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O Fim duma Viagem

Pseudo-live blog

FRANCE | Saturday, 14 November 2015 | Views [527]

For anyone who wants an actual live blog about what's happening, go here. This is out of order of the chronology of where I'm pretending my life is when I'm writing entries, but this is what's happening right now, and it feels like now is the time to write it.

Earlier today, there were shootings in the 10th and 11th arrondisements. Explosions at Stade de France. A hostage situation. People are supposed to stay off the streets in whatever building they can find. Everything is still so unclear, but France is in a state of emergency and world leaders are talking about what's going on in Paris. My city right now.

I am fine. I finished classes, went straight back to my apartment, and have been here all evening. I found out what was going on when my phone vibrated with a Guardian alert. The same way I find out what's happening in Syria or who just won the Nobel Prize was the first indication of what was going on if not right outside my door, then at least not that many miles away.

Obvious first thing, tell parents I'm fine. Since they don't have the Guardian app, they heard about it from me first, which is probably the best case scenario. Shortly after get a text from my sister, who does have the Guardian app and thus heard at the same time I did. Someone else in the program makes a posting in the Facebook group, and shortly after Erin sends out an e-mail asking everyone in Paris us to contact her immediately to let her know if we're all right. (We all are.)

It's terrifying how real this feels. There's not much direct indication of what's going on. I can hear sirens going, more consistently than normal. But if I didn't know why, it wouldn't seem like anything was off. But world news has never before been so relevant to what was going on in my life. I read phrases like "looking for suspects near Parmentier and République" and think "that's where we stayed the first week." I read "there are various reports of an attack at a fourth scene- at Les Halles" and think "I was there yesterday evening." I look at pictures and swear that I can recognize some of the buildings. 

The first moment that I learned what was going on. "My phone vibrated. E-mail. No, just the news. Shootings in eastern Paris. OK. Wait a second. I'm in eastern Paris. Shit. What's going on?"

Generally speaking, I'll give very low attention to either my Carthage e-mail or news alerts. I'll read them, but if I'm doing something else when they come, I'll ignore them for a while. Not right now. The more I have an idea of what's going on, the better, and if Stephanie or Erin send out an e-mail, it's probably going to be important. ("While I have everyone's attention: how's the pro-seminar coming?" would be a terrible e-mail to send.)

I'm not entirely sure what I should be doing right now. If my internet were less slow right now, I'd probably be on a number of different websites trying to see everything that's going on. As is, I don't even get to watch the videos on the two websites I am refreshing. And I'm sure that even if I could load a dozen different websites and compare the news, it would only create a more splintered and confusing summary.

There's been a lot of pacing around my apartment. Being glad my aparmtnet is large enough to pace. Wondering what's going on outside my apartment. Seeing pictures and realizing I kind of don't want to know. Seeing how long I can sit in one place. Trying to play a bit of harp. (Not an original part of my plan for the evening, but the first thing that came to mind when I realized I needed something to distract me.) And go back to the Guardian page to see if there's any new news. (My phone only buzzes for major changes to the situtation, and that's on a slight lag. I want to know minor updates to the situation as well.) And eventually realize that the only hope I have of making sense of everything that's going on in my head is to write it down.

I am safe. I'm home. Both the rational and instinctive part of my mind recognize this. I'm worn out, both for the mundane reasoons that come from being a college student (today, I had a test, a presentation, and got back both my midterms) and the very non-mundane reasons that come from the fact that, even though I was never in real danger, my first reaction upon hearing the news and recognizing the place names made it feel like I was. So I got a surge of adreneline during which I could think clearly, respond clearly, and generally hold off really thinking about what it was happened. Then that wore off, reality sunk in, and all I could do was pace around my apartment. And write. And be so, so grateful that I was in my apartment.

Factually, this isn't that different from what's happened in cities in the past. It's tragic, and terrible, but it's never before felt so real to me. I was, fortunately, not a part of the events that happened today. But they are, and will remain, a part of me.

Tags: guardian, paris, safe, shootings, terrorism

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