V is for...


For the letter V, I have invited my friend and Goucher College classmate to write a wee bit about vanishing.  Carrie knows a lot about this subject as she is the author of we is got him (The Overlook Press, 2011), the narrative nonfiction account of the first recorded ransom kidnapping in American history.  Not only is Carrie  a kick butt writer and researcher, she has been a wonderful support person for me.  (Writers sometimes need cheerleaders, and on occasion, Carrie waves the pom-poms for me when I want to throw in the towel.)
So, without further babbling on my part, here's Carrie...
Photo pulled from philly.com

Our collective pulse rises when we hear about a missing child. We are desensitized, many of us, to news of crimes against adults. But word of a missing child – anybody’s child – brings us pain. Why else do we look away from the faces posted on bulletin boards, containers or telephone poles?
When we see the word “Missing” on a flyer, we know that a picture will haunt us if we choose to look. Because a disappearance isn’t a death – it could be, but it might not be. Fiction is full of characters whose disappearances involve pilgrimages and quests for truth and justice. But as much as our culture is obsessed with the intersection of fantasy and reality, we know that sometimes the Dark Lord wins. Fearing the worst, we try our best to believe in fairy godmothers.
Faith in life, however, doesn’t offer the closure that death does. In 2001, a judge gave Stanley Patz that closure when he declared his son Etan, missing since 1979, legally dead. The re-emergence of Etan’s story in the press this week has sparked renewed interest in his family, who live in the same SoHo neighborhood as they did when their little boy disappeared. Eleven years after a judge pronounced Etan Patz legally dead, reporters are asking his parents to comment on new investigative leads. It seems to me that such public interest threatens any closure that the family has found. But that’s really none of my business, is it? Certainly the Patzes are defined by more than Etan’s death and stronger than society’s narrative gives them credit for.
What is my concern is my response to Etan’s legacy, the faces below signs of the “Missing.” If I vanish before their pictures, I am denying them my observations, my prayers, my faith in a closure to their stories.

Thanks Carrie!
Typically it is seven years before a missing person can legally be pronounced dead.  You can read about that here.
Questions?  Comments?  
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H is for...

Psyche!  This post is totally not about the Hunger Games, even though the book (and yes even the movie) is all about DEATH.  Instead, I'm going to try my darndest to kind of incorporate the Hunger Games into a long drawn out metaphor about what it's like to be a writer.  

If you're a writer, you're used to sitting alone at your computer sharpening the weapons in your writer's toolbox.  Sometimes, you think you're getting pretty good at this writing thing.  At least that's what your Mom tells you, but she doesn't count. You're hungry to see if  your skills are really that stellar, so you venture out into the world to shoot a squirrel.  

Wait a second.  I take that back. You don't kill a squirrel because that would be senseless and cruel, unless you plan on eating it and I don't know, squirrel meat just sounds kind of yucky.  Instead, you take your coffee stained, wrinkled pages to your trusty writer's group or you send your manuscript to a trusted friend to see what they think about your supposedly mad writing skills.

There is a long pause.  Sometimes it starts out with a vague "that was interesting" comment and then you hear the dreaded words that no writer ever wants to hear, "Primrose Everdeen!"  I mean, "BUT."  And there's always a but.  Why?  Because writing is subjective.  Some people think the Twilight books are the cat's pajamas and I think they're...well, um, uniquely different, but that's another story.

Okay, so let's say there's is a reaping and you volunteer your story because your younger sister's story is kind of weak. And you meet Lenny Kravitz, I mean this cool person that you really like and she gives you a writer's hat and convinces you that you're going to nail this one and be victorious in this game.  So you submit.

After hitting send, you run off into the forest to get as far away from the other writers as you can and you wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  And just when you're about to give up, a balloon drops from the sky and says, "Congratulations.  We have whittled down all the entries to the top forty and yours is one of them.  We'll let you know soon. Thanks for your patience."

So for the first time in a long time you've got hope and hope is good. But then you realize you're going to have to kill Peeta to be the victor in this game of publication.  And who wants to kill Peeta?  

I certainly don't want to kill Peeta.  

But it's all for naught because you get rejected from this book, so you contemplate eating some poison berries for like a second and then you realize you don't have to do anything that rash because you and Peeta can both win.

So what's the moral of this story?  There are several. You can't win if you don't play the game.  Don't kill the people who help you along the way.  In fact, prop them up and support them in any way you can. And whatever you do, don't give up.  This writing game is a bitch, but lucky for us, there can be more than one victor.  Even luckier, it's not televised.