vendredi, février 24, 2012

Today: the day my daughter became a target

I got the call as I was about 25 minutes away from home, climbing Route 401 out of the town of Malvern.

It wasn't a number I recognized,though if I'd thought I could have figured out it was the high school. But it was the DQ's familiar voice.

The tale she told is complicated, involving as it does real friends, phone calls, and online communication.

At first I lost track of the ins and outs -- but eventually I picked up the basics.

She became friends with a boy who has a girlfriend. The boy's girlfriend, who apparently has some "issues" (I don't want to be specific for ethical as well as legal reasons) got wind that my daughter and this young man were friends.

The girl allegedly threatened to hurt and or kill my daughter and the boy, and herself. Multiple times.

Should I come to the high school?

No, said the DQ. The police have been informed at both schools.

Her principal described everything that has been done. She said that she believed that they were o.k.

But to my mind, my daughter has now become a target, a potential bulls-eye.

She doesn't see it this way, of course, and insists that she will continue her friendship with the young man.

Thank God she doesn't drive.

Except from barring her from seeing him, I have no idea where to begin.

I'm numb.

Well, not quite -- I'm sickened.

Sickened by the insanity social networking can prompt among the young and the stupid.

If it hadn't been for Facebook, my daughter would never have known this boy.

And sickened by my own helplessness.

I guess I'll begin with a call to the police.

Knowing, now that this has been set in motion, that in spite of all that we do to protect our children, our ability to do so diminishes with every passing year.

There is a time when those bland exchanges over coffee with other parents become real.

For me, that time arrived today.

mercredi, février 22, 2012

The joy of never having known you

Free and hopeful I was, once

Now stumbling,

Recounting I, who cannot seem to speak

Without questioning all.

You haunt me -- your evasive, unapologetic ghost a wraith

Leaves me faithless

Betrayed, betraying that which I once believed.

Too much, now, to exercise compassion

Seeing it reaped, torn open, and tossed to the wayside

It is not a place in which I want to spent more time.

And so you, my fantastic creature, my Caliban,

Dream lover for those who subsist only on fantasy

This corrosive gift

A casual


Only that desperate



That we had never crossed paths

And I had been still the gentle soul

I was before we met

Instead of this

mardi, février 21, 2012

My (birthday) year in melodrama...

Lots of us do some mental totting up on our birthdays.

Normally, I'd try to avoid it.

After all, middle-age birthdays fall somewhere in that misty ground between wholehearted celebrations and "wow, no way you are eighty"!

In fact, if someone said I didn't look a day above seventy today, I'd be highly insulted.

Just sayin'.

Though I might wish to hide, I can't avoid reflection this week.

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of my mom's death.

That's a long time to miss someone almost every day.

Some of the things I've experienced this year have been profound. I take a moment of silent gratitude to be thrilled they are over -- my ex-husband's cancer treatment, our house renovation, mislaying a friendship.

Then there are the gifts that I never could have made for myself.

My children's deepening faith.

Forging new friendships and rebuilding old ones.

Some parts of this year's adventures were sad and ludicrous.

Getting hurt is never purty.

Yet in the process, I learned to value myself more highly.

I must say, however, that because of this learning experience, I have seen things I never thought I'd see, as I watched, torn between unbelief, horror, and amusement.

Ya can't make this stuff up. Surely most of what happens to us is a grist for a writer's mill.

But as one year flows into another, I'm moving futureward rather than yearning backward.

This year I'm going to try to see the blessings rather than the frustrations.

This year I'm going to put myself out more for those who might need me.

This year I won't take as many easy side roads -- the straight and narrow is probably the one that gets me to the desired spot faster.

This year I'm going to file my papers so I can see my desk.

Ask me if I can find the wood underneath the papers -- 365 days should be plenty of time.

lundi, février 20, 2012

My fierce heroes

When I saw last Thursday that New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid had died (of an apparent asthma attack) in Syria, tears sprung to my eyes.

A pall of grief settled over me, one I couldn't shake for a day or two.

That was perhaps to be expected. Shadid, whose dispatches from Lebanon, Egypt and other war-torn countries allowed us to see inside the minds and hearts of the victims of so many battles small and large, was a fantastic reporter.

One could not read Shadid and pretend that one didn't know what was going on.

When he was interviewed and asked why he put himself in harm's way in battle zones like Syria, he answered, with his apparently normal modesty, that if he wasn't there, he was worried that the story might not be told.

Without a small group, really an elect number, of journalists willing to risk their lives to bring us these stories, we would have no more than grainy videos of men, women and children racing down streets and the sound of gunfire close by.

The world grieved for Shadid. So no surprise there. Many of us felt the same when photojournalist Tim Hetherington died last spring in Libya.

What did set me back was the anger I felt at those who take potshots at mainstream journalists.

Honestly, you don't see too many Fox news reporters on the ground in war zones.

I'm not sure why that is.

Maybe Fox is consumed with domestic politics.

Maybe the best foreign correspondents want to work for the WaPo, Reuters, the New York Times or the AP, media outlets that have a long history of amazing reporting from the battlefield.

My frustration stems in part, from how easy it is for some of us, both conservative and liberal, to be critics from the safety of our desk chairs, doling out judgments stolen from someone else's Facebook page.

It's ridiculously easy. I've done it myself.

I don't do crushes much anymore. But I have an unswerving admiration for those journalists (here's to you, Lara Logan) who believe that sometimes the stories we need to read and see involve risk-- physical risk and the risk of getting your heart broken.

I know that, while reading Shadid and others, my heart has been rent many times.

They are my heroes.

When I was much younger, I came across a quote from the essayist V.S. Pritchett, and it became my journalistic motto.

Actually, it's a lost motto, since I can't find it, or even recall where I read it.

But the gist of it was that a writer's craft was to tell the stories of those who couldn't tell their own.

And in my modest way, the subjects I choose to write about (when I have a choice) reveal that bent.

Pagans, clergy in crisis, abused children and Mormons (though they have been flavor of the month thanks to Romney) aren't necessarily the stuff of much mainstream religion reporting -- but their voices are part of the national conversation on religion.

In addition, I am drawn to the middle ground -- to that conflicted, grey area where so many of us spend our lives.

Those are the voices that so often get missed in much reporting, mainstream and partisan.

I will always be impelled to the side story rather than the blockbuster.

That's for others to tell.

I have neither the authority, stature or desire to be a talking head -- it's a prospect that, frankly scares me.

But if I can get a few readers to question something they took for granted, to replace ignorance with a little new knowledge, to open up their minds and spirits to those unheard voices, then I will have done my job for the day.

Thank goodness for journalists like Shadid. They set the standard for small form writers like me.

They are heroes, mentors, and standard-bearers. I watch them disappear down the track as I trudge along miles behind -- just proud to be on the same road.

dimanche, février 19, 2012

My midnight confession

While the idea is great (making self-analysis and confession a secular sacrament), I'm not sure that Wilkes makes his case strongly enough.

Had this been an essay, it would have been provocative.

Had it been a longer analysis pegged to our dysfunctional culture, Wilkes would undoubtedly have lots and lots to say. In a way, oddly enough, his Catholicism is a disadvantage -- he can't be biting enough.

Or had it been a great Catholic tract for the supremacy of see, I wanted this book to work.

But it is like a teaser, a aperitif without the main course.

Or so say I. You may differ.