A Guide to Apathy in the Face of Tragedy

  1. Remember that apathy is a coping mechanism.
  2. Eat all the chocolate.
  3. In the house. All the chocolate that exists in the house.
  4. Don’t go out to buy more chocolate if it is raining.
  5. If it is not raining, cuddle your cat, your dog, your fish (the fishbowl, don’t take the fish out), or your stuffed animal. Then go out and get more chocolate.
  6. Once you’ve eaten enough chocolate to make you throw up, let loose. Try to aim at the toilet bowl but if that doesn’t work, any surface is fine. Maybe even better. More memorable.
  7. Vomited chocolate looks remarkably like old blood. Brown and sticky and vaguely metallic in your mouth.
  8. Remember that chocolate is a coping mechanism.
  9. Look at the chocolate you threw up. Think of it as blood.
  10. Feel the pain in your stomach. In your throat. The pounding in your head. Imagine that after hours of dancing. Keel over. Pretend you’ve been shot.
  11. Realize that unless you go out and try it, you will never approximate what getting shot is like.
  12. Stop blaming other people.
  13. It’s all your fault.
  14. The apathy.
  15. The tiredness.
  16. The knowledge that you should be sad.
  17. The intellectual response that is being appalled yet functional.
  18. Remember that it is all.
  19. Your.
  20. Fault.
  21. Not the shooting.
  22. Only the aftermath.
  23. Try to imagine a loved one.
  24. Anyone.
  25. Your mom.
  26. Your dog.
  27. The fish.
  28. Picture them getting brutally murdered.
  29. If you feel something, let yourself cry. You’ve accessed it. The place you’ve been hiding all this time.
  30. If you feel nothing, find a box of pins. Or paperclips that you can bend and make pointy.
  31. Insert the pins, the pointy paperclips, anything sharp, into your eyeballs.
  32. See the truth.
  33. See why you’re unable to feel.
  34. Think of your history with violence.
  35. Think of how you’ve learned to be blase.
  36. Because you’ve had to.
  37. Or you’d always be scared.
  38. Afraid.
  39. Terrified.
  40. Remember you used to live this way.
  41. Remember you’re not useful this way.
  42. Remember you are giving into the oppressor when you are not useful.
  43. Remember.
  44. Remember.
  45. Never forget.
  46. Remember.
  47. That is the only way for you, apathetic slug that you are, to feel something.
  48. Cerebrally.
  49. Intellectually.
  50. Until you die a little inside. It’ll happen eventually.
  51. When it does, forgive yourself.
  52. Not too much.
  53. Just enough to keep going.
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How I Deal With Things

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It sounded like fireworks, first. I thought it was maybe fireworks, like maybe one of the big kids brought them to school when they wasn’t supposed to. We’re not allowed to bring things like that to school. We’re not even supposed to have fireworks at all, but one time me and Adam and Jake and Hamed, we all had fireworks and we tried to light them but they were bust because they were wet. Adam got them from his big brother, but his big brother musta wet them before giving them to us. I bet he thought it was really funny.

So I didn’t know why there was fireworks at school. But it didn’t sound exactly like fireworks because there wasn’t that after bit. And there was a bit of other noise, like kids yelling and stuff. But I don’t know if I really heard that or not because Mom and Dad said that I might be imagining some stuff. I don’t know, I don’t really get it.
Anyway, Miss Anna, that’s our teacher, she got really angry when she heard the firework sounds. Popping noises, that’s how I heard other people talk about it. Popping sounds. So when she heard them, she got angry. And she told us all to be very quiet, but she didn’t yell it, like she sometimes does. I don’t know why, but we all did. We got quiet. I was kinda scared of her, I think. Because she looked seriouser than she did other times. I guess she wasn’t angry, I guess she was worried. I asked Mom about that and Mom said she wasn’t angry. Just worried. Everyone was worried. We were so worried, that’s what everyone keeps saying. Mom and Dad were outside when we ran out after everything, and they both hugged me and said we were so worried. I still didn’t understand why but the sirens hurt my eyes so I put my head into Dad’s stomach and he thought I was crying. I’m not crying, I told him, but I know he didn’t believe me and that’s when I got real mad and didn’t talk to him for a while. He always thinks I’m crying when I’m not. Just cause he cries all the time. I don’t have to cry all the time too.
Miss Anna first told us to get under our desks after the popping noises and then she did something she tells us never to do. She answered her phone. It was buzzing, not ringing, but we could all hear it, just like she can hear it if we try to play games with the sound off. She always says she has really sensy tev ears, I don’t know what she means, but I guess it means she knows when you’re using your phone even when you shouldn’t be.
She whispered into the phone instead of talking into to and I didn’t know how anyone could hear her on the other side because when I try to whisper to Mom on the phone she always says speak up. Then Miss Ann got down on the floor with us and I started to giggle a little because, well, it was funny. And Adam laughed too because he was next to me and he saw it was funny too. Mom told me after that it was okay that I laughed because I didn’t know what was happening and then it’s okay to laugh. But I still don’t really now so maybe it’s still okay to laugh.
But I guess it’s not okay to laugh because when I tried to laugh with some woman who had really nice red hair and was standing near Mom at the meeting where we saw the President, Mom told me to hush up. Sometimes she tells me to speak up and sometimes she tells me to hush up. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do then. Dad hugged me tightly when we saw the President speak. I know there’s a big P in President because Miss Anna taught us that last week in school.
There isn’t any school now. I just stay at home with Mom who isn’t going to work and Dad comes home from the shop for lunch and we all eat together. Which is really nice. But Mom keeps rubbing my hair a lot and she doesn’t let me watch anything on tv except for DVDs. And I want to watch something on the Disney channel but she keeps saying no, because she can’t see the news again. And then she cries. I still don’t really get why. I asked if it was about the fireworks at school and she looked confused, and so I said that popping noises and she asked where I heard about that. I didn’t want to tell her that I can’t sleep so good and that I hear her and Dad watching the news late at night, so I didn’t tell her. I said I just heard it somewhere. She said yes baby, it’s about that. And then she said thank god and she hugged me again. Parents are weird sometimes.

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Photo / Alexandre Laurin

[Note: Photo has no direct affiliation to this post and is being used for artistic purposes only]