Please, Just Make it Stop

I absolutely refuse to believe that there’s nothing we can do, as a society, to stop gun violence. I refuse to accept that the second amendment is the reason we don’t do something drastic like collecting all the guns in America and destroying them. The second amendment did not take into consideration the breadth and scope of this country when it was written in the 17th century. The Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the diversity and the hate in this country. They could not have predicted a divisive president like Donald Trump.

The opening lines to the Declaration of Independence state that every citizen of the United States of America has a right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. With millions of people owning more than one gun, some of them semi-automatic weapons, I find that pursuing life, liberty and happiness are much more difficult because I live in a constant state of fear, and wonder when the next mass shooting will happen. I’ve not yet encountered an active shooter. I can’t help but think that my odds shrink every day.

This does not happen in other countries. This is unique (and not in a good way) to the United States of America. How can we, in good conscience, fail to act when children are dying? How can we offer “thoughts and prayers” when it’s pretty clear that they don’t work? How can we just simply stand here and NOT DO ANYTHING TO STOP THE NEXT ONE WE KNOW WILL HAPPEN?

300 mass shootings in the last three years is NOTHING to be proud of. It’s not a badge of honor that this country should be proud to wear. This is shameful. The fact that we continue to allow the N.R.A. to romance politicians. The fact that we continue to hem and haw at how our hands are tied. The fact that we continue to argue that the second amendment protects the “right to bear arms.” It’s disgraceful. It’s disgusting. It’s disheartening.

The Washington Post has released two stories about a kindergartener who survived a school shooting. Her best friend and the man she planned on marrying was shot and killed. This little human being has PTSD. She can’t go to school. She has to be homeschooled. She can’t enjoy things because she can’t stop reliving that moment when a teenager came on to her school campus and shot her friends. And when she does manage to have a moment of normalcy, where maybe she exhibits some type of anger, she panics that she’s becoming like that shooter.
HOW DO WE LET THIS HAPPEN TO BABIES LIKE HER?

Because we are responsible for her current state of mind and suffering. WE are the adults in her life who are supposed to make the world better and safer for her. WE are the ones who have failed her.

I’m so tired of these news cycles. Aren’t you tired of these news cycles? We can stop these news cycles. We just have to take action. We can take action. Vote. Speak up. Speak out. Get angry. STOP BUYING GUNS. Make our country a better place. Please. Just make it stop.

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Here’s to Living Alone

Living alone is weird. This is my first time living on my own. I’m in my late 20s and the longest I’ve been on my own was when my parents took a week’s vacation and my sister was in college and I stayed home to keep an eye on things. 

Sad? Maybe. But here we are.

It’s odd to come home to an empty space. I once lived with five dogs and a cat. Do you know how much noise they make and how much room they take up?

(A lot. That’s the answer. A lot of noise and space that isn’t mine. They also shed. But that’s another story.)

This. This is what silence sounds like.

It’s very unnerving to realize just how quiet you really are. Like, when I’m reading a book, if the fan isn’t running, you can hear dust land on the table. I wish I was kidding.

And forget watching scary movies by myself. My imagination is active enough that I do not need help. When things go bump in the night, it takes everything in me to not slide under the bed. (Like that’s going to protect me.)

I try not to rely on the TV or radio too much to fill the silence. But I worry that I’ll start speaking out loud to myself if I don’t have something to fill the unending silence. In fact, I’m a little worried that I’m already doing it. My coworker gave me the side-eye the other day and asked if I had meant to ask my computer that question or if it was for the group at large. Oops.

Cooking for myself is a whole other kind of adventure. First of all, it’s both easy and hard to shop for one. I buy less and spend less. And I get to buy what I want. But it’s also difficult because I’ll buy the same things all the time. I also won’t splurge because I’m too good about sticking to a budget and a list. Also, what if I don’t like something I buy? I’ll feel obligated to eat it anyway.

And then there’s deciding what I want to eat. For a girl who is constantly hungry and wondering about what her next meal is gonna be, this is a bit like dangling a bone in front of a dog and telling them “no, you can’t eat it.” The meal is right there in front of me. I just can’t reach it.

Will I have Mexican? Order out? Pasta? Chicken? Just a salad? Or something more adventurous? Do I have all the ingredients? How long will it take? How much should I make? Cereal is good. It’s easy. It’s also right there in my cupboard. Why don’t I just eat cereal? Or oatmeal. I also have oatmeal. And, OK, I ate that for breakfast, but it’s full of all the good things your body needs…right?

And don’t get me started on leftovers. Because I ate chicken for a whole week once. And then decided I couldn’t look at chicken for awhile.

I’m good though. I eat what I buy and I eat what I make. I try not to throw food away. Hence why I buy the same things all the time. I know I’ll eat it.

But the nice thing about living on my own? The freedom to do what I want. I just have one person to take into consideration. Me. I do what I want and when I want. And I generally enjoy myself. I give myself time to decide if the activity is fun or intriguing or worth my time. And then I let it consume me. Or I leave.

Also, it’s odd to know that what I left behind hasn’t been moved. I mean, that part is nice. I hardly ever lose anything anymore. But it’s still odd. I used to leave my keys in this little bowl by the door at my parents house. Occasionally, I would go to grab my keys, only to find: no keys in the bowl.

Living alone is weird. But it’s also freeing. And the freedom outweighs the weird most days.

Maybe a dog will help.

Sincer – wait, what was that noise?

Katie

(But seriously. Did you guys hear that?)

…And There You Were

Love comes in

from unexpected places.

I never saw you coming,

for example.

You careened

across my sky

and blinded me.

Your smile

is 10,000 watts

and powered by humor.

(Something tells me

your smile will last forever.)

Your heartbeat

which was always faster,

finally slowed

to meet mine.

You shot up.

(I didn’t.)

And now you tower over me.

Strange as it may seem,

I don’t feel small.

I feel safe and welcomed

and desired.

(That last one surprised me.)

We synced up.

Somehow.

(Helps that we also grew up.)

And now here we are:

balanced on this beam

waiting for the other to fall.

I would say you should lead,

but I have this feeling

that you need me

to light the way.

So I’ll jump first.

Take that first leap.

Take that first step.

Warm up the waters for you.

And I’ll catch you.

It won’t be pleasant.

I’m not very experienced at this.

(You’re also bigger than I am.)

But I’ll do my best:

to love you,

to care for you,

to give you some of my strength,

to believe in the possibility of us.

Because as surprising as this may seem:

I think we can make it.

To Love a Woman

He’s going to be male about it.

He wants her.

He needs her.

He’s totally into her.

Everything about her.

He’s sure it’s not right –

the way he thinks about her:

as his.

But he can’t help it.

She surprised him.

He wasn’t expecting her.

(The last one didn’t end well

and he wasn’t looking.

Didn’t even want one.)

But he looked up one day

and…there she was.

An angel in a pink cardigan.

At first,

it was just her looks:

her smile,

her eyes,

the way she carries herself.

Then the little things started:

her laughing at his jokes.

Her being comfy around him.

He noticed the blushes

and the slight difference

in how she treated him.

He finds he thinks

about how to surprise her.

And how to make her laugh.

He soaks up her personal stories.

Her secrets.

He shouldn’t be this attracted to her.

Does she feel the same?

It’s hard to tell.

But he thinks so.

He hopes so.

Because she’s

Sexy.

Funny.

Awkward as fuck.

Intelligent.

Doesn’t take his bullshit.

Strong.

Beautiful.

God he wants her.

In his bed.

On his arm.

In his life.

Is it possible to get addicted to a person?

Because he’s hooked.

He has a feeling that kissing

her would kill him.

Overdose.

But what a way to go.

If she’s as intense in love

as she is when she’s living

he can only imagine

being loved by her.

An Ode to Being an Adult:

Adulting is hard.

I mean, I never thought it would be easy.

But it’s hard. Like: I’m just gonna curl up under the covers and pretend the world doesn’t exist, hard.

I feel constantly “on.” As if I let the ball drop, I will really fuck shit up.

I have a laundry list of things I have to remember: did I turn off the shower? Did I lock the door? Did I leave windows open? Is it going to rain? When was the last time I changed the sheets on my bed? That means I should probably change them…Do I have food for the week? What do I want to eat? Shit. Do I have money in my bank account?

This is a constant stream in my head. It doesn’t stop. I lay down at the end of the day and pass out because my brain needs to just not think anymore.

And when I leave the safety of my four walls, I face a whole new list of issues.

Is what I’m wearing ok for work? Does it match? Did I wear the right coat? No. Fuck. I don’t have time to change. Have I gotten my mail in the last few days? Did I pay my credit card bill? Is it Friday yet?

It. Just. Doesn’t. Stop.

And when I do get some time to think about other things, I entertain myself by thinking of the future.

I know how to have a really good time.

I constantly wonder how people my age have kids. I can barely keep plants alive. How do they care for another living thing? This is a legit question I need answered. I need to know how it’s done so that when I graduate to an actual human, I know I won’t damage it.

And how did they manage to get married? Aren’t weddings bitching expensive? What about student loans? Aren’t you drowning like the rest of us? How did you manage to date someone between worrying about eating right and not settling for an apple with peanut butter? And how did you know they were the right person? I thought I knew who I was before I lived on my own. Now I’m learning that I’m way more neurotic than I originally thought.

People who think adulting is all partying and take out need to think again. Life is expensive. Seriously. If my apartment building could figure out how to charge me for the oxygen I breathe, they would. Nothing is free. I study prices and base decisions on what I need, want and feel like, on those prices.

I also find that cheap things are fine. Because they are cheap. And who needs a $12 drink anyway, when a $5 beer will also take the edge off a really long week?

There are days, I won’t lie, when I dream of being 4 years old again. When my biggest worry was…actually, I don’t remember worrying about anything when I was 4. What I remember about being 4 is this: I had fun. I took naps. Things were provided for me. And I didn’t appreciate any of it enough.

Being in college is supposed to prepare you for adulting. But being in college is nothing like adulting. Just like those courses you took in high school don’t actually prepare you for a real college class. (YOU ARE BEING LIED TOO. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.)

Some of my adult friends (weird thing to say, but it’s true) miss college. And I thought I would too. But I really really do not miss college. I miss certain things about college, like being introduced to new books or lectures. But I also found out that I could learn about those things on my own with the handy tool I like to call Google.

Seriously, Google is the thing that makes me seem as smart and magical as I am.

I figure one day I will get a handle on being an adult. One day I won’t worry about prices and one day I will figure out how budgeting actually works. One day. Not today. No. Today I am going to ignore the fact that I need to do laundry and I’m going to go explore my new city. Because I can make those decisions now. Because I am an adult.

 

Just trying to make it on her own:

Katie

Dead Magic, An Ingenious Mechanical Devices novel

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Dead Magic is a superb read. Mostly because it doesn’t stop moving once you start it.

Kara Jorgensen decided with her fourth novel to revisit characters she’s already told one story for. Emmeline and Immanuel were last seen in The Winter Garden, but in Dead Magic, Jorgensen fleshes them out a little more and explores what comes after a life changing event.

Dead Magic is different from the ones that came before, at least for me, because it was more…thrilling. There were parts that had my heart racing because I had to know what happened next. The pacing was faster and drew me in more quickly. Jorgensen’s novels have always had an air of mystery about them, but this one really kept me guessing until the end.

What I like about Jorgensen’s steam punk novels is not only that they mix past, present and future with a little science fiction, but that they deal with timely social issues. Immanuel and Adam’s love story is one that you would think and hope doesn’t resonate today: two people of the same sex hiding their feelings for fear of what society has to say. But it’s still true. There are people today who hide what they feel and who they love because there are those who tell them what they feel and who they love isn’t right. And Jorgensen captures the confusing thoughts and feelings, the stress of having to check everything one says, and the anguish at “being single” even though one is in a committed relationship really well.

 

She makes it normal – which it is – and that’s something society sorely needs.

Her female characters are also very real. Society tells writers to create female characters that are strong because strong female characters are sorely lacking. But I like the argument that tells authors to make real women. Real women aren’t always strong; sometimes they are weak. Real women aren’t always right; sometimes they make poor judgments and deserve to be told they’re wrong. Real women make mistakes and real women need help. Real women also want to fall in love and have someone fall in love with them. Emmeline is just such a character. She’s real. She’s not perfect. She makes mistakes. You don’t always like her. And for me, reading a female character that is flawed, but still tries, is more important than a strong female character. Because flaws are what make us stronger.

I recommend Jorgensen’s novels for the entertainment, yes, but also because they offer so much more. And that’s what novels should do.