Nightmares Dissipated And Hope Renewed

I’ve waited a few days to write this, mainly because I needed to place some things in their proper perspective and not write with the emotion of the moment.  I’ve saved those for Facebook pages and a video of my initial reaction of the incredible news of Osama Bin Laden’s death this past Sunday May 1st.  I needed time to put things into place, slot them into their proper compartments and try and write this with as much emotional detachment as I can, but somehow I know that will be impossible in a few paragraphs and most certainly by the end of this post.

For the past three nights, I’ve slept very soundly and with no nightmares for the first time in a decade.  The sense of palpable relief and that decade long “waiting to exhale moment” hit me like a ton of bricks on Sunday.  At first I broke down upon hearing the news; and I kind of figured that I would.  OBL was a man who I wished dead every moment of every day for nearly a decade.  Say what you will, call me an inhuman bastard, that I don’t practice what I preach…but I am VERY human, and as such having that bastard get a bullet (or range of bullets as they are now saying) to the head is extremely gratifying.  I can’t hide behind any pretense on that simple fact; I’m not going to get up on my Proctor and Ramble soapbox and say that we should never wish anyone dead and OBL is no exception. Well, we SHOULDN’T wish anyone dead…but OLB was always the exception to that rule.  I’m not a believer in the death penalty except in only one case: crimes against humanity; my logic being that if a person could be that powerful as to commit atrocities among so many people on this planet then they could be powerful enough to somehow break out of prison (Napoleon, anyone?) and regain  or attempt to regain their power and do it all over again.  (My preferred method for dealing with murderers is life in solitary with no parole; a living death if you will…much worse than the quick fate we offer them at the hands of the State Executioner.  Plus society is being consistent with it’s own laws).  We have seen this happen with not only Napoleon, but other tyrants throughout history who were deposed and came back to be as strong or stronger after being sprung from their prison by their followers as most assuredly OBL would have been had he been taken alive.  I strongly believe that would have been the case, and we would have had the fish we longed to catch jump back off the boat and into the sea where the odds would have been not in our favor of catching the same fish again.  Quite frankly, as much as I believe everyone deserves a fair trial…he already had his.  He admitted as much in public that he was responsible for committing not only the two attacks on the World Trade Center, but the USS Cole and other attacks.  That is an admission of guilt, which in a court then means you are subject to the judge’s discretion in reading the law and imposing sentence.

There are 3,000 souls who were judge and jury who were screaming “Death!” from the next plane of existence.  There were the families of the dead who said the same thing; and then there were those of us who were witness to one of the worst crimes in Human History whose lives (and that of our own families) were irrevocably changed who wanted this man dead. There was no cries for mercy from anyone that I knew of.  In fact, I always said if I could have been allowed to slit the man’s throat with a scimitar myself I would gladly do it…no matter how much bad karma it cost me.  I have been in Hell for the past ten years: acute PTSD, alcoholism gone unmitigated and even enhanced as a result of 9/11 and a couple of breakdowns along the way, plus a diagnosis of Bipolar II at age 43 which pretty much ended my chances of living normally or having a career in my former field.  My children barely got to know their father’s true self; it would appear from time to time but it was always buried under this cloud and fog of 9/11.  My oldest will be 14 this coming Saturday and she remembers very little (much to my surprise when I asked her) of what I was like before 9/11.  My youngest, born 30 days before the attacks NEVER got a chance to know me as I was…the good part of who I was, anyway.  The guy who was fun, funny, and liked a good time.  The guy who was responsible.  The guy who was a good dad and starting to become a very good one as I started to grow up a bit and settle into my role as father and husband and embrace it more than I ever had previously.  My wife got to see the man she married vanish to be replaced by this other being who she didn’t want to know at all anymore.  Or even be around for that matter.  As much as I suffered over the past ten years, my family suffered even more I think.  There was no refuge for them; there was no peace for me…we were all caught in a prison built brick by brick by my decline with a foundation laid by one Osama Bin Laden.

And now, he is gone…body so trashed by American SEAL’s bullets that not even Don Corlione’s favorite undertaker could fix it.  Sonny looked a hell of a lot better than Osama did, hence no photos being released of the body.  So after they scraped the bastard off the walls and the floor, DNA tested and compared certain records unique to him to ensure his identity, they put what was left of him together and prepared it for a proper burial at sea (where no shrines to martyrdom could be built)…which was more than we could say than he did for 3,000 people who died on 9/11.  No stone was left unturned to ensure proper Muslim burial, and they were placed in that body bag and sent along with the vile creature to the bottom of the Arabian Sea where it shall swim with the fishes and have no one but perhaps Luca Brazzi to chat with.

Somewhere between those bullets being fired and the news breaking on Sunday Night, I was starting to write a post here about unfinished business and promises unfulfilled.  I go about 800 words in when i stopped for some reason…something told me to wait.  A few hours later, my own personal demon was gone.  And somewhere in there part of my soul came back.  Over the past few days, I’ve been finding things funny that I never would have laughed at a week ago…things that are actually funny that is.  In fact, my youngest said something extremely funny yesterday and I laughed deeply and hysterically.  She looked at me and said, “Daddy, I never heard you laugh”.  Imagine that…your child saying that she never heard you do the simplest of emotions to express joy.  “Of course you have, Grace” I said…and she said, “Not like that!”  You know, she was right because in retrospect my laughs were never that hard for a decade.  My joy was never there even when I felt a little bit…it was always forced.  But somehow, I’m getting that back…and it came very naturally and through the simple joke (very clever and Irish wit entwined) thanks to a 9 year old.  I’ve been hugging my kids like crazy the past two days, because I feel like they have not had their father…their REAL father…around them in a very, very long time.  My wife and I still have work to do on a very fractured marriage thanks to the stresses of the past ten years and the non-person I had become.  But slowly and surely, it’s starting to germinate in me like a seed in the spring…and how appropriate that OBL’s end was on Beltane, the Pagan spring festival.  It was also on the first anniversary of my father’s death, a relationship that was always rocky where I had many regrets and in many ways I was starting to become that which I rebelled against and resented.  In the midst of my melancholy and  pensiveness came this incredible news…and somehow some new light was being shed on my own father’s relationship with me because of what he had to go through in the Korean War (which was far more extensive than I ever could have imagined).

Somehow, slowly and surely I plan on taking that which was best in me before 9/11 and try and reconcile it with who I am now.  I’ve had a lot of revelations about myself and my place in this world and the state of humanity  because I’ve had plenty of time to ruminate hid away from the rest of humanity in a darkened basement den…because I was not only afraid of my own shadow, I was afraid of the world…

…and somehow, I am no longer afraid of sunlight.

“We don’t have to live in a world 
Where we give bad names to beautiful things 
We should live in a beautiful world 
We should give beautiful a second chance

And the leaves fall from red to brown 
To be trodden down 
Trodden down 
And the leaves turn green to red to brown 
Fall to the ground 
And get kicked around

You strong enough to be 
Have you the courage to be 
Have you the faith to be 
Honest enough to stay 
Don’t have to be the same 
Don’t have to be this way 
C’mon and sign your name 
You wild enough to remain beautiful? 
Beautiful”

-lyrics by Steve Hogarth  from the song, “Beautiful” by Marillion

First Sunday/Last Sunday

Today, my beloved NY Giants will either play their last game of the season (win or lose) in Washington against the hated Washington Redskins (all teams in our Division are hated, but none more so than the Dallas Cowboys; ask any Eagles, Skins, or Giants fan).  If the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers, we somehow become the sixth seed, and back our way into the playoffs with absolutely no chance to host a game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.  Good!  The last time that happened, we were Super Bowl Champs; the “Road Warriors” as they were known…the ones who went out and beat every single team on the road in the playoffs in hostile stadiums and finally defeated the only undefeated team in NFL History (except for the 1972 Miami Dolphins) by beating the arrogant New England (I still call them “Boston” from the old AFL days) Patriots.  We played them tough in their last game of the regular season at the old Stadium, and we played them tougher and won on “the catch” by Tyree from a pass by Eli Manning who somehow managed to elude an army of shifting ninjas with shoulder pads on to throw a beautiful ball toward immortality.  It was the performance of the team of a lifetime.

But these are not those Giants; at least some of that team remain, but these guys are not.  Their coaching staff has been tuned out by the players.  The players need leadership from within to step it up, because without that we will face annihilation like we did in Green Bay last week, where all we had to do was “win and in” te playoffs we were.  Could have even been a 5 seed.  Instead, we get seed 6 if we play.  The other team that plays in the frozen swamps of the Meadowlands, the NY Jets (former NY Titans, for you AFL affectionados like me) will have the 5 see locked up and have at the outset a CHANCE to play a playoff game in the new stadium.  Imagine that; the team that moved from the Polo Grounds horror which begat the Shea Stadium horror, to the relative comfort of the old Giants Stadium to the comfy confines of the New Meadowlands (they gotta get a better name than that) might actually be the FIRST of the two teams to get a playoff spot.  How embarrassing for us Giants fans…that in what was supposed to be OUR house, the Jets may get to host a playoff game…and the AFC Championship Game if the number 6 seed survives!  Unreal.

So, it’s either my last Sunday for NY Giants Football, and I don my old NY Titans gear to root for the Jets in the playoffs (I refuse to wear green…I’ll take their old AFL name and colors, thank you) until they lose…or I continue to figue out which combination of NY Giants jackets and hats I have that might bring them luck today against the skins.  And may the football gods smile kindly upon Da Bears in their own quest for a win today to lock things up for them.

It may be the first Sunday of the year, but it may be my last Sunday as a NY Giants Fan for yet another year.  Let’s hope by next week, I’m writing more about the red, white, blue and gray of the Giants than the green and white of the Jets, because while I’ll root for the Jets and their long suffering die-hard fans who deserve a shot at the whole thing, my heart lies (and always will) with Big Blue.

GO GIANTS!  GO BEARS!  GO JETS!  GO get some soda a chips…gotta do that now…

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” – Vince Lombardi

First Thoughts On A Second Night By A Near Pentagenarian

First and foremost before I get into the nitty gritty, Happy New Year.  Everyone seems to mark the passage of time by two or three major events that happened in their lives and the amount of elapsed time between what happened from the original event to the present.  A New Year is the only time where you pretty much just kick out the old garbage and say, “Never again” (as is my case, after having the worst year of my almost 50 years on this planet) or raise a glass for a successful year.  It’s the only time you get a “do over” every year, and sometimes you take it and other times you don’t.

The past decade for me has been the worst ten years of my life.  It began promising with a new promotion and a new job, and the birth of my youngest daughter.  Then 9/11 happened, and all bets were off after that.  For former readers and maybe some newbies to my blog that are just playing catch up, you know the details.  (I won’t rehash for anyone else except to say that go on back into the vaults here at “Intersections…” and see for yourself).  It ended yesterday with an exploding toilet followed by the Atlantic Ocean flowing into my bathroom.  The clincher though was this past year.  My 40’s were going out with a fucking roar of unmitigated fury.

It began with the diagnosis that I might have leukemia and the death of one of our beloved cats a few days apart.  The following month our new addition to the feline family decided to swallow some of my daughter’s school project, get it all wrapped up in his intestines, and almost $3,000 later he now runs around the house giving us all incredible joy.  But it was touch and go there for a few days, and uncertainty.

Uncertainty was the watchword for the year.  No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried to correct situations or make amends or try and allow myself to forgive in the worst of all possible circumstances it was uncertain at every turn and difficult.  My father passed away in May; then my beloved uncle in August.  Other personal events happened I can’t write about publically…but they were some of the worst and most difficult events I could have possibly imagined myself going through.  It was an onslaught of negative energy and one piece of bad news or an event of a horrid nature that kept coming at all of us in my family.

My kids got me through it; I will admit that.  From the unexpected and meaningful hugs from my youngest daughter Grace, who knew I needed a huge hug even though she knew not why to my oldest daughter Kate cracking a one liner that would have me doubled over with laughter.  (She’s out-doing me in that department, but don’t tell her that).  Both of them got stellar grades and made honor roll.  Both of them make me very proud to be their father, and if there is one thing I managed to do in this life, it was to sire those two wonderful children.

My two closest friends got me through it all as well.  My best friend Tim called me every day, sometimes two or three times a day when they thought I had leukemia (which thankfully elicited a negative test result).  His mom had died of leukemia in 1980 when we were both 19, idealistic, and the whole world was ahead of us…and her loss devastated him.  I know it because I was the friend who was there with the “open confessional” and there was one afternoon in a frigid February afternoon in 1981 where we sat in a remodeled bar in Winooski, Vermont (they were trying to swipe the college crowd from St Mikes who always went to Downtown Burlington to get their fill of alcohol) one Tuesday afternoon and drank ourselves into sweet oblivion with Tanqueray and Tonics.  I think it was that one long drunken heart to heart that lasted for about 6 hours that made the solid foundation of a 30 year friendship.  The man is a Saint, and probably the only person on the planet who understands this still lost soul.

The other was my dear friend Rose, who I had reconnected with via Facebook (where marriages go to die as well as friends being reconnected or made…but more the former).  We knew each other since we were kids (I was 19 and she was 16; I had gone to school and hung out with her brother and always wondered why he never told me he had such a beautiful and intelligent sister) and just hit it off right away.  We know obscure references to historical events that we throw into a joke, and if there’s a room of 50, chances are only she and I and maybe one other will laugh silly.  She’s been through a lot of what I’ve had happen to me this past year, and there’s things that I’ve been through that I share with her.  She is a true friend, the sister I never had but wish I did.  She got me through rough waters where I could have easily taken a few more pills than I should have and exited stage left.

Guys, I cannot thank you both enough.  What I could say, even in my finest prose would only be inadequate to what you did for me in this past “Annus Horribills”.

On a positive note, I actually managed to make one new friend (in real life…not on the internet) via a whole series of events that I will go into in another post for another time.  She was a refreshing change of pace to my regular hum-drum existence because she is one of the most brutally honest and up-front people I have ever met.  She does not lie; what you see is what you get.  She is stunningly beautiful inside and out, incredibly spiritual, and has much more knowledge than her 27 years would suggest; an old soul who is so much wiser than she gives herself credit for.  We’ve had some great conversations about life, the universe, and where and how our spiritual paths crossed and perhaps why.  I’m blessed to have a friend who understands the workings of parts of the universe that I haven’t even thought about, let alone tried to understand.  A wonderful person who put some things in perspective for me that needed to be said.  Thank you, my friend for the friendship, conversation, and perspective.  You made the last two months of the year much brighter and lead me into hopeful territory for this year.

I turn 50 on March 14, the day I officially activate my AARP Card and become a Pentagenarian.  And I’m looking at this year as the start of the second half of my life; a Renaissance, regeneration, a rebirth.  And a rip-roaring party is what I want, what I shall plan, and invite what close friends I can and some family members.  I have a place in mind, but I need to make some checking in about details…but I hope it’s available as my birthday is so close to St Patrick’s Day and there are usually lots of local parades that take up the weekend before, so I might have to celebrate the weekend afterward.

Finally, there’s this blog.  There will be lots to write about.  I’m looking at my life in a way I never have before and I needed to.  And of course, with the new Republican Majority in the House, continued vacillation in the White House on so many items on the Progressive Agenda, and the failure of the Left to form a coalition like those Tea Party idiots…my muse has returned.  My voice is shouting from the top of the tallest mountain…and I shall NOT be silenced!  Ladies and Gentlemen, the Arkangel flies again!

“I know that pain is the most important thing in the universes. Greater than survival, greater than love, greater even than the beauty it brings about. For without pain, there can be no pleasure. Without sadness, there can be no happiness. Without misery there can be no beauty. And without these, life is endless, hopeless, doomed and damned.  Adult. You have become adult.” – Harlan Ellison

A New Beginning…In More Ways Than One

A few years ago (way back in 2008), I started this blog as an outlet for my thoughts, observations of everyday life as a stay at home dad, politics…well, kind of about a little bit of everything.  I wrote daily, most especially during the election season, and here we are two years later and I have the Mid-Term Elections coming up in the United States in November.  After the 08 election, it continued for a while and then I got ill (thank you, almost better now) and had no time or inclination to write.  Once again, I have cause to (the elections for starters) and the other because I feel motivated by a need to.

You see, there are a few things I am good at in my life.  I’m an excellent cook (insert back pat and self-congratulatory remarks here); I am a font of (what my wife terms) “useless information” …in other words, I have a marked propensity to remember just about everything; and I can write.  As to the quality, well that depends upon the day.  For the most part, I’m a hell of a writer; I’m able to put on the page what a lot of people may be thinking or can’t even say.  As for myself, it’s the only way to keep focused on what I’m doing in a particular moment.  Being bi-polar has a number of disadvantages, the primary one being a million thoughts racing through your mind at a million miles an hour.  That’s mostly controlled these days by medication, but I still need to focus on one thing at a time; I’m not a multi-tasker like I used to be.  So that kind of leaves a guy with a 150 IQ trapped in a bit of a mental conundrum…

Two years on this blog has been here, and I’ve found myself at several crossroads, all of which should have been documented here.  Instead they have been inside my head just waiting for the right time to get out…and that starts today.  I’m going to try and write about something daily, whether it be about politics (you must know that I am a bleeding heart Liberal by now); my daily goings on as a stay at home dad (especially now that my oldest daughter has turned 13…the fun times have begun in earnest); or musings about the state of the human condition.  That’s what this blog has always been about and will continue to be as I (once again) pick up the novel I was writing (that too was on hold).  So we’ll try this again.

So as I start my blog up once more it’s appropriate that it comes at the start of Football Season and my beloved NY Giants’ first game of the year at their brand new home in the lovely swamps of The Meadowlands in my adopted home state of New Jersey.  The TV will be on, the Cokes will be cold (I might break down and get a couple of O’Doul’s to kick off the season), and the chips at the ready.  My girls will be at my side in front of the 51″ widescreen in lovely High Definition (youngest daughter is FINALLY learning the game) dressed in Giants red, white, blue, and gray with the audio system turned up LOUD so we feel like we’re at the stadium.  And so it begins…

GO GIANTS!

“Success demands singleness of purpose.” – Vince Lombardi*

“Today, you have 100% of your life left.” – Tom Landry**

*NY Giants Offensive Coach before he went to Green Bay as Head Coach.  **The Defensive Coach on those same NY Giants teams was Tom Landry.  Both men also played on the same NY Giants teams.  Today’s post is dedicated in their memory.

Temporal Remberance Amidst The Ashes

I no longer mark the passage of time by New Year’s Day.  Nor do I mark it by my birthday; but rather on this day, September 11th.

On September 11th 2001, I was coming up from the PATH train when the first plane struck the North Tower just as I reached the top of the escalator.  The next few hours would change my life forever, along with everyone else in this nation and in the rest of the world.  For the past nine years, I have struggled with acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, bi-polar disorder (which was diagnosed while I was in treatment for PTSD), and a degenerative spinal column.  I have been tested for leukemia.   My children have been affected because they have gone through the past nine years with a father who is still struggling to stay healthy and to find some type of spiritual order amidst the chaos.  My wife has been incredible as a mother and a wife during this time, and I don’t think that anyone has quite addressed how she feels or what she has been going through; much like any of the spouses of those involved in 9/11.  They too are the forgotten ones, along with those who continued to work at their jobs in the Financial District as the steel continued to melt and the air was still filled with the ashes of the dead…months and years later.  While it is proper to acknowledge the sacrifice and heroism of Firefighters, Police Officers, and First Responders…the forgotten are those who were simply going to work one day and had their entire world crumble around them.  They have suffered publicly and privately with a hell that no one could understand unless you were there.

Unless you were there…

There are times when you seek out history, and other times history seeks you out to become a part of its temporal fabric forever.  I was there at the dawning of this new age; an age that I cannot say is either good nor bad.  It simply is.  It is what we are now; what we as a species need to understand is what we will become in the future.  Will we be the voice of reason and love or the voice of hatred and intolerance of the past few weeks?  Do we seek to blame others, or do we look inward and somehow realize that the only way…the ONLY way those 3,000 souls who perished on that day can be honored properly is not with a memorial.  Not with a plaque.  Not with a public ceremony once a year to once again mark the passage of time…but with an understanding of just what truly happened on that horrible day.  It is not about vengeance, it is not about hatred, it is not about conquest of one religion over another.  It is about the Human Race waking up and realizing that we are all truly brothers and sisters, despite the hatred espoused by some.  It is about all of us waking up and realizing that if we don’t have each other, who do we have?

Every year on my blog (here and on previous sites) I post this reproduction of a piece I wrote a few days after the events of that Tuesday.  I was still struggling to make sense out of it…or anything else for that matter.  It has been used by a few professors in their classes (with my permission, of course).  It resides in the Library of Congress as part of the documents that were submitted by people to tell their personal stories of that day.  Every year I put this out there in the hope that another generation will read it and see for themselves just what happened and in the hopes that they may learn from history.  It is also for you who could not possibly understand to be there.  The images on television and in countless documentaries are vivid, but not as vivid as they remain in my own head and my own heart…

———Phoenix Uncertain: Originally written on Thursday, September 13, 2001—————-

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

I need to write all of this down right now, while the smells, sounds, and experiences of the past few days are fresh in my mind. I also need to do this now because I’ve gotten some clarity in the past few hours and I don’t know how long that will last for. I have alternated between disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and anger…and sometimes all of these simultaneously. On Tuesday, the man I was ceased to exist. The light has been extinguished from my eyes. I’ve tried to explain things to my wife and broke down every time. I cannot even begin to explain to my daughter Katie how lucky she is to have her Daddy around, nor can I explain to her why her Daddy screams in his sleep or why he shakes for no reason. I cannot explain to her why every time I head a loud sound or bang, I practically jump out of my skin. All I can do is try and take the medication that keeps me normalized and try and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Now that I’ve just popped a “happy pill”, I’ve got 8 hours to write this all down, before I descend into my own abyss once again. In the past 72 hours, I have witnessed events that I never thought I would see with my own eyes. What you are seeing on your television is absolutely nothing…and I do mean NOTHING…like it actually was to be there. I keep telling myself that something or someone must have had a greater plan for me, and that is why I am alive today instead of being buried under a ton of rubble. Perhaps that plan just to write this document of my experience to share with others so that they may carry on the memory of those who survived like myself, and the memory of those who were lost. Perhaps it is to share with you that amidst all of the evil, I witnessed some of the finest moments of compassion and humanity that I have ever seen…an affirmation of a belief that I have always held: that we have greatness inside all of us. Perhaps it is about the redemption of my own soul, for like Saul on the way to Damascus, I’m slowly coming to the realization that my life has indeed reached a turning point. I also know that there is no going back to the person I was, and I just have to figure out just who the hell I am now.

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

TUESDAY, September 11th, 2001: 7:22 AM, Little Silver Train Station, NJ
Kissed my wife and daughters good bye as they dropped me off at the station. Took my coffee, laptop, and briefcase…bought a copy of the NY Daily News. Thankfully since the NY Giants/Denver Broncos game ended late, I don’t have to read about how my team was defeated. Read through the paper all the while sipping my coffee on the one hour ride to Newark NJ, where I will catch the PATH Train (a subway between NJ and NY) to the World Trade Center, just 3 blocks from my office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan. 8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

8:45 AM, WTC Path Square (located in the center of the WTC Complex, 1 story Below Ground, where there’s a Shopping Mall)
Reach the top of the escalator, and begin to fix my laptop. As soon as I get myself situated…something happens…a sound…something different. Sounds like a crash at first…then a low rumble…then a “whoosh” throughout the complex. People are starting to run, and once others see people running, they too scramble for the exits. At this point, I think it’s a good time to get the hell out of there, and start to run toward the exits as well. Someone, in his or her haste to get out, knocks me over. I’m falling face first toward a plate glass window in one of the shops. Somehow, I manage to contort my body so that I land on my left knee pretty hard, but my face hits the floor. I’m dazed…compose myself for a minute…and realize I have to get out no matter what just happened. My knee is killing me, but the endorphins take over, and that pain is quickly gone. I feel something warm on my chin, and realize that it’s blood. My fall knocked one of my front teeth into my lip, putting a nice gash in it. I wipe some blood away, and follow another crowd into the lower level of the Border’s bookstore, which also has an exit to the streets…it’s much less crowded, and a calmer exodus of people. I reach the street and exit into the air. There is a burning smell…I’d never smelled anything like it. There are thousands of papers falling from the sky in a quiet procession of calm amidst the chaos. A paper rain, much like one of those party favors that you might have had when you were a kid…you know, the fake champagne bottles filled with confetti. I start to walk across Church Street. I can see smoke, but because I’m so close to the tower, I can’t really see anything. I begin to walk westward toward Broadway past St Paul’s Chapel. As I walk, people are looking up at the North Tower, then looking back down at my blood stained face. I see their eyes are filled with confusion. When I reach the corner of Broadway and look up I can finally see what happened. There, at the top of a building that is approximately ¼ of a mile long is a HUGE hole…several stories in length…plumes of smoke and flame billowing higher into the air. I can only stand there, watching in disbelief as I realize that what we had all feared had probably taken place: a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

APPROX. 9:00 AM, Broadway
It’s funny how the mind operates. You know, kind of like when you see a magic trick, you can’t believe what you saw…or when your team makes a triple play…or when you witness a birth. You know you’re seeing something, but your mind sends signals that it’s just not possible, but there it is. From out of the Tower, I’m seeing debris fall…but it’s coming in very irregular intervals. Usually, debris falls in a pattern as a structure is weakened, and at the same rate of descent. This debris was sporadic, and it wasn’t just falling in a straight line from the Tower…it was arcing. I saw it happen once, twice…but on the third time, I saw what I thought was debris MOVE, I thought I saw arms move…and I realized that debris cannot move, nor could it have arms. I had just seen people throw themselves from the North Tower to escape the consuming flames. I began to shake, began to shout “No F***ing way!” and “Oh my God” at the top of my lungs. Someone came over to me and put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was all right. I think I said something to the effect I was, but they offered me a bottle of water and some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. I accepted and I asked if they had seen the explosion…and that’s when they told me it was a plane that had crashed into the North Tower. They also told me it was an airliner. The brain couldn’t register that one really…except for the fact that I thought it was a terrible accident, and thank God it wasn’t a bomb. Another person in the crowd came up to me and asked if I needed help getting to where I was going. I realized that my hands were trembling and couldn’t hold either the tissues or water steady and my knees felt weak. Brain kicks in again: yeah, take this guy up on his offer. It turned out he worked for my company but at another location. We began to walk toward my building, and I notice some debris along the way. About a block from my office, right in front of the Federal Reserve Building I see some debris that catches my eye: some tacky looking upholstery that looks like it came from an airline headrest. It was then that I saw a seat cushion and an armrest…THANKFULLY empty.

APROX 9:12 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I walk one block further south to my building, and reach the Plaza. Just as I’m about to turn to enter my building, I hear the whine of jet engines. I look down the block at the South Tower, and see a fireball engulfing the building, showering flaming debris across the skyline, arcing outward and in my general direction. There is a low, rumbling sound, very much like what I had heard earlier…a sound that grew as the flames spread and debris rained down upon Manhattan. The crowd begins to run frantically toward the east, away from the falling debris. I overhear someone say that it was another jet that collided into the South Tower. It was then I realized that this was no accident, that my greatest fears were realized: we were under attack. It was at that moment, I knew that I had to somehow survive this…get the hell out of there…and get home to my family. I had just become a modern day Ulysses.

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

APPROX 9:20 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I’m pretty superstitious. I usually sit in the same seat for a baseball or football game if my team is winning. I never pick up a penny “tails up”, and I don’t walk under ladders. In some convoluted manner, the Universe played a trick on me, for I work on the 13th floor of my building. It never bothered me before, but on a day like Tuesday, there was just no way I was going to go up into my office…so I decided to go downstairs to the Branch to use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was OK. (A footnote here and an important one because it’s going to come into play later: The Branch is an underground structure, kind of like a rectangular “donut”. It is just below the Plaza, with a circular glass enclosure in its center containing a fountain. There is an opening at the top of this enclosure to the Plaza to let light in. From the Plaza level, there is a circular wall that allows viewing of the fountain from the Plaza, and it’s quite beautiful when viewed from inside the branch at the level of the fountain.)

Just before entering the Branch, I meet up with a co-worker who sees me and is pretty amazed at my condition at this point…I can only imagine: A deer in the headlights look accompanied by a bloody face. I try and tell him what’s happened so far. It turns out, he’s not going to his floor either…and he helps me into the Branch. Needless to say, the Branch had been closed to all but employees with ID. I also know the Branch Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and many of the staff well because I’ve worked with them directly when I was in the Branches myself. I got in there; they sat me down and got me some first aid as well as some water. I called my wife, told her I was OK and told her of what I was going to do next: try and take the Staten Island Ferry and get to either my parents or my in-laws and have them drive me home. I just wanted to get the hell off Manhattan as soon as possible, especially with the thought that there were two ¼ mile buildings a few blocks away that had the possibility of collapsing. I called my parents and told them of my intentions as well. Needless to say, I’m pretty shaken up at this point. I decide to sit a few minutes to try and relax, collect my thoughts, and move on. A woman named Maxine (who I’ve never met before) sat with me and comforted me. She also spoke with my wife during my phone call and said she was taking care of me. God Bless her…she was a BIG help. We turned on the radio to listen to the news, to see exactly what had happened, and it was just as we feared: two jet liners were hijacked and were rammed into the World Trade Center…and one other thing that hit us all like a ton of bricks…the Pentagon was also attacked the same way. Nothing was the same anymore.

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

APPROX 10:15 AM 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Some people talk about a “New World Order”. At this point in my life, there was definitely a New World, but anything but order. I had finally calmed down, and was about to make my way toward the Staten Island Ferry when the unthinkable happened: That ROAR happened again…that ungodly Roar that still was imprinted in my head from the last few hours… …And then I saw the debris and smoke fill the glass enclosure around the fountain. The ground shook, and we all began to rush toward the escalators that would take us to the vault sub-basements in the Plaza. We arrived down there followed by a cloud of smoke and dust…we made our way through passages that led to the underground cafeteria where security told us to go. My first thought was that my building was attacked, but something completely unexpected happened. We had just found out that one of the icons of the New York Skyline, one of the World Trade Towers had crumbled to dust…and that rubble had spread across Lower Manhattan, washing across the Plaza. We were told to stay put…it was safer here, and there was NO visibility AT ALL outside. More people started to file into the cafeteria…all of them covered in dust…stark white ghosts with terrorized eyes peering from the rubble that had been strewn onto their bodies. Among them were two people who worked in my department. I rushed up and the three of us hugged and held onto each other. We got a table in the cafeteria; got some of the water and wet rags they were handing out to help us breathe. …And we sat…for two hours…and waited for news of when we could leave the building. In the meantime, there was another dull roar in the distance…THAT ROAR… …And the other Tower had fallen. …And God only knew what the rest of the world outside looked like.

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

APPROX Noon, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Now I know what my cat feels like when I let him out of his carrier after we bring him back from the vet. He always wants to get the hell out, and yet he steps out gingerly, unsure of what he can expect. I kind of felt that way as I exited our building after we were told to head toward the East River. I also felt like a B-Movie actor on one of those bad 50’s “Day After…” movies, the ones usually used for cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. There was dust everywhere, and it looked like it was snowing in September. There had to be two inches of dust and debris on the streets as CJ (one of those guys I mentioned earlier who worked with me) and I made tracks for the South Street Seaport. We’re wandering around, towels around our faces like some post-apocalyptic version of TE Lawrence and The Shadow trekking across the Nafud, or Paul and Jessica across Arakis in “Dune”. We looked back where the Twin Towers had been…the same two towers CJ and I came through every day from the PATH (she’s from North NJ)…the same two towers that had dominated the skyline since we were children (we’re both 40, born a month apart). There was nothing. Absolutely nothing…except for a huge black cloud where those beautiful towers once stood gleaming in the sunshine. It was as if you used a photo program on your PC, highlighted the Towers, deleted the image and filled the blank area with smoke. It hurt to breathe (and I’m a smoker, so I can just IMAGINE what a non-smoker would have felt). The dust stung your eyes and skin. It was raining dust…a horrible snowfall on a late summer day…a snowfall that contained pieces of building, asbestos, paper, jet fuel, and God only know what else. I was reminded of Good Friday for some reason… We finally got to the River, and began to follow the exodus uptown toward God knows where. All CJ and I knew was that we had heard there were ferries still running to NJ (the SI Ferry was shut down at this point, so my first plan was abandoned) and we had to catch one. The air was clear, and I decided I REALLY needed a cigarette at this point (NOTE: A martini was my first choice, but the bars were closed). I offered one to CJ…who hasn’t had a cig in 10 years…she took it, we lit up and moved on.

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

EAST RIVER ESPLANADE: Approx. 12:30 PM
I’m thoroughly convinced that The Universe has a sense of humor. CJ and I stop and look out at the river just below the Brooklyn Bridge. We can see hundreds of people walking across the Bridge to Brooklyn, the same for the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. It’s actually a beautiful day; there are no clouds in the sky…there are people just sitting on benches on the esplanade looking out at the water…some are fishing…some are making out. Order amidst chaos. We had just come from chaos into one moment of perfect beauty. I think to myself that this is really a beautiful day, and I imagine myself at the Shore or in my backyard with my kids…and then it hits me… …No beach to walk on unless I get home. No backyard and no kids and wife unless I get home…and God only knows what else happens on this day. Snap back to reality…we’ve got to get home. CJ and I meet a Police officer who says ferries are leaving from Pier 11 for NJ and directs us Uptown. Just a slight problem…Pier 11 is just South of us a few blocks, so CJ and I are headed in the wrong direction. Like I said, the Universe has a sense of humor…

SOMEWHERE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Approx., 1:00 PM
CJ and I have walked for a while. I’m still carrying the laptop and briefcase, and I really can’t feel the pain in my knee yet, but at least my lip has stopped bleeding. Needless to say, both my shoulders are killing me. We walk around trying to find Pier 11, just Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to find Oz. We walk through neighborhoods that we would never walk through regularly, and people are coming up to us and asking if we are OK (we’re covered in dust at this point). They give us water and comfort. We see others helping people…a woman in a wheelchair giving directions and a bottle of water to two people…four people hugging in the middle of a street glad to find each other…Police Officers with their arms around people offering them comfort as well as direction. I realize at this point what my Dad always said about the blackout of 1964 (he was trapped in the subway) that New Yorkers are people who put all differences aside when in a crisis. We finally find a cop who points us in the right direction…we head back downtown.

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

PIER 11, New York, NY: Approx. 2:00 PM
We found OZ. No emerald city here, just a bunch of ferries that were going back to New Jersey. CJ and I parted company here. She headed back to Jersey City and one of the few remaining trains that were running out of Hoboken. I got on a high-speed ferry bound for the Highlands on the Jersey Shore, about 10 miles northeast from my house. I decided I’d worry about how to get home from there…I’d walk if I had to. The Police search our bags before we get on… The ferry is VERY comfortable, complete with bar that is, unfortunately closed…it costs approx. $18 each way, about twice my cost for the trains (which were NOT running at this time), but they were ferrying everyone at no cost. They gave us water, and there were two clergymen on the boat, a Catholic Priest and a Minister, both Chaplains of the Highlands Fire Department. A call comes over the loudspeaker asking for 50 volunteers to take the next boat. People get up and leave, willingly with no problems. I see the Priest and yell out, “Father, are you riding this boat?” He says yes. I decide to stay.

NY HARBOR, Approx. 2:20 PM
The boat leaves, and the Scarecrow decides to look back at the Emerald City. The Towers are gone. The Black Void is still there. The Scarecrow loses what Brains he had left and breaks down. Like the Towers, I’ve just crumbled into a pile of rubble.

IN TRANSIT THROUGH NY HARBOR AND THE ATLANTIC:
The Minister sees me and comes over to talk. He was in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. I tell him what I’m feeling, and he tells me what happened to him. He’s describing what I’m feeling to a “T”. I’m amazed that someone else can describe what I feel…and realize just how fragile we really are as humans…and I also realize at this point, I’m not the same person who woke up that morning. We both pray publicly. It is my first time praying in public since I was 14. Like I said, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

CATHARSIS IX: …And Say ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

HIGHLANDS, New Jersey Approx. 3:00 PM
We arrive in New Jersey The Minister walks me off the boat and asks if he can do anything else, and I tell him he did more for me than anyone in a very long time. I follow the crowd off the gangplank. We are told that we will have to present ID. We are also told that if we are covered in dust we will have to be decontaminated. I am told to go to the “left” line. My belongings are put in a bag; my laptop and briefcase are scrubbed by men in isolation suits by hand. I am told to stand forward a man with a fire hose that then proceeds to spray water on me from head to toe. As he is doing this, I can see the NYC skyline in the background. What two gleaming towers, had once dominated, was now dominated by a huge cloud of smoke and a gaping hole where the towers should be. I was told to turn around so they can spray my front. They do so…and I have been baptized into the New World. I’m handed my belongings, and a Police Officer takes my statement as he was informed that I was in the WTC when the first plane hits. It’s the second time that day that I’ve told my story…but this time more emotions are coming out…and I find I cannot look anyone in the eyes when I talk to them… I’m directed toward a bunch of vans, busses, and private cars where I’m told that someone would drive me home. I walk slowly, drenched…laptop and briefcase still present…away from the water and toward a parking lot. All I can do is stare straight ahead and make no eye contact with anyone. I feel like I’m there (here) but somewhere else. A woman named Doreen asks me where I’m going, and I tell her. She says she volunteered to give rides to people, and really has nothing to do…mainly because she was just laid off from Nike the day before. She offers me her cell phone to call my wife…it’s the first time we’ve spoken my phone call in the morning. I tell her I’m coming home in a few minutes. Doreen assures her I’m shaken, but OK. We drive off to my home.

CATHARSIS X: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

We arrive at my house…and I run to my wife (holding our month-old daughter) and my 4 year old daughter, Katie. Everything comes back to me in a big rush…I break down. We all thank Doreen, and I give her a big hug goodbye. In the next few hours, I try and explain things to my wife…and some of them I can…most of them I cannot. We call my doctor who tells me to go to the ER at the Local Hospital for a chest x-ray and some tests…apparently the stuff I was exposed to may have contained asbestos…and God only knows what else. While getting tested, they had me speak to a Psychologist…just like others who were coming in. I told my story the best I could, and she was a HUGE help for my family and me. I needed to talk and I did…and I realized that there is a lot I still have to deal with.

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

I’m hanging in there as best as I can…and for the past five hours, I’ve been spilling my guts out for those of you I know, and those of you I do not. This has been my story, and there are thousands of others such as I. I mentioned before that I am not the same person I was when I woke up on Tuesday. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who the hell I am anymore…but these things I do know: *I am a Father of two beautiful girls *I am a loving husband of, quite simply, the most amazing woman on the planet AND THOSE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT ARE MY LIFE! Please…just take the time to hug your kids, wife, partner, loved ones…NEVER take them for granted! Hold on to your friends and keep them close…chances are that this has touched us all in one way or another.

We have all been transformed in one way or another by this event. We are all filled with a plethora of emotions…I certainly know I am.

Let us work together to seek justice for those who have been killed or injured. Let us offer a hand to those who need it, whether or not they have been there first hand. Let us all show the strength of humanity and compassion that we are all capable of. Let us rebuild our city, our nation, and our fragile planet.

Let us go forward with one voice that says we shall never allow this to ever happen again.

God Bless You, Your Families, The United States Of America, and our Beloved Planet.

Kenneth Austin Walsh- BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

————————————————————————————————————

For nine years this post has reached the Internet…and for nine years I hope that we learn something from the ashes of that day.  That we might have learned that this was truly a turning point in human history that requires us all to be brave, to be vigilant, to save us from the most dangerous enemy this world has known- to sacrifice our very souls if necessary…not from terrorism…

…but from ourselves.

“There are a million eyes watching the world tonight
Have we learned nothing?
Do we merit another chance?
By what grace have we earned some redemption
Ten million saviors, ten billion angels of man
Those who know that such miracles can be so
They arrive because they must go
And lead believers to bring it home”

-Todd Rundgren, “Shine”


It’s Midwood, Baby!

Two days ago, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of the NY Congressional District that contains my old Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood, came to the floor of the house armed to the teeth with a mouthful of common sense in a diatribe so brilliant that I do not believe it will ever be topped in  the House of Representatives EVER again.  All in one minute and forty seconds.  He slammed his colleague Peter King (R) of NY who explained that Republicans were voting no on a Bill that would provide aid (health and otherwise) to First Responders and those who survived 9/11 who were developing coughs and other respiratory issues due to 9/11 on a “procedural technicality”.

Rep. Weiner game them all hell for that…all hell…

He represents my old neighborhood in Brooklyn; the neighborhood where I was born and raised for 5 years but I STILL call my Hometown.  This current NJ Resident and once Brooklyn Boy just wants to say thank you Rep. Weiner for expressing brilliant and succinct oratory like you did the other day.  I have to say that my all time favorite tactic was Rep Weiner introducing to the House Floor an amendment to a Health Care Bill a few years ago that would have abolished Medicare.  Now while that sounds horrific and how dare a Democrat do such a thing, of course EVERY REPUBLICAN VOTED AGAINST IT.  He put them ALL on the spot.  Which was the purpose of the exercise.  They are all talk and bullshit the GOP…but we Brooklyn Boys are not.  We say what we mean, and call it as we see it.  He did us all proud.

And this ex-Midwood boy from East 2nd between Ave M and N (as the F train rumbles overhead on MacDonald Avenue one block over) just wants to say thanks.

Misplaced Amidst Chaos And Despair

I had the pleasure of dining out with my brother two nights ago.  We hadn’t done this in many years; it was just us, no wives, and no kids.  We both have similar domestic difficulties going on, and our dad passed away on May 1st…and we just needed to catch up as brothers.  We haven’t done that in years, mainly because we allow our political views to sway our opinion of the other guy way much more than they should.  As we were chatting away , one topic that I never thought would be breached was that of September 11th, 2001.  Mainly because that was the most horrible day of my life; I was just going to work on a beautiful late summer Tuesday morning…and the next thing I know I’m in the middle of a terrorist attack.  So was my brother.

We both are 9/11 Survivors.

It’s something that we never talk about.  For me, it’s uncomfortable because of the previously written about reasons: going slowly crazy and nearly drinking myself to death chief among them.  I have one hell of a bad case of PTSD as well.  For my brother it was other reasons.  He worked for the City of New York and was in a position of responsibility where information was on a “need to know” basis which he took very seriously.  So seriously in fact, that he never sought any counseling for years after 9/11.  He no longer works for the City and still will not divulge any information.  Last night, somewhere in the middle of a sentence…out of the blue…it was dropped in that he had gotten some counseling.  Not only that, but he expanded on the topic a bit to include a few philosophical statements, one of which is that no one can possibly understand the impact and the toll that had on humanity and on yourself unless you were there; much like the survivors of Oklahoma City cannot possibly express what they feel.  There is this void, this emptiness that comes with the fact of being a survivor.  There is the obvious “survivor’s guilt”…and there is this feeling of being forgotten.

While we rightly commend and mourn those brave souls who responded to the attacks, and mourn the almost 3,000 dead; those of us who just merely SURVIVED the event have now become a part of a date in history, rather than being treated as a LIVING part of that awful event.  We are not dead.  We are quite alive, thank you very much.  Some of us have started to become ill from specific types of cancer that can only be caused by radiation.  Or we have developed an obscure type of leukemia or another disease that affects the skeletal structure.  (Who the hell knew what was in that dust cloud in the days and weeks after 9/11?)  Or we have had our alcoholism escalate to new heights like mine was.  And a lot of us have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In short, you have several thousand survivors…LIVING breathing HUMAN BEINGS with families who have suffered with them.  My oldest daughter has been affected because her Daddy came back from work one day a very different man than he was when he left that morning.  I have a younger daughter who was only a month old when the attacks happened, and as a result she knows nothing of the person I used to be.  9/11 robbed me of a chance to be a better father to her than I was for her older sister.  My wife has suffered through all of this and quite frankly, our marriage is being strained by certain things that have resulted from that day.  No one gave a damn about how she reacted to watching two buildings be attacked knowing full well that I would be coming up from the PATH trains at the exact moment the first plane hit.  No one asked her how she felt…perhaps she would have been better off not having a husband coming home on that day, because there were certainly days over the past nine years I acted as if I might as well have been dead.  I was a living and breathing and walking shell of a man…and what woman could (and should) put up with that?

Now let’s think about this for a second: how many THOUSANDS of workers experienced this tragedy, this unraveling of the human spirit and creation of a condition or set of conditions that put these people AND their families through HELL because they were witness and today they live to tell about it?  How many children will grow up like mine, and what will happen to their children as a result of being exposed to the behavior of a completely dysfunctional parent created by a dysfunctional family that was anything but prior to 9/11?  How many THOUSANDS?  HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS?

And why the hell isn’t anyone standing up for us; recognizing what we went through over the past nine years…or later?  In my brother’s case, it took him several years to seek therapy; there are thousands in the same situation…and that delay just makes you more damaged as an individual. In my own case, my Psychiatrist said there was a chance of me not getting PTSD as badly as I did had it been addressed within the first six months.  I waited 14 months, until a horrible incident provoked me into going because I then knew that  there was something not quite functioning well in the brain department.  Two years later another incident happened that led to a complete breakdown…but it took years to battle back from that last one, because that was the final straw.  That’s when they also found out I was Bi-Polar.  Oh, my wife married a real winner, didn’t she?  But back then I had a career, I had a life, I had my health…and now all that has been ripped from me, no matter how hard I try; and like my brother said, you really cannot understand unless you were there.

Thanks for the flag waving, and invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.  Thanks for paying MILLIONS of dollars in settlements out to wives, insurance policies, continuing family health coverage…thanks most importantly for even ACKNOWLEDGING that we even exist.  We are the forgotten of 9/11; the office workers, the brokers and bankers (like myself) who had to come back for  two YEARS working  two blocks away from the WTC site of the old ruins South Tower; the cleaning people who were able to see the embers of the glowing pit for months after the disaster.  Let me be clear here, I am not looking for compensation in any way…just RECOGNITION that some of us kept the damned economy going as the fires burned and the dead were pulled from the rubble.  I want ACKNOWLEDGMENT that we exist, there are those who need to talk to other survivors (like my brother and I did, quite unexpectedly).

And I want an APOLOGY from the United States of America to every single one of its citizens that it let them down that day, that it failed to protect us.  It failed to do the most basic rule of government: protect its citizens, and on September 11th, 2001 they did a miserable job…all the while at the old Crawford ranch the report handed to the President for a photo op no less stated “Bin Laden Determined To Strike at U.S.” went unheeded and THOUSANDS of lives were impacted.

I’d like to see “9/11 Survivor’s Centers” set up for both the Pentagon and WTC attacks so that what remains of this generation of survivors, and the next two to be taken care of FULLY at no cost for physical or mental ailments.  Just simple places or groups where people can talk and meet one another.  The simple connection you feel and make inside your heart when you meet another survivor is indescribable.  They’re tracking our health (the Survivor’s who signed up for the annual survey) now, so why not just do the right thing…because it’s the American thing to do it’s the HUMAN thing to do

And FINALLY, I want every Goddamn War Veteran who has fought from 2001 until the day when we pull out of wherever we are and decide to go next (because God only knows where the elusive 7 foot Arab with a dialysis machine is)  to get the honor, respect, and outstanding treatment they deserve both physically and mentally.

It’s time you owned up, America…and I’m a Democrat saying this…THIS President should take it upon his own shoulders to do this…because it’s the right thing to do.  And the American thing to do.  And the Human thing to do.

Or else that damned Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“[Power then] devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty, and, by the Establishment of a new Legislative (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own Safety and Security, which is the end for which they are in Society” – John Locke

Daydreams With Dentures

There’s WAY too much going on in my life on a personal level right now.  The game of backgammon has started, and there is only dark and light.  I have far too much respect for people involved to go about trashing them in a public forum right now, but let us just simply identify my personal situation right now as “The Game” from now on…because that’s what it is.  And the less said or written about it to anyone (except my Shrink and Therapist) the better.  So, that’s yet another reason why I have not written for a while in this, possibly the worst year of my life.  Just add it to the list.

Last night I watched for the third time “Dreams With Sharp Teeth”, an outstanding documentary about the life and career of my favorite WRITER, Harlan Ellison.  Not a writer of Science Fiction, nor Horror, nor observations of the human condition both within an essay format or a short story yet all of the above.  He’s won more awards than I’m quite frankly too tired to list, so Wiki and then get into more extensive research on your own.  He’s written memorable television scripts including what is considered to be the best Star Trek episode ever, “The City On The Edge Of Forever”.  This man is a WRITER.  He is known to many, and known to few.  He just simply IS.  And “is” being an outstanding writer of incredible talent, one who MUST write who MUST create.

He is also my favorite writer.

There are times that I look at my sentence structure and realize that it may look a bit like Ellison’s, sound a bit like Ellison’s…hell, the idea/plot may be something Ellison would do.  But it is most decidedly NOT Ellison’s.  The man is one of a kind; and yet, every time I read his material or read something about his rather controversial life…it moves me forward.  It MAKES me want to write.  He is the kind of writer I would love to be; just churning out page after page after page and coming straight from the soul.  I can do that.  I have no problem writing 3-5,000 words in a sitting, and it might even be pretty good.  But I need something to (forgive me here Frank Herbert) “set my mind in motion”.  For quite a while, that has not been the case.  Now, I have so much shit happening in my life that any vice I had wouldn’t even take care of things and make me forget nor feel any better.  So all I am armed with is this keyboard, and a mind, and a will and a desire to be a WRITER.  Influenced by Ellison?  Absolutely.  Like Ellison?  No fucking way; and if someone ever paid me that compliment I would say they were fucking bananas.  Except of course, if it came from Ellison.  Before I even get allowed to buy a ticket to the ball park let alone be inside it, I need to get back to the craft and the regularity of what I was doing up to about a year ago when all hell started breaking loose.  And this year, dear God, this year has been awful.

They always say write what you know about, and I could write about the past six months in great detail, and perhaps with a sense of irony and humor.  Perhaps with a sense of grace and purpose.  And somehow, how it all ties into this complex character of a man who I am.  But I have to be a WRITER first.

And that my friends, is what I shall be.  Expect me, when you see me.

“You must stay drunk on writing so that reality does not kill you.” – Ray Bradbury

Greetings, Comrades! Pull Up A Chair!

Hello Old Friends, it’s been a while.  Various personal and health issues took me away from blogging at least a few times a week, so as you can see the muse hasn’t inspired me from April till now.  In the interim I received some nice comments by folks who were mistakenly directed to my site and found it interesting.  “Funny how MSN works” said one reader; another was directed here while looking for cookie recipes.  How that managed to happen is beyond me (although my Kitchen Chronicles series from two years ago might have inspired her.  The point is, I need an outlet again, a means to vent off steam, just like I did during the 08 election.  Unfortunately the discourse and tone of the political game has become so OPENLY corrupt that it is disgusting.  What is even more sickening is our will to have both Republican and Democratic rhetoric shoved down our throats.  It’s like that scene in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” where a member of the elite society goes down into the bowels of the city and decides to live as a worker for one day, just to see what it is like.  He he shown that he has to push and pull levers at certain times.  When asking about why this is done and it’s purpose, the response is “No one told me and I don’t care”.

I am afraid we have become this society, a society where 10% of the population controls 90% os the nation’s wealth and we just accept it.  We vote a Democrat in hoping for change, only to be profoundly disappointed by his job performance; he is a continuation of Bush II.  Next time it will be a Republican.  What these people who so-called are the caretakers of this nation are in fact themselves a class unto themselves: The Political Class.  Now, it’s pretty tough to break into this elite club, but when you do you are pretty much set for life…so long as you play the game by their rules.  In an incredible show of hubris and the biggest fucking pair of balls ever, these guys who are behind indicted for crimes don’t blink an eye when they were caught misappropriating funds, or rerouting dollars for their districts….because they’re going to get off.  And they have the balls and the temerity to say on TV, “Yeah…so what?” and we as Americans have sat back for far too long and watched this happen behind closed doors…but the fucking GALL to do this in the open now is just incredible.  Judge is invested in companies that invest in BP and they are the largest shareholder…and he doesn’t recuse himself from the decision he KNOWS he is making the following day and had already told his broker to dump the stock.

This is America?  This is what we have become; what farce of a democracy that would listen to any word coming from Governor Moosebrains or Glenn Beck (who gives recovering alcoholics like me a bad name).  THERE ARE NO LEADERS on EITHER side of the aisle.  We are being taken for a ride ladies and gentlemen…a ride on the biggest ponzi scheme called the United States Government.  You want to blame folks for this mess?  Look on TV, they are there BRAZENLY FLAUNTING their wrongdoings in your face,

At least years ago they had the decency to cover it up.  Now this is an everyday occurrence.  Funny how all these people worry about Socialism, because quite frankly…that may be the very thing that save the Republic.  More next time…and yes, I’ll be writing a LOT more…mid-terms coming up.  PERSONAL NOTE: Rich, thanks for this poem:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-W.  Henley

Phoenix In Chains

For many people, today is considered the holiest day in their religion.  Easter signifies the resurrection of the Christ and of the coming of life anew in spring, after the madness of the winter.  Since I’m a Deist and not really partial to Churches and trappings and holidays, this day also has meaning for me but in a very different way.  It usually signifies the start of my revival as a person; for the next several months, I will act like a human being again instead of a hermit huddled in his bunker with the heat on.  Coincidently, it is also the start of baseball season, as my beloved New York Yankees take on our hated rivals in Boston this evening.  I have a nice day planned with the kids; just hang out in the sunshine and make a nice roast for dinner this evening.  For many, today will not be such a day.  Today will simply mark another day in their existence with not a shred of significance for them at all.  Today will simply be another Sunday (if that) and they cannot even bear to bring themselves to look at Easter, because they have been betrayed by the very institution that was supposed to bring them salvation.  Their sanity and their souls have been contaminated and held back by the Church of Rome because of the perverted carnal desires of a few men who were supposed to bring light into the darkness, and instead brought darkness upon the darkness.

The current Bishop of Rome (when he was a Bishop and a Cardinal) appears to be implicated in helping to aid and comfort these men by not only allowing them to remain as priests, but aid in moving them from the parish where they committed these atrocities to another, where they would continue to commit them again.  And he would move them again, even after being implored by his own Bishops and others not to.  He would simply cover up their crimes…and like they always say, the cover up is sometimes worse than the crime itself.  So, you are now faced with a very interesting dilemma; an interesting situation that in fact tests the faith of the congregants of not only those parishes but of all of the Church of Rome.  This is not merely a bump in the road or more than a crack in the Church foundation…it will eventually prove to be the undoing of the entire institution.

I like to refer to myself jokingly as a “recovering Catholic” in addition to being a recovering alcoholic.  I was educated at a prestigious all boys Catholic High School in New York City, one considered at the time to be one of the best in the country.  We were required to take 4 years of Religious Education which involved studying both the Old and New Testaments, learning about the Catholic faith…and learning about other faiths throughout the world.  I spent ONE YEAR doing the latter; and it was during all four years of this Roman Catholic High School, that I realized that I was no longer a Catholic.  I realized it on an Easter Sunday when I kept seeing pomp and ceremony, and the congregants impeccably dressed; I realized it when through all of the fog of the incense…that you don’t need a building to be close to God (or the Universe as I later came to believe).  You don’t need an institution to interpret the words of great men like Moses, Jesus or Mohammad…all you need is a belief and a faith in yourself.  Moreover, you need to believe in a faith of Mankind, a universal unspoken truth that we are of one being.  We are one race, one people, one species…and we are so challenged in just being that alone.  How can we attain enlightenment when we haven’t even admitted to ourselves that we are fallible?  How can we POSSIBLY earn any measure of salvation when we can’t even be kind to our neighbor next door when they needed us during one of the many snowstorms this past winter in helping to dig their car out?  If you can’t be kind to your neighbor, then how the hell are you going to love them?  How can we understand words of great men when we have them interpreted for us through the guise of an organization that seeks nothing more than power and control over humanity in and of itself?  It’s not just the Church of Rome, it is any organized religion’s hierarchy.  It is through that shroud that we are “allowed” to seek salvation, as long as we believe in the INSTITUTION and not the FAITH.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There are so many phoenixes in this world just waiting to be reborn, and they are chained to the ground by institutions and trappings.  They cannot allow themselves to soar and their spirits fly and their souls learn of the wonders of this Universe; of learning through it and it through them.  Be a good Jew.  Be a good Catholic or Protestant.  Be a good Muslim…but most of all, be a good Human Being first.  Once you understand how to do that, then all the tenants of Faith begin to fall into place…and you might be able to build a better Church, or other organization.  Believe in the faith, not the institution; believe in peace and justice, not in lies and hierarchies.   Do not allow what happened to those poor souls happen again to another human being.  Take it upon yourself to move the earth to change heaven…and when you do, resurrection is not something celebrated annually but instead daily.  Allow those chains to fall off and be the Phoenix rising.

Then perhaps, Humanity just might have a chance…because if we begin to understand ourselves, then perhaps we can begin to understand each other and through each other the Universe.

“Many a doctrine is like a window pane.  We see Truth through it but it divides us from Truth” – Khalil Gibran

Alive, Well, And Snowed In…

Hello friends, it’s been a while.

The good news is that after a few days after the previous post, the bone scan proved negative for any type of anomalies and they do not think I have leukemia.  I cannot even begin to tell you the horror of those weeks where I did not know how long I had on this plane of existence; how I would have to tell my children that I was very ill; and all the other things that run through your mind when you are confronted by your own mortality.  In my case, it happens much to frequently; which leads me to believe that I still have a purpose here on this world.  I have a pretty good idea of what I have to do (write about my experiences from the past 8 years and what I have learned and what perhaps has been passed on to me); I’m just starting to get my feet under me again after that little health scare and I’m finally back at the Mac typing away at the novel.

We also had another scare in this time frame: our youngest cat, Gryphon, managed to swallow a piece of my youngest daughter’s school diorama; and he clogged his intestines so badly they had to do exploratory surgery and pull out all of the offending material.  I am blessed with the fact that my wife has access to a credit line that can be used specifically for veterinary purposes, and we were able to get the necessary work done to save our little boy.  He’s doing well now, as a matter of fact; yesterday was the first day he was allowed to run around free in the house again after having his stitches (actually they were surgical staples) removed.  He was isolated in my oldest daughter’s room for two weeks as they didn’t want him in contact with the other two cats where they could be playing and rip out the delicate work that was done on poor Gryphon…so naturally that drove both my daughter and the cat to climb the walls…literally!  He’s back in the fold of his two older “brothers” (who are actually brothers themselves from the same litter) and resting comfortably on the comforter on my bed with them as the snow falls outside.

Back East, we are in the midst of 5 days of snow, digging out, and more snow.  Today is even worse than over this past weekend as we now have blizzard conditions outside…but it’s warm in the house (for now, and as long as Jersey Central Power and Light holds up their end of things) and outside of my back hurting like all hell, I am very thankful to be here.  Yes, my kids are home and my wife and I have the usual martial bickering going on (which usually happens in the winter when two people who’ve been together for 19 years start getting cabin fever).  Tess’ birthday is this weekend, and I plan on making it a much better one than I did last year (which I’d rather not talk about, but you can read about in the archives).  The funniest “gift” I have ever given her will be a visit to the tax assessor’s office on Saturday (where we can hopefully get our property taxes reduced), followed by a nice family dinner and a visit to a movie for just the two of us (the new “Wolfman” remake, which looks damned good) later on.  Of course, as long as we have no more snow that decides to pop out of nowhere that is!

So it looks like the kids will be home again tomorrow (I decided I’m keeping them home regardless of what the school district says; based on what I’m seeing out there right now, there is no way in hell I am sending one of my daughters on a bus on these roads, and walking the other one through what should be a normally 8 minute stroll into a 30 minute ordeal is out of the question…for both my daughter’s safety and my back, which would NOT respond well).  Tess will have to go to work (but we have a couple of guys digging us out later tonight when this is supposed to stop, although they keep moving that later and later)…but I will be more than happy to be alive, and well, and snowed in.

It was much better than the alternative was a few short weeks ago.

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it” – Anonymous

BLOG NOTE: I have a lot of political thoughts I’ve been keeping a journal on and bottled up over the past few weeks, so be forewarned…lots of opinions coming up in the next few posts.  As much as I am a Democrat and left-leaning, it is time that this President recognizes a few things from an average Joe like me…someone who was a supporter, and who is now sitting on the fence on whether or not a Primary Challenge is warranted.  We wanted certain things, were promised things, and while I have patience for their delivery…I have no patience for compromise that will destroy the promise itself and turn it into meaningless legislation.  Trust me, stay tuned…

206.3 Live or Die

Those are the numbers my life comes down to: 206.3.

That was on the prescription blank when I went in for a full body-bone scan this past Wednesday.  Those little numbers hold the very key to my future, as they will say whether or not I have leukemia or not, or a particular type of leukemia that is associated with those exposed to benzine for prolonged periods, or radiation equivalent to that of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in one burst or over an extended period of time.  This leads to the next inescapable question: how was I exposed to these substances?

Benzine is an element that is prevalent in JET FUEL.  I was there at the crash site of the WTC on 9/11 and worked two blocks away for three years,  Those fires from the initial impact didn’t stop burning and smoldering for two months afterward, or perhaps longer.  Then we come to the far more interesting of the two main causes: RADIATION EXPOSURE.  Was there something in the initial crash, subsequent dust cloud, or air afterward that contained radioactive substances?  WELL?

So here we are…a weekend, when I sit and try and take my mind off things.  I don’t drink or party anymore, so those two are out (I’ll only be drunk and dying as opposed to just dying, LOL).  Internet…nope; everything reminds me of that day and what I’m waiting on.  Blu Rays or DVDs…no good there either; someone only says something in the script that triggers a memory and I go off.  Sleep reveals absolutely LSD type dreams that make no sense, including metaphorically.

It all boils down to one number: 206.3

(Updates as situation warrants)

“The Air Is Just Fine…” Part I

I collapsed three times in one day a few months ago.

My right leg gave out on me after a searing white hot pain shot through it and my hip causing me to tear up because the pain was so bad.  And this was after I had taken pain medication for my back, which as you know (if you’ve been reading this blog regularly), has three or more degenerative discs in it.  The leg has been giving me problems on and off now for a few months but nothing major like this…I was taken completely aback by the pain and the fact that my leg no longer had any control and gave way.  A few weeks ago, I visited my orthopedist for my annual check up on nerve damage in my legs, which is where a lot of the pain is starting to make its way toward.  It showed some small issues, like the problem is getting worse (which I already knew because I could feel what was going on).  I told them what the problem was, and they said it could be from the nerve damage; but let’s wait a month to see if things were OK.  So, we waited two months because I wasn’t getting that pain any longer…until about a month ago.  This time, they ordered an MRI on my hip, and the results showed that I has bone spurs and some arthritis.  It also revealed anomalies in my bone marrow, which was something that was not new.

A few months ago, my white blood count was completely off the scale, so I had more tests done and for some reason, those blood tests came back OK with the white count within reason, but on the high end.  Still, it was normal and nothing to worry about.  Those tests were ordered because my annual MRI for my back showed that there was anomalies in my bone marrow as well.  This past one for my hip was the tipping point, and I’m scheduled for a full bone scan later this week to see if the problem is localized or widespread.  At best, there could have been something on the scan that the radiologist pointed out to cover all bases…but twice?  And worst case is leukemia.

I’ve lost some weight, and my appetite is not what it once was.  I do not really enjoy the taste of food anymore, at least until the past two days when I was pulling out all the stops for the holidays and making my specialties for the family.  I REALLY went to town eating over Christmas Eve and Day (hey, I’m Irish/Italian and we’re supposed to do that) and to be quite frank, it really felt good to be indulging in food again, because while most would be over-doing it, I was simply getting a normal appetite back where there was very little previously.  I am tired and run down a lot, but then again I’m a 48 year old stay at home dad dealing with an almost 13 year old daughter (who is allowing me to pay off karma at a vastly accelerated rate) and a precocious 8 year old girl.  I’m refereeing cat fights between our four felines (and to a degree my daughters).  Plus my sleep pattern is COMPLETELY out of sync with the rest of the world; I was always a “night owl”, but having 3 am as a regular bedtime and sometimes a 6:30 am wake-up call to get the kids off to school can be trying.  I’ll take an hour or two in the form of naps throughout the day to play “catch-up”.  And aside from the fact that I’m in constant pain because of my back (but it’s significantly alleviated by my pain medication), I feel OK.

What I have noticed (and so has my oldest daughter) is that my Bi-Polar Disorder is getting worse; that my moods are all over the scale and I’m very impossible to live with.  She said the one day her daddy “went out the door and never came back” (her exact words), and I couldn’t help but think if it was recently or on the morning of September 11th 2001 that this happened.  The body and the mind are interesting things: perhaps in some convoluted way my brain knew what was going on inside the very marrow of my bones and was in some form of revolt.  Perhaps my whole body chemestry is being thrown out of whack by the plethora of medications I’m taking…but I keep coming back to one inescapable thing, and that is the following statement by then-EPA Secretary Christie Todd-Whitman:

“We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” Whitman said. “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breath and their water is safe to drink,” she added. [sic]

You know you’re in deep shit when a formal Government press release just days after the 9/11 attacks can’t even spell the word “breathe”; hence my “sic” reference.  If you’re going to initiate the biggest lie of the new century, then you think you’d use spell check.

You would think all the issues with my back are what I am on Disability for; it is not.  Acute PTSD (as the result of 9/11) and Bi-Polar Disorder are the reasons for that; the back and other things are happening to me only over the past 18 months, and it seems that every time I go back to the doctor, they notice something anomalous or new.  I cannot help but wonder if these ailments are happening to me as the result of being in the dust cloud on 9/11 or because I worked two blocks away from the wreckage of the South Tower and breathed that air every single day for another 3 years.  Or both.

After 9/11, our office was closed for about 3 weeks while they cleaned out the place and removed the dust.  We still found some when we returned to our cubicles at that time, and the smell of that horrible day lingered both inside and outside of the office for MONTHS.  You could still see the Pile burning every day for months after the attack; the twisted remains of a support of the glorious South Tower still standing for another few weeks as well.  People would develop coughs and then they would go away; allergies flared among my co-workers.  We all knew something was dreadfully wrong with the air, we could just feel it in our bones…and I have no doubt that some of us are feeling it quite literally now.

I’ve been doing research on the Net so see if anyone else is (or has) developed symptoms similar to mine.  What I am finding is that strangely enough, there is a connection between PTSD and muscular-skeletal disorders even prior to 9/11, but that those have become common in 9/11 Survivors.  In addition, every single time I look up these ailments, the word “cancer” is always used in the same article.  Almost all of these articles pertain to Rescue Workers, and in some of them there are mentions of office workers who survived having these symptoms, but they are usually buried or a footnote.  What I keep coming back to is the fact that Office Workers seems to either be one group that no one gives a damn about, or very few cases have been reported…until recently.

I have found a number of outstanding articles detailing the health issues of a lot of folks in Lower Manhattan, but as I said, almost exclusively all of the reported issues are with First Responders and the like.  The rest of us that worked, and ate, and spent prolonged exposure time down there are forgotten.  The ones who literally opened the Stock Exchange just days after the attack and while the remnants of the cloud were still there.  The ones who kept the engine of Capitalism moving…and now we are starting to drop; slowly, surely, and most definitely.  The Powers That Be (or as I like to call them the SOBICs- Sons of Bitches In Charge) have been good at keeping this quiet…but it’s almost 10 years later.  10 years of having the toxins build up and your body react.  10 years of trying to have a normal life again, only to find out that you may have gotten your life back together only to find out that you may be fatally ill.

I have no problem giving my life for my family and my country or even a total stranger; it’s almost expected of me based on my own moral compass.  I resent potentially having to do so for a lie and for perpetuating a system that enslaves the populace even more than it ever did in the form of economic and social chains of injustice.  Next time they start debating Public Health Care, ask yourself this question: why are they SO determined now to ensure that it is not single-payer, or a public option?  Why have the insurance companies gotten away with getting off the hook scott free?

Because sooner or later, there will be thousands of us who worked and lived in Lower Manhattan getting ill and dying.  Sooner or later they will not be able to keep things quiet.  Sooner or later, SOMEONE has to make a profit off all of us who die…

…and all because someone decided that the almighty dollar was more important than human life.  All because someone said, “The air is fine…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” -John F. Kennedy

Back In Action!

As some of you know, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged due to some nasty health problems (which I’ll definitely address in a future post).  The short story is this: I have a nasty back problem that involves degenerating discs and nerve damage.  This necessitates me taking all kinds of neat-o stuff to kill the pain, and unfortunately, it tends to dull the mind as well as the agony.  So this basically means I kind of have to blog early in the day before my second dose of meds, after which I become this incoherent babbling pile of Jello; although some of my friends would say I’m that way in any case even without the medication.  (And with friends like those…)

I’ve also been hard at work on my novel.  It’s an interesting thing attempting a project of this scope; you’re heavily involved in the creation and editing as well as getting some valuable input from friends and family.  I have no agent, no editor…it’s just me attempting to tell a story of a good chunk of my life that needs to be told.  I do it because I have to as much as I want to for catharsis’ sake.  So with my efforts being directed in that direction, blogging most definitely took a back seat; but I realized that as I was yelling across a den at a 51″ wide-screen television yelling at Congress, I could be much more productive putting my anger on paper.  Plus I missed having my opinions out there on the ‘Net and getting some great e-mail and comments from folks from all over this planet.  It’s amazing to think that one small blog like this one can reach so vast a distance, it matters not that my audience is 5 people or 50…it still boggles my mind that what I’m saying can be heard half a world away.  So, I’ve decided the time was right to get back to the business of venting my spleen at the world, telling humorous stories from my life, and offering my perspective of The Universe.

I did some changes to the Blog, the most obvious one is the new style and format.  I’m not sure if I like it yet; I think I need to settle into the new digs for a bit before I finalize things.  I’ve also changed the e-mail address for the blog.  Should you want to contact me personally, the new e-mail address is intersectionsblog@me.com.  Feel free to write; I ALWAYS respond to my e-mail.  Finally, my new publishing schedule will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays for the time being.  Of course, more as needed; and less if necessary, but that’s what I’m going to try and work with for now.

Hopefully, I can make this work this time and get back to providing you some (hopefully) entertaining reading material.

The Eat Their Young…And Soon, They Will Come For Us All

No, this is not your typical Halloween story; but it certainly is a most frightening one.  Ever since last year’s election, Republicans have been faced with an identity crisis of epic proportions.  For many, the “moderate” approach of John McCain was in fact the one that lost the election; what should have happened was that a Conservative, right-wing purist might have fared better and even won the contest.  In the ensuing months since the November Massacre, the GOP has had a void of leadership that was only filled (and still is), by right-wing talk show hosts and fringe politicians.  Moderate voices need not apply.  There have been many in the Party who have veered toward the Center on one day only to be “corrected” by a Limbaugh or Beck and did a 180 the next day and was warmly embraced back into the lunatic fold.

The New York 23rd Congressional special election was indeed a proxy for the ideological forces within the Republican Party.  It was a three way race between Democrat Bill Owen; Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman.  The GOP Candidate was a woman who was pro choice, pro-gay rights, pro gun ownership (in that part of the State, everyone has one) and a fiscal moderate.  She supported the stimulus package back in February.  The Conservative was the usual pro-life, pro gun, gay hating, gun toting right wing idiot that has been filling the political vacuum for the past few months.  The Democrat was the standard liberal, but in fact very close to the GOP candidate in many ways politically.  Governor Moosebrains got into the fray by supporting Hoffmann, as did many other Right Wingnuts; Newt Gingrich supported Suozzafava as did many other moderate-Conservatives.  Today that all came crashing down when Scozzafava “suspended” her campaign after polls showed that she was behind both her challengers and that the Democrat had a real chance of winning a seat that hadn’t been held by a Democrat since the Civil War.

And the GOP didn’t do a damned thing to stop her.

So it appears as if we are beginning to see not only a right-wing shift and takeover of the GOP, but a fringe tea-bagging, secessionist loving, lunatic faction making their way into power into the GOP.  This could lead to many primary challenges for the 2010 mid-terms, and could in fact create a slate of candidates that are so far to the right, that the only hope for moderates is the Democratic Party.  When confronted with a tough economy, high unemployment, a protracted battle for health care, and a war on two fronts in the Middle East (possibly three fronts shortly); voters will be offered a choice between a Democratic candidate that will effectively continue President Obama’s ambitious agenda (being slowed down to some success by the Republicans) or an alternative represented by a lunatic fringe right wing candidate.  Let’s be honest, people see what’s happening in their lives, and when presented with a choice of the status quo representing all things bad and an alternative (no matter how crazy)…they will pick the alternative.

The greatest mistake of Democrats is the fact that we assume people are intelligent and think; when in fact most people are not well read and are very happy being told what to do.  In other words, perfect candidates as cannon fodder for the right-wing loony toons.  After dismantling any sign or hope for moderation in their Party, the GOP will have a slate of crazies across the board, crazies that have a VERY good chance of winning; not because President Obama has done anything to deserve getting thrown out of office, but precisely because he has done NOTHING.  At all.  If he does not look down at his loins and find a pair pretty quickly, what he may be faced with is a Congress that is not only hostile, but RABIDLY right-wing hostile.  He has begun to piss off his base, something ANY smart politician does not do.  He forgets that die hard ex-hippie guys like me, gays, minorities, and others that make up the Progressives got him elected in the first place.  He is trying to govern in the center, and that is a recipe for disaster.  He is hanging out with the very same rich bankers that got us into this financial disaster in the first place.

So while the GOP sees his programs as the next 5 Year Plan and he as the reincarnation of Vladimir Lenin; he is doing NOTHING to help unemployment by creating Federal jobs like FDR did.  Sure companies are happy and showing profits, but that’s because they are doing it with fewer people they have to pay and are making it work.  These unemployed will not be going back to the sectors in which they worked, rather, they will remain almost certainly unemployed for the foreseeable future…and that makes them perfectly willing to vote out the Democrats and put in not only the same Republicans who caused the downfall in the first place, but a whole new bunch that are even more rabid and right wing and would love nothing more than to set up a Christian Theocracy.  The President is in fact laying the groundwork for an eventual Fascist takeover that will be complete with the election of a Palin or Pawlenty in 2012.  Only he can stop it now.  Only he can stop a Vice President Michele Bachmann, or a President Palin.

Because by eating their young, the Republicans are paving the way to ensure that those of us who do not conform to the ideological purity tests that they have been subjecting themselves to, wind up in those FEMA camps that Glenn Beck talked about.    They will win in force because of everything I just talked about…oh, and did I mention the President is an African-American?

“Fascism is capitalism in decay” – Vladimir Lenin