APRIL IS IN MY MISTRESS’ FACE: RUMINATIONS ON APRIL AND TRAGEDY

I wrote this post 6 years ago, almost to the day. I was trying to process the Virginia Tech Massacre and ended up writing about the month of April. I originally posted it on my graduate school community forum in response to someone named Patrick’s post about tragedies in April. I’m re-posting it here with no edits. Maybe it will help me process what happened in Boston yesterday, even though they are very different. I should add that thankfully I am currently not as dispirited as I was after the Virginia Tech Massacre, for whatever reason. Maybe because I’m not also trying to finish my thesis.

4-23-07
I keep putting off posting on the forum because I’m finishing up my thesis
this week, but I really need to talk about the news events that have
happened in the past week. Maybe it will help me work. I keep using my
writing breaks to read more about the Virginia Tech massacre. This is not
healthy, but it often happens with a horrific event that you keep reading
about it and watching TV footage of it over and over and over, maybe
because you don’t know how else to deal with it.

Perhaps I’ll deal with it by analyzing the month of April. Patrick
brought up the fact that April seems to be a central time for weird and
horrible events. I think there really is something to this. T.S. Eliot
wrote in The Waste Land that “April is the cruellest month.”

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
~The Burial of the Dead, 1-4

In April I am always expecting things to be better than they actually are.
I expect spring to come and it never does (this is our first nice weekend
and it’s already the last week of the month). I expect that this change
in the weather is going to make me happier but it most often doesn’t.
There’s this image of April that’s so far from the reality of it, that
when I actually experience April, I’m disappointed, and sometimes
depressed. Spring finally does come though, and then summer, and I forget
that April was such a downer, only to be unpleasantly surprised when it
comes around again.

I also think that April affects students especially. If you are in a
school year, you’re nearing the end, but you’re not quite done. It’s that
“almost” feeling that might cause unrest in many people. I remember
hating Junior year of both high school and college. We were so close to
being done, but not quite done. One more year. That’s how it kind of
feels in April. We’re almost done, but not quite done. One more month.

Perhaps others experience this disappointment and depression and it leads
them to do crazy things. This is just a theory, mind you. I’ve done no
conclusive study. And of course, not everyone is lead to violence in
April. But it is strange that Columbine and the VT massacre are so close
to each other in the calendar.

Now that I got that analysis out of my brain, perhaps I can return to my
writing. It’s so hard with these thoughts of helplessness in a world with
so much horror. Besides the massacre at Virginia Tech, a 23-year-old
Columbia Journalism student was raped and tortured for 19 hours in her
apartment and left for dead.

Lately it seems that there are too many horrible things in the world right
now. I tell myself that art and writing is a way to deal with horrible
tragedy, but then I read another news article for Earth Day about global
warming and how in a hundred years the earth is going to like,
self-destruct. I don’t know how I can work to better the world through
art if our world will not even be around for much longer. It’s like that
line from Annie Hall in which Woody Allen’s character as a child won’t do
his homework because the universe is expanding. “What’s the Point?” he
says.

Maybe I’m just stressed. Maybe I should stop reading the news.

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