June 21st, 2016
After Orlando, We’re “Reeling” Once Again
I hate crying on the treadmill at the gym. I’m already red-faced and gasping from my workout, so things get pretty ugly when tears are added to the mix. Plus, no Kleenex, so, yeah, lots of snot.
I know I’m not the only one who cried watching the news this week. I’ve been reading about Orlando’s nightclub carnage in my local paper, and I’ve tracked the unfolding horror on NPR, too. But when I became a mom nearly 14 years ago, I stopped watching the news. If I did see clips from the current news cycle – about shootings, earthquakes, airplane crashes, house fires and anything, anything to do with children suffering – I was in for a sleepless, anxiety filled night.
This morning, however, my treadmill faced three TV monitors set to three different stations, so I switched back and forth as I climbed an ever-steepening hill. It hit me that both my hill climb and the newscasts were Sisyphean in nature: I could jog in place like this forever – heart racing, blood pressure rising, tears falling – without making any actual progress. Watching coverage of the weekend’s massacre, my heart raced, blood pressure rose and tears fell – and it felt sickeningly familiar and futile. Like Sisyphus wrestling endlessly with his boulder, we all know how this week’s horrifying event will inevitably play out. In fact, when it comes to our national response to gun violence, it feels like we’ve already made our list. Now we just check it twice:
- Tears, outrage, shock and anger.
- Outpouring of global sympathy and support.
- Thoughts and prayers from local and national leaders. Check.
- Facebook profile photos updated: “We are _____” (today, Orlando. Tomorrow, TBD.) Check.
Here’s a word I keep reading and hearing, one that jumps out at me every single time we wake up to a new national horror: reeling. The country. A community. Families. Reeling.
Except we can’t really be reeling. Because as Fessick tells Vizzini in my favorite movie, The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
How can we be reeling from an event that, while it varies in location and scale, happens here with terrifying, infuriating, mind-numbing, gut-wrenching regularity? “Reeling” suggests we were unprepared for, if not completely blindsided by, an occurrence that was utterly unforeseen, unpredictable, unimagined – and unimaginable.
Come on, people.
In our great nation, home to Newtown, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Charleston, San Bernadino, Orlando and the site of the very next not-yet-announced gun massacre, “reeling” is a luxury reaction we don’t get to have. Save it for people in countries with sensible gun control when terrible, truly unexpected violence shatters their community. Here, where the only questions that make any sense when it comes to gun violence are who, what, where and when (and not “why”), we’ve chosen a different fate: pushing an immense, indestructible boulder of continuing tragedy up a steep, slippery slope.
When the boulder rolls back down, thundering as loudly as bullets spraying across a bass-thumping, pulse-throbbing, joy-filled nightclub, we’ll just wipe the sweat from our brows as if we’ve been dancing our hearts out on a hot, late recent Saturday night in Florida.
And then repeat.
This article originally appeared in the Marin Independent Journal.
Classic Cheese Scones
First, let’s get this straight. Growing up in the southern hemisphere, we ate “scones” that rhyme with “on,” not “scones” that rhyme with “own.” Say it with me, people: ScONes. ScONes. ScONes.
Thank you. I feel better.
And you will, too, after you whip up a batch of these super easy scONes. I made them on Father’s Day, and you can bet we ate them all in about five minutes flat. My family loves cheesy scones smothered in butter and strawberry jam. I also make date scones (you could substitute raisins, dried cranberries or cherries), which are delish with honey.
Classic cheese scones
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbs butter (half a stick), cut into chunks
½ cup or so of your favorite grated cheese (I’ve used combinations of cheddar, a Mexican blend and parmesan)
A little extra cheese for melting on top
¾ cup milk
Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and set aside a baking sheet.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt (if you have a sieve, sift these dry ingredients into the bowl for extra fluffiness). Add the butter, and use a pastry knife to cut it up and mix evenly throughout. Note one: You have permission to use a food processor for these first two steps, but what you gain in efficiency you will lose in fluffiness. Note two: My favorite word for today is “fluffiness.”
Now toss in the grated cheese (or dried fruit) and mix. Add the milk, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the dough until it’s uniformly moist. You should be able to form it into a ball.
Sprinkle some flour on your clean countertop, then plop that dough ball into the flour and pat it into a rough circle or rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Use a butter knife to cut the dough into scone-sized pieces (about 15), and place them on the baking sheet. Leave a little room between the scones so they can expand and achieve maximum fluffiness. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the scones for good measure.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
I’d say, “serve warm,” but I’m pretty sure the scones will disappear before they even have a chance to cool down!
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
John Newberry Award 2015
The Cavs just beat the Warriors in a thrilling (okay, heartbreaking) NBA final, so today is a perfect time to recommend a YA/teen novel called The Crossover. This emotionally intense story of 14-year-old twin brothers is written in slamming, jamming, popping, hopping free verse that bobs and weaves across the page like Curry and Klay down the court. In The Crossover, Josh (a.k.a. Filthy Nasty) and his twin, JB, have always been an inseparable team of two, their connection as strong on the basketball court as it is at home with their loving, tough parents. But when the boys’ relationship is unexpectedly (and repeatedly) tested, things fall apart. Filthy Nasty must examine his identity as a brother, a son and an athlete in order to make sense of a life that suddenly seems to be spiraling out of control.
I read The Crossover in one sitting, and I cried more than once. It’s powerful, honest and beautifully poetic. One more reason to read this book: Kwame Alexander is a passionate and inspiring advocate for global education. You can read about him here.
Award worthy? Slam dunk.