Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last night, Sophie, Oliver and I had the great good fortune to spend the eighth day of Hanukkah with some new friends. Henry was playing lacrosse in Santa Monica and The Husband was working, but the three of us were feted with delicious food, including the best latkes I've ever had, an interesting discussion of the Hanukkah story, and much laughing over the shouts and loud voices of three boys. Sophie had a pretty huge seizure at some point in the evening, but our friends had the perfect couch for having a seizure, and their response was calm and caring and a witnessing, which is all our family asks for and which is so often difficult to do. Thank you, dear Jenny and Mark and your adorable boys!

Today is another gray and rainy one in Los Angeles, and it's with a heavy heart that I continue our Christmas traditions of baking and the more mundane Sunday ones of laundry and straightening up. I want to walk down the middle of the street with other mothers and perhaps tear at our hair and wail. I want to scream, loudly, about the terrible storm of mental illness, obscene amounts of guns and ammunition and those who profit from them, the seeming indifference of many to the justified measures for eighteenth century fears that have no place in a twenty-first century world, and a culture so steeped in violence that it justifies the most vile of entertainment as art. Two weeks ago, I argued with someone over the United States Senate not joining the rest of the world in ending discrimination against and ensuring equality for all disabled people. I told her that I was ashamed of our country, and she told me that this was unfortunate as we lived in the greatest country on earth and the freest, and I could only think in the loneliest sort of ways how little I agreed and how I felt more connected to the world in general than to this fellow citizen. This is a time where pride in country has no place and where humility and reckoning and love of humanity supercedes all. But I wonder at the ties that bind us, how differences are becoming more and more stark.

I want to walk down the middle of the street with other mothers and perhaps tear at our hair and wail.

Instead, I'll sigh. I'll wring my hands, tighten my lips and toast coconut. I'll wipe Sophie's drool and wonder whether her weight gain is causing the step-up in seizures and whether I might need to adjust her medication. I'll be grateful again that The Friend Who Loves Jane Austen made it safely to Los Angeles with Sophie's medication in hand. I'll admonish Henry and Oliver to clean up their room and separate their darks from their whites. I'll sit at the dining room table and help Oliver to trace out the rooms in his house, 1 cm = 1 inch, while Aimee Mann sings of snow and Christmas, the twang of guitar merry and bright.


  1. There was a different post I wrote, the day the massacre happened and it was similar to this. I keep thinking of Tori Amos singing, "All you killers of the children, there's a new commandment. The true Divine Creator wants a velvet revolution". She wrote it in response to Bush, but I keep thinking that what our world needs is a feminine uprising, an uprising of mothers, who would not allow such atrocities in this world, who would not put anything, not one single thing, above peace and safety of our children.

    I am glad you celebrated Hanukkah, and lit your candles, here we both are, finding our way. And baking.

  2. Yes, and yes and yes. It was our first time celebrating Hanukkah and such a perfect thing to do --

  3. I am having a hard time going about my regular life and I am feeling guilty doing so. Especially last night when I watched a concert on TV and lost myself in joyful abandon but would then have those seconds of flashback reality and realization that while I was doing that, there were parents who were in such deep grief that even the idea of ever experiencing joy again was impossible. And not just in Newtown, Connecticut, either.
    When I was seventeen I had the great pleasure of going to Europe and it became immediately apparent to me that what I had heard my entire life- that we live in the Greatest Nation On Earth! was such a joke and I've been sort of embarrassed to be an American ever since. I was primed for that realization after watching the Viet Nam war on TV for years.
    How this all wraps together, I do not know and actually, it doesn't but it's what your post made me think about.
    But mostly? I want to think about you being with friends last night, laughing, eating, being happy in the light.
    And so I will.

    1. "We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
      furnace of this world."

  4. That quote, above, Elizabeth, is exactly it. Otherwise, what is left to us?

    That's a beautiful photo; I remember well my first Hannukkah with friends, when my daughter was 2. It was such a happy celebration filled with great food and even better stories. I had just left my husband of 11 years, and this ritual was a balm to my soul.

    But, yes, I, too, want to join the mothers...this is intolerable. Senator Feinstein has announced she's putting forward an anti-assault weapon bill in January. We'll see what it is, and where it goes. Meanwhile, I hear people advocating targeted bombing of weapons manufacturers. No. More. Guns.

  5. I have a friend here in Boulder who was part of a radical theater group, guerrilla theater, and once they all dressed up as 50s housewives, including pearls and patent leather purses, to protest a nuclear facility. They carried signs that read, "Another mother for nuclear war." The absurdity, of course, makes the point. Yes, walk down the middle of the street wailing and tearing our hair. In the olden days they put women like us in asylums and treated us for "hysteria." But who else is going to raise the clamor?

    Thank you for another beautifully eloquent, poignant post.

  6. The witnessing, as a friend calls it, "enlightened" witnessing, which for amounts to someone who can back up our story, no matter the disbelief that confronts us. I am sputtering to a halt, nothing is done, little is even started. They, the dominant they, forget that "hysteria" is often the only appropriate response. xo

  7. Tonight I was speaking to my family about the shootings. (When did our society come to a point where we talk about "the shootings"?) My ignorance prevented me from knowing that it is legal for Americans to own so many guns and walk around with them. Oh, Elizabeth. Something has to change. But, how?

  8. I'm glad you were able to enjoy a good Hanukkah celebration, at least.

    Maybe Newtown will be the force that pushes the states to finally enact more reasonable gun control legislation, just as Dunblane did for Great Britain.

    Mothers, yes -- and yet, the woman who owned all the Newtown guns was a mother. Which I find very intriguing and unusual.

  9. happy hanukkah! everything you said, no one could say it better. i am with you. i am walking down the street wailing and tearing my hair out on the inside and going through the motions on the outside, losing sleep at night. I can't wrap my head around some people in this country...

  10. The differences are stark, but the similarities are making themselves known as well. I am truly hopeful that there is an uprising of women, some of whom are mothers, happening, and while it is frustrating that revolutions take time, I believe there is one coming.




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