Sunday, September 29, 2002

Hilarious: 2002 Results Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
2002 Results

Saturday, September 28, 2002

My new favorite web site:HubbleSite - Universe.

Space Girl

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Last night was a quiet night; another episode of Law & Order and then I watched the tail end of 60 minutes. The anchor was despicable - imputing his own liberal sentimentality on the rest of the US - his questions were filled with moral equivalency and the language of appeasement.

Then the president spoke and the cobwebs blew away again. His clarity, perception, depth and calm filled me again with confidence that he is the right man for this time in history.

Then I watched 9/11 - the documentary shot by Jules and Gideon Naudet - for the next two hours. Last time the sound of the bodies hitting the buildings bothered me the most. That jumpy look of anxiety and fear on the firefighters faces every time they heard another body hit amazed me.

This time it was the screaming when they got to the North Tower lobby. Jules said he turned away when he saw the people screaming and just couldn't film that.

I am thankful he didn't.

Afterward, with tears still streaming down my face, I went outside and looked at the stars. I found the Great Square of Pegasus, Andromeda, Triangulum, Perseus, and Cassiopeia. In the peace and dark of another cool autumn day, I realized what everyone else has been talking about is true. After the hell of the last year, the roommate troubles, difficulty at work, the health scare, the awful black hole of 9/11, I am alive. For some reason I am still on this planet.

Get busy living or get busy dying. I keep hearing that in my head. I think there must be some substance to it.

Now, how to do that?
"It was a beautiful day - and I won't say "it was just like the gorgeous day of 9/11" because that would link the glory of a simple early-autumn day to perfidy of those assassins. Facile as it sounds, if I think that lovely September mornings are Just Like That Day, then the terrorists have won. No. Note to Atta et al, no doubt dogpaddling in hell and bobbing in sulferous feces for nail-studded raisins: a lovely day in September reminds me that I'm alive, and you're not.

No, it was a good day. We had an Indian meal, assembled from the shelves of the pungent market down the street. We drew on the sidewalk with chalk, we went to the park to play. Jasper ran after rabbits while I weeded the lawn. I went to the office for a while, and when I went outside to think about the column I watched hundreds of citizens stream to the Metrodome to watch baseball and attend the memorial. No fear on anyone's face. And if you walked close enough to the Dome you could hear the crowd inside roar - not for blood, not for vengeance, not for death and fire, but for baseball. That was 9/11, 2002. I curse the terrorists for their horrible triumphs, but those bastards cannot even begin to count the ways in which they failed."

More rockin' prose from James Lileks can be found here.
This is the best essay on 9-11 I've read, by far: LILEKS (James) The Bleat.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Where were you?

I was supposed to fly that day. I tried to take an 8:30 am flight from my folks' in Florida, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to take an extra vacation day. My plans to fly back that night were thwarted by the ground stop.

I was asleep on the couch at Mom's when my sister called me and said, 'Two planes hit the World Trade Center and they think it's terrorism. Turn on CNN.'

I did. I called Mom, Dad, and my friend Scott. About ten minutes after I turned on the TV, the South tower fell. I was on the phone with Dad when it happened. Scott was in bed; I woke him up. He couldn't believe it either.

Reports came in from everywhere; the Pentagon, the White House. President Bush was in Florida so they had a lockdown at the schools. My nephew finally was released from kindergarten at 12noon.

The neighbor lady Joy came over. She was fit to be tied about the lockdown and we were both hysterical over what had happened. We stood outside and listened to the silence in the sky - the sound of no planes flying over because of the ground stop.

We tried to remind ourselves God was in control. The Taliban appeared on TV. I hated them on sight. On Wednesday, still at Mom's, I finally looked in the mirror. I saw the same shock, anger and grief in my eyes that had been on the faces of the news anchors, politicians, soldiers and other people on television. I did not cry. I was too numb.

One of my sister's college friends called in a tip to the FBI about a guy who lived in his apartment building. They had found his car at the airport filled with terrorist stuff, I think, and dude called to tell the police more information. I have the Orlando Sentinel EXTRA and the New York Times from those days. I finally drove back, averaging 85 mph, and made the 10 hour drive in about 8 hours. I stopped only once, and never changed the radio station from NPR.

I watched CNN for a month solid. I prayed for Lauren Manning daily. I never did get a flag for my car, though.

Last July my sister and I happened to drive past THE PINK PONY, the strip club where some of the terrorists partied before going to their whorehouse heaven. It's empty and desolate, completely free of any signs of life.

I also went to Ground Zero in July. It's bigger than you would imagine, and cleaner than you would think. In Grand Central station there is still a folding screen covered with missing fliers. It broke my heart. Photographing it seemed like violating someone's privacy.

I saw many signs in shop windows that said I (heart) NY MORE THAN EVER. That was the best thing. There is a memorial on the fence of St. Paul's across from Ground Zero covered in every imaginable display of patriotism, grief, and support. New York is a kinder place now than I remember, or perhaps I am kinder; at any rate, there was a warmth there this time that I don't remember being there previously.

I pray this country never forgets there are evil men whose sole ambition is to destroy us.