Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I need to blog more. I do. I miss it. And I don't want this blog to just be monthly letters to my baby. It would be nice if we also had some record of the stuff going on between the 24th of one month and the 24th of the next month, you know?

And there is stuff going on, but a lot of it is stuff that I can't really talk about here, and that pisses me off, and also I hate it when people go on about Unbloggable Things, and really, everything is fine, Callum is great and Torsten and I are great and things are good. But some of the non-baby details of our lives are things I don't really want to get into at the moment, but those are the same things that are on my mind a lot of the time, and therefore... silence.

Plus there are things going on in the world, and I don't really want to discuss my reaction to the Osama bin Laden thing in part because everyone's reactions seem to have turned into finger-pointing about everyone else's reactions, and I feel like we have now reached a point where if I say that my reaction was X, it will feel to people whose reactions were more like Y or Z like I am saying that X is the right reaction and Y and Z are the wrong reactions. And I don't feel that way. And I also don't fully know what my own reaction is. Suffice it to say that I have mixed feelings on a lot of counts. And I imagine that most other people do too.

You know, on September 11 I was in France. I had just moved there two weeks prior, I didn't really speak French yet, and because of the time difference the events of that day unfolded at three o'clock in the afternoon for me instead of first thing in the morning the way they did for most Americans, and really, the time of day isn't important but in my mind it seems important because that afternoon, the amount of the day that had already gone by, the classes I'd already gone through at school, the amount of sunlight that was shining when one of my French classmates came up to me in the school courtyard and tried to explain to me what had happened, with limited success because I didn't really speak French yet... all of those things are very intertwined with my memories of that day. Afternoon. Sun. Late in the daytime. A whole day of not knowing, already gone by, while in the US the day had barely started.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent but my point is, it happened when I was in France and I didn't get home after that for another nine months and when I got home things had changed drastically and I was startled at what felt like a very sudden change to me. And I sort of missed the more laid-back attitude of the French people I'd been surrounded with during the initial aftermath. I guess it felt, somehow, like there was more listening happening in France, and more talking happening in the US, and it was weird to go from one to the other. I liked the listening. I was there, listening. We were all listening, in France. Talking too, of course. But also listening.

And now, it's almost 10 years later and the President of the United States addresses the nation, the world really, to say that Osama bin Laden has been killed, and the reactions everywhere are varied in style but all quite intense. Torsten and I watched the news for awhile on Sunday night, I read some reactions on Twitter, and then we went to bed. Then yesterday morning I logged onto Facebook and at the top of my news feed was a comment from my French host brother which, loosely translated, read, "Obama says justice has been done. But is death really justice?"

A valid question, not too far off from some of my own thoughts on the topic... but the comments on the question, oh my. Nobody actually answered the question, or tried to. Instead, it turned into a discussion about whether bin Laden has actually been killed. The consensus was that he has not, that he continues to elude everyone's grasp, that this was a stunt for Obama's reelection campaign, that the burial at sea was nothing more than tossing the body into the ocean before anyone has a chance to notice that it isn't actually bin Laden's body, that Americans are a bunch of liars and always have been.

I know, I know, everyone posts ridiculous things on Facebook, we're all exposed to it, we should just block the wackos from our news feed and move on with our lives. But these weren't the wackos. These were the listeners from 10 years ago, now making absurd and cruel statements without any real awareness of what they're talking about.

I guess right now they aren't listeners anymore. They've morphed into talkers. But I'm still here, I'm still listening. I might be their lone American Facebook friend, but I am still there, reading what they have to say and cringing over it. The words aren't falling on a void. At least... not completely.

I'm here. I'm listening. And I don't love everything I'm hearing. But I don't necessarily want to respond to it, either. Sometimes it's easier to just choose not to engage. And therefore... silence.


  1. I love this, Jess. Very well said.

  2. Were your parents relieved that you were in France (when it seemed like any part of the U.S. might be attacked next), or were they more worried having you so far away?

  3. Yuck on bin Laden discussions. My FB news feed made my blood pressure rise with all the mention of it yesterday so I pretty much disconnected from the internets at that point. I'm like you, I don't know what I feel.

    I am thinking of you....I hope your things you do not want to talk about turn out in the best way possible.

  4. I miss your daily posting, too. But we all know what it is like becoming a parent and how it changes everything.

    You know what I would like to know about when you have a moment? What springtime is like in Colorado. Whether any plans for your backyard are coming to fruition. That kind of stuff.

  5. I've been running the opposite direction of any bin Laden discussion. I feel mostly out of step with the greater national reaction to it (although it's not like I would KNOW, since I am sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting LA LA LA anytime it's mentioned). I like this post, though. I miss your blogging. I'm also ready for spring. You could write about that. How it would be nice to have a warm day here, for once, or maybe even a stretch of warm days.

    And I hope that your unbloggable stuff resolves itself.

  6. I've heard people doubting that osama was killed, as well, and was surprised that it came up so quickly. We are a very cynical people. Hope things get better for you.

  7. Swistle: You know, I'm not totally sure of the answer to that question. I'm pretty sure that if anything, they were probably glad that I was not in the U.S. I don't think they worried about me being far away, per se. But there were some anti-Semitic violent incidents in France in 2001, which already had my mom worried, and I'm sure that September 11 didn't make her feel any better about that.

  8. Right. Well said. My reaction to all of it (as I ineloquently tried to say in my blog) was fear. Sort of a PTSD reaction, actually - I was shaking and sick over it. I don't know why; I didn't know anyone who died. But I'm nodding at what you said, that no one is listening right now. Maybe that's the scary part.

    Miss your voice but so glad to know you're happy and well!

  9. I don't know. I understand the sentiment and I like it. But think of my home country Germany. people were silent there too and look what happened in the mid 1920s. And then the loud ones became louder and the silent ones became more silent and more scared until it got to the point where they didn't know who to trust or talk to anymore because if they did they would vanish.

    I don't engage all wackos on Facebook either because it's not always worth my time, but I am not "officially" doing silence...if somebody is too crazy, I feel pretty happy telling them ;)

  10. My reaction was jubulation. First I sat in my bedroom and cried a good thirty minutes- for all the senseless killing. For all the people who died. For all the kids who grew up without parents because he wanted to force his religious ideals on us. I barely consider him to be human. I kept hearing that on the radio this week "well but he's human" ... "well, his life was worth value". I'm REALLY sorry but I don't agree. He was less than human and he didn't care about anyone else's humanity. So I don't care about his.

    After I was done crying, I just hooted and hollered and ran around my house. I didn't post on FB or Twitter and I didn't even blog about it. I don't force my opinions on people. But I am H.A.P.P.Y. happy .... thrilled, elated.

  11. Ah, google ate my comment. What I was going to say is that I am still not sure how I feel about the bin Laden situation. I don't want to see pictures; but I feel weird about celebrating or people celebrating a death.

    On silence; Listening is good. But talking when you have something to say is also good. Miss your posting.

  12. I had to leave FB for a few days. I just couldn't take it.

  13. Hope everything is going okay!

    I have tried to ignore the cheering on FB, but it's hard. I too have problems with the fact that a lot of friends are cheering a death....even if he was a horrible, evil man.

  14. Well said! Totally agree about the finger-pointing nonsense re: Bin Laden.