Guns and Drugs

I saw this article in the paper today. It is always sad and scary when a child gets hold of a gun and shots, whether on purpose or accidentally, another child.  (In this case, fortunately, the child will be okay.) And yes, it was wrong of the parents/gun owner to have a loaded gun accessible to a child. They should have been responsible.

Of course, some will point to it and say this is yet another example of why we need better regulations on guns. Others will say you can’t punish the responsible gun owners for the actions of the irresponsible ones.

I agree with both those sentiments. I don’t blame responsible gun owners, who keep their weapons properly locked up, for this. Of course not. And if all gun owners locked their weapons away from access of children, things like this couldn’t happen.

But the same argument can be used for what is being called an opioid epidemic. Should you punish the responsible patients who use the medicine judiciously, carefully, so that they can manage to live a functional life?

I don’t have a condition that causes the sort of pain that the chronic pain patients who use opioids do. However, I know many who fall into that group. They try to use as little as they can, while still doing the daily necessities. Even with their dose, they hurt, but they function.

They live with pain as a constant companion.  Relief is essential on occasion.

Guns are not essential.

The statistics of deaths from prescription opioids are hard to tease out, because most of the data include illegal drugs such as heroin. A person who is using drugs as prescribed is much less likely to fall into those statistics.

I wonder why there is no talk of regulating the tens of thousands of deaths (not to mention double or more injuries) by guns. No one takes a gun to relieve pain. No one takes a gun to be able to function.

Yet medically required care is being scrutinized, while gun ownership rises. (Most of the gun sales are to people who already own guns. They are stockpiling.)

Something seems wrong here. Maybe you can think of better solutions. Because I certainly don’t want the current trend to continue. Deaths by pain relieving, prescribed opioids has stabilized, while gun death rises each year. Think about it.

 

 

 

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Procrastination

It goes likes this.

First, I notice that my fingernails are getting a bit longer. I think, “Gee, I should trim them one of these days.” Then, I get busy doing something else.

Usually, within a few days of my thinking that, my husband will comment that he needs to clip his fingernails. I might pipe up with a “Me, too.”

Neither of us will do it then, of course. There are always more interesting things to do.

When, eventually, we finally clip them, we make a big announcement, like it is the most newsworthy accomplishment imaginable.

And, I guess, in a way, it is. Those darned nails were bothering us, and getting it done is a concrete task that feels, by the time we do it, like a major achievement. While we were kicking that ball down the road, of course, we found all sorts of other things to do.
Writers, by and large, have a similar issue. We have this project we are working on, and maybe we are at a hard scene, or just have lost momentum.

We decide today, yes, today, we will buckle down and get to work.

That’s when we notice that spot on the door that needs cleaning. Right now.

Or that pile of laundry that isn’t going to wash itself. And while we are at it, the floors need scrubbing.

And we must alphabetize the spice rack.

Yeah, all sorts of things that suddenly need attention, in order to help us procrastinate from what we really feel we should be doing.

It can be annoying on occasion. But it also can be useful. Procrastination can help me get my house a bit cleaner. (Notice I didn’t say clean. Anyone who knows me knows I am a tad – um, organizationally challenged.)

I don’t know how non-writers get anything done.

Now excuse me. I think I need to trim my fingernails.

Pumpkins!

Boo!

Okay, now that I’ve scared you, I will say, I enjoy Halloween. I enjoy the costumes, the decorations, the treats (okay, yes, I’m a sugar fiend) and all that.

But maybe it is where I live now, as opposed to where I grew up, but Halloween is so much tamer now.

When I was little, we did the Jack O’lantern thing, carved the pumpkins, my mom roasted the seeds (mmm!) and all that. But we never put them out until Halloween.

We knew, the night they were outside, they would be smashed. It was a given, and we put them out on Halloween.

We trick-or-treated around the neighborhood, carrying pillowcases for the goodies, and generally had a good haul. We made sure to be home by a certain time, even on weekends, because there was always that kid who had Nair shot into his hair, and ended up with a bald spot, and none of us wanted it to be us.

In the morning, there may well have been shaving cream on the house, even on the car. TP may or may not have been around.

And, of course, the pumpkin was in oogy bits on the street.

Then we moved. New neighborhood, new school – and new rituals. We had further to walk between houses, but it was still a blast to go out.

But a weird thing happened on November 1. We got up, and – the pumpkins were still on the front stoop.

We had a problem, something we never had had to deal with before.

What do you do with an old pumpkin.

We left it there, hoping someone would come and smash it.

It was a cold time of year in the northeast. The pumpkin got a bit caved in, but remained fairly intact.
It was over 40 years ago, so I honestly don’t remember if we threw them in the trash, tossed them in the garden to mulch, or what.

But it was a strange thing to deal with.

Many years later, I was grown, married, and my husband and I had uprooted and moved to Florida. We did our typical carving of the pumpkin a week ahead. It was tradition, what we had always done.

Then we moved to Florida.

It was the year we got one of those special pumpkin carving kits, with the fancy templates that make really cool images. A lot of meticulous attention to detail, carving delicate curves for wonderful, spooky images. We were very impressed.

We set the pumpkins on our dining room buffet, looking very festive, to away the Big Night, when we would place the candles in the base, light them, and watch them glow with spooky joy.

Then we learned something.

You don’t carve pumpkins ahead of time in Florida.

They get moldy. Really funky moldy, oozing out the base like the leakiest of diapers. All over our oak buffet.

No way were either of us going to put our hands in that fuzzy, hideous, and yes, very scary and gruesome mess.

It did, however, look spectacularly spooky, all caved in and covered in fuzz.

We carved new pumpkins, a little less elaborately, and never again did it before Halloween.

Wishing you a mildew-free Halloween!

Silly Stuff

Time for some silly stuff.

I think about all sorts of things. Obviously, I think of serious things, but I think of frivolous stuff, too.

Cookies. I think a lot about cookies. Cookie monster has nothing on me. He only eats cookies. I bake them, then eat them. I don’t think much makes me happier than a yummy, fresh-from-the-oven-cooled-just-enough-not-to-burn you cookie.

I have a gajillion cookie recipes. Some of them are universal, like the Toll-House cookie recipe.

Some I have collected over the years. Some I collected from others who have collected over even more years.

I think if I could tally up all the years of collections, I would have hundreds of years of recipes.

Bury me with cookies.

Or not.

Actually, I have thought about how much archeologists discern from gravesites of cultures past, and thought it might be funny to be buried with an odd collection of items, see if I can confound future archeologists.

I should undoubtedly wear a tiara, to show that I am in a high position in society. (Never mind reality here. This has nothing to do with reality.) Then I think maybe place a doll in with me, and a can opener. And undoubtedly other assorted oddities. Maybe a Rubik’s Cube? (Though really, that should be buried with my daughter. She can solve them.) A FitBit, naturally. Perhaps a pen, thrust through the earring hole in one of my ears. (Yes, by the time the archeologists uncover me, the soft tissue will likely have disappeared. But on the off chance…)

A book, perhaps Watership Down.

What sort of things do you wish to add? Or be buried with yourself?

Me, too

October 15th, a plethora of posts stating “Me, too” exploded on Facebook. Including on my own wall.

Me, too being – I, too, experienced sexual assault or harassment. Nearly every woman seems to have had this experience. A number of men, too. But mostly women, and generally at the hands of a man.

Many women have said they never spoke up about it. Or that they weren’t believed. Or that they were told, “Just be glad it was only….” (fill in the blank, with however much they dealt with.)

Sorry, but there should never be an acceptable amount of abuse or harassment. And victims should be believed. It is never the fault of a woman for wearing certain type of clothing, or for being in a place where a man would never have been shamed for being.

The awareness being raised is good. Hopefully, those who were too frightened, or too ashamed to speak out their own “Me, too” will feel less alone.

But even better would be if this prompted a change in the culture that says “Boys will be boys” and gives men the idea that it is fine for them to do whatever they want. Perhaps, even, there will be push-back in having an elected president who has stated that he is a harasser. It isn’t locker room talk – it is abuse talk. It is wrong. And it was stating actions.

I want to see a flurry of posts now that say, “I’m in” from the men, from those who vow to fight systemic misogyny in our culture. If they weren’t aware of it before, they are now. No more excuses.

Set a Date

I’m horrified, and sad, and angry that I need to write about this again.

That our country needs to grieve again.

This is coming straight from the heart, online, no planning what to say, just saying it. Sometimes, that is all we can do.

I know they are already saying, “This is not the time to talk about gun control.”

It never is, right?

So, if this isn’t the time, can we please set a date? A firm date, one that you will agree has enough time from the event so that the families can mourn in peace. So that we can talk about concrete things to do, actually do them, and see if that helps? Because this in not normal.

It isn’t normal to live where someone can legally purchase that much weaponry, take it to a hotel room, and just shoot people.

Now, this particular killer is dead. We can’t ask him why he did it. At this point, what little we know about him doesn’t paint a picture of a mass murderer.

What we know is, nothing will bring back the dead. The families will mourn, and feel whatever feelings – angry, sorrow, anything else, and all their feelings are valid – they need to feel.

But I’m hazarding a guess that many of those survivors will want to stand with many of the other survivors of the many other mass shootings, and see something done about this.

What I am expecting is the usual. Nothing. No one change in law, not one change in health care, not one change in attitudes towards mental health. Lip service, but no action.

Can we please, pretty please, set a date? If you want, I will bake cookies for the discussion.

History

We tend to think of history as what happened in the past. Something dead and buried, not relating to the here and now.
But we are making history, in small ways and large, every day. You reduced your waste? That helps the environment – putting you on the right side of history.

History, looking back to today, judges us.

Think of the judgments you make. “How did people let Hitler rise to power?” That is a question judging the rationality and ethics of the Germans living in that era.

“Why did the Romans line water pipes with lead?” Judgment.

“Why did the Colonists fight against Britain?”

“Why did the Founding Fathers codify slavery into the Constitution?”

“Why did the Confederate states leave the union?”

“Why did we get involved in Vietnam?”

“Why did Martin Luther King stand up for civil rights?”

“Why did people oppose MLK standing up for civil rights?”

Right now, we are in a point in history where future historians will judge us. I want to be on the right side of things.

I want to be a voice against Nazis and white supremacists strutting about the country, poisoning the well of democracy.

I want to stand with my black friends and black strangers to voice against systemic racism.

I want to see us change our country so that systemic racism is no longer present. That parents no longer have to fear their child leaving the house, or their spouse leaving the house, because they may not come back if a bad cop decides they looked “dangerous.”

And while we are at it, I also want to see LGBT people have the same rights as straight people and cisgender people, to walk about, to even pee without worrying that they may not come out of the bathroom alive.

Protesting by kneeling during a song – yes, even that one, the national anthem – is a pretty tame way of expressing outrage at the racism still woven into our society. I will stand with them – or kneel.

I want to stand on the right side of history. Where will you be standing?