn’t really into that, and Bumble was the refined alternative, except that the women had to message first, which is all well and good except for the fact that you have to come up with something witty to say.. or so I was told by a friend I had at the time who claimed to be an expert on things of this nature.

Tinder turned out to be, as they say a hot mess. Yes there had to be mutual swiping right in order for a message to be sent, but since most of the time I did my swiping late at night just before I went to sleep, and when the dimness on my phone was turned down all the way, it happened that I swiped right on many men who were quite wrong when examined in the light of day.

Still, I thought perhaps there was someone ‘out there for me’. I should mention that at the time I was watching the Season of Downton Abbey when Lady Mary had numerous men courting her and there was excitement in the air, so I thought maybe I could do with some of the same in my own life.

After a couple days of sorting through a lot of rubbish finally I had a few promising leads. One dude was quite handsome, he looked like one of those old school movie stars. I didn’t even know that I knew of old school movie stars like that but upon seeing his picture my first thought was ‘Hmm..  Marlon Brando… not bad at all!’. And then I had to immediately google Marlon Brando to see exactly what it was I was telling myself. I was correct.

But I immediately was suspicious of him. In his profile he had a quote saying something about how a man should spoil his wife so much so that everyone is jealous of her. Why he had to take it so far? Bringing up husband and wife. I don’t have time for that. But then I reasoned that perhaps he, knowing jolly well he was not looking for ANYTHING serious, and realizing that women in his age range probably might be, he would pull a fast one from the get go and make it seem as if that’s where his mind was. So he presented himself as a handsome dude looking for a wife and ready to play the role of the devoted and loving husband. A voice told me, ‘this man is the exact opposite of whatever he will claim to be. Had I listened to my intuition I would not have driven 35 minutes to meet him for ‘tea or coffee’ two weeks later on a Thursday afternoon.

Wet met at a Tea shoppe. A place I chose because it had good reviews on yelp and also had a classy vibe and I wanted him to know that I wasn’t basic. He was three minutes late and showed up dressed as if he was a housewife on the way to or from pilates. Thick cotton/cashmere sweats and matching hooded sweatshirt unzipped to reveal a washed out but not stretched out grey cotton/linen tee. The type of clothes that are very clearly high quality and extremely expensive but also exceptionally casual to the point of bordering on home clothes.

Hmph. California livity….? I wondered this silently. 

He was charming, handsome and very tall. He had what I believe people would refer to as a wicked smile and he smiled at me, almost knowingly, thought what it was he knew I couldn’t tell you. He said he liked my hair. He looked me up and down and nodded in approval but not in a sleazy way. Noticing and receiving these cues I felt my confidence skyrocket. I did the Beyonce walk** up the stairs to our booth.  

After we sat down and the conversation started I realized after he hyped me up he then started trying to pull of an air of interest mixed with slight indifference, I don’t know how else to describe it but it is like when someone asks you a question then looks away before you finish telling them the answer. This wasn’t my first rodeo though, so realizing where this was headed, I matched his level of aloofness.  After all, these dates are always a competition to see who can care the least.

Nevertheless, he spoke at length about himself but much of it was of his glory days when, believe it or not he was an actor in Hollywood… and then suddenly and out of the blue he mentioned in the most casual tone, with a look of forced pain across his face, his wife who though suffering from an incurable illness, or perhaps because of her diagnosis, abducted their two children and fled across the pacific ocean to more verdant pastures.

‘Oh…’ I said, trying to act surprised. 

To be continued…

*This isn’t really a horror story, just a lamentation of the perils of dating in the new millennium.

**A confident and sultry strut that one does when one knows one is being watched. Move hips, or lower body if you don’t have any hips, side to side while channeling your inner femininity.