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Paws at the Riv

Yesterday, Katie mentioned how Michelle in LA had asked a couple of us to host Paws, a little stuffed dog, for her friend’s first grade kiddo, little Miss N, of Pennsylvania. Katie and I both volunteered and said that maybe somehow we could find away to work it into a cute little blog. Paws arrived in my mailbox in March. Living in the burbs and being so busy, I didn’t have much time to make it downtown to some of the more recognizable Chicago spots, like the Sears Tower (I refuse to call it the Willis Tower, EVER!) or Navy Pier or something like that. Luckily, Frightened Rabbit, one of my favorite bands, was playing a concert in the city that weekend so I stuck Paws in my pocket and took him along as a stowaway. Needless to day, Paws loved them! (They ARE fantastic, you should check them out.) We took a photo outside the Riviera Theater for N’s first grade class. I hoped she liked historic theaters and rock and roll.

Later, Paws enjoyed a classic Chicago Portillo’s hot dog.

Paws and hot dog

I told Paws to remember, ketchup on a hot dog was sacrilege in Chicago. Wiping mustard from his mouth, I think he understood the seriousness of the matter.

After a delightful visit, I filled out the little booklet detailing Paws’ trip to The Windy City and packed him carefully in a bright pink envelope and addressed it to Katie in Boston, his next host. On Tuesday, March 26, I stuck Paws in the mailbox and went back to my computer to write N’s first grade teacher an email saying that he was on his way.

“Hi Miss Wagner!

My name is Jill, and N’s puppy friend Paws visited me in Chicago this week. I’m attaching a photo of Paws at The Riviera Theater where he saw a concert. We ate a lot of hot dogs. I’ve attached two photos for you and N. I’m sending Paws on to Boston now!

Thanks, and have fun!

I went back to my normal, Paws-less life and sort of forgot about him. I forgot to ask Katie if she received him ok and if we should try to coordinate some sort of Paws-related co-blog. I forgot about him completely until Katie’s blog post yesterday.

Two weeks and three days after I stuck Paws in the mail, three people were killed and at least 144 more were injured in the Boston Marathon Bombings.

I was glued to my computer and TV for a solid week until the final bombing suspect was arrested, alive, a near-miracle.

I have been feeling so many feelings. The strongest of which lately is anxiety.

I don’t know exactly why I’ve been so upset. But I am. So upset that I’m having a hard time focusing at work, a hard time sleeping and even (gasp!) eating. It’s not that I feel afraid. I don’t fear that I could be blown up by a terrorist’s bomb while on my way to work or while taking my kid to the park.

It wasn’t fear I felt in 2010 when a man left a backpack with he thought were explosives outside of Wrigley Field during a Dave Matthews Band concert, or in September of last year, when police thwarted another bombing plot downtown. And it wasn’t fear either that I felt when nine days after the Boston Marathon bombings, police arrested an Aurora, IL friend of the September would-be-bomber for allegedly attempting to join an overseas Al-Qaeda group in Syria. It wasn’t fear when just yesterday, Canadian authorities arrested two men accused of planning to carry out an al Qaeda-supported attack against a passenger train traveling between Canada and the United States.

So if not fear, then what? Sadness? Yes. It’s unfathomably sad. The loss of life. Two young women and an eight-year old boy. A baby-faced police officer.

Anger? Yes, anger. A white hot, blinding rage. The kind that fills your every pore, every ounce of flesh and heart, that wants revenge, that wants blood. An eye for an eye. I don’t care what your backstory is, I don’t care your color, your creed, your religion, your philosophy. Right now, I don’t care about geopolitics. As Kevin Cullen so perfectly wrote, “I don’t want to listen to how innocent people bear some responsibility for creating the twisted minds of the Tsarnaev brothers.” I don’t care about anything more then the fact that you killed people, you killed a child, you took away so much from so many, and now we are going to take away you. That is what is right, that is what is just.

I understand that everyone processes things differently. Some move straight to compassion and view the bombers as victims themselves who don’t deserve our hatred. I understand that. And more power to those who find comfort and peace and healing that way.

I myself am just not one of them. At least not yet.

I believe in consequences for actions. Whatever your backstory, there is choice. You can chose good or you can choose bad. If you choose bad, there are consequences. Simple as that.

Simple. Logical. Pragmatic. But these feelings. It’s not fear. It’s not hatred, per se. The only phrase that keeps popping in my head is in Spanish, for some reason. “Estoy harta de todo esto.” I’m fed up with all of this. I’m sick to death with all of this.

It seems we can’t get through a month without some tragedy on a national scale. Or a day (an hour?) without a shooting in my city. I’m so, so tired of it. It physically hurts.

My child is little still. She doesn’t understand any of this. How will I explain it to her when she does? How will I send her out into this world? I think then the fear may be more tangible. No longer just afraid that she might not make friends, or be bullied, or have a hard time with math like her stupid mother, but be shot in her elementary school like in Newtown? I can’t begin to even think of these things, to go down this rabbit hole. I can’t. How would you be able to function if you did?

Because you must function. You must get up each morning and keep going. You must go to work and go to school. You must try to embrace the good. Focus on that. Keep writing. Keep going to concerts. Keep laughing. Keep eating and sleeping as you should. Maybe stop to breathe a little more than before. To stop.

Relax. Breathe.

Keep going. Keep trying.

Give a first-grade girl’s stuffed dog named Paws a kiss goodbye before sending him off again into the world. To Boston. Into danger, without knowing it. And just hope. Hope that he makes it there and back ok.