I’m Done Listening

I had a blog in mind this evening, but on my way home I changed my mind. On afternoon break I read a quick online story that really hit me. This is the beginning of it:

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A Thai man filmed himself killing his 11-month-old daughter in two video clips posted on Facebook before committing suicide, police said on Tuesday. People could access the videos of the child’s murder on her father’s Facebook page for roughly 24 hours, until they were taken down around 5 p.m. in Bangkok (1000 GMT) on Tuesday, or about a day after being uploaded.

It happened far away. In a world I know nothing about. To a man I know nothing about. To a little girl I know nothing about.

Of course, that’s just on the heels of a story from 3-17: MEDINA Ohio — The man who took his own life after he killed his pregnant girlfriend did not want to have a baby, her father said. Or from February: LaGRANGE  A man accused of abusing and killing the infant of his then-girlfriend pleaded guilty in a Troup County Superior Court last week.

There is nothing that can be said that can shed any light on any of these heinous crimes. There’s nothing I can do to turn the clock back. Nothing I can say to the families, to the situation.

There is nothing I can say to save the children.

I’m going to cut back on my internet wandering. Yahoo, CNET, all those hot spots that broadcast these crimes like they’re a Sunday social. I know everyone hurts, everyone wonders why. Everyone cries and makes promises and moves on with their lives.

But I’m an adult and can make my own choices. I’m older so that’s an even better excuse to tune all of it out. TV is make believe; I can handle that. But the news…

I’m done. My heart can’t take this. I know there are lots out there that say I should do something about it. The sad truth is there is nothing I can do about any of it. I can’t help those in Thailand or in North Carolina or even on the other side of town.

What I can do is interfere and interact with my own circle of friends and family. Encourage those who need to talk to talk. Those who need a break give them a break. Love the children I come in contact and stretch out to love the ones I don’t.

Life’s too short to let the media have their way. To let the world have its way. To let the madness get into my head. You are all my friends in one way or another. I’m here for you — for your highs and lows and losses and misses. But I have to let go of the rest of the world. I’m not willing to let the madness set me into depression and worse. My family still needs me.

I think I’ll call my grandkids now.

 

Be Nice Until The End

Most of us run blindly through life, taking kids to football games or buying groceries or celebrating birthdays or oohing and ahhing about flower beds and great lasagna dinners, never stopping to think that one day all this wonderful madness will end. 

There are those who believe in the ever after: angels and Elysian Fields and all the chocolate you can eat.  Others believe in reincarnation: behaving yourself in this life is a sure bet you won’t come back as a newt or a grasshopper in the next.  Some believe you never wake up; others believe eternity is one big, made-for-TV movie.

But what happens if you don’t want to think about the afterlife, period?  What happens if all you want to do is get  lost in Star War movies or the Food Network or dreams of vacationing in the Bahamas?  Does avoidance equal ignorance?

I sometimes wonder if humans were meant to dwell on the afterlife as much as we do.  After all, whatever is going to happen is going to happen.  When all is said and done, if we are all going have a glorious resurrection, why should we worry about it?  If we believe our destiny is to reappear on another planet in another galaxy, why sweat the small stuff? 

None of us like to think about death.  We pop a few vitamins or walk around the block or stop smoking and think we have it made.  And, for the most part, we do.  We look around us, feel terrible about those our age who have passed on to greener pastures, and hope we can stay out of those same pastures a bit longer.

Yet there is always that heebie geebie feeling we get from that foul reaper that makes us feel we should do a bit more to insure a place in the afterlife.  Whether its prayer, abstinence, volunteering or tithing, we always make an effort to hedge our bets, putting an extra chip on the gambling table just in case.  We give a little extra to the United Way or volunteer to work the concession stand at the high school football game, even if our kid doesn’t play football.

How does that lessen our apprehension of our final moment?  How does contributing to the bake sale or adopting a pet from the shelter make us breathe easy about our last moments on Earth?

The older I get, the more I realize that all the anxiety, all the trauma I go through worrying about what happens at that final moment doesn’t mean a thing except heartburn.  One of the prices we pay for being born into this world is having to leave it at the end.  I’m not sure there is some cosmic string that is destined to be cut at some particular moment; I do believe that the joy we find in this life, and possibly the next, is based on the pleasure we give and receive from others.

Whether you read the Bible or Harry Potter, you cannot escape the fact that good deeds do not go unheeded.  That even if there is no cosmic God or Goddess who pats you on the head for being a good person, you are rewarded anyway.  There is something  about doing something nice for others — and for yourself — that brings its own brand of satisfaction.  Putting a plus in the “good” column just plain feels good.  

 I know my heart always feel better when I label myself “nice” instead of “mean.”  I feel good when I put a smile on another face; I feel bad when I make someone cry. Whether or not those points add up to admission through the pearly gates I don’t know. 

I myself don’t have a clue whether I will meet my mother and father on the other side, or if I will be reincarnated into a litter of cats.  What I do know is that it makes me feel good to do good in this world. All I can hope for is that my good behavior and loving heart will have counted for  something.  

My fear is that my repayment for being such a jolly good soul is that I come back to this world as a circus clown or born into a Green Bay Packer family.  The clown thing isn’t really very popular these days, and being a Chicago Bear’s fan…

That would be hell.

Sunday Morning Art Gallery Blog — The Aftermath of 9/11 in Art

To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts — such is the duty of the artist. ~ Robert Schumann

 

lady-liberty-statueLady Liberty Memorial – 9/11 Memorial Museum

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tony-triggTony Trigg

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9-11-memorial-freehold-nj-nick-zelinsky

9/11 Memorial, Freehold, NJ

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the-madonna-in-hell-by-fevorr-j-nwokorieThe Madonna in Hell, Fevorr J. Nwokorie

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hearh-satowHeath Satow

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brooklyn

Brooklyn Wall of Rememberance

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kenny-wang

Kenny Wang

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9_11-flight-93-memorialFlight 93 Memorial, Shanksville, PA

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hero-image-pentagon-memorial-photo-credit-mike-myersPentagon Memorial, Washington D.C.

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the-hero-khai-nguyenThe Hero, Khai Nguyen

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papquilt

Port Authority Memorial Quilt

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Trinity Root,  Steve Tobin

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tumbling-woman-eric-fischlTumbling Woman, Eric Fischl

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fdny_quilt

Fire Department New York Memorial Quilt

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lower-school-art-students-of-porter-gaud-schoolscLower School Art Students of Porter Gaud School, South Carolina

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th

David Kracov

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flight-crew-memorialFlight Crew Memorial, Grapevine, Texas

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911-dust-to-dnamikey-flowers-kevinclarkeDust to DNA, Bianca Nazzaruolo

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spencer-finchSpencer Finch, 9/11 Memorial Museum

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to-lift-a-nation-ground-zeroTo Lift A Nation, Ground Zero

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teardrop-memorialbayonne-njTeardrop Memorial, Bayonne, NJ

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victims-quilt

9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt

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ground-zero-memorial-design

9/11 Memorial Museum

On My Way I Found the Holocaust

red_and_black_rose_by_tianajade-d2zwb9s1On my way to researching something else…

Doesn’t it always happen this way? Earlier today I was searching for events that took place on September 8 for a blog I was writing for work, and I came across this:

1941        Sep 8, The entire Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania, was exterminated.

An entire community.

My curiosity took me through pages and pages of Holocaust history. Here is some of what I found: (It’s kinda long..)

1941        Jun 22, Second world war began in Lithuania. Lithuania rebelled against Russian occupation.
1941        Jun 24, Entire Jewish male population of Gorzhdy, Lithuania, was exterminated.
1941        Jun 26, Lithuanian fascists massacred 2,300 Jews in Kovno.
1941        Jul 7, Nazis executed 5,000 Jews in Kovno, Lithuania.
1941        Jul 14, 6,000 Lithuanian Jews were exterminated at Viszalsyan Camp.
1941        Jul 24, Nazis massacred the entire Jewish population of Grodz, Lithuania.
1941        Jul 29, All the Jews at Linkuva were killed.
1941        July, In northwestern Lithuania 9,000 Jews were killed by Lithuanian police. 
1941        Sep 8, The entire Jewish community of Meretsch, Lithuania was exterminated.
1941        Sep 15, Nazis killed 800 Jewish women at Shkudvil, Lithuania.

1941        Oct 28, In Kaunas (Kovno), about 70 miles from Vilna 9,000 Jews were murdered.  900 French Jews died there on 18 May 1944.

1941       Dec 25, In northwestern Lithuania 400 young Jewish women were killed by Lithuanian police. 

1941        At the Rainis Forest in the Telsiai region 74 Lithuanians were killed by Soviet NKVD and KGB troops.
1941        In Lithuania German forces slaughtered some 12,000 Jews in Stoklishki (Alytus).

1941-1944   40,000 Jews are slaughtered in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Almost 55,000 Jews were executed at Paneriai, outside of Vilnius.
1942        May 7, A Nazi decree ordered all Jewish pregnant women of Kovno Ghetto executed.
1944        Mar 27, Some 2,000 Jews were murdered in Kaunas, Lithuania.
1945        Jan 30, Nazi SS guards shot down an estimated 4,000 Jewish prisoners on the Baltic coast at Palmnicken, Kaliningrad

And that is only in Lithuania.

July – August 1941: Dozens thousands of Russian Jews are murdered by the Einzatzgruppen (extermination squads) in the occupied territories. Here are some examples:

    • 5,200 Jews murdered in Byalistok
    • 2,000 Jews murdered in Minsk
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Vilna
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Brest-Litovsk
    • 5,000 Jews murdered in Tarnopol
    • 3,500 Jews murdered in Zloczow
    • 11,000 Jews murdered in Pinsk
    • 14,000 Jews murdered in Kamenets Podolsk
    • 12,287 Jews murdered in Kishinev

148,000 Jews are murdered in Bessarabia between July and October 1941.

December 8: Chelmno (Kulmhof) extermination camp begins operations: 340,000 Jews, 20,000 Poles and Czechs murdered by April 1943.

March 17: Extermination begins in Belzec; by end of 1942 600,000 Jews murdered.

May: Extermination by gas begins in Sobibor killing center; by October 1943, 250,000 Jews murdered.

Country              Estimated Murdered

Austria                               50,000

Belgium                             25,000

Bohemia/Moravia           78,000

Denmark                           60

Estonia                              2,000

Finland                              7

France                               77,000

Germany                           142,000

Greece                               65,000

Hungary                           550,000

Italy                                   7,500

Latvia                                70,000

Lithuania                         140,000

Luxembourg                   1,000

Netherlands                    100,000

Norway                            762

Poland                            3,000,000

Romania                        270,000

Slovakia                         71,000

Soviet Union                 1,000,000

Yugoslavia                     60,000

It is estimated that the SS and police deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered approximately 1.1 million.

 

My mind cannot begin to wrap around those numbers. Some are as large as a town.  A high school. A football game. One million people is more than the city of San Francisco.

When we say “We Will Never Forget” when 9/11 comes along, let’s not forget the horror that came before.  And let’s vow never to let it happen again. th6

I’m Not Going There

65933_com_201106021652521973.gif1029cFor all of you expecting my usual, cheesy, astral sense of middle-age blog, sorry to let you down this evening.

There was something going around the Internet earlier in the week that had me more than unsettled. As often as not, I just breeze past the headlines I don’t care for, but even in doing so this time the impression still lingers.

And it was only from a headline.

Some parents decided to show a video of their son’s final moments of a high speed crash they were in. I don’t know if the kids died; I refused to read the article. The kids were high, that much I know. But I didn’t, couldn’t, read the article.

My first reaction was: Who would share something like that? Why would they share one of the most painful, horrible, moments of your child’s life?

My politically correct side answered first. The parents shared this video so that others can learn from the tragedy. So that other kids will see what happens when you drink or get high and drive. That through their tragedy other lives may be saved.

Then my mother side chimed in. I am a grandmother. I have been blessed with two sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two adorable grandkids. I weathered many storms with my kids as they were growing up, and we all survived. I love them all more than life, and would be crushed if anything like this happened to me. My life, my love, is my family.

My liberal side popped in. Who are you to say what goes on on the Internet? You are not a monitor. You don’t like what you read? Pass it by! Ignore it! Stop telling others what they can and cannot talk about. Life is not a bowl of cherries for everyone, you know.

Then my mortal side interrupted. This upsets you because you fear death. Death is the normal progressive end of life. The one thing you cannot control. You cannot let go of anyone you love. Your fear of no afterlife taints everything you think. Everything you do. Perhaps the boys are in heaven now, feeling no pain, no confusion, nothing but eternal peace.

Then my smart-ass radical side chimes in. Who in the hell are you to judge if they went to heaven? How do you know there even is a heaven? You are so quick to judge. You didn’t even read the damn story. You have no idea why the parents shared the video. Quit yappin’ about stuff you don’t know anything about.

My practical side offered a rebuttal. This was a tragic event in so many others’ lives. There are different ways of coping, different ways of healing. A moment’s misjudgement has changed thousands of lives in ways no one ever imagined. Instead of reacting, or over-reacting, acknowledge their pain, then go hug your own kids. Your own grandkids. Tell them how much you love them, warn them of the dangers of drinking or getting high and driving.

Things circle back and the mother reappears. Those boys were someone’s baby. Someone’s little guy. Children are not supposed to leave this world before their parents. They are supposed to grow old and have children of their own. They are not supposed to get high and race and crash and die and leave their parents with broken hearts. My own heart hurts. And I don’t even know them.

Which led towards the comment that started this whole conversation.

Who would share something like that?

He Will Be Missed

'Star Trek' PhotocallLeonard Nimoy

1931-2015

His last Tweet:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

 

 

5f71fd3fdbaacb92c4f51edc4f5e6285

Live Long and Prosper

8 Reasons to Dissect Your Birthday

 

glassDo not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~~Dylan Thomas

 

Yesterday was a day just like any other day. Work, a quickie visit with my husband before he went to work on the second shift, a little dishes, a little TV, then bed.

It also was my birthday.

Not a big deal these days…especially when the digits have long risen above 30. Or 40.

Yet it was such a big deal that I didn’t want to talk much about it. It was a slightly traumatic view of life both before and behind me. I fluctuated between being happy with a good life to panicking that I may not wake up tomorrow morning. Roller-coaster nonsense, to be sure.

But through these emotional states, a stronger, calmer, younger goddess has emerged. And this is what I’ve decided.

  1. I’m not going softly into any dark or light night. By the time I get to be 90 science will have developed an immortality pill that extends one’s life for at least 50 more years. Until then I’m going to kick ass and put myself out there.
  2. I am going to stop thinking of my day of birth as the day John Lennon died. There is some sort of macabre connection between one’s celebration of life and another’s death. It’s just plain creepy. I’d rather think of it as National Brownie Day or Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day. Which it was.
  3. Presents are overrated. Sure, it’s nice if you wake up your birthday morning and there’s a pair of diamond earrings waiting for you at the breakfast table. But just as likely is a hurricane blowing out of the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, crossing the state of Illinois and hopping to Lake Michigan, having landfall in Milwaukee.
  4. On the same subject, presents come in many ways. The problem is we don’t always see a present as a present. We see it as a symbol. E = mc2  is a symbol too. So are the Golden Arches. And the middle finger. We all know what those symbols mean. I’m not the real thing, but I represent a real thing. A substitute. The real thing couldn’t be here so I’m the stand-in. Looking at it from out here, it’s really pretty hollow.
  5. Face it. No one at my age likes their job. I just turned….(drum roll…heavy breathing…dramatic rolling of eyes…) 62. Too late to start a new job, too old to just quit. Too tired to argue, too slow to be a super star. I have so much on my personal plate that I don’t have time to reinvent myself. I never thought I’d ever want to see retirement through my front window, but it’s a hell of a lot more exciting than looking out the back window, spending 30 more years doing what I’m doing.
  6. Everyone loves birthday cake. I myself enjoy birthday lasagna, birthday cheesecake, and birthday Moscato. I can’t really digest two of those three. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat my favorite foods and drink milk out of my favorite wine glass. Don’t let your food limitations limit your fun. Celebrate your birthday every day.
  7. People always tell me age is just a number. Society has limited itself by drawing the line of existence at 60 or 70 or 100. It’s hard to get over a life’s worth of judgment. But it can be done. We have to remember that age – numbers – are limited only by this planet, this galaxy, this reality. So why waste time counting? With all the alternate reality, alternate universe and alternate lives theories floating around out there, I’m sure there’s one where my cosmic clock is really ticking backwards. And I can live with that.
  8. And lastly, the biggest thing I learned is that a day is just a day. Birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, are all arbitrary darts on the dartboard. You don’t need presents and ceremonies to make your day special. If it’s too cold to celebrate your day of birth in December, celebrate it in June! Christmas in July! What does it matter? Don’t make the “day” more important than any other day you live and breathe and laugh.

I hate getting older. That’s a fact. But until that immortality pill gets invented, I don’t have much of a choice. So instead of letting my hate rule me I’m gonna fight the world with love.

All you need is love. Which reminds me of John Lennon. Who will forever be associated with my birthday.

Here we go again….