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Wednesday October 10, 2001, 00:13

"Stay away from me, I have Anthrax!"

What else, really, are we supposed to do right now? Every year, around this time, I get sick. I get some awful cold and it knocks me on my ass and I cough and I complain and then I get up and I get on with my life. That's every other year. This year, in the wake of that thing that is yet to be appropriately named ("incident," "tragedy," "attack"), Mother Nature gave us a taste of the upcoming winter by dropping on the city some frigid temperatures mixed in with a dash of rain. And you know what? The entire city got sick.

And of course it's not a biological attack of any sort because, well, you can't really think that it is because if you do, or rather, if I do, or if we do, then there's really nothing left to do but curl up and die. So we make jokes. We say things like "Man, I'm so sick. I hope it's not Anthrax." Meanwhile, there's this little voice in the back of my head, totally somber, repeating over and over again, "It won't happen to me, it won't happen to me," which is what everyone's been saying and what everyone wants to believe and which can't hold true for everyone.

"It." I really don't even know what it means right now, and I really don't want to think about the reality of what's happening in the rest of the world. I'm having a hard enough time keeping my own head together as I fight this (Anthrax) cold in my head that woke me up at 4am and kept my up, dry throat and coughing until I watched the sky start to brighten at a little past 6. And I looked out and realized what a wonderful day it was going to be, not because of the rest of the world and not because of the weather or the sky but because I was in it and that I could do anything.

And then I fell asleep again with a pot of steaming water next to my bed in an attempt to humidify my room (failed) and woke up to an overcast sky and a head filled with rocks and the realization that I had left my brain somewhere between 6am and that exact moment when I knew that there was going to be nothing productive happening at all and that the realization that "I could do anything" would have to be put off another day at which time I would be able to something.

I updated my resume in a seasonal attempt to clarify my goals and determine what it is that I'm doing, why I am here and what exactly I hope to accomplish by dumping my soul out into my computer every day (like now, for example); this tangible object housing tangible data in an entirely intangible form holds some sort of power over me that I just don't understand.

"I am not a..." I begin, but inevitably trail off, never reaching the final thought, or, if I do finish it with much fanfare ("Programmer!") I immediately turn around and sign on for another project that makes use of my skills as one who wields power over calculating machines and who, in society's mind, rarely bathes. And to what end? I continually am asking myself. And never a satisfactory answer other than a vague notion that "they are important."

Topics of conversation are never so interesting as when discussion of the future of the technology and the coming generations, the "kids" to my adulthood (which is a frightening enough notion as it is), and I spend hours debating the relative merits of different technology plans known in my limited scope of knowledge on the subject. And yet do I pursue it at all? Not a bit, leaving it to lie in the bed of retired academic knowledge, like that calculus that I never sufficiently learned. Except that, in the case of Math (capital M -- scary M), I have buried it because I can not see the applications of it (Math) to my life whereas the technology thing is relegated to the realm of academic knowledge because I am scared of actually having to pursue it, to have to get up, take it, and go somewhere with it. Because I might have to work. Because I might fail. Because people might rely on me (I might rely on me) and I might get stuck.

I know that much. Now to move forward.

And hope that it isn't Anthrax after all. That would be totally lame.

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