Well, this is a week I don’t think anyone will be sorry to see end. The creative writing connection to this whole Virginia Tech tragedy really threw me for a loop for a couple of days. I have a couple of advanced degrees in Creative Writing and I spent almost 7 years teaching undergraduate writing. There’s been a lot written this week about the ubiquity of oddball students, and the difficulty of determining who is odd, and who is dangerous. I never had anyone who was seriously disturbed — just the garden-variety stories about beautiful twins who are model/assassins and who wind up skewered on the same spear, or my favorite, the one about the woman who crashed her car because she was distracted by feeling up her own breasts (written by a guy, of course) or the many many stories about breakups and divorces and young people who don’t know what to do next. There were some stellar moments, of course, the pre-med student, a big football-player kind of guy who wrote a lovely sonnet where he took the cliche that the “eyes are the window to the soul” and used the circulatory system as a metaphor. It was lovely. And a surprise to both of us. Or the undergrad at Davis who had spent her early childhood on the glassmaking islands off Venice, and wrote a lovely reminiscence about running through the glassworks with a pack of cousins. But there were always the spooky students. Every semester, a TA got semi-stalked, or in my PhD program we had trouble with someone in the program stalking another member of the workshop. It happens. And you always wonder what to do.
But what can one do when our mental health system makes it nearly impossible to get help for someone who does not think they need it? Anyone who has ever tried to get help for a relative or friend knows that unless someone makes specific and verifiable threats against another or themselves, well, you can’t get them into an inpaitent situation. And since most insurance companies won’t pay for outpatient care, well, we’re all in danger.
As for gun control — it’s a different issue out here in rural America. There are a lot of guns around, and mostly they’re a danger to their owners. We have the highest suicide rate in the country (long winters, social isolation, guns) but not much problem with people shooting other people. There’s a great discussion going on over at Making Light about this issue that pretty much sums up how I feel about the gun thing.
In other news — the bear got away. There have been reports of a bear down on the other end of town, and since the game warden is pretty sure he’s trapped this bear before, it seems that the sight of the trap caused him to move out of the MH’s neighborhood at least. And although the door being bashed was a bummer, the MH got a gorgeous new door on sale, and it looks great. So, all’s well that ends well on that front — the bear is still out there being a wild bear, the MH has a lovely new door, and we had some minor excitement for a couple of days.