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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

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I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

Throwback Thursday: Another day, another mass shooting


Throwback Thursday. I sometimes use the day as an excuse to look back, pull up some older piece from the past. I don’t have the energy to do that today, not after the monstrous mass murder of 17 people in Parkland, Florida yesterday. I’m not just heartbroken and heartsick, I’m sick and tired of it. 

If I do look to the past, I know nothing will change. Nothing changed after the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, when twenty—mostly small children—were killed in cold blood. Nothing will change this time. 

Especially not with the current administration in place. Trump actually just rolled back an Obama era law that put those who received Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database. [NBC: Trump signs bill revoking Obama era law]

Trump basically said that even if you have mental health issues, go ahead buy a gun. Better yet. Buy an AR-15. Why kill one person when you can mow down a few? Like life is just one big first person shooter video game.

I feel helpless, angry, fed up to my core. I don’t want to argue about it. I just wish it would stop. But’s not just the mentally ill that shouldn’t be able to buy assault weapons, it’s you, it’s me, it’s all of us. If you leave some pro-gun message talking about how Americans have the right to defend themselves, I won’t be responding to your comment separately. But here’s my response. I don’t care. You don’t need the military grade weapons an AR-15 provides to shoot down a deer. You don’t need an assault weapon to protect your family and home. And if you honestly believe an assault weapon is what our country’s founders meant by your second amendment rights, then we are so many miles apart, we might as well be living on two different planets. And in my heart, I want my planet to be assault weapon free. 

It’s not just mentally ill monsters like the 19 year old who acted yesterday, don’t let him carry the burden of our country’s guilt. Ban assault weapons. Period. 

Yesterday I found a list of American manufacturers of the AR-15 online, including Paul Buffoni, a gun manufacturer who turned down an order from the city of Milwaukee. Why? Because the Chief of Police spoke out against assault weapons. 

I tweeted the information including the names of the owners & company addresses yesterday, and I’m sharing it here in case you want to write and let them know how disgusted you are. 



Tonight I’m going to try to do more than make my usual donation to Everytown, the movement for Gun Safety. I’m going to try to propel myself beyond my introverted nature—a convenient crux for my built-in inertia—and go to an actual meeting. I’m going to try to take a baby step to help make change. Will all the gun safety efforts change anything? In this country? Probably not. But if we don’t do something, that probably not becomes definitely not. 

Here’s the Everytown for Gun Safety link to find a meeting near you. If there’s not a meeting near you, there are ways you can help right from the comfort of your own home. Baby steps. Time to take them.

Comments

  1. Yes! to going to the meeting. As an introvert, I know how hard that is. But getting active locally in the last three years, since the shooting of Michael Brown, has been my most effective antidote to despair. Meeting in physical spaces with physical people has resulted in a real sense of community that boosts me when I'm feeling down, gets me out of the house, and gives me real friends to work alongside to change the world. And, I love that my new friends span the demographics. Working with younger folks has been such a pleasure.

    I actually thing that Everytown and Moms Demand Action have the potential to make change. MADD and SADD moved the needle on drunk driving.

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