Since I am such a news-junkie, constantly needing to be informed of the truth and reality around me, I always look at the headlines of the paper for the minute or so it takes the Starbuck barista to create morning heaven in my paper cup. As this is the only time I seek out news, whatever bits and pieces I get during those few seconds shape my world view. Typically, I don’t read them to truly get informed (the older I get the more I live up to my ‘Show-Me-State’ heritage), I just like to look at pictures. However, yesterday there was a story that caught my attention long enough to actually read for a few moments after I got liquid therapy. The picture was of this older Hispanic man standing under a large tree in his field, trying desperately to look the part of honest-to-goodness cowboy. However, the story was one of my novel come to life (both the kind I read and the kind I am trying to write). He has had four calves, thus far, that have been slaughtered on his ranch. Their tongues removed, eyes missing, and all their entrails captured. The catch? No footprints at all. No blood—on the ground or on the body. No meat taken. No signs of anything amiss—except for the gruesome veal in the grass. Of course, somewhere, there is a legitimate explanation. However, in my werewolf books, the humans always come up with a legitimate explanation—even when there isn’t one.
No, this story has nothing to do with anything. True, I could twist it to be a symbol of things that aren’t understood, no matter how you try to figure them out. A testament of how someone could believe something so fully yet be utterly delusional. How it feels to be tormented by unanswerable questions and patronized by empty comments, ‘don’t let someone dictate your happiness,’ ‘you’re better off,’ ‘he obviously had been planning on leaving for some time.’ I could, but I won’t.
In a reminder that cruelty and causing others pain is a skill that we practice and perfect since childhood, my little elementary school has been having to have ‘come-to-jesus’ sessions with our fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms. It seems that there is a rash abundance of people calling others: gay, gayway, fag, gaysissy, feel free to come up with your own combo. It is always such a strange experience for me to take part in and to simply overhear and observe. How the redirections and consequences attempt to teach that such words hurt and damage people who might be gay, all the while unintentionally slicing people who are gay with the other side of the sword. We don’t call people gay because it hurts people around us who are or might be gay. It makes them feel like they are bad, and they aren’t. It’s also not okay because, we don’t want to be mean to be people and call them bad things and bad words. You don’t want to embarrass and hurt them by calling them mean things. (That’s right, young fag and lesbo, we don’t want you to feel like an outcast or dirty, even though having little jock and cheerleader equated to you is an insult, gross, and unacceptable—and worthy of punishment.) I honestly don’t have any hard feelings about the way it’s handled, although I truly do get offended and bashed each time I hear someone else lead these conversation, both because I know they come from a place that is trying to be helpful, and because I don’t have a perfect answer to it either. However, it is one of those times I really wish I could tell my kids who their teacher is and how it affects real people around them.
And, finally, yesterday was a day I had been dreading. One that I thought would cause me to break. Hagrid died. The Siamese Fighting Fish that he and I got as a pet well over a year ago and had since come to live in my classroom. I thought I’d text him and let him know, that he should know. I didn’t. If he doesn’t really care about me, hopefully the fish wouldn’t register. I had been dreading it. I knew it was coming—as it seemed that he had been alive a lot longer than most Bettas. In both a surprising and happy realization, I discovered I was too numb to feel much of anything. Just one more dull stab and twist. Just another breath. The only thing I did hate was that the ground was so frozen and that I was at school. I would have liked to have given him a proper burial. However, many things don’t get buried cleanly, do they?
Black Coffee Tables
1 year ago