Oct 28

When the homecoming prince shoots up his school…

Like most people who graduated from the same high school I did, I am sensitive to school shootings. We all went to school with people like the dead and wounded students, we had parents like theirs, parents like the parents of the killers.

This latest shooter, a homecoming prince and athlete, a popular boy with a broken heart, really makes me wonder. The easy to blame reasons of alienation, bullying, mental illness, bad parenting don’t seem to apply. Not that they ever really explain why we have so many school shootings.

I know so many boys, so many girls, who have been in a similar place in life. So many of my friends, literally princes and princesses of those all-important school dances. Football players. Basketball players. Cheerleaders. I’ve stood on that podium myself. I’ve also been the heartbroken one. We all have.

It’s not about heartbreak. Everyone has a broken heart at some point. Usually as teenagers. Hardly any of us become suicidal mass murderers.

The boys at Thurston High School often hunted and fished before or after school. There were trucks with gun racks in the school parking lot. I would bet that a lot of them were loaded. The ones that weren’t loaded probably had boxes of ammo behind the seats. There were a lot of close calls with gun safety and drinking, but we didn’t shoot at each other. Not on purpose, anyway.

It’s not about guns, although it is my personal opinion that there are far too many people with handguns.

We have easier, safer lives in many ways than anyone who has ever come before us in history. Normal people have luxuries that no one dreamed of even 100 years ago. War, violence, rape, terror have always existed and on a scale that impacted far more of us than they do now. Massacres and genocide are not new to humanity.

It’s not about the world being a more violent place. It always has been.

The boy in Marysville who shot his friends didn’t do it because he didn’t know how to deal with the responsibilities of sex, or a pregnancy scare either. The “right” age to have a sexual relationship is determined by culture, not some black and white dictate etched it stone. It evolves. Some cultures think you should start considering reproducing the minute biology says so. Our current societal norm is older than that.

It’s not about teenagers having inappropriate sex. Pregnancy scares are terrifying and stressful, but they don’t cause people to snap and kill each other. Teen sex has been going on since there has been teenagers and sex–always.

I don’t understand why it happens. I don’t think any of us do. I identify with the pain, but I don’t understand the violence. What is different between the rest of us, and the kids who go into their schools to kill other students and teachers and maybe mostly to ultimately die themselves?

Maybe the only difference is that every time someone kills a bunch of people, we know about it. Maybe this is how it has always been.

I don’t know.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

Is it part of the human condition that some people break down and strike out?

Again, I don’t know.

Does anyone?

Oct 27

An imaginary conversation about what I love

It seems like I am always mentioning something I love. Apparently, I am not very discriminating. You?

Oh, people always tell me I am discriminating.

Uh…err….Maybe you need to have a chat about that with your HR department.

When I am not actively discriminating, I love paradox, irony and humor.

Sounds like a law firm…”Paradox, Irony and Humor..how may I direct your call?”


Of a minor sort, yes.

You’re always so self deprecating…

Better then self defecating.

Potty humor.

How unlike me…

Is it?

I like to pretend to myself that I am more cerebral than that.

Are you successful?

At pretending to be cerebral? Mostly. It’s an easier goal than actually being cerebral.

You aren’t UNcerebral.

Another item to add to my resume.

You can mention it right after your gift for profanity.

Great idea!

Thanks. HR likes profanity almost as much as discriminating.

Some of us are HR disasters waiting to happen.

You, too?

It’s because I’m intimidating.


To the stupid and/or incompetent.

Do you tell people they are stupid or incompetent?

Of course not, but if they ask me the same thing more than twice I might tend to say “what did I tell you when you asked me that yesterday” instead of answering again.

That is an unusual approach.

Telling people the same thing over and over is NOT one of the things I love.
Except nice things. I don’t mind repeating nice things.

Like what?

Thanking someone for doing something unexpected and awesome. Complimenting someone’s cute new haircut. Telling someone I love them.

All of those things are good things. What else do you love?

New shoes. Sunny days. Looking at any sort of body of water, even a puddle. Music. Black eyeliner. Sleeping. Certain people. Buttered popcorn.

I hope I am on the list.

Take me to a movie and buy me some popcorn and I will submit your name for consideration.

I have to bribe you?

Yes. No. Maybe a little.

I guess a movie is a cheap enough bribe, even with popcorn.

I’ll make it worth your while.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind about that.

Thanks, you’re sweet.


Oct 26

Seasonal girl

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted
A time to kill, and a time to heal
a time to break down, and a time to build up
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing
A time to get, and a time to lose
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak
A time to love, and a time to hate
a time of war, and a time of peace.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It’s a lot like music. Every time I hear an Elvis Costello song, I think “this is my favorite Elvis song!” Then I hear another one, and that one is my favorite instead.

Whatever song I am listening to right now. Whatever book I am reading right now. That one is my favorite. Right now. I am, I admit, terrible at choosing a favorite anything. I think of myself as a hard hearted cynic, but when it comes to picking favorites I find that in reality I am someone who loves everything. Life, and all the things that are a part of it.

It’s no different with the seasons.

Maybe not the Winter. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t hate it. I love boots and sweaters. I love the few snow days. Winter is an unrelenting, drizzly, gray, dark thing here in the Willamette Valley though. The trees are bare. The grass is soggy and emerald green. The sun doesn’t make an appearance for months. It’s a stay at home and read sort of season. It’s hot tea and warm fires. It’s all good. I can curl up under a blanket with some popcorn and an old movie. It’s kind of awesome. You don’t feel the pressure to be outside doing things. You can huddle in. Even the darkest clouds come with silver linings.

Then after a Winter full of rain, clouds, and cold I am entranced with the green leaves and things growing in the Spring. Every day there is some new change in the plants and the trees. The rain gets warmer. Blue skies start to appear behind the gray. Then, suddenly, the trees have leaves on them! Then-bang-cherry blossoms! Everything makes me smile again, and Spring is my favorite season. Everything is always a miracle, but the miracles bust out at you in the Spring. It’s exuberantly miraculous. It’s enthusiastic renewal. It’s all shiny. It’s all new.

Except that it’s still chilly and wet. And I miss wearing short sleeves and sun dresses, and that warm smell the sun leaves on your skin. Walking in the park and not worrying about bringing a jacket when you go out. Tan legs and sandal feet. Beach trips and the smell of cocoa butter. Gin and tonics in the sand. Laughing on the deck watching to sun go down and it’s almost 10pm. And the warm air feels so wonderful after those long cold wet months!

When Summer sun comes in, I take a book and a drink out onto the patio and listen to music and I always think it is the best time of year. Except that it’s too hot to sleep now. I don’t have anything cute to wear any more and short sleeves make me look fat. I wish I could bake bread and make stew, but it’s too hot to cook.

I look forward to Fall. Sandal days and sweater nights, and look how beautiful the orangeredyellow leaves are. Football, chili, stouts and porters. I remember that I do like to cook, and it’s cool enough to sleep at night again. I am a November girl, even though the month has little to recommend it outside of my birthday, Duck football and Thanksgiving. Pumpkins. And seasonal motherfucking gourds. The sun still makes an occasional appearance, low in the sky, and did I mention it’s almost my birthday? I still love my birthday. Piles of leaves, first the crisp ones that you can crunch through on the sidewalks, then sodden slippery ones that clog the gutters and block the storm drains making mini lakes at the crosswalks and sending rain over clogged gutters in sheets.

I love the Fall. It is my favorite season.

Except for the wind storms that blow my fence down and drive me up the hill to hide out with friends.

Other than that, I am a total November girl. Fall is definitely my favorite season.

And this time, I mean it.

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