Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:34 PM

Five years ago

The first thing I usually do in the morning after opening my eyes is to reach for the on button of the radio right by my bed and turn on the news. It's a bad habit that's gotten me into trouble time after time, but yesterday I was awake enough to turn it back off after about 20 seconds. Not that the coverage was going to be (necessarily) abominable; I just didn't want to hear it.

Five years ago, I'd been gone from New York for six months, living in Montreal. I'd just passed through NYC the night before on my way back from California, and the next morning I crawled out of bed to read the bad news on Slashdot. For the next two weeks I kept my head down and my profile low, avoiding email and anxious about every phone call. In the end, I was lucky; all my friends were untouched.

That's what I did yesterday too: head down, low profile. I don't need media replays to bring back the horror, and I don't want politicians telling me the policies they are promoting and that I should support if I want to honor the people who died. Political opportunism could take just one day off, dammit.

The best thing I can figure, if we want to honor the folks who were killed, is for NYC to give folks the day off, and for govt officials to promise that there will be no political speeches, and no public ceremonies. Give people the space to have their own ceremonies if they want, and let them own their grief, and live their lives. Or is that too much to ask?

And now, having said that, here's the disclaimer: my opinion shouldn't count for much. The opinions that should count are those of folks who lost family members and friends. And if there are ordinary folks speaking up instead of celebrities, so much the better.