Yesterday, I came back to work.
Some of it was guilt. I was supposed to be on vacation this week, and I felt very strange just sitting at home watching as all this was happening. As much as I didn't want to be part of the news feeding frenzy for another mass tragedy, I did realize in a more rational part of my brain that sitting at home watching TV and e-mailing friends wasn't really contributing much to the world (although it was a comfort).
So I sent an e-mail to my bosses telling them that I wouldn't mind working if they needed me.
Thursday morning, one of our assistant managing editors called.
It felt good to be back in the newsroom. (Or at least, our little out-of-the-main-area office.) I did some editing, wrote a short story about the changing significance of cell phones (from annoyance to lifeline) and committed to work the rest of the week and strange hours next week.
Get this: I'm working 4 a.m. to noon Monday.
Truth be told, I'm excited about this. I like working odd hours and sleeping late. The 4 a.m. thing is only for one day. After that, I'm working 3 p.m. to 11, which will be another strange change for me.
Still feeling numb, alternating with emotional rawness.
A co-worker of mine who says she cries at the drop of a hat said that she hasn't cried all week. I told her it's numbness. It's not that we don't feel it, it's that we can't process it yet.
Last night I was watching a short news segment about the sale of flags going through the roof (or pole, as it were). All these flag shops are selling out and people are standing in line to buy little American flag to put on their cars and plant in their front yards.
I've never been a hugely patriotic person, but for some reason, this just got me. Little kids waving little American flags on little balsa wood sticks. It struck me. I got teary for one of the first times this week.
But then I got angry this morning. Admittedly, it was before my first cup of coffee, so I'm prone to crankiness. But on the news, there were reports of attacks on innocent Arab Americans related to the bombing.
(Inarticulate grumbling/shouting noises).
I don't know what to say about this. I'm so angry. I want to break something over this. We didn't learn anything from Oklahoma City?
It's both wonderful and terrible to live in a place where our freedom can sometimes allow our ignorance and intolerance to flourish. Attacking Arab Americans? Making them feel unsafe on the street? Making them feel like they have to hide in mosques (which themselves have been targets) because they don't fit people's dim, narrow fucking view of what an American is supposed to be?
Tragedy has brought out the best in some people this week. Heroes and rescuers and families bound together by loss.
But it's also, sadly, shaken sticks in the bushes where the dumbfucks dwell, waiting to emerge and spew their cancerous bullshit.
Reason #2 for anger this morning:
I got the candle e-mail I'm sure a lot of you did this week. People want a candlelight vigil tonight across the nation.
Normally, I get annoyed by these kinds of messages, but these aren't normal times and right now, it's just a warm sentiment, no harm.
So this is what I get in my e-mail box in the middle of the night from a PR guy (I think he's a PR guy named Bill. He sent it to a bunch of PR friends/business contacts, the dumb shit):
Okay, first of all, shut the fuck up.
Second... shut the fuck up!
My God. Here's what I wrote to the guy. I wanted to CC: everyone he saw fit to include on his little screed, but people were already getting overloaded with responses and I didn't want to contribute to the shitstorm.
I tried to be calm, but man was I angry.
Anger, I think, is a perfectly reasonable response this week. I'm not saying it's productive, but it is human.
I've written about my favorite writer, Harlan Ellison, in these pages before. There's a book of short stories he wrote called "Angry Candy." The stories are united by the theme of death when Ellison found that a lot of friends, acquaintances and people he admired were suddenly dying at an alarming rate. Over a two or three year period, so many people in his life died. He found that his response began to veer from sadness and grief to a very palpable anger.
I don't have the book in front of me, but the gist of it was that if you can't be angry about the loss of someone, if you can't muster the will to cry at the heavens and rail against the unfairness of losing someone too soon, then how the Hell much did you care to begin with?
Some lightness in the dark.
Heather wrote a recap of the first episode of Band of Brothers this week. I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been, to try to crank that out in the middle of all this. It probably helped that David Schwimmer was in that first episode. Go check it out.
Also, I wanted to report on the Terribly Happy store, which launched, in a brilliant strategic business move, on Monday.
I have a grand total of... (drum roll please)...
That's right. Zero.
I haven't sold damn thing. Except for one bag on Cafepress, but nothing out of my own moichandise stash.
Cosa, my cat, looked at all the Terribly Happy store stuff I have on shelves in my home office and then she turned to me. "Dude, you fucked up," she said.
"SHUT UP!" I yelled back. "No IAMS for you tonight!'
"It's reduced fat formula anyway," she said. "That stuff tastes like rat shit."
"And how would you know?"
She just waddled away on her fat little haunches.
I hope you people are donating all your money to the Red Cross.