Everyone’s always taking photos these days. It’s great. Most of the time.

I take loads. Tons. Mostly because I don’t have my glasses on at the time and end up deleting 75% of them later. Always hoping some actually make the cut.

But there are some photos that are just not worth taking. 

Like when someone crosses over a safety barrier to take a photo by the edge of a cliff.

I read this past week about the Polish couple that plunged to their death from a cliff. In front of their two very young children. It happened in Portugal. Some of the news reports claimed they were taking a “selfie.” I do not know if that is true because I have also read that the children were given the camera to take the photo. 

The fact is that there was a safety barrier that they hopped over to get to the edge of the cliff.

And now their two little children have a picture in the head for the rest of their lives. That they will never be able to delete. 

Reminds me of a recent trip this past summer to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. I was with Annie and two of my cousins. So beautiful but always gets me nervous and thinking. I told Annie (15) beforehand that we were to stay on the path. 

moher1

There were safety barriers in some of the areas. But there were a few folks from Australia (and possibly other places) who hopped over the barrier so they could get some photos. They weren’t exactly on the edge but on a mound of dirt/grass. The problem is that one wrong move or stumble could send someone down the hill and then off the cliff. 

moher2

The photos they were taking were ones with their hands raised in the air like they were falling. Just trying to go for the funny shot with the craggy cliffs and wild ocean in background. There wasn’t anything funny about it. 

My cousin was beside herself and didn’t care who heard her. She was like, “Are they insane?” 

A fellow (friend of the one who was having his photo taken) heard her and said, “He’s absolutely mad.”

The thing of it is this. We all would have felt terrible if the man slipped and fell. The value of life and our fellow human beings and all that.

But we also would have a horrible image in our head for the rest of our lives. Totally not cool. That is what my cousin was upset about this day.

Many people already have pictures that cannot be erased. They don’t need others, who are unnecessarily taking risks, to add more to their mental gallery.

I arrived back in Malaysia the beginning of August. One evening I was driving back home from the city of Kuala Lumpur and realized that I had forgotten (after being in United States and Ireland) what a menace the motorbikes are here. They dart in and out of traffic and they are everywhere! So scary. I am always afraid I will hit one of them.

This particular night I hear the roar of three bikes together passing me on my right. On the highway and going very fast. Three pals from the look of it. 

One was driving his motorcycle on his stomach! Totally prone. I couldn’t believe it. Then the two guys on another bike behind him are taking pictures of him on a mobile phone! Not the driver but the passenger. But still! And the third motorcyclist was just supporting them with laughter.

I found out at lunch yesterday that this was called “planking.” Oh my gosh. I learn something new every day. I was also told that the fellow who had the phone was probably filming it. And making a video.

All I could think of that evening was, “Please God, don’t let them fall and make me run over them on this highway” and “Please don’t let them crash and make me witness it.”  

There really are some photos that are just not worth it. 

No Gauging

What’s wrong with this photo? Besides the fact that I still continue to wear makeup and foundation while nearly sitting on the equator. I should just use house paint to color my face for a more permanent solution but I am afraid that would also drip down my face before it totally dried.

foundation

Half empty? Half full? I don’t have a clue.

The problem with this bottle (turned sideways so I am not promoting nor pushing any particular brand on you) is that I have no idea when it will run out. I can’t even pull off the top portion and have a peek. So, every day it is a game of beauty Russian roulette.

Why do they do this?

I know I could (and should) have another bottle waiting in the wings. But still.

Here’s another example. In Malaysia, we have big gas canisters that connect to your kitchen stove. Mine is actually in the house tucked under a cabinet next to the stove. Not a big fan of having it in the house. And getting whiffs of gas.

Or your outside BBQ grill. Tank is too big to fit under your USA grill and stay hidden. So you have this big, ugly tank hooked up to the outside of the grill. I think it’s the Libra in me. It looks out-of-place and is not pleasing to my eye.

gas

Aesthetics aside, there is NO gauge on any of the gas tanks. It runs out when it runs out. Sure, I could put my back out and try to pick it up and find out if it feels “empty”.

Again, I always need to have a back up. But who wants a bunch of canisters filled with gas hanging around their house? But if you don’t? Then you could be in the middle of a saute and the burner fizzles out. It’s happened to many people.

Is it just me?

Is it a metaphor? Of life? We just don’t know when we will “run out” and we should keep on hoping that there’s still some left?

I feel terrible kvetching about such small things. But not really. It’s not always the big things that  make us nuts.

moisturize

I think we would all prefer this. Knowing how much is left. Allows us to do a little planning.

Right?

 

 

What Is Wrong?

I have enjoyed my summer. Make no mistake about that. But I also realize I am one of the fortunate ones. Not all have had this luxury.

That is not to say I am not thinking about Syria and the atrocities committed there every single day. I have enough direct family connections enough to feel the pain on a daily basis.

A lot of my free time here in Malaysia consists of helping refugees from that part of the world. It’s not all lunching with the ladies. It’s not always all about me.

Most of these refugees are a result of the Syrian conflict. Mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians. Some displaced two or three times in their lives.

We now have the battle of Gaza. Yes, it could be one of my “blue-eyed” children visiting there that gets caught in the crossfire.

But there are many children that are not visiting and actually live there.

I had a Facebook friend who actually referred to those innocents as collateral damage.

Okay, I hardly ever swear. You can review my posts as proof. And only my closest friends have heard me utter profanity.

I say, “Two words!”

It’s the same people who value human life that are willing to give up those “others” for the greater cause.

Again I say, “Two words!”

I don’t think every Israeli soldier or Israeli person is bad. Nor do I think every American soldier or American citizen is bad. Or British soldier or citizen. Or Palestinian.

But the governments? I have issues with every single one.

I just read a book that mentioned how groups of people who sleep together end up breathing in sync during the night-time hours. Maybe similar to women in close quarters cycling monthly together.

Because our bodies know we are all the same.  It’s our stupid ass minds that forget this.

Now I am back in Malaysia and find out this evening, at a neighbor’s house , that one of the “new” families that we would be welcoming (I am on the welcoming committee) has been killed in the latest Malaysian Airline crash. Downed by some folks who do not value life.

And leave the bodies and belongings to be looted and fester in the sun.

This is the note from the school.

This weekend it was confirmed that a new ISKL family was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Returning to their home country of Malaysia after having lived in Kazakhstan, the Tambi Jiee family of six lost their lives in the crash. A son, Afzal Tambi, was going to be a grade 12 student at ISKL beginning in August.

At Afzal’s previous school in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, Afzal was the President of the Environmental Club, the editor of the yearbook, a member of the Student Council, and a member of the Java Programming Club. He was described as respectful, responsible, and one who would make a positive contribution to his next school. He sounds like a delightful young man whose life, along with his parents and three other siblings, were all tragically cut short.

Our sincerest condolences are extended to their family and friends.

Respectfully,

 

Oh God, I am angry. So angry.

When I was a little girl I believed that if I was good and prayed for the rest of the world that it could make some difference.

Oh God, I am angry. So angry.

 

Love

We were having breakfast at our Limerick hotel. The lovely young waitress heard my cousins’ accents and asked them if they were from New York.

They responded affirmatively.

She said, “My Granny and Granda met in New York.”

We smiled because our own grandparents also met and married in New York. Before they headed back to Ireland with their growing family.

None of us would have been sitting in that hotel restaurant if it weren’t for New York.

She told us that her Granny was sent to America to work at the age of fourteen. Must have been so scary. She was the eldest of twelve children and was promised that some of her siblings would follow her.

That didn’t happen. She was living with a cruel aunt who took her earnings. So was totally on her own.

She then met the man who would become her husband. Had some children before returning to Ireland.

The young girl, in her lilting voice, said, “So you see, Granda rescued her, like. And they never, ever would have met in Ireland. Granny was from Clare and Granda was from Sligo.”

She continued in an awed tone, “So, when I think of love. I think of that.”

Just the way she said it made my eyes fill up.

I just love stories with happy endings.

 

Triggers

Every day I read about the increasing gun violence in America. It truly amazes me that these shootings take place on a daily basis. Gosh, when is it enough?

When I worked in Dallas there was a guy named Don. Worked in the mailroom and then was promoted to management. Can’t remember if it was a temporary position. It was a time of growth in this particular office and we were filling spots everywhere.

Don would poke his head in my office and say good morning with a huge smile. Some folks thought he was sucking up to management. I didn’t care. Would rather have someone making an effort to stop and be friendly. More flies with honey than vinegar as the saying goes.

On cold days he would sometimes laugh and say he thought of me on the way to work. Because he once heard me kvetching about companies on the main road that did not turn off their automatic water sprinklers. In cold, RAINY weather! It was like a death slide into work.

Anyway, it is always nice to hear that you will forever be associated with automatic sprinklers.

Don’s wife worked in the office as a customer service representative. His son was also employed by the company.

The marriage went south. He and his wife split up. Not sure why. But it happens.

He kept company with one of our female employees. And I heard rumors that he also kept company with a crack pipe. Not sure when exactly these two things came into play. But rumors were rampant in an office that size so I didn’t pay too much attention.

So who knows what came first? The chicken or the crack pipe?

What I do know is this. One October morning in 1997 a group of us were heading to the Texas State Fair for the day. Under the guise of team building.

But before we left the office that morning we learned that Don was dead.

The girl he had been spending time with shot him. More than once. She then turned the gun on herself. Ending her life also. That’s what was reported to us. I suppose based on blood splattered walls and who was left with the smoking gun in hand.

Terrible.

I had no idea that this young woman carried a gun in her purse. And I heard, after this horrible thing, that she had. Quite frankly, the thought wouldn’t have even occurred to me back then.

My job in Dallas was managing attendance and disability. And many times disciplining and terminating employees who showed no improvement.

This gal with the gun was not assigned to me. She reported to my friend, Kim, who was in the office right next door to me. They met on more than one occasion. Kim might have even fired her. My memory fails me there.

But what  has never left my memory is the image of an unstable, young blond girl sitting in my friend’s office with a loaded handgun concealed in her purse.

What bothers me still?

Same thing.

Schools, homes, offices, movie theaters, post offices, churches, malls, and routine traffic stops.

So many unsafe places in America. And so many triggers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why?

There’s so much I don’t understand about human beings. But I always try. Being a Libra I can’t help but try to see both sides. Doesn’t always work for me because I just get confused. Because I don’t understand a lot.

I usually get prompted to think about these things or remember incidents after one flash of television news.

Just saw that a Houston man killed two adults, four children (execution style) and was also going after the grandparents. Some type of domestic dispute. He was caught.

Guns. Don’t get me started. But that’s not my point.

Years ago I worked in Dallas. Huge office. About 1,200 employees at the time. We were growing like mad due to smaller offices around the country closing and/or consolidating. Mega-centers being the end result. Anyway, had lots of employees in the building.

There was a young woman. Twenty five years old. Had photos of her little baby girl plastered all over her cubicle. Adorable. Obviously, judging from the many photos, the child was the light of her mother’s life.

Then there was a court case. And her boyfriend was awarded custody of her daughter.

She picked up her two-year old girl from the boyfriend’s parents for a court approved visit. Headed north to the Oklahoma border and checked into a motel. She left early the next morning. Hours later a hotel maid found the little girl’s dead body tucked in the bed.

The mom was rescued after crashing her car into the Red River. She was eventually put in prison.

I remember sitting in my office trying to wrap my head around it. And my friend, Kim said to me, “Mary, you are trying to make sense of it. To figure out the why. You won’t ever make sense of it. Or understand why. And that’s not a bad thing.”

But every time I see something horrible on the news I think about what drives these people to commit such hideous acts. Is it a case of if I can’t have my baby then no one else will? If I can’t have my wife then no one else will? Or the loss of the family unit? Is it the scenarios that they never could have envisioned when they happily said “I do” or when they welcomed a beautiful child into their arms? Is it that most folks will eventually cope with life’s loss and move on but there are others that don’t have any coping mechanism at all?

I don’t know any of the answers. But often wonder why.

 

Not Much Time

Yesterday morning I woke up and one of my first thoughts was, “Oh no! I don’t have much time left!”

I was not referring to my time here in Rhode Island visiting my parents. And I wasn’t thinking I was going to die that day.

But I was thinking that I will be fifty years old in October.

It wasn’t a sense of panic. It was a sense of reality. Which is something I do not always welcome.

Brought on by probably two or three conversations and thoughts the previous evening.

One was a conversation with my Dad about the afterlife. Sitting in a couple of chairs in the backyard. I won’t go into our private conversation about that but will share something that I said.

I said,”We only get the one life. And, gosh, it really is so very, very short. And it’s still okay if the life is good. But what about the people who never experience any good at all in their life on earth? War, abuse, slavery, hunger, violence, poverty, etc. Doesn’t it really stink (I might have said “suck”) for them? Never having a good life. The world is so unfair.”

Then I had a lengthy telephone conversation with my girlfriend that evening. We talked about many things but life and death also popped up during the chat.

And my best friend’s dad who lives a block over from my parents was admitted to the hospital the previous day.

These visits home always prompt thoughts (more than usual) of people I used to work with that have died.

Then, of course, no matter which way I turn in my old neighborhood I see the homes of people who are no longer alive. People that were a part of my daily landscape when I was growing up. Always there.

So, I think all of these thoughts got smooshed around in my head during REM time. And I woke up with the thought that I don’t have much time left.

See, my first fifty years seem to have flown by so quickly. That’s the reality check.

This post is not meant to be a downer. The visit has been great. It’s just that a bunch of similar thoughts converged one evening. It really is a reminder for me that I do have to make sure that I am truly living life and not wasting any time.

Because if I wasted time? That would really stink. And suck.

 

 

 

 

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