I think I’m pregnant

Anybody know any good reason why someone without a uterus would be experiencing consistent morning sickness? Because I kinda doubt this is a baby.

On learning, and how I will never

The events of the last, oh, twenty-eight hours or so:

  • Had Taco Bell for dinner
  • Couldn’t sleep for shit last night
  • Woke up and immediately puked
  • Took the boy to school
  • Came home and slept until 2:30 PM
  • Picked the boy up from school
  • Recorded, unshowered and still kinda queasy, a couple of episodes of Pokémon Sword with said boy
  • Started this blog post

I have to learn to not eat shit. Eating shit is bad! Like, predictably! I know this! And it’s not like it’s good enough to compensate for missing work because of vomiting and nausea! Come the fuck on, man, be an adult!

Sigh.

#REVIEW: Barkskins, by Annie Proulx

I’m going to be honest here— I’m mostly writing this review because I finished this book last night and otherwise I don’t have much of anything to talk about today. We spent $600 on a new snowblower, so northern Indiana has me to thank in a few months when we make it through the winter without a single flake of snow falling. I had Taco Bell for dinner. That’s about all I’ve got.

But yeah. This book. I bought it because Annie Proulx is from Wyoming, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with Wyoming at all, but it turns out there are not a lot of authors from there, so I was not exactly presented with an array of riches to choose from here. I could have picked The Shipping News or Brokeback Mountain, but this one sounded a bit more interesting so I went with it.

Barkskins is historical fiction, beginning in what would eventually be Maine in the 1600s and continuing until the modern day, although the majority of the book takes place before the 20th century, much less the 21st. It follows two branches of descendants from the same man, one of which is treated as legitimate and inherits the logging company he creates, and one … well, isn’t and doesn’t. That said, the two groups of people don’t really know about each other for the majority of the book, so it’s not as if the less fortunate family members are grousing about their lack of inheritance or anything like that. This ends up making the book almost more of a history of this fictional company more than it is the actual people, following the people who run the company in some chapters and people affected by the company (and, well, all of the rest of the logging companies) systematically clearcutting and decimating America’s forests on the other. See that quote on the cover about this book being the “greatest environmental novel ever written”? I’m not a hundred percent convinced of the superlative (although I admit I have read precious few “environmental novels”) but the description is certainly accurate.

It’s an interesting read, although at 700+ pages you should be prepared for what you’re getting into. I would think this is probably more valuable to people interested in historical fiction than anything else; you shouldn’t get too attached to any particular character as the book is going to be moving on in 50-60 pages no matter what, and Proulx is not at all shy about abruptly murdering her characters with no particular attention paid to, say, resolving any narrative conflicts associated with them, because, well, sometimes in the 1800s you just stepped on a fucking nail and died and that was all there was to it. Proulx’s writing has enough verisimilitude to it to make one suspect that she has access to a time machine; her command of the little details of living two or three centuries ago is incredibly impressive, especially considering how much of the book is embedded in either French-speaking or Native American Mi’kmaq peoples. It’s really something else. If it were a couple hundred pages shorter I’d be shouting from the rooftops about it, but, well, books this big aren’t for everyone and if you didn’t want to make the time investment necessary for a 700-page novel I would not look askance upon you.

Well, maybe a little, but I wouldn’t say anything about it.

On adult responsibility

Before I get too far into the meat of this post, I want to say something that will, perhaps, not endear me to some of you. News media have gotten some abuse for using the photograph on the right of this person rather than his post-apprehension mug shot on the left, a supposedly humanizing touch that is never, ever granted to mass murderers when they are people of color.

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but the picture on the right screams “school shooter” to me every bit as much as the picture on the left. That kid is visibly deeply fucked up; there is nothing at all behind his eyes, and the fact that he’s holding his hands in a posture of prayer, to me, just means that he’s coming from an environment where it’s incredibly unlikely that he’s actually going to get any help for whatever is wrong with him.

I got into a Twitter conversation the other day with someone, and in that conversation made the point that my ability to feel shared humanity with and compassion for terrible people had diminished significantly over the last five years. And the interesting thing about that tweet is that the one immediately before it is about a discovery that I had made about the family of a former student. I had found out a couple of years ago that this particular kid had been locked up for thirteen years (minimum) for armed robbery. Yesterday I discovered that his little brother, who I never had in class but I knew, has been convicted of murder and was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

My student, as it turns out, was also sentenced as an adult. This school shooter, 15 years old, is also going to be tried as an adult.

This kid who, either the day of or the day before the shooting, wrote “The voices won’t stop. Help me.” on a note, a note that led to him receiving no help of any kind. The kid whose parents bought him a semiautomatic handgun for Christmas four days before he used it to kill four people. The kid whose parents are such subhuman trash that upon finding out they were being charged as accessories to their son’s murders, went on the lam and attempted to flee the country.

Imagine that. Imagine that your child is charged with murder and your reaction is to leave him behind and run.

And as angry as I am with his parents, I’m even angrier with the school officials at Oxford High School. Their most important job is to keep their students safe. That responsibility extends to the shooter as well as the other students in the school. The very first thing that should have happened upon this not being discovered is this kid being brought to the attention of mental health professionals and social workers– the first fucking thing, even before notifying the parents. I’m seeing that his mother and father resisted removing him from school. That’s where the “protect everyone else” thing kicks in– yes, you are going to take your son to get some help, and if you refuse to do so, he is not entering this building again. I have not been in this exact situation before but I have been in some that are very close, and schools are absolutely within their rights to refuse to allow a child back on campus until a psych evaluation has taken place. And when a student combines hearing voices with violent imagery and an explicit request for help, it is absolutely criminal on the part of the parents and the administration of Oxford High School that he was allowed to remain on campus.

This is unforgivable. It is a dereliction of responsibility at the highest level and it led directly to four dead kids.

I don’t know what to do with a fifteen-year-old who murders. Part of me is screaming for vengeance the same way it might be had a fully capable adult performed the killings. Part of me is still trying to hold onto the scrap of me that can still see humanity in those who perform inhumane acts. And ultimately as the person who pulled the trigger, the greatest responsibility falls upon him. But the failure of every adult in this young man’s life cannot be passed over. The parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter; bury them under the jail and let their names never be spoken again.

But it should not end there. Early reports in situations like this are always wrong in some way; it may turn out that my understanding of what happened is flawed in some critical way. But if the events unfolded according to the timeline I’m currently aware of, all of the adults who had a responsibility to keep this child and those around him safe should face consequences for their actions. All of them.

Not tonight

Today has been a festering shitfest of a day, and I’m done. Just done.