Today the House of Representatives passed a bill extending or making permanent many of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The Senate has yet to decide on which version it will pass. The provisions in question currently allow the government powers including the ability to secretly search the medical, financial, and library records of a person with out the normal burden of proof required for a search, get "roving" wiretaps that are not limited to any specific phone and apply to an unnamed suspect, and carry out secret searches of a person's property without that person ever being notified. It seems that members of congress are using the most recent attacks on London, among other things, to justify the extensions.

Terrorist attacks are designed to incite hysteria. I think the 9/11 attacks did a fairly good job of that. They were definitely dramatic and frightening, and I think what many people have lost sight of (including myself at times) is that rationally, statistically, terrorism still represents a relatively small threat for most of us. There are many things more likely to kill you than a terrorist attack. If terrorist organizations go on using the same tactics, this is likely to continue to be the case for the near future. In view of those facts, it is positively saddening how much of their liberty people are willing to relinquish. Often when discussing this topic, people will give a particular quotation by Benjamin Franklin, but at the moment I think a different quotation, by Patrick Henry, sums up my feelings:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Laws like these are an affront to the liberty of every citizen. If I have to accept small risks to my life in exchange for my liberty, then I say it is a small price to pay, and I pay it gladly. After all, many have risked far more to protect the same.

When you live on the first floor in New York City, nary a day goes by that you don't think about, consider, praise, or curse your geographical position: that position being you, living on the first floor of an eight-story building. You are at the literal bottom of the city-dweller totem pole, and continually reap the benefits and plagues from it.

Last night I could not sleep, because it was Trash Day.

Oh, there were other factors, too. The large iced latte I enjoyed around 10 probably didn't help. The fact that I had a million tasks to do today, and knew, deep down, I'd get few of these accomplished encouraged a good walloping of dwelling on the small things as I searched for slumber. I'm in the middle of three different books, none of which I wanted to put down. And my mind reeled from new knitting patterns my mind was inadvertently piecing together all day as I wrote, edited, ate dinner with friends, drank with the roommate. Lastly, the large bug bite haunting that nebulous region of space (upper thigh or ass?) was itchy and swollen, so much so that I've been telling friends I was bit by a tarantula, as this is the bite mark of no ordinary household spider.

The waging war between insomnia and me has been a lasting one, destined to have books about it published and distributed in middle-school Social Sciences classes due to sheer length, and the obesely large, indeterminable-as-of-yet-but-give-me-a-few-years number of killings due to my own sleep-deprived insanity. I've tried drugs; a little bottle of Ambien sits on my nightstand, teasing me ("Ha-HA! You know you want me! But you know I'll cause you to oversleep! And tomorrow will be no fun for yo-ou!!!). I've done yoga, meditation, read Gravity's Rainbow, listened to The Song of The Humpback. I've had excruciatingly wonderful sex, all in the name of science, mind you, hoping to reach that post-orgasmic nirvana called "Spent" everyone gushes about. But no dice. My mind has a mind of its own, a brain within a brain, and that brain is like a disco roller star on speed, spinning endless loops around the roller rink of thoughts in my head.

Around 6am, I'd had enough. I'd decided I would just relax. Place my head on my pillow. Watch the sun come up. And as dawn trickled through my curtains, and as I felt my body slowly, quietly unwind, I heard it.

I paused.

There it was again. The distinct sound of bottles scraping down the sidewalk, headed my way.

There was a groan in the distance, followed by the squeal of metal and the rumble of a diesel engine.

Heavy footsteps marched down the stairs below my open window, leading to the basement. A jingle of keys, the song of rusted hinges opening, as they do, once a week. On Trash Day.

I held my breath. I waited for it.

"PETE!!! PETE!!!!"

There it was, the cry of the banshee known as my Super, that creature of questionable gender, with breasts and chin hairs and a long rat-tail that curls down her flabby, swollen back.

"Dolores," I whispered.

"PETE? Did you see that truck parked out there?"

From somewhere under my feet, in the bowels of the basement, a male voice boomed: "Shit! I saw it!"

"That's a sweet ride! What the hell's it doing on this block?"

"Dunno, but it's got nice rims!"

"Look better on my Escalade!"

And laughter. Long, loud, crisp laughter soared through ceilings and pipes and cables and floorboards, through my notebooks stashed below me, through my boxspring and full-sized mattress and down pillows, into my ears and crashed within my head, like bumper cars at a church carnival.

Then it began: the sloppy, careless bagging, tossing, marching of the trash through the basement, up the stairs, and onto the curb, just below my window.

I knew the battle on this front was lost. I knew the day had begun for the crew on my block. I knew in three minutes' time the trash truck would come, slowly grab the garbage, share a few words with Dolores about the heat ("It's HOT!" "I know! Can you believe how HOT it is?"), squash the garbage with its loud, compacting jaws right there, buying a bit of time before the next building just six feet away. I knew more of the crew would come out slowly, perch themselves on the steps below my window, and laugh and smoke and share idle gossip about the street's residents ("You hear old Dobson in 68 has a busted spleen?" "Oh shit, that shit's no good."). I knew I'd missed that window of opportunity where I could fall asleep and stay asleep, having spared me in the past the sound of gunfire, ambulances, and The Great Unfortunateness New York Faced in 2001, That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

There was nothing a girl could do. So I lit a cigarette, finished The Elegant Universe, stitched a few more rows, and waited for the sun.

The pain is still there like an ice shard in my heart. My father died when I was 15, I am 5 months from thirty. I was thinking about what kind of advice to give to younger friend a friend who had his dad die around the same age. I came up with the advice or the insight that its hard to for give your dad for being the man that he was not the man that you needed him to be. Buts it’s brutal. This has just brought everything back up. It’s like it just happened. As I sit here at work I just want to break down and weep, but I can’t because it is a big open office. Fortunately its pretty empty and no one can see the tears in my eyes.

I think that it has been hard to grieve for both of us because we had bad relationships with our fathers. My friend’s beat the hell out of him on a whim and even through him through a glass coffee table. Mine was emotionally unavailable and favored my brother so badly that even the neighbors noticed and commented to my mother. But I still loved him even though I hated him and I still miss the times I felt close to him though they were so rare. I think that I used my hatred for him to cut off any feelings of loss I had. Its like I denied the pain of the loss of the good stuff using the hatred that he earned. What’s worse is that my new boss at this job that I completely love is just like him in some ways. He has a terrible temper and no patience. He gets pissed off at me for the slightest things. He isn’t a bad guy I like him a lot and we have a lot in common. But every time it happens I have a flash back to trying to help my dad with stuff or going to get him tools from the basement and not being able to find them and having him blow up on me. I have to remember it’s ok to touch the pain as long as you aren’t just wallowing around in it you are using it moment to let go, forgive and move on. That’s how you heal. I think I’m going to post this as a day log before I get shy. Maybe it will help some one. I wonder if there is room in the grief node. There is I think I will do some formal research on this I bet it will help me and the node could use a solid write up with some of the more formal psychological understanding and sound advice in it. Yay that makes me feel better. A bit.

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