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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Guns Are Not Culture

I barely paid attention to the news story about the shooting at Santa Monica College the other week.  Here we go again, I thought.  And then I went about my usual routine.

It's actually a horrible tragedy.  But you find yourself thinking that the numbers are the real reflection of just how tragic.  If only five people died, well, that's not as many as in 9/11, or at the movie theatre shooting a couple of years back.   Not as many, so not as important.

Which is the real tragedy.  Since then, that story has faded from the news.

Last month when my husband and I were in Las Vegas, I noticed that one of the "tours" you could take, according to a pamphlet, was to a shooting range.  They even have pink guns for the girls, someone told me.  Pink guns?  One day we set out to find the old Welcome To Las Vegas sign and saw about 30 military guys in uniform, complete with their automatic weapons, running toward the sign.  At first I thought something bad was up, of course.  But when I saw the smiles on their faces, I realized that they were just heading over to the Vegas sign en masse to have their picture taken.  Yikes.  One of the last "tricks" in the Penn & Teller show we saw in Vegas involved the firing of guns in the theatre.  That was the only thing that turned me off in a show that was otherwise very entertaining.

I guess I will never understand what some call "gun culture".  Kind of an oxymoron, really.  I can only imagine, however, that if you were brought up around guns, being without them would be equally as strange.  There's a kind of casualness that comes from people who own them and use them that makes me uncomfortable;  an indifference in the shrug of their shoulders.  So what?  And that casualness is why the U.S. will continue to lose 32 people PER DAY to a homicide by firearms.

"I wouldn't mind firing a gun", someone said to me recently.  She was just curious as to what the experience would be like.  I can kind of understand that too.  But I would be leery of even that temptation.  What if it made me less determined to be against them?  What if I actually enjoyed the experience? That's what would scare me most.

Guns are bad, they are just bad.  They were made to kill, and how could anything...ANYTHING be good about that?  Then I read this story today, about a 5-year-old girl in New Orleans:

"A preliminary investigation indicates the child was home alone and had somehow come into contact with a .38 revolver and accidentally shot herself in the head," police said in their statement."

Well, that is pretty much the only argument you need to make about not having guns.

IJ


Saturday, June 22, 2013

On Writing

Grade 4, Miss Logan...do you see me? (Answer at bottom of this post)

For some strange reason, at the age of 9 years, in the spring of 1967, I was gripped with emotion when our (Canada's) Governor General, Georges Vanier, died.  To this day, I can't tell you why.  I didn't particularly know what a Governor General was, nor did I understand what his position or title meant.  But he died, and that somehow moved me.

So I did something I'd never done before, but have done many times since;  I wrote about it.  And I handed it in to my teacher, Miss Logan.  It wasn't an assignment, I just handed it in.   In fact, I started to write about things whenever they struck me, and each time I would put it on my dear teacher's desk.

Miss Logan must have been the most patient, understanding teacher in the universe to take the time to read my stories and encourage me.  She had fiery red hair and was of Scottish decent, and I thought she was so beautiful.  I remember the big thing in Grade 4 was to have autograph books, and to collect friend's and teacher's autographs.  I must have made or bought ten different ones over that year, and each time I did, I asked for Miss Logan's autograph.  By the last one, she finally smiled and said "Again?", and signed for the umpteenth time.  "Keep on writing stories, Irene", she wrote.

My stories eventually morphed into songs which became my way of explaining and expressing the world around me to myself, and they were my therapy, especially after my mother died.  In 1996 when I first discovered the internet, I started writing about songwriting too.  My thought at the time was that if I wanted to draw attention to my newly-hatched website, I needed to create content.  So I created a songwriting tips page that still exists to this day.  I've changed the design a few times over the years, and when I came across this new word "blogging" a couple of years back, I realized how it could save me a lot of time if I didn't have to continuously update each and every article I had written every time I wanted to change the look or add more links.   So the songwriting tips have turned into a blog.

Since then, I have created a guitar blog too, and of course, this one.  I guess I just like writing, but I never seem to have enough time.

Although I still like to write about songwriting and guitar playing, my real joy is this blog, the one you're reading right now.  That's because it can be about anything that strikes me, not just limited to one subject.  My grandfather and my father both sat down to write their memoirs, mostly in an informal fashion, long-hand and relatively short in length.  My grandfather's memoir was especially short...the most he said about his mother was that she had "bad legs"!  I think the point was to put to paper the important dates and events of his life before he died.  My father fleshed his out a little more and added some personal perspectives.  I think mine, when I finally get to it, will be especially wordy :-).  But I see this blog as being part of that;  a way of having my thoughts and my experiences out there for my kids to read long after I'm gone.

I don't consider myself a particularly good writer, it's just that I like to do it.  There are far better and more popular blogs out there.  There are even songwriting tips blogs, many, many of them now.  When I came across another blog the other day that had a title something like "Writing About Songwriting", I wanted to tell the young person who owned it that she wasn't the first to do that.  But why bother?  Good for her for finding a way to express herself about something she loves.   
 
There is a Facebook group I am a member of, full of people who grew up in Richmond, BC, in Canada.  It's been fun to come into contact with some old friends, remembering our childhood and the way things used to be in our old neighbourhoods and schools.  So it struck me that I should try to find out whatever happened to Miss Logan.  Sadly, I discovered that she had passed away a few years back.  But, for what it's worth, I just want to publicly thank her for encouraging me to write. 

'Cause I'm still doing it, and I can't imagine that I'll ever stop.  
Well, you know, until I have no choice :-).

IJ

(oh, I'm in the second row from the front, third in from the right :-))