Five years ago, I was doing exactly what I do most of the time these days. I was sleeping. I'm a Shredder of few pleasures, and one of those pleasures is a good 12 or so hours of uninterrupted rest. Plus a nap or two throughout the day. And maybe a siesta.
I might have been lightly dozing. I might have been having a dream. Or I might have been blissfully and completely shut off from the world, just the way I like it. I don't quite remember, but it doesn't matter, especially in light of what came next.
The phone rang and the voice at the other end of the line told me something that I never thought I'd hear and that I haven't heard since, at least from anybody credible: "America is under attack."
I stumbled out of bed and clicked on my TV to see what everybody was seeing: a smudge of smoke, a hail of glass and metal, ash-covered people walking around like the ghosts of the hundreds who were already dead.
Clouds of dust and debris bloomed and spread through the morning. People screamed and cried. Newscasters furrowed their brows, abandoned commentary, fell silent.
It was Hell, complete with fire and brimstone, blood and smoke, fear and darkness.
I told myself that I wouldn't write a column about "remembering Sept. 11" this week, partially because, as I've stated in previous columns, I think anniversaries are a joke, but mainly because I don't think anyone has really forgotten. Remember Sept. 11? Okay. Got it. Then what?
What do we do after we remember? Continue to remember? Remember harder? I want somebody to tell me what to do, because I certainly haven't been doing anything productive since that day unless you count stacking beer cans into pyramids and occasionally weeping quietly into my pillow productive. I don't. Neither does my boss, who's making me be productive by writing this, though after he reads it, I'm not sure if he'll agree that this was a productive exercise for me. I need more sleep.
Yes, I told myself that I wouldn't write a column like this, but I tell myself a lot of things that I don't actually follow through on.
"Stop sleeping so much."
"Get a tetanus shot after stepping on that rusted barbed wire."
"Don't write a column about Sept. 11."
Well, this week I'm going for one out of four, and since my phone is disconnected, my bed looks so inviting, and my health insurance isn't technically "active," I'm going to make good on that last command to myself and leave Ground Zero and the Twin Towers and all the rest to the people who are much more qualified and reverent than I.
Except to say that I do think remembering is a good thing. I just don't understand why so many papers, including this one, honor the fallen by simply saying we should "remember" them. There should be something more than just remembering, such as mourning, which is a type of remembering, only with more grief.
Grieving. That's another good one.
I'm great at hoping way better than I am at remembering. Just about every morning, I can't remember where I put my car keys, but I hope I'll find them. Some days I can't remember what I did the night before, but I hope it wasn't anything illegal. I can't remember what I was originally trying to do with my column this week, and I hope I don't sound like an idiot now.
If I do, don't tell me. Nah, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't listen anyway.
Other than the aforementioned topic which I'm not writing about there's not much to talk about this week.
Actually, there's plenty to talk about, but it's all been done before, ad nauseam, which means you've heard it so many times, if you hear it again, you get sick and throw up. I don't want you vomiting all over this nice, clean paper. We worked so hard to get it to you.
Just as we're in no danger of forgetting to remember the events of Sept. 11, we're nowhere near forgetting to remember Atascadero's Wal-Mart troubles, the Los Osos sewer saga, the specter of genetically engineered corn, our polluted oceans, our corrupt leaders, the annual return of the Cal Poly population, and any number of subjects that are so ingrained in the collective Central Coast subconscious, they've become archetypes. Carl Jung would have a field day here.
Add to that list the recent West Nile warnings and shark sightings, the confusion and tiredness and loss of loved ones. The world is going to end, and that dark day five years ago was just the beginning. I can't remember the signs of the coming Armageddon, but I hope it will be quick and painless.
So I let myself down again and did what I said I wouldn't do by writing about what I told myself to not write about. Take this column for what it is: a remembrance, a hope, or the ramblings of a sleep-deprived Shredder whose tear-stained pillow is calling.