Stuck. Fixed. Glued to the box, images of exhausted, concerned men and women tell me a story. All over again. My coping strategies are all wrong.
Blurry eyed with my hair in a nest of restless hair, I emerge from my bedroom to my mother saying “Princess Diana just died.” Katie was still sound asleep on the bed, sleeping off the all nighter we had just pulled since that is what you do when it is summertime. Marching in a slow rhythm down the stairs, what? how? when? what’s going on?, I begin to understand. Crouched motionless on the cushions of the couch, I watched as the paparazzi took center stage.
“Tina, wake up, we’re being attached by terrorists.” Strung out and high on percocet and the remnants of local anesthesia, my groggy mind switched to overdrive. Stumbling down the stairs into the basement, my hallucinations decide to take the form of Elian Gonzalez’s terrifying encounter with an assault rifle in a closet. This was my contorted view of terrorism. Frightened and confused, I watched towers collapse and our country weep.
The wind pounded like a giant weight on my chest. Each step was a wide as I could make it, each second I was closer to the giant doors. A strange winter rush of snowflakes, random and few, swirled around me. Finally inside the doors, I’m late for my internship at the gallery. But, I’m stopped. Crowds gathered around the televisions, it takes no more than a moment to overhear someone say, “….shooting….. dead…… Tech.” A whirlwind, I cannot reach my friends. Nobody can reach anybody. My friends, I knew they had class in there. Were they okay? I never made it around the corner to the gallery. I sat in the silence of my peers. I watched. I came home, I watched. Days later, I watched.
I don’t know why. I watch. I hate the violence, I hate the tragedy, I hate the hatred. But, I watch with an intensity I didn’t even know existed. And I freeze. Despite my emotions, the tears, the inability to fathom and the horrible gap in my throat when I attempt to swallow the reality of it, despite it all, I cannot turn the television off.
Today, Anderson Cooper looked dismal. He looked helpless and depressed. And somewhere in between sick stories of fathers burning their children inside their own house and teachers sexually harrassing classes of students in the most sick, inhumane ways possible, he tells a story of a country that has lost at least 100 civilians today alone. I can’t not watch the footage from Syria. I think I will cry but I don’t- at least in the form of tears I don’t. And so I watch. I stare into this thin slice of technology, in my warm, safe living room with my two cats and husband and I watch terror unfold. I don’t know what good it does, fixating on the negative. It’s easy, these days, with so much of it around.
I watch to cope. I watch because I don’t know what else to do. I watch because my fingers are motionless on the remote control and my mind is telling me that I owe it to them to stay informed. And in some way, I feel guilty for turning off their reality in order to make my reality a better place. So I keep on watching.
*Filed under Personal Life*
We watched this today at work. This is my passion, and here, I share it with you. Grab tissues.
I am going to get in trouble for writing this. I know it. I just ask for you to read this with an open mind and understanding. I don’t ask for you to agree with me. This is my truth- it doesn’t have to be your truth.
The most difficult thing about growing up has to be shifting ideologies and values. It hasn’t been by choice- I don’t think it’s ever a choice. It’s been through a slow, ever awakening of reality. It’s the fading of idyllic views and the birth of rational thought. Let’s get the record straight before I get going: This is coming from the view of a pot smoking, hippie socialist who tattooed imagine on her hip at 19 and wanted to save the world, end hunger and fight the epidemic we like to call poverty with one word: love. See? Absolutely no rationality.
Here I am, 25, and though I don’t know it all, I’ve learned something. I see the world from my eyes and that is what I can stand behind. This is what I see and I understand it is not the same as what you see. My husband and I bust our ass day in, day out to make a buck. He works 3 jobs and I work 2. We have bills, we pay them and we don’t complain about doing so. We know what it’s like to hate our jobs; to be utterly miserable and unhappy at work. So we’ve looked for new work. We push through. We prevail. And until we have a new means of a paycheck, we stick it out with little complaint. We aren’t quitters. We possess masters degrees from accredited, non-online (yes, I said it) universities. We have student loans from college that amass to some nasty debt. We aren’t asking for hand outs and we aren’t running from it. We also don’t complain about it 24-7. It’s our personal business, we got ourselves here with the choices we made (nobody held a gun to our head) and we will get ourselves out.
Furthermore, the number one reason it will be a few years before we have children is that we refuse to bring a child into this world until we can financially support it in a way that suits us. Let me explain: until we can afford to set aside a bank account called “college” and we can afford to consider selling our townhouse for a single-family home so that our children won’t play in a parking lot after school, we aren’t having kids.
We value responsibility and education. We value work ethic. If you were too lazy to finish high school, I’m not quite sure I want to be giving you my tax dollars for your welfare check. If you’ve found a way to convince the government you are disabled but you could work a cash register, I’d love some of that free money, as well. I’ve got a slew of “disabilities” I could hash out. Workplace hazards and a chronic bad neck that keeps me up at night.
We see poverty every day in our classrooms. It’s systemic and much deeper than government handouts. Show us how you can fix the system so that the handouts can stop. What about rehabilitation and training? Put these people to work- they are capable. And if not, maybe I should start working the system- start being irresponsible and knock out a couple of kids without a stable income. Well, I’m not going to do that because I’d feel terrible. Don’t they?
This is my point. I’m not a genius. I don’t have a solid answer. I do see it all around me, though. Alex and I use the term “welfare whore”. There’s no stereotype that you can fit them into (race, weight, accent). They are everywhere. And yes, we teach some of their children. But that’s what maddens me: when Newt Gingrich said that poor kids have no work ethic, I sympathized with him. Albeit, he’s crazy, I agree that you must teach work ethic. If you aren’t learning it at home, you’ve got to learn it somewhere. I pride myself in working at a school where we are teaching these kids work ethic and responsibility. Honestly, they need it.
But what about everyone else? There are no excuses for this type of behavior. I truly pride everyone out there who chooses to pick up whatever part time work they can instead of selling out to the system. Good for you. Clean up your own mess. Or, the mantra of my childhood, if it happened to you, it’s your fault.
*Filed under Personal Life*