If You Want To Go To Graduate School (Part 15)

I’m not going to present this in a diary format. The date on this and yesterday’s post simply place it in context of September 11.

September 12, 2001
The next day, after the national freak-out, we were expected to return to life as normal although the nation’s borders were still closed. I never paid much attention to airplane noise in the sky – it was as quotidian as the compound engine hum of cars on the freeway. Sometimes I was annoyed when the planes would soar over where I was and drown out a conversation or a moment with noise, but I missed them when the sky was completely silent. Nothing flew that week, not even the Cessnas. My family’s home is near a small airport Cessnas launch from and there was always at least one per day that would fly over the house. The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and the summer heat was still around, perfect for going to the beach. The beach was the furthest thing from my mind.

I don’t remember going to Teaching Composition that day. It was normally held on Mondays and Wednesdays, but I don’t remember going to class. I do remember, while wandering around on campus, I met up with Joe without any plans to do so. Joe told me about his computer having some problems, so I went with him to his home. It was a basic issue with Word and I did what I could. I don’t think I was successful. Joe, nonetheless, was grateful, and he treated me to dinner at an Uptown Italian restaurant.

Once there, Joe, his girlfriend Morgan, and I all had the eggplant parmigiana. Joe and Morgan were vegetarians, but I was not. Every time I dined with Joe, I avoided ordering dishes with meat. I didn’t mind eating vegetarian. During the early part of my limbo year, I went on a vegetarian diet and lost some weight. I stopped after a while, eating meat on my own or whenever my mother made dinner, but I thought it would offend Joe to eat meat around him. However, this fed into Joe’s impression of me that I was a vegetarian and it would later shock him when I made it clear that I wasn’t. But that would happen a few months later.

Earlier, when I rode with Joe to his house, we talked about the events of the days before. I was seriously shocked that this stuff would happen, especially on American soil. I was also frightened that this could be what the Bush administration would need to define themselves. An ineffectual oil baron’s campaign successfully rigged the election so he could come President, but he seemed lazy and indifferent to the responsibilities of the Oval Office the first few months of office. Everything he said was idiotic, such as when the Santana High shootings occurred earlier in the year. Once the World Trade Center imploded from the impact, Bush would say the things that American needed to hear. And his approval ratings rapidly rose. I told Joe I couldn’t help thinking the government set this up. I wish I had never said this to him.

Joe said this incident really hasn’t shocked him, that he’s been writing about these issues for a long time. He had long had an interest in Terrorism as a subject for writing; he had even devoted one of his University Press Journal’s issues to the theme. The issue of low-tech insurrection was in the zeitgeist – he wrote a pieces earlier in the year about Anthrax and other simple mechanical weapons. The terrorists aboard the four airplanes only used box-cutters and little else.

After the meal, Joe, Morgan, and I rode through one of the empty streets of Uptown. On most Wednesday nights, many people would cross the streets to go to a bar or restaurant, but most people chose to stay home this evening. Joe commented that a time like this would be a good time to smoke a joint – especially with people being in a reflective mood. Joe then drove out to the suburbs to drop me off, but I didn’t smoke a joint at all. Instead, I accessed a nasty e-mail from one of my classmates.

To be continued…

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