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.