It has been a long week, with lots of thoughts, feelings, and ideas waiting to be written down. Many should be blog posts of their own, but I just don't have time, so I'm writing Sandy Hook Zettel. I take the word Zettel from Ludwig Wittengenstien.
Last night, I had another dream about being lost. This time, I was in visiting China, I think it was. I couldn't find my password, or any guidebooks. I set out from my hotel to explore and soon was lost. It was all the more difficult because I didn't speak Chinese. Eventually, I ended up on an elevated train platform with some Christian Bible Study group, with whom I could establish rudimentary communications.
I woke up, and the chant from Sunday's litany at Church went through my mind, "Oh Lord, hear my prayer…"
Last Thursday, I got home from work to find a "Dammit Doll" that had been sent to me. It came from a blogging friend that lives near Sandy Hook. She wanted me to review it on my blog. I had to rescue it from the dog who thought it was a chew toy for him. I brought it to work to show my co-workers and I've thought about Dammit Doll on the bar as a response to Elf on a Shelf.
In the evening, I sat up and watched the Geminids. I think I managed to get a picture of one. I need to get it off the camera and post it.
At work, I read the first reports of the shooting at Sandy Hook. As the horror started to become apparent, I wrote this:
"It's the most wonderful time of the year" blares from the loudspeaker outside my office. On my computer screen is a picture of some old guy with a vest, ten gallon hat and grey mustache with the caption, "You actually think that criminals will obey gun control laws? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?"
I had been thinking of posting a response, something to the effect, that even though burglars break into houses with locked doors, I still lock my doors in an effort to prevent crime.
I've been getting into lots of discussions about gun control and mental health online. Gun advocates have argued for arming more people, and suggested that we should follow Israel's gun control laws, but as I read things, Israel appears to have very strict gun control laws.
I've always been opposed to regulation of video games. On the other hand, most of the video games I've played have been pretty benign. I have played some first person shooter games, and didn't really like the way I felt afterwards. I have been focused on my media diet and these days watch almost no television. I even avoid good science fiction that has too much violence in it for me.
One meme that has been getting a lot of play online has been Mr. Rogers' "Look for the helpers". I think that is a great meme and one that I'm interested in expending. Be a helper. Spread the word about helpers.
On Saturday, I stopped at the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department for Santa's Visit. I spoke with Santa. He was very sad. He said his heart wasn't into it and he couldn't be jolly. He wanted to cancel, but his wife reminded him of the children that were counting on him. It felt like it came right out of a 1960's Hallmark Holiday Special. The Children were asking that Santa do something special for the children of Newtown. We talked about the first responders. Then ones in Sandy Hook need special prayers.
I work with some great helpers. Yet they are struggling too. Half the building I work in was out sick yesterday. Mostly respiratory illnesses. I don't think they were somatic, but I do believe that everyone is so run down that colds can easily spread. Take care of yourself.
Dicks' sporting goods is changing its policies on the guns it sells. A hedge fund is divesting its investment in the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting. Both seem to be small positive steps. The question remains, is the NRA the association of regular moms and dads that happen to like guns, or are they the association of the gun sellers, people whipping up fear to sell their drug of choice.
And now, we are approaching the Mayan Apocalypse. It will start with a moment of silence for the victim of the shooting. The NRA will hold a press conference, and it is the longest night of the year. In Middletown, there will be a memorial service for homeless people that have died.
The next day, there will be a re-birthday party at the Buttonwood Tree. This fits nicely with the old story of what the caterpillar views as the end of the world, the butterfly sees as the beginning, and I believe it is closer to Mayan thought about human kind not coming to an end, but taking a quantum leap. Let us pray that it will be a leap to greater compassion.
My mother died in a car accident during Hurricane Sandy. We lost power at our house, and gathered with our community to get through the difficult time. It was right before Halloween and the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department had a special gathering for the community to come together.
Today, a different Sandy is on our minds, the shooting Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of us have friends from Sandy Hook. Many of us are parents trying to find ways to talk with our kids about the horrible shooting that took place there. Many of us are struggling with our own grief, trying to be strong for our loved ones.
Yesterday, at work, I shared thoughts from our chief behavioral health officer on how to talk with children about what happened at Sandy Hook. He said to reassure our children that they are safe and to review safety plans with them. He said to limit exposure to TV and other media. He said to talk with other adults about our own reactions.
So, my daughter spent last night with her papa, a retired Bethany Volunteer Fireman. He had been watching too much news and was grieving for the people of Sandy Hook. My wife urged them to watch 'Elf'. Towards the end of the movie, singing Christmas carols and believing in Santa is what saves the day.
Perhaps we need a little bit of that right about now. Today, at the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit. There will also be a clinic on car seat safety. Then, Sunday afternoon at the First Congregational Church there will be carol singing.
So, for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and of shooting at Sandy Hook, I'll paraphrase the great editorial from years ago…
Yes, Sandy, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Sandys. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
A gunman in Sandy Hook took the lives of some of its children, but the eternal light with which childhood fills the world has not been extinguished. It shines in the bravery and kindness of the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department. It shines in the carols that members of First Church will sing Sunday afternoon. It shines in the light of candles on the menorahs and advent wreaths across Woodbridge.
Yes, Sandy, there is a Santa
I got home last night, exhausted. It has been a stressful couple of months. This week, adding to my concerns was Kim's health. She has been struggling with the effects of Lyme Disease since 2006. She's often in pain and when a cold comes around, she gets a bad case of it. Currently, she's fighting off an upper respiratory infection.
She had called me during the day to see if I wanted to take Fiona to a play at the local high school with some of our neighbors. Initially, I said yes, but as the day dragged on and my energy lagged, I forgot about it and when I got home, thinking about the day I have today, I decided not to go, and headed off to bed early. I knew that Saturday would be another dreaded long day.
Yet this morning, I woke up dreaming about today. Yes, I am heading back into work today. However, it will be a different day, a special day. Today is International Help-Portrait Day.
"In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered."
That is what we are doing at CHC. We will be taking photographs of people in need and giving them the pictures. It is part of an underlying message that we tell people in need. Too many people in need are told they are worthless. They are a burden on society. They are using our tax dollars to get by. That is not our message, and it is not the message of this holiday season.
We are telling the people we serve, through providing health care, and through taking photographs, "You are great, you are awesome." These are words of healing that all of us need to hear. The greater our other needs, the greater our need to hear this.
I lifted these words from the wonderful video, Validation.
Please, validate someone today.
Last night, I had another one of those dreams about trying to find my way. In this case, it wasn't about finding a room in a hotel, it was about finding my way home. Mostly there are just fragments of the dream remaining. We were riding in a car that my brother was driving. Barreling down a hill we came to an abrupt end of the road. My brother couldn't stop in time and we went over the embankment. Airbags misfired, no one was injured, but the car was unusable.
So, we got out and started walking. Along the way, we were befriended by some bears that travelled some of the way with us before getting reunited with their families. All of this was in some sort of national park. We continued walking along the road, until we saw a sign indication our destination was something like thirty-six miles away. We headed off in that direction and soon left the park. The area were were traveling felt abandoned, in some not quite post-apocalyptic way. Eventually we got to an area where there were some people and it was about this point that I woke up.
Meanwhile, back in non-dream space, I had a pretty busy day at work. I found out that the order for the Raspberry Pi at Amazon had gotten lost. I don't know what happened with that. The Raspberry Pi was one part of a larger order, and the rest of the order has gone through and been delivered. I called up Kim to make sure we hadn't been billed for it, and we hadn't.
However, Kim discovered that we had a strange bill from Rackspace. Initially, I thought it was just the normal billing for the hosting service for my website. However, the amount was not what it had been. It turns out that Rackspace had migrated my VPS to the cloud, resulting in a new billing structure. Fortunately, this cut the cost of my service in half. So, this evening, I spent some time getting used to Rackspace's cloud service. There are a bunch of upgrades I've been meaning to do, and now that my server is on the cloud, it makes more sense to try and do them.
I did find a different place to order my Raspberry Pi, so there are all kinds of geeky things that I should get done, as well as upgrading my personal cellphone which has been out of commission for a while.
Beyond that, I'm trying to organize my calendar for the coming couple months, do some of my reading for the Health Fellowship, get more writing done here, and generally try to keep my head above water.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. Another month starts, the final month of 2012. Last month was a challenging month, simply in terms of the amount of stress in my life,and this month, while I hope it will be less stressful is likely to remain challenging.
The month starts off with World AIDS Day. I put up a blog post on my work blog about World AIDS Day. There is a bunch of other stuff in the pipeline for work related blogs.
For the holidays, money continues to be tight, so it is shaping up to be another DIY Christmas. For me, that's a lot more fun anyway. I've been researching online and kicking around different ideas. Some are fairly simple. Some are fairly complex. We'll see what actually gets made.
Meanwhile, this evening, Kim and I are going to the Connecticut Forum this evening to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson, Neil Gaiman and Neri Oxman talk about Vision and Brilliance. Perhaps this will inspire more ideas.
In terms of inspired ideas, I want to give a shout out to Miranda's Idea Blog. I hope to write more about this later.