Tag Archive | death

These are the People in Your Neighborhood

Take race out of the equation. Would he have pursued him? Called the police? Tailed him even after a 911 operator told him to stop following the boy? Gotten out of the car to confront him, knowing that police were on their way?

Now flip the script. If Martin had been white and Zimmern black, would that verdict have been different?

Sad thing is, racism was, and still is, an issue in our country. The thing is, until I was almost in middle school, I didn’t know racism existed.

I live in a city that’s a nice mixture of many races. I grew up having block parties with people of many different backgrounds. I was exposed to other cultures at a young age. I remember having cow tongue tacos (tacos lenguas) with our next door neighbors. Skipping double dutch or doing drills with the girls down the street. Watching tv with my friend while her mother put cornrows in her hair. Learning to speak Spanish from the kids in the neighborhood. Playing marbles for “keepsies” with every kid on the block gathered around to watch like it was the World Cup. This was my childhood and it was great.

Fast forward to Fourth Grade. I was a smart kid who was pretty socially awkward. I got bullied a lot. One of my bullies was a girl who I had been friends with at one point. While we were on our way to the library, she balled up her fist and made a motion like she was going to hit me. When I flinched, she asked me if I was prejudiced. I had no idea what that meant. As I stared blankly at her, my friend Travis spoke up for me. “If she was prejudiced, she wouldn’t be friends with me.” As we continued to the library, Travis explained to me what prejudiced meant. By the time he was done, I wanted to cry. How could someone think that my opinion of them could be based on their skin color?

I guess that’s part of the reason I don’t understand the hate and anger that people are throwing around about this case. As a parent, I feel anger over the not guilty verdict. As a human, I feel sadness over this senseless loss. I don’t understand the anger and hate though.

Over the past couple days, the comments I have read on social media have been outright horrible. Some have even made me cry. My news feed is blowing up with views from both sides of the fence. Many people are posting other crimes that may have been racially motivated, saying why didn’t this have national coverage? Why didn’t Obama make a statement about this? Plain and simple, it’s the media. The media chose to take this case and blow it up. That had nothing to do with the government, the president, anyone else other than the media.

On the flip side, I have heard people call for the death of Zimmerman. Some have even commented that they would like to find him and do it themselves. What is that going to solve? Nothing.

I’m happy to say that these extreme comments are only from a few on my contacts list. It still saddens me to see people I care for so full of anger and hate.

A gentleman on Facebook named Alex Fraser penned this response. I found it to be both insightful and true.

Hopefully, one day race will be a non-issue in America. I often think back to my childhood neighborhood and wish that the whole country could come together as we did. I know one thing for sure. So long as people allow hatred and anger to well up in them at moments like this instead of concern and compassion, things like this will continue to divide us instead of unite us.

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Which End Up?

These past weeks have been trying to say the very least. I’ve hit a low that is unlike any other I’ve experienced before. It’s uniqueness stems from the fact that I have much to be happy about while I am curled into the fetal position crying about what is going wrong. I swear, my life is more bipolar than I am right now.

My grandfather passed away. He was 89. He lived a long and wonderful life and for that, I’m happy. But the way he passed away is something I cannot be okay with. He was hit by a car and then spent the next 3 days in the hospital before passing away. Yes, he was 89, but the man was in great health and still sharp as a tack. He could have easily seen 100 if this accident hadn’t happened. Yes, it was an accident. Little old lady hit the gas instead of the brakes. I plan on writing a beautiful piece about him some day, but right now, I just don’t have it in me. I think the pain is too fresh.

Less than a week before this occurred, my mom was in the hospital for a suspected heart attack. She’s been in to see specialist after specialist now and will be having a cardiac catheter done this week. I’m really worried about her. She’s only 52.

My eldest is having so many health issues it’s not funny. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve taken her to the doctor in the past few weeks. After taking her to the ER the other night, she experienced not one, but two allergic reactions medications they gave her. Now, she can barely walk and the only thing we can do is wait. If she’s not improved by tomorrow, it’s another trip to the doctor for us.

The younger kids have been having some emotional issues due to my grandpas passing and that is presenting in their behavior. Trying to balance all that is becoming pretty tiresome.

School is one of those things I’m holding tight to right now because it helps me focus on something positive, but I’ve been so busy at home, doing my homework is becoming more and more difficult and now I need to drop a class I really like due to attendance.

I haven’t had time to decompress from anything lately except for a night with friends and a date night. My sewing machine is collecting dust, my craft box has been untouched, my books are collecting dust and I haven’t written for pleasure in ages.

All of this makes my heart hurt. There is a literal, physical pain in me right now. I want to fall apart for a million reasons, but I trudge on. My tank is on empty. I NEED things to start looking up and fast or I’m not sure where I’m going to end up with all this.

The good thing about these past few weeks is that my family seems more supportive and closer. I hope this will last. My boyfriend has been his amazing, supportive, helpful self through all of this and I truly believe that if it wasn’t for him, I’d be in a much darker place right now. He really does help keep me strong. I’ve had a chance to spend a lot of time with my eldest, but I wish she were feeling better so we could enjoy it even more.

I also FINALLY got a minivan yesterday, after needing one for ages. I’m so glad that’s out of the way. It’s pretty and it’s red. I never thought I’d own a red car, but this one suits me nicely I think. Plus, beggars can’t be choosers, and the price was right, so… lol. The BF even let me do the haggling and I think I did mighty nice. I managed to talk them down almost 15% from the sticker price! Go me!

So like I said, I’m in a weird place. I have a lot to be happy about, but life also seems to think it’s a good time to throw every type of chaos possible my way. Hopefully things will mellow soon. The optimist in me is getting pretty worn down.

Happy Crappy Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. Yay, right? Meh, not so much.

Sunday, my mom went into the hospital with a suspected heart attack. Terrified doesn’t even cover it. To make matters worse, she went to the same hospital where my dad died… of a heart attack. Thankfully, mom is home now and on the mend, but the emotions that were stirred up are still very present. I’m glad she didn’t leave us because that would have made my birthday that much crappier.

Being that I was so worried about my mom, focusing on homework proved pretty much impossible. Anxiety began to kick in ever time I picked up a book. I did manage to get a few things done, but with the load of work I had, it barely made a dent.

Don’t get me wrong, my birthday wasn’t all bad. My wonderful kiddos made me birthday cards and helped around the house and my boyfriend brought home a turtle ice cream cake. The boyfriend and I also had some time to snuggle and talk, which is always great. The day was difficult because my eldest was really sick. She got hit with the worst stomach flu I’ve ever seen. We were worried that maybe she may have severe food poisoning, so I called the answering service. They recommended that we take her, guess where. That’s right. The ER.

Everything checked out okay, so we were able to go home. She’s still really ill and I feel horrible for being at school while she’s home sick like this. I know she’s a “big girl” and can take care of herself, but I still feel bad.

I have the flu now as well. Not the stomach bug, bug the good, old fashioned flu. To top off my misery, I fell on ice when leaving for school today. Hurray for crappy days.

Pavlov and the Universe

Yeah…. It’s been forever since my last post. I suck. I’m not totally sure why it’s been so long either. I have some theories, but who knows if they carry any weight.

This past week or so has been me being sick, again, dealing with kids who have pneumonia, (hurray for the flu turning into something that could potentially kill a person), and my own descent into the darkest parts of me. Yeah, it’s been great.

There is hope though. I’m physically better, kids are on the mend, and I had the best date night tonight! My mood was brightening and I though maybe, just maybe, it would be enough to pull me out of my funk long term. Or at least for a few days. Boy, was I overly hopeful.

Today was a great day. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time with the kiddos, but with the way I’ve been lately, I’m not sure they would have been all too happy if I had. My batteries have been beyond low and I seem to have a hair trigger these days. To put it bluntly, I’ve been a bitch. Not just an ordinary run of the mill bitch either. A mega bitch. One who breathes fire, has horns, and terrifies all the little people. Kinda like this…

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Yeah, yeah. I know it’s a dragon. I couldn’t find a picture of a crazy woman breathing fire who had horns, so please feel free to use your imaginations. Besides, that’s a fairly accurate representation of me the past week. And for those of you out there who may be wondering, no it is not that time of the month for me. I’m also not preggo. That factory was closed down long ago.

When I’m not breathing fire on all the tiny villagers in my home, I’m feeling lost, lonely and really damn needy. I am not typically a needy person. This is so not cool with me. I’ve been up the BF’s ass worse than a hemorrhoid and I feel like crying every ten seconds. This shit is going to make me crazy all on it’s own. I feel like such a girl, and in the worst of ways. Crying makes me feel weak, and I despise feeling weak. Historically, this is when I get shit on most. Kick her while she’s down, right? So I do everything in my power not to show these emotions. Which never works because they always come out in some way, shape, or form. Problem is, I’m too proud to admit that I need to lean on someone hard right now. Typing this is borderline painful right now.

So what to do. If I were talking to one of my kids, I’d say, “You need to tell us what you need. We are not mind readers. If you’re sad, mad, feel like you need something that you’re not getting, you need to let us know. We can’t help you if we don’t know what the problem is and we don’t expect you to deal with everything on your own.” Then I’d wrap them into a hug so amazing, they’d have no choice but to open up to me, because, hey, I’m cool like that.

Funny how I have all this wisdom in my teensy tiny brain to share with others, but not enough common sense to use it for myself. Yes, I am blissfully aware of the irony in this situation. Or is it blissfully unaware? Well, how about whichever makes me sounds like less of a dumbass.

Maybe my unwillingness to show weakness is a bit like Pavlov’s stimulus response. Although, my conditioning is a bit different than salivating on myself. (Okay there was that one time but I was really drunk) My conditioning had been I show vulnerability and I get hurt. Time and time again, this has happened to me. It makes a person nervous. It has nothing to do with my trust in those I love. I trust them all as much as I love them, which is a terrifying amount. I don’t trust that if I reach out my paw hand for help, the universe won’t bitch slap it back into my pocket.

A Manic’s Struggle with Massacre

There’s something I’ve wanted to touch on for a while now, but couldn’t. Sandy Hook Elementary.

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I said I couldn’t. I meant it. And not because I felt I needed to do research on gun control laws to prepare. Not because I wanted to be armed with a bushel full of mental health statistics to show how mental health care in our country needs upgrading. I couldn’t because, just for a while, I was pretending it didn’t happen.

I know what you’re thinking. What a heartless bitch. I don’t know, maybe I am. Please let me explain before you cast your vote.

I’ve been in a rough manic patch since my mixed episode subsided. This is not normal for me as I usually fall into a depression after a M.O. Paranoid thoughts, sleepless nights, a flash temper, auditory hallucinations and more have plagued me as of late. Those closest to me have little insight into what I’m experiencing aside from what directly affects them, such as my temper, because I chose to keep the majority of my issues to myself. When I get in these altered states, I tend to withdraw from those around me because I don’t want them to see my odd behaviors. I also have to distance myself from certain extreme emotions or face the risk of winding up in the hospital.

Enter the Sandy Hook shooting. The moment I heard about what was going on, I was in tears and my mind was racing a million miles. At that point, there wasn’t a whole lot of credible information in the news media, with conflicting reports coming from almost every outlet. The only thing that was certain was there was a shooting and people had died–at an ELEMENTARY school. Instantly, my mind ran with that. I have three little ones who are in elementary school, so of course, my immediate thoughts were about them. Are they safe? Is everything okay with them? The usual mom thoughts, I suppose.

Then paranoia set in. I need to get them. This will happen there too. There’s someone going into their schools right now, I just know it. This is the beginning of the end of the world. I need to get there before they get killed! Why am I sitting here? Will I seem them again? If i don’t get them, they’ll die and it will be all my fault. Life won’t be worth it anymore, if there’s a life left. How could I live with the guilt of knowing I basically had killed my children by not doing anything…

Yeah. You get the idea. Crazy stuff. And that’s just a very small summary of everything I was thinking. At this point, the logical portion of my brain that was trying to talk some sense into the hysterical, paranoid part. The paranoid part was having nothing to do with it. It was too busy doing this.

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That’s when good old reliable Logic decided enough was enough. Seeing no other way to get Paranoia to stop her nonsense, Logic decided this was the best course of action.

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It took a while, but Paranoia calmed down. They both had a nice long talk and decided that the best way to deal with these things was to not think about them. Less information learned about the events meant Paranoia would have less to run with. (Don’t tell her I said this, but Paranoia is one crazy bitch.)

Okay, back to reality now. In case you missed the point there, my mind was running with the facts I had, as well as those I didn’t, and using it as ammo against my sanity. So I had to back off. I had to distance myself from the media reports and pretend like it hadn’t happened. I did this for myself and my family. If I hadn’t, I don’t know that I would be able to type this right now.

Of course, little facts and media reports have slipped through the cracks. My paranoid mind ran with those, but the were sprints rather than marathons. Taking this a little at a time seems to have made it easier. I still worry about my own kids, but no more than any other parent does in a time like this. Taking time to wall myself in from this has been a good thing. I’m starting to feel a lot better about my ability to handle the details. I’ve even read some reports on it now.

I’m not going to go too much into things, as I’m still keeping the event at arms length, but I do want to clarify a few things. I have mourned for the loss of these children and their educators. This blog may be construed as me saying I felt no grief in that loss. That is not the case. I didn’t distance myself from those feeling, just from the thoughts that my mind made up every time it had a new morsel of detail to work with.

There’s a lot of people saying we need tighter gun laws and better mental health coverage. I agree some changes need to be made, but one thing I feel we should be looking at as well is the media coverage of evens like this. I understand some might argue about freedom of speech, but the reason why many of these mass killers kill in this fashion is because they see it as a way to become famous. A way to be heard in a world where they may not have felt heard. A way to leave a mark on a world they felt they may have left otherwise unmarked. The media has a responsibility to people to stop making spectacles of these monsters. The more they make a fuss about the killer, the more this will happen.

I don’t remember the shooter’s name. I don’t care to either. I remember Victoria Soto, the teacher who put her first grade class into cupboards and told the killer they were in the gym. Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who may have broadcast her final moments over the schools loudspeaker as a warning to others in the building. Anne Marie Murphy, whose body was found over the children in her class. It’s believed she was attempting to shield them from the bullets. Mary Sherlach, who was nearing her 20th anniversary at the school. Lauren Rousseau who has just been hired by the school. Rachel D’Avino, who’s fiance was planning to propose at Christmas.

I remember the smiling faces of those beautiful little ones who are now with the angels. Catherine and her carrot red hair. Chase’s blue eyes. Ana, who had just moved here from Canada. Grace’s pretty smile. Jack’s big grin. Caroline’s generosity. Emilie’s love of art. James’ super cool mow-hawk. Jessie’s cheeks. Dylan’s shaggy hair. Josephine’s silly picture. Olivia’s good grades. Daniel’s missing teeth. Charlotte’s green eyes. Noah’s confident smile. Jessica’s love of horses. Avielle’s sly smile. Benjamin’s brown eyes. Allison’s shyness. Madeleine’s kindness.

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These are the people I choose to remember.

On Death, Avian Flu, and the Bubonic Plague

Death has been knocking at my door for the last two days.  And by death I mean the bubonic plague. And by that I mean the avian flu. Okay, fine. I’ve had the flu. Go ol’ influenza. Natures way of reminding you how it is possible to be sick enough that it hurts to move your pinky.Image

Then there’s this chick. Oh, doesn’t she look so miserable with her box of tissues and tousled bedroom hair. God, I wish I looked that cute when I’m sick. No. Can’t be that blessed if I tried. (Not that I think anyone actually could) This has been me for the last two days. Avert your eyes if you have weak stomachs. It ain’t purdy.

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That’s me. Well, all except for the green pustules. I have no idea what those are, but I know I don’t have them. Ewww. I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting better, because that is just not attractive and I’m no beauty queen in the first place.

In case you can’t tell, I turn into a whiny, spiteful pre-teen when I’m ill. This is also very unattractive. I guess the boyfriend really does love me, because he deals with all the ugly. There’s been plenty of it lately, too. Hopefully I’ll get some satisfying sleep and awake feeling much improved.

Even if I’m still a carrier of the plague, I’m going to see The Hobbit tomorrow. Even if it requires me to wear a mask like I do have avian flu… That might just up my geek cred though. Or my weirdo cred at least!

Daddy Issues

It never fails.  The holidays are here and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get my mind off my dad.  Then again, he’s never far from the front of my mind.  After four years, one would think I would be coping better with the loss.  Not so much. 

I took an advanced composition course this semester.  Most of our assignments were memoirs.  I took the opportunity to try to exorcise some demons and wrote about things that were very near to my heart, or my nerves.  I believe that being transparent is important when writing any sort of personal non-fiction.  So I wrote about my father.  What follows is the paper I submitted.

Just Like My Father

            When I look at my life, I can see imprints left from many who have influenced me through the years.  Some of those impressions have left me for the better and others for the worse.  When I look at all of those who have helped shape me into who I am today, no one has had more impact than my father.  He’s impacted my life on every level, from the superficial to the fundamental.

I look a lot like my dad- the twinkling, mischievous eyes, his unruly hair, and his stocky build.  I even have his cleft chin.  Few knew he had one because it was always hidden under his beard or goatee, but I recall sticking my fingers into the dimple under all that hair when I was young.  I don’t ever remember him not having some sort of facial hair.  I have his chunky “man hands” and his large feet that caused me to be very clumsy in my youth and still do from time to time.  The similarities don’t end with the physical features.

I have his love of all things geek.  Star Wars, Star Trek, and anything comic related were exposed to me at a young age.  Our musical tastes are so similar that we even describe it the same way, “I have very eclectic taste in music.  My music collection is all across the board.”  Maybe I picked it up from him but I remember saying that from a very young age.  Our sense of humor is in line as well.  Occasionally dry, always sarcastic, a bit witty and sometimes twisted, our humor isn’t for everyone.

We would go into thrift stores quite often when I was little.  I think my dad bought everything but underwear second hand!  We would go every few weeks to browse the stores.  I remember going shopping and putting on the old, goofy 70’s clothes that were still on the racks.  We always has a good time in those stores and Dad always found what he needed, even if it took a few trips.  I remember the pride that my dad would have when he got a great deal.  He’d brag about it like he’d won the lottery.  I know why he did because It’s something I do now myself.  Dad taught me to be proud of being cheap.

My dad has been my greatest teacher in every sense of the word.  I remember him getting The Reader’s Digest delivered to his house.  We would look up the word of the day and try to use it as often as we could until the next issue came.  After we got the internet at home, he would have a word emailed to him each day. It became a form of friendly competition between us to keep track of how many times the word was used.  Through these competitions, he taught me to love words and how to use them well.

He would tell me stories about the things he went through in his youth and things he did as a child, good or bad.  He admitted to me he wasn’t a perfect child; sometimes, he was about as far from perfect as one could get.  Through these stories, he taught me that it’s okay to be imperfect, to make mistakes.  “That’s how you learn, Amanda,” he would say.  “Besides, only one perfect person ever walked this earth and look what happened to Him.”  He usually delivered this line with a wink after a long lecture.  It was his way of letting me know we were okay and all was forgiven.

My dad has never been very into religion, but he’s always been a believer.  We used to sit on the end of the pier or atop a rock, watching the waves from Lake Michigan crash in.  He’d stare out over the lake and say, “I’ve always felt closer to God here than in any man-made church.  Let nature be your church, Amanda, and you’ll never be away from God.”  Maybe it’s the Chippewa in him, the heart of our ancestors, that call him to nature, but it’s something I adhere to myself.  He taught me how to reach my spiritual side through these quiet moments.  He knew how to help me through the loud times, too.

While I was growing up, I clashed a lot with my mother.  Some of it was normal mother daughter turmoil, some of it was much worse.  When it would get worse, she would send me off to stay with my dad.  These were some of my happiest times.  My dad talked to me, he listened to me, and he was there.  Whenever I needed someone to lean on, my dad was usually the first person I turned to.  He was sympathetic but also practiced “tough love”.  “Amanda, I can tell you what to do, or not to do, until I’m blue in the face.  Fact is, you’re your own person and you need to make your own mistakes.  My job is to catch you when you fall.”  He allowed me to be an individual and gave me my first real tastes of being responsible for my own actions.

While I was living with him, I received two separate reprimands from teachers.  In both cases, he asked my side, called the teacher to get their side, and came to his own conclusion on how to proceed with things from there.  In the first circumstance, he made me go back and apologize to the teacher.  In the second, he agreed with my stance and felt the teacher was in the wrong.  In the first circumstance, he taught me that it was okay to admit my mistakes and apologize for them.  In the second, he showed me that just because someone was a “superior” didn’t always make them right and that he would always be there to back me if he felt I was in the right.

In our fights, he taught me that just because you were mad at someone didn’t mean you stopped loving them.  My mother’s love always felt conditional, but my dad made me feel loved unconditionally.  I only remember my dad really yelling at me about five times during my teens.  Instead, he talked to me.  Like one adult to another.  Any teenager couldn’t ask for anything more.

When I got married, my dad and my step-father both walked me down the aisle.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.  My dad cried when he saw me in my dress and again as we danced to Bob Carlie’s “Butterfly Kisses”.  I had seen him cry a few times before that day as well.  He showed me that real men can show their emotions and still be masculine.

As I grew up and ventured out on my own, my dad continued to be a steady presence in my life.  Whenever I needed an escape, I would call dad and we’d talk politics, religion, football, kids, or anything.  I realized he wasn’t just my dad.  He was my very best friend.  No matter what I was going through, he was always there.  When my now ex-husband found himself in legal trouble that threatened to destroy our family, I decided not to share it with my dad.  He eventually found out about the legal turmoil, like all good dads do, and scolded me saying, “Amanda, how can I be your champion if you won’t let me.”  After all those years, I was still his little girl.

My dad taught me how to be a good friend by being a good friend to me.  Watching him raise myself and my sister, I learned how I wanted to parent my own children.  He was my example on how to be a good spouse, always communicating and striving for compromise.  My dad was everything I wanted to be.

Four years ago, I got the worst phone call of my life.  Three in the morning, I answer my phone.  It’s my step mother.  “Amanda, I don’t know how to tell you this.  Your dad died tonight.”  My father, my greatest teacher, my best friend left me far too soon.  The man who I could always turn to no matter the problem, wasn’t here for my biggest problem yet.  I never considered at 25 I would lose my father.  My heart hasn’t been the same since.

Still, I trudge on.  Some days are better than others.  Sometimes the stress of life gets to me or something happens that I’m bursting to share with him and I still reach that phone, ready to dial his number.  I have to remind myself that I don’t need the phone anymore.  I can reach my support system anytime now, no dial tone required.  I just need to look within and all around me.  I often go for walks through the woods or down to that rock or the pier by the lake just to talk to him.  He’s in my heart, in everything.  My greatest teacher, the man I look so much like, is still teaching me.  He’s teaching me about coping with great loss and moving on, even if it’s just one small step at a time.  I am lucky to have been blessed with such a great father, teacher, and friend.

I wanted to pay tribute to a man who was so much more to me than just a father.  Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to let go?  Hopefully, my blues will subside soon. I know Dad would kick my ass if I spent another Christmas in Grinch mode.