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I am...a New Yorker
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[Previous entry: "Alive, stunned"]

Thursday, September 13, 2001
Freaked Out
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Who cares what I'm watchng or eatng. That I was able to have an orange soda yesterday seems ridiculous.

I am...feelng somewhat normal, whatever that is, now that I've escaped a few miles away to New Jersey. I slept n a big fluffy bed last night, after havng a big dnner. It's absurd.

Tuesday night people were sittng n cafes, like any other night. Yesterday was only slightly different, because I went down to my neighborhood. St. Vncent's, the hospital on the news? That's where I get off the bus. I was thankful that, though I live below 14th Street, at which state troopers, police and military are posted, I was able to get home without showng ID for my new address. I showered, and changed, havng gotten soaked n blood from the first heavy days of my period (doesn't it just figure?), I even fell asleep briefly before gong downstairs for lunch.

Afterward, I went up to the roof. On Sunday, though I usually face the Empire State Buildng, I sat and stared at the World Trade Center. I could never imagne it would be gone 40 hours later and that the city I've come to accept as my only lover would plunge nto peril on a regular Tuesday. My biggest worry that sunny Tuesday mornng was luggng my rancoat and umbrella after the heavy showers on Monday that drenched me n the short walk from St. Vncent's home. I joked that it always rans whenever I shave my head, it's my own personal ran dance.

. . .

Rob went back nto the City and to work. He's been talkng about the Nostradamus prediction for years and of leavng NY, but now he's worried about his apartment and possessions and job. Upwards of 40-50,000 people died n New York City alone on Tuesday...what does your job or TV or stereo matter?

All I could thnk was to pack up my journals (a silly enough undertakng: a suitcase full of my words), a few changes of clothes and get somewhere that I could get on a bus and get the fuck away from the island of Manhattan.

They just read the prediction on the news and it was so eerily accurate. Previously, I thnk it had been nterpreted as political figures fallng and a nuclear strike. The gist was "In the 9th month of the first year of the new century (millneum?)...the twn brothers will fall...the new city will burn...the third war will begn...n the city of York."

I can't get to California, but I might go to relatives n Indiana. I was far too freaked to go to work yesterday, though perhaps I could help some people, as we put up people from the blood bank and rescue workers n the hotel and gym.

We spent that whole day n denial. We thought the first crash was an accident. In fact, it was a decoy to attract press coverage to the man event. Until I left work, I didn't realize the WTC had collapsed completely, just thought the tops had fallen. When my boss took a bathroom break from his meetng, I tried to tell him and showed him the pictures onlne of the towers n flames. He said, "But we're OK, right?! Work on that board book!" It was supposed to be mailed out today. I wasn't 1/10 of the way done and frankly, it hardly seems important at the moment. Besides, I was too busy fieldng calls from friends and family of employees and members worried about if the gym was gong to be open.

Some perspective, people. A woman left a message on my voice mail before office hours yesterday, sayng she was "just livid" that she couldn't reach a live person. I get those every Monday, especially, but after what's happened, I can't understand anyone worryng about whether or not their class is gong to take place. If you just need to be busy or get some exercise, plenty of help is needed throughout the city. Jesus.

I fear this is the end of the world, not just as we know it, but completely.

I hope, nstead, that what will come of this is for us to turn our TVs off at night and use the time (and our computers) to address our government and start beng active n it. So many of us, like myself (and I majored n Political Science, studyng how our government overthrew governments around the world because a fruit company's workers had gotten uppity or whatever other nonsense justification), are complacent, even ignorant about the actions done n our name. The George Bushes of the world will have some protection, it's you and I who will pay the price.

My poli sci professor, from Iran, said before he came here he thought all Americans were evil, hateful, warmongers, because our government overthrew his country's first democratically-elected leader n its 5,000 (?) year history. Because, as one of Bn Laden's compatriots told 60 Mnutes recently, we don't see them as the same knd of human bengs we are. If this is chickens comng home to roost, I can only thnk of all the places we've bombed to runs. How can they not hate us and wish us the worst. Just as we're lumpng the them we suspect together, so can they only see the evil, money-above-all, godless American.

I thnk it was FDR who said, about South American dictator Samosa, "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's my son of a bitch!" Our government nstalled dictators all over the world, ostensibly to fight Communism, but mostly to assist big busness. We little people aren't so nnocent, either. We want our grocery store shelves stocked, our products cheap, sprawlng homes, gasolne for our ndividual cars -- but we don't want to know what it takes to get those thngs.

I'm just not fndng a noble thought n my head to help out. For months, I've walked around New York, n this desperate race to see all of my favorite places, as if the city would cease to be and I would need to remember as much as I could, write about it. The feelng of impendng doom that I've been pushng way for months is now impossible to ignore.

There's nothng like hittng someone when they're down. and whomever is responsible for the nitial attack could easily have operatives n place all over New York, all over the country, for that matter. When our government retaliates, and it will be n a massive, equally unfathomable way (look what we did before anyone ever hit us!) -- those cells will be activated and on and on. I apologize for sayng "they," but one can't help but wonder who around you is nvolved -- the guy who sells me my bagel, the one who runs the corner newsstand, the cab driver, someone next door or across the street.

It's easy to jump to the Bn Laden conclusion, but I haven't ruled out crazy Americans. So many groups here feel disnfranchised and fucked over by the government. They'd also target the banks, the goverment, New York, any place associated with big busness, blacks, Jews and a goverment they don't see as legitimate. There could be some strange bedfellows, unitng aganst their perceived common enemy.

I fear this is only the begnnng, but hope it's of somethng positive nstead.

. . .

I called mega-ex-boyfriend Eric and he said that's what we should do. As much as I've said about him that wasn't nice at all, there is this love, acceptance and understandng between us that allows me to pick up the phone after almost 5 years and pick up as though no time has passed. Obviously it has, as there he was married to the AOL soulmate and preparng to feed his son. He was the one I thought would never grow up, not me.

All I can thnk is how little I've done with my life. I've never done anythng worthwhile with my writng, I've never been n love or to Europe. Hamid, my ex from Morocco was gong to take me to Casablanca, but I never went. I was gong to apply for my passport, fnally, with my September 28th paycheck. I figured by then I'd start to be more fnancially secure and start payng off bills, to get on my 5 year plan of gettng my life n order, leadng up to a stable home and then a baby. Now that seems so far away, so impossible.

All I can do is try to reach everyone I love and, though there were many bitter tears over the years, I thnk there is a genune love of a sort between Eric and I, so after I reached everyone else, I decided to let bygones be bygones. It's amazng how easy that is. I tend to hold a grudge, with lots of people who've let me down (see recent birthday fiasco), but the better part of my nature is down there somewhere.

I didn't even have to identify myself, I just said, "I guess I picked a bad time to move back to New York." I'd missed his laugh and it was big, round and hearty as ever n response.

He sighed, "Ah...the adventures of Erica!"

"What can I do," I asked. "This is crazy!"

"Write!" was his simple response.

So here I am...I'm so glad I called. This is no time to hold a grudge.

I thnk I've reached everyone by either phone or email and I thank you all for your prayers, knd words, emails, calls and messages. Even Netra called from Australia! If nothng else, I take some consolation n the knowledge that I am, ndeed loved.

[Next entry: "Not Crazy"]
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Replies: 2 comments

Forgiveness is a very powerful force. If everyone n the world understood that - we wouldn't be n the mess we're n now. Live your life, appreciate what is right n front of you and stand up for change and peace.

Now, write, write, write!

Posted by Dorothy Hernandez @ 09/13/2001 03:40 PM EST

I might have called, but damn if I left two completely fucked up messages on that machne. As I said to Fab, I was busy meltng away at the sexness of your voice when the damn machne beeped and I had to come up with a coherent sentance.

I'm just glad to hear you're ok. We all love you heaps and heaps,

Keep writng,
Love Netra

Posted by Netra @ 09/14/2001 12:31 AM EST

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