- Why do people sit parked in their vehicles with the engine running and the windows completely closed on a gorgeous evening? Why not open the windows? Turn the car off? Perhaps even get out of the car? Personally, I crave fresh air and consider it to be a necessary part of my day. Try it.
- Spring has finally arrived and things are blooming all over the place. My completely unscientific observation about lilacs has two conclusions – 1. It has been an exceptional year for them and 2. The lighter the color, the stronger the fragrance.
- While crosswalks are becoming more prevalent, the rate of drivers actually acknowledging them and stopping for pedestrians really hasn’t improved all that much. This morning I watched a young child waiting patiently to cross the street, at the designated crosswalk, and observed that not a single car yielded to him. That’s unacceptable. Period.
- I’m tired of the fight for reproductive healthcare in our country. When will those in power, and their supporters, stop trying to change what has been the law in this country for 45 years? The hypocritical and sanctimonious politicians who can’t bring themselves to enact laws to protect children from being murdered in their classrooms by individuals wielding assault weapons, yet want to limit women’s access to comprehensive healthcare, need to be voted out.
- On a related note – the news has been filled with examples of bigotry and racism both locally and around our not-so-great country. If you’re appalled and disgusted by these events, it’s time to start getting more involved. We need to speak up and let the people committing these acts know that we see what they’re doing and we will not be complicit by remaining silent.
Watch this video.
The situation in Toronto earlier this week was pretty dramatic – a man, a rented van, and seemingly, a mission to hurt and kill as many innocent pedestrians as possible. While it’s something we’ve seen before, there were two things that stood out to me as remarkably different.
The first, the one that has been justifiably lauded by so very many, is the composure of the police officer who ultimately disarmed the suspect. His actions have already been recognized as being text-book perfect. He was calm, and he controlled and managed the situation in a manner that will surely be used in the future for instructing how to deal with these all too frequent incidents. It was reassuring to witness an officer of the law bringing a horrific episode to an end without a single bullet. Bravo.
The second thing that impressed me was the absolute lack of awareness about the situation demonstrated by three pedestrians who walked through the scene as it unfolded. I use the word “scene” intentionally, because what in the world was those people thinking – perhaps, that they had stumbled upon a movie being filmed? I mean, look at them! There’s a police officer facing in their direction with a weapon drawn and they’re just ambling along? How is it that they were not prevented from walking into the middle of a wildly volatile situation? And, more striking, how clueless were they?
If folks can’t assess the threat of an ongoing altercation between the police and a suspect, I have little faith that they’ll ever be able to prevent more occurrences like the one in Toronto (or NYC, or Barcelona or Muenster…) by seeing and saying something. Eyes open, people.
Last night’s run took me along a route I don’t often get to experience on foot. I had plans to meet a friend down at Nine-Pin for Fin’s pop up, (and knew that stretching my legs before my upcoming flight would be beneficial), so I decided a downhill run to the Warehouse District would check all the boxes. The weather, while damp, was refreshingly mild when I set off and my route to Broadway evolved as I made my way to the reward of a ginger cider and lobster mac and cheese.
I took State Street down to Washington Avenue, admiring the architecture and feeling appreciative to live in a city that is filled with beautiful buildings and parks. My mood was good and my body felt strong. I was happy until I noticed the flags flying at half-mast on numerous buildings. I mentally paused to consider what the occasion might be for the flags to have been lowered, quickly concluding that it must be an acknowledgement of the latest school massacre. I wonder whose job that is, to raise and lower flags each time American students are murdered in their classrooms. I expect that their arms must be pretty damn tired.
This morning, as I got ready to leave my house for work, the list of names of the most recent victims were read on the radio and I was compelled to stop what I was doing to listen. Their ages gutted me – many were just 14 or 15 years old. What was your biggest worry when you were that age? Zits? Making your school’s sports team or landing a role in the spring musical? Maybe an upcoming test or project? I think it’s safe to say it wasn’t concern over whether a classmate armed with a semi-automatic weapon would be shooting up your school that day.
Why are our elected officials ok with students being murdered while at school? I mean, they must find it acceptable, right? They continue to accept money from gun proponents and refuse to consider legislation that might prevent these sort of things from happening again and again and again. Doesn’t that make them complicit? I’ll answer that myself – Yes, our government is responsible for creating a situation in which civilians can purchase and possess firearms which can be used to perpetrate crimes like what we’ve witnessed time and time again in our country. They should held accountable in every way possible – sue them, vote them out, spread the word about how people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are beholden to the NRA.
Our children are not replaceable but every single one of these f*ckers who choose dollars over public safety are disposable. Let’s stop memorializing teenagers with stars and stripes and start ensuring that children who go to school in the morning return home in the afternoon on a bus and not in a body bag.
Many of the books I read are written for young adults. These include lots of realistic fiction, some fantasy and adventure titles, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A new box of books arrived the other day in my library – something which still excites even after more than two decades on the job, and I helped myself to a couple of new titles, including The 57 Bus a nonfiction book by Dashka Slater.
You know when you’re reading a book and you find yourself thinking and even talking about it? Well, this is that kind of book. Slater deftly tells the story of two very different teenagers who ride the same city bus for a life changing 8 minutes. She tells the story in brief chapters, a technique I found very effective and one that helps makes the facts related more easily digested. One afternoon on the bus an event occurs during that shared ride which impacts both of their lives, an event which began as a simple prank yet grew to become an incident defined by some as a hate crime.
Oakland, California is a diverse city of 400,000 residents with a wide range of economic levels represented. It has, at times, been cited as the most violent city in America with gangs and guns present in many neighborhoods of the city’s nearly 80 square miles. Oakland was the home of both Sasha and Richard.
Sasha, a teenager who identifies as agender and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, is an intelligent young person with a supportive family and a solid group of friends They (the pronoun they use for themself) attend an alternative high school, wear garments that are typical for both males and females, and are committed to living a life which feels reflective on the exterior of what they are experiencing on the inside.
Richard is a black teenager being raised by his young mom and stepfather in a stable family in a struggling neighborhood. Although he gets into some legal trouble as a juvenile, he is essentially a typical, unmotivated high school boy in an urban school district. The reckless act Richard commits against Sasha is unspeakably horrific, yet not premeditated or truly intended and he in many ways ends up just as scarred as they do.
Reading about the encounter between Sasha and Richard left me breathless and with an aching heart. This is a powerful story that will stay with readers. Read this.
I have. If I’m being completely honest, far more times than I’d like to acknowledge. If you’re a parent, I think you probably have, too. How could any human being not place themselves in the shoes of the 26 families who lost a child 5 years ago in an elementary school in a pretty little town in Connecticut?
That day is like 9/11 to me, etched on my heart and absolutely unforgettable. Maybe it’s the same for you?
I had indulged two of my three boys with a midweek (personal day) overnight stay at an indoor water park. My oldest son declined to come because he didn’t want to miss school, something I didn’t endorse lightly at that time. I’ve become more lenient about it since.
I remember it being late morning when I first became aware of the situation occurring in Newtown, CT. Reclined in a chaise lounge under a roof built mostly from glass, I checked my Twitter feed and saw news of a shooting at an elementary school. There was an image of children being led in a line outside of a brick building, a second shooter was being sought, and emergency vehicles looked to be everywhere. It was chaos and horror. I swear the sky clouded over and became gray. I wanted to go home.
As we packed up our bags, I monitored the situation on my phone. I looked at my own child, approximately a year older than most of the victims as it turned out, and imagined sending him to school and never seeing him alive again. On our drive south, I stopped at an unfamiliar branch of my bank to take care of something. As I stood in line for service, tears rolled down my face with quiet abandon. The other people in the bank had conversations in normal volume voices, certainly unaware of what had transpired, I imagined. I couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly continue to speak on a day in which primary school students and their teachers had been shot to death in their classrooms. What words could be said that had any meaning?
Every single day since then has been a new opportunity for our country to honor those lives lost. We can do better. We have to do better. No one should ever have to wake up a day after their child was massacred in their classroom.
Each new allegation of sexual harassment brings with it an increased sense of disbelief – not because I doubt the women who are sharing their experiences in such remarkable numbers, but because I can’t help but be curious how so many men could possibly have believed their actions are acceptable. I wonder “who raised them?,” yet must admit that I’ve never had direct conversations with my own sons about boundaries and respect when it comes to physical interactions with others. I suppose I just thought that my children would understand that it is not ok to touch people without invitation. It’s basic, isn’t it?
Speaking of basic, using one’s hands adeptly is such an essential motor skill that I believe most of us take it for granted. You know, when you want to pick something up your brain sends the signal to your hands and they respond by reaching out for and gripping onto whatever it was that you wanted. To be clear, I’m talking about something innocuous like a glass or a pen, not a women’s genitalia or breasts. We’re talking about me now – not Roy Moore or Donald Trump.
Well, in recent months my hands have been less cooperative than Jeff Sessions testifying under oath. The thing is, though, unlike Sessions I can clearly recall how things were, how my hands used to behave…and I’m a bit distressed about it. Some days are better than others and there are times when my hands don’t hurt at all. Other times? The dexterity that I once knew and expected is simply no longer present. My hands ache, particularly in the fleshy area between my thumbs and my wrists, and it feels like my fine motor skills are shot.
So, I’m a bit concerned naturally. Maybe it’s arthritis or a touch of carpal tunnel. I’m not certain, but I’ll be discussing it with the doctor at my next physical in the new year. I can accept my own stiff and uncooperative hands as a natural side effect of getting older, but as far as women continuing to be victimized by men who choose to not maintain control over their own hands? Yeah, that’s something to which I will always throw up my hands. I hope you will, too.
We are living in scary times, friends. I don’t know about you, but I feel anxious about the state of our country and the relationships we have internationally. It seems like a long time since I’ve woken up without having to wonder what kind of outrageous statement or action with which Donald Trump has greeted the new day. It simply doesn’t always feel good to be an American in 2017.
Last Friday, though, was a bright spot in an otherwise dark time thanks to the New York State Writers Institute. Their schedule this fall is fantastic and the symposium they hosted over the weekend was absolutely tremendous. Although I was able to attend only two sessions of the event, I walked away with a glimmer of hope and a new sense of pride in my city. Bravo, Paul Grondahl and the NYSWI.
A few observations about the panels I attended:
- The participants* were smart.
- The audience was interested and mostly respectful.
- Page Hall was packed.
- The time went remarkably fast.
- It was affirming, inspiring and reassuring.
Check out the rest of their schedule of events. There’s something there for everyone – and it’s free.
*Participants included moderator, Bob Schieffer, Douglas Brinkley, Franklin Foer, Amy and David Goodman, Maria Hinojas, Harry Rosenfeld and Tim Wu.