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03.17.2003 - 10:46 p.m.

Monday

Today several of us at work watched the president's speech. We each made our way down the stairs to the area where the television is, and nobody was talking or joking around, we were just walking quietly. Someone wrestled with the TV for a little bit, and suddenly there it was, a few minutes into the broadcast, and everyone was silent.

I sat on the floor with my feet tucked underneath me and I watched our president talk to us about going to war. I thought about how it has seemed for so long now as if some great hulking piece of machinery had been set into motion. How it had somehow gained a terrible momentum, like something tumbling down a hill, gathering speed, unable to be stopped.

We watched, and it felt like I was filing the moment away carefully. I would remember my coworkers and the hardness of the floor and the tiny reading movements of his eyes as he tracked the TelePrompter and the footage of soldiers watching the same broadcast and wondering dumbly at how young they looked.

I listened and I didn't feel anger or disgust or agreement or patriotism, I only felt something like sorrow and something like fear.

I walked back to my desk afterwards and sat down. Someone came by and said, do you feel reassured now? He was sarcastic, upset. He's evil, you know. I felt like a question hung in the air: who? Even though I knew his meaning.

I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.

I drove to the gym after work. I was playing a Johnny Cash song, "The Man Comes Around." When I neared my turnoff, I came up on a group of what I thought were protestors, holding up signs at people driving by. As I passed them, I saw their signs all said Support Our Troops.

I waved, and a man waved back soberly.

At the same time, the music played:

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singing
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum
Voices callin, voices cryin
Some are born and some are dyin
It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come

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