Glad I Saw It: Escaping with Books

Vacation-Reading-WPA-Poster

Image found at Book Riot. Click image to go there.

Did you know that we are living in the most peaceful time of human history? Doesn’t feel like it, does it? What with the television and radio and Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and emails and headlines about Syria and Gaza and Nigeria and The USA and Central America and Afghanistan and on and on and on it hardly seems peaceful.

We can thank modern connectivity and retrained brains that hunger for instant access and constant stimulation — even when that stimulation is a depressant.

And those of you who know me know I don’t ignore these issues. However, I do see value in escaping. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask first so you can help others. Burning out on horror can lead to apathy, resentment, anger, prejudice, and despair. It’s important, if we want to continue to do Good, to maintain our sanity. Our humanity.

May I humbly suggest that each of us takes a chunk of time each day to escape to another world between the pages of a book. Choose something simple, like a romance novel. Choose something funny like a book of essays by Tina Fey or David Sedaris. Choose something from a different culture or time period. Choose something with dragons or other planets or shape-shifters. Choose something from your child’s bookshelf.

Stop. Breathe. Choose something to read.

I finished The Hunger Games trilogy recently. And I’m going to re-read The Phantom Tollbooth before I introduce it to my son. What will you read?

 

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Glad I Saw It: Dumbwaiter

dumbwaiter

Seeing this in a corner off the Montclair Art Museum‘s lobby reminded me of a stupid night I had with a friend while in college. It must have been my freshman year, and we went to our first “Around the World” party at one of the largest residence halls on campus. Twelve floors of various lounges and rooms that served spiked drinks into paid-for and marked plastic cups. He agreed to watch my drinks, and I agreed to be his female companion at a time before I knew what “A Beard” actually was. Continue reading

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Domestic Violence and Guns: Not just for Married Couples

IPHomicidesandGunsUSMapJLHLCEdone_0Let’s stop pretending that gun violence is all about mental health. I know. If feels good to say that only the “crazies” commit violence, especially the worst kind of violence. It’s all about the other. But the fact is, over half of all mass shootings are related to domestic violence. And the vast majority of violence committed in the United States is a result of escalating arguments or as a part of a cycle of violence. Maybe we should start saying that losing one’s temper is a deficiency of mental health?

However, some facets of gun violence ought to have common ground. For example: Stalkers and domestic abusers should not be allowed to buy or possess guns. And how about: Those subject to temporary restraining orders and permanent restraining orders should not be allowed to buy or possess guns.

Sounds reasonable? I think so. Most people think so. Including a wide majority of Texans. Yes, really.

So why do so few states have comprehensive regulations on this issue? And why is federal law so spotty and weak? If I were feeling generous, I’d say state legislators and Congress figured those laws were already there because it’s so darn obvious that someone with violent and obsessive behavior shouldn’t get a hold of firearms.

But I’m not feeling generous lately. I also don’t want to crawl down the rabbit hole of paranoid, fearful, greedy reasons for inaction. And the domestic violence related tragedies keep piling up. And this is nothing new.DV+Guns-StalkingLawsJLHL-copy-REVERSE

Instead, there is current federal legislation that everyone can urge Senators and Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor and actively support.

In the SENATE there are two bills that help tighten current laws where partner violence and guns intersect.

Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) has S. 1290. This is a bill that amends the definition of “intimate partner” to include abusive dating partners and stalkers so they can’t purchase or possess guns. Some backlash has said “Oh come on! Stalking?” But those who know the cycle of violence understand that stalking is rarely the end point; it’s usually the beginning. And we’ve had enough sacrificial lambs in the name of “benefit of the doubt.” According to Congress.gov, S. 1290 has just one co-sponsor.

Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) has S. 2483 which bars dating partner abusers and those with temporary restraining orders from buying or possessing guns. Now, I know — you’re probably saying DUH! but yeah, this is a gap in current law. Reasoning? TROs can be tricky because of the brief duration (usually 14 days), but depressingly consistent research shows that the time between when a victim of domestic abuse leaves a situation and gets an order of protection or restraining order is some of the most dangerous. The removal of firearms during a TRO actually does mean life or death. Here is some background to Senator Blumenthal’s bill.

In the loony & cartoony Congressional House, there are a few pieces of incredibly sane legislation awaiting action. Representative Capps (D-CA) has introduced H.R. 1177, which mirrors Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal’s bills by barring dating partner abusers and those subject to TROs from buying and possessing guns.

Representative Hahn (D-CA) has introduced H.R. 1914 which bars misdemeanant stalkers from buying and possessing guns. Remember that pesky cycle of violence!

Of particular interest to New Jersey is H.R. 3566. This bill provides incentives for states to require surrender of firearms. While NJ has state laws that cover most of the above issues (we are in a minority of states), one gap is in the official methods of seizure of firearms from those abusers who should not possess them. (See page 13 for NJ information.)

So, get to it. Contact your elected representatives, no matter if they are Democrats or Republicans or Independents or whatever. Let them know that 46 American women shot to death by intimate partners each month is unacceptable. Let them know that the intimidation and threats and control made easier and more deadly by access to firearms is unacceptable.

Additional information from Center for American Progress with focus on several states.

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Glad I Saw It: Fantastical Reading

photoAnyone who knows my son knows he has been Harry Potter obsessed for the last year. He tore through all seven books and watched (curated) versions of the films. He then quickly moved on to The Spiderwick Chronicles, which took about a week to read. And instead of moving on to Beyond Spiderwick books, he decided to try out The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Admittedly, I played a part in this by 1) buying the book at a garage sale and 2) taking out the audio books from the library. Guided reading at its best.

I have no qualms about nudging my kids into the types of books I loved as a child. And still love. We are starting the Little House books as well. I can’t wait to share the joys of The Hobbit and the adventures in A Wizard of Earthsea. But I am sad, in a regretful, slightly morose way, that there are films out there already. I know it’s so hard to resist — and it absolutely informs the interpretation of characters to see stills and clips and entire tellings. But still — it’s totally worth it for the companionship of these stories.

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Chris Christie Veto Exposes Lack of a Moral Compass

via Sandy Hook Promise

via Sandy Hook Promise

Exposing his extreme cowardice and an utter lack of leadership ability, Christie eviscerated A2006, a bill to reduce the legal limit for firearm magazines to ten (down from 15). Parroting NRA claims that it’s mental health and not the amount of bullets, Christie showed his ignorance of mass shootings around the world (the USA doesn’t have a monopoly on mental health issues) and common sense (more bullets = more deaths and injuries).

With a trip to Iowa just weeks away and with recent trips to New Hampshire in his rear-view mirror, Chris Christie vetoed common sense gun reform legislation designed to save lives should the worst happen. And with 74 school shootings in just 18 months, the threat of the “worst” is our American reality.

In his re-write of A2006 (disguised as a veto), Christie pushes mental health reform and insults gun reform advocates like the Sandy Hook families who have pointed out that eleven children survived because the Newtown killer fumbled upon attempting to reload his rifle’s 30 round magazine. Calling this legislation a “trivial approach” and accusing the Sandy Hook families of “grandstanding.” Both phrases have appeared in anti-regulation and gun extremist posts in reference to this bill.

Especially with the generous concessions made in the NJ Senate exempting certain rifles from the ten-round limit and allowing six months to comply with the law, this is a fair and responsible bill. The bill does not stop anyone from exercising a Second Amendment right; ten-round magazines are common and can be found for many guns, including both New Jersey compliant AR-15 style rifles and Glock 19.

So what is Christie actually afraid of? It’s not a fear based in the Garden State, where 85% of residents support common sense gun reform; it’s about his national ambitions. But what Christie forgets in his zeal for the White House is that the echo-chamber of gun extremism only seems loud. The vast majority of Americans understands that fewer bullets mean fewer lives lost. More attempts at changing a magazine mean more chances to act or escape. It’s simple arithmetic.

Chris Christie must begin to show leadership, maturity, and common sense. He must use past tragedies to show that he is forward-thinking and sensible in his approach to gun reform. The ten-round limit for ammunition magazines is logical, proven to save lives, and just makes sense. The bill our governor sent back to New Jersey’s legislature deserved better than a laughable rewrite that continues to shuffle the issue of gun violence down the line. Chris Christie needs to show that he knows what the “right thing to do” is without threats and misguided advice from extremists.

An elected leader without morals becomes a pawn for the highest bidder, whether that bidder dangles money or power to tempt his prey. Clearly, the Garden State’s current governor cares more about both money and power due to the slight possibility that he will be crowned the GOP candidate for a presidential run.

Read bill sponsor Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald’s statement here.

Read response from Sandy Hook Promise here.

Recommended news links:

Read Star Ledger coverage here. Coverage from The Record here. Solid coverage from The Philly Inquirer here. The NY Daily News has a piece on reaction here.

The New York Times had an article in the July 4th edition.

Daniel Christie petition

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Glad I Saw It: S’mores

s'mores

Gently toasted or burnt and crispy? Which one are you?

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Seagull Picnic: yeah write gargleblaster

seagull picnic

Seagulls fight over forgotten fruit and crustless triangles. Unable to raise his eyes, knowing that the lack of joy in hers would harden concrete over her words, he studies a footprint in the wet sand and wishes he’d never answered her song.

 

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Lazy Mom’s Guide to Overcoming (your own) Anti-Social Behavior

ritas_150On the last day of school, my son was so excited for summer that he practically bounced over to me as he left his teacher’s hug. “What kind of fun will we be having, Mama? Who will be there?”

I didn’t know. I hadn’t planned anything.

His excited and happy eyes waited expectantly, and my mind flipped frantically through the rolodex of ideas fueled by Pinterest and “Last Day of School!” blog posts and my own goals as a Mom.

We ended up at Rita’s, cooling off with Alex’s Lemonade Italian Ices. He was excited, happy, satisfied. This was a Treat!

“I love the last day of school, Mama. Thank you for bringing me here.”

We laughed and talked about school and what the summer would bring. It was perfect. We were excited, happy, satisfied.

Then, after the kids were in bed. After the scolding about toothbrushing and not hitting your sister and please just be quiet had faded. I saw other people’s Last Day of School photos. And those people were with other people, and those people’s kids were with other people’s kids.

Photos of groups of four and six and seven smiling faces at the playground and at the pool and in someone’s backyard taunted me. “We’re social!” they screamed. “Our kids love to hang out!” they teased. “My kid is much happier than yours is. And he’ll always be more happy!” they flaunted.

That it hadn’t even occurred to me to make plans before the Last Day of School was evidence of my failings. That I had taken my excited and expectant little boy to get an Italian Ice instead of doing something social, something with other people, reminded me of my selfish nature. I know I could be a better Mom, at least when it comes to being social. But I’m tired. And I’m shy. And I judge. And I know that I am judged.

Mostly it’s because I’m tired and shy. Since I have a hard time getting the energy up to be social, it affects my exuberant and friendly son’s social life. And that’s not fair. It would be different if he didn’t want to be social for Last Day of School. It would be different if I had a better excuse than laziness for my anti-social choices. It would be different if I didn’t feel so miserable when confronted with the social animals all around us. It would be different if I didn’t care.

Resolved: This summer will be different. I will not err on the side of ease and convenience. I will “get out” more with the kids. I will stop using the “We moved to the suburbs for a backyard, so that’s where they’ll play” excuse. I will face my fear of rejection and awkward encounters in favor of healthy social relationships for my children.

And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Rita’s Italian Ice.

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Glad I Saw It: Make Music Day

photo copyIt was a great day of free music that gave musicians a chance to be heard, music lovers a chance to hear tunes they might not usually hear, and towns and cities a chance to promote community.

Featured here is The Abandon Ship Band performing various tunes of Rock & Roll.

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First Comes Talk, Then Comes Action…

Gun Sense Voter

This weekend was an active one for gun violence prevention in the Tri-State Area. (In NJ, the tri-state area means NJ, NY, PA.) In Newark, there was an Anti-Violence Rally that shut down an intersection. In NYC, Moms Demand Action held a rally for gun sense over Brooklyn Bridge and at City Hall Park. And in Philadelphia, Million Hoodies held a power summit to move gun violence prevention forward. Lots of people are talking.

Lots of people are also writing. The Times of Trenton printed a letter in support of the Ten Round Ammunition limit recently. The Star Ledger printed this letter asking ALL of NJ’s Congressmen to support expanded background checks on firearms. And the Montclair Times printed this letter supporting the GunSenseVoter.org campaign. And there are more. Many more.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of violent and unbelievable news stories, know that you CAN act. You can CALL your elected representatives. You can TALK with your neighbors and friends. You can WRITE to your local newspapers. You can COMMIT to voting only for candidates that support common sense gun reform. You must ASK about firearms and whether they are properly secured before leaving your children at a home.

Don’t let the news cycle of horrific and preventable tragedies dishearten you. Staying mute and still is not required. Feeling helpless is not a given. Be bold.

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