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Brazil 911

Alarm clock radio two flights confirmed missing snooze button. Two flights . . . of stairs . . . back to the dream, the morning between-alarm sleepsnack . . . Confirmed second alarm confirmed that automatic reach for snooze button to confirmed that all domestic flights have been canceled. Wait. What? Sit up scrambling for remote television on and on and on every station news world mayhem trade center death tower destruction Pentagon beyond imagination and a few minutes later my cat arrives to lick the tears away . . .

The alarm was for an appointment with my psychiatrist. Months ago we’d planned to meet -- as we do throughout the year -- to discuss and analyze the effects of Zoloft and Ritalin on me and my important, important brain. Usually my brain recruits a hand to write down our appointments, but this one hadn‘t required a reminder: ninth month, 11th day, emergency: 9-1-1.

Remain in bed with cat, watching America Under Attack, the haze setting in, the Oklahoma 1994, Tel Aviv 1990, the dawn of CNN. Scud, revenge, fanatic, madman, casualties. I conjure images of being in the planes, being in the buildings, loved ones’ limbs ripped and burned.

Showering it down, showering it away, for a few minutes. Driving with music on, windows closed, air conditioning even though it‘s only in the 70s. Someone pulls up beside me at a red light, blasting a news report to shake my chassis. Music, air conditioning and fingers in my ears cannot stop the news. I look over. A woman of perhaps 60 sits crying.

My psychiatrist tells me that several of her other appointments have canceled. One, a man with OCD, citing the pettiness of dealing with personal problems in light of terrorist attacks. As if they’re separate.

News update: Things have begun to blow up in Afghanistan, but Donald Rumsfeld says these explosions are not caused by the United States government. My friend arrives with a story she just printed out from a Web site. ”Is this not the best headline ever?“ she asks, and shows me the printout: ”Bush Reacts to Attacks, Moves to Nebraska.“ The Onion? No. My friend points to the logo at the top: The Washington Post.

It‘s been only hours since the planes; no official word on exactly who -- Bush referred to them as ”the folks“ -- is responsible. Most news reporters have speculated that it was a fundamentalist religious organization in Afghanistan -- a group of people who believe that god wants to kill all the bad people, and that they can help.

Bush also believes in a god. Lots of people do. Can you imagine what it must feel like to believe in a god? It must be awfully comforting. Sometimes I wish I believed in a god, just to make life easier. But I’ve never been able to muster that kind of arrogance.

Do you recall the last time anyone was terrorized by agnostic fundamentalists?