Give Me the Music

Yeah yeah, I just about swallowed my tongue.


You Are a Rainbow


Breathtaking and rare

You are totally enchanting and intriguing

But you usually don’t stick around long!

You are best known for: your beauty

Your dominant state: seducing

Shut up!

But You’re Still Spitting Fire

“What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’? That’s a statement that is wide open to interpretation.’
– George W. Bush

“I’m saying that nobody knows what ‘humiliating treatment’ is. What does it mean?”
– National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley

“I know an insult to my intelligence when I hear it.”
– Tata, Reluctant Voice of Reason

Ta Republique, Europa

This morning, I stood up in my office and made an important announcement.

Tata: Tomorrow is my favorite holiday: International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Avast, ye have been warned!

The over-sixty set in my office, the Nice Ladies, are used to me. They cackle. They do not believe I will turn up tomorrow with a hat or a parrot. They know it is entirely possible I’ll spend tomorrow in a cheap rolling chair, pretending to row to and from the printer, blathering about keelhauling and sharks. Like last year.

Also this morning, ABC News published a story that made my adorably red head spin. The reporter’s language is not even close to neutral. In fact, it’s as if Bill Redeker tagged Rosie O’Donnell for a turn shouting, “GET A LOAD OF THIS!”

In the picturesque northwest corner of Montana only 30 miles from Glacier National Park, signs have begun to appear on windows in the city of Kalispell that proclaim “No Hate Here.”

What’s the fuss all about?

At first, it seems difficult to believe that the focus of the campaign is two 14-year-old twin girls.

Then it becomes clear.

The two teens are those spokeskids for white separatists, Lamb and Lynx Gaede, who vaulted to international attention after they appeared on ABC’s “Primetime” last year.

The girls, their mother, April, and stepfather Mark Harrington recently moved to Montana from Bakersfield, Calif., after April told “Primetime” that Bakersfield was “not white enough.” Now Kalispell has put the family on notice, “Not in my backyard.”

I know! I had to lie down to laugh hard enough. Wait, it gets funnier.

Last week a group of neighbors printed information sheets about the family and distributed them door to door.

“This letter is not written as a means to harass the family or to begin a witch hunt,” the flier said. “We wish the family no harm. Our goal is to peacefully communicate that this kind of hate and ignorance will not be accepted here in our neighborhood where we live and raise our families.”

Lamb and Lynx created the band Prussian Blue to communicate their white separatist views musically. The song “Sacrifice” praises Nazi leader Rudolph Hess, Adolph Hitler’s deputy. The two have modeled T-shirts featuring Hitler smiley faces.

Omigod, I – like – totally can’t wait until the other 14-year-olds model their Anne Frank GrrrAnimals Separates at the Kalispell Fall Semi-Demi-Formal – like – and dis the sockpuppet White Power Jonbenets! That’s so hot! The parents also gave them the Registered Sex Offender Treatment(tm).

Rebecca Kushner-Metteer, one of the people who handed out the fliers, says the teens and their parents moved into her south Kalispell neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. At first, no one paid much attention until another neighbor showed a rerun of the “Primetime” broadcast. They then recognized their new neighbors.

See, the whole town’s singing freaking Kumbaya now, no matter what it was like before. And you know what nobody saw coming? The normals are pissed! But don’t worry about the little white power twins! Jackbooted heroes are hurrying to the rescue.

Now Kushner-Metteer and other families say they have received threats.

“We’re very concerned about our safety,” says Kushner-Metteer.

Postings by members of Stormfront.org and Libertyforum.com, which are community sites linked to the Prussian Blue site, have included addresses and phone numbers of those involved in passing out the fliers. A photograph of a mother and her daughter that was published by the Daily Inter Lake as they distributed the fliers can also be found on the sites.

Shit! – I mean, this could get serious! But not quite yet.

However, the Kalispell Police Department has heard from the [Gaede] family. The police say they received a complaint that the family was being “harassed” by the neighbors posting the fliers.

In an irony not lost on many in the community, the officers had to explain that the neighbors’ free speech rights made the fliers perfectly legal.

Here it comes, here it comes…ready? I’m choking on my popcorn!

Just as legal as the free speech rights afforded Lynx and Lamb Gaede.

YAHTZEE!

Although a date has yet to be set, the 1,400-member Montana Human Rights Network is planning a rally in Kalispell. Seems all area residents are now exercising their free speech rights in northwest Montana.

It’s like the villagers stormed the castle wielding pitchforks and a Montessori manual!

And for that, we should celebrate!

Out, Like A Telegraph To Your Soul

I.
Sometimes I wish things were different. I wish when my key turned in the lock I’d find my companion simmering something fragrant and pouring me a glass of pinot grigio. It would be sweet to fall asleep together and wake up together and tell each other everything all day. In the interest of full disclosure: I believe in full disclosure. Also: despite my unbelievable hotness, which is causing you to tan as you read this, I suspect most people who worship my aforementioned unbelievable hotness can’t imagine growing old warming their hands by it. So it goes.

II.
I recognize my shortcomings as a witness in theory, which is why I call Anya to check. I tell her I either did or did not witness a merchant in town practicing racial discrimination with his customers, all the while talking and laughing with me in a way that was so distracting I don’t know what was actually happening. Anya says, “So they made you part of the club and used the work they were doing for you to insult an Asian family and get rid of Black customers?” I…don’t know. I am still adding up what I saw and heard. I think I might have seen that. This introduces a new concept, since I am beige but not white. This means I am passing. This means the merchant thought I approved. If I were wrong and I said this about that merchant, I would be saying something unforgivable. This means I have to find a way to test out what I think. If I were right, I was blind to events as they were unfolding, and that scares me.

III.
His voice stops me the third time I hear it. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” He is a man sitting in a high-end SUV with his son. “Do you know where there’s a Rite Aid?” Drug stores, like grocery stores, change corporate hands so often a person can’t assume anything is where he last saw it. For a second, I’m confused and look up. Then I point directly across the street, “Like that one?”

IV.
My bicycle is on the road. Riding it, I am overjoyed. As a teenager, I rode up and down the hill roads of the home town at breakneck speeds and mostly without hands. On a bicycle, I was free and I am free. I am free.

The End Of Me Become the Start Of You

Google has an intriguing feature: How to of the Day. I confess: I’m fascinated. One of today’s featured instructions – How to Remove a Hickey – arrives a bit late in my illustrious career, but it is intriguing to observe that in 2006, humans are still possessive and stupid enough to mark territory with bruises. These directions are loose, full of folk cures and mildly humorous, which they would not be if I were writing them. No, my instructions would be brief and to the point:

How to Remove a Hickey
1. Instruct all love monkeys: no marks!
2. Don’t fuck people who fuck with you!

Simple! Yesterday’s feature was the tres amusement How to Dissuade Yourself From Becoming a Blogger, which is filled with cheesy goodness. Enjoy:

Rest easy in the knowledge that it’s perfectly okay and respectable to not have a blog at all.

BWAH!

The information you post on the Internet is likely to linger for years and years to come, as web pages are archived by “snapshot” services like the Wayback Machine. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. An employer running a Google search on your name years down the line might be turned off by your now documented obsession with your cat.

Help me, Mama!

Keep in mind that, unless you expressly make it otherwise, blogs are extremely public. This is not your secret diary that you write your innermost thoughts in because only you have the key and you wear it around your neck 24/7.If you have stuff that you don’t want your mom, your best friend, your significant other, your secret crush, or your cat to know, don’t go blabbing it to complete strangers on the internet.

I can’t breathe! It’s Friday and I was going to post a photo of my cat, but he may read my blog and find out – not to mention his secret crush on that boy in third period Civics!

Oh, that explains so much, really.

Yesterday was a bad day to be me, or anyone within 50 feet of me. Lupe and I had a fight that uprooted the mulberry bush we’ve danced circles around all summer. Let’s examine this as choreographers might:

Tata: A
Lupe: B
Tata: A
Gianna: (Intervening) C
Tata: A!
Lupe: B!

Oh God. Now you know! And while this argument must have been a joy to witness or overhear, the silence that followed my walking away was thunderous. I was furious. I obsessed on why I was so angry. An hour passed. And another. People typed very quietly. I was never going to speak to Lupe again. I was consumed by a fiery rage.

Lupe: If I left a yogurt out all morning is it still good?
Tata: Yogurt changes consistency as it comes to room temperature but it’s okay to eat.

DAMN IT! I couldn’t help myself! This was no way to hold a grudge! She guessed that I wouldn’t be able to refrain from answering a question. It was a brilliant stratagem, I had to admit. The spell was broken. After a few minutes, I noticed I could hear typing again, and occasionally people speaking. Still, it was very quiet for an office full of people who weren’t cowering under their desks. Some of them went to lunch. Later, I went to the ladies room and when I came back, I found a note and a bag of toy dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs.

I picked them up and twirled the bag. The top of my head no longer felt like it would blow off. I realized I was smiling, which for a moment made me mad all over again. Then I just wasn’t angry anymore and started laughing. To the air in the office and no one in particular, I spoke over the cubicle walls.

Tata: I had no idea I could be bribed with a blue plastic triceratops.

There was a short hush, during which everyone sat still.

Lupe: That’s a pretty cheap bribe.

In my most six of six-year-old voices:

Tata: But…it’s blue…!
Lupe: Did you watch Dateline last night?
Tata: What was on? I didn’t see…

Pretty As A Car Crash

Self-Portrait in the Camp Felix Nussbaum

Two weeks ago, Siobhan and I stuffed ourselves into her Ford Extinguisher and drove into NYC to see the Klimts at Neue Gallery. You remember: we didn’t assault anyone, no matter how he or she stepped into our carefully chosen views of early twentieth century German artworks, and we discovered the gold painting of Adele was as big as me, perhaps even bigger, and that art under glass is a nightmare for glare. Perhaps I left that out, in my original epic. Being a person of unusual size and shape, I often found myself doing the watusi to move the glare from the ceiling lights around the glass surface so I could see more of the painting. This made me say “Damn it!” a lot in a relatively quiet gallery.

Weeks later, what we saw is still interesting and opening up in unexpected ways. My co-worker and I are plotting a class trip from my office to see Kwang-Young Chun‘s installation pieces at Kim Foster or Michelle Rosenberg Gallery because it is sometimes absolutely crucial to see in person what we see in art journals we handle at the library. Chun’s work on paper or on the screen looks like a terrifying closeup of wreckage on the ocean floor or the lunar surface, but I’m not sure if that’s my eye or an intended impression. From the Foster Gallery page:

Chun’s artwork reflects his intense involvement with both Western art and the rich heritage of his homeland. Begun in the mid-1990s, the series titled Aggregation breaks away from the conventional use of brush, paint and canvas. His compositions are constructed of hundreds of triangles wrapped in century-old handmade mulberry paper. In his latest series of constructions, the work depends on a variation of trompe l’oeil. Using a range of gray to black tones, Chun creates what looks like deep depressions or craters. It is only after closer examination that we realize these are not actual indentations. The triangles coalesce into a composition creating a startling illusion of depth, dense with association to natural phenomena.

For those familiar with Korean culture, the mulberry paper used in Chun’s compositions offers an additional layer of meaning. Inspired by childhood memories, the wrapped triangles in Chun’s constructions are evocative of herbal medicine bundles wrapped in paper and hung in clusters from the ceilings of the family run pharmacy. Though herbal medicine is a dying art in his native country, Chun is keenly aware of the historical and personal resonance of his chosen medium.

Craters. I don’t know and I’m excited to see it myself.

In the Neue Gallery, almost as an afterthought, five pieces – I believe it was five – hung in a third-floor hallway. I say they were possibly an afterthought because this hallway was important for patron traffic flow, the implication being: this isn’t important, don’t bother with these. And because the place was crowded, traffic moved down the hallway. One. Two. Three. Four. Five – Holy crap! The fifth piece was Self-Portrait in the Camp by Felix Nussbaum. Unlike any other piece in the hallway, the small or large rooms, this painting had an immediate emotional impact on me, at least, but also on the people who arrived there before me and couldn’t move. If I had to guess dimensions, I’d say this painting was between a foot and 18″ wide and maybe 2′ tall. It’s small-ish. It felt to me as if I’d seen something so deeply personal I had no right to see it. I was shocked by its power, shocked that this painting had survived. This painting alone in the whole of the gallery reminded me that we who love art are lucky that anything from early twentieth century Germany survived at all.

Here is a profound and perplexing online gallery of Felix Nussbaum’s paintings. I didn’t know anything about him before I saw his face. Apparently, this may not be much of a surprise.

You’ve Changed Your Place In This World

Last spring, we – meaning those of us who write Poor Impulse Control and those of us patient enough to actually read it – reviewed our many and hilarious paper product options. I promised to switch to recycled paper products and let you know how it went. So to speak. Which I did, by which I mean: I switched to recycled paper products but I got sidetracked. There was a shiny object, and I chased it! It was terrible! I was going about my business and the next thing, I woke up three months later in an eviction hearing, which I brought to a momentary halt with my irreducible ego. Watch this health film, it’s funny.

The courthouse in New Brunswick is filled with people like me, only even less polite and not at all helpful. I know. It strains the imagination. Anyway, my method of sneaking up behind men in suits and asking questions works here – sort of – because every last man in a suit over $200 has spent his life testing well. Damn it: he’s going to have an answer to any question hanging in the air if it kills him. At one point, I am lost inside the courthouse and ask out loud, “Does anyone know where we are?” A pack of men in dark suits pivot on one heel apiece and as one answers confidently, “Yes.” Okay, so talking to men is a complete waste of time. I find a woman, show her a piece of paper and she smiles. She points off to her left and tells me to go that way until I can’t, then go straight to the end of the hall. I should mention at this point my outfit: tan slacks, a vibrant pink sweater and my floral raincoat with giant pink, orange and yellow flowers. My hair is a red visible from space. Yes, I look like a department store Mrs. Roper, holding a blue, orange and fluorescent green lunchbox with a picture of planet Earth and a caption: You are here.

After about half an hour of trying to guess what’s happening, what will happen and what should happen, I find myself sitting in the back row in the courtroom with dozens of people I could mistake for neighbors and some of them might be. Nothing happens for a very long time. I can feel the clock tick. We watch a video. Nothing happens. A clerk explains something, asks if anyone has questions, then becomes very impatient when someone has one. Then this thing happens very, very fast: one clerk calls a case, someone answers or doesn’t, she says “Default” or “Dismissed.” If the landlord stands up and the tenant doesn’t, she says, “default!” If the tenant stands up, the clerk says, “Tenant or landlord?” When both stand up, the clerk tells them to go out in the hallway and make some kind of deal. Rapidly, rapidly, over and over. This set up works to the advantage of people who’ve been here before or come here often, because I use every bit of available brain space to figure out when they’re going to call my name, since the docket numbers seem coded in some way. Before my case comes up, one clerk says across the desk to the other, “Every case from [my landlord] is dismissed today.” Finally, the clerk, who may have a career ahead of her as an auctioneer, calls something like my docket number and name. I stand up.

Tata: I am Domenica LongItalianName.
Clerk: What? Are you the landlord?
Tata: I am Domenica LongItalianName.

The clerk looks across the courtroom at me, then looks at the list, then looks at me. I’m sure she wonders where I’ve stashed Norman Fell, but I’m not telling. She says, “Dismissed.”

I switched to recycled toilet paper and while I didn’t love it, the idea of loving toilet paper is too much for my tiny mind. In an upscale grocery store near Mr. DBK’s house, I discovered more brands of recycled paper products than I knew existed, which seems promising. The switch to recycled paper towels went fabulously, which might sound like exaggeration except it also provided me with occasions to drag grocery store managers through anemic paper product aisles and demand better selections, which havoc you can wreak also wherever you shop. It’s a blast, and until everyone has a decent selection of recycled paper products in their grocery store, convenience store, drug store or bodega, you can pretty much bet on world-changing havoc and hilarity wherever you go. It’s a renewable resource, like solar energy and celebrity hijinx – though, since I don’t pay attention, about once a week I wonder when Britney Spears’ husband took up championship tennis.

I was just about to declare my happiness with recycled paper towels when Karama Neal of So What Can I Do? suggested ditching paper towels entirely and going with cloth napkins. I don’t want to advocate anything without giving it a go myself, so after 10 August, I haven’t bought any paper towels of any kind. Let’s talk specifics.

1. What cloth napkins? Years ago, Auntie InExcelsisDeo gave me a hamper full of the ugliest ancestral cloth nakpins you’ve ever seen in your life and some that were just silly-looking, with the admonition that my beloved grandmother Edith would spin in her grave if I set fire to them. So I started out with a bale of cloth napkins I’d pretend I don’t know in public, which I tossed into the washer in my kitchen Sharkey describes as “the world’s largest bread machine.” I didn’t have to buy or make them. I had them – and they had me.

2. What do I use paper towels for? Other than emergency spills – for which paper towels are ill-suited – I use paper towels because I am allergic to only two things: oxygen and nitrogen, and I sneeze a lot. Tissues are flimsy, wasteful and useless. Handkerchiefs have always seemed disgusting. Are you kidding me? I blow my nose, fold my hanky and stuff it in my pocket – where I’m certain to stuff my hand eventually? That can’t be sanitary. On the other hand, my grandfather, whom I adore, has always carried a hanky. The old Cape Codders have always been very careful about their resources and creating garbage. I couldn’t deny it would be a sensible course of action, and I could diminish the Ick Factor by dropping used cloth napkins directly into the washer.

3. What do paper towels mean? We didn’t have paper towels when I was growing up. Rich people had paper towels and air conditioning. We didn’t have those. When I started thinking about the meaning of disposable stuff, the expense, the trees, the toxins, I couldn’t even argue with Me. Thus, clean cloth napkins sit in colorful piles all over my house.

My transition to recycled paper products was successful, I felt, and I was pleased there was a little further I could go. These are gentle changes, which experts tell us are more likely to stick and become habits. I’m still working out how to use greener cat litter without annoying Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul. The options I’ve tried so far leave much to be desired.

And speaking of desire, I have a bicycle now, courtesy of the way-ahead-of-me-on-the-Go-Green! curve Scout. Scout had an extra bicycle in her garage, which I offered to buy and she instead gave me. Yay, Scout! It needs a bit of attention but we are fortunate in town to have an excellent bike shop. I’m sure the purists will be thrilled to see me walk a giant, antique woman’s bike across town with two flat tires. As the weather cools, I’m hoping to use the bicycle for exercise, and if all goes well, perhaps as transportation, at least to and from the family store. The path to the library from my apartment is fraught with peril for cyclists, but it would be really good for me to give it a try. Maybe. In the spring.

Okay, the score.
Recycled toilet paper: check!
Recycled paper towels: check!
Cloth napkins: more check-er-er!

Keep in mind I am a little old lady whose stuff stays pretty much where she left it unless the cat objects. If I had little children under foot, my conclusions might differ. Your mileage may vary.

Watch Out For Signs That Say "Hidden Driveway"

Miss Sasha called me at work yesterday.

Miss Sasha: I’m calling everyone I love. I love you, Mommy!
Tata: I love you, too, sweetheart. Whatcha doing?
Miss Sasha: My half-brother wants me to teach him how to make creme brulee.
Tata: As that would require you two to be in the same state and a blow torch, I hope you wait until he’s old enough to vote himself Prom Queen. I’m glad we had this little chat! Must get back to destroying the dreams of publishers everywhere, darling!
Miss Sasha: I love you!
Tata: I love you, too!

Having a daughter in her mid-twenties can be a revelation a minute. In the days before I stood in my gynecologist’s office and demanded at the tops of my lungs he excise my internal organs, birth control pills and contraptions were the bane of my existence. When they weren’t saving my life they were trying to kill me. Or undoing years of electrolysis. Thus, I pay attention when I see commercials for new pills and contraptions. The new Nuva Ring ads are all floaty and rhymy. Good for them! I’d love to celebrate plastic hula hoops around millions of cervixes with iambic pentameter. Even better: we’ve gone Eighties Retro Trendy with new pill formulation Yaz, and that is, like, awesome! I can’t wait for the next advance in pregnancy prevention: the Flock Of Seagulls Method, where lissome young women are encouraged to try coupling with Ex-Gay Success Stories. Listen, ladies: his sad tale of loneliness and rejection and love of hair care products may say Yes but his secret desire for your brother says No! No! No!

Mary is planning a birthday party for her soon-to-be six-year-old, whom she calls the Divine One. I often see photos of the Divine One in imaginative color- and texture combos, my favorite of which included an indoor motorcycle helmet and a feather boa. Plainly, she has a tremendous future in women’s couture. Or NASCAR. There’s no stopping a modern gal like the Divine One! Mary emailed me when she remembered I knew a costume-loving, ballet-dancing, bodybuilding yoga teacher who moonlights with kids. I made them talk to one another.

Mary: Thanks for connecting me with the fairy.
Tata: Absolutely! I can’t wait to see photographs of this event. You realize you’re describing a kiddie rave, which is like bolting on training wheels until you spike the punch.
Mary: I’ll have to get those neon necklaces and bracelets! She designed her cake too. “It will have a sea horse, whale and dolphin and some other fishes too.” Last year we had an old man in the fishing boat – it’s what guys get on the cake when they retire. The lady at the bakery kept trying to talk me out of it and push Nemo. I kept telling her that wasn’t what we wanted. When we went to pick the cake up all the ladies at the bakery couldn’t wait to meet the kid who wanted the fisherman cake. It really does pay to keep them away from tv – I love the stuff she comes up with!
Tata: Maybe your kid just does things in a different order. First, she retires. Second, she has a mid-life crisis. Third, she marries a trophy wife… Watch out, if you see Miata brochures.

Someone’s going to get an education.

As A Bird Is Free

This is Timothy J. Finnerty

On September 11, 2001, Timothy Finnerty was 33 years old, a time when the real possibilities of life are just opening up. His New York Times obituary reads like the kind of resume you just know must be padded:

He was employed as a broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, WTC, NY, NY. A member of the Glen Rock Jaycees, he graduated from the University of Scranton in 1990 where he was a member of the Mens Varsity Basketball Team. Mr. Finnerty earned an MBA degree from Wagner College in 1994 and was an assistant coach of the Mens Varsity Basketball Team from 1991-1994. He also coached the St. Catharine RC Church 7th & 8th Grade Boys CYO Basketball, Glen Rock, NJ where he was a parishioner.

As real people go, he sounds like a dream. He left behind a wife Theresa, his father Peter, his grandmother Alice Bannon and a brother Kevin. As I read about Timothy, I found myself wishing I knew if he would want to be called Tim or if he had favorite jokes. Did he like movies? What kind of future did he imagine? His face bespeaks commitment and humor, and it looks so, so young.

Because I didn’t know him and don’t wish to offend anyone, I offer this tribute. The song makes me weep. And yet, the video made me laugh just a little. It is the very best I can do.

This post is a humble part of the 2,996 Project.

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Turn You On, Sonny, To Something Strong

Anya reminds me of what my family was doing on September 11th: taking a terrified roll call. I had forgotten that after the first plane hit the Trade Center, nobody knew anything, and until the second plane hit, it all seemed like a crazy accident. It had happened years ago with a small plane and the Empire State Building. And when the second plane hit, my extended family panicked. Miss Sasha called me at work and asked if I’d heard from her father about his brother and sister-in-law, and where was Anya’s husband? I didn’t know. Nobody knew. Hours passed before it turned out the Fabulous Ex-Husband’s brother Jacob had dismissed his department in the unaffected tower after the first plane and despite advice that they should remain in place, and this probably saved their lives; his wife had stayed home from work that day. Even with this unbelievable good fortune, Jacob was so traumatized he didn’t speak for a month. Anya is a little philosophical.

Anya: I lost my husband for one day. We had a fight that morning and he was late, but I didn’t know that then. He went every day to the World Trade Center station, that much I knew. His was the first train they didn’t let in. If he’d been on the train before, he’d be dead now. As it was, he saw the people jumping.
Tata: Jumping?
Anya: The people jumped.

Anya could have been there, too, but she wasn’t. In the days that followed, I heard that same story over and over again, theme and variation: I was supposed to be there but I wasn’t. A guy I bartended with slept late and missed an appointment. Trout’s cousin took the day off from Windows On the World to celebrate his wedding anniversary. My former sister-in-law stayed home. My friend Audrey was in Brooklyn, monitoring the election; her best friend was there but unharmed. My former partner in ten years of art crimes was there, but unharmed. People I knew and knew of died, yes, but if it’d happened twenty-four hours later – even an hour later – the death toll would have been far, far worse. Paulie Gonzalez lost a bunch of friends that day. I don’t think he’d be ashamed if I mentioned one night months later I found him standing over his bathroom sink, counting them off on his fingers, tears running down his face.

My family did not lose anyone. We were very fortunate.

I have no rights, no ownership, no leverage; in fact, I refused to set foot in the Trade Center. I was always frightened, just looking at the towers, however irrational that admission might seem. I’ve mentioned this before: my friends and I drove by one Sunday morning to pick up something one of us had left in her office. They went in. I stayed in the car and stared upward, paralyzed by the words of Genesis 11:

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

As I said, my feelings weren’t rational. I still have dreams about this moment of flat refusal. What I am saying is that I have no authority to ask this but I’m asking anyway. In fact, I’m begging:

Please, please, stop using those photographs of the towers burning and falling. What you are posting, when you post those phtographs, are burning buildings, as we all know. What other people see are their friends and loved ones being burned alive, over and over, endlessly. Fathers, mothers, lovers, husbands, wives, children, buddies, girlfriends, boyfriends, that kid I sat with in third grade, my friend’s friend, your friends’ cousins: crushed, burned, torn to pieces. Stop posting these pictures and concentrating on the horror.

Please, I’m begging you: move past morbid fascination and concentrate on life. If you believe in spirit, then those spirits will do what spirits do. Release them. Do not keep them here. If you do not believe in spirit, then quit torturing survivors. I was walking down a street in New Brunswick and saw photo essay of burning buildings and was grateful I wasn’t walking with a friend whose girlfriend died in Tower 2. If you read the transcripts of phone calls from the top floors, you know those people were still hoping in vain to be rescued when in fact there was never a plan in place for what to do if fire ever cut them off from escape. If your husband, wife or child was up there, do you want that terrible knowledge to overwhelm you annually, and cut you off from the joy you take in your loved one’s life?

Please. Stop posting those pictures. Go tell someone you love him or her. Life is fucking short.