Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.

plural of apocalypse

Last night I read the first-hand account of the San Francisco EMS workers trapped in New Orleans. A number of people linked to this. The wretched offensiveness of what they went through made me cry. I feel humanly connected to what happened, after all my rigid emotional avoidance. I cried until I could barely breathe and went to bed at nine o'clock and had an apocalyptic dream. I didn't take the time to write it as narrative; these are just notes. No especial need to read this; this is one of those times when I'm using my journal more or less as a diary, but unlocked, because then my words are also communication to the outside world.

<rhetorical>Why do I always end up sounding so stuffy and pretentious when I get meditative? Now I want to play the court jester and caper and jingle to deflate my prose.</rhetorical>

• I'm driving along the expressway into downtown Norfolk, my mom in front, driving, my dad in the backseat with someone else
• At one point I turn around to face my father--I'm actually in the driver's seat but not driving
• I notice that his car door is open and tell him this
• Looking ungrateful, he asks if I noticed it before
• I say no; I hate him
• We're going downtown to drop off someone, then we're heading to school
• I want to skip school to stay in the city
• When we arrive downtown, my mom and I enter a supermarket and start wandering through it
• I tell her I want to quit the gifted program, but am conflicted; I explain that it's only useful if I get all my credits for a high school diploma, and I don't know if I can do that because it I've missed so many classes and I'd have to take math again; even I quit now, I can at least show the gifted program attendance on my c.v.
• She gives me supportive reasons why I can quit; relieved, I tell her I'm glad that she has such strong opinions; it makes it easier for me to decide
• She says she doesn't have strong opinions
• I buy and eat a stale, pink Peep and we leave
• We enter the mall next door--a downtown mall, with a multistoried atrium, very upscale; I lag behind the others
• I can barely drag myself to the foot of the up escalator; when I do, the bottom treads aren't moving; I'm exhausted; but I eventually get on and start rising; near the top I can see my brother; he and the others are just about out of sight; I'm going to lose them
• I reach the upper level of the mall, which is a civic center that offers a variety of auditoriums for concerts
• I stand in what I think is a line, but people give me mixed information and the crowd disperses in small, disjointed shifts, until there's no one left but me; I have no ticket to enter the performance
• I wander around looking for my mother and brother, who are already inside listening to the jazz piano recital
• I wind up in a lounge, and take a seat; across the room are enormous plate-glass windows overlooking the city and the waterfront; it's a large room, broad and tall, the seats widely scattered, as in an airport waiting area; people sit here and there reading papers
• I start talking to the guy sitting next to me, who mentions that he had his e-tickets for a recital stored on his phone-pda-watch, but the battery went dead and he lost them and can't get in
• Triggered by this information, I get excited and try to explain my feelings about how telephones have lost their romance--they used to be these huge heavy bakelite things that you could pick up and brain someone with, very noir; now there are cell phones, which ruin the chance of a good story because people can always reach each other--but his battery failure has proved that they can still be good plot devices; I can't quite seem to get this out, though; he keeps interrupting
• Still trying to get my point across, I'm looking out the plate-glass windows as a transparent shade is pulled across them
• A moment later it's gone, and the glass is clear again, but suddenly I'm watching as open-air parking garages by the waterside collapse, spilling cars and billowing dust; one after the other crumbling down, followed by nearby buildings
• I'm stunned at such poor demolition planning--all those cars, I think--but then I realize it's a terrorist attack
• I get up, trying to sprint for the rear of the civic center, but I stagger weakly and then, in a kind of detached slow motion, I look down and discover that I'm naked and covered in flash burns
• The explosions were nuclear hits
• Around the room people mill confusedly, some naked, clothes burned off, others still dressed
• It occurs to me that I'm almost certain to die now from radiation sickness; it's a done deal; I feel no emotion
• Around me are other naked and bewildered patrons, mingled in with others who are still clothed--some managed to avoid the flash by random chance or by being slightly better placed to avoid direct exposure
• I go looking for my mom and brother
• Most people from the lounge are evacuating the building, but the further back into the center I go, the more people I see who are unaware of the disaster; they are exiting concerts, programs in hand, chatting, heading to the front of the building
• No one is telling them anything--I don't even stop to tell them anything--the convergence of people is like two waves meeting from different directions, but nothing is passing from one to the other
• Still naked, I try to find a place to tuck myself away before someone notices
• I end up huddling in a niche, arms wrapped around myself
• A woman employee of the center, aware of the disaster, spots me and gives me clothes, then leaves again, unable to do anything else for me
• I find a bathroom; there I meet someone I know from LJ; she recognizes me first and makes me guess her name; when I finally do, I realize that she once had short hair and now has long
• I tell her that I didn't recognize her for that reason; I categorize people by their hair and she's confused me by changing it
• Outside again, I'm still wandering around looking for my family; I keep passing a particular music auditorium from which I can hear jazz behind the closed doors; I keep thinking that someone should interrupt and tell the crowd inside what's happened, but no one does, because it's mid-performance; even though my own family might be inside, I feel the same way: inhibited by etiquette
• I wander further back into the building and notice that a woman I'd seen in the lounge--aware of the attack--is calmly entering a music appreciation class that's just about to start
• Everyone seems to be in shock or willfully oblivious
• I head back to the front of the building and see other bombs falling
• "Holy shit!" I say, hoping distractedly that *someone* will hear this and figure out that an apocalypse is occurring
• I run from the bombs because every flash of light is deadly; I keep trying to position myself in places where the light won't hit directly
• What puzzles me most: why are they dropping so many bombs on Norfolk, Virginia? It doesn't seem like a primary target
• At this time, I have the idea that I can reprise events and react to the first attack more intelligently, avoiding the mortal burns
• I loop back to the lounge where I began; at the first explosions, I run toward the back halls again; this time, because I'm wearing clothes already, the woman employee ignores me
• This seems to have been a pretty useless idea; the attacks are still coming and I don't know that I've changed anything
• I finally open the door to the jazz recital and find that the entire auditorium is empty; the music is recorded and playing in the emptiness
• I have no idea where my family might have gone; we never do find each other
• For no discernible reason, the building sprinklers go off; now everyone knows something is wrong and panic begins to penetrate in the corridors around me; there's no place to escape the sprinklers: somehow this is the most discouraging thing so far, the straw that breaks my back
• And so I wander, trying to find a place to stay dry; that's my only remaining goal

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