I wasn’t sure I was going to come back this time.
My brain’s always so fried this time of year, but I had a whole slew of posts lined up and ready to go (well, in my head at least) and was all ready to have a productive, if predictable December. Blogging about comics (maybe finishing A Naked Singularity) and just kinda coasting through the rest of the year.
And then on December 11th, there was a shooting at the mall I work at.
I came out of the back room around 2:20. Maybe twenty seconds later, I heard what sounded like a series of electrical shorts. Maybe a clumsy electrician dropping a pack of light bulbs. Somewhere between eight and ten pops, echoing from down the way.
Just seconds after that, I heard screaming and people were running. A couple of employees and I herded some customers into the receiving area.
I then received a call on my store phone telling me to go close the gates to the mall. I’m somewhat ashamed that someone had to tell me, but I’m also sane enough to realize that I was in a bit of a panic at that point.
Gates closed, we made sure the store was clear and retreated to the break room for just under two hours while we waited for the police to clear the mall itself.
Two people were killed that day. In the three weeks since the shooting, I haven’t been over to where it happened in the food court. In fact, I’ve only been out into the mall just once. Having sat waiting for the mall gates to close, I feel as if I’ve spent enough time in those areas for a bit.
I pretty much dropped most of what I was doing with my life at that point. I stopped reading the couple of novels I was reading, I stopped work on crafting a Christmas gift for my wife, and I generally found myself to be more tired and irritable. Especially when customers were back in the store and complaining about the long lines, or long waits for returns.
But, thanks to an excellent team of co-workers, I’ve successfully navigated another holiday season. At this point, I’m hoping it’ll be my last retail holiday season, but… I’m not making any decisions at the moment.
In the interim, my reading has been two things: Matt Fraction’s fantastic Invincible Iron Man comic (seriously, I love this!) and another revisit to the world of The Dreaming in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
Why Sandman? Well, in addition to it being the first long-form, on-going comic series that I loved… I always turn to it for good quotes. Usually, I’ll find something in it (or in one of the two Death miniseries) that will help me with whatever I’m struggling with. That and I can count on finding something new that I missed before. A panel of art, a word or phrase… sometimes bits of foreshadowing, or callbacks that I didn’t recognize the last time I read it.
But there’s always something.
So I decided… I’m going to read Sandman again… but this time, in whatever order I come to it. So I pulled the second volume of Absolute Sandman off the shelf and read the “Game of You” arc first. I’ve loved this arc the most since I first read the series. In fact, just before the following picture was taken, I thanked Neil for writing it and told him it was my favorite arc in the entirety of Sandman.
So Sandman it is. I’ve learned that there’s a TON of people at my work who love Gaiman himself and Sandman more specifically. I’ve learned that the Absolute copies of the series are just as heavy as I remember them… and just as great. I still love the recoloring! I’ve learned that there’s always more to learn about just about anything…
I’ve also learned that there are going to be triggers for me. Putting up, or down, the mall gates. Seeing groups of ambulances congregated in the same places. Hearing fireworks outside of the house…
I may have learned more. Right now I’m content with the feeling that things are getting better in my head. I feel more well aligned than I have in more than a month. I feel more positive about my life, my body, and my soul. Most of all…I feel ready to take a short stroll around the mall…
Thanks Neil! For Sandman, American Gods… pretty much everything. Thank you for helping me in getting my mind refocused and back to as normal as I can.
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