Ezra Titus

1966 – 2009

ELEVATED

The “crawler” on Fox news tells me, every 15 minutes, that the terror Alert is yellow, meaning “Elevated.” It has never been lower than elevated, meaning “Guarded” (blue) nor has it been green, which means everything’s fine. From which status was it elevated? Were we “guarded” when I could bring anything onto a plane after simply stating that I’d packed my bags alone? It felt “green” before 9/11. Airplane rides were 600 mile per hour keg-parties. Now, they’ll only give you three drinks.

Some worry that the terror alert system will be ignored if it goes to Orange again (as before the Superbowl, America’s holiest day). Orange means, I suppose, “more than elevated.” Tom Ridge shouldn’t worry. Everyone I know has been on code red ever since the WTC/Pentagon attacks. When the blackout hit on 8/14/03, everyone’s first thought was Al Qaeda. Two Hindus were attacked at a gas station down the road, ju†st in case maybe they were responsible. And I live in Woodstock, NY, the Mecca of peace and love!

Osama must be elated to know that the entire Northeastern US is paranoid and waiting, every day, for the next attack. (Statistics show that people in the midwest were comparatively unmoved.) Having blown up thousands of buildings over the past 10 years, I’m surprised by our nation’s sensitivity. As many people die in car accidents every month as did in the WTC/Pentagon attacks. In fact, during the months following 9/11, there were even more fatalities on the road, because people were afraid to fly.

Strangely, the Pentagon, once supposed to be an unassailable fortress, is rarely spoken of. I’m also surprised there’s no video, since even Wal-Mart has dozens of cameras in every parking lot. The Pentagon doesn’t? Maybe the reason one rarely hears about the Pentagon, and that there are no documentaries about that attack though there are many regarding the WTC, is that it’s overly frightening to think they could hit The Pentagon. It was the symbol of America’s military invincibility. Sometimes I wonder if that attack was the more psychologically damaging, even though fewer people died. It was apparently a popular myth that guards stood perpetually atop The Pentagon and other important buildings with anti-aircraft missiles. I hope they really are up there now.

They’re closing the road that crosses the reservoir where I live. It’s been decided the target is too vulnerable. It’s frightening to think of poison in the water supply. The scale of the coming attack is what disturbs me. It would be simple for three men with rifles purchased at Sears to paralyze NYC for a day. I’m afraid Al Qaeda is looking toward something much bigger than that. So I am, be it pathetically, “prepared.” I’ve got batteries and bottles of Diet Pepsi. I skipped the duct tape after hearing that if you truly sealed a room, you’d have about 30 minutes worth of oxygen. I’d rather just die in the gas … I think. I keep $700 in my sock at all times, and I keep the car filled with fuel so that I can drive around aimlessly next time, speeding because I’m nervous.

What if it’s a nuke?!? We’ve had them for 60 years. How long did we think it would take for the rest of the world to catch on to a good thing? If Osama’s got one, I guess I should be on code red, meaning I should get laid immediately before I die. This entire country should be expecting the worst. Invading half of the Middle East has only made the people that were angry, angrier. Any President that succeeds Bush had better be ready for the intractable situation he’s set up. We are conquerers, and the conquered will resent us for the rest of their lives. Furthermore, we may have to leave Afghanistan and øIraq someday. Then, the “evildoers” we’ve bombed out of their homes will be free to scheme again. So, maybe we can never leave. We’ll face many battles in the decades to come. Are we ready for that? Again, America seems too sensitive; sensitive first to our own casualties, and then, even to the “errant” bombs that rain down on innocent Afghanis, celebrating weddings by firing machine guns skyward. Our pilots can mistake that for anti-aircraft fire. It’s that “fog of war” thing. I feel a little foggy myself these days.

We the people, who marveled at “shock and awe” night in Iraq as though it were a 4th of July party had better get ready. That’s clear, but how? Gun sales doubled after 9/11. What good would any gun have done? Maybe we should take pot-shots at every jet we see.

Is there a realistic way to feel prepared? I’m not sure, but I know that I’ll be suffering “elevated” anxiety, even if the terror alert goes to green, which it never will.

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