I ate my feelings today

I AM FEELING RATHER RAW after yet another school shooting yesterday. Here we are again – AGAIN! – having the same debate. Nothing has changed. 

(Much) more on that in a sec. I wasn’t making any friends or changing any minds on social media as I got into it with strangers, and couldn’t think of what else to do, so I went to Five Guys, set on eating my feelings:


And yes, I am aware it isn’t healthy to use food in this way, and I also know I wrote here in January about how I was eating salads and stuff, but what can I say. I’m weak. And I just don’t like salad. Or bananas. Or lots of things that are good for me. So I got a burger and some fries, and it was really delicious, and I am unapologetic.

At least I walked there and back.

So there I sat, a lonely lady at a high-top table, scrolling through my phone, getting angrier and angrier at the fact that THIS HAPPENED AGAIN. A bunch of kids (and their parents, and their teachers, and their community, and their country) have been traumatized again by a guy intent on making some statement – we don’t know what, yet – which was pretty easy for him to do in such a dramatic way, because he had a gun. Which the adults in his home knew about. Oh, it was locked up, they said. That was our rule.

He used a gun.

Please, don’t start by telling me that guns are not, in and of themselves, bad. I understand that. It is condescending to suggest that I might actually think that an inanimate object is capable of killing without it being activated by a human. Plus, that argument breaks down when you realize that guns are designed for the sole purpose of killing other living beings. Or at least, wounding them.

Hey: If you are so fearful that MS-13 gang members or bad hombres are coming to do you harm, or your home is an ideal target for a middle-of-the-night break-in that you feel the need to keep a personal firearm, to be used in the unlikely event something like this actually happens to you, then I trust and expect you are doing so with great care and forethought, in compliance with applicable laws, despite the odds being that your gun won’t actually save you in such situations. But, we all have the right to protect our people and our stuff in the way that makes sense to us. So, you do you.

I don’t want to take *your* guns away. What I and many others want now is called gun “control.” Control means some sort of moderating effort, to ensure people who shouldn’t have guns, can’t get them. It does not mean a total ban on every single gun in the whole world. You can still keep your pistol, if it helps you sleep at night, and you can still hunt deer or whatever. So take a deep breath, Captain Hyperbole.

I do feel strongly that no civilian needs to have access to semi-automatic weapons. Ever. I cannot think of a situation where having one of these handy has made things better, but I can name a dozen off the top of my head where their availability made things unbearably, irreversibly awful.

Seriously: If you can point to a time when a civilian used semi-automatic weapons to make things great, I’d love to hear about it.

I don’t want to hear ever again about how if someone is intent on killing a bunch of people, they’ll use other means if they can’t get a gun. They’ll use fertilizer to build a bomb, maybe, or just drive a car into a crowd. The argument goes, therefore, it doesn’t make sense to regulate gun access because crazy people gonna kill. This argument is a gigantic, oozing, throbbing red herring. It attempts to divert attention away from the fact that a *gun* was used to kill.

To kill. Kids, at school, and people who devoted their lives to educating them.

He used a GUN.


The naysayers reply, well, he was mentally ill. THAT should be our focus! I agree. But I don’t believe any efforts towards improving availability and coverage for mental health conditions need preclude efforts to get semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of civilians. We should be talking about both, simultaneously, right now. And not just talking, but acting.

We are stuck in this insane, nightmarish loop where a mass shooting happens, elected officials offer thoughts and prayers, someone organizes a candlelight vigil, people propose gun control legislation, congress doesn’t act on it, until the next shooting, at which point we lament that nothing ever happens and “thoughts and prayers” again and the whole thing happens over and over. How have we not learned yet? How can we allow our lawmakers to be more beholden to the deep pockets and propaganda machine of the NRA than to the families they were elected to represent?

I had the relative luxury last night to choose to not immerse myself in the news of the day’s mass shooting. I was able to make that choice. A whole bunch of people in Florida were not so fortunate. Reality hit them over the head, hard, and demanded, in the cruelest possible way, they immediately pay attention. Kids live-tweeted and texted their parents while hiding in closets, fearing for their young lives. What if it was your kid? Or your grandchild? Can you even imagine the anguish of receiving those texts? I can’t. And those were the ones who lived! Many died. Because a troubled guy had a gun and decided to use it to kill students at the high school he had attended, there are a bunch of parents who hurried their kids out the door yesterday, urging them on so they wouldn’t be late for school, not knowing that it would be the last time they’d see them alive.

He used a gun.

So, 2A zealots, spare me your fear-driven rhetoric and your false arguments. You have been missing the point this whole time. I want to live in a country that seeks to protect my kids and yours, and not just through a full-term pregnancy, but for the rest of their (hopefully long) lives. It’s time for all of us to do a root-cause analysis to figure out what’s really at the soul of this madness, so we can do something to minimize the risk of it happening again. We may never prevent all mass shootings for the rest of forever. But doing nothing isn’t working. So let’s try doing… something different. Anything. And let’s keep trying till one day, we will shake our heads as we think back to how terrible it was, back in those years when there were all those school shootings, during that dark time in America’s history.

One last thing: As you take measures to protect your property from bad guys, I will take measures to protect my own slice of cyber-real-estate (this blog) from those who would disrespectfully argue with me. I have had unproductive exchanges with too many individuals whose minds were obviously made up, and acknowledge that I’m not likely to change their views, any more than they are to change my mine. However, if you wish to put forth a discussion that suggests new ways we can work together to protect our children from being shot up in places where they should be able to feel safe and protected, that would be a worthwhile conversation to have.

Just as soon as we figure out this gun problem. Because to me, that seems like a logical place to start.


I didn’t know I needed this

THE INTERNET GODS sent me this ad:


It’s not just an ironing board, it’s an ironing system. A whole *system*! For pressing clothes! And it’s on sale for just $1,999! And it ships free!

They’re practically paying you to take it.

The product description begins:

Whether you’re ironing table linens or removing wrinkles from a cocktail dress…

OK, hold up. If you are the owner of a $2,000 ironing system, you probably aren’t ironing your own table linens. You’re sending them out, or you’re having the housekeeper do it. I can see maybe touching up one’s own cocktail dress, say if you forgot to ask your housekeeper to do that for you before she left for the evening. Or maybe if you can’t decide what to wear to that charity gala tonight and have searched the dark recesses of your second walk-in closet (the one with all your fancy clothes in it) and dig out something you haven’t worn a couple of years. It might have wrinkles that need removing. And in that case, you would be really happy this system is still set up in the laundry room. From when the housekeeper was ironing the cloth napkins. That is, if you can figure out how to use it:

This easy-to-use ironing system features an LCD display with user-friendly navigation.

In my experience, “easy-to-use” and “user-friendly” are code words for “plan on 20 minutes to view YouTube tutorials.” I can barely program my coffee maker to brew at some future time. If my ironing system has “navigation” it’s probably too complicated for me.

I know what you’re thinking: Will the B3312 model will deliver everything I want and need in an ironing system? Fear not: The manufacturer also offers the B3847 system for just $500 more. Because spending $2,499 on a glorified ironing board seems normal.

If ironing is your jam – or you are, say, a professional seamstress – an investment in a device such as this might make sense for you. But for the rest of us – those of us who even still *do* iron – isn’t a regular old ironing board and mid-level iron enough to successfully do most household jobs? For money like that, you could buy a whole lot of professional dry cleaning. Or, a couple of really nice new cocktail dresses. Even ones that aren’t on sale. And have cash leftover to bid on the silent auction items at that charity gala.

For more things you never knew you needed, here’s a link to that time I went to Williams-Sonoma and analyzed their Thanksgiving table display.


Pen pals for eight years: DC DMV and me

dc_flagMy friends in the DC DMV are reaching out to me again, asking me to pay that fine we paid waaay back in 2001! I thought they had finally fixed their records.  I was wrong. The following letter is hitting the mailboxes – and cyberspace – today:


 September 12, 2009

Professional Account Management
c/o DC Treasurer
PO Box 37038
Washington, DC 20013-7038

RE: Citation 543536103, 9/7/01

To Whom It May Concern:

I received a call from Bridget at Professional Account Management on Friday, September 4, 2009, asking me if I wanted to pay the balance due on my outstanding citation (referenced above). Bridget’s call was a surprise to me, because my last contact with Professional Account Management was in April 2008. I was hopeful that my last letter finally resulted in DC correcting its accounting records.

I am not writing to appeal this citation, but to provide proof – once again – that we paid the DC Treasurer $45 to satisfy this citation and the penalty for late payment – in October, 2001.

Bridget stated that we are still being asked to pay this citation because we did not write the citation number on the check.  And she’s right; we didn’t. However, this omission did not stop the DC Treasurer from promptly cashing our check #580. One would think that during a routine reconciling of records, this random $45 deposit from us could have been easily credited to the only outstanding citation in our name.

However, apparently your recordkeeping systems (or staff) were not able to make this obvious connection. In fact, some of your previous invoices indicate that we paid $15 towards this fine, confusing matters even further. I have spent the past eight years trying to demonstrate to you that, if you simply match up my $45 deposit with this citation, you can cross this little nagging amount off your follow-up list and – even better – balance the District of Columbia’s budget, which, I fear, may have been out of whack by exactly $45 since 2001!

I should not be held accountable for this error. I paid. You took my money. Your staff failed to properly credit my payment to the one outstanding citation to my name. Your mistake; not mine. Best of all – it’s easily rectified.

If you would kindly review the enclosed correspondence – along with the copy of the check deposited by the DC Treasurer – and update your records to show that Citation 543536103 is paid in full, I would be most appreciative. It’s that simple.

In an odd way, your pluck and determination to balance your records is admirable (albeit misguided) .  Even though you are in the wrong, I must say your steadfastness over all these years has been impressive.  So impressive, in fact, that I would strongly advocate that your diligent folks in Professional Account Management should be given more authority to more carefully watch over all the District’s finances.  Their zealous oversight might, for example, have saved the District’s taxpayers millions of dollars, avoiding that embarassing $50 million shortfall that Harriette Walters and her cronies so cleverly orchestrated.  That is but one example (one of many I am sure) where this sort of effort might be better applied.  And, best of all, in that case, you’d even be right!

If you are unable rectify your error, which is amply supported by my attached evidence, then I would suggest that the DC Treasurer actually owes me the $45 that they were unable to match to any pending debt in my name. After all, you did take my money.

Once I receive my refund, I will happily re-send it to you so that you may have another chance to note in your system that Citation 543536103 is, in fact, PAID, and has been for almost eight years.  If not, I am afraid I may have to turn your records over to a collection agency and insist on proper restitution.  And we all know what a pain those pesky calls can be!

So, for the 8th consecutive year, may I kindly suggest that you focus your efforts on collecting fines that have not, in fact, already been paid.  I promise to keep writing you until you finally correct your error.

Cc (w/o attachments):

Adrian Fenty, Mayor, District of Columbia
Natwar M. Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, District of Columbia
Lucinda M. Babers, Director, DC Department Of Motor Vehicles

(…oh yes, I most certainly did copy them!)