On Hearing of the Parkland Shooting

News alerts lit up my phone, one after another, announcing each new round of details on today’s shooting at a high school in Florida, America’s eighteenth school shooting so far in 2018. I worked out this afternoon, mouth agape at the footage the TV news station had on repeat for the duration of my cycling set, tears welling up thinking of the parents about to learn they’d lost a child or spouses a partner, surrounded by strangers going about their lives just as I was. When exactly did we get used to this?

I remembered something I wrote a few years ago, after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Remember that one? Maybe not. Awfully, they start to blur together. Reposting the (admittedly unpolished) reflection here, an attempt at “collage” writing, and which feels, sadly, just as fresh today as it did nearly three years ago:


Local authorities say a 20-year-old male opened fire on Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg in western Oregon…. Douglas County sheriff John Hanlin spoke just a few minutes ago: “At this time, we are reporting and can confirm 10 fatalities in the shooting….”

Me, from the bedroom: “Did you hear about the shooting in Oregon?”

Him, from the next room: “Yeah… Normal.”

Me: “I know. It’s horrible.”

Number of days in 2015 as of October 1: 274

Number of mass shootings* in 2015 as of October 1: 294

*Because someone will inevitably ask. The answer is: 4+, including shooter.

I remember tornado drills as a kid. We shuffled single-file into the locker-lined hallway and curled up side-by-side where the floor met the wall. We clasped our hands together as we did for prayer, then spread those small interwoven fingers across the backs of our necks. Blue plaid jumpers puffed out around our small knelt legs, the boys in navy dockers. We giggled to one another as someone inevitably farted.

I wonder whether the Midwest’s tornado drills or California’s earthquake drills will seem quaint one day, having given way to mass shooting drills. Are there drills for that?

Yes, I learn, by way of a friend’s Facebook post:

Last week, Julian came home to tell me how they practiced a lock-down drill at school. “You know, in case a puppy or a skunk gets loose.” And how he was told if he is in the hall, he would need to go to the bathroom and hide in a stall, squatting on the toilet seat so “the puppy or skunk wouldn’t see his feet.”

Guns, equipped with ammunition at home, per 100 residents, by country (2014):

5. Saudi Arabia: 35
4. Cyprus: 36.1
3. Yemen: 54.8
2. Serbia: 69.7
1. USA: 88.8

Put yourself in the shoes of that mother. The one who has stayed home sick from work for the first time in six years, has slept all day. She sniffles as she turns off the kettle for some tea, turning to answer the sound of the doorbell.

Her slippers shush across the linoleum, quieting at the front door carpet even as the TV yaps reruns in the other room. She sees through the leaded glass panel a dark, uniformed hulk whose head hangs low under his task.

She opens the door, and all breath leaves her.

Google search suggestions as of 10/3 on “ucc shoo…”

ucc shooting
ucc shooting christian
ucc shooting victims
ucc shooting muslims
ucc shop

We are our own best terrorists.

Or—at least—go shopping.

Cry. Light a candle. Hold a vigil. Lower the flags.

Sigh. Make speeches. Be more scared. Buy more guns.

Again, again, again, again, again.

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