Panorama of San Bernardino

Sunday, December 20, 2015

14 lines in 3 stanzas (in honor of the 14 lives lost)

14 lines
By Juanita E. Mantz

I am an Inland Empire Girl (the "IE")
Born in Great Falls, Montana
moved here when I was three
I am a OG 909er
who loves her hometown
I grew up in Ontario,
we called it Onterrible
I live in San Bernardino
I came home after years of running
To LA, Houston, then San Francisco
I came home to find myself
I came home to love myself
I came home to remember
Who I am

I am an Inland Empire Girl
And you can't talk bad about my hometown
Unless you're from here and even
Us old timers need to stop
Because we are beautiful people
of all colors and creeds
from a beautiful place
where orange trees and vineyards once reigned
Where the first McDonalds was built
The county where Beverly Clearly went to college
Nine years ago I came home
to remember all this and
To heal from my father's passing
Now I grieve for my city

I am an Inland Empire Girl
Asking, how should we mourn?
How about we hold our heads high
and vow that tomorrow is another day?
And wrap each other with peace and love
and make our place a better place
There is only this my friends
my fellow Inland Empire friends
There is only here, and now
And we need to remember those lives lost
those precious souls who went too soon
Let's show the world how much they matter,
That our love for our city matters and
that San Bernardino Matters.

Friday, December 4, 2015

An IE Girl In Mourning

I am many things, especially an Inland Empire girl.  It is in my blood.  I was born in Great Falls, Montana but raised in Ontario and I live in unincorporated (outside city limits) San Bernardino.  This was the hardest week since I moved home after my dad's death almost nine years ago.  The week was filled with sadness and tragedy.  Deaths and destruction.  I am in mourning.

It is hard as a memoir writer not to make this deadly shooting about me.  I was supposed to be at Inland Regional Center ("IRC") that day, but my hearing got continued.  I represent people with developmental disabilities and I was reeling with shock when I got the news in court on December 2, 2015 at 11 am.  Our deputy told us someone had shot a number of people at IRC.  They are our sister agency and I work hand in hand with IRC's case workers to craft plans for clients in the criminal justice system.  My first thought was, I hope all my clients are OK.  Later, I found out that no clients were harmed nor any staff.  The Department of Public Health (restaurant inspectors) of San Bernardino was having their holiday party and their ranks were decimated.  So many people killed.  Gone in an instant.

I left work early that day and cried all the way home listening to it all on the radio.  When I got home, I stayed on the couch for hours watching the news.  My husband came home early after he heard me crying on the phone and we sat together, our eyes glued to the television.

Everything was transpiring mere miles away and I kept thinking, is this really happening? I have a close friend who left San Bernardino's Public Health Department months ago and many of her friends are dead or injured.  She could have been there but I am grateful she was not.  It seems selfish to say that, but it's true.  I am so happy she was home with her kids.

There is not much else I can say other than I am still reeling and my community is still reeling. The things that help are my writing and an ice cold Modelo with lime and salt, along with holding my husband's hand and petting my shih-tzus.  There is something about the warmth of touch that comforts me.  I am glad my Dad isn't here to see the world we live in.  Maybe he is playing a game of cards in the heavens above, oblivious to all that is going on down below.  For now, I know what people mean when they say hell is on earth, an earth filled with guns.

But, God only gives you what you can handle and offsets misery with miracles. Tonight, I attended the VONA writing workshop orientation. And, it was there that I saw speckles of light in the darkness, rays of light beckoning me to see the beauty in the world and in others and the possibilities that still exist.  In art, we find our better selves.  And for me, that is enough for now. It has to be.