'I'll be damned,' he said with amazement. 'The Universe disposes of its own evil!'

Jack Kerouac; Dr. Sax

Connecticut, two days out

Recent discovery: an efficient way to shut down a conversation is to somehow work in the phrase “funerals of children.”

Like, if someone asks you, “What kind of things did you cover?” you then say “For the last two days I wrote exclusively about the funerals of children,” and it’s done. Even if you endeavor to keep the emotion out of your voice, even if you exert physical effort to keep tears and tremors at bay. Instant end to discussion.

I’m sorry that is my answer to that question, to most questions right now. I’m sorry because I know it’s an uncomfortable thing to have to respond to.

It’s an uncomfortable thing to do.

But I didn’t go down there expecting to be comfortable. I didn’t go expecting it to be easy. I didn’t go thinking I’d leave without a lasting effect. I didn’t even go knowing that I could do it.

But I went knowing that I had to.

I allowed myself to be repeatedly assigned to writing about the funerals of children—put myself in a position where I had to absorb all the beautiful, magical, innocent things about these kids, only to list them following the phrase “one of 20 children killed in last Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,”—not because I wanted to. But because I had to.

Because those children deserve their stories to be told, their lives to be honored, in a respectful and sensitive way. They deserve that at least.

James, Charlotte, Jessica, Daniel, Caroline, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison deserve that.

I can’t help their families, not really. I can’t ease their pain or bring back their sons and daughters or give them answers. What I could do was make sure the few I had the chance write about didn’t become just names on a list, but were remembered as a future veterinarian, a breakfast sandwich enthusiast, a rescuer of worms on rainy days, an expert shoe-tier and table setter.

And that’s what I did. And that’s why when you ask me what I wrote about, I’m not going to give you a non-answer or tell you about the municipal meeting I covered or the press conference I went to.

That doesn’t matter. These children do. These 20 lives do.

Monroe, Connecticut

As we got in her car tonight, Sarah said to me she was almost glad we were covering a meeting tonight. It’d give a sense of normalcy.

That ended up being the theme of our story, more or less. Normalcy, and how the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School are going to regain it as they resume classes, days after what Monroe Town Council Chairwoman Enid Lipeles called the worst thing to ever happen in America.

Normalcy.

Monroe has a first selectman in addition to a Town Council. I don’t know what those are. But I also don’t know where Monroe is, other than “next to Newtown.”

Sarah talked to one of the town councilors, the lone Republican, while I was interviewing the first selectman in his office. The councilor, he told her how the municipal government there works. She told me later the first selectman is like a town manager, the town council like a board of selectmen.

So that’s how I’m thinking of them, because that’s what Wilmington and Tewksbury have. Normalcy.

The first selectman in Monroe is named Steve. His older daughter went to Assumption College, played soccer there. I’m the same age as his younger daughter.

He told me this while we were talking in his office, talking about the in-progress move of Sandy Hook Elementary School to Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School. He told me the classrooms were being unloaded into moving trucks. One classroom into one truck, so the rooms could be recreated in the new school, for a sense of normalcy.

He gestured to a poster on his wall, to a bookcase next to it. Told me that if that picture were on that wall in Sandy Hook, it would be on that same wall in Chalk Hill. The bookcase, too. Everything. The backpacks that got left behind when they—

And then he choked up, couldn’t finish. Started talking about how he hadn’t choked up with CNN, with any of the networks earlier that day, but had for the first time at tonight’s meeting.

When I looked up from my notebook, he noticed tears in my eyes. He called me out with a smile: “Not you, too!”

"It was the backpacks."

Look down or something, he said back, because we can’t look at each other. It’ll only be worse.

Then he told me I reminded him of his daughter.

I get the feeling a lot of people are seeing reflections of their children in unfamiliar and unexpected faces this week.

I’m seeing children everywhere, myself.

In the pool at the hotel where our satellite newsroom is set up. In booths in the Panera where Sarah and I filed our story from tonight. In photos of funerals. In my mind’s eye after a media briefing outside the Monroe Police Department, while the fire marshal tells me about crews retrofitting the middle school for use by younger students.

Things you’d never think of. Things these people shouldn’t have to think of. The handrails at Chalk Hill are designed for middle schoolers. The gaps between the railings are too big for the hands of younger kids.

I have this image in my head of tiny hands grasping frantically at the railings, flailing, reaching for the safety and security of something to hold onto. Reaching for normalcy.

I hope all those kids have a bigger, adult-size hand to hold.

kittydothedishes:

it’s weird how random people try to discount musicians by saying “you will be irrelevant in x years” as like a scary threat

like once you start making music that’s the only thing you can do and if blogs stop posting about you a lot that means you can’t make music anymore and you get locked in a crate and the “relevant” people mail you to the island bjork lives on and she nails you to her wall and forces you to watch in agony as she stays relevant forever

The media-watchers who’ve pontificated about the Phoenix’s transformation from newspaper to magazine have generally missed the real story entirely. If anyone wants to tell it, give me a call, I’ll be happy to walk you through it. Here’s the lede: A weekly magazine is an elegant solution to a series of problems – financial, aesthetic, journalistic — that weekly newspapers cannot solve, and almost all of those problems stem from the internet being a better delivery vehicle for news and advertising than cheap newsprint.

An open letter in which Carly Carioli, longtime writer and editor at the Boston Phoenix, angrily and emphatically refutes Salon’s Goodbye, Alt-Weeklies story. (via futurejournalismproject)

phx meets fjp!!

But the personal was becoming societal for Wallace, and in his cosmology, TV was an enormous force. It had already remade narrative by breaking stories up into short, palatable, and reassuring segments. Everything from our myths to our relationships was succumbing to this great dispenser of pabulum.

From Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story, D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace.