January 18, 2004

Fat fluffy flakes of snow outside, Sinatra on the radio, brunch plans soon.

How I'd love to be on top of things. A redesign of this site. A cheaper ISP than AOL. A functional date and address book. Clothes mended and shipshape. Multiple lists dovetailed. Income flow steady and growing. Laughter and love and all that. Delicious, nutritious food, dance class and bodywork. No smoking! No procrastinating! No struggling and striving and lying in bed overwhelmed by the quotidian.

Yesterday I went to return some books to the library, walked west on 10th toward the bank, coming back considered schlepping a pretty nice desk on the street home; it looked heavy and was embedded in a snowbank; stopped in at ray's for tobacco, glanced at the Post. "Horror on 11th Street" the cover screamed. The story was that Friday night at 6:30 a woman was walking her dogs, right in front of Veniero's on 11th and First. The dogs began shrieking and howling and fighting and the woman was trying to separate them and shouting for help and then she stepped on what they had, a metal stormdrain on the street, and was electrocuted. People ran toward her, some touching her and receiving secondary shocks, but no one either figured out what was happening or had the presence of mind to move her with a nonconductive object, like a piece of wood. And so she died. She was 30, a doctoral student, lived with her boyfriend and was known as fun and hospitable, bright and exceptional. The dogs are alive, being treated for severe burns. Speculation is that salt put on the street for the snow had eated through electrical cable insulation.

I walked to the grocery, noticing all the metal covers and cellar doors and framing bits on the sidewalks. The same paper greeted me at the entrance to the store. I was a bit freaked out and upset. I looked the incident up in the New York Times, but there was nothing.

If this were a small town, the entire community would be talking about this, upset, calling for answers and repairs and editorializing and talking in low voices and sad. But this is New York, and someone can be electrocuted while walking their dogs several blocks away and, hours later, crowds of latte-seekers and errand-runners will swarm the area, oblivious, unaffected, as though the blinking out of one light amd so many millions, however atrociously and randomly and abruptly and arbitrarily, is nothing. Like a horrible highway wreck on a busy interstate; clear the wreckage and minutes later cars are zooming by, people on their ways, in their lives, and no pause, no hallowed ground.

This is so purely tragic, such a metaphor, so real. Wake up! I told myself. Wake up! What are you waiting for? When your house is clean and your ducks are lined up, then you will live? Fool! Wake up!

The Times had it today.