I don’t know why I watched.

But I did. A news outlet posted a two-and-a-half minute video of the moment a mass shooting took place at a baseball field this morning. Five people were shot, as well as the shooter, who died of his injuries. Congressmen, their staff, Capitol Police: shot. While practicing baseball. Baseball.

The shooter has a history of domestic violence. He apparently even kicked a sleeping dog. I imagine, given the state of his life over the past month (living out of a gym bag at a YMCA), that something turned for him in his life, turned for the (even) worse. I imagine he felt there was nothing more to lose. I imagine in him, anger, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He didn’t like our current President. Much will be made of this fact. Already is being made.

But here I sit. Praying that the House Majority Whip, now in critical condition in a hospital, recovers fully and returns to work.

***

A friend posted an article today, a column written by a teacher, about the folly of relying on positive reinforcement when raising and teaching children.

The columnist writes:

In real life, citizens aren’t rewarded extrinsically for being good citizens. You don’t get a bonus check for paying your taxes on time. Cops don’t pull you over and hand you a $50 gift certificate for going the speed limit. Nobody throws you a pizza party for not firebombing your neighbors.

Nobody thanks you for not resorting to violence when you are angry, sad, and at your wit’s end, when you are beyond reason.

***

A relative recently told me that he has begun taking blood pressure medication. He places blame for that squarely on the shoulders of our current president.

No. That is not the president’s fault.

Nor is it the president’s fault that I ate too much over the course of the election, and over  the course of the past few months, and now need to lose a few pounds.

It is not the president’s fault that I am angry, that I worry, that I feel dismay and despair.

These are my feelings. I have them because I want them. I do with them what I want.

***

I do what I know how to do. I read. I share information. I commiserate, but I also find reasons to smile and laugh. I try, harder and harder, to listen and learn.

I try to show my children that the first person to look to when you are sad, when you are mad, is yourself.

I am running again. I am eating more healthfully. I am feeling stronger.

I did that. Nobody else.

 

 

It’s all about the shoes.

Last night after spending an hour reading and reading and reading and clicking and reading and then clicking and reading and sometimes typing, I looked up at my husband and said, “I can’t do it. I can’t forgive anybody’s vote for this man. It’s all horrible. There’s not a single good thing coming out of him, and it’s only been seven days.”

My husband looked at me, and said, “Stop. Close your laptop. You can’t feel like this for the next four years.”

He’s right, of course. This kind of anger may not be sustainable. And that’s what I have. I have a sense of overwhelming anger. And I spread it around: I share the news stories that fuel my anger, or justify it. I don’t know how many folks I’ve alienated or irritated or exhausted with my prolific postings.

I am sorry for doing this.

But I can’t stop. I won’t. Too much is at stake. My kids, my family, my friends, our planet–too much is at stake.

It’s true that the President is not all powerful. It’s true that there are checks and balances and that there is good in this world and in our country. It’s possible that things won’t be as bad as they seem like they’ll be.

But it’s also possible that the world is about to change dramatically, and not for the better.

I know, it is hard to take: The horrible news; the frightening levels of anxiety and animosity; the malice among some who would say to me and those who think like me, “Get over it.” It’s hard, it’s overwhelming, it’s painful, it’s everything bad.

But it is not the worst. None of this is the worst that can we can bear. Not yet.

It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

I can’t close my eyes. I can’t be still. I can’t get comfortable.

I will watch, and read, and share, and talk, and march, and write, and question, and vent. I will take a break now and then. I’ll continue to do the things I do: Exercise, walk my dog, goof around with my kids, spend time with my husband, my friends. I’ll work, and do errands, and live my life. I’ll take care of myself.

To be able to assert all this: It’s a luxury. I live a good and happy life. I worked really quite hard to earn my life, but I’m also profoundly lucky.

That luck can make a girl anxious. I have feared that the other shoe might drop any moment. And shoes did drop. I had cancer. My dad had a heart attack. My sister had cancer. My brother became a father to a daughter who’ll endure a lifetime of medical challenges. My mother had cancer.

But we’re all still here.

On January 20, 2017, another shoe dropped.

So I’m going to put my luck, my time, my resources and my energy to good use. Not everybody has as much as me. So I will share it.

I am a woman who can listen to shoes drop all day long.

I am a US citizen and…

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I could never run for public office.

I have thought about it many times over the past several years. Many, many times. But I can’t. I am an absolute coward.

I cannot stand, you see, the thought of somebody disliking me, even if I dislike what they say. I can’t tolerate it. I fret and worry and try to deconstruct conversations and replay and revisit until I make myself dizzy.

It is a profound weakness.

Case in point: A Facebook acquaintance wrote on her timeline: “I’m having a hard time following why people see Donald Trump as an anti-semite while his daughter Ivanka (obviously his pride and joy) is a conservative Jew and keeps Shabbos holy. For that matter, has Obama been such a great friend to Israel? Netanyahu? Or has this Iran deal brough them closer to a nuclear weapon? It seems AIPAC in Detroit was very clear about the outcome of an Iranian deal.”

I wanted to write, and in fact I drafted the words, “I don’t think he’s an anti-semite, but his campaign muse Steve Bannon most certainly is. And what does the Iran deal have to do with the alt-right movement in the United States?”

But I did not. I did not engage.

I made the mistake of posting a running list of hate-exposing tweets, imploring everybody to speak out against such malice so as not to have any voter bear the burden of those espousing hate in president-elect’s name. A woman responded by sharing a Snopes-debunked video of a group of people beating up some guy because he supported Trump. (It was a traffic incdient, no mention of Trump in the police report.) Her argument essentially: Both sides do it.

And what did I do, in the interest of keeping the peace with a fellow parent whose son attends my son’s school? I said of course, it’s wrong no matter what. I simply agreed with another  woman who said that it’s wrong to say all Trump voters are racists, rather than saying what I wanted to say, which was: “Correct, they are not racist. But they voted for a person who has said racist things, espouses racist policies, and has a racist / anti-Semite (Steve Bannon) giving him advice.”

See, people don’t like to be made uncomfortable. People don’t like confronting externalities, like the fact that one might want change and one might hate Hillary, but if you want it that badly, you might just elect a buffoon who absorbs hate if it happens to be near him.

People don’t want to learn that my opinion of them erodes, falls to near nothing, if they can compartmentalize ugliness.

If they can say to me essentially, “but it’s not affecting you personally, so what does it matter?” It changes how I see them. Forever.

People don’t want to learn that. People want to be comfortable. I could make them uncomfortable. But I am weak, I stay silent and diplomatic, I hope that the world can see me as fair-minded.

It is my source of shame.