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12 September 2001 @ 06:16 am
blank statements  
So the plane hit the first building. Minutes pass, another plane hits the second building. The first building collapses. The second building collapses. Somewhere else another plane has hit another building. Another plane goes down in a field.

Too much to comprehend. Too much to begin to comprehend. Fill a bucket with pebbles representing the dead, the actual dead, the estimated dead, the dead squared, the dead cubed and I can't touch it. Can't even move near it. Choked down with dust and ash. 266 between the four planes. At least 200 firemen. 800 estimated at one site--at the lesser site--and even that is implausible. Blank statements. Fuzzy numbers. Focused for a moment on the television screen, then blurred away by tears. Think of the biggest concert I've ever been to--United Center, sold out--fill and empty that stadium once. Twice. Three times. And still that's not enough.

Death. Death. Death. Death. Death.
How many times can you write a word before it becomes meaningless?
How much carnage can you see before you stop seeing it?
Death. Death. Death. Death. Death.

Little plane, silhouetted like a paper cut out against bright morning sky, slips into a glass wall as though into water. On my side of the television: scale models, impossible, toy, meaningless. Then the flames. Then the smoke. Blue sky and black glass, explode with red and orange, then gray and gray and gray. God it's not real god it's not real it's not real not real not real not real

It's Not Real. You aren't telling me this. You aren't telling me this it's a sick joke you are sick, sick, stop. I was sick last night and couldn't sleep. I went to bed at four thirty, turned and tossed through Michael Hoppe's Afterglow and David Darling's Darkwood and a CD of falling rain. Wide awake behind closed eyes and an immobile body, in that state where you realize over and over again that you aren't asleep yet--I remember from nights before moving to and from Iowa, the night before dental surgery, nights before days that rip seams from fabric. I realize I'm not asleep, I realize I'm not asleep, I realize I'm not asleep: I'm nervous, why? But eventually I woke up and sang to myself in the shower. I woke up at 11:40 and double timed it to work by one. My alarm clocks are a CD player and a buzzer. The television stays off when I am in a hurry. The night before driving home from school I felt feverish and scattered, the radio irritated me so I shut it off and left it that way on the drive to work. Chris told me as I stood against the doorjamb to his office, first my shoulder pressed against it then the full weight of my body. It's Not Real. You aren't telling me this. I'm still in bed. I'm dreaming. This is not real.

I turned off ABC after watching it for 5 hours. Peter Jennings exhausted, tumbling over words, loosing his place, maybe if he pauses long enough here the corespondent or ex-CIA official, Red Cross worker, retired fire chief he is interviewing will start to laugh: Just kidding! April Fool! And it isn't even April! Gotcha, good! Balloons will cascade down out of nowhere, confetti sparkle into his hair, his confused and darting eyes suspicious until they move the mirrors concealing the World Trade Center Towers, the dead rise from the Styrofoam rubble, wipe the fake blood from their brows, embrace one another with giddy laughter and dance through veils of dry-ice smoke. And Jennings will collapse over himself, shaking with sobs and relief, put his head in his hands until he realizes at last he is smiling. Interns to bring him hot chocolate and pillows, to find a soft cot for him to settle down with a Bloom County book and a Nick Drake CD, to turn down the studio lights and finally let him rest. I love Peter Jennings, how he pushes himself to keep reporting, how he is still there hours and hours after anyone else would've passed out--how as the hours grow longer, his facade slips to reveal the honest man beneath. I respect ABC for not running an endless ticker tape at the bottom of the screen or featuring a constant sensationalistic logo: "Blood on the streets," "US Under Attack," "Death to the Sinners;" I admire them for not making video death verse, moments where thousands of human beings lost their lives and millions lost mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, grade school teachers, writers, artists, doctors, crossing guards--into looping commercials boasting their great coverage. Last November, giggling on the carpet at 3AM, I watched George Stephanopoulos glance curiously to the side, ask if anyone else smelled smoke, watched the camera swerve to where a spotlight had caught a curtain into flames. Ladies and gentleman, we appear to be on fire... Watched Jennings shake his head start at the beginning again, for those who may have just tuned in, now, at four o'clock in the stupid morning, Florida is now undecided and no we don't know what this means and I know you're even more exhausted than me, Fred, but has your take on this changed in the last seven minutes? Can we show the map again? Why not. Let's show the map again. Please, someone, tell me this isn't real.

I am an American. I could not possibly understand. Do you know where I live? I turn the faucet and have water. I flip a switch and have light. I walk down the street after midnight and come home alive. I can spend entire paychecks on things I don't need: beer, bubble bath, breakfast cereal. My bedroom windows are not imploded every two months by exploding shells on the street. My belongings are not smoke damaged, dusted with rubble and ash, riddled with bullet holes. I can lay under a tree in the park, doze off and be safe, shading my face with a book I'd be arrested for even owning in other places. We are a nation of spoiled babies, more concerned about how long until our next installment of anime DVDs is released than what became of our father or how to fill our angry stomach tonight. Do you know how hard it is for me to fathom a life without the morning e-mail check and hot nightly bath? Now, buildings taken out and thousands of innocent dead, we need a villain, we need someone to punish. We keep our nervous hands busy with a cigarette, fill our lungs with toxins, shorten our lives all in the name of not having to just sit there.

Don't talk to me about our government. Every government is corrupt. What happened yesterday morning couldn't have happened in some of the countries we are pointing fingers at simply because World Trade Centers and Pentagons could never come to be in places where even civilian homes are blasted open on a daily basis. Given the choice, I'd choose here, because I can write what I want without getting shot in the head, because I can date who I want without being stoned, because I can say more than I could possibly say in many, many, many other places without disappearing into the night and never being heard from again. I'd choose here because I can turn the faucet and have clean water. Because I can have opinions about the government, here, because I am not too worried about my angry stomach to have an opinion about anything at all.

Terrorism is disgusting. Violent death of the unsuspecting, of the undeserving, what will this prove? Where will this get anyone? This hurts and this kills me, but I need to make this clear: I don't want retribution, I want it to stop. Don't waste time and energy blasting out the sinners, because more with more anger and more ways around our safeguards will fast follow in their wake. Figure out why this is happening. Figure out what makes these monsters, and what makes them believe these are the right things to do. Find a way to kill the mind set, because the minds make easy work of killing themselves--martyrs to their causes of ten thousand deaths.

I don't remember the country, and it doesn't matter, to me, but they showed people in the streets, dancing, laughing, waving their flags and singing for our blood. It made me sick. I don't remember the country because, for me, this is not a crime they commit as a race or a nation, but a crime they commit as human beings. You do not dance and wave flags at innocent lives lost. Little children with crooked grins, spinning for the camera--don't know any better, they are happy because their parents are happy, happy because America is evil and America got hers. They don't understand, but their parents, who gave them the flags, who shouted joyfully at the Trade Centers collapse, who are human beings with human dignity who go to work and make love and eat food and know how to dance--have no respect for the thousands of people who left for work this morning, not knowing that in less than an hour they would do these things no more. To celebrate this is sick. Just as sick as rejoicing when we find something to retaliate at, blow it to bloody bits, and narrow our eyes and sharpen our claws for the next attack.

Because pinch me and I'll pinch back. Punch me for pinching and I'll kick out your left knee. For your knee, my eye, for my eye, six of your teeth, six teeth for broken ribs and handfuls of hair and blood and skin beneath our nails and your flesh in my mouth because you know where this goes? Vengeance is slow death by severance. Cut off a finger, a hand at the wrist, at the elbow, at the shoulder. Cut until nothing is left. Keep cutting.

There is no retribution.
Only more evil.
Only more death.
atienne_navarre...windlasher on September 12th, 2001 05:49 am (UTC)
well said - just frightening
selva oscuraanonymousblack on September 12th, 2001 11:48 pm (UTC)
Allison: kyrkaelliptic on September 12th, 2001 09:08 am (UTC)
I like Peter Jennings too-- he always seems to rise above the sensationalism that many of the other broadcasters, local and national, tend to employ. Although I still think ABCNews and many others used poor judgment by airing shots of people celebrating the disaster so soon after it occurred. Digesting what actually happened was difficult enough without that kind of salt rubbed in our collective wound mere hours after the tragedies.

I think I'm sticking to 'net news from this point on-- if I have to see video sequences of the impacts one more time I think I will go nuts.

And I wholeheartedly echo your sentiment about retribution. I want the vengeance and hatred to end... now. Why is that too much to ask.
selva oscura: girlsanonymousblack on September 13th, 2001 12:20 am (UTC)
...because people are not grasping... with both hands, or with either... the fact that it will get us nowhere. That it will only create a greater desire for vengence. The willful killing of innocent people inevitabily results in more innocent people killed in retaliation. Fighting terrorism can not be done in the ways we've previously fought problems; we've proven that over and over. A new method must be devised.

I also wondered why they featured the footage of people dancing in the streets so soon--but I particularily wondered why no images were shown, apparantly from that same country, of people laying flowers, crying, and praying at the American Embassy. It would have been a comfort--as well as a reminder that this isn't just something we are crying over. I really wonder about the motivation, there, and my theories on this... are not comforting.

Peter Jennings needs a good foot massage and lots of comfort food.
I think we all do.
lokust on September 12th, 2001 10:46 am (UTC)
love is life.
murder is evil.
there is no greater evil than the taking ov life.

be well, and if you need a friend... just contact me.
selva oscura: dollsanonymousblack on September 13th, 2001 12:23 am (UTC)
Wise words.

of course
I will)

There're things which are true & there are storiesaoife28 on September 12th, 2001 11:24 am (UTC)
You have just put into words all the aimless feelings and impressions I've harbored since yesterday morning.Thanks for your insight...it helps me feel more grounded.
selva oscura: sofaanonymousblack on September 13th, 2001 12:28 am (UTC)
Actually, they were my aimless feelings and impressions, and I did not get them all... in fact, I've been rewriting this piece in my head since I posted it.... but I will leave it as it stands, however raw, because it does make me feel more grounded, and it helped you. And miles to go before I sleep, indeed. We will be sifting through this rubble for a very, very, very long time.
ex_carrot on September 12th, 2001 07:12 pm (UTC)
your very beautiful too.
selva oscura: sweateranonymousblack on September 13th, 2001 12:33 am (UTC)
thank you