Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let's pretend, indeed.

Funny thing about the human mind.  When confronted with events and extreme stressors, it looks for a normal status, and fixates on that.

When the 9-11 attacks unfolded before my eyes in 2001, and my sense of safety evaporated in the crash of the first plane, then the next and the third and fourth and the collapse of the first World Trade Center tower and then the next, my brain chose the moment to find a task as far away from reality as it could go.

So what did I do?  I took apart the 90 year old sash windows in our bedroom and found some sash cord and I replaced the old rotted cords.

Our cleaning lady was at the house that day, and when I asked if she wanted to go home, she said that she felt it was better to keep working.  My husband came home and felt that the yard needed cut.  The sense of security in our nation had gone up in smoke and we found solace in going through the range of motions of the familiar.

Last night, that feeling of helplessness overcame us again.  Watching the rioting start - and it by no means was near of a catastrophe of the 9-11 attacks, nor was it as big and deadly as the Los Angeles riots of 1992 - and then the feeling of helplessness as we watched TV, it rekindled a lot of the same angst and stress of 2001.

For a couple hours, I walked in the shoes of my parents, feeling the same fears and uncertainties that they felt as Cleveland was rocked by riots in its Hough neighborhood, and then the Glenville riots of 1968.

Today my chest is tight, and my hopes are for a quiet quiet night.  At the same time, the events of last night - the riots, the fires, the gunshots, have delivered uncertainty.  The husband's place of business - two mid rise towers on the inner harbour are closed today and tomorrow.  The Orioles are playing ball tonight in Camden Yard, but the stadium will be off limits to baseball fans. I have been called off work for tomorrow.  Two malls are closed and many stores are closing early.  But the birds are still singing and the sun still shines.  Things are off-balance, but they will hopefully get back to something approaching normal.

So, we still wonder what tonight will bring, if anything.

And me?  Well we no longer own that house with the wooden windows, so I can't struggle with sashes and fix pulleys and replace cords and wrestle with sashes.  This new old house has vinyl replacement windows, so there is no escape or outlet for my angst.

I'll just have to get through it, and pretend, just for tonight, that its all so far away.



  1. In 1993 I recall the panic in Jackson Mississippi when businesses closed in fear that the city would riot and burn the place down if the pretrial for Brian De La Beckwith didn't find enough evidence to move forward. He was the murderer of Medgar Evers. I can remember the KKK's annual parade was held up until 1985! The next president needs to overhaul the entire nations police force protocol.

    Stay safe.

  2. It must be horribly scary up there.
    But you're right....sometimes just going through with mundane life is all that can get us through to the other side.

  3. I'm reminded of the night everyone thought the LA riots would spread to Manhattan - I remember walking from my office on Central Park West down Broadway, watching the bodega guys putting up plywood over their windows. A bunch of us holed up in a friend's apartment that had a balcony; we spent the evening looking down at the uncharacteristically empty Midtown streets, watching the squad cars come and go and waiting for the End of the World. By midnight there were neither riots nor cabs, so I walked all the way home to the far side of Chelsea. How long ago that all seems...

  4. Doesn't anybody curl up into a ball, and just cry?
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, your Husband, and all of Baltimore.

  5. I am very relieved to know you're back at blogging and safe albeit very stressed, I'm sure. You have my best thoughts and prayers (for whatever my prayers may be worth). I was at Newark airport on 09/11, at a US Customs seminar. The people giving the seminar knew people who worked in the Customs building near the towers. My biggest imposition was having to stay overnight, again, in Newark. I felt very bad staying there, knowing other people were dead and many more were caught in the fall out. I saw the towers burn. I watched the smoke change color when they fell and I joined everyone in the hotel lobby as we kept our thoughts to ourselves wondering where that other plane could be. I noticed how everyone was on their cellphone that day. I thought the missing plane was coming for the Statue of Liberty. It was the plane that crashed in Shanksville, PA. The first thing I did when I could finally get out of Newark the next day was to drive across Rt. 22 to northeast PA to take my son out to the park. I remember looking up at the clear sky and noting the lack of vapor trails because all flights were still grounded. When I got back to work the next day, my boss said he couldn't understand why they didn't hold the seminar the next day. I said maybe because thousands of people had been killed and that they knew and worked with some of them. He was a VP and the management loved him. Says a lot for where I worked, doesn't it? Funny though, how he always seemed to like me and to take care of me. Maybe because I saw him as he was. The VP title didn't fool me or impress me, nor did he. Wow, you brought a lot back today. I hope you and your husbear and dogs and cool, old car and the city are safe as things return to normal and the wheels of justice begin their long, tedious grind.

  6. liquor and pills darling, liquor and pills.

  7. I went to work on 9/11 (west coast, so it happened before I was to leave for work.) Your cleaning lady is right, it feels better to go on working. I'm so sorry for Baltimore, and I hope the whole thing blows over soon, and that justice is where it's blown to.