And as Mr. Rogers' mother taught him, "Look for the helpers." The Orlando community has been absolutely amazing and awash in helpers this week. The media has covered it thoroughly so I won't, but I will throw out a couple of comments:
Certain factions of the national political world [hint: their names are invariably followed with (R)] have been working very, very hard to make the Pulse attack an attack on "all Americans," while simultaneously denying that gay people deserve rights, because that's how they roll. Yet there are so many, many better targets to attack "America" than a small gay club in South Orlando. If the shooter wanted to attack America he could have gone to any mall, or any chain restaurant, or...fill in the blank of any random place where people are gathered. Right from the beginning I was wondering why that place, and bit by bit the story is coming out, and it's much more homegrown nutjob than organized terrorism. But there's some political benefit in marketing it as "An Attack on America!" for some factions, and that minimizes and marginalizes the victims yet again. My take, until I'm proven wrong: This was an attack by a homophobic, possibly self-loathing and deeply closeted self-radicalized nutjob with some last minute terrorism claim slapped on like sloppy canned frosting. It was personal, not organized, not part of any bigger plan. But it's an awesome all-American gun story that he was able to buy the gun that did it from a Muslim-hating Obama-hating ex New York cop gun store owner who didn't see any reason NOT to sell it to him, right? Because it is our God-given right to own a weapon that serves no useful purpose other than killing many people very fast, because FREEDOM!!! And anyone who dares to question why anybody not planning a massacre needs to own these guns will be visited by The Gunsplainer, with the NRA Slogan Reciters Chorus shouting down attempts to ask "Why?"
I watched this drama unfold on a friend's Facebook page, a friend who is more conservative than I am, who asked the simple question, "So, tell me why anyone needs to own a gun that can do that?" and all virutal hell broke loose, with gunsplaining and mansplaining and recitations of NRA slogans, and I was tempted to wade in, but I did not engage. I will aim my energy at positive political movements, not Facebook. As my daughter put it so well, this week led to weeding assholes off one's Facebook feed. Engaging them does nothing but raise the blood pressure. I don't bother.
I prefer to focus on how the blood bank had to turn away donors and how people just showed up at the blood banks where the lines were around the block with snacks and water and sunscreen for the people waiting to donate. Look for the helpers.
And as someone who snarked about a grown woman being terrified of alligators just a couple of weeks ago, before this awful alligator attack - I regret the timing of my snark, but stand by the reality of it. The awful killing of that toddler at the Grand Floridian was truly a freak event. Disney is a place that reminds you repeatedly to hold onto the handrails on the monorail. Disney freaks out if you trip and fall as you get off a ride, as I did some months back. I actually tripped over my own feet and knew it as soon as I did it, and did a hard and un-glamorous pratfall on the exit ramp. I was more worried about breaking my camera than my hip, and I got up laughing at my own clumsiness and rubbing my bruised hip, to the shocked and worried faces of the ride attendants rushing over to me, asking if I needed first aid and OMG are you SURE? They were so nice and concerned and are paranoid about safety.
There are alligators on Disney property, because Disney property is HUUGE, and the more remote guest areas are posted with warnings about alligators and snakes. Alligators do wander into guest areas, and if they hang around a trapper comes to deal with it. EVERY resort in Florida has alligators in the neighborhood and all deal with it. Honestly, the place where this happened is one of the last places I'd have expected it. It's a busy area, the resort has plenty of lighting, though the water where this happened was dark. It was a freak, horrible tragedy. It appears that even the alligator was confused, because it dropped the poor kid not far from where it happened after realizing its mistake.
That said, no, you don't have to be terrified of alligators just attacking you on your patio in FL. To put this freak awful event into perspective:
That's a photo of my then 2.5 year old granddaughter in the water at Rock Springs Run. It's a natural body of water in a state park and far, far more wild and natural than the large man-made lagoon where the attack happened. Many, many alligators live in that state park's waters. They have no desire to deal with humans in general, let alone screaming kids, and when that part of the park is open they flee back into the remote areas. People are not natural prey for alligators, and the rare encounters are accidental on both sides.
Every day countless families visit the many natural springs in Florida. My own kids swam at this spring, which is why my son wanted Supergirl to visit. That is a far, far more natural and wild place than the tiny man-made beach on the Seven Seas Lagoon where this child lost his life. And it's summer vacation and tomorrow plenty of kids will be in that natural spring and will be perfectly safe. Families will camp in those state parks and get eaten up with mosquitoes and sweat their asses off and no thank you, not for me, but they won't be in terror of alligator attacks. Alligators aren't just lurking in the water waiting to attack anything larger than a turtle, and they don't climb onto bridges to grab Canadian tourists or anyone else. That's why this was so stunningly awful. The alligator didn't mean to take a child and apparently mistook it for a small animal in the dark, and when it realized its mistake it dropped him, but by then it was too late. And the family is not to blame, because they were standing in the water by a huge resort hotel, not out in the woods, and how the hell could they have imagined this possibility?
So right now people who have never seen this place are armchair prosecuting Disney, or blaming the parents, or just ranting about the DANGER of the state of Florida as a vacation place in general, and I've seen so many opinions about what could have, should have been done, but seriously, this was a horrific freak event. I will say that Disney needs to be much more strict about enforcing not going into the water after dark, anywhere, anytime, but I certainly don't blame this poor family from Nebraska who were unfortunately hit by a tragedy more rare than being hit by lightning.
So. I'm knitting on those log cabin afghans, which are the best meditative knitting I've found since the dishcloth. Delaney was here Saturday and we turned on a movie and I dragged out my knitting, and she asked if the blanket was for her. I told her no, it was for her cousin, but I'll make her one and she can pick out the colors. She was cool with that. Her face when she realized that I was making something for Someone Else was quite a picture for a second, but she's cool. She wants orange in hers, with pink and purple and maybe blue. It will be lively, like her.
Yoga. I browsed You Tube via my Roku looking for free yoga videos, and found: Yoga with Adriene and I LOVE her! She's so laid back, an excellent teacher, and I've signed up to do her 30 day yoga program, complete with encouraging emails. Just thought I'd give her a plug to my vast audience of tens of readers.
And now I'm off to do yoga and then knit. Because it feels good.