Hi! My name is Svetlana and I am from Ukraine. This is about your article "Call Mrs. Fix-it." I can not stress enough how angry I was reading it! How dare you compare tragedy in Chernobyl and your stupid washing machine? Do you know how many people died in there? How many children were born with birth defects? Children with cancer and leukemia waiting for their turn to die?It was a much bigger tragedy than 911. Why don't you compare your washing machine to what happened on September 11? Shame on you! Or you just mention Chernobyl to show off (Hey, I know what it is! Do you?) What is your biggest problemhouse selling?
(edited for spelling and punctuationyou can read the original in the comments section of this post).
I was sixteen years old and standing in Mr. Gregory's room waiting for math class to begin when I heard about Chernobyl. I remember feeling sick with fear. I remember wondering how many people had died and would die. It was, and remains, horrifying.
Ironically, I scolded my husband for comparing something to a "tsunami" just the other day. People invoke "holocaust" and "Nazi" just as casually, and I have no doubt that before long, September 11 will find its way into the vernacular as a metaphor for miniscule inconveniences. I don't know what the half-life is for human trauma, at what point the reference becomes dilute enough for the culture to re-ingest it without harm, maybe even heal from a hair of the dog that bit; the homeopathy of words.
When I read your comment, I thought, maybe I should have compared it to a meltdown instead, kept it generic, something a writer should avoid (I almost added, "like the plague"). A good writer has to reach past "tree" and grab "sycamore," past "bird" and pick up "crow."
Sometimes we overreach.
I am sorry if my metaphor caused pain. I did not mean to be insensitive to others' suffering. As for my biggest problems, I do not write about them here. But I don't see how the unavoidable fact that somebody, somewhere, is having a better or worse experience, cancels out one's own.
I'm curious to know what the rest of you think.
Labels: the writing life