Sandy Hook: An essay, and some links that should be shared.

I’ve been trying to think of something to write here since the horrific violence that exploded in Newtown, a community only 15 minutes away from mine, on Friday. I’ve tried to think of something meaningful to add to the conversations about the tragedy that took the lives of 20 children, their educators, a mother and a violently troubled youth, but almost everything I’ve wanted to write has just seemed like an addition to the online noise that has surrounded the shootings.

Should I write about my friends who live in Newtown? I know many Newtowners; they are my fellow alums and my former teachers. They are my former students. They are my friends. Their children have lost their own friends now, and the pain of those parents as they cope with the grief of their  children is palpable.

Should I write about the media? I’ve been an education reporter, which often means covering tragedies involving the young.  If I were still in my old job, I would have been on the ground in Newtown, as some of my former co-workers are. It’s a thankless, horrible job they are doing, because as much as we thirst for information about a horror when we are nowhere near it, we resent the intrusion of the press when they are in our own backyards to supply the information demanded by the rest of the country. Don’t think the reporters aren’t affected by metabolizing and processing all the awful details so that the public can read them. My worst days were spent writing about the deaths of children, and I never covered anything as terrible as this.

Should I write about all the parents who have been answering tough questions all weekend? Now must be a hard time to be a parent. I admit that it’s selfish of me to have been grateful since Friday that I have no children, and that I’ve been spared the pain of that anxiety.

Should I write about politics? About mental health? About gun control? Surely enough noise is being made about all of that without me adding my own uninformed and unorganized opinions to the fray.

All I can do is acknowledge the tragedy and my reaction to it, and pass on to some of the things I’ve seen and read that matter:

First, a fund to donate to. I have this (indirectly) from a school administrator who recommends this as a legitimate donation site. And of course it is the United Way: Sandy Hook School Support Fund
UPDATE: Here is another fund, set up by the Sandy Hook Community members. This was shared with me by a Facebook friend who vouches for its legitimacy.
UPDATE: If you wish to make a donation in memory of a victim, the Newtown Patch today posted a list of the charities chosen by some of the victims’ families.

If you haven’t read “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” yet, you should. It’s a powerful and well-written essay about the state of mental health care in our country, and about the effect of a mentally ill child on a caregiver.

As, a follow-up, it’s helpful to read “I am Adam Lanza’s Psychiatrist.”

I haven’t organized my thoughts on gun control completely but Talking Points Memo offered a thought-provoking post on the subject a few days ago.

So that’s it, for now. Go. Live life. Grieve. Respect the grief of others. Acknowledge the validity of other people’s pain and work, and don’t take out the frustration we all feel on people who are just as stricken you are. That’s all I’ve got.

The biological time bomb.

When I was younger, I didn’t believe in a biological clock. It seemed incredible that I would ever desperately want children.

Don’t get me wrong – I think I’ve always expected that at some point in the future I’d probably have kids, but I never actively desired them. And in many ways, I still don’t. The idea of having kids is terrifying on quite a few levels, actually. For one thing, I think I’ve mentioned that I worry a lot. Having small humans to worry about would make me a neurotic wreck. For another, I have a weak stomach and kids do nasty things. And then there’s the fact that I have a hard time communicating with people under the age of seven.

So I was pretty shocked about a year and a half ago when my brain started ticking like a time bomb. This state gives new meaning to the phrase “of two minds.” My rational brain doesn’t want children;  it wants to continue living its current rock star lifestyle. Meanwhile, there’s this weird primal voice in my brain that’s just howling for children. I smack it down, but it has weird ways of fighting back. I get strangely emotional when I see baby clothes. Holding an infant sends me into a pheromone-induced haze. The only thing that snaps me out of it is a child howling.

None of this has been helped by the fact that my doctor told me last year that my childbearing days are trickling away. I was 31 at the time. I was celebrating the fact that my 30s were the new, improved 20s and this old guy was telling me that I have a dusty uterus!

Evolution is a bitch. But so is karma. Because I find that some people simply don’t believe in biological clocks. And men I’ve talked to – one of whom was a medical student – seem to believe that the biological clock is a social construct. Oh dear – I used to think that too.

In the meantime, two good things have come of this. The first is the realization that the biological clock will eventually go away. Either I will age out of it or I will have a kid. The second good thing? Thanks to my doctor’s remarks, I now have a great name for an all-female country-western band. Click below, on “continue reading,” for a look at our first album cover. (Apologies to those who don’t see a page break and are just getting an image.) Continue reading