There is no way to make sense of the tragedy – or to understand conservative Republicans in America

22 Dec. | Update: Please understand that I wrote this under the influence of confusion and anger, that my blog sometimes functions as a place for me to work out my feelings, and that I am far (far!) from an expert on any of the below topics. I stand by my views, but for better, wiser, stronger posts, please see these:

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Warning: Full-blown, semi-coherent RANT ahead. I am mad, and I’m not being polite or perky or appropriate today.

It’s a beautiful day in Barcelona. Sunny, in the low 60s. The city is full of holiday spirit: Christmas craft stalls, flower stands, marching bands.

But I feel thousands of miles away.

My mind keeps wandering to the shootings at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. I can’t make sense of it, and so I read all the news stories I can find, bewildered and sickened and so sad.

Why am I gaping at story after story with the same horrific details? To try to find something that’ll settle my thoughts? To see if there are any words to express what the families are going through and how they’ll ever move forward?

I’m looking in the faces of the children in Barcelona more than ever. They are so innocent, so fresh-eyed and so, so sweet. I cannot fathom how anyone could shoot a child.

Since I heard the story on Friday night, I’ve wanted to pretend it doesn’t exist. Just days before, there was a shooting in a mall in Portland. And, a day after Connecticut, 50 shots fired at a mall in Los Angeles.

In 2011 alone, there were more than 30,000 deaths by gun violence in the United States. (source)

That means some 85 people are killed everyday in firearm-related incidents (including suicides). (source)

And let’s talk homicide. In 2009, there were nearly 11,500 homicides caused by guns in the U.S. (source) By comparison, there were 2 homicides caused by guns in Japan in 2006, and 11 in 2008. In the UK, there were 18 homicides by guns in 2009. (source)

And I know it’s not just about the guns. It’s about the people; it’s about the culture. But we come from a culture of gun violence. It’s all intertwined.

I’m so angry.

I’m so ashamed of America right now.

I hate that some people ostensibly use the constitution (freedom to fucking bear arms) as an excuse to kill. I hate that we are a nation of people who don’t support gun control. (Yes, many of us do – strongly – but my Facebook feed is rife with bullshit like, Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Okay, but if those people couldn’t get ahold of their guns so easily, could they do so much damage so swiftly? And if those people could cry for help in other ways, could get access to mental health care cheaply and easily, would it come to this? And if our criminal justice system was one of rehabilitation, would we be able to help people actually heal?)

I want every conservative Republican who’s still not in favor of tighter gun control after Connecticut to be forced to sit in a room with the parents of the dead children and the families of the dead teachers. See the looks in those people’s eyes and then try to tell me that guns don’t kill people.

It is proven that more guns means more murder. (source)

Last I checked, there are 4 states in America where it’s legal to bring a firearm into a bar. And it’s legal to carry a gun into restaurants that serve alcohol in some 15 or more states. You will never convince me that there’s a rational reason for that.

You can tell me until the cows come home that you come from a family of hunters and that your parents taught you all about gun safety. That’s fantastic, but I don’t give shit. That’s not bringing any of these people back to life.

You can tell me that you have a right to “protect” yourself. To which I will say: What the hell are you protecting yourself against if not another fear-crazed person like you WHO ALSO HAS A GUN?! (And, as a caveat, may I also rant for a moment about the fucked up culture of fear in America? People are using senseless acts like Connecticut to start arguing in the opposite direction that we need more guns, that teachers should be armed. You have got to be kidding me. Why are we propagating a culture of fear? How about we work together to improve education and economic equality and cultural tolerance, instead of being god-damned scared shitless all of the time and saying we need guns to keep us “safe?”)

I want to be able to channel my anger toward something more productive, but I can’t bring myself to it right now.

When I first heard the news of Connecticut and saw all of the political posts on Facebook, I posted that we should give space to compassion first.

I’m lacking compassion right now.

I want to try to be compassionate toward the killer’s family, particularly his mother (whom he shot), but I’m not there yet. She didn’t deserve death, but what was happening in his life that she didn’t intervene (or did she try)? Why was he able to get his hands on so many of her weapons? Why did she flaunt her weapons to neighbors like badges of honor?

I want to try to be compassionate toward people with political views different than my own, to respect their right to their beliefs, even if I don’t understand them. But I can’t right now.

I want change in America. I want a future for our country that I can believe in. Now is the time for Obama to step in and change gun laws. We cannot continue to lose so many lives.

My heart goes out to the families of Sandy Hook School and their community. I’m so deeply sorry for your losses.

Happy more-than-half birthday to my blog!

Why, lookee here, I’ve been writing this blog for over six months! I think that’s a new record.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve started several blogs in the last few years, only to abandon them because they were too ambitious, too broad, too boring or simply died slow deaths. (Remember that time I blogged about my breakup, then got back together with the guy? Oy.)

Perhaps I’ve found my sweet spot now: a bit about running, a bit about travel, personal enough without airing all my dirty laundry. (Though, I have to admit, the longer I blog, the quicker I am to get more and more candid.)

So, happy day! I committed to a blog project and didn’t run away. :)

Tell me: What are you committing to these days? Are you surprised you’re sticking to it?

less is more and more is more

here’s what I’m digging these days …

less rules

less walls

less expectations

less traffic

less lectures

more freedom

more passion

more running

more confidence

more enthusiasm

more kissing

more tacos

less anger

less stuff

less noise

less control

more fun

more patience

more parties

less jerks

more questions

less rain

less doubts

more music

more magic

more love

what about you?

Fremont Bridge, Portland

Fremont Bridge, Portland. A scene I love.

The snacks I eat (and lie about)

I usually eat fairly healthy. I like to tell people I eat vegetarian 75% of the time, and I’m also a fan of whole foods: fruits, veggies, whole grains, options that are unprocessed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have a sweet tooth. And I’m not above satisfying my indulgences. So, mixed in with the healthy eating, you’ll also find me enjoying my fair share of cookies and quesadillas and burgers and pizza, though I do try to make informed choices when I eat those, too.

Food is fuel, and I think I treat my body well most of the time.

BUT.

I also have a terrible secret.

I’m moderately obsessed with trying (maybe only once! sometimes more …) the grossest snack items sold at convenience stores.

Hand me a circus peanut. I want a bite.

Let me see the Cheese Whiz. I want to try it on top of a Cheez-It cracker.

Does that apple pie (with its plastic-y frosting coating) taste better than the pink Sno Ball (covered in rubbery coconut flakes)?

This is a Sno Ball. Disgusting. But tempting.

This is a Sno Ball. Disgusting. But tempting, somehow.

I don’t know what my problem is.

Actually, I do. My mom banned junk food when I was growing up, and, so, naturally, I’ve always had a fascination with it. I don’t want to stuff my face with it – that’s a surefire way for me to feel real sick real fast – but I just want a little taste. Something to satisfy my sweet tooth/salt tooth/curiosity.

I think I sort of hit a new low today, though. You know it’s bad when the Plaid Pantry clerk derides your snack choices.

He said, all serious-like with a look of disgust on his face, “You really like cheese … and salt, huh?”

I’m embarrassed to admit I bought Jalapeno Cheddar Combos (I can hear you groaning), as just one snack of three. (The other two were no better choices: Cheddar & Sour Cream Kettle chips and spicy-salsa-flavored almonds.)

Jalapeno Cheddar Combos. So, so wrong.

Jalapeno Cheddar Combos. So, so wrong.

In my defense, I’ve never had Combos before. I was really curious.

Also, I hate to say this, but I kind of liked them.  (I refuse to look at the ingredients. I am sure they are filled with trans fats and horrible chemicals that I can’t pronounce and enough sodium to last me a week.)

At least I got it out of my system, right? Maybe?

I feel thoroughly shamed by the Plaid Pantry dude that I’ll likely only buy bottled water and unsalted almonds in there from now on.

And now I’m going to hit the gym and see what kind of fuel Combos provides (hint: I’m sure it’s not good).

Check out my new pages, won’t you? It’s getting legit around here.

Maybe you’ve heard that I’ve taken a break from running? It wasn’t planned, but I sort of jacked up my IT band at the Ragnar Relay, and I’ve been nervous about making it worse. I’ve also been, um, preoccupied with summer fun. I knew it’d be tough to stick with a marathon training schedule during the summer, but I greatly underestimated how tough.

When there are camping trips, barbecues, river floating excursions and happy hours offered up to me, I say YES. And I let my running plans slide.

Floating on the Clackamas River

Floating on the Clackamas River

For about 1.5 seconds, I felt guilty about this.

And then I let it go.

If you know me personally, you know I went through some shitty stuff earlier in the year. To put it plainly, I was dumped in a dramatic way, my social group got shaken up and I was seriously questioning my direction (in life, in love, in work, in all ways). Running was my saving grace, and I poured myself into it in a way I hadn’t in the past.

Three months in, I’d signed up for a half marathon, set my sights on the Ragnar Relay and also signed up for my first marathon (coming up in October).

I got swept up in the runner’s high and probably accelerated my training a bit aggressively. I didn’t take on too much mileage, per se, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the commitment. (No coincidence, I guess, that this blog is called see molly run away.)

So when July & August arrived and I found myself with kickass new friends and a full social calendar, I decided not to sweat it too much. So that’s where you’ll find me today: running a little and playing a lot.

Drinks & snacks with Elizabeth & Jenny

Drinks & snacks with Elizabeth & Jenny

And in the meantime, I’m expanding my blog some. Check out my books page, where I’m sharing all 52 books that I’ve read/will read this year, plus a few all-time faves. And I’ve also got a new Portland page with recommendations for bars, restaurants and hotels in the city.

Paddleboarding on the Sandy River

Paddleboarding on the Sandy River

Think I should add any books to my must-read list? Any Portland places to my must-visit list? Let me know!

bit of a new look

I’m going for a slightly new look around here. What do you think?

I’m still tinkering with the colors and fonts, but I like that the main well is a bit wider than before, and the comment bar is easier to spot (when viewing an individual post).

I’m not exactly a CSS expert (read: not at all) so I haven’t figured out how to customize each piece that I’d like, but I’ll get there …