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September 15, 2001: Listen

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The past several days I've been combing the news sites - something most of the rest of the country is probably doing as well. But what grabs me and keeps me searching for more are the personal stories - firsthand accounts of those who were in the buildings and managed to escape, or those who saw it happen from the street. I read their words, poring over every new picture they invoke because here on the West Coast, all we have are the television reports and the endless drone of the newscasters as they repeat themselves ad nauseum. My only connections to the actual tragedy are friends of friends who knew someone - but never directly. I am saddened by the extreme loss of life and property, but the incident on Tuesday seems too far away still. I feel as detached from the reality of the situation watching and reading about the attacks as I did reading and watching news reports of horrible earthquakes that leveled Turkey, or the yearly hurricanes that take out mobile home parks in Florida. I have no grasp of what it truly must be like.

So I read, and listen, and try, second-handedly, to come to terms with what has happened. It's not that I want to have that grief for myself. It's just that I want to try to understand it. Accounts like this one make it real for me, far more than flash and glitz of yet another television special report.

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The mind can only take so much before it needs something lighter, and thus I was grateful that the 2001 / 2002 season of the local musical theater company began this month. Last night Richard and I took our usual seats in the little theater and watched The Sound of Music. The women's chorus echoed beautifully in the spaces of the room, and the children who played the von Trapp's were enthusiastically harmonious. The distinct lack of even one brief interlude of interpretive dance (usually a hallmark of this particular company's productions) was thus only a minor item in the list of why this was undoubtedly the best performance I've seen at this theater yet.

We gathered with my parents (also season ticket holders) for our usual after-the-show dessert. The talk inevitably turned to Tuesday's aftermath, but at least it was interspersed with laughter and whimsy and reminders that life goes on; that we are more than 3 buildings and four planes and that there are other things we also should concentrate on besides the tragic, no matter how transient they may be.

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