A Memorable 9/11 for Susie and Me

In perusing the blogosphere and Facebook posts today, it would almost seem like self-indulgent sacrilege to post anything other than reflections and reminiscences about the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Maybe, like me, you are 9/11’d out.  I do not downplay the horror, bloodshed, and tragedy, but I write of personal matters today because it may be a little while before I will have access to a computer for blogging purposes.

Why?  Both Susie’s and my laptop computers, as well as our Wii console, were stolen last night/early this morning.  I am just thankful that Susie was not in town when it happened.  She was at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Dayton, at youth chaplain training.  It may be fortunate that I was not at home.  I was at a concert at the Dude Locker in Clintonville, and discovered my back door ajar and both computers missing upon my return.  (It shows how little I use the Wii–Susie noticed it was gone; I didn’t.)

The event finalized any lingering doubts that I have had about getting the hell out of Weinland Park.  I moved there last year with the same high hopes and enthusiasm as I did when we lived in Franklinton, eager to do good and go a step beyond the people who were full of solutions about a blighted area, retreating at 5 p.m. to the safety of Worthington or New Albany.  Now I see it’s an area where the children are out of control and where the civic leaders who see it as the next Olde Towne East seem to think of mugging, burglary, and drug pushing as performance art.

Happily, I can report that our exodus from Weinland Park is a fait accompli.  Soon after Susie came home from Dayton, I met a leasing agent and handed over a cashier’s check.  As of October 1, Susie and I will be returning to the ‘Ville (Clintonville).  I found a three-bedroom half double in Baja Clintonville, around the corner from the Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church.  The price is affordable, and the landlord has been hard at work on improvements in the week or two since I first looked at the place.  The previous tenants were two graduate students who liked to party and who must have thought it was bad karma to housebreak their dog, so the leasing agent, I think, was happy to be renting to a single parent and teenage daughter.

Aerial photograph of the general area where Susie and I will live.

The news about the burglary was pretty upsetting to Susie, so I was glad that I was able to offset with the news that our time in Weinland Park is very brief.  I think she had begun to despair of our ever getting out of there, and I admit that I was mysterious about the fact I was meeting with a rental agent this afternoon.

We don’t have the keys yet.  The owner still wants to do a little more work, but he will hand me the keys on the 25th (two weeks from today), and that is when the move-in process begins.  Since my soon-to-be-ex-landlord was not all that conscientious about keeping vermin at bay (the two- and six-legged variety), Susie and I will not be moving as much.  The biggest pain, as always, will be books.  (I have three milk cartons consisting of diaries alone.  You can imagine what the rest of the library is like!)

I am hoping the computers are insured.  I am buying them through a purchasing plan my union sponsors, and theft should be covered under that.  If not, back to the drawing board and start buying another computer.  This is the one time in my life I’ve been thankful for a dry spell, writing-wise.  I have to admit there is not much writing that was lost on my laptop.  I wrote The Sad Hospital on a typewriter, and my memoir about Robert Lowry (which has been in the home stretch for over a year and a half, “in measurable distance of its end,” to quote the telescreen announcer in 1984) exists in several incarnations, including a hard copy I printed out and an optical disk.  Susie, I am afraid, has lost several poems, stories, and projects with the theft of her machine.

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No Calm Before the Hurricane

My only long walk today was down High St. tonight, since I needed something from CVS.  The one near us closes at 10 p.m., and it was past 10 when I stepped out the door.  So, I headed to the one at Lane and High, just a little over a mile south.  I had a dim recollection that Ohio State would be playing the Miami Hurricanes tomorrow, but Saturday is so jam-packed with activity for me that even if I was a football fan, I wouldn’t have time to watch the game or go down to the ‘Shoe to watch it.

So, walking down High St., it was impossible to go a city block without passing porches loaded (and overloaded) with people, all of them drinking and cheering, with endless renditions of “Hang On, Sloopy!” and “O-H!”  “I-O!”  The game doesn’t even start until 3:40 p.m., and yet everyone is out on their lawns, porches, and the streets, and the drunken enthusiasm has begun.

The open containers of alcohol have been blatant tonight.  On my way home from CVS, I counted no less than a dozen people leaving private residences or their cars carrying open bottles and cans of beer.  The irony is that I worried about getting a police officer’s attention when I left CVS with an open bottle of Diet Pepsi!

Errands will take me far from the campus area for most of the day.  I am thankful for this, since I wonder if the enthusiasm of a crowd which is stoked already, when kickoff is still 14 hours away, can be dialed down once the game is over.  The outcome of the game really has no bearing on what a crowd–especially one fueled by alcohol and fan adrenaline–will do.  At OSU, people will riot as a way of celebrating victory, as happened in 2002 when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan (see below picture).  In 2002, one of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologues said that the first duty of the then-new Department of Homeland Security was “to protect Americans against Ohio State football fans.”  (Seeing Homeland Security’s stellar success at capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, as a Columbus resident I am thankful Leno was only kidding.  Bin Laden would have to text-message his GPS coordinates to Homeland Security before they’d even be remotely capable of capturing him.)

Aftermath of the OSU-Michigan game of 2002,
downloaded from http://www.dipity.com.

People are just as likely to take to the streets out of frustration when Ohio State loses a game.  This is impossible to predict, and I’m not predicting that the partying I saw tonight will lead to a disaster tomorrow evening.  In fact, the overall atmosphere (I shudder away from the word vibe–it’s a cliché I should avoid like the plague (get it?)) of the street seemed to be festive and fun, more like the Undie Run Scott and I happened into last spring.

That hasn’t always been true.  When I first lived in Columbus, in 1985-1986, there were many nights when I would be prowling the bars on High St. (many of which have long ago been razed) and would have a feeling that the street just seemed ugly.  There was a hostility and bad feeling that seemed to be in the air, almost like static electricity, and as much a part of the air as the carbon dioxide.  I didn’t feel that it was directed at me personally, but it was on those nights that I would still get drunk, and prowl in vain for a one-night sexual encounter, yet I would be doing it with my guard up, or as on alert as you can be when you’re getting hammered.  Those would be the nights I’d take a cab home instead of walk, or would go straight home after the bars closed, instead of trying to find an after-hours party.  My wariness paid off.  I didn’t pick up The Dispatch the next morning and find out that I had just escaped a full-scale riot, but at no time was I beaten, mugged, or pickpocketed.  I often think that maybe I was such a careless–if not outright sloppy–dresser that many a would-be thief thought I was too broke to be worth rolling.
In my entire drinking career, I was never cited for open container, because usually I was pretty conscientious about not carrying open containers of alcohol in public.  The closest I came was my last quarter or two at Ohio University, when the school began to crack down about where alcohol could and could not be consumed.  In the dorms, you were permitted to drink and serve alcohol in your room, but it was forbidden in any of the public areas.
An R.A. almost cited me for this once.  I was propped on my bed late one fall weekend afternoon, reading and drinking a beer, when I thought I heard someone knocking on my door.  (I lived on New South Green, in a single room.)  I had called out “Come in!” but no one turned my doorknob.  A little frustrated, I got up, opened my door, and went out into the hall.  It wasn’t until I saw my R.A. staring me down that I realized I had carried the beer can out with me.  She let me by with a warning, but I realized I should have taken the nanosecond necessary to set the beer down on my desk before I stepped from the sanctuary of my room.
Many people groaned about this new policy, but we all knew the alternative was a dry campus.  (The president of O.U. would have been lynched if that had ever become law, I’m sure.)  Even if I had been a teetotaler at the time, I would have thought this ridiculous.  It made no sense that the powers that be were proposing that it was okay for you to go up to Court St. and get blasted, and then stumble back down to your dorm and vomit in the hall or (as happened in my residence hall more than once) in the shower, but sharing a 12-pack with your legal-to-drink friends while watching videos in your room would be verboten.

I’m probably worrying for nothing.  I doubt many of the people I saw tonight will be sober by game time, and if they are, they will be hungover and in no condition to continue.  As for me, I have something to do that will consume most of my morning.  At noon, Susie and her friends from Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp are performing at the Hot Times Community Arts and Music Festival in Olde Towne East.  She and the others will be on the grounds of the Columbus Health Department (formerly the Ohio School for the Blind), and I’ll be on hand for the performance.  I give you fair warning I’ll be posting pictures of this in the blog later this weekend.
Where you’ll find Susie and friends come high noon,
240 Parsons Ave. (corner Parsons and Main.)
Unfortunately, I will be missing the “Burn No Sacred Books” Day service at church, a service that will both honor the memory of the people who died on 9/11 in 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and counteract the lunacy of Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and his plans to mark the anniversary of this tragedy by burning copies of the Koran.
The third event I am sorry I will miss is God’s Family Reunion, in the parking lot and property of Faith Believers’ Ministry in Mineral, home of the Feed My Sheep pantry that I visit with Jacques on those rare Mondays when I am not working.  I have known about this since spring, and was planning to take Susie to it, but her services are needed at Hot Times.