Friday, April 19, 2013

Driving through, in the midst of chaos

At the Eastfield Literary Festival with
Meg Tuite and JP Reese

I returned yesterday, late. To the right is a post-reading pic from the Eastfield College Literary Festival. It was an amazing time and, more, I had amazing company.

JP Reese (left) is a poet and prose writer; she read Wednesday night and again on Thursday with me and Meg. I had the pleasure of being there for both readings. This woman is dynamite. Read her. I learned a lot from watching her work the mic, introducing each poem with a charmingly-told, emotionally-rich story that offered the audience a private glimpse into her writing process and life, and this is such a gift.

Meg Tuite (right) came just before the reading, and though I didn't have much time with her, I was starstruck. Tuite is a flash master, and her reading was dynamic in that she had everything. Everything! Her stories covered topics and perspectives as wide ranging as the graphic nature of the dairy industry to a pondering of life and illness and strength to a humorous portrayal of a Wonder Woman admirer, delightfully awkward and endearing. Hilarious.

It was a pleasure reading with these ladies, and hanging out with them, however fleetingly. I'm always too busy. With class, work, writing, and home, I never seem to stay at the good stuff long enough. This is something I need to work on. Claiming my time. Because times like these last two days are invaluable. I'm realizing that more and more as I age: the good must be soaked in.

But as I made the long trek back from the reading, I passed the site of the explosions in West, Texas. As I drove home, I heard more news about the terrorism in Massachusetts. As I drove home, I became overwhelmed.

This week, the news has appeared an episode of Homeland. The sensationalism of the reportage has been over the top, as has the actual news and speculation. Unbelievable chaos and sadness. Who knows how to act? What to say?

The Watertown and Boston area make a strong community; I got that from the news, the people, and after unreal shoot-outs, after the Watertown community was on lock-down for a day, after his standoff on a boat with no one able to see what the remaining terrorist had on him, things are beginning to come back together. They've determined that the remaining suspect is in custody, so the town can begin to heal. But healing must be allowed to occur, and I'm not sure over-reportage is allowing that to happen.

Converse to the sensationalism of the Boston terrorism is another tragedy, the story buried here in the SW. What a horrible time for the good people of West, Texas near Waco. The explosions were were the result of a fertilizer plant malfunction that made the plant blow up, along with nearby homes and people. This accident killed and injured so many people in this small town, stealing from them their homes and possessions.

On my way driving back from the reading yesterday, I looked for the site and didn't see it. I got stuck in traffic and distracted, began wishing an STD on the driver of the SUV that had just cut me off, then I started thinking about how amazing my life is, and how lucky I was. I slowed down, took back my mean and rather demented wish. He could have the lane.

As I drove, the radio switched from song to the host asking for residents from nearby towns (I was near Waco) to come out and donate anything they had. A caller asked if they needed clothes and the announcer replied (paraphrasing a little): Anything! They'll even need tampons, so throw some of those in, too, girl.

And though it was this one comment, so simple and a little off-center, it was this moment that really struck me. Imagine: to be suddenly be in need of such simple items.

It is now time to heal. But to heal, to support those healing, we have to empathize by asking the tough questions. Can you imagine having so little, so suddenly? Can you imagine being on lock-down in your own home, fearing your life? Can you imagine losing it all in an instant?

I can. I really can. All the more reason to soak in the truly good times.

*Donations for West are coming in from the Red Cross and local charities.
*Donations for the victims and those whose lives have been and are impacted by this terrorism can be given at and many other places.

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