Sad Dog

It was just me and the good folks working at my local Dunkin Donuts during an unusual lull in the morning rush.  My head planted firmly down looking at my phone, I became aware of three adults standing around the table next to me, speaking loudly, initially their words just noise.  I tried not to, but the louder and more animated they became I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation.  Apparently, a kid had somehow messed with one of these men’s kid at school, the details never mentioned.  The father was, with each word, growing increasingly agitated and aggressive about whatever had happened, and said, more than once, “That’s my fucking kid we’re talking about…” his anger and volume steadily rising.

His companions were aggressively agreeing with him, goading him on, encouraging his fury.  As their voices and ire continued to increase, I kept my head down, allowing them whatever privacy they might believe they were owed.  The conversation turned from the offense of the child to his parents who, for what it’s worth, were spoken of with as much distaste as their progeny.  At precisely the moment I happened to look up and to catch his eye, the male friend spit out, “He’s a Jew dog.”

Our eyes locked. Neither one of us looked away.  “Don’t say anything, don’t say anything, don’t say anything” I advised myself as we continued to hold our gaze…yet it slipped out, I couldn’t stop myself: “Did you just call someone a Jew Dog?”

He lit into me.  He asked me why it was my business (because you have loudly and aggressively overtaken the place), what was it to me (I was offended and, frankly, wondering what the expression Jew Dog actually meant) and then, with as much charm and class as your local neighborhood thug, he told me to fuck off.  It all happened so quickly. The looks on the faces of the employees that stood behind him, mouths agape, said it all.  We all knew that this could get ugly and fast.

Seconds later, the three made their way to the exit, but not before leaning into me and issuing a threat: something about coming to my house, “getting” my husband and a long string of expletives, none of which made any sense.  The only thing that was entirely cogent and clear was abject anger.  Rage.  Fury.  All of which, I suspect, had less to do with my inquiring about his word choice and everything to do with the state of our world.

As my coffee buddies began to arrive, I shared what had happened.  Each of them, as had the employees, asked if I was okay.  I was okay insofar as feeling, or not, as the case may be, safe. I was saddened, however, at how quickly and fervently this man lost any semblance of propriety or maturity he might have had.  His anger was rightthere waiting to be unleashed at the slightest provocation.

sad dog

Aren’t we all feeling that way; that at any given moment someone will say or do or think or believe something that is just enough to have us flip our lids?  That we are all thisclose to losing it over something that perhaps has merit, but might just as easily not?

This happened several days ago.  Being a woman-of-a-certain-age, I often forget experiences I had ten minutes, let alone days, ago but this has stayed with me.  There is so much anger out there in the world.

I’ve always tended toward “sad” before “angry”, yet lately, there have been a few instances where I’ve gone to the dark(er) side and felt like the possibility of letting loose on the first poor soul to cross my path was never out of the question.  (Aside: I haven’t.  Yet.) And here’s the thing about anger: it is a terrible way to feel.  My body, breathing and headspace change.  My limited sense of having control is null and void.  It is really bad.  Worse, however, is what it must be like to feel that way allthetime.

I still don’t know what, exactly, a Jew Dog is but I think it is reasonable to assume that the goal was to malign, disparage and insult.  At the time this happened I’ll cop to engaging, in part, for the fight.  But, not seconds later I realized that this seemingly made-up epithet spoke more to a pervasive need to release anger with little care as to who it is directed toward than anything else.

And in the end, it just makes me sad.

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Why I Love Facebook

I take a fair amount of crap for being on Facebook perhaps a bit more than some think I should be.

Whatever.

facebook

Here’s why I love Facebook:

Allison.  She is far closer in age to my children than to me.  We met at our group interview at TCS and then slogged through training together, working side by side for several years, always having a good time.  She left, then I left, but I’ve had a ringside seat to her engagement, her wedding and the birth of her ridiculously cute son.  And, if that isn’t enough, I am able to continue, as I did when we saw each other daily, to live vicariously through her as she travels the world…most recently to Paris with her boys.  It warms my heart.

Rachel.  It was better than ten years ago when I met Rachel and we bonded over the fact that we’d gone to the same college, albeit about twenty years apart.  We worked on a project together, she the professional, me and my son the volunteers.  Our collaboration has long since ended but I have kept up with her and her decision to have a child, buy a house and start a business all on her own.  So, too, did I share in her excitement when she became pregnant with a little sister for her awesome little girl and then, in one of the most heartbreaking posts I’ve ever read, learned that her Sadie was still.  I think about Rachel all the time and am so happy to see her successfully reinventing her life.

Laurie.  We’ve never met in person, although we consider ourselves to be dear friends.  Through an abundance of mutual friends, she learned of Jess’ story not long after her transition and has been not only an ardent follower of my blog, but of huge support, often providing free psychotherapy first via messenger and eventually by text.  We went through the college application process with our kids, hers to University of Miami, and mine to University of Massachusetts.  When her son lost his life after making the same mistake any kid could make and taking a pill for the thrill, we messaged every single day.  Nothing makes me happier than a photo popping up in my feed with her tremendous smile and spirit, despite a pain I can only begin to imagine.

Dawn.  Again, we’ve never met.  She is the mom of three, one of whom, due to an injury at birth, is a quadriplegic who happens to be, and this is not an exaggeration, the cutest little person on the planet.  Without competition.  She has the most infectious smile, darling personality and soaring spirit EVER.  I often hop over to see if mother and daughter are doing one of their live videos just to brighten my day.

Karen.  My fantastic, wonderful loving and kind oncology nurse who was with me not only through every step of my diagnosis, surgery, recovery and follow up, but we managed to get divorced and re-partnered at the same time.  I am not sure we did much other than share stories (ahhhh, new love!)  during those six month check-ups.  I’ve gotten to watch her and the guy-from-high-school-that-she-didn’t-quite notice-until-a-reunion start to date, move in together and, not long ago, get engaged!  Karen dedicated her life to helping people in some of their darkest days and deserves all the joy she has found.

Kaity and Charles.  I was quite literally the last person at work to know that each other was the boyfriend/girlfriend that the other was so gaga over.  We’ve all moved on, but I saw them get engaged and then married.  Just waiting for the baby announcement!

Nikki, Paige and Brynn.  Who knew that a chance meeting at a McDonald’s would yield a wonderful friendship?  And, if not for Facebook a couple of weeks ago, not only would I not have known that we were day tripping in the same town, but I certainly wouldn’t have had a chance to have dinner with them!  And, Brynn will be enjoying her new iPad thanks to Barry finding her a deal.  Yep, saw she was looking for one on Facebook.

I could go on.  And on.  And on.  (And please don’t take offense if you are not mentioned here…I had to end somewhere! )

We are living in tough times, boys and girls.  We all need love.
We all need support.  We all need to feel connected.

So, next time you want to give me crap about Facebook, I will repeat: whatever.

Fear

As a kid, I never felt afraid of anything other than a tremendous clap of thunder or a random unexplained noise in the house or trying something new for the first time or having to tell my parents I had screwed up.  I never feared going to school.  Or the mall. Or the movies.  Or a concert.  Or walking down the street.

Sure, as a well documented pre-worrier, I sometimes became unreasonably anxious before going to school. Or the mall.  Or the movies.  Or a concert.  Or walking down the street…but I was in the minority and could never describe it as fear.

danger

Kids should never know fear.  Kids are supposed to feel and, even more to the point, be safe.  At home.  At school. At the mall. At the movies.  At a concert. Walking down the street.

Only they do not.

Each morning, as I scroll through my phone, catching up on whatever might have happened overnight, I far too often learn of something terrible.  Between natural disasters and political unrest and mass killings; it overwhelms me, seeping into my mood, my sense of self, my comfort in my own skin and the world that my children are growing up in.  My body aches from the assault on our sense of safety. And haunting to me is the fact that as adults we are supposed to not only know how to cope on our own, but it is our job to be the protectors of our kids.

Only we cannot.

There is so much fury in the universe that our children’s daily lives are nearly unrecognizable and certainly incomparable to what ours looked like growing up.  It feels like we are all just one stroke of luck away from horror.   And, as we have learned time and time again: it can happen anytime, anywhere.  We need to make it to stop.

Only we cannot.

Attending a concert will forever be associated with a man who, from what first accounts report, just snapped.  His family has said that learning that the shooter was their brother was akin to “Mars falling to the earth”.  This of a person who –  as it happened, had a significant cache of automatic weapons packed away in his suitcase –  could well have been standing next to you in the elevator heading to his room at Mandalay Bay.   He might even be in the room next to you, but this time his target was the crowd below.  You lucked out this time.  Yep, we are all just one stroke of luck away from terror.

luggage

In the aftermath of each successive atrocity, we watch any news program or read any article or listen to any podcast and are told by the experts, professionals and politicians to continue about our daily lives, lest we allow “them” to win.  Or “We need to come together as a country and comfort those who have been victimized.”  “Everyone should write their senator, or attend a rally…hell, plan a rally, all in the name of making it all stop.”

Only it just keeps getting worse.

Perhaps most frightening to me is that all of this terror, destruction, cruelty, horror, distrust and anxiety is not only affecting our kids now, but will shape the rest of their lives.  So many of the simple joys of life have been attacked violently enough to render them unworthy of the risk.  Our world has evolved to the point that going to school or the mall or the movies or a concert or walking down the street could actually mark the end of your, or someone you love’s life.  The world in which we live has become an unwelcome guest that we want to be (not so) gently escorted off the premises.

Only it is not that easy.

Is it an issue of mental illness?  Or gun control? Or politics? Or devastating anger? Or complacency? Or hatred? Or fear of fear?  No one seems to able to answer that question which, in turn, leads to even deeper depths of despair and, yep, fear.

I worry not only about today, but what tomorrow and the next day will bring.  I wish I had a way to make the life my children have ahead of them feel safer, kinder, better.

Only I don’t.