Uncategorized #8 – Jerusalemitis

February 23, 2020 in Uncategorized

I know, I know. It’s late. It’s Sunday night, not Sunday morning as usual. I have an excuse though, the family is sick. Everyone is pulling out of a weekend of influenza. So far I’ve been fine, but I’m sure it’s all just around the corner for me. Cross fingers. Meanwhile, it’s beautiful in Brooklyn. 53 today and Sunny. We managed to get outside, took a long walk in the park, complete with muffins and tea. There was a park bench involved and a brown dog sunning herself behind it while we soaked in the sunlight and watched people cruise by, apparently exercising. We’re pulling out of winter now, and it’s one of my favorite times of the year.

Previously

Last week was a bit of a rant on the ephemerality of cloud storage and your precious moments at risk of being deleted at any moment. I received some nice feedback from a couple of readers who were eager to point out their “systems” for dealing with all of this. All good and interesting approaches, but it made me think about why it’s even necessary to need to worry about this kind of thing at this stage. Shouldn’t everything just be better by now?

But one thing last week’s post did accomplish was that it prompted me to log into my old Yahoo email account. I guess I was curious to see what was still in there, and if I could quickly find a couple of emails from around 2000 that were important to me. So I logged in, I even had my password saved somewhere handy. But, when I did, Yahoo, in it’s most friendly of alert messages informed me that since it had been over 12 months since my last log in, they had DELETED ALL MY EMAILS!!! Everything is gone. It’s like a brand new account. I sent off a few frustrated tweets and of course Yahoo picked up on these and replied with a customer service “person” to help me. But all that wound up accomplishing was a reinforcement of their new policy of DELETING ALL YOUR EMAILS if you don’t log in enough.

So, I guess I proved my own point, which is nice, but I’d much rather have the email archives. I have this feeling like they are somewhere on a hard drive in my storage locker, but yeah, it’s all gone. FUCK!

This Week

I’ve been thinking about what to write for the past few days, and it’s been kind of hard. There’s a few things that are directly on my mind, but they are things I’m not so comfortable sharing at this point, so it’s been hard to think up something else, since these things have been sort of dominating my thoughts this week. 

I do know a few things that I’d like to start talking about though, and these are the kinds of things which I think are going to take more than a single email to cover. So, I suppose I should just begin now and see where things take me.

2002

I want to talk about the year 2002. It was a pivotal year for me (and I suspect many others) and so I want to think back and try and unpack some of what happened in 2002 and try and figure some things out. OK, this is gonna sound a little like me talking to my shrink (if I had one) for a bit, but let’s see where this goes. 

In 2001 something really insane happened and we all know exactly what that thing was. There was a terrorist attack on the United States in New York City, Washington DC, and in a field in Pennsylvania. 4 hijacked airplanes wound up killing nearly 3000 people and injuring over 6000. We are still quite literally picking up the pieces nearly 20 years later.

For me, looking back, I think about how incredible of an impact 911 had on my life. I wasn’t living in New York or DC, I didn’t have any friends who died or were injured or even a part of the attacks in any way. Everyone I knew, everyone in my world, were just like me, sitting at home, hundreds of miles away, watching the events unfold on CNN.

I was living in Rochester, New York at the time. I remember the day incredibly clearly, as I am sure most people do. I don’t really want to talk about that particular day, but I would like to look at what transpired for me personally over the next 12 months or so.

After September 11, our family suffered a loss around Christmas time. It wasn’t unexpected or sudden or anything like that, but nevertheless it was a loss, and we all dealt with it in our own ways. As the months following dragged on, I wound up getting interested in Israel. I signed up somewhat impulsively to do a Birthright Israel trip and by the summer I was headed there for the first time. It was a heavy trip and a life changing one for me. I returned home after the 10 days tour and decided to quit my job at the Lab for Laser Energetics, and move there to become a photojournalist . Thinking back, I didn’t really have a good reason for why I wanted to do this, but I felt compelled. It wasn’t a Jewish thing, or a patriotism thing, I don’t really know how to explain it, I just knew I needed to be there and I needed to try something new and different.

Before heading to Israel, I spent some time in Washington DC. It was the summer of the DC Sniper which happened to be happening right around where I lived in Silver Spring. I sort of ignored it, which was odd, considering I wanted to do this journalism thing and this major story was happening right in my back yard. I guess I was focused on moving to Israel. 

There is so much naïveté when I think back to my state of mind back then and all the ideas I had pulled together into some kind of a plan. In August I took a one way flight to London where I started a backpacking tour of Europe before heading from Rome to Israel where I would live for the following year. 

Thinking back, 2002 changed the course of everything. I certainly wouldn’t change any of my decisions or trajectory, they are what in the long run, brought me to where I am now, but I can’t help think of how impactful the world around me was at the time. I don’t remember directly feeling compelled to do the things I set out to do because of what took place on 911. It was more like a building feeling in my mind that wound up taking me there. Over time, I transformed into someone new, and this someone needed to cut a new path. 

Today I always think about how long ago that was. It wasn’t really, it was just yesterday. Who I was, who I am now, how I was affected by these events, and how the events of 911 in particular changed the course of my own life, even though I had little to do with what took place. It comes up for me often. 

I remember, just before heading off to Europe, it was the first anniversary of 911 and I was in Washington, DC. I went down to a memorial service being held in the city. I recall it was really small. A few politicians said a few things, some airplanes flew over, and some trumpets played a couple songs. It was a small ceremony for something that had just happened the year before. At the time it felt like closure, but it wasn’t, not even close. It was really just the beginning of a long path back to normalcy which I think we are all still just in the middle of. 

2002 set me off in a new direction, and I’m still very much working out how and why that happened. But I’m glad that this is where I’ve ended up, and despite all the bad things that happened that prompted me to be where I am now, I think of myself as incredibly lucky. It’s always been a feeling I’ve been at odds with, and I wonder if there are others out there who feel the same.

Jerusalemitis

There is this thing that happens when people visit Israel for the first time. Typically on a tour, the bus driver, after that long climb up the hills into Jerusalem, just at dusk, will pull over and let everyone out along a nice overlook. In the distance you can hear the Muslim call to prayer, the fog rolling in, and the sun just below the horizon. You can feel the temp drop and the cold air snap across your face. You can see the twinkle of a thousand candles somewhere off in the distance—it’s Shabbat, and everyone on the planet is inside, sitting down for dinner, or preparing their evening ritual. Every single person on that bus feels it. We all look out over that expanse and being to wonder, begin to be inspired, begin to have new ideas. They call it Jerusalemitis, and it’s a real, documented phenomenon. The next thing you know, for whatever reasons you keep telling yourself, you’ve moved to Israel and started a new life.  

Playlist

Bruce Hornsby has an incredible album from 2006 called Intersections which spans his career up to that point in time, It’s super long, live, and great for a weekend in the house. — https://music.apple.com/us/album/intersections-1985-2005/306681885

I also checked out the new Bieber. 

Reading List

I’ve been mostly reading the report by the Smithsonian’s Office of the Inspector General regarding my former boss. — https://www.si.edu/Content/OIG/Misc/19-OIG-291.pdf

Epilogue

Sorry this week’s post is coming to you so late and that it’s sort of an intro to a much longer conversation I’ve been having with myself. But, when I started this newsletter I knew that this sort of thing would happen from time to time. I want to talk about my work and the sector I work in, I want to talk about technology and photography and the things I am most interested in, but I also need to use this space as a place to talk about the bigger things, and what I’ve been trying to work out in my head for a long long time. So, today it’s about the year following 911. I didn’t get too deep into things, but I just wanted to set the stage for what’s to come, and cross my fingers that you might stick around and be a part of this. Thanks for that!

Until next time, have a good week!

-micah


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