The Opposite of Life

I heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary via Twitter while my hairstylist adjusted my cape and talked about color. I share this not to dramatically set a scene, but to explain why 15 minutes later a woman walked up to me and asked me if I would like a complimentary hand massage as I sat there crying. She had no idea I was crying, of course, so when I looked up at her and swiped my eyes she immediately asked me if I was okay. This garnered the attention of the two women and one hair stylist next to me. I had all eyes on me, and for once I was thrilled because I needed someone, several someones, to tell me they were equally horrified.

I waved my hand in the air as if that explained everything, and when it didn’t I stuttered around with, “I’m fine, I mean I’m not fine. I can’t stop crying about what’s happening in Newton–I mean what’s happened in Newtown. I mean, the shootings. I’m upset over the shootings. Those poor children. The parents!”

The woman fiddled with the lotion cap–Aveda Hand Relief–and waved her hand in the air as if that explained everything, too. “Oh, you mean that? Yeah, I just heard about that in the back. So crazy!”

One of the women next to me had heard nothing about it; when I explained what was going on she shuddered and went back to her phone. She was talking to her daughter about gifts for her grandson. The hairstylist next to me gave me a sympathetic smile and her client turned to me and gave me a frowny face. She pursed her lips, downturned her mouth, and brought her eyebrows together so that they could meet in the middle of her very smooth forehead. It’s the same expression I used two weeks ago when I found out the pair of TOMS I wanted were sold out.

Then she flipped her hair, turn her head left to right so she could admire her highlights from all sides and said, “Looks great!” to her hair stylist in the mirror.

I blinked twice and swung my head back to the woman with the lotion.

“So, does this mean you don’t want your complimentary hand massage?”

I stared at her a moment before saying, “No, I would not like my complimentary hand massage. Thank you.”

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, it should come as no surprise to you that I am going to be taking a few days off, possibly through the end of the year, though I hope I can pull it together before then. I am angry, and I need to step away before my passion supersedes my logic; before I write what can’t be erased; before I offend beyond apology; before I tap on the shoulders of a select group of bloggers and corporations and say, “You, sir, are an asshole.”

After I passed up on an opportunity for a complimentary hand massage, I settled into the business of checking Twitter obsessively for updates on the shootings in Newtown. For every update on body count, I had to scroll past 10 promoting sales, free shipping, and blog posts.

Let me be perfectly clear: I know most of these were automated tweets, and that in a state of shock, most bloggers forgot to deactivate them and, instead, sat there stupefied once the news broke. I can hardly blame anyone for that since I sat there numb for hours and hours.

Also, before I go on, let’s not forget I’m the jerk with the Christmas cards that feature rifles and Wild West attire. They went out before everything happened and people should be getting them today. So, you know, there’s that little piece of poetic justice.

I am hardly blameless or without fault.

I’ve had a few days to think about this, and I think what troubled me most about Friday is that so few slowed down. No, that’s not right, either. What troubled me most was that so many people were offended by those of us who thought we should slow down and put the self promotion on pause while we gave a moment of silence to the 20 children and 6 adults who died in the 2nd worst mass shooting in US history.

Andrea feels the way I do, and last night I had to defend our position on Facebook. I had to defend why we felt intentional self promotional tweets in the hours following a national tragedy were in poor taste.

Pardon my language, but what the fuck is that? Who are we? Who have we become and who are we becoming when we are so desensitized to violence and tragedy that the 4th mass shooting in almost as many years shares space with Family Circle’s recipe for Apple Stuffed Pork Roast?

We–that includes me–are becoming people shackled to our livelihoods. We are becoming people who can’t turn off, can’t slow down, and can’t look past what is happening inside our own glass box. We are the opposite of life. We are becoming indifferent.

I’ll be back when I’m not pissed at the world.

Update: Read this and this.

About Sundays

My mother collects words the way another woman collects charms on a bracelet. Each one is special, some more than others. Although she writes books–five to date, all of them in Spanish–she struggles when it comes to expressing how she feels. The exceptions are anger and disappointment. Those words roll off the tongue like slick candy. (More like spitballs.)

Every birthday card she has ever written me says: I love you very much!! Mom. Two exclamation points, always. Ellipses, often. For a long time she included a quote she felt represented me or my year ahead. She did this for my brothers, too, and in the days before the internet you could find her sitting in her library with at least two of her quotation books on her lap. You can still find her sitting with books in her lap. I’m confident she has no idea you can find quotes on the internet.

When I first got married, she used to send me letters filled with quotes. A quick greeting (You know your mother…!!) followed by a series of quotes she felt I needed to read. I miss those letters. They stopped, probably because she felt I was grown up, but I don’t know that children ever really grow up.

The earth is full of people with clever things to say. You need only go on Pinterest to figure that out. There are quotes about writing, living, and dying. There are quotes about loving, hating, and letting go. There are quotes about running. Quotes about travel. Quotes about faith and despair and apathy. There are a lot of quotes!

Being the quote lover that I am, I pinned many of them at first. Then, one day I heard of this pin. The photographer of the picture commented that it was unauthorized use of her image and requested that the pin be taken down. The original pinner and at least one other person told her lighten up, and that if she didn’t want people to use her work she shouldn’t have put it on the internet.

The most frustrating thing about mean and stupid people is that they are unavoidable.

Honestly, it never occurred to me that many or some or even one of those quote-images used stolen photography. Never even crossed my mind, probably because it’s something I would never consider doing. I stopped pinning quotes after that unless I could verify the image wasn’t stolen. I’ve had to pass up on a lot of pretty pins.

That’s what some Sundays are going to be about around here. If I find a picture of mine I like that goes with a quote I like just as much, I’ll put them together. If I come up empty that week, so be it. It’s a semi-regular feature, and I already sneaked one in. It was a response to a minor freak out I had about fan fiction on facebook.

It’s part dedication to my mom, part opportunity for me to keep collecting the words I love so much. Of course, it’s okay for anyone to pin and share–just not sell. Not that anyone would want to sell my photos, but you know.


The letters pictured above are from my mom in 2001, shortly after I got married. I believe I was struggling/hating every minute of law school at the time. I framed them immediately and hung them in my office. They’re only in the laundry room because it’s prettier than our office, but I might change out the frames (12 years, it’s time) and hang them above my desk.