Panic in Nonni World


This is not a funny story, but if my words are chosen carefully and cleverly enough, I hope that you’ll at least chuckle a bit.

This is how it all unfolded.

I was at home this morning, as usual, with my two grandkids and our four year old friend. We had our breakfasts and cleaned up. We played a few rounds of Elsa and Anna and then we made some ridiculously goofy and adorable paper plate turkeys. 

It was just your average day in the life of Nonni and the gang.

But suddenly, I heard something truly unexpected. 

I heard my garage door opening.

“What the absolute FUCK?” is what went through my mind, while, “Oh, my goodness” came out of my careful Nonni mouth.

Nobody was due here in the middle of the day. Not my husband, my son-in-law or my daughter. Not the guy who is going to be renovating the bathrooms, not my neighbors, nobody.

But the garage door had definitely opened. 

In the first ten seconds, I watched the reactions of the dogs. If a car that they know pulls into the driveway, they yip and dance and jump around like a couple of happy drunks. If it’s a stranger, they bark like they mean it and they both get a ridge of hackles down their normally smooth backbones.

Today, as the garage door opened? Deep barks and semi-hackles as they looked out the window into the drive. I peeked over their heads. 

And saw nothing.

No car. 

No people.

Now our garage has one of those openers with the little push button devices that sit on the cars’ visors. You can’t manually open the door. So, if there’s no car in the drive, there’s no device on a visor. Nobody should have been able to open the garage door. 

But I am not quite insane. The door had definitely opened. The dogs and I had heard it. And there was no car anywhere in sight.

Ergo: Nonni panicked. I looked to make sure that all three kids were safe in the living room. They were. I didn’t hear anyone in the garage, so my assumption was that a bad guy was standing there, listening to the sounds of Olaf chasing Anna around the ice castle.

I can’t retell the next 30 seconds with any clarity, but this is a rough estimation of what went careening through my addled old panic stricken brain:                                                                                                                           “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod…there’s a bad guy in the garage….he must have some wide band thingymadgigy that can open garage doors ….he knows we’re in here….whadooIdo? I’ll stay here with the kids and keep them safe! Whaddayamean safe? SAFE? From a crazy assed KILLER BAD GUY? I can’t keep them safe.”ˆ

By now my heart rate was approaching 200 and my head was absolutely splitting with adrenaline pain. I had a split second of complete indecision, and then for some reason, my brain said this, “I can’t hide up here with the kids…I have to go see who it is…if I hear any sound at all, I’ll just dial 911.  where’smyphonewhere’smyphonewhere’smyphone? I got it, don’t drop it, hold it tight, tell the kids to stay here, tell them to sit on the sofa, they won’t sit on the sofa! Why would they sit on the sofa? Tell them to go hide in the bedroom! No, I’ll scare them…tell them you’re doing laundry….NO! They love laundry, they’ll wanna come! Just open the frickin’ baby gate and go face the deadly threat!”

At this point my whole body was shaking. It had been roughly two minutes since we’d heard the door open. The kids were still blissfully playing, making so much noise that I knew the bad guy must have heard them. I didn’t have a real plan in my head, but it seemed to make sense that I should try to scare off the threat. I could dial for help if it got dicey. No matter that chunky old Nonni couldn’t fight off more than chipmunk at this point, it still seemed like a good idea. So I went.

Our house is a split level, so the front door opens onto a set of stairs that go down toward the basement and garage, as well as a set that go up to the living room. I crept down the upper stairs, cell phone in hand, and glanced out through the glass pane of the front door.

There was movement out there on what should have been my empty lawn!!!

I took one more slow step. I got closer to the glass. 

And there was my husband’s car, parked in the middle of the lawn. Behind it stood the man himself, pulling a bale of straw out of his trunk.

“It’s Papa!!!!” I yelled to the oblivious kids. Then I flew through the door and let the poor guy have it.

“OhSo,     The daySo

So. The day is over. Papa made it safely back to work, and I made it back into the house. All three kids made it safely back into the arms of their parents. 

After all that drama, there was no bad guy. No killer. No menacing stranger. I tried to tell myself that I had over reacted, but what else could I have thought? I couldn’t think of any other explanation for no car, no door opener but a wide open door. I started to chuckle at my foolishness, but a sudden thought stopped me:

What if I had owned a gun?

A Parable For Today


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Once there was a village. It was deep in the forest, in a place filled with trees and grasses and beautiful birds.

The people of the village worked hard, but they had a good life. There was enough food and there were safe places to sleep.

A stream ran through the village. It was clean and clear, but it was powerful, too. The people used the water to drink, to stay clean and to cool off on hot days. Every adult used the stream, and some of the kids learned to swim there.

As time went on, and the generations passed, the little village grew in size and prosperity. The settlement became a town, with paved roads and stores and groups of houses. The stream still ran through it, winding gently along the main street. Some people still used the water for everyday chores, although most people had plumbing in their houses by now.

The stream became a place for recreation and sport, but was no longer key to the survival of the townspeople. It was just a nice little relic of the past. A good place for picnics on hot summer days.

One day someone decided that it would be fun to dam up the water. He wanted to make a pool where people could not only fish, but also swim, dive and jump off the steep banks. It sounded like fun, and so it was done.

As the years passed, people got used to the pool and to the bigger, more powerful flow of water that moved through town below the dam. Some people used the pool but feared the faster stream. Some loved  all of the water and used it everyday.

Life went on.

A few more generations passed, and another water-user decided that it would be fun to narrow the flow of water below the dam. “It will go faster,” he thought, “It will have more power.” When he presented the idea to the townspeople, some told him that they thought the water was powerful enough already.

“We have water in our homes to drink and bathe. We have a pool for fun, and a quick running stream for excitement. Why would we need a more powerful flow of water?”

The water-user and his friends thought about this for a bit. They really wanted to play around with stronger, faster water. How could they convince people to let them have more a powerful water source to play with?

“I know!” said one water-user. “The water can protect us! If invaders come to our town, we can escape quickly on the fast moving stream!”

People are funny. Even though the town had never once been invaded in its entire history, the threat of war was enough to convince the leaders to invest in the narrower, stronger stream.

Little by little, year by year, the water-users of the town continued to work on the pool and the stream. Most people paid little attention to the changes that were made. They were busy with jobs and families and school and sports.

Slowly and steadily the water grew higher, faster and less controlled. It began to frighten people when two small children were swept to their deaths one winter evening. A few people suggested that it might be time to slow the water down. But many people enjoyed swimming in the pool, kayaking on the upper stream and even riding the white waters of the swift lower channel. So an argument broke out.

“Let’s not overreact,” they said. “We need the water for fun. And what would happen if the running water in our pipes ever stopped, or if dangerous invaders came through? We need our water! It’s our right to have this water!”

Heads nodded. Beards were stroked. Nothing was changed.

Every year that passed saw slight changes to the riverbed and the water’s flow.

And every year that passed saw more people dying from the increasingly powerful waters. At times of heavy rain, the lower stream would flood. Entire families were swept away, scooped right out of their beds by the raging torrent.

Now the people of the town began to complain to their leaders.

“We’re afraid of this water! It’s just too much. Something MUST be done!”

The leaders were confused, unsure of what to do. But the water-users offered to help.

“We know what to do” they said. “We will offer free swimming lessons to every person in town! We will sell fabulous water wings in the local stores.”

That quieted things down for a bit, and the demands to slow the water faded away. But not for long.

After a few more years,  the water-users had created waterfalls, rapids and even faster and narrower streams running through town.

“So much safety!!!” they cheered. “No invaders will ever be able to defeat us!”

Then one spring, without warning, the weather turned terrible and stormy. The rains fell for weeks on end. The waters in the pool rose ever higher. The stream below the dam became a raging, screaming whirlpool. Some people in town were terrified, but others found it exciting.

Exciting, that is, right up until the moment when the flood burst through its banks and smashed in all the windows at the nearby school. As the children screamed and drowned, all of the adults raced to the rescue. They cried as they pulled the drowning children through the broken glass. They treated the survivors with tenderness and care. They sobbed and they grieved as they buried the little ones who could not be saved.

They were united in their sorrow and in their determination to make the town a safer place. One grieving mother asked,

“Now should we do something to slow down the water? Now can we drain the pool?”

The town leaders and the water-users thought about it. They were just as sad as everyone else, but they weren’t ready to let go of their best defense against potential dangers. They weren’t ready to let go of all the fun that the water offered.

“How about if we rebuild the school so that it has no windows anymore?” they suggested. This would certainly take care of the problem of water breaking the windows.

The school was rebuilt without a single window. The children and the teachers went back in to recreate their learning space in the darkness. They huddled there in fear, but they hoped that the leaders were right and that now at last they were safe.

But one year the raging river flooded again, and this time it was the door that was broken. More children and teachers died.

Again, the town grieved and wept and swore to make things safer.

This time they bricked up all the doors and put a locked bulkhead on the roof to let the children and teachers in. Every morning, the children watched as their teachers pulled the bulkhead door open. Every morning, they climbed down into the darkness.

And when the bulkhead was swept away in the next flood, the town leaders gathered once again.

“Now what?” they asked the water-users. “Now how do we keep our children safe?”

This time they decided that every classroom should contain a boat. A special safety boat that would be deployed only in the event of another flood.

By now they knew that the river was out of control, that the cataract could not be contained, that the school would once again be hammered by the deadly force of the water.

They put their hope in the boats.

When one timid child asked why they didn’t try to slow the water instead of imprisoning the kids in a school filled with rising water, the leaders only patted her on the head and told her to leave it to the adults.

I know, I know. I am not subtle. And I’m clearly not a fiction writer. But today I watched America’s children marching out of their classrooms because they are terrified that they will be murdered in the place that should be the safest place in their lives. Some of them were babies, as young as third or fourth grade. They had tears on their cheeks. I watched, I sobbed, I paced. I am a mother, a grandmother, a teacher. My entire life is about nurturing and protecting children.

Now I am watching them fight to protect themselves. I can’t get over my anger, rage, sorrow and shame. I WILL march on the 24th. I will scream, yell, cry and clap. And I WILL vote very, very carefully.

 

 

She was only a baby


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There was another shooting at another school in the United States this past week.

I know. Yawn, yawn. It doesn’t even make the headlines anymore.

But still.

Think of the teachers who kiss their children goodbye every morning and grab their travel mugs of coffee as they head to school. Think of the parents, millions of them, who pack lunches for their kids and check homework. Picture them kissing their children and putting them on the big yellow bus.

Think about how much trust it takes to send children off to spend the day in the care of other adults. Think about how much trust it takes to go into work every day as a teacher. Think about the number of school shootings that take place in this country every month.

I used to be a teacher. I went to those terrible, horrifying trainings on how to react to a live shooter in our school. I had to keep my door locked at all times, in the event of a shooter coming in to get us.

I used to stay awake at night picturing how I would react if someone burst into my classroom with a weapon. I imagined using my broom to hit the bad guy in the chest or the throat. I imagined telling my ten year old students to lie flat on the floor as I did this. I thought about kicking the weapon away from the killer and I thought about hitting him with my broom, or my feet, or with a big dictionary.

It never felt real. And it never felt it would be enough.

What kind of country asks its children to practice hiding from guns, rather than keeping the guns out of the schools? What kind of insane society asks its teachers to practice taking out a murderer during a reading lesson?

The other day a little girl took hold of a gun and brought it to her Los Angeles middle school. She shot her classmates.

She was 12 years old.

Let me say that again.

She was TWELVE.

She was too young to vote, to order a glass of wine or to get a credit card. She was too young to understand that death is eternal. She was a child. A young child. She was an unhappy pre-adolescent girl who felt bad about herself.

What kind of country would allow her access to a weapon? What kind of sick, twisted, insane society would put this kind of gun into the hand of a sad little girl who doesn’t understand its power?

I am so ashamed to be an American. I am. THIS is why.

I am ashamed because I live in a country that believes that the right to shoot for fun outweighs the rights of children to go to school in safety. I am ashamed because I live in a country that has decided that the millions of NRA dollars are more important the lives of millions of teachers.

We have so completely lost our way, America.

A TWELVE YEAR OLD brought a gun to school and shot up the kids who were bugging her. And nobody in power gives a shit. It didn’t even make the front pages of our national newspapers.

We have lost our way. We are lost. We have abdicated our right to call ourselves merciful, kind or nurturing.

I am sick at heart. And I will forever mourn the adults who let this little girl destroy her own life and the lives of her classmates just so they can tell themselves that they are big old badass gun toting Mericans.

If Canada would have me, I’d be there next week.

 

Yes, Dammit, It IS a Gun Problem


I am speechless. I have no idea what to say, or how to respond.

Yesterday I was taking a quick check of Twitter when I read the breaking news about the latest mass shooting. More school children cowering as bullets fly overhead. More innocent victims cut down as they go through their daily lives.

I commented on Twitter, because I can’t stand it anymore.

Now, you have to know that I hardly ever tweet. Sometimes I respond, and I often retweet what others have said. But this time my anger, my sorrow, my rage made me send out my message.

Because, come ON! Of course it’s a damn gun problem!!!

All of the usual arguments against gun control are just so stupid. They simply make no sense.

I won’t even go into them all. I can’t.

I just can’t.

My heart hurts. My head hurts. My logical brain? It doesn’t hurt anymore because it melted.

Oh, the responses I got.

Holy hell.

What the absolute fluff is wrong with these people?

Let me be clear (to quote every politician in the past 50 years). The people who responded to me were articulate, smart, well informed and respectful. There was no name calling and no profanity. On their part or on mine.

But do you know what they believe??! Are you ready for this?

These American citizens, living in what most people would consider to be a relatively civilized country, these people scolded me for my belief that I am in danger because so many people around me are carrying concealed weapons.

These are a few of their responses to my insistence that the problem is a gun problem.

And also

Uh, huh. So….the answer isn’t to limit the number of deadly weapons. The answer is to arm the schools. And churches. And movie theaters. And malls.

What the hell?

Then there was this:

This is just about the saddest, most distressing image of the United States that I have ever seen. These people honestly believe that the police have no duty to protect us. They truly believe that their only defense from people with guns is to carry guns.

They are unable to grasp the fact that in EVERY OTHER developed country on earth, this is untrue. They believe that every young mother who takes her babies out to the park should be packin’ heat. Every teacher should be armed. Every grandmother like me should have a gun in my purse before I take the kids into the grocery store.

This is, of course, insane.

But the fact that these intelligent people believe it is just about the most depressing thing I’ve seen in years.

It is also just about the least patriotic thing I’ve seen in years. They distrust the government, the police, the fire department, the laws of the nation. They distrust and dislike the United States.

And they honestly believe that we living in the age of the OK Corral.

Isn’t that just awful?

I still think its a gun problem.

Conservape-tan-NRA

 

Again? AGAIN? How Many Babies Have To Die?


I am a liberal. A progressive. A no-war, all peace, hippy dippy Nonni.

But when I saw the faces of those Syrian babies, choking and dying, I wanted to go over there myself and beat the living shit out of Assad, the Russians and everyone who ever helped to create a chemical weapon.

I despise and loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for. He disgusts me on every level.

But when I saw those babies, gasping for breath, and dying because a bunch of stupid, ignorant, self-absorbed, power hungry adults don’t care enough to protect them, I applauded those bombs dropped in Syria.

Now here I am. Once again. Thinking about babies who are dead for NO REASON at all. NONE.

But this time I’m not talking about war that’s happening thousands of miles away. This time, again, once again, I’m talking about a war on American children. Right here in our own homeland. Right in our towns.

Right there in the classrooms of our youngest children.

Guns. Fucking useless guns.

This time the NRA has once again succeeded in letting an angry, depressed American have a gun. This angry man lived in San Bernardino, California. He was mad at his wife.

He had a gun.

Remember that old saying? “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

When you’re depressed, angry, feeling hopeless, and all you have is a killing machine, everything looks like a target.

Even your wife.

Even the sweet, innocent, eight year old boy who happened to be chatting with his teacher when you burst into the room with your slaughtering tool.

And here we are again.

Our government is willing to spend over 70 million dollars to protest the lost lives of those children murdered by their government. But not one of those swaggering macho gunslingers in Washington has the balls to stand up the NRA in defense of little ones like the child who was massacred today while talking to his teacher.

Not one of our so-called leaders has the basic human decency to stand up and say that Newtown was ENOUGH.

I am crying again tonight for the brutal death of a child whose only crime was being born in a country that values the bottom line of the gun industry over its own tender babies.

I’m disgusted.

I feel powerless. I am filled with rage.

Its a damn good thing for the people in Washington that I don’t own a gun.

 

For Orlando and Aurora and Newtown and Littleton …….


 

I wrote this short story three years ago. I posted it then, and I felt better.  So I’m going to post it again tonight. I’m doing it because I was on Facebook and Twitter. And I am disgusted and disheartened by what Americans are saying to each other.

“Ban the Muslims, keep the guns.”   

“My automatic weapon didn’t kill anyone today.”

“What don’t you understand about the 2nd Amendment?”

So. I am so man and so frustrated.  This story is my fantasy. I wish I had the courage to really do it.  If you like the story, pass it on. Maybe we’ll all feel better.

 

“Righteous Anger”

It was Friday afternoon, an hour after the last kid had gotten on the last bus.  I was packing up some weekend work when my best friend, Betsy, popped her head into my classroom.

“Glass of wine before we head home?”, she asked hopefully. Before I knew it, we  were seated at a table at Joe’s, a bowl of popcorn chicken bits in front of us, matching glasses of white wine in our hands.  We started off talking about the week, as usual.  Which kids were having trouble with the math, which kids were way behind in their reading and which parents were driving us nuts.  We sipped and laughed and ignored the calories we were scarfing down in those greasy little blobs of chicken fat.

It was a typical Friday evening.

Then the news came on.  We were sitting across from the bar, and the screen was in full view. We didn’t pay too much attention to the first couple of stories, but suddenly the screen was filled with the smirking face of Warren LaDouche, head of the American Gun Owners Gang.  As usual, he was managing to keep a straight face as he somberly explained all of the reasons why it was necessary to arm public school teachers.  I don’t know how he manages to avoid breaking into gales of maniacal laughter when he says things like, “If every teacher were armed and ready, they would be able to respond to these attackers in a timely manner.”

Betsy grimaced, and took a healthy slug of her wine as LaDouche  went on with fake sincerity, elaborating on his plan to have armed guards standing at recess and loaded guns in every classroom.

“This guy is just sick!”, Betsy hissed, leaning forward across the table so far that she almost landed in the chicken bits.  “I know!”, I hissed back.  “I cannot believe that  NO one out there is calling him out for this crap!”

“Its so obvious that AGOG just wants to sell more and more guns! They don’t give a damn who dies in the process!”

“Everyone knows that they are paid for and supported by the gun manufacturing companies.  But the government just refuses to stand up to them!”

“I can’t believe that people are listening to this crap! They are actually thinking about making us carry guns instead of making the damn things illegal and getting them off the streets!”

We sat there for a while longer, sipping, eating, listening to the bullshit coming from the screen.  The wine ran out just as the news report came to an end. We had lost our happy Friday night mood by then, and we were quiet as we paid the bill and headed out to our cars. I threw my purse onto the seat and turned to give Betsy a hug goodbye.

Uh, oh.  I knew that look.  Betsy was frowning and puffing out her lips in deep thought.  She twirled one lock of greying hair around her finger in what I knew was a sign of concentration.

“Bets,” I began, but she put her fists on her ample hips and launched right in, like she always does.

“What if we do something ourselves?  What if we take some kind of action that just cannot be ignored?  I mean, this is just not right!  I refuse to carry a rifle in my classroom!”

The image of Betsy, armed and dangerous, almost made me laugh, but I knew better.  She was serious, and she was mad.  And she was my best friend.

I sighed, and said, “I don’t know what we could do, hon.  But if you think of something, you know I’m right there with you! I’ve got your back. Have a good weekend.”

By the time I got home and started dinner, I had all but forgotten the press conference and the conversation after it.  My husband came home. We had dinner and talked and then I settled down on the couch with my knitting.

It must have been about 10 pm when my phone suddenly rang.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am usually out cold by 10 pm on a Friday, and I was in fact already under the covers when the call came in.  I would have ignored it, but I always keep my phone close by in case my kids need to reach me.  I picked it up, located my bifocals, and saw Betsy’s name on the screen.  What on earth…..?

“Hey, Betsy!  What’s wrong?”

“I have a plan. Don’t say anything, don’t argue, just listen to me.”

I took a deep breath, settled back on my pillows, and listened to her.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

And that’s why I found myself on my couch two days later, my laptop open and my credit card in hand.  My heart was hammering away, and I could feel nervous sweat pooling under my arms.  I had gone to several web sites to find the best deals, and now I was ready to order.

“It’s perfectly legal”, I told myself as I got ready to click “Add to cart”.  The fact that what I was about to do was legal was the root of the whole problem.  I sat up straight, gulped, and hit the button.

As promised, my purchase arrived within a week.  I read the little “how to” pamphlet that came with the packages, and called Betsy to see if she had read hers.

“Sarah, this is ridiculously easy!! I can’t wait to try them out.”

“What?!  You can’t try them out!  Betsy, don’t!”

“Oh, I’ll be careful…..”

“Betsy! No! You’re the one who made up the plan! You said we’d wait until the last minute so no one would know!”

She grumbled a little, then gave a sigh.

“OK. Then I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The next morning, early, I kissed my sleeping husband on the cheek, and grabbed my very heavy bag.  I placed it carefully in the back seat of my car, and headed out to pick up Betsy at her house.  I had told my husband that I would be away for the next few days, the first part of April vacation, relaxing with my dear friend.  I had lied.

After Betsy placed her own very heavy bag in my trunk, we headed onto the highway.  As we headed south, she reached over and squeezed my hand.

“We are doing the right thing, Sara.  Someone has to do this. They haven’t left us any choice.”   I nodded, but kept my eyes on the road in front of me.

We reached our destination without any problems, in just under 5 hours. We parked on the street across from the surprisingly modest house.  We waited.  We ate the last few M&M’s in the bag between us.

“I need to pee.”, I complained.

“Hold on, hold on.  He’ll be here soon, I’m sure.  I called his secretary this morning, remember? I told her we wanted an interview, and she said his last appointment today was at 4.”

“What if he goes out to dinner?”

“Oh, just hold it, will you?  Sheesh. You’re a teacher, for God’s sake. You can hold off for hours.”

Just as I sat back to wait, a big gray car pulled into the driveway.

“It’s him!”  Betsy clutched her chest, breathing hard. “Oh, my God, oh, my God!”

“Calm down!  We have to get over there, quick!”

We piled out of the car, straightening our skirts and pulling down the backs of our sweaters.  As we hustled across the street in our sturdy Dansko clogs, each of had a big “teacher bag” over one shoulder.

We looked like two middle aged elementary school teachers. Because that’s what we were.

We were also two angry old ladies on a mission.

And we were armed.

As we approached his driveway, Warren LaDouche cast a wary glance over his shoulder.  I smiled with every ounce of fake cheer I could muster.

“Oh, my goodness, Betsy, you were right!”, I squealed, “It really IS Warren LaDouche!”  I waved my free hand as I scurried up the long drive.

“Mr. LaDouche!  Oh, my goodness!  Please, can we have your autograph!” That was Betsy, huffing and puffing with excitement as she hurried up behind me.

Just as we had predicted, ole Warren was so full of self-appreciation that he fell for our story right away.  What could be less threatening than a couple of chubby older ladies? He smiled at us, showing yellowing, uneven teeth.

“Can we have your autograph? Please? We’re teachers!  We’ll just be so excited to show your signature to our friends back at school! You’re, like, the hero of the schools!” As we chirped and fluttered around the smiling man, we had maneuvered him closer to his back door, and the car was now between us and the neighbors.  It was nearly dark, and we knew that there was very little chance that anyone would see what was about to happen.

I gave the signal that we had agreed upon. “Let me just grab a pen from my bag!”

Warren still stood there smiling as Betsy and I simultaneously reached into those big canvas bags and pulled out the semiautomatic handguns that we had purchased on line.  Mine felt like it weighed a thousand pounds as I swung it up into the shooting position that I had seen in the pamphlet.  My arm hurt already, and I was pretty sure that I was about to have a heart attack and wet my pants, all at the same time.

“Open the door and walk inside, Warren.”  Betsy sounded slightly less panicked than I felt, but I knew that this was the key moment. If he believed us, we could pull this off.  If he laughed in our faces, it was all for nothing.

The thought of having spent almost $2,000 for nothing sent a jolt through me.  The thought of this man allowing ever more deadly guns to be brought into our schools sent a wave of rage right behind it.

I surprised myself by jabbing the muzzle of the gun right into Warren’s pudgy midsection.

“Open the damn door, Warren.  NOW!”

He was breathing fast, and his beady eyes were scanning the street, but Warren reached for the door.  He inserted a key and took a step.  I kept the gun firm against his waistline.

“You two have no idea what you’re doing.”  I was gratified to hear that Warren’s voice was shaking.

“Oh, you’re wrong, LaDouche.  We followed AGOG’s advice to the letter.  We have our guns, two bags full of ammo magazines and all the time in the world.  You were right! It does make us feel more powerful to have these things in our hands.”

As we had planned, I held the gun on Warren while Betsy checked him for weapons (ew…..).  We were slightly amazed to find that he was carrying a handgun under his jacket!  Yikes!!!  He hadn’t even tried to reach it!  We exchanged a look of terror as Betsy emptied the chamber and put the gun in her bag.  I pushed Warren into a kitchen chair, then Betsy pulled his arms behind his back, and attached him firmly with two pairs of handcuffs (also purchased on line without a problem).

We stood looking at each other, our eyes huge, our mouths hanging open.

I was still flooded with adrenaline, but I was starting to shake.

Betsy dropped into a chair that matched Warren’s, her gun clanking against the table.

I suddenly remembered my earlier problem, and gasped, “Betsy!  Keep the gun on him!  I gotta go!”

Somehow, I managed to find the bathroom and use it without shooting myself.  I washed my face and made my way back to the kitchen.

Warren was sitting quietly, looking steadily at Betsy’s gun.  He looked smaller cuffed to his kitchen chair than he had on TV.

For a moment, I just stood there.  All three of us seemed slightly stunned by the events of the day.  But time was moving on, and I knew that we had a lot to do.  I gave myself a little mental head slap, and turned to Betsy.

“OK, kiddo. Get the iPad out.”  She looked at me blankly for a minute, then smiled.  Betsy loves new technology, in spite of her age, and she was excited about the video we were about to make.

We spent a few minutes arranging the items on Warren’s kitchen table, finding a good spot to prop the iPad so that the sound and visual quality would be as clear as possible.   We sat ourselves at the table, with Warren in view behind us.  We had explained our plan to him, and that’s when he had finally come out of his stupor.

“You stupid bitches!”, he had snarled, “You can’t do this!  No one will believe you.  You can never outmaneuver AGOG!”  We finally had an excuse to do what we had been hoping to do all along.  We were teachers. We had been teaching ten year olds to recognize and appreciate symbolism in literature.

We gagged ole Warren with an ugly green dishtowel. How’s that for a metaphor?

At last we were ready to go.

Betsy started the recorder and I began.

“Hello, my name is Sara Williamson, and this is Betsy Manchester. We are elementary school teachers with the Braxton Public Schools.  We are armed.”  (The camera cut to the two guns, and the huge pile of ammunition clips and magazines beside them.)

“We have just kidnapped Mr. Warren LaDouche, chairman and spokesperson for the American Gun Owners Gang, commonly known as AGOG.”  (Betsy moved the iPad camera to Warren, who by now looked both ridiculous and apoplectic.)

“This…….man…..is trying to convince the American people that we will all be safer if we allow every citizen to own as many weapons as he can carry.  He wants you to believe that by carrying a weapon, you’ll be protecting yourself from so called bad guys.”

I held up the gun and clip that we had taken from Warren in the kitchen.

“Well, he was carrying this when we grabbed him.  We pulled out our guns before he pulled out his, and that was the end of his resistance.

Being armed with a dangerous weapon did not do one single thing to keep Warren here any safer.  As you can see, we took his gun away, and now he’s handcuffed to a chair.  We can shoot him time we want to.”

That last line made me gulp a bit, but I grimly went on.  Betsy was handling the filming, saving each clip and keeping the camera pointed accurately.

“Ladies and gentleman, you can see that Warren LaDouche and his friends at AGOG are full of….” I paused to find a proper word.  After all, I am a teacher of young children.  “Full of horse manure.  They are lying to you.”

“Let’s think about background checks, shall we?  AGOG and its supporters feel that there should be fewer required background checks.  We are here to tell you that even the ones we have now are not anywhere close to sufficient.”

I held my gun up to the camera and said, “No background check can keep you safe if guns like these are out there in public.  We bought ours from a licensed gun dealer online.  We both went through the required background checks.  We passed with flying colors. You see, we have no criminal history and we have never been diagnosed with a major psychiatric illness.”

Now I stood up, gun in hand, and walked over to Warren.  I pointed a shaking finger at him.

“This man wants you to believe that we should bring guns into our classrooms!  He wants you to believe that we can kids keep safe, we can keep our families safe, we can keep our movie theaters and grocery stores and neighborhoods safe as long as there are guns flooding all those places.  As long as we run background checks to look for criminals who intend to do harm.”

I was working up a head of steam now, thinking about the little ones in my classroom, thinking about those babies at Newtown, thinking about Aurora and Columbine and the streets of every city in the nation.  I held up my gun one more time.

“I’m here to tell you, right now, that more guns will NOT keep you safe.  Background checks will NOT keep you safe.  Anyone can get mad enough and desperate enough to use one of those guns for its intended purpose.  Even two aging fifth grade teachers can get angry enough to buy guns and use them to kidnap and threaten someone they hate. We passed the checks, we paid our money, we bought these guns legally.  And we can use them right this minute to blow Warren LaDouche to bits.

Think about that when you consider whether or not we need to ban guns like the ones that my friend and I are holding right now.”

I nodded my head to Betsy, and the camera went off.   I started to cry.  Betsy came over and put her arms around me.  We held each other for a few minutes as we cried.  Our guns lay forgotten on the kitchen floor.

Three hours later, Betsy and I walked into the police station in Warren’s home town.  We had spent the time at a local Starbuck’s, fueling up on lattes and scones.  Betsy had spliced and edited the movie clips into one short film, running for about two minutes in length.  Then we had uploaded it to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter. We had emailed copies to all of the major news outlets, including CNN.  We finished our drinks, ate the last crumbs of our last desserts as free women, and headed out the door.

As we entered the police station, we were recognized almost immediately.  We held our heads up high as the buzz raged around us, and the Captain was summoned.  We remained silent as we handed him our note, giving the location of one angry but unharmed Warren LaDouche and telling him that our guns were unloaded and stored in the trunk of the car. After he had read the note, the Captain scratched his head, told his men to go get the guns and free LaDouche.  Then he escorted us, fairly politely, into his office.

“Weren’t you ladies scared about what you did?  Aren’t you worried about the consequences?”

I gave him a withering look, and smoothed out my wrinkled skirt.

“Captain, we teach fifth grade.  Nothing scares us.”

Too Many Guns. Period!


Did you know that in this country there are almost as many guns as humans?

Did you know that last year over 33,000 Americans died from guns?  They were accidents, suicides, and homicides. But they were all killed by guns.

Get this story.

A guy in Colorado got so mad at his daughter that he pulled out his gun, told her to get hers, and then challenged her to a duel.

With LOADED GUNS.

Read the story below. Then call your representatives and tell them that you won’t vote for them ever again unless they do something to stop the insanity with guns in every room of every house in every town. Guns just waiting for that extra beer, that teen aged heartbreak or that defiant teenager to give their owner the excuse for pulling the trigger.

Dad Challenges Daughter To Gun Battle.

Give Peace a Chance


John_Lennon_Based_On

Could it really have been 35 years ago?

How is that even possible?

I remember that day, so very well.   Actually, I guess I remember the morning after that terrible day.

I woke up in our apartment, pretty early in the morning for a twenty something young woman.  My husband had already gone to work, but  my shift at the sandwich shop didn’t start until eleven.

I woke up. I stretched and yawned.  I think I cuddled with my cats for a few minutes.  Then I guess I got up and made coffee: I don’t remember this part of the morning.  This part came “before”.  I probably poured a cup and wandered into the living room, where our big old TV sat in its big heavy oak box.  I probably plopped into the armchair in that small living room after hitting the button to turn on the news.I probably sipped my coffee.

I don’t know for sure.

All I know for certain about that morning is that I heard the news man saying, “John Lennon was shot to death last night outside of his apartment in the Dakota.”  I remember that I gave a cry, that a terrible sound of shock was torn from me.  I remember that I stood up, and that I walked toward the TV screen.

And I remember that someone described the shooter, saying that he stood “in a military stance, with both hands holding the gun and aiming at the target.”

I remember falling to my knees and crying.

John?  John Lennon? Our John?  I couldn’t believe it.  I was numb and in shock and shaking.

I had already lived through the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, of Martin Luther King.  I had been to peace marches and rallies and anti-war gatherings.

I had grown up with the Beatles.  I saw that first appearance on Ed Sullivan.  I memorized every word to every song.

I played “Revolution #9 Backward” to see if Paul was really dead.  I cried when I heard about Yoko.  I cried when I heard that the band had broken up.

John Lennon was like my older brother; handsome, wise, talented, a little bit mysterious.

I couldn’t believe that he was dead.

Mostly, though, I couldn’t shake the image of someone facing him “in a military stance, with both hands holding the gun and aiming at the target.”

How horrific!  How could we live in a country, I asked myself, where anyone could get ahold of a gun like that and kill someone so good and caring and talented? How could someone just take John away from all of us?

It’s now 35 years later.  My questions remain the same.  The answers remain just as elusive.

John, we sure could use you now.

“Imagine”

 

Guns Must GO


Uzi_of_the_israeli_armed_forces

OK, I am ready to cry “Uncle”.  I give up.  I submit.  I throw myself on the mercy of the American electorate.

 

I’ve been trying for an hour to write a meaningful post about gun violence. I can’t do it.  I can’t find the words.   I am too angry.

No, I am not “angry”.

I am so fucking furious that I can’t even speak.

We have watched as more and more Americans have armed themselves to the teeth. We’ve seen toddlers shoot their siblings.  We’ve seen angry high school students murder their classmates and teachers.

We’ve watched our most innocent children being slaughtered in their classrooms.

When faced with these horrors, what did we do?

We, as a nation, did NOTHING.

We. Did. NOTHING.

And now, here we are, once again, dozens of shootings later, facing the fact that we have let our most vulnerable and innocent citizens, our developmentally challenged adults, be the victims of yet another couple of crazies with guns.

I have HAD it.

Where the hell is the outcry?  Where is the rage?  Where are the marches in the streets?

Goddamn it.

WE did nothing. WE let this happen.  And it absolutely will happen again tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

What’s next, fellow Americans?  When a guy in a bad mood comes rushing into the neonatal unit with guns blazing, are we going to let some asshole get away with saying, “Well, if only the premie babies had been armed…..”    When some guy with a chip on his shoulder walks into a nursing home and murders everyone as they sit in their wheelchairs, are we really going to let some creep tell us that “its the price we pay for freedom”?

What are you going to say when its YOUR church that gets shot up next? Or your school? Or your Senior Center?

The Republican Party wants to keep us all scared to death. Scared of refugees, scared of immigrants, scared of each other.  They want us all huddled under our beds with our guns in our hands.

Well, here’s the truth.  I AM in fact scared to death right now. I’m scared of the Republican party, the NRA and every single American who believes that more guns is the answer to the gun slaughter that goes on every day in this country.

“UNCLE”.  Don’t shoot.  Just let me take some time to apply for asylum in a country that hasn’t lost its mind.

 

 

Tamir Rice


Tamir. Just a little boy.

Tamir. Just a little boy.

Look at that face.  What a beautiful boy.  He could have been of my students, making me laugh in the middle of a math lesson.

He could have been one of the kids on my son’s sports teams. He could have been at my daughter’s birthday party. He could have been my neighbor’s child.  He could have been my own.

What a beautiful child.

And he is gone, taken from us by a gun.

I mourn the loss of yet another innocent young life, killed for no good reason.  I was sick when I heard about what had happened to him, literally sick to my stomach.   This child was playing with a toy gun when he was shot to death by police officers who were told to respond to a report of a “guy with a gun” in a local park.

I was sick, disgusted, horrified, angry when I saw the images of the patrol car pulling up to confront the kid with the toy.

I wanted to be furious at the cops who failed to warn him. I wanted to be enraged at the speed of the lethal response.

But I can’t.

I can’t blame those officers. I keep imagining what it must feel like to have to confront men with guns every day.  I keep thinking about the gun crime rate in Cleveland, where Tamir held his airsoft gun. (Gun Epidemic in Cleveland)

I can’t stop wondering about the complete and total insanity of our current gun soaked culture and how many children have died from gunshots in the past ten years.

Cleveland, like so many American cities, is rife with gun deaths. You can read about the deaths of infants, caught in the crossfire in this article: 5 month old killed by gun. You can check the crime stats for the state of Ohio here: Gun Death Stats.   People in Ohio are dying from suicides, homicides and accidental gun deaths at an incredibly outrageous rate. Tens of thousands of people are involved, every single year, in some form of gun violence.

But gee, you say. Tamir was not holding a real gun! It was just a toy!

OK.  So let’s think about these so called “Imitation guns”.  Seriously?  American companies think its OK to manufacture and market guns that look exactly like real guns???  Here is what the “Airsoft” folks had to say after the death of young Tamir on the night that he was playing in a park with one of their products:

Airsoft guns are not designed to kill or seriously injure. The novelty guns shoot small plastic pellets and come in all shapes and sizes, including pistols and rifles, said Chip Hunnicutt, Marketing Manager for Crosman, a New York-based company and one of many manufacturers that produce the guns.

“They’re recreational products. I wouldn’t call it a toy,” Hunnicutt said.

Ohio has no restrictions on the sales of airsoft guns, a State Attorney General spokesman said. That means minors can purchase the weapons.

So when those officers were called to that park on a cold night, and were confronted by a young man/boy with what sure as hell looked like a REAL gun, and they shot him dead right then and there, it was a horrific and unacceptable tragedy on every single level.

But I can’t make myself blame the cops.  I can’t.

I do blame those who claim that “guns save lives”.  I do blame those who refuse to admit that handguns have no purpose other than the killing of humans.   I absolutely blame those who make money off the sale of “imitation guns” that look just exactly like the real thing.

I blame everyone who refuses to accept the fact that we are in no way a “civilized country” when we calmly accept the slaughter of babies, tens of thousands of them every year, so that adults can play with guns.

I blame the NRA. I blame Congress. I blame the media. I blame the President and the Vice President and the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader and the extremist who pretend that outlawing handguns and assault weapons means “taking away our guns.”

I blame every single adult in the entire United States of America who is willing to call the death of a 12 year old boy with a toy an appropriate price to pay for their “gun rights”.

What about Tamir’s right to grow up? What about his right to play in a park in his home city?  What about his rights, huh? What about the rights of our nation’s children to go to school, or the movies, or the mall, or a local restaurant, or a park without fear of being shot to death?

What about our rights as parents to raise our children in a truly civilized country?

We all failed you, Tamir.  And I am so sorry.