right now


Right now, I am sitting on the couch, trying to type out a magazine article on The Virginia Tech massacre that my editor assigned me. This is my first “real” writing piece since the stroke–so I’m feeling a lot of meaning and challenge in this assignment. I’m supposed to write a personal essay, with opinions and my emotional reaction.

What is my opinion on this matter? And will my opinion hold for the next few weeks in the magazine’s monthly issue? They are squeezing this article in to the next issue, and I’ve got until midnight to finish writing it. I’m not a public person wrt my opinions, and so I find myself challenged in that regard, let alone an opinion on something so tragic and unexplained.

It’s hard to muddle through the news, and muddle through my own emotions and thoughts on the matter. Many people are dead for no good reason. And at the center is a shooter we will never really get to know. What do I feel? Shame, anger, sorrow, grief, denial, disbelief. Everything but acceptance and understanding, really.

Around the core set of happenings (people died at the hands of a twenty-three year old gunman) are rumors (the most recent being that Cho Seung-Hui’s parents committed suicide–not verified at all) and emotions and fears and questions and concerns–about race relations, about gun control, about mental health care, about creative writing, even.

It helps, I suppose, to de-personalize the tragedy into social issues. But there are people who survive (or don’t) and struggle without having to kill over thirty people to show the world how angry and pained they are. And here I am again, staring at my manuscript, wondering what meaningful thing I can write.

Right now, I am hearing my doggie whine in her crate, still recuperating after her spinal surgery. While recovering steadily, she is still unsteady on her feet and has occasional bouts of what seem to be sharp pain. Now she she has settled down, I can hear her licking her paws in an act of self-soothing. My other dog is fast asleep to my side.

On the TV, a TiVO’d episode of “House” is on pause, a frozen face on screen. My IM icon is flashing, telling me a friend has IM’d me. My father-in-law, who has come to live with us (hello, open faced sandwich!), is upstairs taking an afternoon nap. The house is utterly quiet, save for the sound of my typing and one anxious dog licking her paws, desperate to soothe herself.

I wonder if I could lick my hands, too, and achieve the same effect.



Filed under Life, Writing

6 responses to “right now

  1. Eric

    If the licking helps, let me know.
    I have to admit that there’s a part of me that somehow just disassociates with this kind of tragedy. I know intellectually its a horrid thing to have happen – really, I know this to be true. But I just can’t find it in myself to feel anything. Perhaps I’m too tired, too wrapped up in my own life, too self-absorbed – but its just not there…

  2. w

    Jade, I think you started something really good with this post, especially in that last line which perfectly captures everything a personal essay of this kind should, and conveys the kind of comfort your readers will be looking for. Please, just keep writing.

  3. How did it go with the essay?

  4. I asked for an extension, with all the new news and new reactions uprooting me on the hour every hour. So it’s due tonight.

    I don’t feel like writing it anymore. This whole thing is plunging me into a deep depression.

  5. I feel for you. I don’t think I could even write a coherent blog post on this topic right now.

  6. and given how daunting i saw the essay, i can only imagine how daunting the Cho family apology statement was to write. my heart goes out to his family….

    The statement by Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of Seung-Hui Cho, on behalf of herself and her family:

    On behalf of our family, we are so deeply sorry for the devastation my brother has caused. No words can express our sadness that 32 innocent people lost their lives this week in such a terrible, senseless tragedy. We are heartbroken.

    We grieve alongside the families, the Virginia Tech community, our State of Virginia, and the rest of the nation. And, the world.

    Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O’Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle, Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

    We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced.

    Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.

    We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn’t know this person.

    We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence.

    He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.

    There is much justified anger and disbelief at what my brother did, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Our family will continue to cooperate fully and do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.

    Our family is so very sorry for my brother’s unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us.

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