Saturday, December 15, 2012


Everything is different.

The world is a different place tonight. Another town no one had ever heard of before today.  A point in time that will never be as benign as it should have been.  A senseless tragedy that leaves too many questions.  But at the heart, everyone is asking the same question.  There is really only one, although it takes a thousand forms.  Why?  It's the question for which there will never be a good enough answer.

Friends and neighbors are circling around those who have lost, shielding them from the outside world as best they can.  They will support them physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Some of them will be put in charge of removing presents from beneath Christmas trees.  Finding Santa's hidden treasures, and taking them away.  Putting toys back in the toy box and cleaning up the breakfast dishes.  Their hearts will break and they will break down and cry while they are doing it.  They will keep going.  They will keep their loved ones going, too.

There are others today that are dealing with their own demons.  The gut-wrenching ache of memories.  They have been where this community is now.  They know the fear that comes with waiting for names to be released.  They know the relief when the names are not one of theirs.  They know the crash when a name is.  They know the sinking feeling when the date draws near every year. They know all the words in the world will not help these people right now, but maybe time will ease the ache that never fully goes away.  They know that while the survivors will survive, is not what they want or need to hear today. 

The attacks are coming closer together.  Too close to put the last one out of your mind before the next happens.  Too close to feel secure.  So close that those without children can't even begin to imagine bringing a child into this world.  So close that those who are parents have trouble sleeping.  Today, people will call for change more loudly than they ever have before.  It's always louder than it has ever been before.

Nothing has changed.

The media descended.  They are as shocked and angered as the rest of the world, but they also have an agenda.  They have deadlines to meet and producers/editors to appease.  So they will push personal feelings aside to get the story no one else has found yet.  Even if that  means putting terrorized children on camera to get what they will describe as, "an eyewitness account."  The town will be an unwilling host to news vans covered in satellite dishes and photographers that never lower their cameras to look people in the eyes.  Reporters and news anchors will put together special broadcasts, conduct interviews... until the next big story comes along.

In just less than a year, the media will swarm the town again.  Notes will have been made on calendars so as not to forget.  The anniversary of this day will be newsworthy next year.  Perhaps the year after.  Maybe even the year after that. But soon, the only people who will remember will be those who lived it, not because of a note on a calendar but because they are still living it.

Lawyers will wait for the frenzy to pass before making their move.  They will see grieving families as a payday.  They will approach them oh, so cautiously.  They will point out the flaws in the system.  They will convince families that financial compensation will make things better.  Lawsuits will be filed against the school district, and any other entity they can tie responsibility to.  Years from now, settlements will be reached.  They will make the papers for a day.

Politics will come into play.  The right to bear arms versus the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Gun enthusiasts will remind us that guns don't kill people; people kill people.  The debate will be opened again about if the spirit in which the constitution was written.  If giving people the ability to defend their homes and families with musket rifles is the same as the ability to purchase multiple assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition without raising any suspicion.  But the debate will be between news program hosts and lobbyists.  The debate will never make it to any legislation.   

Everything is different.  Nothing has changed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Art of Avocado Ripening

A couple weeks ago, on Black Friday, I turned 29.  I felt it was oddly appropriate because I'm about 99% sure that I am not going to handle 30 well. And for anyone out there that's about to hop on their, "Oh you're still so young, 30 is nothing," horse, please refrain.  Logic has no role here.  I don't know where I thought I was going to be at 29 years old, but I know I never dreamed I would be attached to an ice pack because of an alpaca.  He used his head to hit me with a right hook, giving me a swollen and bruised jaw.  I can't make this stuff up. 

Anyway, I think you should learn at least one big thing each year so that getting older isn't quite so depressing.  When I was in school it was easy.  One year I didn't know how to cut open a live animal without killing it, and the next year I did.  It gets harder when you have a job.  Not that I don't get to see some interesting things, but big leaps of skill aren't really part of the deal anymore.

Turns out what I learned this year, were avocados.

I love, love, love salsa (the hotter the better) so guacomole to me is very much a take it or leave it condiment.  I don't like that it turns brown.  Its texture is disturbing when it is warm.  I don't dislike it, but it's not by any means a necessity.  So I'm not sure why, but one day I bought an avocado and I decided to chop it up and add it to a salad.  It was awesome.  I became an avocado convert but the challenge was in the ripening.

Since I grocery shop once a week and it's a very organized event. Yes, I can hear you guys now:  "Julie?  Organized? Noooo."  Whatever.  The problem with an avocado addiction is that they don't ripen like anything else. So if shop once a week and you need (alright, want) an avocado available on any given day do you buy them already ripe?  Almost ripe?  Not ripe at all?  It took pretty much the entire year, but I finally figured it out.

I buy 3-4 avocados a week,  1 almost ripe, 2 not ripe at all, and the occasional 4th at my discretion.  I know exactly when to pull them out of the crisper and put them at room temperature.  In my kitchen, there is (nearly) always an avocado ready to go for salads, sandwiches, or whatever else I might desire. 

Necessary skill?  No.  Life changing skill?  Not even a little bit.  Something that makes me feel like I've got at least a little handle on my life?  Absolutely.