Friday, October 15, 2004

The Most Important Thing.

Oh Life
I got this phone call the other day from a producer of WEEKEND AMERICA, a new public radio show, wondering if I’d be interested in condensing the 9/11 Commission Report into a 3 minute radio bit. “Sure,” I said.

Somebody on the staff there used to work at KCRW and had recommended me. This girl had no idea who I was, and requested that I not talk too fast, and not be sarcastic. “Sure,” I said.

It will air Saturday. If you get the show, give it a listen. See how I did.

My efforts were hampered by reading, at first, the WRONG 9/11 study. This is why I have not succeeded as a pundit, I guess. I was looking at the 500 plus page Senate sub-committee report (much more interesting by the way), rather than the official 9/11 Commission study, which is more Tom Clancy than substantive, not that that’s a bad thing.


“Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States.” I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but that kind of prose just does not belong in a government-sponsored document. Or anywhere, really.

Further complicating my efforts, my wife called mid-day to complain of a personal ailment, which shall remain nameless, but it seemed serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, even though the insurance from her job does not kick in until November.

Fortunately, she seemed to be covered already (this was at Kaiser, her previous provider from her previous job, an outfit for whom I have nothing but praise, so far), and equally fortunately, it appears that her condition is… okay. Knock on wood.

Still, immersed as I was in the details of global terrorism, and remembrances of 9/11, the situation was bizarre. I had first met my wife on-line, after she wrote to me as a fan. She was working in New York when 9/11 occurred, at NYU, and watched with her co-workers as the towers went down.

I remember those days well myself, and how the heady combination of anguish for others, pity for myself, horror, rage, and despair about the state of the world made it nearly impossible for me to, well, focus. I was having similar difficulty in the emergency room. Was this a crisis? How emotionally involved should I be, in the absence of actual information?

You can see, perhaps, what kind of asshole I am here. I make no apologies. It takes many assholes to make the world turn. I am a minor asshole, but I do my part. I did, however, hold my wife’s hand (briefly) as we waited for the doctor to return. Though later, of course, I went out for coffee. And brought back cab fare, and bottled water!

I was struck by the cheerfulness of the emergency room: the chipper orderlies moving the shocked arrivals down the corridors on their gurneys. Even in the face of everyday disasters (the day before there had been a patient DOA in the very room my wife and I inhabited), the nurses chatted, drank sodas, talked about their diet plans….

As we waited (we were there for four hours) for the doctor to return, a nurse and a doctor walked by. The doctor was saying to her, by way of advice, I reckon, “The most important thing is to sleep….. No, the most important thing is to eat, then sleep.”

The only important thing, to me, aside from the specific moments at which President Bush giggled inappropriately, and began a rant against the media which he broke off abruptly, was how he constantly referred to Kerry as a liberal, and how consistent Kerry was with his voting record. In the last debates wasn’t Kerry a flip-flopper? How can you be a consistent liberal, and flip flop at the same time? Is President Bush flip-flopping? Oh, never mind. It’s late. I’m tired.


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