You’ll notice that this issue of the IRS is extremely late. So late in fact that I’m not even sure of my own production schedule anymore. Which brings me to the subject of this month’s editorial. How does one properly cope and hopefully recover from an experience as life altering as the events of September 11th. Even the recitation of the date speaks volumes. You don’t need a year or a location, just the date. Like December 7th, September 11th is its own icon in the history of dates. I suspect this is true all over the world, if the outpouring of empathy that my television, newspapers, magazines and radio is any indication. Of course I am American and prone to believe the whole world is watching my nation, but that may be a subject for another Beef. Horror and disbelief a vision of unrelenting evil is universal, and I don’t have to be American to know that.
I was awakened from a light sleep contemplating full wakefulness on the morning of September 11th by my best friend babbling over the line about airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. He made me promise to get dressed and come over to his house as soon as I could because he didn’t want to be alone. I ran downstairs and flipped on CNN, which I normally resent for broadcasting every foul thing that happens in the world over and over, but a part of me was secure in the knowledge that I could catch up with my friend’s horror in under five minutes. And it was true. I watched repeatedly as the planes crashed into the buildings. Even when the buildings fell, it still wasn’t real. I spent the next twenty minutes watching the event over and over, it becoming more real with each loop. Some people complained that they showed the impact of the planes on the buildings and the buildings on the ground too often, but I disagree. It was exactly what I needed because a life spent enthralled with action films made me, on some strange level, hesitant to accept what I was seeing. I ran off to my best friend’s house to comfort him.
Days later after the work and social banter was narrowing down to survivor stories and technical details, I was awakened by gunfire from my front yard. At first I didn’t believe it was gunfire, then I didn’t believe it was close, and finally I didn’t believe it was serious. Wrong on all counts. Understand I live in a quiet middle class neighborhood I had moved to from a really seedy section of Hollywood, where I never heard gunshots outside my window with the exception of New Year’s Day. There is an in home day care center across the street from my house. One of the women who uses the day care center dropped off her young daughter and upon returning to her car was met by her ex husband and a gun. My first marriage ended when I fled a violent husband and I had always joked that I was lucky to be alive. He hit her point blank five times and drove away. Her mother and sister were called, her best friend who dropped her daughter off after the woman’s body was taken away cried and screamed. I called in sick to work, called my best friend who brought over McDonalds, he left, I ate an entire box of doughnuts and went to bed for fifteen hours.
What is it about tragedy that is so damned shareable? I don’t know anyone in New York who was affected by the tragedy; I didn’t know the woman shot across the street from my house. I never thought about “national loyalty” or “fellow citizens” before. I’ve seen news reports about mass death before, uttered many “how awfuls” and “poor souls.” But I must admit that there was a deep feeling of family tragedy to the September 11th events and I felt a personal danger when the woman was shot. I’ve realized in the past few months that the sense of danger and the sense of tragedy that was triggered by the two events lays deep in my brain and beyond on a daily basis. So how does one cope and recover from violent life altering events? Maybe we don’t; maybe they live inside us like bad strands of DNA. Or as a genetic memory of all the bad things that we do to one another that is only stirred up by a painful reminder, like bumping an old break on the corner of a coffee table sitting right in your old living room.
But I ramble.
This issue is late because I have been rambling on a daily basis in my head about what it all means. About how so many people can die and it doesn’t affect me except in my mind and in my heart.; about how I can go on everyday regardless of the suffering of others. How do we recover? How do we not.