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As I start to write this, I look at my watch and realize that one week ago, just now, I'd just seen the first tower go down. Here in the new world it seems like a year, two years, a hundred years. Time has taken on a rubbery quality.
     Toward the end of Burn's The Civil War documentary, years ago, there was a single phrase read aloud; written by either a Yankee or Confederate some time after the war, thinking back on his experience, and I keep hearing it in my head:
     "Were these things real?"
     Even as I go through each day, so much of it still refuses to settle into anything remotely resembling reality. Last night we watched Letterman, who was on for the first time after the late news, and it was extremely strange, and vaguely unsettling. He didn't make any jokes, of course, but this most hard-shelled of all contemporary performers revealed depths of sadness, and fear, and uncertainty, and anger; and then Dan Rather came out as his guest and broke down in tears twice.
     Extremely unreal.
     Yet, on the other hand, V & I went over to Jersey City late yesterday afternoon to have dinner with her mother and celebrate the new year (praying, as every year, to have one more year). While I expected huge backups at the bus terminal, we somehow managed to hit it right, and got from Port Authority to Summit Ave. in Jersey City in half an hour. On the way, as we went up Palisades Avenue, which runs along the top of the Palisades (which, in this area, are utterly urbanized) and so I saw all of lower Manhattan from the Jersey side, and the absence of the Towers, and the smoke that continues to rise therefrom.
     That, conversely, now seemed normal.
     Valeria's mother, who is 68, was extremely happy to see us. Jersey City has a large Arab population (and Indian, and Phillipine, and...) and she was more than usually suspicious -- relating stories of how two had been arrested (I have heard this on the news as well), etc. She's holding up very well, though; of course, this is a woman who grew up in Soviet Russia during the Second World War, and under Stalin, and didn't leave the USSR until 1981, so she's had considerable experience, living life under conditions that are only now beginning to become imaginable.
     Besides the absence of the Towers from a distance there are many things that are beginning to seem normal to me now. Leaving the house fifteen minutes earlier because my subway now becomes express at 96th, and therefore no longer stops at 50th (unless I transfer). Seeing at least one policeman at every subway station, and many more at the larger stations. Hearing, along with the occasional airplane (I gather airports are becoming rather ghostly, at present), the occasional F-16. Phone service, especially long-distance & cellular, that comes and goes. Police barricades along Fifth, metal barriers at the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center, the sight of US flags everywhere, attached to car aerials, hanging from windows, photocopied and taped onto doors. The occasional Army humvee parked on Broadway. New York crowds, thinned out to a level I haven't seen since the late 70s and early 80s, when no one wanted to come to NY on a bet, save for the likes of me and my people.
     I'd recommend the new New Yorker. The cover is by Spiegelman, and brilliant.
     In the News, this morning, an article about NY's Afghan restaurants, and how no one is eating at them, and how they're quickly going to go broke; the people who run them are, of course, in nearly all cases immigrants who came here to escape the war during the 80s, or the Taliban since. And the new total of people still missing is a little over 5,400 -- evidently the additional 700 weren't reported until yesterday; I imagine many relatives, companies, etc., were still holding out hope. A friend in Australia has told me 100 Aussies have been killed; a friend in Germany says anywhere up to 200-some Germans were killed; and of course 500 Brits. 100 Russians. And U.S. citizens who, being New Yorkers, were of every possible background, every color and creed. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus.
     An attack on Civilization, period.
     I need to talk to my father again tonight, to see how he is doing. Two weeks ago, tomorrow, my stepmother suddenly died, as you and some others know (she was 52). Her funeral was September 8, and then 3 days later...thoughts of her vanished from my mind, mostly, since last Tuesday, and that makes me feel sad, but even so I can only move forward. I know I didn't come close to processing her death, but at some point I suppose I will -- or maybe I already have, in this new world. I honestly don't know.
     I'm not as scared today as I was yesterday. I can't imagine this will last; today is Ros Ha'shanah, NY is quiet yet again -- this time, for better reason then has recently been the case -- and, clearly, something is in the air. But I don't know what, and until that something occurs, I can only do what I have been trying to do for some years -- since I came down with the TB, really, back in early 1997; and again, after Jenna died, back in March -- and that is, live one day at a time. The thing is, I have been *trying* to do this; and I think, now, I finally am.
     It is the most real of all unreal feelings, to be doing so.

Jonathan Carroll has just sent the following, which I pass along.

Friends, I had an idea today and it may be nuts but maybe not. I know you're all in touch one way or another with people in the computer community worldwide and they're in touch with others, etcetera. Here's my idea, for what it's worth. Computer hackers are often thought of as nasty little shits who fuck up everybody's day for no reason(s) other than to be annoying. But what if for once they put their minds to a real and important task-- what if that hacker community worldwide tried in break to the computer networks of the terrorists? The Greatest Challenge, the greatest "game" ever posed them and any results would be, well, heroic.
     What if this message or something like it was sent out far and wide to these computer experts? A genuine call to arms to people who believe nothing justifies what was done in New York the other day and now knowledgeable, talented people must do what they can to fight it far and wide. For hackers that means crack their systems, figure out what they're saying, give the results to the people who can put it to good use, etcetera. Do exactly what they've been doing all along - hack the system - but this time do it for something that means saving lives everywhere. I leave the thought in your hands,

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