Hey Heeeeeey!

How is everyone out there tonight?   I'm really, really good.  I am excited, and happy and optimistic.  Work is good, I am enjoying my colleagues, and I feel really up about all that.

Now, that's in direct contrast with what's happening in the news.

A school in Florida lost 17 students/teachers.  A 19 year old with an AR-15 picked off people as they left the building when a fire alarm went off.    That is some horrible, sad, sick shit.  One of the teachers acted as a human shield.  He threw himself in the path of the shooter to save some kids.   His family gets the comfort of that, but it's cold comfort knowing he won't be at another Thanksgiving, calling his Mom to say hello, having drinks with his friends to celebrate Summer.

There were teachers who left behind wives and kids.  There were kids who were 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.   Some of them were about to head to college.  Some played sports, some were JROTC.  They were sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.  They were friends, and they were members of their community.   And they were like fish in a barrel because a mentally ill young man got access to an automatic weapon.

And this wasn't a surprise!  There had been a history of law enforcement visiting his home for disturbances.  The FBI kept tabs on him.  And yet, somehow, he got not just a gun, but the kind of gun that does tons of damage very, very quickly. 

So, there's nothing I can say.  Every time it happens, there's nothing I can say.   And it happens A LOT.  I don't know what the answer is.  But I do know that we as a country need to talk about mental illness in a serious, productive way.  We need to destigmatize, subsidize, and prioritize it.  But frankly, we're doing a terrible job with physical health care.  Mental health is a complete afterthought.  And the populations who need it most have the least access to resources to get it. 

And we need to talk about guns.  I mean, I fucking hate guns.  I don't like them.  They make me nervous, and I don't like touching them, or being in the same room as one of them, or talking about them.  I.  DO. NOT. LIKE. GUNS.

But a lot of people I love and trust own them.  And they like them.  For any number of reasons.  But the people I love and trust own hunting rifles, or a handgun for protection.  Or a revolver that belonged to granddaddy. 

My father had, as it turned out, a bunch of guns.  Like, you know how on the news they refer to a "small cache of weapons"?  That was Dad.  And we had no idea.  In my 39 years with him, I saw him shoot a handful of time.  His target was tin cans, and once a poisonous snake.  He only killed the snake because it was close to the house, and he and Mom both took blood thinners at the time.  He didn't take joy in killing it.  In his early years, Dad hunted for sport, and he was a damn good shot.  He picked off the snake with a shot to the head.  He ended up keeping the skin.  But Dad didn't kill snakes for fun.  There was a six foot black snake that made its home in the kitchen cabinet of his cabin in the mountains one winter.  He and Mom named it Jerry and tossed it out the back door.  Jerry tried to get back in.  They took him further out.  But to his credit, Jerry kept the cabin rodent free that winter.

What I'm saying is, you don't need an AR-15.  You may want one, but you do not need it.  It's military grade.  So, you, Joe Carrypermit, don't require it for your personal safety.

I'm not going to fix it.   I don't know how.  I have been offered gun safety classes, and for now, I'll pass.  I know that my gun phobia would be best faced head on, by learning about them, understanding to use and not use them.  But I shot a gun exactly once, and I basically hated it.  It was a shotgun, and it recoiled hard into my chest and bruised me.  So, there's that.

The other thing that's going on is local.  There have been a series of assaults and robberies in our neighborhood.  Teenagers, roaming around and causing chaos.  Why?!?

And yes, I know I grew up with two parents in a middle class home.  I lived in an affluent school district - the kind where schools are as good as some of the private options.  Where Moms and Dads were involved with their kids.  I couldn't have been roaming at 5:30 AM on a school night without some questions.  If I was up that early, it was to get to an early extra chorus practice for the Christmas concert. Or I was meeting my friends for breakfast before school (IHOP or the Shoney's bar).  I had a curfew.  Even after I got out of college and lived with Mom and Dad, I didn't stay out late, out of courtesy to them.  So, I don't get it.

I used to put back a metric ton of coffee in HS.  That was as wild as it got.

But I'm also not a Mom.  Well, I mother my dog, and she's a bad girl, but if someone comes into our backyard without permission, they get what they get.   But I keep an eye on her.

When we moved into this neighborhood, 12th Avenue South was kind of dead.  There was a pizza place, a bar, a few random retailers (jeweler, music store, Christian books), and a popsicle joint.

Today, there's a high end restaurant called Urban Grub.  When we moved here, it was a car wash.  A sketchy car wash where bad shit was reputed to go down. When Matt told a colleague we lived North of the car wash, there were concerns for our safety.  We have been safe.  But tonight, my husband met me at my car when I got home because he wanted to escort me in.

In spite of this, I'm excited, and happy to be alive, and I am optimistic about what is next.

I have hope.  Always.