No Concept of Zero

It took awhile for the news of the hijackings and attacks to sink in. I got up late and I listened to NPR – not hearing the words. I dialed-up, checked my email, and launched a browser. I had a message from Fiona in the UK, “All i can say is that we are completley devastated over here, so I can hardly begin to imagine how you and your country are feeling at this moment.” Along the bottom of the usually bare Google front page, my browser’s default page, there was a list of news sources whose servers weren’t overwhelmed. I started listening intently to the radio and clicked through to Yahoo’s newspage.

All I wanted to do after absorbing the general shape of the events of this morning was just stop and shut down. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to answer email or get into something on instant messenger.

I sat and stared at the radio. Then I realized that I could numb myself with the TV news coverage. I watched Peter Jennings – he seemed to be giddy about covering another huge event. He compared it to the Challenger explosion. A bit more prepared, I took a couple of peeks at blog reactions and fueled myself with a couple of cups of tea. Then I decided to face the world, opened my door and jumped, startled, as a neighbor walked by.

I walked timidly through my neighborhood, looked at familiar faces and tried to figure out if they were thinking about these things too. I went downtown. Half of the stores were closed and traffic was light. Pablo stood alone on his corner with his “Seattle police are communist. Jesus loves you.” sign. He was conserving his voice, only yelling when a car went by. I wondered if he knew what had happened.

I had a sandwich at Three Girls, sitting among the tourists. Basically I wandered around for another hour and avoided looking anyone in the eye. I ended up back here at Vivace where I finally shook the trance I’d been in. What in the world am I doing?

I came home and poked around on the web some more. There was an email from Chris, light and jaded: “What’s the news from yer end…RE: massive disaster today”. Doesn’t she know that the world is coming to an end? Then there she was on instant messenger, I could ask her myself. I was put off a bit by our conversation, something left me cold (though when I mentioned a group of people “preying” in a park – she did point out my Freudian slip). Maybe it was just a misunderstanding. She signed-off shortly after.

A bit later Fiona came online. It would have been after midnight her time. She couldn’t sleep. We seemed to be in a similar frame of mind, we sat there repeating how stunned we were – how horrible. We agreed that somehow things are different from now on. I don’t think I can go on with some of my more adolescent attitudes, my undercurrent of negativity.

Funny how this is all about me – how will I react to the world now. But that’s really what it will have to boil down to for any of us.

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