Real-Life Reactions to Tragedy and Cute Pictures of Baby Meerkats

I’m one of those people who is totally calm in the midst of a disaster.

Run away sailboat? No problem. I’ll concoct a plan and row the dingy.

Bus crash? Easy. I’ll get people to relax with the plethora of calming strategies I’ve learned over the years.

Bee sting? Bloody nose? Bad bicycle crash? Simple. Walk or limp calmly into the house or nearest location with a first aid kit and fix myself up. I’ve been locked in a garage with a mad hornet and not cried.

Death? Cancer? Alright. People need some comforting, I’m on it.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly a good thing. The gravity or sadness of the situation never hits me until later. For right now, I’m numb and pragmatic. It’s easy to be the calm one when other people are freaking out. It’ll just hit me later. Maybe a day from now or a week. It might even be a month or a year. But it’ll slam into me with the force of an eighteen wheeler carrying elephants, and I’ll breakdown. There will be tears and moping, just like everyone else the day of the incident.

And in a weird way, I feel tremendously guilty about this. I’m not supposed to be hit with adrenaline and start thinking of solutions when someone dies or gets cancer. I’m not supposed to think, Okay, it’s go time. Let’s do this. I’m supposed to mourn. This is the time for all the dramatics I seem to waste on stupid things like essays and airplanes. But no, that’s not the way my brain works. It’s never that I don’t care–I do tremendously– I’m just not showing it yet. Just give me some time. But for right now, could you use a cup of tea?

I’m sorry this is so scatterbrained tonight. We just learned that my maternal grandmother has bone cancer, and I’ve been busy collecting pictures of baby meerkats to show my mother and looking up trains to Florida.

I thought you all could do with some baby meerkat cuteness, too.

Aren’t their little, pink mouthes adorable. It makes me think of how Maxwell Perkins and his siblings looked as kittens when they had just been discovered by my cousin, abandoned in a hail storm in a boat by their feral mother. (I should tell the Max story at some point. It’s quite good. It involves benevolent pittbulls and bunk-beds.)

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

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Two Thoughts for Monday

One:

Tomorrow, I am skipping school and going into the city with the seniors in the Executive and Judicial branch of our government small learning community. I’m giddy with excitement. So giddy that I’ve already picked out an outfit and packed my bag. It’s going to be great. Just great.

To commemorate this excellent happening, I’ve decided to make a Thoughts From Places video. The Vlogbrothers make these sorts of videos whenever they go traveling, and I just love them. They film bits and pieces of what they see and do and tell a beautiful story about it. Here are two of my favorites.

What ensued after this video is an amazing story that I will share with you another day.

The quote, “what if a child’s pool were enough to imprison you?” fascinates me.

The prospect of this project is terribly exciting.

Two:

At around ten-thirty last night, I got a tweet sent to my phone from Audrey that said that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Naturally, I made a mad dash for my parents’ room that involved missing a step on the stairs and making a tremendous bang as my right foot and knee smashed into the treads. Skidding down the hall and through the door, I announced, rather yelled, the news. They looked at me and blinked as I tossed my phone to my dad and ran to grab my laptop. A minute later, my dad and I were standing in front of the TV as the news anchors confirmed it.

I opened up my Twitter feed and just sat there pressing refresh over and over and over again. It felt impossibly shocking. Then, the White House announced that Obama would be giving a speech soon, and I turned on the New York Times’ live feed as my hands shook.

My dad went back upstairs, and I wrote my blog post, half muddled in disbelief. Obama spoke, and my friends and I rejoiced when he said, “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.”

I turned off all the lights, curled up on my bed, went back to reading Twitter. Karen Kavitt, one of my favorite graphic designers, wrote, “It’s amazing how connected you can feel to the human population through Twitter when news breaks, even if you’re sitting alone in your room.” And it really was true. I wasn’t alone.

I wondered how it must have felt to receive similar news in the time before computers. Would I have called all of my friends to see what they thought, or would everyone just wait to talk until the next day and the arrival of the newspapers? My parents have seen both sides of the spectrum, and sometimes, I wish that I had their perspective. The dichotomy must be spectacular.

The Uncultured Project, one of my favorite charities, tweeted that Bin Laden had been killed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was sort of fitting. But it did feel rather odd that we were commemorating the deaths of thousands with another death. I really do wish that he could have been captured and made to understand the vast amounts of hurt he created. I desperately want him to feel remorse. I don’t want to fight violence with more violence, but I recognize that this was the way that it had to go. He never would have gone peaceably.

When I checked my phone after school, I saw that John Green had tweeted, “Like many people, I feel like celebrating. Remember this feeling. It is human and can help us understand when others express bloodlust.”

And while I do understand the importance of empathy and can validate others’ joy, I still feel caught. It’s horrible to celebrate a death, no matter how awful the person was. However, Bin Laden’s death also can be viewed as retribution for 9/11 and all the other atrosities committed by al Qaeda.

I don’t think that I’ll ever sort out how I should react to this event. And that’s okay. It really is. It would be worse to spring towards either end of the dialectic without acknowledging the truth of the other. Besides, I’m not alone. I know many prople are in the same tangled mess of emotions as me, and there’s never anything wrong with little confusion.

Though on a very practical note, I do hope that this event can help Obama get reelected. I love him so much.

Vampire Cats

Yesterday, like all Wednesdays, I watched the new Vlogbrothers video.

 

In this video, at 1:53, John Green mentions Vampire Cats. Vampire cats? I thought, I know a thing or two about Vampire Cats. In fact, I own a Vampire Cat!

So folks, with many regrets, I must say goodbye. I have loved having my blood in my body and not in the stomach of a Vampire Cat, but things are drawing to a close. As for my final wishes, please refer to the first line of John Keat’s last Will and Testament.

On Breathing Too Quickly, Crying, and Freaking-Out

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with sleeping lately. Ever since Miles died in his sleep, I’m scared that the same will happen to me. I made the doctor who is monitoring my anorexia spend extra time checking my heart a few weeks ago, but the knowledge that my heart is perfectly healthy hasn’t helped the anxiety.

For the past week and a half I have had a panic attack every night. Sometimes, like last weekend, it has lead to extreme detachment. Other times, it leads to me being convinced that I have died. But mostly, I’m sure that if I go to sleep and therefore loose consciencousness, I’ll die.

Logical? No.

Easy for people around me to deal with? No.

Enjoyable? You’re funny.

Remember this post, The Medication Adventures Continue? Well, my mother discovered that if I take the medication at eight, I am knocked out by ten. While this has helped me get more sleep, it hasn’t stopped the anxiety, as proven by yesterday’s attack when I attempted to walk out of the house while crying, making weird noises, flailing my hands, and marching. (I know that this makes me sound deranged. I swear that I am not. I’m quite normal most of the time.)

Here’s to hoping that tonight is better. I mean, it has to improve at some point, right?

Mourning, Silence, Competitions, and Complete and Utter Exhaustion

I don’t feel like writing anything substantial today. In fact, I don’t feel like doing anything at all. Here’s why:

  1. Miles, the boy I talked about in On Being the Only Girl, died on Tuesday morning.
  2. Today, I went to his funeral.
  3. I haven’t slept for two days.
  4. States for our government and politics competition is tomorrow.
  5. I am entirely worn out.
  6. My eyes are still puffy from crying.
  7. I just want to lie in bed and read Big Girls Don’t Cry until I fall asleep.