fair winds and following seas, dear friend…

This morning I received a shocking phone call: a good friend and fellow UCFer had died unexpectedly over the weekend at far too young an age. She was one of the non-blog-having members of our merry band and one who generally kept to herself in all online things that weren’t UCF related, so I’ll respect her wish for privacy and not reveal her name here. But she was a lovely person, full of humor and love and light, and she leaves behind a beloved mother, a loving brother and sister-in-law and many bereft friends. She will be sorely missed.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Dear Friend.

thou shalt not kill…

…so says The Bible.

I may not be a Christian. Or a believer in any of the religions that use The Bible as a book of study and worship. However, there are valuable lessons in that book. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love thy neighbor.” “Thou shalt not steal.”

And “Thou shalt not kill.”

On September 21, 2011, at 11:08 EST, Troy Davis was murdered by the State of Georgia.

Over the last twenty-two years he maintained his innocence in the killing of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. Not unusual. Even the most obviously guilty of prisoners on Death Row will maintain their innocence when facing death.

What was unusual was that, in the years between Davis’ conviction and murder, seven of the nine witnesses recanted their testimonies, citing fear of the police due to pressure put upon them to deliver the testimony that the prosecutors wanted instead of the truth.

Reasonable doubt was introduced. Despite this, all of Davis’ appeals to the state and federal courts (including a very last minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which delayed the execution by four hours) were denied. And so a possibly innocent man was killed by the government.

The sad thing is, this is not the first time this has happened. It’s not going to be the last, especially with people of color.

I’ve written before about my stand on the death penalty. As I get older, my conviction that state-sponsored murder is wrong only gets stronger. And yes, I feel the same way about executing a white supremacist definitely guilty of the race-motivated murder of a black man.

Murder is murder, whether it’s by an individual or a government. I’m against it on a moral level and on a practical level.

While I am not at all surprised by the outcome of Troy Davis’ appeals, I am ashamed of it. I am ashamed of the State of Georgia and I am ashamed of the United States Supreme Court.

Thou shalt not kill.

I wish we, as a country, could follow those simple words.

2011 can bite my shiny, metal ass…

It’s Day 2 of The Break-Up.

I’m at the point where spending time amongst humans is unbearable, but staying at home offers no distraction. Nothing but alternating pain and numbness. Especially since it turns out that he forgot a lot of his stuff (he had been staying with my roommate and me since the end of January, due to a foreclosure at the place that he had been renting).

I won’t go into details here. Too involved. But the upshot is that he screwed up, I found out and I kicked him out.

(Yes, there’s more to it. There’s always more to it – relationship issues and events leading to his screw-up and my fury. But it all ends with me being in pain and him being out on the streets.)

Of course, that causes even more whirling emotions and thoughts: Where did he sleep last night? Did crash on a friend’s sofa? Gawd, I hope he didn’t sleep in his car. And while a large part of me knows it would be best to not ask him back, even if it’s just to sleep on the couch, there is still a bit of me that wants to make sure he’s safe and sound and warm. Because I can be furious with him and still love him.

So I sit at home, wallowing, knowing I shouldn’t do so but finding it difficult to motivate myself out of bed to even eat, let alone get stuff done around the apartment that really needs to be done. Or to leave the apartment, where I run the risk of people seeing me break into tears.

Yeah, this is the part that really sucks.

We’ve exchanged emails so that we can get some practical items hammered out. Definitely needed, but I recognize it in part as an attempt to keep in touch with him. Yesterday he was cordial and apologetic. Today: very terse. And yes, that hurts.

But, hey, everything hurts today. It’s part of the process.

So I’m writing here, trying to help out the process. Tired of sending my friends and family texts and emails. Not up to talking on the phone. Tired of stupid little Facebook statuses and tweets on Twitter. Needing to fill this annoying, way-too-big hole somehow.

(As an aside, how the hell did we manage to get through breakups before the advent of cell phones and the internet? These wondrous machines have turned into a lifeline for me.)

At least I have the new apartment to look forward to. Someplace that’s all mine, with little residue from past relationships. (He saw the place with me and has helped me moved things, so there is some residual imprint of him.) I look forward to the time alone, but also fear it.

I know things will get better. I’ve been through this dance before, know the steps all too well.

Doesn’t mean the steps don’t bite, though.

quiet about the tucson shootings…

…because I’m still in shock.

My oldest and dearest friend, whom I’ve known since I was 16, lives in Tucson with her husband and their two young daughters. After hearing about the shooting I called her to make sure neither she nor her family were caught in the crossfire. Thankfully they weren’t – they’re all fine.

Still, my brain churns, as it does, on various scenarios, thanks to my anger and sadness and fear. So better to not write about it because then it just turns into, “All about me and my loved ones.” And that is sooo not what any of this is about.

Instead, I’d like to direct your attention to blog posts that several of my friends have written that are far more eloquent than anything I can come up with, both about this horrific event and the aftermath. Seriously, these folks are amazing.

Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station:
Random Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting
The Sunday Morning Come to Jesus Moment on Second Amendment Solutions

Eric VanNewkirk of Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets:
January 8, 2011
Dumb quote of the day: missing the point just to be a knee-jerk contrarian edition

Janiece Murphy of Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men:
We Simply Don’t Know
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Steve Bucheit of Story Bones:
Any number of posts on the first page. Just read them all.

My thoughts and heart go out to the victims and their families and loved ones.

feeling adrift…

That’s what I’m feeling like these days. I seem to be going through one of my little depressions again. Nothing terribly bad, but for months I’ve done little besides work, hang out with CuteFilmNerd and, on increasingly rare occasions, meet with friends. I haven’t been passionate about working in politics, although I still keep up on what’s going on and I still get angry about the injustices of the world and of this country. I’m finding myself disconnected from groups I used to be tight with. The closest I’ve come lately is the online connection I have with the good folks of the UCF, which is fine and fun and all, and I’m very grateful for their presence in my life, but I’ve been pulling away from everything and everyone else in my life. The only people I really see are my co-workers, my roommate and, of course, CuteFilmNerd.

This isn’t good for me. I know it isn’t. When I withdraw like this my mind goes into a cycle that makes the depression worse and there are days where it takes all of my willpower to keep me from folding in on myself. I reach out to CuteFilmNerd, who helps when he can, but I find myself grasping onto him too tight, which isn’t good for him either, or for us, especially when he’s got issues of his own that he’s dealing with and that I’m trying to help with when I can. We’re going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment, which makes me grasp at him even harder and makes my jealousy rear its ugly green head. Again – not good for either of us or the relationship. So I’m trying to back off a little bit, to calm myself a bit, but my G-d, it’s hard to not hold on as tight as I can.

I feel like I’m always on the edge of tears. It really doesn’t take much for them to brim up. I used to be so stoic – the calm, cool and collected one. Those days have been gone for a long time and most of the time I welcome my emotions, but times like this I wish I had some of that reserve again. I miss it and I don’t know how to get it back. There are times I don’t even recognize myself any longer.

What is worst of all – I feel like I’ve lost my creativity. I carry a notebook with me where-ever I go, but I never pull it out of my messenger bag. I read books and magazines and newspapers, listen to music and podcasts, watch a veritable plethora of films, but I just don’t feel like creating new things. The closest I get to being creative is taking photos. At least that’s something, right? But I just feel stifled in so many other regards. I don’t even feel like writing here most of the time, which is why I post photos and have my Twitter feed set to automatically generate a post from that week’s tweets. At least then there’s something on this piece of real estate other than rusting hulks of posts.

I hate to say it, but I think getting a new apartment would be helpful for me. My roommate is a good guy, but we have very different ideas about cleanliness and neatness. Due to the sheer volume of stuff in the apartment, I feel like I live in a cave. Most of it isn’t my stuff. I haven’t felt like I had a home since I moved from my old neighborhood. I can’t stand the neighborhood I live in. Living in my current apartment has taught me that my living space and my neighborhood has got to feel completely comfortable and inviting for me to be energized for anything in life, including my relationship and my creativity. Since it looks likely that I’ll have a car before too much time has passed, that will be incredibly helpful in finding a place in a neighborhood that feels like home. I have ideas of where I’d like to live and it looks like I’ll be able to afford an apartment in the neighborhoods I’m interested in, so I’ll keeping my eyes open there.

Things have to change. I have to change. I can’t stand the way I feel and I need to find the energy to make the changes in my life to make me feel better. Because I just can’t feel adrift any longer.

the roar of the lion…

…has been silenced.

Last night, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy died at the age of 77, after a year long battle with brain cancer.

I found out when CuteFilmNerd called me last night just as I was starting to drift into sleep. I fired up Twitter on my cell phone to see what others had tweeted and found only one news report, then realized it was much later Points East of Los Angeles. This morning I listened to President Obama’s words on Kennedy as I readied myself for work.

There will be much written about him today. No matter how much is written, it could never do justice to the Lion of the Senate. Some have said that, while he was never their senator, they felt that he was America’s Senator. This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

My heart goes out to his family and friends in their grieving. But I also find that I’m grieving for myself and for the United States. Being human, he wasn’t a perfect man, but he was one of the best and brightest of us and his loss will be felt keenly. Especially at a time when he is needed most. May someone of his strength, courage and convictions stand up to take his torch. Let the roar of the lion be heard again.

Requiescat in pace, Senator Kennedy. You will sorely be missed.
Requiescat in pace, Senator Kennedy.
You will sorely be missed.

that’s the way he was…

RIP, Walter Cronkite. They don’t make journalists like you any longer – more’s the pity.

Your integrity and humor will be sorely missed.

very sad…

Like most people, I was very sad to hear about the cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday when he was at church. He performed the procedures many doctors were afraid to do – late-term abortions that were deemed medically necessary to save the life of the mothers or where doctors had confirmed that the fetus would not live outside the womb. Dr. Tiller had been shot before, had many death threats and was forced to wear a bullet-proof vest on a regular basis, but he refused to give into the fear that gripped so many of his colleagues because, as he reportedly told a woman recently, he feared that the women he helped would have no place else to turn.

Candlelight vigils are still being held all over the country, but as Gloria Feldt wrote in Salon, George Tiller needs more than candlelight vigils. As always, write and lobby your representatives. Donate in Dr. Tiller’s name to Planned Parenthood and to the women’s health clinics in your area. Make your voice heard.

(Fellow UCFer Janiece at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men and Mike at Man About Murfreesboro each have excellent posts regarding this tragedy and the cowardice of the anti-abortion faction. Go there.)

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A little something about my own views on abortion: I am of the opinion that they should be safe, legal and rare. I’ve always known that it was something I could never personally go through, but I am of the firm belief that women should have that choice. The women I’ve known that have had abortions never considered it a decision made lightly and I respect their decisions.

Of the people I’ve known that are anti-abortion, only one could be considered pro-life in the true sense of the term: fellow UCFer Michelle is a pacifist who is against abortion and the death penalty. Unlike so many anti-abortion people who mistakenly call themselves “pro-life,” she actually believes that every child that is born should be provided for and not left to fend for himself/herself in dangerous home situations. She doesn’t self-identify as Christian, but she embodies the teachings of Jesus far more completely than any religious anti-abortion nut protesting outside women’s health clinics. I highly respect that.

As for my thoughts on late-term abortion, I sincerely hope that they would never be necessary, but I understand that in some cases they may be. It’s truly sad that women in need have lost one of their champions – one of the few doctors left that they could turn to.

My thoughts go out to Dr. Tiller’s family, to all the women that he helped and to all the women he could’ve helped.

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Updated: 6/2/09 – 3:45pm

There is some discussion about who, besides the assassin who committed this foul deed, should be blamed for Dr. Tiller’s death. There is definitely an argument to to be made that Bill O’Reilly and his ilk have blood on their hands:

H/T to bstewart23 at This. That. No Other. for the Keith Olbermann clip.

silence is the enemy…

From Sheril Kirshenbaum:

Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.

In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months. Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under. We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls. Together we can do more. Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.

silence_enemy

If you’re on Facebook, please join the group Silence Is The Enemy. If you have a blog, please join the blogger coalition. Write your representative. Donate to Doctors Without Borders.

If we all band together to spread the word, silence can no longer be a refuge for cowardice.

(Oops, I got so up in arms I forgot to give credit where credit is due: tip o’ the hat to The Bad Astronomer.)