If you're at all interested, and I don't see why you should be, this page reads from the bottom up.

Sept. 2001

This guy lives in New York. He's a design guru who's had a blog for ages. I'm linking to the blog for obvious reasons, but his whole site's interesting.

I was looking for some background info:

An overview of political islam:

From the link above, you can get a quick overview on Afghanistan:

The many facets of political islam:


I keep thinking about the presidential election that was called off by the military in Algeria in the early 90's. I remember my reaction to it clearly - ambivalence. I have a hard time articulating why that moment and what followed is so crucial, but the "democratic" elections were called off because the fundamentalist islamic party was likely to win. It gets to the heart of why foreign policy is so difficult on this issue. When do you accept what you perceive to be the lesser of two evils? When does the lesser of two evils stop being lesser? Over 75,000 people have been killed since 1991, but no one really knows what's going on because there's a news blackout in that country.

Good, quick, overview of Algeria and the problem there:

Human Rights Watch: Algerian Presidential Elections:

Human Rights Watch: A background paper

I thought this was nicely done.

I heard a radio DJ say, after talking about Afghanistan and bin Laden, "I have these football tickets to help get your mind off of everything." It's remarkable that we're seeing people use entertainment as an escape, not as a permanent state of mind.

     As to the deeper reflections about our culture and our history and our role in the world and our response to the cataclysmic events of last week - I refer you to National Public Radio (, The New York Times and all of the other sources that will give you a comprehensive understanding of this conflict and our actions now. I'll shoot you links if I come across anything good.

     I'm moving forward within the context of what happened on Sept. 11 - seems like a no brainer, but in fact it's a statement recognising my need to continue my life - while letting you know I'm not slipping into major denial. With that understanding, I will return to my observations of the world and it's minutiae as I experience it. After all, that's how I understand my experience... and, I assume, why - if indeed at all - anyone is reading this page.

And so:

They're saying that there is a minor... a slight... probably infinitesimal possibility of "terrorist activity" in Boston this weekend...

     I spent an hour this morning letting a guy pound my back to mush. He kept saying, "You're too tense. Why do you worry so much?"

     I told him that 6000 people had been murdered last week and our country was going to war. These were events I thought merited some concern. He said that worrying wouldn't bring any of the dead back. It was useless.

     "Are you worried you're going to die?" he asked.

     "No," I said. "I'm worried that my friend in the army may die."

     He became pensive. "We're all going to die, stop worrying. If they said killing me would bring world peace, I'd die right now. But there will always be war, always be death, so stop worrying."

     He came here from China after the Cultural Revolution. He has two brothers who were "re-educated" in the countryside. He grew up impoverished. He told me he came here "because the people are so positive."

     "Stop worrying," he told me as I left. He also told me to stop eating so much cheese. "You have too much fire in your head," he said. "It doesn't need fuel."

A couple of good articles that deal with our current situation. Both are articulate and insightful.

Our thoughts are with the people who suffered such devastating loss last week and with the courageous people working so hard in New York and Washington now.

     One of the questions we're left with is how to move forward? When to move forward? Into a new time, into a new place, very much changed. I'm not thinking I'm going to have the answers to that, I'm feeling my way carefully like everybody else. I'm looking to people who seem to have a clue for insight (and listening to NPR a lot). I'm observing my own stunned, traumatized, overwhelmed, angry, despairing, fearing, grieving, numb, agitated self.

     And now there are people compounding this horrible tragedy by attacking Arab-Americans, Americans who are Islamic or anyone they perceive might be either. Again, I'm stunned and grasping for words in the face of insanity. Perpetrating heinous crimes against innocent people is no answer to this tragedy. We're not doing a service to our country or national pride by attacking ourselves.

     We'd serve ourselves and our country better by ensuring the human rights of innocent people here and abroad in our pursuit of justice.

     I hope you all are giving yourselves time to assimilate what you can and taking breaks when you can't.

     Last week we dropped off foodstuffs for the workers in Manhattan. This week I'm writing letters to my congress people and signing the petition at:

Be well,


Over the last week I've been gathering my thoughts and writing them down to try to make sense of my experience. On Saturday I wrote:

     In my neighborhood things have been eerily quiet since Tuesday. The first real noise came last night. Two young kids lit candles along their fence and waved flags at passing cars. Lots of honking ensued. In New England, we communicate quite a lot by horn. It's a regional custom that I haven't ever adapted to, so I wouldn't have missed it had I had the presence of mind over the last few days to notice the absence. But I noticed the return. It threw the unnatural quiet of our usually bustling neighborhood into sharp focus. Not many people have been out and about. Stores and such have been mostly empty. People are stunned, many are scared.

     On Wednesday, Ume and I heard a plane go overhead. We froze and held our breath. We knew all of the airports were closed and it took me a moment to recognize the echoing rumble of a military jet. I grew up not far from a military installation and I've seen and heard those things fly. It was freakish given the circumstance. We started breathing again, in any case.

     In another twist of surreal wonderment, we learn that Massachusetts is some kind of terrorist central. Turns out that it's conveniently located between New York and Canada. Swell.

     I'm trying to ground myself and disperse the distracted fog that's clouded my consciousness. But recovering from such a devastating blow, as indirect an experience as it was for us here away from both centers of destruction, isn't an overnight happening. Still, to be helpful to the people I know who've been affected, I'd like to at least have some presence of mind. The guy whose van I nearly drove into this afternoon would probably appreciate it too.

    May all beings have ease of mind.

    May all beings have peace of heart.

    May all beings be free from all forms of suffering.

This is the saying that I end my morning meditation with.

Our friends and family are safe. We have much to be thankful for. For those of you who have suffered losses, our thoughts are with you.

I wish you all well.

I wish you all peace.

Well, I've made a difficult transition. Not one I ever thought I'd be able to make, but life and bodies being what they are, it appears I'm more capable than I thought. I'm not a huge fan of change. I know, I know, the alternative isn't all that great, but there are some things that could stay the same, besides death and taxes, right? Don't even get me started on that tax return thing. It's sitting in the envelope in the hallway like an unwanted guest while I try to figure out who to donate it to. Yeah George, thanks for sending me money, did you think it would help me to forget the fact that you weren't elected?

      I wasn't going to talk about that. I was going to talk about my transition. So I made the big leap from one percent to skim milk this morning. The whole way. Not skim mixed with one percent, but straight dishwater. I'm proud. I'm also slightly amazed. I've been slowly weening myself off the one percent by mixing it with the skim. Over six months (I'm a sensitive flower, no?), I put a little more skim milk in my cereal and a little less one percent. And the last couple of days it's been pure skim milk and I haven't died of revulsion yet.

      See, I'm capable of change too. Look out Madonna, I'll be changing my persona twice a week and whatnot, be putting you out of business in a fortnight. Today, I'm the curmudgeonly Crème Brulée, tomorrow, the slighly grumpy Tapioca, the next day a chipper Flan, you just wait. Oh, oh! My alter ego online, Crème Caramel. She writes sticky sweet fanfiction and poetry and stuff. I'll be her next.

I've been holding my breath since August 28th, in hopes that somehow it will inspire all of my neighbors to move out. So far, it hasn't been a success. My least desireable neighbors have even stayed. I know this, because they're cleverly signalling me by flashing their intensive search lights through all of our windows at night.

     One saving grace of living in a crowded neighborhood in New England - when it gets chilly, people start closing their windows! Yes! Ha! Double ha! The light will still come through, but I won't have to bear the shouting anymore. Oh, and the people who had the brilliant idea of putting their phone on the window ledge so that we could all hear it ring... I hope they're abducted by aliens. I'm sure a probe would fix the part of their brain that was busted when they had that ingenious idea about the phone. And is it a nice ring you ask? A mellow call? Would I care if it was? It's a shrill awakening evey damn time.

     Someone asked me why it was that a sensitive flower like myself lives in such a crowded place. "Why live in the city? You obviously don't care for the close quarters." What this person doesn't know is that I actually pay a therapist for the sole purpose of ignoring good advice. After all, my mother, who used to give me good advice ad nauseum, is no longer around to do so. So I'm paying someone to take her place. It's kinda sad, but not really.

     Besides, if I moved to the country, I'd bitch about insects and Republicans. If I moved to the suburbs I'd probably do that too, but mainly I'd bitch about the architecture. Either way, we'll find out next year because this is likely to be our last year here. Wait 'til you hear my moving rants. I can see it now, "Ume, where's the phone? Ume, where's my desk? Ume... Ume?"

Déjà vu - August - July - June - Misadventures- April

Compassion Fatigue Entries - 2001

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