Living Hell - Volume #1, Issue #10


September 11, 2001


  o Siblings
  o Walking Wounded
  o Fire Department of New York
  o Drinking Game


Today is my brother's birthday.  He's a flight attendant for [some
airline].  Early this morning he returned home, riding one of the
jets that later crashed.  The very next flight, it turns out.

Five days ago, my sister's baby was born.  And I became an Uncle.

Gifts, both of circumstance and chance.

Walking Wounded

Is this what Pearl Harbor was like?  That's the thought of the day,
the *obvious* thought of the day, as we collectively ponder:  are
these the same, stunned, surreal sensations that our parents and
grandparents felt fifty years ago?  Dazed thoughts thinking "this
can't be real" while an angry anger bubbles underneath, sometimes
whispering, other times screaming for eye-for-eye justice.  So, lo
these last years spent celebrating "America's greatest generation,"
we *get* what the vets were speaking about.  The patriotic outrage
after a national violation.  Not only can you not *not* react, you
cannot *not* want to help.  Such as this author's immediate willing-
ness to assist with local firefighting needs, should worst-case mu-
tual-aid requests leave the Capital City understaffed.  (Not likely,
mind you, but still considered.)

Our elders also had a buffer of sorts.  For better or worse, ours is
an "information age."  What was once radio, newspaper, and a little
bit o' television, is now CNN, the Internet, and near-instant pre-
packaging of just-happened horrors such that, by four o'clock this
afternoon, most of the major news sites had slick, professional-
looking graphics already advertising "America Under Attack."  (In
their defense, I suppose presentation *is* everything.  Even in the
worst of times.)  Of course, provided you could *connect* to such
sites.  Internet bandwidth was catch as catch can today.  Once con-
nected, though, content was indeed king:  photos and articles and
testimonials and those amazing (if wee) videos that diminished, but
didn't sterile, the day's incredible footage.  Click to experience
the story.  No thanks, living it already.

Don't know about y'all, but this writer hasn't had a lighthearted
thought since the first exclaimed phone call from my mother this
morning.  Food, drink, and dessert urges are down.  Favored hobbies
seem suddenly trite.  Work tasks are all at once hollow.  Heck, just
*get-ting* is a challenge, wading a stream of "survival thoughts,"
the mind's eye imagining worst-est-case scenarios requiring bottled
water, stashed cash, or, ah, "home-protection devices."  (A gun shop
'round the corner was doing brisk business!)  If I resemble a sort
of "walking wounded"-- if all of *America* is rendered same-- it
shouldn't be much of a surprise.  "TV war" debuted during the Per-
sian conflict and "TV terror" is the logical, expected extension.
And in a land of free speech and open borders, of jury trials and
death-penalty foes, of mindlessly easy travel from coast-to-coast,
by car or boat or train or plane (the latter more secure the fewer
times "20/20" et al tried to "beat the system"), that the bullies
are bullying *harder* is hardly news.  The United States is a coun-
try that, well, asks questions first.  It's why we're liked and,
alas, why we're not.

Fire Department of New York

Officials fear 200 firefighters perished during the World Trade Cen-
ter attack and subsequent collapse.  Twice the number initially re-
sponded, with upwards of 11,000 (!) eventually responding, reports
firehouse.com, quoting Harold Schaitberger, president of the Inter-
national Association of Fire Fighters.  The site, quoting a late re-
lease from the FDNY Press Office, that the list of deceased includes
FDNY Chief of Department Pete Ganci, First Deputy Commissioners Bill
Freehan and Raymond M. Downey, and the Department's Chaplain, Rev.
Michael Judge.  The largest loss of firefighters in a single inci-
dent, speculates the site, occurred on April 16-17, 1947, in Texas
City, Texas, when fires and ammonium nitrate explosions aboard two
(docked) ships killed 27 firefighters (and nearly 573 others).  The
entire department, if memory serves.

Drinking Game

Warning!  Contains humor in wake of great tragedy!

World Trade Center drinking game.  Instructions:  Take a shot each
time a network-news anchor uses one of the following adjectives:

  o horrific
  o horrendous
  o horrifying
  o terrifying
  o unbelievable
  o unfathomable (rare, take two shots)
  o tragic
  o terrible
  o just terrible
  o we have just learned
  o wait, we're getting another update

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros



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