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domestic terrorism, Guest Posts

On the Aftermath of a Homemade Bomb

August 14, 2017

By Jessica Handler

When I was in my twenties, the house I shared with roommates in Arlington, Massachusetts was vandalized with a Molotov cocktail. This was the mid-1980s. The bomb was made of a small Pepsi bottle, a washcloth, and a burning match. The incendiary fluid was probably rubbing alcohol or gasoline.

What happened was this: on a sunny afternoon, my roommates and I heard a thud at the front door, and then we smelled smoke. I don’t remember running to the foyer. I do remember standing by the door as the cop took our report. I felt stunned and weirdly exposed, although I was fully dressed. A synagogue in the neighborhood had been hit a few days earlier, he told us.

The cop taking the report didn’t know why we were targeted. We were the renters on the top two floors, the homeowners lived on the first. I don’t recall if all the roommates’ names were on the mailbox, and anyway, only two of the names of the seven people in the house were identifiably Jewish. Continue Reading…

Binders, Grief, Guest Posts

Of A Piece: The Days After 9-11

September 11, 2015

By Bernadette Murphy

It’s two days after the World Trade Center collapse and I am unable to function. I watched yesterday, with my kids as they hoisted on their backpacks ready for the school day to begin, scenes of destruction that I am still unable to fathom; it will be months if not years, I fear, before the scope of what’s happened can penetrate my mind. As the second tower imploded, live in Technicolor on our screen, my six-year-old daughter, Hope, ran to her bedroom to get her ceramic angel. The angel, which had been a baby shower gift when I was expecting her birth, used to be a nightlight, but Hope’s since removed the inner working and keeps the ceramic angel as a playmate. She came back to the television set just as CNN showed the first of countless repeats of the horrific scene. Hope held her angel to the television screen so that the angel could see the destruction, confident in the belief that the angel would be there with the wounded and dying. This image continues to haunt me; I wish I could believe today as simply as Hope believes.

Later, I tell my friend Marjorie about Hope’s actions. I e-mailed her because I’m as yet unable to talk with people about these happenings. Marjorie’s older brother has been fighting the fires at the Pentagon, the very place where her father, as a military physician, had worked until recently. Marjorie grew up an army brat on bases around the world; she’s also Arab- American.

“Hope was well named,” Marjorie e-mailed back, telling me she’s as stunned and incapable of normal action as I am.

I’ve been watching the news nearly nonstop since the attacks. When I get sick of seeing the same scenes before my eyes, I switch off the TV long enough to read every word of coverage from the Los Angeles Times. I can think of nothing else. It’s a huge relief when the school day comes to an end and I’m forced to turn off the television and function as a mother, if only at 10 percent capacity.

As a freelance writer working for myself, I have no clocks to punch, no bosses to appease; if I wish to spend my entire day in the pain and sadness of this tragedy, I can do so. In some ways, I think of this as a blessing. It seems vitally important to me, somehow, to be a witness to these events. To not brush them off and get back to normal as soon as possible, but to feel as deeply as I must the heartbreak and incredible grief that swamp me. While everyone talks of retaliation and patriotism, buying flags and making God Bless America signs, I can do nothing more than feel the huge, overwhelming pain of these events.

I don’t want to talk about why someone would do such a thing. I don’t want to analyze what America’s response should be or how our world is forever changed. To do any of those things requires an ability to intellectualize something I haven’t even begun to process emotionally. Some might accuse me of morbidity, but it seems important to be present with this destruction, to feel it deeply and honestly, to recognize how badly this hurts. Only when I can fully embrace my own sense of woundedness will there be any hope of determining how to move forward.
By the second half of the second day, I can do one thing other than watch the news and read the papers. I can knit. It seems stupid to think of this craft as anything important in the light of what has occurred, but still I do. I need to center myself again. It’s not fear I’m battling, though knitting is a good antidote to fear, but deep, abiding sadness, irreconcilable loss, the sense of things being torn asunder. A good friend of mine who’s a native of Manhattan (but now an avowed Angeleno) is grieving as well. We both agree that instead of waving flags, what we feel like doing is following the Jewish rite of mourning, which involves wearing a piece of black fabric pinned to one’s garment, fabric that’s been rent to show the irretrievable nature of loss. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Heroes, Terrorism

The Price of Loving a Hero.

November 17, 2014

By Erin Stewart.

I don’t watch the news; on October 22, 2014, I didn’t have to.

War. Suspects. Shooting. Soldiers. Police. Government. First responders.


These words filled my timelines. My Facebook. My Twitter. My Instagram. My inbox.

It was one of those days we’ll always remember. And I love a first responder; in fact, I love many. So for me, it was also one of the days I always fear.

The night before, I read an article that pissed me off. It was about policing; it was anti- police. I put it up on Facebook and the cop-bashing started immediately, so I deleted it.

The next morning, October 22nd, Canada was faced with a critical incident that tested our first responders, government security and Nation’s values – our government was faced with a shooting that took place on Parliament Hill and the Rideau Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The life of an unarmed soldier who was symbolically standing at the National War Memorial was taken when a gunman fired two shots into his back and injured others. This all took place after another soldier was run down in Quebec earlier that week.

In the midst of this crisis, our heroes show up, equipped and ready. The media winds shifted; that day and in the following days, our first responders were painted as heroes, not villains. But they’re always heroes to me.

The thing about loving a first responder is this: We worry. We worry all the time.

Continue Reading…