I just had the pleasure of being interviewed for an awesome podcast (Writer 2.0, if you’re curious. It’s my friend A.C. Fuller’s show and it’s fantastic listening for anyone with an interest in writing) and learned a few important things from the experience:
- I fidget when I’m nervous and no one can see me. I fidget a LOT. I did the interview from Wes’s desk and I swear I was like a color guard baton twirler with one of his pens. I must have spun that thing around my fingers the entire thirty minutes we spent talking.
- After an interview, you will spend the hour afterward replaying every question you were asked. During this time, you will come up with at least a dozen far better responses that would have made you sound like a total rock star. These answers are, of course, completely impossible to formulate on the spot.
- A good interviewer makes a big difference. I was lucky, A.C. Fuller is excellent at what he does and was very easy to talk to.
- You should come up with a snappy description of your upcoming book BEFORE the interview. Duh, Erika. Learn from my mistakes, friends, and be awesome.
Nonetheless, it was a super fun experience. I had a blast, and can’t wait for the episode to go live next month. I’ll post links when it goes live so you can check it out!
A long, long time ago, I was a teenager. I stayed up late, I ate at Red Robin a LOT, and I played very loud music on my very lovely clarinet* for hours every day. I could watch horror movies with my friends, I LOVED Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books, and I had only just discovered alternative rock music. I didn’t think I’d ever have kids, mostly because I thought I would suck at being a mother. I thought I’d get my master’s and be a therapist for the rest of my life.
Obviously, life turned out a bit different than I thought it would.
What interests me the most is that somewhere between graduation and parenthood, I lost the ability to stomach horror in any form. Movies, books, even spooky songs. They all affect me now in a way they never did before.
I remember seeing the original Saw movie in the theater with a bunch of guy friends. We had a blast! Now, though, I can’t imagine anything worse than being forced to fill my brain with any of those images.
Wes and I recently gave the show Hannibal a try, thinking it might be worth a shot thanks to my lifelong love of Thomas Harris’s books. We made it six episodes before I had no choice but to cry off and ask Wes if he’d be averse to stopping the show. It’s a gory, horrific show and, while the characters had started growing on me, I just couldn’t get the images out of my head. Walking down the dark hall to go help one of my kids became skin-crawlingly terrifying. Turning off the light to go to sleep filled my room with unseen phantoms waiting to hurt me. I suddenly felt unsafe in my quiet suburban neighborhood, thinking there was an insane psychopath lying in wait just around the corner.
Wes can watch scary movies and, as soon as the TV is gone, so are the images. I don’t know why, but they linger in my head and jump out at inopportune times. I have no idea how I was able to do this kind of thing in my youth, or what changed that now I can’t. All I know is, I’m now a huge wuss. My head in imprintable like carbon paper and I have to be careful what I watch.
After all, how am I supposed to comfort my kids when they have nightmares if I can’t even assure myself there aren’t monsters out there?
*Anyone who knows clarinets well will know this is a joke. Clarinets are among the more quiet instruments in a band, largely thanks to their small bells, which are pointed right at the ground. This might not be the case with professional musicians, but I remember a few times in high school where our whole section of clarinets could barely be heard over the other, louder sections.
If you’ve been anywhere near a media outlet recently, I’m sure you’ve heard that there was a school shooting in Marysville north of Seattle this morning. Two kids will never hug their parents again, several more are gravely wounded in the hospital.
There’s no parent who hears that kind of news and doesn’t immediately ache for those parents who have to endure the loss of their children. All parents live every day knowing that a part of their heart is walking around out there somewhere, climbing too high on monkey bars or riding their bikes off the sidewalk. To be a parent is to love courageously, because having children makes you vulnerable. You want to make their worlds safe for them, but the older your kids get, the more you realize that the world is not a safe place. Not for them, not for anybody.
It’s full of wonderful things and dangerous things, wonderful and dangerous people, and every imaginable combination in between. Every parent knows this, and yet we still bundle our children off to school every morning anyway and hope for nothing more than to have the people in their lives confirm our suspicion about the best in people.
I think in a situation like this one, where the tragedy has struck so close to home and is yet one more heartbreak in the wake of too, too many others, the temptation is to get angry. Anger is powerful, it feels so much better than sorrow. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I spent most of my teenage years feeling angry, because when you’re vulnerable and hurt, anger at least makes you feel somewhat powerful again.
Angry people, who have seen too many crying children and sobbing parents on news broadcasts that delight in monetizing suffering, cry out for a solution. They want someone to do something, to stem the tide of this anger that seems, so perplexingly, to be directed at children who should never have to know that kind of fear.
If I can, in my small, quiet corner of the Internet, speak any truth into the void, it would be that the most powerful thing any of us can ever do is to treat other people with kindness. I know this seems weak. What can kindness do against a handgun? But tragedies like these are never just one big boulder rolling down a mountain. They’re avalanches, where the weight of too many disappointments and hurts builds on itself until the momentum is too great and something integral is lost.
I have no idea who the shooter was, and I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know a single thing about that person. Instead, I want to treat every person I cross paths with as though that person is one bad day away from losing hope. I want to be kind, I want to be helpful. I want to reach out and show that person that despite what the news would have all of us believe, there is good in people and safety if you know where to look.
You can’t affect what others do. You can’t change someone’s mind and you can’t make someone do what you would do. But, you can be nice. You can be generous. You can be the one good example in ten bad ones in a person’s life.
That’s all you can do. That’s all any of us can do. Arguing about gun control or mental health procedures is all beside the point, because the point is, life is precious but some people have lost sight of that. To the detriment of all, I think.
So, to echo my friend Summer, “Hug your children today. Tell them how much you love them. Hug them with all your might. And pray for those who can’t hug theirs again.”
Go be kind. Be a good example. That’s all we can do. That, and hope that it’s enough.
As you may or may not know, I live in Seattle, which is home to the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, which was pretty exciting to be a part of. Seahawks fans popped up everywhere, spectators at CenturyLink Field broke decibel records by being the noisiest fans in the NFL, and every game brought a rush to Seattle that was contagious.
I think I, along with a great many people, fully expected the Seahawks to replicate their success this year. I’m not a football fan, really, but I’m married to one so I have a minor emotional investment in the team’s success. The Seahawks have had an uneven start to the season this year, and now we’re sitting on our second loss in a row. It’s kind of a bummer.
I’ve been interested to see the shift in attitude among the fans I know. When the Hawks are winning game after game, there’s a fierce pride and pleasure in being a fan. After a loss, or now second loss, no one is talking about the Seahawks except to complain about how not-fun it is to watch the games when the Hawks don’t play up to expectations.
Wes and I were talking about Sunday’s game on Saturday, and whether or not Wes would watch it later in the day since the game would be on while we were at church. He said that if the Hawks lost, he might not even want to watch the game.
Curious, I asked him why. Wasn’t he a fan of the team? I wasn’t judging him, I was just curious. I’d always assumed he thought of himself as a true fan, as opposed to a fair-weather fan who only cheers when the team is winning. I asked him whether my understanding of fandom is incorrect, and he replied that no, it wasn’t, and he decided to watch the game win or lose.
It’s interesting to think of sports team loyalty, isn’t it? Especially when it’s not as much fun or as rewarding. I have no idea how fan reactions affect professional football players. I have no idea why a team can play well one week and then be completely uninspired the next week. There’s a ton I don’t know about how the symbiotic fan/team relationship works.
All I can suppose, however, is that if you can call yourself a fan, that seems like a pretty big commitment to the team, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it mean you believe in the team, no matter what? So, then, shouldn’t fans be trying to cheer the team up after a loss? Organizing some kind of encouraging hashtag or something to let the team know they’re still awesome and people still believe in them?
I feel like that’s how I’d want to behave if I were a fan. Then again, what do I know? I barely know what a non-pastry turnover is, so I’m far from an authority on these matters. You probably shouldn’t listen to me.