Commentary on the genius and insanity present in daily life.
Being the "Good Citizen" that I am, the first thing I did upon leaving my apartment for work this (Tuesday) morning was to go vote in the NYC primary. It being a primary election, it took all of five minutes. By the time I got to the Dyckman (200th) Street station for the A train ... the next to last, nearly northernmost station in Manhattan ... is was about 8:15AM and I had a little more than 40 minutes for my trip down to the southernmost, last-in-Manhattan stop for the A train at Broadway and Fulton Street. I live up near about 4800 Broadway; I work down around 50 Broadway.On the train, I always keep an eye out for the Chambers Street Station—the World Trade Center stop—since my stop is the one after it. When I looked up at Chambers Street, I looked at my watch and saw that it was a few minutes after 9AM.
I got off with about 20 other people hitting the stairs in front of me, moving towards the 4 train downtown. The lazy ones among us take it one more station, to Wall Street, or two stations, to the Battery. When I'm not feeling so lazy, I walk the eight or so blocks down Broadway to where I work. Once the 21 of us got in the corridor between the A and the 4 trains, we saw people running in all directions ... small groups talking in a hushed, worried tone ... we kept walking and got mobbed by a crowd running from the downtown 4 platform. People were shouting at us: Get out of the station! Get off the trains! There's been a terrorist attack! Two planes crashed into the World Trade Centers! One was a 737 or some passenger plane!
Everything up to the passenger plane bit was plausible, even believable, but hey, we had to get to work. Another half minute of panicked people made it start to sink in, though. I started milling about, thinking "I gotta get to work, but there are going to be all those people and police and...". So, I finally walked towards the exit I take when I walk down Broadway—on the northwest corner of Broadway and Fulton, two blocks from the WTC.map1
As I got closer to the stairwell, I could smell it. Smoke can smell all sorts of ways. This was the sort of smell that told you something was seriously wrong ... an acrid, sharp odor. I stepped into the stairwell. There was a soldier in camoflauge fatigues yelling at us to get outside and east ... away from the WTC. As I climbed out, I could see hundreds of people—probably thousands—standing dumbstruck and looking west. There were ambulances and police cars and fire trucks, horns and sirens blaring, everywhere.
I stepped onto the sidewalk and turned west01. Huge plumes of smoke were billowing out of the North Tower of the Trade Center. Being almost due east of the North Tower, 1 WTC, I couldn't really see how much structural damage was done, even though I was only two blocks away ... but the flames and the smoke spoke volumes. I pulled out my new cell phone and found out just how impossible it is to get a network connection when tens of thousands of people in the same ten square block area are trying to make a call. A woman saw me with my phone and asked if she could use it. She was in 2 WTC when it got hit by the second attack. She had to leave so quickly, she couldn't take anything—no bag, no purse, no wallet. She had her keys, that was it. She wanted to call her parents since they knew she worked in the WTC, but no one around us was getting a connection. It was 9:19AM02.
I looked back at the North Tower, then remembered the shouting about both towers being hit. I had to move half a block to see the South Tower03. I crossed Broadway and walked towards City Hall Park to get away from the buildings directly in front of me. From the ground, or looking at the pictures I was taking on my camera's LCD screen, I really couldn't see just how much damage had been done04, 05. The damage on the north side of the North Tower was somewhat visible from my new location06 and it looked far, far worse that the South Tower's damage07, 08. What I didn't know at the time and only began to suspect later on was that the damage visible on the South Tower from my position was an "exit wound." Time seemed to stop as we all just stood there and watched as the wind pulled two enormous columns of smoke out flat and to the east09, 10, 11, 13.
It was a little after 9:30AM. I still couldn't get a signal on my phone, so I started walking away from the area (as it turned out, my brand new non-functioning cell phone would save me from a lot of grief later because of this). Still around City Hall, I started looking around. People had lost shoes and dropped things in trying to get away. Then, next to City Hall, things became much more real. A woman was standing behind an ambulance, her blazer shredded down its back, her body covered with soot. The EMTs had a man on a stretcher, oxygen mask on his face, getting loaded into the van. I took one last close up of the North Tower from this spot before I started heading north12.
Time really lost all meaning. I thought I had taken myself eight or ten blocks north before I turned back west, but I was on Duane Street, one block north from Chambers. Heading west on Duane did take me far enough around 1 WTC to be able to see clearly just how big a hole had been punched through the Tower. Even the slashes that look like they must have been caused by the wings of the plane stood out clearly14, 15. These few extra blocks north of the WTC held much shorter buildings, and an unobstructed view of both towers in flames16. Even though the damage on 2 WTC seemed far less than 1 WTC from this angle as well, the fire was clearly, ominously, working its way down the building17, 18.
I'm originally from Michigan. Been in NYC for 6 years, but I've only worked in the Financial District for the past year. I like it so much down there, I've told my family and friends about what it's like to be down there often enough. Now, about half an hour after I came out of the subway, it finally started to sink in that they'd all be worried about me. Especially my parents. And my damn cell phone couldn't get me a connection. Since no mass transit was moving, I started walking up Church Street19, map03 to Sixth Avenue, to make my way through Tribeca up to Greenwich Village and the New School, where I teach web design. I figured that if my department's office was open, I'd be able to use a regular phone line and might have better luck with it. I would walk a few blocks, stop where someone had pulled their car over and gathered a crowd listening to the news reports on the radio, then move on. Four planes had been hijacked. The Pentagon had been hit. Another had crashed in Pennsylvania. And other reports and speculations.
I had just got onto Sixth Avenue when someone behind me shouted, "Oh my God! One of the towers just collapsed!"20 It couldn't be true. The North Tower was still there, but instead of twin plumes of thick, black smoke there was this cloud of white shrowding all view behind 1 WTC21. How could 2 WTC have fallen? As I mentioned before, the idea that there might be more serious damage on the far side of either tower just didn't occur to me. Hell, it was hard enough believing what was right in front of my eyes—thinking about the other side of the building was incomprehensible until 2 WTC disappeared from the skyline22, 23. Much later, finally back home and watching the six o'clock news, I saw the footage showing the plane coming out of nowhere, slamming into the southwest corner of 2 WTC, and then the awful fireball that burst out the side I could see, throwing glass and steel everywhere.
I had veered off Sixth Ave once I got near Houston, as my department's office was on Fifth Avenue north of Washington Square Park. Just as I got to Houston, I turned around for another look then turned to go. It was then that 1 WTC collapsed24. I turned in time to see the middle of the building, its west wall, peel off and drop towards West Street and Battery Park City. I said a prayer for a friend who lives on the other side of the World Financial Center from the WTC, a block and a half from the building that was falling. (She works from home. I still don't know if she is okay, if she got evacuated in time.) This time, there was no other tower to create the illusion that something was hiding in the smoke. The skyline was empty, except for an enormous white cloud of debris fanning out to the east and west (from where we could see)25.
Now, it may be clearer how that stupid new cell phone of mine saved me a load of grief—without my hunt for a network connection, I probably would have been standing at Fulton and Broadway, snapping pictures, when 2 WTC collapsed. Footage of that corner after the buildings fell showed the area coated in white, with chunks of debris everywhere.
I crossed Washington Square Park and started up Fifth Avenue. Just as I had seen over the mile or miles I had already walked, there were still people rushing downtown with cameras and camcorders. I wanted to say to them, now, "You might as well turn around—there's nothing to see anymore." I made it to the office. It was open, and several staff and a fellow instructor were there. It wasn't until then ... until I was around people I knew and had a chance to stop, to sit down ... that I began to shake. Now that it was finally out of view, it was really sinking in. Getting word home really became urgent, but the land lines were even worse than my cell phone ... at least it kept telling me it was trying to make a connection. So, instead, I hopped on a computer and (thank goodness for Hotmail) sent off a few emails to my closest friends back in Michigan, asking them to get word to my parents.
There is so much to New York City that I find just magical. Perhaps one of my favorite bits of magic was to be down in the Village at night with everyone out on the street, then looking down Sixth Ave and seeing the Twin Towers jumping out of the black sky. Skyscrapers can seem so imposing in the harsh, direct light of the Sun, but they take on a softer character at night. Even with all the tall buildings at the southern end of Manhattan, the World Trade Center towered over them all ... giving the impression that the term "sky scraper" was coined just for those two towers. Now, for me, there's a hole in the sky ... even if you can't see it yourself ... the hole is still there, and always will be26.
Just as those first minutes seemed to stand still, the rest of the day was one long blur of people walking in the wrong direction; of sirens and horns blaring all the time, except when the roar of the F-14s flying cover over the city would drown them out; of street after street. 14th Street. 23rd Street. I finally get a connection with my cell phone and talk to my parents. I leave a message for one of the friends I emailed. 34th, and Penn Station is closed. People can't go to work, and they can't get home, so thousands mill around Madison Square Garden waiting for word on when the trains and subways will run again. 42nd Street and Times Square is strangely quiet. The Jumbotrons show the news, with captions ... "I saw the lights go out on Broadway / I watched the mighty skyline fall." Except, Mr. Joel, those lights on Broadway were showing us the skyline falling, again and again27.
When I first moved here, I lived across from Roosevelt Hospital on 58th Street. Since transporation was down and it was on the way home up Broadway, and since I really didn't know where any other hospitals were, I made my way there so I could donate blood. They referred me to the Red Cross offices further up Amsterdam Avenue. There was a four-hour wait to donate. I recalled I also knew where Columbia Presbyterian is ... also on my way home, but at about 168th Street and not 58th Street ... so I went through processing to work as a volunteer. The "Captain" of the volunteer processing effort addressed an auditorium-full of volunteers ... at Martin Luther King HS across the street from the Red Cross ... and set us straight with the reality of the situation. This disaster won't be over in a day. In a couple of days. Not even in a couple of weeks. Perhaps not even in several months, in terms of the help people will need in dealing with what had happened. Hopefully, they'll find something for me soon. Given where I work, it may be a week or so before the authorities will let us back down there.
I did eventually, finally, make it back home sometime around 4PM. I got a ride, from a (former) complete stranger I met at a bus stop, up to Broadway and 168th. She continued on to take another man up to 232nd and Broadway in Riverdale. We had to go buy her a dozen H&H bagels while she got her car, though. Good thing, too. H&H was actually open, and I hadn't had anything to eat since 6AM. It was well past 2PM by now. Back up at 168th and Broadway, I walked into Columbia Presbyterian, I left my name, phone, and blood type (B-neg) on a sign-up sheet at the front desk, then headed for the subway ... which was finally running. I had a message waiting for me once I got in the door—my company's main office in New Jersey wanted me to check in. I was the last to do so and, thankfully, we were all accounted for. Some of my closest friends at the office ride the PATH train in from Jersey to the World Trade Center, so it was good to hear they were all fine.
It's now tomorrow ... 3:20AM as I type these characters. When I pause from typing and everything in the apartment is quiet, I find that I still hear the sirens and the horns of all the emergency vehicles that past me all day. I also find it somewhat ironic that just Monday, the day before all this happened, I was caught up in the latest news of what's happening in Palestine/Israel these days. Now, I'm no Bible scholar and if my friends see me quoting Scripture, they'll probably keel over on the spot ... but something stuck in my mind and I had to track it down. It's Galatians 6:7:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatever a man soweth, that also shall he reap
The problem with Scripture, though, is that it never explains why the leaders of "movements" and "nations" may sow the seeds, but the innocent are the ones who do the reaping.
If you've made it this far, I'd like to reward you by sharing several images of mine from the summer of 1996. Fairly new camera (film, not digital then), brand new lens, a couple rolls of B/W. Between the two towers of the WTC was a plaza with a fountain. I managed to sneak a picture of some children playing in it. Then I walked to the space between 1 WTC and 2 WTC and took the shot that everyone seems compelled to take. Later that day I was on the Brooklyn Bridge, looking back towards the Manhattan skyline through the geometries of the Bridge's cables. And here is one last view—with just a little problem from being backlit—of that same skyline at sunset from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
Candlelight vigils on our Day of Remembrance is what the emails, the posters were asking of us. And here it was, 7:15PM and I still didn't have a candle in my hand. I got caught up in a very important appointment for much longer than I had expected, but that is how the day had gone. Do you still need to know the strength of the American Spirit? I've been able to give some small comfort to a few who have written to me in this: They have tried to give blood in their hometowns, but have been turned away ... wondering why them? It's nothing wrong with them; it's what is so right about us all. I have been turned away so many times this week because so many have given so much. Still, I'm sure that someplace somewhere in this city needs what I can offer, so I'll keep trying. Tomorrow, it's the ASPCA and their animal rescue efforts for all the pets stranded by the evacuation. Blood donor centers are overwhelmed. Shelters have no more room for food donations right now—try again next week. The Salvation Army on 14th Street in the Village was the site of a huge snarl of traffic because of the semi's pulled over with donated goods and the brigades of volunteers stacking crate upon crate outside (by the looks of it, Poland Spring has been tapped dry). The stairs leading in were covered with donations ... I don't know how anyone could get in, if there was room left to move. Of course, the Red Cross and other relief organizations can always use monetary contributions ... but so many want to do something more tangible, and so many already have. That should begin to tell you something of the strength of our Spirit.
But it's still past 7PM, and me without a candle. I did have my camera, and as I stepped out onto the street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I could see small groups of people in the twilight up and down the street ... people who had gotten the word. People standing outside of their apartments, people who had left their tables in the restaurants, people who had come up from the subways. My digital camera does have some manual controls, but it can only be pushed so far. For now, I had to use my flash, but I had to capture some images of the people I met on the way to the subway myself01, 02, 03.
The friends I didn't know yet that I was going to meet—a gathering of NYC Bloggers—were linking up at a restaurant in the East Village (well, not really, but I missed that post as well). I caught the 2 at 72nd & Broadway and took that to Times Square, switching to the N/R to take me to Union Square. I figured I would just walk the rest of the way to 12th Street & 2nd Ave from there. When I got down to the N/R platform I saw this sign taped to a girder04 about vigil in Central Park's Strawberry Fields, but someone had scribbled in a call to meet up in Union Square as well. Subway service had been cut back given the events of Tuesday, and using them to get around town simply takes longer right now. It was already close to 8PM, so I hoped something would still be going on when I got there.
What a silly thing to think....
I really was not prepared for what was waiting once I got topside at Union Square. Thousands of people. Candles everywhere05, 07, 16. So many people, it was hard to get anywhere06. By now it was full night, except for the light of all the candles. All those individual points of light, collectively holding back the darkness. And you still need to hear of the strength of our Spirit? (That's okay ... I'm not done yet anyway.)
Around every lamppost, a vigil was being held12. Dozens of candles, bouquets of flowers, American flags10, 11. Posters of the missing, pictures of the Towers09, 17. All sorts of handwritten notes—poems, prayers, hopes, fears ... whatever people were moved to offer. One simple line I found quite moving was this, "Bless the brave & all they tried to save". These circles were largely places for somber reflection, and many sat watch throughout the night tending the candles, relighting those blown out by the wind and resetting those that had tipped over14. Candles found their way to any horizontal space that would support them, from barricades set up for road construction08, 15 around the Square to anywhere on the sidewalk13 one might be sitting.
American flags were joined by one Union Jack (too few batteries, too few Flash cards, too many pictures that needed taking) with these words upon it: "Just like D-Day, America + Britain stand together, Brothers-in-Arms to rid the world of evil. GOD BLESS AMERICA!." I've received quite a few emails from folk in Great Britain expressing their support. Like many people in other places, some wrote to share what strength they could from their "quiet, peaceful villages." Then there were the two Londoners who wrote from shared experience, having lived through terrorist attacks of their own in their home city. Tel Aviv, Jerusalem—these are cities where we too often hear of acts of terrorism. We should not forget London or Belfast, nor the other places around the world for whom our experiences this week are far too common a part of their lives.
And there is this: it is believed that as many as 500 British citizens may have perished in the WTC tragedy. According to the news report I just heard, no other act of terrorism has taken a higher toll of British lives than this. After the US, no other country has suffered more from this attack than Great Britain.
Many came to Union Square to voice calls for peace and reason18. At the southern end of the Square, several homemade banners were placed on the ground and surrounded with candles21, the number of these growing as the night went on. In the southwest corner of the square, near where the statue of Gandhi usually stands (when not displaced by road construction) was a gathering of Tibetan Buddhist Priests, singing and praying. At one point, a spokesman read aloud the letter the Dalai Lama had sent to President Bush and sharing news of His personal gift to relief efforts in the City of New York of $30,00019.
Many of the signs calling for peace warned against racist attacks against the Arabs19. For me, if anything can compete with the sadness this tragedy has wrought, it is the word of attacks within this country against Arab-Americans. Such attacks are the antithesis of what it means to be an American. They are as cowardly as the attacks against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the target of that fourth flight, and worse. The level of planning and detail of the 911 attacks shows, as much as we might hate to admit it, a degree of intelligence. Attacks against Arab-Americans are just plain stupid, aside from their cowardliness and vileness.
One of the darkest stains upon our history is the treatment and internment of the Nisei, those of Japanese-descent, living on the West Coast during World War II. Yet even with this treatment, we have as a counter the record of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat group. In case you are unaware of its history:
[The 442nd was the] Most highly decorated U.S unit of its size in the war. The unit did not have a single case of desertion during all of World War II, a record unequaled by any other American unit. It was known as the "Purple Heart Battalion." But the unit's motto was "Go for Broke," and in the course of the Italian campaign the members of the 442nd were awarded:
1 Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1 Distinguished Service Medal, 560 Silver Stars (28 with Oak Leaf clusters), 22 Legions of Merit, 4,000 Bronze Stars (1,200 with Oak Leaf clusters), 15 Soldier's Medals, 12 French Croix de Guerre, 2 Italian Crosses for Military Merit, 2 Italian Medals for Military Valor. (source: LI History.com)
All of that over the course of just one campaign of the entire war, and no count of the number of Purple Hearts awarded, even though it was what they were "best" known for. This is one lesson about why people immigrate to the United States—what they value and how highly they value it—that we should not set aside too glibly nor forget so readily.
Still, all I have told you regarding events in Union Square on 914 is just a portion of the story.
At one time, I walked by a man who looked around at all that was happening and found much of which he disapproved. He was talking about how Union Square has been, for the length of its existence, a place to come to recognize those who have given their lives in the service of our country and how anything that did not fit with that aim should not be here at this time. When he had finished, I said, "But this is America." And he could only agree.
It was people of all ages and colors and backgrounds and beliefs. It was small circles of heated conversations scattered around the park, one voice calling for peace and the other for retribution. It was a printing company handing out signs with the American flag and words of thanks to all of those who have given so much and paid so much since early Tuesday morning28. It was all the uniformed NYPD officers stationed all around the Square to keep the cars and pedestrians from tangling too closely, and to assure our right to assemble publicly, freely and in safety. It was the photographer taking B/W Polaroid pictures of anyone who wished, to be pinned with whatever comments the subjects wished to write on the borders to a three-sided kiosk with the word "Faith" at the top of each side. It was the Deadhead-like gathering in the center of the Square's Park with its incessant drumming and improvised song from flute or saxaphone or bagpipes, and all those dancing around the musicians—people whose spirits simply could not be stamped down by this tragedy. It was using that new cell phone of mine to call my friends elsewhere in the country who had no other way of being there with me to share in this ... and it was the guy who asked me to take it elsewhere when me and my big mouth intruded on one of the more somber areas of the park. It was those standing silently in place all night with their signs calling for peace in the face of so much innocent bloodshed, whether you agree with their calls for restraint or not. And it was the guy who disagreed with much of what he was seeing. Above all, what brought everyone together in such a tremendous display of the strength of the American Spirit was respect. Respect for the honored dead. Respect for those who still labor in hopes that some still survive in the rubble. Respect for the principles so diabolically attacked that yet, as was so gloriously demonstrated in this place at this time, live on stronger in response.
Most of all, for me, it was this one crowd that simply could not stop singing22. Somehow, somewhere, we got our ringleaders24, Jerry and his friend whose name I never heard and face I never got a clear, focused image of. They kept us all together and started us all on the same note of the same song at the same time—one voice. When camera crews showed up to interview them25 (Ah! There he is ... to the left of Jerry's raised arm! Who is this mystery man? Email me.), they deferred to the crowd, telling the cameras to film the rest of us, asking the reporters to ask all of us why we were here, rather than standing in front of the camera and fielding the questions. What did we sing? Patriotic songs with lots of flag waving23. Anti-war songs. No one seemed to notice the lack of congruence between the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" being followed up by "Imagine." Show tunes that fit with the times. Any tune that could be bent or seen someway to fit with the times. "I Will Survive." "We Are Family." "Over the Rainbow." "Imagine", again and again and again.... Knowing the lyrics of the verses too well, Jerry kept us strictly to the chorus of "Born in the USA." (And he eventually did get to sing "Danny Boy.") "We Shall Overcome," to which Jerry had us singing "We Shall Build Anew." What else? "Amazing Grace" (and the piper joined in a few times!). "Auld Lang Syne." "Stand By Me." "Lean On Me." "The Star Spangled Banner." "God Bless America." "America the Beautiful." As if we were back in elementary school, "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" immediately, obligatorily, automatically followed up with the Pledge of Allegiance. You can't have one without the other. And there were the speeches. If someone had something to say, whatever it was, they were heard. Prayers were said. Passing fire trucks were cheered. But always back to song (more often than not, "Imagine"). There was something about singing together for hours on end that lifted the spirits of those who participated. No matter how poorly or how well you sang, how loudly or how quietly, whether you knew the words or just hummed along, all those voices were lifted as one.
Take out any coin and read what it says there: "E Pluribus Unum." Not just the original thirteen colonies, but every one of us—particularly at times like these, even though we may still disagree on the particulars. Therein lies the strength of the American Spirit. It was a terrible coincidence that the date of this tragedy coincide with the phone number we use in emegencies: 911. Maybe 914 can become our phone number when we need to be reminded what is best about our country.
Some of my favorite images of the night are: a peace sign of candles, though I personally cannot hold to that course for what has been done; the "Iwo Jima" of our times (I wish this image was clearer); that flag sign that was being given away; the (base of the) statue of George Washington, covered candles, banners, flags and chalked messages (again, too many pictures to take ... here is where my second battery went dead!); and definitely not the least, the one image that captures the heart of the evening for me.
Submission guidelines to the Fine Line have been posted. Many have asked—thanks for the interest. This site itself is obviously, if you've taken a look around, in its infancy. NYC Bloggers! Sorry I missed the gathering but, as you may have noticed, I was detained by events of the evening. Next time, I promise. (I hope!) Long as it is, I really do not want to break this story into smaller pages ... all those popup windows are hard enough to manage, I'm sure (I hope Jakob Nielsen isn't watching! Goodness knows what I've done to the link colors as well! ;^).
Things were getting a bit crowded up top and there are still folks pouring in to read and see what I have to offer, so I moved all the new material down here. 39,251 unique visitors on Wednesday and 48,866 and counting for Thursday (my host is located in the Pacific Time Zone, so after 3am my time I'll have the final figs. Thanks to every one of you for stopping by. Also, thanks again to Blogger for making me aware of the excellent donation box now on this page, due to the codecraft of shellen.com. Light a candle against terrorism. You can do so on the Web, or do as is suggested in the text of this email I received:
Please read and join us around the world.
Friday Night at 7:00 p.m. step out your door, stop your car, or step out of your establishment and light a candle. We will show the world that Americans are strong and united together against terrorism. Please pass this to everyone on your e-mail list. We need to reach everyone across the United States quickly.
The message: WE STAND UNITED - WE WILL NOT TOLERATE TERRORISM. We need press to cover this-- we need the world to see
GOD BLESS AMERICA
It's starting to rain here now. A mixed blessing, I would imagine. It will help with the fires and take much of the dust out of the air, still so prevalent after 2.5 days. I also imagine it may make the rescuer's jobs more difficult, but hopefully not more dangerous. There is still hope that some may be alive in the tunnels and corridors that were underground at the WTC ... here's a prayer that they are there and another to send them rainwater to sustain them. MORE PICTURES of better times. Head back up to the last paragraph of my journal and find 3 new pictures, plus much larger versions of the ones that were there.
Many have asked if there is anything they could do from however far away they are. What the Red Cross needs most from those away from the scene of any disaster is money. Evan Williams over at the Blogger homepage has a link to Amazon.com's page for making donations to the Red Cross ... I just checked and they've already collected over $2.5million. If you can't afford to give money, then give blood. Every community is always short on blood. Making your own community stronger makes us all stronger.
Welcome to the Fine Line.
Yes, as in the Fine Line Between Genius and Insanity. It has always seemed to me that of all the people I have known, the ones with the greatest degree of genius also come the closest to being truly insane. The correlation is too high for this to be a chance relationship. I wish I could say that I am the craziest person I know, but I must be blurring the line pretty well in trying to pull off this project.
Kidding aside, the Fine Line is a serious site about a serious set of chronic neurological disorders (CNDs, a.k.a. mental illnesses) that are seriously misunderstood and misperceived by our culture at large and by most of us individually. My hope for this site is that it can both teach and heal, depending on the visitor's needs. The Fine Line accepts submissions from people with CNDs who have a picture to paint or a story to tell. As a means of healing, then, it's a kind of art therapy. As public art therapy, I hope it will also be able to teach those without CNDs what it's like to be inside our heads and hearts and souls. Mental illness is so heavily stigmatized in our culture, no one wants to talk about it. That sort of ignorance only perpetuates the misunderstandings behind the stigma. Hopefully, the submissions to this site can help the family, friends, and colleagues of folk with CNDs gain some insight into our lives and thus help tear down the walls that get put in place out of ignorance, fear, and/or shame.
That is what the site is for. This blog, on the other hand, is my own personal soapboax/journal for stories ranging from commentaries on dealing with cultural stigmas and stereotypes about mental illnesses to more personal reflections on topics like how, at times, the most courageous act one can do is to simply get out of bed. My own personal hope for this blog is to be able to find the energy on a weekly basis to publish some story here. That's one of the Catch-22s of having a CND: the disorder and the side effects of the medications you take to cope with it are often so draining you hardly have the energy to do anything about it.
Comments, as always, are welcome.