When Children Die

Last Christmas, Connecticut was struck by tragedy when a massive house fire took the lives of three little girls. I spent many moments weeping for those girls and the parents who had to go on living without them. I held my daughters excruciatingly tight and walked around my home making sure there were no fire hazards around. Admittedly, I still do. I wept months later when their father started a non-profit for supporting the arts in public schools. I cry almost every time I’m reminded of them. The emotional scar it left on me, someone who isn’t even remotely associated with those three little girls and their family, is gargantuan. They died just over a year ago.

Friday the unimaginable happened and Connecticut was struck by a catastrophic rampage of senseless violence. Children, who were really still just babies, and a small group of adults who devoted their lives to inspiring young minds, all lost their lives. Even as I’m typing this I can’t understand how this can be.

Anytime children die, however it may be, I’m left feeling like an anvil has been thrust upon my heart and the ground swept from under me. Crying feels like plummeting under a tremendous weight and fighting to wretch it off at the same time. Weeping this weekend felt just like that only ten times more intense. I have always cried easily for the suffering of others but something changes when you have your own children. When I became a parent I was given a rare window into the wondrous possibility for the future and I realized how fragile and precious life is. I saw how purely we all come into the world. I was also endowed with a fear unlike any I’d ever experienced – a suffocating slap in the face, “Don’t take this shit for granted.” When tragedy strikes children just one state over, it leaves this mother feeling like evil is trespassing way too close to home.

I’m a mess of emotions and questions and confusion. I cannot fathom what it’s like for the families directly impacted.

 

Who Will You Vote For?

I’m voting for Barack Obama.

If a Republican, or any other party, candidate were running who I respected, agreed with, and believed in were running, by all means that person would get my vote. However, tomorrow, my realistic options are Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, and only one of those men meets my criteria.

Here is an excerpt from Esquire’s endorsement for Obama which does a better job than I could on some of my feelings going into election day.

It is important, too, that that you vote for one of these men based on whom else, exactly, he owes. Who is it that’s going to come with the fiddler to collect when you get what you’ve bargained for?

Barack Obama owes more than I’d like him to owe to the Wall Street crowd. He probably at this point owes a little more than I’d like him to owe to the military. The rest he owes to the millions of people who elected him in 2008 … and he will owe them even more if they come out and pull his chestnuts out of the fire for him this time around… (these people he owes) they are not likely to revenge themselves against the country if he does and, even if they decided to, they don’t have the power to do much but yell at the right buildings.

On the other hand, Willard Romney owes even more to the Wall Street crowd, and he owes even more to the military, but he also owes everything he is politically…to the closeted and not-so-closeted racists who have been so empowered by the party that has given them a home, to the enemies of science and to the enemies of reason, to the devil’s bargain of obvious tactical deceit and to the devil’s honoraria of dark, anonymous money, and, ultimately, to those shadowy places in himself wherein Romney sold out who he might actually be to his overweening ambition. It is a fearsome bill to come due for any man, let alone one as mendaciously malleable as the Republican nominee. Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

In his time in office, Barack Obama has done some undeniable good for people. There are auto workers in Ohio with jobs, and women making equal pay, and young people freed from the burdens of health care because of some of the president’s policies. And he is running on that record, making the case for his second term based on the good he has done for people in his first. In his only time in elective office, Romney also did some good for people. He reformed the health-care system in Massachusetts in a way that made him far more popular up here than he ever will be again. And he has spent seven years now running against the good he did for people. What kind of a politician does that? What kind of a man does that? A politician who has counted the debts he owes to the people to whom he owes them, and a man who is willing to hock everything about himself just to get even.

This is not “fear” talking. This is simply the way things are. It is important to stand against the people and the forces to which Willard Romney owes his political career. It is more important to do that than it is to do anything else. It is more important to do that than to salve my conscience, or make a statement, or dream my wistful dreams of a better and more noble politics.”

*Read more at Esquire.
Note: This article spoke to me very much and, initially, I included portions of it which really resonated with me. After a couple of comments made mention of their unkind nature, I realized I could not welcome here a respectful conversation if I did not set the tone. If you’d like the full article, click here.

I could say a lot of things in this post – how I don’t agree with Romney’s spending cuts to critical public programs, how I can’t stand behind cutting Title X funding, how baffled I am Romney so passionately opposes Obamacare when he created the model, how I won’t vote for expanded and enhanced access to fire arms, how I can’t support leaving abortion to be a matter for individual states, overturning Roe v. Wade.

I could also mention how proudly I stand behind a presidential candidate who supports and empowers women, how I believe in improving our relations with allies around the world, how I’ll stand behind someone who makes preserving our environment a priority, how I’ll vote for someone who wants to counter global warming – who believes in global warming.

I’d be remiss to acknowledge our economy is not at it’s best, neither candidate has perfect solutions for every problem and neither candidate is himself the answer to everything this country needs.

So given the mortal imperfections of our options tomorrow, I am of the opinion our country and the foundation I wish to build today for my daughters tomorrow, is better served by someone I can proudly vote for knowing, not only that I agree with their politics, but that they will lead humbly and with respect. Someone who will treat the great honor of being President of the United States as a grand privilege. I will vote on the issues, , but I will also vote on character as well. I will vote for Barack Obama.

I come from a household where politics weren’t talked about it. Well, unless it’s to discuss the demise of Fidel Castro. So here, in this online space of mine, I’m asking you to share who you will vote for tomorrow. I have a few friends on FB who have shared with me their feelings on the election and hey happen to be quite contrary to mine. I welcome those conversations because they are valuable and good for us. I’m welcoming a respectful conversation and would sincerely love to read your comments; unkind comments will be removed.

My Heart Belongs To Jersey

Tomorrow it will be one week since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast. Her path of destruction was vast but what stays with me most is how savagely she tore through New Jersey. I was raised in New Jersey just across the Hudson, the New York City skyline a backdrop for the first 18 years of my life. I spent the summers of my formative years down the shore, on boardwalks, playing skeeball, jumping waves. To see so much of it torn to shreds has broken my heart every single day since Sandy showed her face.

I am grateful beyond measure for my loved ones who were spared any physical harm. They have all in some degree lost a few modern necessities – electricity, hot water, fuel; otherwise, they are waking each morning in their own bed, under their own roof. I am forever grateful for their safety during this superstorm.

But New Jersey itself is a loved one of mine and she has not fared nearly as well. Being so far away from home, from the place which stole my heart so many years ago, from the place who is so much a part of who I am – well, I feel useless and unfaithful and incompetent. Sure I text the Red Cross but my hands and my eyes are burning to put the pieces back together – literally.

I’m talking with a few local women whose hearts also belong to New Jersey and we’re hoping to organize a donation drive during the month of November to be delivered at month’s end or early December to New Jersey residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy. My first instinct is to jump in my car and get my hands dirty in the relief efforts. Then I remember I have kids and responsibilities I cannot abandon so easily. I also remember this recovery from Sandy has no real end in sight just yet. So any effort, right this moment or in a month or even in  months to a year, will be a needed effort. I hope our donation drive is the first of many efforts on our part.

If you’re heart belongs to Jersey but you find yourself, like me, far away from home, here are a few resources to help the relief effort from a distance. And remember – you can donate money or you can donate goods. Contact these organizations and find out what they need. Relief efforts will continue for a long, long time so whether it’s today or tomorrow or through the end of the year into 2013, people in New Jersey will still need our help.

-The First Lady of New Jersey, Mary Pat Christie, has created the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Barely 8 hours after launching, over $100,000 has been raised. Every penny counts, and while most of us won’t be able to match the very generous donation of $2.5 million dollars Hess Corp made to the fund, we can all spare something.

-The Moonachie Hurricane Relief Fund is a Facebook page focused on helping the community of Moonachie. Like their page to keep up to date on what the town, it’s displaced residents and relief works need.

-Let’s not forget our four legged friends during all of this. Donations can be made to either The Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA. Many families were forced to evacuate without their pets or lost food and medicine supplies for their pets, a donation to either of these organizations allows them to continue their very important work of helping animals affected by Sandy.

-Use your phone to make a donation to any of the following organizations (information via Cliffview Point):

  • Red Cross: Online, text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to give $10, or call  1-800-REDCROSS  (733-2767).
  • Salvation Army: Online, text “SANDY” to 80888 to give $10, or call  800-SAL-ARMY  (725-2769).
  • United Way: Text RECOVERY to 52000 to make a $10 donation.
  • Community Food Bank of New Jersey: Online or by texting FEEDNJ to 80888 to give $10, or call  908-355-3663 , ext. 243.

-Finally, consider donating blood. Or better yet, hosting a blood drive. Relief efforts for Sandy caused the Red Cross to cancel blood drives across the country as they pooled as many resources as possible into the Tri-State area. Contact your local Red Cross to donate blood or organize a blood drive.

To find out about other ways you can donate goods, please contact the state hotline at 1-800-Jersey-7. They can help point you in the right direction.

There are an unbelievable number of ways to help. I suggest Googling your specific county or town to access their website which may have more hyper-local information. Or even giving a call for their suggestions. It’s also a good idea to reach out to old friends who can give you the scoop first hand of what’s needed and where to send it. If you are familiar with area churches or schools, reach out to them and find out what they need. If you can’t ship directly to them, then you can ship it to a friend who would be willing to do it for you.

Finally, when you contact local government offices, organizations or friends, ask them if there’s a way to support the huge number of people who have come in from out of state to help. Electrical works, relief workers, national security personnel and more have left their homes and families to help out. If you can think of anything to brighten their day, it’s more than worth it to find out where to send it.

I haven’t been able to tear myself from the images of the damage and the recovery efforts. I’m awed by the power of Mother Nature and the human spirit. I am amazed at what life looks like without modern necessities. The images from The Atlantic and The New York Times are both beautifully haunting. The images hypnotize me but so do the stories. This Hurricane Sandy Tumblr feed is fascinating. I’m not familiar with the Tumblr platform but it seems to be aggregated content from any Tumblr site mentioning Sandy. Don’t take my word for it but my powers of deduction tell me it. Enlighten me otherwise.

I hope this finds you and your loved ones physically safe. I hope if you or anyone you know is without, that they’re surrounded by community and in good spirits. Much love and hope to us all. 

(Another) 100 Random Things About Me

After being away from this space what feels like forever, I thought it would be fun to reintroduce myself. I did one of these posts a long time ago and it was a nice exercise in sitting my ass down, staying put and writing. It’s a fun read for a Friday afternoon or for lazy weekend evening. I invited some fun loving, talented local bloggers to join me in sharing a little bit about themselves. You’ll find links to their posts at the end of this post. If we inspire you to share some randomness about yourself, then be sure to drop your link so we can get to know you better.

There’s a not so mini-road trip in my future and then it’s a full on swan dive into writing. Here’s to the randomness that’s makes us all up and to a beaming weekend!

  1. Given all the time and money in the world, I’d likely spend huge amounts of time reading and going to the movies.
  2. Since having kids, I haven’t been able watch a horror movie without being truly being scared beyond my wits. It used to be my favorite movie genre.
  3. At 31, I just realized Halloween is my favorite holiday.
  4. My grandfather, who gifted me with a love for movies, never really paid much attention to the rating system. Therefore, I watched plenty of movies way before my time. The Accused, anyone?
  5. The movie “Kids” was all I needed to watch to keep virginal through my teenage years.
  6. I cried during most history class documentaries.
  7. I’ve never been to Europe. It’s on the bucket list but I wouldn’t mind waiting to do it when my daughters can enjoy it with me.
  8. The only magazines I can’t get rid of are Cookie and InStyle. One because it’s not defunct, the latter just because.
  9. I love driving for long stretches at a time on a road trip.
  10. I crave silence.
  11. I’m prone to jamming out at a stop light. Really, whenever I’m driving.
  12. Go Ask Alice was the only book I had to read during high school to keep me drug free.
  13. The last movie that tore me open emotionally was The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.
  14. I got grounded for plucking my eyebrows at 13. My parents thought I was too young.
  15. I could spend days inside a good museum.
  16. Boston will always, always have my heart.
  17. New York City never fails to make me feel like a little girl in wonderland.
  18. My grandfather once took me to an opera as child. I was bored, I crawled under my coat and fell asleep.
  19. As a kid, I liked to lie down in the backseat and watch the electrical lines as they connected and disconnected.
  20. I don’t consume dairy products. For the most part – no milk, no cheese, no yogurt.
  21. I’m not a real vegan because I eat seafood. Like a vegetarian who eats seafood is a pescatarian, therefore, I’m a vegan who eats seafood would be a pegan?
  22. I’m a terrible joiner. I love meeting people but when it comes to joining organized groups of people and participating, I always fail. Commitment don’t come easy.
  23. I like to crack my knees.
  24. I have the hardest time buying a wallet because I’m so picky. Nothing ever meets my expectations, not even what I’m toting around now.
  25. My red walls have three white/gray brush strokes from almost a year ago when I said I wanted to paint the living room. The goal is now before 2013.
  26. I regularly get dressed out of laundry hampers.
  27. I once got such a horrible tan my forehead peeled and it looked like a map was forming.
  28. Cruel Intentions, Almost Famous, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman, The Sweetest Thing – always guaranteed to put me in a phenomenal mood.
  29. I’ve fallen in love with dark chocolate and can’t do milk chocolate anymore.
  30. Since starting to eat healthier, I can no longer eat movie theater popcorn with butter. I end up feeling like Freddie Krueger lost something in my abdomen.
  31. It’s a horrible habit but I can’t help sometimes pulling my split ends.
  32. Before children, I was quite the roller coaster loving gal. Nowadays, I get nervous on the ferris wheel.
  33. I never had morning sickness during my pregnancies.
  34. I did have “feed me now or I’ll breathe fire and spin my head like Linda Blair” sickness.
  35. No matter how rich I ever am, I could never imagine having a maid. An in-home pedicurist, though, no problem.
  36. I hate spicy food.
  37. I knew I was pregnant both times because I took naps in the afternoon. I never take naps.
  38. I can’t drive a stick shift.
  39. I got a Brazilian bikini wax once. Once. It is pure torture. Makes no sense to me.
  40. My dream job today would be to be a professional interviewer. I love meeting people and drawing their story out of them.
  41. My parents were not too happy with me as a kid when I dialed the 1-800 number for Santa and racked up a hefty phone bill chatting with St. Nick.
  42. I write at an little desk I found on Craigslist that has just the right amount of character on a broken laptop with no screen. It’s one of only four Craigslist purchases I’ve made.
  43. At a red light, if I see someone suspicious, I lock my doors.
  44. I clap when a plane lands.
  45. I pray when we take off.
  46. In 4th grade, Sister Patricia told us to say a Hail Mary every time we heard an ambulance or emergency vehicle go by. I kinda still do it subconsciously.
  47. Until 5 years ago, my right hand ring finger had a triangular shape from holding my pencil on it for so many years. I didn’t even know it could go back to it’s fuller figure.
  48. In college, if I had class in a particular building, in one specific room, I’d fall asleep no matter what was going on.
  49. My grandfather pierced my ears in the hospital when I was an infant.
  50. My biggest wish for my daughters, aside from hoping they know themselves well, is that they make good friends.

I’m a hoax, folks. I started with intentions of making it to 100 but with a road trip waiting tomorrow morning, it’s 50 you get. I’ll get back to it tomorrow night. Now go visit some of Rhode Island’s brightest and bestest women online. Enjoy!


About Me (RIP 2)

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” -Bernard Shaw

Who am I creating?

  • A mother who parents positively and raises self-confident women, who is kind and present.
  • A writer full of honesty and good questions, a storyteller who inspires.
  • creative collaborator who leaves no idea unexplored, anything is possible.
  • A woman driven by her feminine wisdom, who feels like a girl full of bright faith and wonder.

These are the things I am always striving to be. I believe this requires hard work. It requires educating, celebrating, nurturing and sharing all of me, mothering myself. This space holds me accountable and documents what I discover brings me one step closer and two steps back from the woman I want to be.