Last year was quite a challenge for me. I had made some major progress on personal issues and then in early 2016 things fell apart a bit. My gotos did not work. I was injured and all of the progress I made running, both in physical ability and weight loss, was gone. I realized that I also was not reading like I was before and it was not that I didn’t have time I was not making time. I had all the excuses in the word but I couldn’t even bring myself back to the love to the book.
So toward the end of 2016, when things when all to hell for the people around me, I realized we are no promised anything. I realized that I had to get back to doing and being the person I was becoming in 2014. I liked her. I mean I really liked her. So part of that is narrowing my scope and doing only what brings me peace. As you can see on the sidebar January 1’s run was Week 0. I have a written plan for 2017 for running. There is a half marathon I want to try for in April, if I miss that, because avoid injury is top on my list, then I will be on the look out for another later in the year.
As for reading, I have narrowed my challenges down to bare bones: number of books, pages read and number of graphic novels. I love challenges and if you do too check out all of the different ones at A Novel Challenge, but I am keeping it simple this year to find my way back.
What are you leaving behind in 2017 and what are you making room for?
This is going to be long. This is going to be serious. This is going to have nothing to do with reading or running. And before I go one word further this is not an opening for political debate. Because if you think for one minute that your right to own dangerous firearms trumps others’ right to live free of fear, you are wrong. I will not debate you on this point. There is no reason whatsoever that will move me on this.
I have spent the last few days vacillating between sobbing grief and furious anger over the events in Florida. I have generally held my tongue and not replied to the insensitive jerks who within hours began to politicize this act and beat their chests about second amendment rights and terrorism. I tried to focus on the tragedy and then the outpouring of love in the form of actions that occurred in Florida.
There are a few social media themes that struck me since then. The first was this idea that this is the new norm. Sadly, this is correct. In the 2 days since Orlando, there have been 5 more mass shootings resulting in 1 more death and 22 more injuries. In June alone there have been 20 mass shootings. So, yes, this is the new norm. So much so that it has to reach a critical mass before the national media will even bother to bring it up.
Another theme was how people lamented that if guns laws did not change after Sandy Hook then they never would. After a gunman killed babies! But here is the thing–I think we were complacent after Sandy Hook because it never occurred to us that our lawmakers and gun manufactures would ignore babies; surely they had to act.
But they did not. They proved that their bottom line and the gun lobby are more important than children. They proved thatscientific research would not sway them.
While watching yet another talk show host bemoan the loss of life in Orlando, I was struck. It was Stephen Colbert, and he made a powerful point.
Love is a verb. It is action. So in order for love to win we have to do something. And I am not using the royal we. I am not using the amorphous we. I am talking about me and you and everyone who has had enough. I will not stand by and watch more children, more of my brothers and sisters, more human beings for fuck sake die because someone was full of self-loathing and anger and had easy access to guns.
Perhaps it is naïve to think that maybe just maybe some people don’t know what to do, but it could be that is the case.
For me a huge part of this is to no longer assume that my elected officials have any (ANY) soul that can’t be bought and sold. That they have any (ANY) vote that is not easily available to the highest bidder. And that means funding organizations so that the gun control lobby becomes as strong as and more funded than the NRA. We need to stop thinking there are morals and virtue in government and work to ensure that our lobby is richer and can outbid anyone. It is a place to start and here are some places that can do good things with your money.
Money is not it. There are so many other things you can do. But it is the doing that is important. In the minute it takes you to repost the pithy tweet you could look at what one of these organizations asks you to do to help. And then, damn it, just do it.
And just in case you are not paying attention, Obama is not coming for your guns but know this: I am.
I was going to write a long blog post about how this year it seems there are an increasing number of, how does one put this nicely, ummmm, idiots who seem to think that book banning or censorship doesn’t happen any more. But that would require this commie pinko liberal to read articles like the one published by Jonah Goldberg “Banned Books Week Is Just Hype” and Linda Harvey’s Banned Books Week: Smoke screen of hypocrisy. And I realized that i just couldn’t do it.
Books are banned and censored all over this country, authors are uninvited when their books or their personal ideology doesn’t mesh with the ideology of those throwing the party. Saying it doesn’t happen or that it happens more to one group or another misses the point. What is the point you ask? The point is that if you want to be able to publish books like Chased by an Elephant, the Gospel Truth about Today’s Stampeding Sexuality; someone else gets to publish books like Mommy, Mama, and Me.The point is that if you want to watch Fox News; I get Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. The point is that if I have to deal with Orson Scott Card; you have to deal with Molly Ivins.
Notice at no point did I ask you to read, watch or accept any of the things that I want to read, watch or think. I am telling you that freedom allows me the prerogative to have those things. It also means that not matter how much I disagree with you or how much your opinions are hurtful I have to allow you the same privilege. In the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
The beauty of the system we have is that I don’t have to read Card’s Hamlet or watch FOX’s broadcasts. And you my friend never have to pick up a book like these: Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Meyers; The Golden Compass (trilogy) by Phillip Pullman; Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling; The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; or The Pigman by Paul Zindel. But, oh, what you are missing.
Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. — Alfred Whitney Griswold
A few months ago I started to blog about books in earnest. I am still trying to hit my stride and I am still trying to post daily. Like my reading, I feel that I am ever behind and never going to catch up. But one of the best things about doing this was starting to follow readers and writers on Twitter. The lovely Neil Gaiman doesn’t count since I have been following him forever and he is a Twitter God.
Luckily I found #fridayreads. According to their FAQ: “#fridayreads is a hashtag on Twitter. Every Friday, thousands of people post what they’re reading with this tag.” But really that is overly simplistic. For me #fridayreads is confirmation that there are people out there who are like me. People who are dedicated readers, lovers of books, people who will read the back of the cereal box 100 times because there are words there and words must be read.
We are often told that Reading is dying in America. That most people only read one book a year after college. That all our gadgets and doodads are taking us away from reading. I love #fridayreads because it reminds me that books,well, Thoreau said it better than I could:
Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.
So go and tweet your #fridayreads or join in on FaceBook. Be counted because reading counts.
I went to an SCA event this today. I got there at 9 and home about 12 hours later. I was lucky enough to be busy almost the whole time. But I had a book just in case. I always have a book. I have one in the car and stash one in my purse. I have one upstairs and one downstairs. I rarely only have one books going.
So my 6-year-old daughter picked up Wonderland and wanted to read it. She is not my reader; the 10-year-old is by far. But it was a graphic novel and I was unsure about the story so I picked it up and began reading it. I am very close to the end in a little under an hour and it has been fine content-wise for her so far.
Here’s my question: At what point did you let your kids just read without checking their material?