nancy school

Hey Baby

For @dadharbour, @elevenknope, @stevemossington, and @eggo-my-leggo (and no, it’s not what you think)

August 1987

“Ta-da!” Steve said, jumping cautiously onto the fallen tree.  Jonathan looked at him, then at the creek, then back at him, mouth falling open.

“No.  No way.”

Steve’s shoulders dropped and he pouted.  His puppy dog eyes had nothing on Nancy’s but Jonathan looked away just in case.  There was no way he was changing his mind.  “Why not?”

Jonathan looked at him with wide eyes, gesturing to the tree.  “Because for starters, that tree is going to snap in half and we’re both going to fall into that creek, and I am not going to the hospital just because you want to reenact a scene from Dirty Dancing.”

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Adam Lanza

Date: December 14, 2012

Age: 20

School: Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT

Killed: 27

Wounded: 2

Outcome: Suicide

Though Adam Lanza was bright, he struggled with profound impairments all his life. He barely functioned socially, rarely spoke, could not tolerate being touched, and has periods of total withdrawal in which he became unresponsive. He was hypersensitive to light and sound, and yet he had a blunted sense of pain. Lanza struggled emotionally in academic settings, as a young adult wondered why he was ‘such a loser.’

Lanza’s parents separated in 2001, when he was nine years old. He lived with his mother and maintained contact with his father until 2010. At that point, Mr Lanza had reportedly begun seeing another woman, and Lanza cut off contact with both his father and older brother.

Lanza’s uncle served in the military and then as a police offier. Lanza admired him and was obsessed with the military. He covered the walls of his basement with military posters and played military video games for hours. He even wanted to join the marines. Though his mother took him target shooting, she dissuaded him from applying to the military. Why did he want to join the marines? Perhaps because that would transform him from a nobody into a somebody. As described by reporter Matthew Lysiak, Lanza created an alter ego as his online persona: ‘The skinny and frail teenager chose to create an imposing, bulky, muscle-bound soldier dressed in desert camouflage.’ No one can argue with the manliness of a marine.

Perhaps Lanza’s need to feel powerful was also behind his interest in Satanism. A classmate said that Lanza created a satanic website with ‘the word Devil on it in red gothic- style letters against a black background. It gave me the chills.’ Lanza was also fascinated by mass-murders. A search of his home revealed a remarkable spreadsheet, seven feet by four feet, covered in nine point type, with Lanza’s collection of data about 500 mass murderers.

Lanza, was not merely shy - he struck people as very odd. One person recalled, ‘There was a weirdness about him.’ Another said, ‘I don’t even think withdrawn is the right word. Removed.’ Someone else stated, ‘He was like a ghost.’

In 2005, Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. This is a ‘pervasive developmental disorder’ which is in the same category that includes autism. Though Lanza’s symptoms could be accounted for by PDD, they also could indicate schizophrenia. Alternatively, perhaps as a child he was on the autism spectrum but as an adult went on to develop schizophrenia. His mother suspected that he wasn’t simply autistic, wondering ‘whether her son had outgrown what had been previously diagnosed as borderline autism into something much more extreme.’ Similarly, Lanza’s father father questioned the diagnosis of Asperger’s: ‘I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia.’

As a child, Lanza played the saxophone, performed in theatre, and was active in a technology club in school. As he grew older, however, he withdrew from these activities, and his functioning declined. This deterioration, as well as his profound social impairment and the inability to converse, suggest schizophrenia. Schizophrenics often have ‘poverty of speech,’ meaning they fail to engage in normal conversation and may barely speak at all. Lanza’s periods of withdrawal and non responsiveness may have been catatonic episodes. He also had blunted or flattened emotions, which is another symptom of schizophrenia.

It is not known is Lanza had hallucinations as an adult, though as a child he smelled odours that were not present. Perceiving nonexistent smells constitutes what are called olfactory hallucinations. There is no clear evidence of delusions. 

Without such a document from Lanza, how do we make sense of his attack? He may have sought ‘revenge’ for mistreatment as Sandy Hook, but there is no consensus regarding how much he was picked on. In addition Lanza ‘indicated that he loved school,’ his family remembered his years there as ‘the best times of his life,’ and his father stated, ‘Adam loved Sandy Hook.’

People have speculated that perhaps he was jealous of the students his mother volunteered with at the school. Another possibility is that he felt so impotent that he sought out the only targets he believed he could handle- first graders.

Yet another possibility has to do with Lanza’s enigmatic sexuality. His computer contained ‘materials regarding the topic of pedophilia and advocating rights for pedophiles.’ He also owned a script and a movie that portrayed sexual relationships between children and adults. Was Lanza sexually attracted to children? Was his attack driven by sexual frustration, killing those he desired but could not have?

Even stranger still, Lanza’s computer contained two fictional pieces about having to defend himself against babies who were attacking him. Did he have paranoid delusions about babies and children? Did Lanza murder children as an act of self defence? As early as 5th grade, Lanza cowrote a story about a murderous character who said, ‘I like hurting people…especially children.’

Adapted from ‘School Shooters, Understanding High School, College and Adult Perpetrators’ by Peter Langman.

We need to talk more about grieving Nancy.

Nancy who, for weeks after Will comes back and Barb doesn’t, refuses to sleep in her room because every square inch reminds her of Barb. Even looking in her drawers brings her to her knees, because every item there has a memory to go with it.

Nancy who resents and almost hates Steve for the fact that he was so dismissive and uncaring for Barb, because now she’s gone, her best friend is gone and she’s angry and she breaks things of Steve’s because she feels like Steve broke something of hers. Nancy who can barely stand to look at Steve, because every time she does she can’t unsee the dismissal he had when Barb didn’t come to school.

Nancy who tries to turn to her memories of Barb for comfort. She sits down with Miss Holland and tries to talk through every single memory they have of Barb: the first time Miss Holland saw Barb walking, the times Barb stayed with Nancy on the phone for hours when she’d been grounded and confined to the house, all of the times they’d both been made into better people by her. Nancy who can’t stand to see Barb’s things taken away, and instead quietly comes to the house one day with plastic bags. Miss Holland understands immediately and they sit for hours, sorting through Barb’s things and trying to decide who deserves what. Nancy ends up with Barb’s favorite jewelry, most of her clothes, her perfume bottles (some empty and some full, because Barb collected them) and her spare pair of glasses. Miss Holland keeps the rest, and slowly gets rid of it for closure. Nancy does not.

Nancy who slowly sinks into a depression. She can’t get out of bed half the time. Her grades start to plummet. She barely talks to anyone. She tries to isolate herself in a world of memories and sweaters and empty perfume bottles and lockets. The only routines she does are sitting at her desk, reading through the desk drawer crammed with notes she’s saved from years upon years upon years of history class, trying to see through Barb’s heavy prescription until her head throbs, and then does it some more for good measure, staring at the ceiling above her bed for hours on end while her eyes burn and her head spins. Nancy who barely feels anything besides her self-inflicted punishments for being so careless with something she loved so much.

Nancy who turns to religion for guidance, driving every Saturday morning to the synagogue a town over to go to Shabbat services. Everybody appreciates her presence, this handsome stranger from another town who stands and sits silently, only mouthing the words of the Avoht and the Sh'ma, who says “Barbara Holland” quietly when the Mourners Kaddish ritual of saying the names of someone you are grieving for is done. Nancy who speaks with the rabbi, and isn’t satisfied when told Barb is going to be happy when Nancy is happy, because that’s what true friends do, but still manages to get by better with that thought in mind.

Nancy who gets closure much, much later in life, because she was a stubborn teenager and a stubborn young adult who didn’t want to take any. She wanted to believe Barb was coming back, that Barb was just in vacation somewhere and shes just keeping her belongings safe.

Nancy who’s grieving process is so backwards and forwards and repetitive that eventually, she becomes used to the cycles. She knows that if she wakes up feeling empty, she still has to go to class, even if when she looks at her hands she doesn’t recognize them as her own and she can’t swallow food. She knows that if she’s suddenly feeling disgusted looking at Steve, she needs to leave before she breaks his nose again, and go home and put on some of the records she and Barb used to love. She knows if she ever needs a reminder that this is real, and she’s not desecrating Barb’s memory by living because that’s what Barb would want, she can go home and look at all of the crumpled notebook paper scribbles she’d made with her and smile because she remembers all of the times she’d made Barb smile.

Nancy who wears Barb’s sweaters and perfumes (even though Nancy used to cough and call them old lady-like) often not because she’s afraid to let go, but as a way to carry Barb’s memory along with her, through life instead of in a freeze-frame of it. Nancy who wears both her ballet-slipper necklace and Barb’s favorite locket next to her heart. And when Nancy starts to need glasses, she has the lenses popped out of Barb’s pair and replaces them.

That’s Nancy’s version of closure.

Because you don’t just get over a loss that big. We need to remember that.

I’m in the first week of an English class where the topic of study is Mothers and Memoirs. The professor wants me and the rest of the class to brainstorm a list of mothers from pop/high culture, literature and movies.

Do you realize how many dead mothers there are in pop culture?

Jane Eyre’s mom? Dead.

Nancy Drew? Dead mother.

What do Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot have in common? Dead moms.

Luke and Leia? Not only do they lose their mother at birth, but they also tragically lose the only mother figures they ever knew. (This is presuming that Leia’s adopted mother was alive when Alderaan was destroyed)

Avatar’s Katara and Sokka? Dead mom.

¾ of the Krew in LOK? Dead moms.

If you’re an anime character, you’ve got a 90% chance of having a dead mom.

Ditto if you’re a Disney character.

The pilot episode of Full House is literally centered around Uncle Jesse and Joey moving in after the mom dies.

Harry freaking Potter? Dead mother.

If your mom is somehow miraculously alive by the first chapter, you can bet that she won’t be by the end of the book. Looking at you, Divergent.

Dead moms. Dead moms everywhere.

“Isabelle, you’ve been making sounds even Bigfoot would be afraid of. Are you okay?”

“Yeah… ughh… I’m fine.”

“Did you eat something bad?”

“No, just… oof, too much spinning.”

“Well, at least you’re not pregnant.”

“Ohmigosh, like that girl in our dance team?”

“Yeah. She is, like, such a slut. She’d woohoo anybody with a dick and five simoleons. What is she even doing at San Myshuno Prep, anyway? You think her tuition is paid in the bedroom? Maybe if we had, like, some video, do you think that’d be enough to exchange for an A in Simlish Lit?”

“Ugh! That is such a gross mental image!”

“I know, right?”

“She probably has, like, 30 STD’s!”

“So gross, right?”

  • What she says: I'm fine.
  • What she means: I really don't understand Nancy's letters at the end of the game. She always seems to write them when she solves the mystery, meaning right when she's about to go home, but that doesn't make sense for several reasons. First off, people tend not to write paper letters anymore. Most people will use email because letters are slow. Not to say that Nancy can't be old school, but if she's really writing these letters right when she finishes the mystery, before she goes home, chances are Nancy's going to hop on her plane, get to River Heights, and see Ned/Bess/Hannah/whomever in person long before the letter arrives, making the letter useless. Unless she gets home and her friends are like "Nancy, what happened with that case of yours?" and she's like "Well I have a letter explaining the whole thing heading to you in the mail, so you'll just have to wait and see!" I suppose there are a few cases where Nancy stays for a couple days after solving the mystery, so the letter would make a little sense in that case, but this is pretty rare. Second, there are a bunch of instances where Nancy talks about what happens in the aftermath with each of the characters. Mostly this is fine, sometimes she'll talk about what the person is doing months in the future. Like "______ moved here," or "______ got a new job," "_______ has been really successful," or whatever, and then she talks about how they're loving it, but like?? Nancy??? How long have you stuck around to know how their doing in their new job/home/relationship? I don't think she usually stays for months later so how would she know this information? Or is Nancy for some reason writing these letters from home, months after the mystery? But if this is the case, why write a letter at all when she is in the same town as the person it is addressed to? She could just tell them in person. No need to write a letter. Or even if she did, wouldn't her friends already know most of the letter's contents, assuming Nancy told them about the case? Third, all the letters where Nancy goes into great detail about things she uncovers in the mystery and then follows up with, "oh and by the way, all of this is top secret and I took an oath to never tell a living soul what I just told you, so maybe don't mention this to anyone else :)". She just gives her friends classified information like it's nothing. She doesn't even tell them in private, she just writes it down where anyone could later get their hands on it and read it. And don't even get me started about the photos Nancy sends her friends! Some of them are just awkward pictures of people from the case. So did Nancy just ask, "hey, can I take your picture to send to my boyfriend?" That's weird, Nancy! Or some are pictures of random objects. Does she think to herself, "Yeah, my housekeeper would really like to see this picture of this footprint I found"? And then of course there are the pictures where there would be no way Nancy could ever get the picture in the first place. Like pictures of the culprit smirking evily. Nancy would either have to get that picture before she solved the mystery, in which case why would they be smirking evily if they're still pretending to be good, or she would have to ask them to pose for the picture as they're being arrested or something. Then there are the pictures of the culprit doing something shady or actually committing some crime. If Nancy had a picture of that, she would have had the mystery solved long ago. Or she asked them to pose, which is pretty unlikely. All in all the letters just don't make sense and there are so many problems with them.