This morning, I am in fact even less angry than I was after writing
my letter of yesterday. The reason why, momentarily.
But first, two fragments floating
down through the air like burning paper, that reveal -- what? I
don't know. Both stick.
First, from my old friend Karl Bruckmaier
in Germany, the following: "Two concerts with music by Karlheinz
Stockhausen were scheduled for last weekend in Hamburg. At a press
conference the composer told a bewildered audience: You must change
your way of thinking for a minute now! And I'm gonna tell you that
in my view what happened there (re: the terrorist attacks) in America,
this is simply the greatest work of art that existed - ever. I mean,
imagine, I talk to you as a musician now, imagine 50 people rehearsing
LIKE CRAZY for ten years and then giving a performance, people who
DIE during that performance, and send 5000 others into redemption.
I mean, think about it - that's so incredible...I mean...I assure
you, I couldn't do that...This, I couldn't do it. Both concerts
by Stockhausen in Hamburg were called off." And, from this
this fascinating website, an odd and troubling story.
Whether this is some sort of developing
legend, or has a basis in reality, I have no idea.
I realize that NY is only beginning
to secure itself. There are, presently, for example, no new checkpoints
anywhere within Rockefeller Center, either in the major buildings
or in the concourse that runs underneath them all. This strikes
me as not good. Police are stopping and checking all trucks coming
into NY through either the Lincoln Tunnel or the GW bridge, but
not those that come into town from the Bronx, or Brooklyn, or Queens.
Some buildings have, clearly, tightened up security that was previously
lax (these you can spot by the long lines of employees coming out
onto the street). Others, as clearly not.
Yesterday afternoon V met her friend
Marina and they went downtown. Presently, the only Frozen Zone remaining
is west of Broadway and south of Canal, that is to say the area
in which the Towers stood and the area most immediately affected.
East of Broadway, the subway stations are open, in places, and pedestrians
are now allowed to walk freely. V said they got as close as the
far side of Broadway (noting that neither Trinity nor St. Paul's
churches survived without damage). She said that she can no longer
tell where anything, really stood; and that as everyone has been
saying, it looks far different in real life than on TV. "It's
so big," she said of the site. "So big."
She found something, down there, that
she brought back for me; and what she found enabled me to move forward,
a bit more. The following is laughable, in some respects, and I
accept that. Laugh, please.
Background: those of you who have
been over to my house (that includes all of you, I think) know that
I like chihuahuas. Like is perhaps not the most exact word. The
side of our refrigerator is covered with various photos of the yappy
little critters. I had a chihuahua when I was a child, which my
grandparents fed until it became the world's largest chihuahua (35
pounds). She was always my favorite dog; I haven't had a dog, since.
As I noted in earlier letters, throughout
town, attached to walls and telephone booths and mailboxes and lampposts
and cars are homemade flyers bearing pictures of the missing, with
their names, their descriptions, numbers to call. These are heartbreaking
and numbing; there are so many different people, so many. They have
been up for over a week now, and there have been no happy endings
in any case.
Other things have been put up, as
well: the WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE poster insert of bin Laden provided
a few days ago in, of course, the NY Post; downloaded pictures of
US flags (I have one of these on the door of my office, and one
on our apartment door -- someone in our building printed out a stack
and left them downstairs for the taking); notices from PETA and
the ASPCA telling where pets whose owners have been lost etc. can
be brought; where blood can be given, donations be taken, supplies
be brought, etc.
Valeria found something different,
and as said brought up the second copy she saw, and gave it to me
last night when she got home. It was a flyer made up by Nancy Corday
(I don't know who she is): a thank you flyer for everyone who has
helped, in whatever way. The color photo thereon is of her dog (I
assume, it's not a professional photo). A chihuahua, wearing a small
flag tied around its neck, and what would seem to be a tiny nurses'
cap with gold star.
The moment I saw it, I finally cried.
When I was a child, I cried freely,
for a variety of reasons; over time, and with beatings inflicted
at school for so crying, I stopped. I can remember, literally, all
the times I have cried since 1987 -- once, then, when my girlfriend
left me. Then, ten years later, in the hospital; then, during a
group therapy session in February; and last March, two weeks after
Jenna died. That's it.
Sadness turned into anger, and vice
versa, and both grew ever more contained, with time.
I have no idea why the sight of this
little dog finally allowed me to get out what I've had inside, since
last Tuesday. Well, I imagine it evoked something from childhood,
back when I was able to cry without hindrance, and triggered the
I cried for twenty minutes, while
Valeria held me. All those people, I kept thinking. All those people.
All those people.
Today, as said, I finally feel far less numb than I did, and less
angry. The stages of grief, as I remember them, are shock, anger,
sorrow, acceptance. I think I'm getting closer to the last.
Within the next few days, I think,
as more people finally accept that their loved ones are gone, the
city will become much sadder.
From the funeral oration of Pericles:
If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without
laborious training, and with a courage which is gained by habit
and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the better for it?
Since we do not anticipate the pain, although, when the hour comes,
we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest;
thus our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we
are lovers of the beautiful in our tastes and our strength lies,
in our opinion, not in deliberation and discussion, but that knowledge
which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have
a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too,
whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon
reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits
who, having the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures
of life, do not on that account shrink from danger.
An English friend asked yesterday,
by email, if people in NY and Washington were less bloodthirsty
than people in the rest of the country. I have an inkling but no
direct experience of how the rest of the country feels (another
friend, who with his wife drove here from Seattle -- they moved
here -- arrived at the New Jersey border on the 11th, and said he
could not understand why all the electronic signs were saying "ALL
ROADS TO NEW YORK CLOSED."), so I don't know that I can really
say. Some are, some aren't, I assume.
But I don't feel bloodthirsty, no.
That was my reaction on Tuesday the 11th, but it passed. I am, as
I said yesterday, furious; but each day growing better able to deal
with it, and wanting now only that whatever happens next be, however
long it takes, effective.
If any of you were upset by what I
wrote yesterday, I'm sorry for that; but if my writing you is helping
you, it is helping me much more. It is, in fact, the one thing I
am able to do, presently.
V tells me that I will be getting
a chihuahua, for my birthday.