Amanda Gates
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A Musings - October 2015

I remember vividly when it happened. I remember sitting in the basement watching the around-the-clock (or at least it seemed like it – it would be now) coverage of the missing boy from St. Joseph. I was 8 almost 9. We watched Paul Magers and Diana Pierce of Kare 11 follow the story, hoping he’d be found. My brother was at college at St. John’s in St. Joseph - so we heard his perspective of how that little college town changed on Oct. 22, 1989.

Someone local on Twitter said they don’t remember a bigger local news story from their childhood – and I don’t really either. Maybe there was, but honestly nothing has stuck with me like Jacob Wetterling. And his face. The fact that he was basically my age. The ribbons – all the ribbons. And his mom. His amazing mom.

The case resurfaces every few years and you always hope.

When I saw the news yesterday that they had a new person of interest, my heart dropped. Tears sprang to my eyes. When I saw the eerie resemblance between the police sketch and this man’s picture, I wanted to puke. Because even though I don’t know this family, if you have even one ounce of empathy in your body, you want closure for them.

Paul Magers tweeted yesterday, “The #jacobwetterling case was so impactful - I've always personally believed it was a crime that stripped Minnesota of all of its innocence.”

I think that’s the truth.

I actually have to commend my parents because it doesn’t feel like this changed my childhood. I was coming home on the bus alone at age 10. I was riding a bike or walking to my friends’ houses alone around that same age. There were no cell phones, just the promise to call them at work when I got home. When I was in junior high, I was walking the 3-mile loop around our lake by myself. (I liked time to myself.) I had a great, free-range childhood.

Today as a parent? I don’t think I could be that open or that willing or that trusting of the outside world. It’s a fact that for the last 25-30 years, parents have slowly tightened that grip on their kids. It happened so slowly, but it happened. Even if the world is SAFER than it was “back then.”

Believe me, I WANT to be free-range. I do. I’m a rational person; I went to journalism school and understand the FACTS; I’m married to a rocket scientist who was born to look at things rationally; I know that the odds of abduction or other dangerous things happening to my children are slim to none. I know they’re far more in danger driving in my car with me.

I know.

But when you’ve had a story like Jacob’s in your brain since age 8, then add to it TV shows like CSI or SVU, the 24-hour news cycle, Amber Alerts, and most recently all these stories of CPS being called on GOOD parents who ARE free-range… it’s just like, what’s the point? Because when I read these news stories today about this man and what he could’ve have done to multiple boys (or if it wasn’t him, then SOMEONE did) it makes me want to throw up. If a tighter hold on my kids keeps them safe from this awfulness, so be it.

If something bad happens to your kids under your watch, it feels so different than if something bad happens when you weren’t there – but maybe could’ve been?

This is so often why I try to live in a bubble. Whether it’s irresponsible or not to NOT to think about the hardships and disasters and wars and injustices around the world, sometimes that’s just easier, you know? It’s how you can get out of bed in the morning and drop your kids off at places where they stay all day without you. It’s how you let your spouse go off to work in a dangerous profession. It’s how you watch a daughter go off to college… and arm her with mace.

For as long as I’m alive I will shed tears for Jacob. He represents all the pain of all the kids who have had to endure anything like this. He represents our innocence lost, yet also our fight to hold on. 

Posted: Fri, 10/30/2015 - 09:05 |

Inside/Out: I didn’t get a chance to see this in the theater but finally got to watch it this past weekend now that it’s out on Vudu. It’s a sweet story and there are so many things to love about it. I love that it takes place in a girl’s brain. I love that it looks into the complicated parts of the brain, like memory and subconscious and all those things we DO and DON’T remember.

I love the message that we can’t be happy all the time (and I love Joy’s journey to discover this truth) and that we oftentimes need the sadness to make the happiness. I also loved how it visually shows how becoming too sad or too depressed can literally erase the good memories or the happy times from your brain – and how you have to REALLY work to get those back.

Oftentimes in life I feel like a Joy – someone who dances a jig just to make the people around me happy or get out of their funk. But I also know how important it is to be sad and how sadness shapes who you are, too. Great movie.

Wild (movie): I read Wild a while ago, but just recently watched the film. And it was fine. I think Reese Witherspoon gave a good effort to be raw and depressed, but I did not totally buy her as Strayed. The movie seems to just touch on all the messages in the book (and I liked, but didn’t love, the book) but not enough to make it very meaningful. Again, it was fine.

Sonic Highways (series): We love the Foo Fighters in our house, so this was an amazingly enjoyable eight hours. Even if Dave and the band are researching their influences in the eight different cities, you still learn a whole freakin’ lot about music history. I honestly feel it’s a great docuseries that everyone (music buffs) should watch – whether you’re a Foo fan or not. Dave asks good questions and dives deep into some great or unknown parts of music history. I loved the Nashville and New Orleans episodes a ton. Austin comes in a close third.

Sonic Highways the album kicks ass, too.

Veep: Oh my gosh, this show. I consumed the first four seasons as quickly as I could. It is so hilarious, if only for the way it perfectly curses. I’ve watched West Wing, House of Cards and now this and Veep is the perfect in between. It’s perfectly ridiculous, with a bit of West Wing’s sincerity and a bit of House of Cards corruption. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a rock start, and her supporting cast is a dream. I cannot wait for season 5.

Girls: Huh. I may be too old for this show. I watched Sex in the City pretty much as it aired. I think I dug that show so much because the women were older than me, and more glamorous. They also were really good friends to each other. But these Girls? I roll my eyes at them and I find them so self-absorbed; I sometimes want to kick Hannah in the teeth. And Marni. Plus, they’re AWFUL friends to each other. Just awful. That is not how I know friendship.

I fall on the cusp of Gen X and Millennial and I don’t see myself in any of these Girls.

The Comeback: This was a fun way to get back in touch with a ‘Friend.’ Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish is pretty phenomenal. It’s often painful to watch, as she tries to stand up for herself against mean people, and really sad to watch her get screwed over when she’s just trying to make her “comeback.” But there’re many, many funny parts – and it’s an interesting look at how TV is made.

The Martian (book and movie): I quickly read The Martian before we went to see the movie. I really enjoyed the book. It was engaging and pretty thrilling and could keep me on the edge of my seat. I only skimmed a bit at the beginning when there was a lot of technical talk that meant nothing to me.

The movie was also really good. I wondered how they would get his fear and frustration across without being able to use all the book’s swearing, but the movie did a good job. I liked all the actors, too. They fit the parts. There was excitement throughout and lots of humor. I was a little disappointed (as often am with books-to-movies) that certain parts I found important to the story were left out. And also I didn’t love the changes to the ending – but can totally see WHY they would up the excitement factor for the ending of a movie.

Posted: Fri, 10/23/2015 - 10:03 |