Luke has discovered a new high water mark for the term "long read". Interesting though.
Spent the evening at James' place. For a while it was just me and James, rappin, then Joel came over, then Matt, Niles and some girls I've never met. It was, well, interesting. Good hanging with James, Joel, Matt is cool. I'm not a huge fan of Niles', and not just because of that argument I got in with him a few weeks ago. He grates on me a bit. No offense to James, of course, as they're friends.
On the subway there was a soldier. It took me a while to realize that he was actually a regular Army guy, because he was wearing one of the new berets. It's weird to see an American soldier with a beret, cocked at a rakish angle, standing in the subway doorway with his hands clasped behind his back.
As some Army General so beautifully put it:
"Starting next June, the black beret will be symbolic of our commitment to transform this magnificent Army into a new force - a strategically responsive force for the 21st century," Shinseki said. "It will be a symbol of unity, a symbol of Army excellence, a symbol of our values. When we wear the beret, it will say that we, the soldiers of the world's best army, are committed to making ourselves even better."
You know what? I think I felt that.
It was strange to see this kid, he looked so young, standing there in fatigues, loudly chewing gum like his momma told him not to. It made me think of the whole concept of the military. Most of these guys (and girls) are just kids. They don't know much. Hell, I sure don't know much, and I'm 10 years older than a lot of them. Rich is always talking about his experience in the Army and how so many of the people were just incredible idiots. That he would be terrified to have to go into battle depending on them for his life. The soldier on the train had a wedding band on his left hand (I think that's the hand they go on). He couldn't have been more than 20.
There was another thing, two women who were having a conversation that was just too unreal and bizarre to recreate. I wish I could have recorded it. The words would probably seem normal enough, but they were like characters in a movie. It really seemed that someone had written their dialogue. "Okay, we need 10 minutes of completely inane talking. I don't want anything of substance said, but I don't want any gaps in the conversation." They must have been coworkers. They had that familiarity of people who see each other everyday, they might even go out for a beer once in a while, but they don't know each other particularly well. But they didn't talk about work, which throws that theory into question. I couldn't tell if they were possibly slightly drunk. They cursed a lot, talked like men.
Things I saw on the subway:
Yesterday I saw that crazy lady that I saw before. I could have sworn I wrote about her before, but I just pored through all the (months and months and months) of coredump archives and couldn't find it. I did find lots of boring drivel though! Wow, I was impressed. (I was kidding about the months and months thing, it's really only been a few).
Anyway, the crazy lady. She's a relatively normal woman, but she constantly curses at everyone. It's not like Tourrette's; it's more like she hates you. She'll be quiet for a while, and then all of a sudden something sets her off and she goes off for the rest of the ride, swearing like a sailor. She ranges over everything, cursing individuals on the train, the government, "them". It's incredibly entertaining, except you can't really laugh because she seems like she could do some serious damage. She's not large, but she's so crazy that anything could happen. Yesterday no one tripped her switch until right before I got off, so I didn't notice her until I started hearing a whole lot of cussing from the other end of the train. Maybe she's not crazy, she's just an entertainer. Next time, we should all applaud.
Something else I've never seen before: A conductor came through the train and stopped by a woman who was leaning over in her chair, sleeping. He banged on the window really loudly and told her she had to sit up. But he called her Ma'am. The train wasn't crowded, so it wasn't because she was taking up two seats. She made a funny little scream and sat bolt upright, looking very confused. She looked right at me and I shrugged, commiserating, then went back to my book. A few minutes later, she said, "Is this train going to Brooklyn?" to no one in particular. I looked up and she was looking right at me so I told her we were already in Brooklyn. It happens to me pretty often; people ask me for directions, or they ask no one and I answer. Next time maybe I'll keep my mouth shut and see if anyone else says anything.
I'd like to expand on something I wrote the other day about Coredump. I wrote something about how I was struggling with the public-ness of this journal, and how I can't write everything I could if no one was reading it. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and talking to a few people about it.
Conclusions (for the time being):
The thing is, if no one was reading it, I wouldn't be writing anything at all. The audience is part of it. I know people are reading it, and I know, roughly, who they are. I also know that anyone can read it, though I'm not too concerned with random strangers. It's a very interesting part of the writing for me that people read it, and that I can't write just anything. I'm learning just how much I'm willing to share, and with whom. I can also make little jokes that only certain people will get. There might even be some in this very post!
So the bottom line is that CoreDump is a form of communication. It's not really a journal, or at least it's not simply a journal. I'm communicating with myself, and with you, whoever you are.
It changes, too. For a while, it was pretty random; observations, little stories of my day, and the like. September 11 changed everything drastically. For a while I was interested in getting down my reactions and thoughts as they happened as much as possible. I was thinking about what a watershed event this was, and I was not only alive at the time (and thankfully after), but I live right here, in New York, where the shit went down. So I had two, possibly three purposes: One, to share with my friends and family around the world, and here, what it was like for me to experience these events from this vantage point. Two, to document my thoughts about it for myself. I imagine one day I'll be older, and I think it will be very interesting to not just look back and remember that it was a terrible and fascinating and confusing time, but to actually be able to read, and have other people read, exactly what I was going through right then. And three, I was just trying to work things out myself, working through the aforementioned terror, fascination and confusion.
And there you have it. For better or worse, that's what we got here. I'll try to keep the sad details of my personal life to a minimum, promise.
"Help me get my yacht out of dry dock? Sir? Sir?"
I've not been writing much about Sept 11 anymore. I gues I haven't been thinking about it as much lately. I've been thinking quite a lot about the consequences of it, watching as they unfold around the world. I'm pretty worried about it, when I'm honest with myself, but day to day, I'm not doing anything differently. Life goes on, they say.
Here's an interesting look at Osama bin Laden, written in 1999. - Greetings, America. My Name is Osama bin Laden I found it to be more about the logistics of getting to interview the guy, but that's interesting too. Since he (bin Laden) very tightly controls what he says and what will be reported, I suppose the reporter had little choice but to quote what he did. Anyway, it's good to read about his background, and to hear his "justifications" for what his actions.
I'm impressed with The Onion's ability to still be funny. I imagine many people will find it in horrible taste, but I admire them for finding ways to be funny yet not really making light of what has happened. If anything, they manage to highlight some important issues. Check it out yourself. The Onion. (their server has been unbelievably slow lately, so you might want to check back later).
Okay, back to real life.
Tuesday night Team Foo had our rescheduled last game of the summer season. It was, as usual, a travesty, but we leave with a record untarnished by wins. 0-24. Amazing. It's pretty frustrating to always lose, and we had a shot at winning this time (a familiar refrain), but we still have a good time. This time we thought we'd have a beer before the game, see if that helped. It didn't.
After the game, we went to Alligator Alley and started drinking our defeat away. This strategy worked amazingly well. 4 shots of tequila, 7 Red Stripes, a couple games of darts and pool and some bad 80's music later, someone hit upon a great idea: Paint Will's apartment. So we went to his place and took up some brushes, stopping on the way to stock up on pizza and beer. As you can imagine, the painting didn't go so well. Soon the paint was landing on us more than the walls, and that was the beginning of the end. Or at least the beginning of the beginning of the end.
I had to take three showers to get even most of the paint out of my hair, and I'm pretty sure there's still some in there. I have a couple of bald patches on my left leg where I inadvertently waxed it with latex. Good times.
Luckily, someone was kind enough to tell most everyone at work of our escapades, so that made yesterday even more fun. Can't wait to get that film developed.
Luke points out this very interesting article. What Happens Next? Six options beyond war and peace. Highly recommended reading.
Work didn't do it for me today, so I left. Had an afternoon alone and with Chris Sherlock. Had a good evening with Dave. We sat in a deli and talked for several hours, then walked in the rain and talked some more. Then we went to a bar and talked. Then we taped it.
Monday. I feel empty.
The weekend was pretty good, relatively calm, and volleyball yesterday was exercising. There were times though, in the middle of the games, when I felt a big crappy weasel sitting on my head. It kept getting on top of me. We all went out after and had food and drinks. At what point, I wonder, will this no longer be enough for me? It seems fun, and it is fun, but where is it taking me? It doesn't have to take me anywhere, it can be an escape, a release, relaxing-time, but for it to be that, I have to have something else in my life. When that's what I'm looking forward to, I come out empty.
I should maybe stop reading Denyse's blog. She's doing very well, and I'm really happy for her, but of course it's hard to escape the feeling of "she's better off without me." This happens a lot. And the feeling jumps on me, bounces up and down, makes me queasy. She needed to be rid of me to discover her joy, but what do I need to discover mine? I broke up with her, and it set her free, now I have to figure out how to do the same thing for myself.
If it seems like my emotions are swinging wildly back and forth, it's because they are. Nobody likes a Monday.
On a happier note, Laurel's sister shared this joyful story:
On the amazing, astounding, faith-restoring good news front--my friend
Chrissy's cousin was in the WTC on the 11th and hadn't been heard from
since. Her whole family was crushed and was having a lot of trouble
dealing with it and she was trying to come to grips with the reality of
the whole situation. It was pretty terrible.
So last night I'm sitting in the computer lab at 3 in the morning and
I hear this loud voice outside, then the words "my cousin's okay". It turns
out that the cousin was hit in the head by something in the attack (debris, or
something from his office fell on him....) and was knocked unconscious and
went into a coma. Someone must have dragged him to a triage site where
they sent him to St. Vincent's hospital--but then couldn't identify him. So
he laid there in a coma for 10 days until yesterday
afternoon he woke up suddenly and asked for his wife. Apparently in
comas, usually the blood (or whatever) diffuses to multiple areas of the
brain and causes memory loss and sensory problems which is why people have
to learn how to talk and walk again, etc. etc.
But his stayed centered on the brain stem and didn't diffuse. The fear
then is that the person just won't wake up, but he did. isn't that
So his wife gets this phone call yesterday evening where someone says that
they're from St. Vincent's hospital and that her husband is there and
asking for her and she thought it was some kind of sick joke.... but then
realized it was true and went down there and he's fine. So Chrissy's
sister calls her at 2AM last night to tell her the news and needless to
say she was running around with this expression of total joy on her face.
They'll keep him in the hospital for a few more days and then he'll go
home and rest up, but he's expected to make a complete recovery.
Isn't that absolutely phenomenal? He has no memory of what happened,
whatsoever... can you imagine that? Waking up in a hospital bed in NYC
and having to be told that you were in the worst terrorist attack in
American history and having no clue what anyone was talking about...
A nice all alone day. First one I've had in a very long time, I think. It was good for me.
In the afternoon, I went out to go maybe to a movie, but the line was too long. I'm not sure what everyone was going to see, maybe Glitter, that new Mariah Carrey movie which I'm sure is excellent. I kept walking, bought a couple bagels, and went to the park to look at people.
I settled down near a baseball game, and man, I was in for a treat. These guys were serious! They had full-on uniforms, a couple of umpires, the whole deal. It must have been a league, of course, maybe the playoffs. As soon as I sat down, there was some action as a base runner got hung up between first and second, but then the guy on third made for to steal home while they were trying to catch the other guy. The second baseman spotted him though and threw the guy out at home, letting the other one get safely back to first. Such excitement! The coach of the batting team started kicking the fence and cursing in Spanish, throwing his hat, and I was practically rolling in the grass. Then on the next play, the runner on first went for second again and was caught for the third out, only to have the batting team's bench practically clear, arguing that the pitcher had balked. I'm not sure what a balk is, really, but man were they mad about it. The coach was yelling in the umpire's face, the players were throwing their helmets around, screaming out rules, demonstrating how the guy lifted his leg wrong or something, whatever he did that would make it a balk. It was hilarious. There was a group of people watching, not related to the game, and they were egging the coach on, "Kick dirt at him! Get in his face! Yeah!"
As if that wasn't enough, after the sides switched and the angry team was in the field, the pitcher was hit with a batted ball, really hard in the hand. He hopped off the field, his whole team chasing him to see if he was alright, and then everybody went running in all directions to get ice. "Hey, the hot dog man has ice!! Get it from the hot dog man!!" That drama lasted a few minutes, and then back to the game.
I sat and ate my bagels, thuroughly amused by the whole thing. It's amazing how angry people get when they're ostensibly out having fun.
A little girl walked by me with her bike, calling for her brother to help her because the back wheel wasn't turning. He refused, as any good brother would, so she kept pushing the bike past me, dragging the back wheel up the hill. I went over and asked her if she needed help and saw that the back brake was cocked sideways, stopping the wheel, so I unhooked it so the wheel would turn. I tried to explain to her that the brake was off now, not to ride it until she got someone to fix it for real, but I don't think she knew what I was talking about. I think her mind was locked on the rule against talking to strangers in the park. I knew she didn't really know what I was talking about, but I figured whe'd walk it home and someone would fix it for her.
As I left the park a few minutes later, I saw her struggling with the brake, near a bench with two older girls. I kept walking, but then I felt guilty and turned around. I pretended to be just happening by, and asked if she had gotten it fixed. She was trying to turn a screw on the brake with a ballpoint pen. I checked it out and it turned out the back wheel was barely even attached to the bike. It was completely crooked, just about ready to fall off, so the brake wasn't aligned at all and was stuck. I put the wheel back on, tightened it, and fixed the brake.
Good story, huh? I'm a hero.
The only reason I think these stories are worth sharing is that they represent the first time in some time that I've been able to sit still and just relax and watch the world. I needed that.
Denyse came and got her stuff this evening while I was out. She left me what has to be the best note I've ever gotten. I almost want to post it here, but I'll resist. Anyway, it made me feel a thousand times better. Not good still, but just so much better knowing that she understands, and that she doesn't want to kill me. Carrying around the thought of her rage for the past few days has been ripping me to pieces. I was so nervous coming home, I didn't know what to expect. I most expected nothing, just empty places where her stuff had been, or maybe spray paint on the walls and syrup in my computer. What I did get was a wonderful note expressing understanding, maturity, calmness, wisdom, and strength. If you're reading this, Denyse, thank you.
I don't know what the hell this is, but I like it.
Anything with a flapjack on its head is funny by me.
Spent the evening with Luke, Dave, Cass, Matt and James. It was fun, in a way, always great to see Dave of course, but I feel like hell. It's really hard to have someone I care about so much detest me so profoundly right now, and want nothing to do with me whatsoever. In a way, I admire her, she's strong to be so mad. If it was me, I'd be a fucking wreck, begging for mercy. Maybe I'm giving myself too much credit. My apartment is empty tonight and I hate it. I used to love living alone. Maybe if it was my place I still would, I know the roommate thing isn't really what I'm looking for right now. What the hell was that that I was looking for again? Little help?
It's really good to have Dave here, I love him. It doesn't really make this any easier though. Having my friends around me is good I guess for distraction, and to keep busy. Nothing against them personally of course. But wherever I go, there I am, and I'm still sad.
I want a fast-forward button. I want to be able to zoom to one or two months from now. I feel like then I'll know. Shit, sometimes I feel like I know now, but I also know that I'm clouded with immediate emotions, sadness, and confusion. This is as hard as it gets, on all sides. I feel like I gnawed my own leg off, imagining that if I hop for long enough, it would grow back.
And so to bed.
Silliconvalley.com is keeping a blog of sites related to the.. shit, what do you call this thing? The words I hear most often are "tragedy", "disaster", and "attack". I'm starting to feel like they're all so loaded. It was all of those things, but I think they're words that maybe take sides. Maybe not. It's tragic, a disaster of epic proportions, and certainly was an attack in many ways. I've been finding myself pausing though when I get to that part of a sentence lately, and almost saying "incident" or something equally noncommittal. Or just refering to the whole thing as "The World Trade Center". I should just choose one, or come up with my own. "The events of September 11". See, I'm sounding like I'm trying too hard not to take sides. Maybe that's it though, I'm quite confused about the whole thing, about the continuing developments in "America's New War", so called. Operation Some Damned Marketing Slogan.
I think tragedy covers it. There's no denying that.
So.. Siliconvalley.com is keeping an excellent blog of sites related to the tragedy. I highly recommend it.
I heard on the radio this morning that someone had done a poll (I'm not a big fan of polls) that had shown that something like 58% of those polled favored requiring Arab-Americans to carry special identification, be stopped or searched based on fitting a "terrorist" profile, and being subjected to more thorough searches at airports.
Polls distort, I know. But the fact that even 1 person agreed with these statements makes me want to vomit.
I'll try to find a reference for this.. I don't want to be part of the problem.
From the Los Angeles Times:
* 54% approve (27% strongly, 27% somewhat), and 40% disapprove (22% strongly, 18% somewhat) of giving the government broader power to tap phone lines and monitor cell phones and other wireless communications.
* 50% approve (26% approve, 24% somewhat), and 45% disapprove (25% strongly, 20% somewhat) of allowing closer government monitoring of Internet communications and private e-mails.
* 68% approve (41% strongly, 27% somewhat), and 29% disapprove (17% strongly, 12% somewhat) of allowing law enforcement to make random stops of people who fit certain terrorist profiles.
Okay, I found what I was originally talking about.. It was a Gallup Poll, reported on NPR this morning (real audio).
From this poll:
"A majority of Americans favor having Arabs, even those who are U.S. citizens, being subjected to separate, more intensive security procedures at airports. About half of Americans favor requiring Arabs, even those who are citizens of the U.S., to carry special ID."
I don't know what to say about this. I guess it speaks for itself. It speaks for all of us, and it scares the shit out of me. I know this is just one poll, and I know polls taken after such a tragedy are going to skew towards anger and emotional responses. None of this makes me feel any better about it.
I haven't had the heart to write anything here. I'm tired of talking about the World Trade Center. I'm tired of thinking about it. Maybe that's selfish, or maybe I'm protecting myself from the pain. I know it's not so easy to move on for a lot of people. And I'm not moving on, not without changes. Things have changed. The city is different, and I don't think it's going to be the same.
Yesterday I left work at around 6:30 and started walking. I couldn't quite face getting on the subway, so I following the F line above ground. I was thinking if I got tired, I could just get on wherever I was. I ended up walking all the way home. It took about 3 hours I guess, I stopped for a sandwich at City Sub, and talked on the phone for a while. A year ago you never would have caught me saying this, but cell phones are a great invention.
I walked down to Canal street, at which point almost all the streets are closed. There are large groups of police at every intersection, checking IDs, asking people for their birth certificates, shining flashlights in people's faces. I had to walk east to Centre Street to be able to go south. It was really eerie. I was a good ways from the site, but the streets were empty. Once in a while a Humvee would drive by. This isn't the same city, that's for sure. I walked past city hall, and started across the Brooklyn Bridge.
It's a different feeling being on a landmark like that. I couldn't stop the flood of thoughts of what could happen there. What a target it was, how vulnerable I felt walking across it, 10 minutes from either shore and a hundred feet off the water. Turning around, I stared at the bright white lights illuminating the spot where the twin towers used to be. That image of the phantom towers is pretty accurate, really. It actually looks like that. Columns of white light and smoke.
If I'm not writing about Denyse, and the way I feel right now, it's because I can't quite stand it. I've been talking to people about it some, but mostly not. I was alone last night, but thankfully I nearly wrecked my computer so I wrestled with that all evening. Evening, he says. I guess I was up too late, as usual. I didn't get home until 10, and of course couldn't go to sleep until I fixed the computer. Friends have been comforting, and I'm very lucky for it. I hope Denyse realizes she has friends here too. I'm worried about her. That doesn't begin to cover it.
Work grows more difficult each day. The depths of my current apathy surprise even me.
"What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? What a waste, what a senseless waste!" - Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
I can't write much. I can't keep it together.
I've been struggling with the public-ness of this journal. For a long time, I knew no one read it, and that was great. Now I know some people do, and it puts some pressure on me. It also limits what I can write about here.
Denyse and I broke up. I know for the past week this has been a terrorism journal, but it's back to being about me. I feel awful, sad, tired, broken hearted. It was me, but I'm still heartbroken. I think she's one of the most wonderful people in the world, and I'm having trouble getting my mind around what's happened. But it has.
I wasn't being nice, I was treating her badly, and I couldn't do it anymore. I have too much respect for her. She deserves more.
Anyway, I have to sleep. If possible. I never got to tell anyone about my crazy dream last night, and I probably never will.
this is a good article
You know, it hadn't even occured to me that it could happen again. There are people who thin it will happen again, soon. Of course, it had crossed my mind that it could, but this is the kind of thing that is just so horrible and outside of the realm of our normal reality, that you don't consider that a week from now, or a month, another fireball could come crashing down. Who knows? It's horrible to think about, but it's real.
The assumption is that there are already many, possibly many hundreds or thousands, of people both in this country and outisde of it, who are happy about this, and who are planning, or have already planned to do things like it. And when we inevitably start some kind of military action (against who, I'm still waiting to see, along with everyone else), these people will have all the more reason to carry these things out. I guess what hit me was that this isn't over. I mean, I knew it wasn't over, but I think like a lot of people I was thinking (or not thinking) that we would strike back and they would learn their lesson. Even me, who argues so strongly that war doesn't stop war, killing doesn't stop killing, I wasn't even really thinking about how true it is, and that it may very well be demonstrated much to all of our horror. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
There is the morbid curiosity. I think most people have it. There's a certain thing about having been here when it happened. This one is a big one, and I was there, I saw it from my rooftop. People are complex, and the range of emotions and thoughts is overwhelming. It's not hypocrisy or evil, it's just human.
Saturday I needed to buy a knee brace, so I met Denyse in Union Square. Union Square is a different place these days. The two times I've been there in the past few days, it was packed with people. There are signs everywhere, flags everywhere. Huge circles of candles and flowers with hand written notes, drawings, posters. Huge piles of stuff. Every vertical surface has missing person signs on it, crowds gathering around them, it seems, not to really look for people they know, a thought too horrible to allow, but just to look. To try to feel it.
I've been thinking a lot about the events there Friday night. It hurt me and scared me to argue with people with those views. People so blindly calling for someone's blood. I'm angry too, and I think we have to do something, but I just think we have to be careful what we do. The potential consequences are just so great. But on the other hand, the arguments I got into are what makes this country so great. And likely part of what so offends those who would try to control people's minds. We can do that, we can debate these things, even in the direct aftermath. And we should. Things were a little heated that night, but I didn't fear for my safety. It was discourse, and discourse is what we need. In the end, though I was shaking with anger and fear at the time, I walked away with a sense that it had been important, that if some of their words rang around inside my head, some of mine did in theirs. And ever so slightly, we may each examine or beliefs and perspectives. And now, looking back, it wasn't a fight, it was an expression of what this country is, of what we believe in, and that the terrorists haven't touched that spirit. Hopefully, they've just awoken it.
I cried standing around one of the poles. It was just too intense, all the flowers and faces and candles. Hundreds of photographs being taken, people videotaping it. It was like one of those dizzy sequences in a movie, everything swirling around, just too much to hold on to. Okay, maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but it was, well, it was just really, really sad.
Then on the southeast corner, volunteers are collecting donations for the rescue workers. We still call them rescue workers. I bought a box of Power Bars and gave them to them, feeling ridiculous with my tiny gesture. Densye and I went to Duane Reade and bought a bunch of stuff; saline, cigarettes, advil, band aids. It felt a little better the second time, but it still wasn't enough. There's so much more I could be doing, or so it feels. Most people say the volunteer oranizations are fully staffed, and more people is just making things harder. Donate, that helps. And I've done that, but it feels like so little.
Today we played volleyball, which was lots of fun, as usual. I thought after that we should have started out by saying something about why we were there. Not just to play volleyball, though that was of course integral, but that we were trying to feel normal, trying to be unafraid. That we were so happy just to be together on such a beautiful day.
Airplanes flying overhead have taken on a new character. They look so much more dangerous. I can't help but just stare at them as they fly over.
I want to say something funny, but it's not coming out. I can say that I've had a good couple of days, in many ways. I've spent a lot of time with my friends, and thought and talked about a lot of important things. I've laughed and smiled and felt good.
Maybe I screwed up. I don't know. I feel horrible, but I had to fight. It is important. More, less, maybe one of those, but important, and that was the time for it. Maybe I screwed up. But I had to fight.
So, got in several real arguments about this thing tonight. The anger is starting to rise. Last night Will had a heated debate with Luke's dad. The anger, the fear.
James' friend, I think Niles is his name (should I say that?), and I argued for a while. John chimed in some, but it was mostly Niles and me. This was a relatively friendly argument in a friend's apartment, so I didn't get very angry. I didn't shake or tremble, just talked. I think he was dead wrong, though. We should find the individuals who did this terrible thing, and they're cohorts (hard to define, that gets slippery), and bring them to justice. They should pay. Maybe with their lives, maybe not, but pay. But starting wars isn't going to fix it. And until we realize that we live in a world where these things can and do happen, and take some responsibility for our place in that world, and our part in shaping such a world, not just as a country, but as individuals, these things will continue to happen. You can kill bin Laden, you can kill all of his friends and soldiers, but there will be another one. And another. Until someone figures out how to stop the cycle. I'm not saying I know how to do that, it's a very difficult question. But I don't have to have the answer to know what isn't the answer.
Then we were at Union Square. At first I was really moved by the candles, all the mourners, the posters of missing people. Everyone was peaceful. Signs that said "Arabs are not the enemy" and "War is not the answer". But then someone started yelling about killing "them". "Kill them all. They won't stop until we're all dead, unless we kill them. It's the only way." And other people started clapping. Denyse and I were trying to fight, and I was probably being a jerk. I was tired. Tired and sad and frustrated and impotent. So I yelled at him. Something short. I told him he was the enemy. He yelled at me back.
I can't, or don't want to, remember all the words. Other people yelled at me too. He asked me how old I was, a favorite argument of the stupid. You're young, what do you know. "Have you ever been in the military? Then you don't know anything." How ridiculous. And then there's the emotional distortions. They tell me about the body parts. They get everyone inflamed. They had piles of fingers and pieces of skin down there. I want to say I don't care, but of course I do care. But it's not the point. War is a tragedy, and death is ugly. If we start a war, there will be more fingers and skin with no home. Can't they see that? They call me unAmerican.
It hurts. It scares the shit out of me. These people are screaming for blood. When does it stop?
And Denyse left, went home. I had to walk around. I had to say more to them. I had to talk to someone calmly, without yelling and pointing fingers in my face. They told me that if I hadn't been down there, helping, I couldn't say anything, I didn't know anything. My opinions aren't valid, because I haven't seen the horror first hand. Yes, it's horrible. Yes, it gets our emotions stirred up. If I saw a dead child, a dead anyone, I'd be weeping, confused and maybe angry. But it's not the only response. We can be sad and hurt and afraid, but it doesn't have to lead to anger and revenge and more blood. I'm not excusing what these people did, it's inexcusable. No two ways about it, they are monsters. But when we go off chanting for war, we're not talking about crazy, sick individuals, we're talking about war. These people at Union Square, some of them, pretended to just want justice, but it's not justice they seek, it's revenge.
I hope and pray that the masses that were there and not saying much (some were), but were holding signs of peace, that they prevail. That we prevail. As a city, a country, a world. We're all in this together, we have to make it better. Each of us. And that means we have to think. War is an easy answer, but it's horribly short-sighted. Wars start other wars. I wanted to cry.
I found a couple of guys on the side on another pass, and talked to them for a while. They were cool-headed and rational. Of course I say that because we agreed with each other. But more than that, we talked respectfully. Even Niles, by comparison to these screaming folks at the square, was respectful. I just hope the lovers beat the fighters.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt anybody, not ever. These things are so complicated. If I knew what I wanted, it would be easy.
Tuesday afternoon, the only person I hadn't heard from was Kevin. We started to get a little worried, I wasn't sure where the NYU law classes were. So I called him, got voicemail of course. I left a message, and as I hung up I got a horrible chill. The thought that it was possible that I had left a message for a dead man. I know it's morbid, but it crossed my mind, and I had never had that feeling before. Not that I can remember.
Later, I got a message from Cass. Dave hadn't been able to reach any of us and was worried. She managed to get my voicemail and I heard the same anxiety in her voice. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I could hear her fear, and Dave's fear through hers.
Quintessentially New York concept for rebuilding.. here
More. There's always more to say.
Went out last night. Got drunk. Felt great, felt guilty. We were actually sitting at a bar on 22nd St and the West Side Highway, relief workers flowing in both directions. Bars on 10th Ave have carts in front giving hotdogs to workers. We sat and drank and talked, argued about war, America, children, selfishness, love. It was wonderful and painful.
We went to another bar, a big group. It was an average New York bar hopping night, giant group of almost all Oxygen folks in a cramped courtyard in Chelsea. Food, beer, tequila shots. But it wasn't average. There was seriousness in the air. Normally everyone talks about work. Conversations here were about America's place in the world, about life, death, love, loss. About walking to South America. Because we're alive, and we can.
We have to go on, we have to live and celebrate life. But we feel guilty. We feel like we should be helping. But there are enough people helping, they're trained, and they had the foresight to care before now. I've been kicked in the ass, along with many others, to have skills needed in times like this, but in a way it's too late. Too late for this time, but not for the next time.
I overslept this morning, had a meeting about the Oxygen Schedule website. I'll do my job, write my test plan. But I'm not sure how much I'll care. Little is my guess.
In the midst of all of this, life. Relationships, friends, bars, restaurants. It's weird, and I'm not sure how it makes me feel. I'm trying to decide if we should arrange a volleyball game this weekend. We need to be happy and be with our friends. But there's a part of me that can't quite muster up the energy, or something, to send out that email.
Chelsea market is different. They draped huge red white and blue tapestries over the archway downstairs. There's a donation center on the west side of the building. Rescue workers are coming here for food, to rest. I walked through their midst on the way to the bar last night. I felt like an asshole. I couldn't communicate with my eyes, I look at people and try to smile. Try to tell them with a look that I understand (I don't) or that I'm trying, trying to deal with it too, and that I wish there was more I could do. That I'm not going to a bar to forget, but to remember. But I end up met with a look that I can't return. I look at my feet.
I'm thankful for my friends, and that this has brought us all together. I hope that matters.
I'm happy that I have so many friends around me, and around the world. I got emails from all over, calls eventually, once the lines were a little better. It's very warming to feel cared for.
Yesterday Denyse, Liz, James, Joel and I went to Central Park. It was very surreal day. Wednesday, beautiful, one in a million weather, and there were hundreds of people on the Sheep Meadow. People wanted to be outside, to feel normal, to be around people. It's possible of course that people just didn't care and thought they had a free vacation day, but I doubt it. You could see it on people's faces. They were enjoying themselves, throwing frisbees, playing soccer, but there was something underneath. People were making eye contact.
We went down to James' place, met up with Luke, Julie, and Rich, and made margaritas and Liz cooked up some food. We wanted to be around each other, just hang out with people. We decided that we should have a regular dinner party, at least once a month. We'll play volleyball, hopefully this weekend. We've been awakened to ourselves. All those things we've been saying we "really should do more often".. I think now we will.
People are being more polite. I know it won't last, New York is New York, but for now, there's eye contact, caring, politeness. Some of it will last, or the memory of it anyway. Things have changed.
I'm collecting all my emails and IMs and I'll start working on a page. Just to display it. What happened. We have to remember.
My feelings keep changing, sometimes I don't even know what they are. I don't know what to do with myself. It's really hard to be sitting here at work, thinking about websites (or not). It feels like I should be doing something else, something more important. I can't waste anymore time. I know I can do things, small things, and that leaving my job is unrealistic right now. But it's stirred me up. I'm going to look into EMT training, as I've been saying for years. If I had done that before, I could have helped on Tuesday. I could have been killed too. But I would have been doing something.
give blood. or money.
Well, it's been a while. It still smells like smoke, not regular smoke, I shudder to think of what I'm smelling, breathing, eating. Everything.
Chronology of events, before I forget.
Stayed in Williamsburg last night, Denyse had to be at work early and I had a volleyball game, so I had to come to Park Slope to get my gear. Got home at around 8:15am.
Instead of getting ready for work, I fucked around on the computer for a while, making this page.
Denyse called me at 9, saying a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I pictured a Cessna nicking the tower, a tragedy, but not enough to get me out of my chair. 10 minutes later, I heard a boom; sounded like a huge thunder clap. I ran halfway down the hall, then ran back and grabbed my camera and binoculars and went up to the roof.
When I got up there I think my first words were, as they were for many, "Holy shit". Both towers were billowing smoke, there was a mushroom cloud over the second tower. Through the binoculars I could see the fires raging. I snapped some photos.
The guy on the rooftop next to mine had a video camera. He said another plane had hit the tower. I said it had to be intentional. He seemed to have not thought of that until then.
I watched for a while and then went down to see the news.
They were talking about the crashes, still saying it could be air traffic mistakes, ridiculously. It was horrible, but seemed under control to a degree. I mean, I guess that's in retrospect. At the time it was mass confusion. People were leaping out of windows.
Andy called from work and as we were talking, I saw the message flash across the bottom of the screen that the Pentagon had been hit. "What the fuck is going on?!?" The people on TV were saying that the police thought another plane was coming, and were trying to get everyone to move back one block at a time. Just as I saw the Pentagon message, the first tower fell. I just saw smoke, dust cloud, billowing through the streets like a Hollywood special effect. It couldn't be real. Snaking through the concrete canyons like a monster, overtaking people with lightning speed. I told Andy the tower fell.
At that point I was running back and forth between my room to talk to people on IM and email, the living room to watch TV, and the roof to watch real life. The entire city was blocked out by a huge cloud of yellowy-brown smoke, it drifted right towards Brooklyn, directly over my building. Scraps of paper were flitting in the wind, as fighter jets screamed through the clouds. Where am I?
I went to Methodist Hospital to donate blood but they asked me to come back tomorrow, they were jammed with volunteers. There were hundreds of people in the streets, most not smiling. The kids were laughing and joking.. they're kids.
Denyse made it here at around 4, thank god, and we watched TV and talked. We went on the roof and had a beer. I met some of my neighbors, but I've forgotten all of their names. I wrote a topic project post, an email, lots of IMs.
I have no more energy. Leen just called, and now I'm just spent. Goodnight.
my topic project post for today:
Itís not time for sarcasm. Iím making my own topic.
I know some other topic projectors live in New York, and I hope that all of you are okay. Okay meaning not injured or killed, I know none of us are really okay.
Iím scared. Not scared because I think theyíll bomb the subway next, though it wouldnít surprise me. Not scared because I almost took the A train this morning, which could have cost me my life.
Iím scared of our reactions to this. Iím scared that people are yelling in the streets about immigrants and Muslims. Iím scared because a friend of mineís father, a teacher, was talking about ďexterminationĒ. Iím scared of the F-15s flying over my apartment.
Iím scared of nationalism. Thatís what this was all about. And now our nationalist fervor is kicked up a notch. Weíll show them. Weíll teach those dirty dogs who theyíre messing with. Blow up a building in my city? In my country? Oh no you donít. Thatís not fair. You donít believe in democracy, you canít blow up civilians. Only freedom loving democracy protectors can blow up civilians. Itís for your own good.
I wish we could be compassionate. A lot of people are. The hospitals are clogged with thousands of people trying to donate their blood. Theyíre turning people away. Here itís immediate, we need help. But our government is angry. They want revenge. Canít we see that this was an act of revenge from the other perspective?
Itís despicable. Iím not defending it. But Iím not surprised. Iím just scared. For all of us. Yes, that includes ďthemĒ.
I hope you are all well. Everybody who reads this. I hope we can all keep our heads, and remember that Ďan eye for an eyeí leaves everyone blind.
I have a scrap of paper that flew onto my roof. Typewritten and handwritten numbers, in the millions. A symbol of our tragedy. A symbol of our economic stranglehold. It smells like fire.
and now look.. it's been almost a week and... i can't see anything. it's dark and the laptop keys are too close together. i can't turn on the light because denyse is sleeping, and i can't take the laptop into the next room because i'm lazy. it's dark in there too.
a week. things happen, things change, things stay the same. trouble swirls around me, but i feel still. but my stomach hurts. for denyse, and for her brother. for joel and his job search. for PO, for children in africa, the works. and for me.
I'm beat, I'm torn
Shattered and tossed and worn
Too shocking to see
Too shocking to see
Oh trouble please be kind
I don't want no fight
And I haven't got a lot of time
I wish everyone the best.