Military, modern problems, true crime, Virginia

Mass shootings in the United States have become almost banal…

The featured photo was on Facebook last night. There was a time when I would have found it funny, but I have to admit that I was actually a little triggered seeing it… Given all of the gun violence these days, it’s hard for me to laugh at jokes involving weapons, even if the actual joke is about men peeing and missing the toilet. But at the same time, I no longer feel “shock” when I read or hear another story about someone dying due to another person’s hatred, rage, and inability to control their violent impulses.

Yesterday morning, I was reading about the terrible mass shooting incident at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There were many people at the club, there to have a good time watching a drag show. Suddenly, 22 year old Anderson Lee Aldrich burst into the venue and started shooting, eventually killing five people and wounding at least 19 others. He was tackled by Richard Fierro, a man who spent fifteen years as an Army officer and went on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Fierro left the service in 2013, just a few years before he would have been eligible for retirement. I don’t know the circumstances of why he left the military. My guess is that the repeated war zone deployments had a lot to do with it.

On Saturday, November 19th, 45 year old Mr. Fierro had gone to Club Q with his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend, who would sadly perish in the chaos that erupted that night. The family was having a good time watching Fierro’s daughter’s friends perform in a drag show, when Aldrich ruined everyone’s evening with his AR-15. Without a single thought, Fierro leapt out of his seat and charged toward the hulking young man, said to weigh at least 300 pounds and wearing body armor. The combat veteran tackled the gunman, throwing him to the ground as the AR-15 clattered out of his reach. Aldrich pulled out a pistol, which Fierro immediately relieved him of and began beating the shit out of Aldrich with the gun until he was bloody. Another man grabbed the AR-15, while a drag queen stomped on the man with her high heels.

As the wife and the daughter of men who went to war, I have seen what time in a literal war zone can do to a person’s psyche. Fierro went into action because of his training, and because he spent a long time in combat, training himself to go on autopilot when violence erupts. He didn’t think. He simply reacted to the indoctrination that he had to kill or be killed. This is an instinct that never really leaves a person. I saw it in my father, who went to Vietnam and came home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband, Bill, also spent time in Iraq during the war. Fortunately, he wasn’t involved in any war zone violence; he just had to work with a malignant narcissist, which was certainly triggering enough. But there were still some lingering effects from his time downrange. War changes people.

In this case, it was a lucky thing that Mr. Fierro had been to war and had the reflexes and will to take action. He is a genuine hero. However, I know that this incident will traumatize him. He’s not at home enjoying his hero status. I know that all he wanted to do was go out with his family, and have a good time. He never should have had to use those sharply honed war zone skills again. He did enough for his country, having earned two Bronze Stars. And now, he’s going to have to live with the trauma of what happened at the Q Club, where people had just wanted to dance and have a good time. I fear that he’s never going to feel safe again… not that he necessarily did before this tragic incident occurred. I pray that he’s able to access adequate mental health services. I’m sure he’s going to need them.

Bill and I talked about Mr. Fierro over breakfast yesterday, not knowing that today, November 23, 2022, we’d be hearing about another incident. This time, it happened at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. I happen to know Chesapeake, because I grew up about an hour away from there. I have friends who live there now. This morning, my friend Mary Beth posted on Facebook about a shooting in her town… and then I saw the news.

Not to be outdone by Anderson Lee Aldrich, a man believed to be the store manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, opened fire in the store and killed six people and injured more before killing himself. The man who did this has not yet been named, as, at this writing, the crime happened only a few hours ago. It does appear that, at this point, the man acted alone. Naturally, there are a lot of “thoughts and prayers”, which do fuck all to stop the violence. I guess it sounds nice to offer up prayers… but what good are prayers when someone suddenly loses their parent, child, or friend to gun violence?

Leo Kosinski, a spokesman with the Chesapeake Police Department, said “I mean it’s sad, you know we’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday.” As if it wouldn’t be just as sad in the middle of September or March? Okay, I guess a mass shooting does cast a sad pall on the holiday, especially for those who lost loved ones in these horrific attacks. Still, I find that statement kind of shocking in its banality. I think a lot of us are just numb to the violence. I haven’t set foot in the United States in 8 years. I haven’t seen most of my family in the time I’ve been away. You’d think I’d miss being “home”, but home is becoming less recognizable by the year, as more people go off the rails and kill perfect strangers with high powered weapons.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole contingent of people who are hellbent on forcing women to gestate, no matter what. And there’s no shortage of internet based idiots who want to argue– even with board certified OB-GYNs like Mama Doctor Jones– about what constitutes abortion. I ran into one of those idiots last night. She was relentlessly arguing with people about this subject… shaming Mama Doctor Jones for correctly referring to treatment for an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion. That is PRECISELY what it is, by the way. Abortion is not a dirty word. But these folks refuse to understand that, and they want to pass barbaric laws that will KILL women. Or force them to birth babies they aren’t ready to raise… which will lead to a childhood potentially full of poverty and abuse, as well as escalating violence from gun toting right wing nuts. Below is what one idiot posted to Mama Doctor Jones’ Facebook post about treating ectopic pregnancies. She was taking on all comers, berating them for pointing out her lunacy.

Abortion is directly related to the uterus. Literally. Once you started with that lie that treatment for ectopic pregnancy is abortion in order to minimize actual induced abortions, I stopped watching. Do better.

Reading these kinds of moronic comments enrages me… but still, even as angry as I get at people who want to deny freedom of choice to women and spread LIES, I don’t wish for them to be blown away by the gunfire from an AR-15. How is it that the people who claim to value the lives of the unborn so much, are so unwilling to do a fucking thing about the gun toting wackjobs? And they want to send people like my father, my husband, and Richard Fierro into war zones, so that they come back traumatized to the point at which they willingly hurl themselves into violence?

I haven’t even addressed the recent gun violence at the University of Virginia, where three football players were murdered by a former football player who opened fire in a garage. Yeah, I saw the headlines and the photographs of three smiling young Black men, wearing their orange and blue striped neckties. But again… I feel so numb. Because there have been SO MANY shootings. A person in the United States can’t even go to the damned grocery store nowadays without having to worry about being shot! And yet, some folks want to bring more innocent souls into the world, with no plan for supporting them, nurturing them, and protecting them from crazed lunatics with guns, invading churches, movie theaters, nightclubs, schools, and grocery stores.

When did our society become so incredibly hateful and violent? More importantly, WHY are people like this? It’s just so sad. People just seem to hate each other so much now. I kind of wonder if it’s because of social media, to be honest. It’s like we can’t stand to be so exposed to people who are different than we are… and that somehow translates to feeling like murder is the answer.

Anyway… I think I’ll take care of some chores so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving, such as it is celebrated among Americans in Germany.

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dogs, healthcare, music, YouTube

Today’s a big day for Arran…

I’m sorry to report that the cancer is starting to take its toll on Arran. He’s in some pain now, and can’t move as easily as he could a couple of days ago. I went to the vet yesterday and got some pain meds for him. They seem to help, although I still need to give him a boost on the bed, which isn’t pleasant for either of us. He seems to feel better later in the day. Last night, after his second dose of pain medication, he was actually begging and jumping for food, catching it in his mouth. But this morning, it took a couple of hours for him to get going, and he produced a rather disgusting, slimy poop that looked slightly bloody. Sorry, I know it’s gross, but that’s the honest truth of canine cancer.

In any case, at 3:00pm, Arran has his first date with chemo. Hopefully, it will help him feel better for awhile. If not, I figure we’ve lost nothing but the time and some euros. If we don’t do anything, he will die. If we do chemo, he’ll still die, but it might be later. And even though he’s not as perky as he was a week ago, he still puts on appearances. Below are some photos I took last night. Yes… three different photos. I was hoping to catch him with his head cocked. No luck. Arran still looks good for his age, though, cancer or not.

Right now, he’s parked himself behind my chair. I couldn’t get him to eat anything until after a rather low energy walk. But once he had the walk, he was ready to have a pill and some chicken. Last night, he even ate some kibble, which was surprising. That medication must stimulate appetite.

I hope Noyzi stays out of trouble while we’re rendezvousing with the vet. I don’t look forward to being there, and I’m a little nervous about how he’ll take the treatment, especially since I’m alone until tomorrow. But if the medication helps him feel better in the long run, I’m game. Everything I’ve read tells me that the side effects shouldn’t be too terrible– certainly not like what humans on chemo experience. And there’s a very slim chance that he’ll have some kind of catastrophic reaction, but it’s much more likely that at worst, he’ll feel like he already does. Maybe with some puking added…

Anyway, if you have any good vibes to share, I’d appreciate them. This morning, I decided to record a song… one that I’ll probably use when the time comes to make a video (or two) for Arran. I am a realist. I know he doesn’t have long. Even if he didn’t have lymphoma, he’s nearing the end of his time. But we want to see if we can delay the inevitable a bit.

Today’s musical project.

The other day, I ran across a very good article written by a vet from Charlottesville, Virginia whose elderly dog had leukemic lymphoma and got chemo. His dog was diagnosed in summer 2009 and lived an amazing 16 months. The vet who wrote the article explained that age is not a reason not to do chemo, especially when you consider that, for a dog, even a month extra is significant time that they can spend with the people they love. And if some of that time is spent feeling almost normal, it’s certainly worth it to try– if you have the means. We do, for once, have the time and the financial means to do something. And even if the worst happens, it’s still more chemo experience for the veterinarian who will be helping us today. So… we’ve got nothing significant to lose, and potentially more time and love to gain.

I think Arran senses something, too. Before we took our walk, he came over to me and starting licking my leg, looking at me with so much love. I hate cancer so much. But maybe, as my late cousin, Karen, once said, taking care of Arran when he needs it most is a blessing bestowed by God. Karen was a very religious person. I’m not, necessarily, but I did grow up in a musical, religious family… hence today’s musical selection.

Well, it’s time to practice guitar, stir the chili, and steel ourselves for what’s coming in the afternoon. Fingers crossed… Good news is, tomorrow Arran’s favorite person will be home for the weekend. Maybe instead of an Alison Krauss song, I should have recorded “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. 😉

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