Going On

13 September 2001

Annalina is out in the courtyard, learning to talk. She bangs the sidewalk with a stick and calls, "Nehneh!" for her grandmother to see what a wonderful stick she has found. She has liquid brown eyes and a sunshine smile, and her world is full of fascinating things. And when her mother comes home from work, she shouts, "Mamamamamama!" so that all of us can hear through our open windows.

Annalina's grandparents moved her from Kabul when her mother was young. We have joked that her grandma, Omyra, is the Mary Anne of the apartment complex -- she knows everybody, checks up on everybody. Ever since we moved here, I've been so glad that that little girl is growing up here and not in Kabul, not where the Taliban would stunt her and maybe kill her.

I'm still glad, but I'm scared for her, too, and even more so for her grandparents. Her grandpa could not look more Afghani if he hung a sign around his neck reading, "Hello, I'm Afghani!" If he hasn't been a target yet, it's a miracle. And that's horrifying. I don't understand: these are the people who came here, these are the people who wanted to be Americans, sometimes against great odds. These are the people who saw that they didn't want to be associated with the governments in their countries, and they got out. But some Americans won't let them.

Salon has an article about people marching on a mosque in Chicago; I'm tutoring, so I can't get you the link just now. Chicago. Scott lives in Chicago with one of his best friends from college, Imran. The big tall Jew and the little skinny Muslim -- they invited some Hindus for a barbecue and God only knows what they ate. Chicken, probably. So when I hear "Chicago mosque," that's whose face I see. Imran is in Belgium now, Scott says, and I can't help but wonder what it's like for him. It's got to be horrific to be away from home at a time like this -- but wouldn't you be just as glad to miss your fellow Americans assuming that you were the enemy?

Everyone I've talked to is more scared of their fellow Americans at this point than of some external enemy. How do we fix that?

The people who are talking about rebuilding the World Trade Center as it was upset me, though -- maybe it's just that I'm a Nebraska girl, but it seems like the more decentralized you can get, the less chance you have of any future problems. This is the twenty-first century: can't we spread out and use the communications network to coordinate efforts? What's wrong with flatter buildings? The Pentagon lost how many people? Compared to how many in the World Trade Center? I don't blame the victims -- but we can certainly learn more than one thing from their tragedy. There's plenty of room in the middle of the country, folks.

Heh. People keep talking about how the tragedy brings people together -- and I've seen it myself. One of my friends called another friend with whom she'd been fighting, to make sure he'd heard and his family was okay, and he returned her call to assure her that it was fine. Another friend has had a family feud mended. So what I want to know is: geez, John, what's it going to take for you? My college gets hit by a tornado, the World Trade Centers go down in a terrorist attack...one would think your stubborn pride was the most important thing in your world.


The news media just said that holding people for questioning indefinitely without charging them with a crime is "an interesting civil liberties question." Well, I suppose that's one way to describe it....

Midway Airlines shut down -- that alarms me, that they couldn't withstand a week of no flights, that they were running an airline that close to the red. And Timprov hears from a Northwest employee of his acquaintance that someone was attempting to bribe Northwest mechanics to take packages on the airplanes. Some people are reacting extremely to the idea of air marshals, but, good Lord, we have BART police. We can certainly be okay with air marshals. But turning up the sensitivity on the metal detectors seems like a rather poor solution.

Anyway. I read Look to Windward yesterday -- a poor choice for the timing, in some ways -- and have just started One Day Closer to Death, Brad Denton's short stories. He's such a cheerful soul, that Mr. Denton. Perky, almost. And I worked on edits for Reprogramming, got some new scenes I think are good, as well as some minor edits. As frustrated as I am about not hearing on Fortress so far, I don't expect to for at least another couple weeks now. And it's probably a good idea to have as many books out as possible at once, so I'm going to try to get the editing process done quickly, so that I'm not relying on just one thing.

I do have to do new stuff, too, though, so I'm going to try to finish "An Attack of Conscience" by the beginning of next week. And Amber -- shockingly -- doesn't have any flights until Saturday at least, so we'll probably get together with her soon. Normal, normal, normal, right?

2:51, Addendum. Mark just sent me a link to some commentary that is making me physically ill. I don't see how our government can justify its foreign policy. I think that's the only thing I can say that will not violate my policy that this is a "family site."

But I will say that if any government treated even half of its men this way....

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