Split Attention

It was the oddest day.

My kids had a birthday party to go to–and a really fun one at that! My friend Berry Jello had a reptile petting zoo come to her son’s birthday party, and the kids had SO much fun. So did I for that matter– the lizards, the bugs, the frogs, the sneks!

I loved them– petted all of them, even the vinegaroon, which looks like a cross between a scorpion and a giant madagascar cockroach. The presenter was amazing– every animal she produced, including the myriad stick bugs in all sizes, she introduced with, “Oh my God! This is THE most amazing creature–look at all of the special things about it! Let’s celebrate it, let’s give it some attention. Let’s tell it how beautiful it is and how lucky we are that there are so many fabulous creatures in the world!”

I was down to do just that.

Because the rest of the world…

Goddess. The rest of the world seems determined to squash all of the wonderful diversity of our world flat and dead, and my heart was so broken I was surprised to find it beating.

For those of you who didn’t hear about Orlando, well, I have no words.

The preliminary reports were happening on Twitter as I went to bed, and when I woke up… it was so much worse than anybody could imagine.

And my heart constricted with the most awful, familiar fear.

I know this fear. There are mornings when telling Squish to hop out of the car is ridiculously hard. What if there’s someone there with a gun? Someone who decides he doesn’t like the demographic of her school, as diverse as it is? Someone with a grudge? Someone who just flat out doesn’t like children? They’re not safe–we’ve seen it, felt it, heard the echoes gunshots throughout American history, of stupid abominations of metal and machine that rip apart small bodies like tissue paper, and nobody wants to talk about how to get rid of the machines, they just want to pretend that an idiot with a knife could do the same damage as a semi-automatic that can take out a city block.

I live in fear for my children. Going to the theater, walking into a restaurant, sitting in a classroom–over 10,000 people a year are killed by gun violence, and my children are in the crosshairs just like anybody else’s.

All children are in the crosshairs.

So when I saw “nightclub in Orlando” I was not automatically thinking, “gay club” in Orlando. I was thinking, “Somebody’s children!”

Which they were–they were somebody’s children who thought they were safe. They were in a gay night club during Pride Week–a time when the LGBTQ community has made a stand for solidarity and safety in the world by showing that they are not afraid.

These children were gunned down in a place of safety. A place of celebration and joy.

And my fear for my children–all the children, all the Goddess’s children– just twisted like a knife in my belly.

And I have no words.

The girl at the party today, pulling out traditionally frightening creatures– stick bugs, geckos, monitor lizards–and saying, “Look at this! Look at how beautiful it is! Look at how amazingly it’s made! How it’s body does exactly what it’s supposed to, and how easy it is to admire and love!”

So easy to love a frog or a bearded dragon or a vinegaroon. We protected those creatures, treated them gently–nobody stood up and stomped on them or tore them apart. It was unthinkable.

Why is it so easy to think violence for our children? Our sons and brothers, daughters and sisters? “Look! Here is a child, sitting in a desk! Isn’t she clever and industrious and kind? Look! Here is a gay man, dancing in a club! Isn’t he brave and beautiful and happy? Look at the woman standing next to him, dancing with her girlfriend? Aren’t they amazing?”

Why can’t we look at the beautiful humans in our world and think they’re supposed to be protected too? Why is it so easy to rip apart their bodies with guns designed to kill hundreds in the span of a single song? Why do we think it’s okay to make it so easy? To provide machines to facilitate sickness and hatred and fear? To let our religious and political leaders spit out rhetoric that makes it easy to hate, and to be afraid?


I’m sorry. I’m rambling. I just know that it was so surreal, cradling a giant monitor lizard in my arms and thinking that he was delightful and affectionate, and marvelous, and realizing that such hatred exists in the world that couldn’t love and accept a human being with even half the love I gave that damned lizard in a sweater.

That had to rip a human apart and destroy it.

I wanted to gather in all the children at the party and protect them. (And I’ve recently made it very clear I’m not a fan of other people’s children.)

I wanted to round up all the guns in the world and do something useful with them. Solar panels? Space ships? Metal sculptures? The possibilities for things that are not guns are endless, while the possibility for things that ARE guns are limited to one brutal conclusion.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the pictures from the party. They are charming and the creatures were truly wondrous.

Tonight, I’m too heartsore over the wondrous humans, who should have been protected in their sanctuary, and were murdered instead.

Be safe out there, humans. As the LGBTQ community gathers during Pride, remember that there are allies who are proud of you, and proud FOR you, and who love you, and want you to be well. Remember there are madmen out there, who want exactly the opposite, and keep your beautiful, diverse bodies safe from the madmen, and whole to dance another day.

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