I was going to write about the fun weekend I had – one of my best friends from high school got married and I was honored to be part of the bridal party. She was the most stunning bride.

But then, as I checked the news, got text alerts, triple checked Twitter, and refreshed several news articles at once, I knew I couldn’t. At least, not now. This morning, one, possibly two, shooters fired at and wounded over a dozen people at the US Navy Yard in Washington, DC. As of right now, 13 people are dead. At first, there were a million conflicting stories, each news agency wanting to be first – and in doing so, wrong. There have already been comparisons to the Red Line metro crash in 2009, which killed 9 people. I was here that summer, too.

I’ve lived in the “DMV” region for 3 years now (DC-MD-VA). The kind of security here is unlike any other. It’s disconcerting to get these kinds of reminders: I live in one of the most targeted, secure places in the country. My last post was on 9/11, and there have been various incidents since then. The DC Sniper. Shots fired near the Capitol, near the White House. Is everything related? Of course not. Violence comes with living anywhere, with living in cities. But the capital of the country, of the “free world,” cannot be overlooked. And so, while it alarms me when I see security officers with M16s (or close equivalent) as well as the traditional handguns and tasers, it’s also a not-so-subtle reminder of where I am. I go about my life not overly concerned with much else besides getting out the door on time, being productive at work, making time for friends, finding good food and things to do, and getting back to my loving bed at the end of a long day. This is interspersed with reminders that, by virtue of living in an area bustling with federal buildings, political organizations, and the people who make this country’s major decisions, I am one of the targets. Did the shooter(s) have a nit with the US Navy? The US military? The US in general? Maybe. Maybe not. These mass shootings tend to have very little relevance to who the victims are – they are random, they are just people, they are just the random innocent people, so that we become scared. As we saw from 9/11, as we see from Boston Strong, and as we will see from this, we are more than that.

Still, it doesn’t do much to take the edge off when I see extra police officers keeping an eye on every metro station on seemingly random days; when the ripple effect of one incident leads to closure of several other buildings and evacuations; when, as in today, the region receives a shelter-in-place alert from both local and national police forces. When the people who spend their careers protecting us get killed in the relative safety of their home offices. The US Navy Yard ought to feel like one of the safest locations for these men and women. Today proved, again, that even the safest places have a risk.

My heart and prayers goes out to all victims today, along with families, friends, and coworkers, as it does whenever anything of this nature happens. Mother Nature has also had some things to say this week: in the midst of our wedding festivities, flooding rolled into Colorado, destroying over 1,000 homes. The “unaccounted for” number continues to decrease, but keep Colorado in your hearts as well as this other tragedy unfolds.

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new friends new school

the rural rolling hills

so different from the New York suburb

I used to know.

Morning drama class,

a Russian girl could not understand

so we acted it out

and became the tragedy.

it was a game

 


but fires were

still burning,

the innocent

still dying,

the towers

crash down

on all of us

Well, here it is. The end of one glorious year and the start of another. Since lists seem to be the “in” thing these days, I’ve compiled a fun list of events (focused on perks) of 2012 and what I’m planning resolutions-wise and event-wise in 2013.

2012

  • Steampunk-themed contra dance party with fantastic costumes, goggles c/o la boyfriend (now of nearly 2 years)
  • Vacation to Seattle to visit cousins and play tourist
  • Finding out Dad had prostate cancer, supporting him from far away, and then having an “Adios, Cancer!” party when we found out he was cancer-free (44 radiation treatments later)
  • Incredible women’s climbing weekend in West Virginia
  • Interesting, if amusing, debates followed by re-election of President Obama (phew!)
  • Friends-filled college “reunion” going-away party
  • Vacation and travel through Peru, catching 15K heights and Machu Picchu
  • Maryland Renaissance Festival and dress-up
  • Started second novel
  • Joined/helped form an independent author’s collective/publishing imprint
  • Sent over 30 letters to Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • Spent first holiday with boyfriend’s family

2013

Resolutions:

  • Eat breakfast every morning
  • Spend 1 hour before work writing and/or editing
  • Meditate twice a day
  • Still arrive at work at sane hour
  • Make more home-cooked meals (cheaper and healthier!)

Events to Look Forward To:

  • Time-travel-themed contra dance party with boyfriend (yay more dress-up)
  • Parents visiting DC
  • Seeing more old college friends
  • First time going to Las Vegas (conference)
  • Seattle visit with cousins
  • Saturday classes for project management
  • possible Hunger Games food/watching event
  • I turn 25 (woo rental cars!)
  • Attending brother’s wedding in Hawai’i as bridesmaid
  • <Possibilities!>

I think I owe more money. I don’t think I should, since I’m paying for it with my own card. I have claims. I “may pay” some. I don’t understand. Send me a bill.

I actually have lots of claims. I’ve been to lots of doctor visits and had lots of various tests done (old doc seemed a rather big fan of blood tests). Do I suddenly owe money on them? The website (as many websites that we know involving money <ahem>SallieMae<ahem>) didn’t clarify things one bit.

Whatever. I’m sure if I owe money they’ll let me know in no uncertain terms. Right. Right? …

On the plus side, PT went really well today. Could be on the short road to recovery! Of course, I feel a little worse after he tried loosening me up, but hoping it will ease up with lots of stretching.

I fell asleep last night, fitfully, dreaming up a campaign speech I would one day give. President? Congress? Senate? I don’t remember; it likely shifted between them a lot. I remember, I said something like,

“I don’t have the money in my campaign to shower you all with confetti, nor the will to force normal citizens to clean up after me. I never will. I’m here to talk to you about the truth…”

You know, put me on a moral pedestal but not a real one. I used to laugh at the idea – me, in politics? But lately, with the clear shift in this country toward one that is forgetting its past, its purpose, and so much that it means to people: freedom. We are increasingly becoming less free.

I finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. If you haven’t heard of it, or read it, let me explain some of the plot idea. It is (for now) a work of complete fiction. In a twisted political move to “protect” women, and the Caucasian race, the US suspends the Constitution and implements a series of laws: women have no political rights whatsoever; they are merely “chalices,” wombs to be used if they are still viable. Abortion: illegal. Anything but the religion (something specifically Christian) deemed okay: illegal. Talking, having opinions out loud, about anything: illegal. They’d take you away in black vans. There was always a war: Angels fighting Quakers, Baptists, Protestants, anyone “else.” Censorship.

Voting? A job? Property? No, that was before.

All those women having jobs: hard to imagine, now, but thousands of them had jobs, millions. It was considered the normal thing. Now it’s like remembering the paper money, when they still had that. My mother kept some of it, pasted into her scrapbook along with the early photos….You had to take those pieces of paper with you when you went shopping, though by the time I was nine or ten most people used plastic cards….I must have used that kind of money myself, a little, before everything went on the Compubank. (1)

I highly recommend you reading it. It’s amazing, detailed, and the writing, just wow. Atwood really brings it alive. One of the more terrifying points is when she gets a chance to explain, a bit. Note this was written in 1986.

I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult.

It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. …

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets [until they made it illegal for all females to hold a job]. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on. (2)

Okay. So read the book. I won’t write the whole thing out for you. Point being, recent, anti-female laws have been tried, some enacted, and it’s terrifying to think that this book, this work of fiction, could become real. You think I’m kidding; I’m not. These bills, the ones most people are yelling at the male politicians about? Several have been introduced by women. Men: you are not free or exempt from this. If straight men out there want a respectful marriage with a woman, happy, with children – on your own terms – sound the alarm. Help us.

What do you think? Are women still people? What about non-white Americans? Do they count?

Read this. And this.

And another rant, yours truly, March 7: “Recent events make me feel like the 19th Amendment is only in my imagination (and not in history books, and photographs, and the US Constitution, letters, memorabilia, etc). Since when do women, who fought for the right to vote just like any other US citizen, and were granted it relatively recently, not have control of their bodies/governments/lives? Have over 50% of the population suddenly become invisible? No, not invisible, that much is clear. Objects? Non-persons? What is going on?”

I am so angry. Angry we could have let any of this happen. Angry at this trend to conveniently forget that the US was built on freedom, on separation of church and state. Angry that other women are denying women whom they are supposed to represent their full rights as citizens in this country. Enabling doctors to break the Hippocratic Oath and deny women full information about their pregnancy, like this state is trying to do? Thanks, Virginia. And Arizona, again.

After I get to the DMV, and confirm my right to vote (denied, previously, due to their own form), I will draft a letter to my state representatives. Will you do the same?

(1) Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 1986. New York: Anchor Books, 1998. Print. p. 173.

(2) Atwood, p. 174.