I Thought I Was so Cool When – Finish the Sentence Friday


April 18, 2013 by Katia

I thought I was so cool when I posted the tweet about the aging widow, the Dutch lottery, Madoff and the heir to the throne who meet in my spam folder (true story). A few minutes later this came up on my feed, a tweet from one of my favourites:

When I read it blood raced to my cheeks. No, more like bubbled and was about to erupt. How could I have written something so tasteless? It was Tuesday. One day after the Boston Marathon bombing. Marinka was responding to direct event-related jokes, not my own tweet, as I later found out, but should I have thought more before posting a joke that starts with “a widow”, never mind the aging part? Absolutely. Deeply ashamed I’ve erased the tweet 5 minutes into its existence.

Growing up next to terror I, of all people, should have been more sensitive on a day like this. But here’s the thing, growing up next to terror is exactly what made that temporary brain fart possible.

On this week of blasts I want to talk about our brain on terror. To quote Marinka, I am no pro, I was just growing up in Tel Aviv during the 90’s and early 2000’s and can tell you about some features of a terror stricken reality:

I’ve heard bomb blasts twice. Was there a third, even a fourth blast that my mind decided not to store due to a lower impact end result? Very possible. One of the explosions I remember very well, was the one that killed 21 teenagers who were out on a Friday night lining up to get into a night club. I was able to hear it when I was living with my mom in our apartment on the opposite side of the city. The other blast I’d heard had sent me rushing home when I was outside walking my dog after work.

Since some of the deadliest terror acts happened on buses, I would often get off the bus before reaching my destination because someone looked or behaved suspicious/was carrying a big-ish bag/had a weird bulge in the tummy area which might have been a bomb belt/seemed nervous/looked at other people in a way that seemed strange.

If the bus stop was getting crowded, I would stand at a distance or walk to another station.

I would try to avoid public places but if I did go out to a restaurant/cafe, I’d choose my seat based on how far it was from the glass window in case of an explosion.

There was a guard in every mall checking your bag at the entrance. Some malls had metal detectors as well. Part of the daily discourse was, what good are those line ups at the entrance, when this is exactly what a terrorist seeks. Long line ups made me feel unsafe and were to be avoided.

I would be glued to the TV, following the breaking news, watching the reports from the hospitals, learning and soaking in every bit of information about the victims.

I would also learn, whether I wanted to or not, about the macabre scenes directed by the blast. I was not necessarily haunted by those images and visuals described by journalists, reporters and eye witnesses but rather by the unexpected quality of terror, its ability – without getting too graphic – to combine things that do not belong together and create an alternate reality where this was possible. Hell on earth.

One of the things that scared me probably just as much as me or a loved one witnessing a terror act was the consequent inability to get in touch with them and notify that I’m OK or find out that they were. Explosions would often affect cellular connection and lines crashed. I had a memorable nightmare, where a bomb goes off and I’m fine but I know that I have to call my mom because she is completely freaking out and when I finally get hold of her no voice comes out of her mouth because the panic she was in made her lose the ability to talk. That kind of unexpected outcome, so typical of terror, seemed so realistic that it was much more terrifying than any other detail in that dream.

And it was kind of like the chicken and the egg. The news watching and article reading generated more anxiety and the anxiety generated a need to follow the news so that you could manage your anxiety, prove to yourself that no one you knew was injured or worse, try to make sense of it, feed your inner terror analyst with useful info and add another “do” or “don’t” to the growing list of How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Terror.

We knew that certain days were more terror-act prone. Jewish or Israeli national holidays were days when you’d better not stick your nose out. Saturday evenings were another favourite, which is why my future husband and I did not go out for a while. Instead we would meet at my mom’s place and watch James Bond movies on TV until those were inevitably interrupted by the breaking news of another blast and once we had listened to the entire report, said goodbye to each other and learned on the next day that in that explosion on the previous night, his second cousin, Orit, had been killed by a suicide bomber in a Jerusalem cafe.

Whether terror was happening or not, the TV was always switched on at my mom’s house and I overdosed on news. For good. Which is why I stopped watching it altogether once I’d moved in with my future husband. Which is why I never watch the news here in Canada, which is why I am blissfully ignorant and might have been unintentionally offensive on Tuesday.

It’s not that I don’t know about these things when they happen, that would be hard in the age of Twitter and being married to 36 Year Old. It’s just that I deliberately stay away from them. I cannot see anymore burnt buses, body parts, people in underwear on stretchers with cameras in their faces, people covered in blood dehumanized, running in each and every possible direction in terror, screaming, faces like Greek masks, clasping their heads with their hands. Crying children, terrified parents. Especially not that. I did hear about Boston, but I didn’t want to know.

RIP Martin, Krystle and Lingzi Lu.


Here are some more tweets that I agreed with that day.

40 thoughts on “I Thought I Was so Cool When – Finish the Sentence Friday

  1. I don’t think your original tweet was insensitive. This was a lovely article, good on you. From Alison @ Undertendollars

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Alison! I felt like a jerk. When I reread it later I realized that maybe it wasn’t as awful as it sounded inside my head, but wouldn’t want anyone to be offended.

  2. Pam says:

    Um… wow. Well said. And for the record, I thought your tweet was funny.

  3. Wonderful article and explanation here. I truly don’t think your tweet was insensitive and put in its proper context here do get where you were coming from. Thanks you so very much for linking up with us again!! 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Janine, it means a lot! I felt horrible when I posted it 🙂 I am off to bed but look forward to reading everyone’s posts tomorrow. I loved the whole FTSF experience last week!

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with the news. I hate watching and I hate not knowing what’s going on…love your insight.

  5. Jean Heff says:

    This is so well put. Great post. I didn’t see your tweet, however, I’m assuming that someone with your depth of experience wouldn’t say something out of turn. I sympathize with your fear of having said something wrong, though.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Jean. I usually consider myself to be a pretty tactful person, so I was truly appalled, but the more I think about it I realize that it was probably not nearly as bad as it seemed at the moment. 🙂

  6. canigetanotherbottleofwhine says:

    Great and fascinating post! I, like you, avoid the news. I haven’t experienced anything even remotely close to what you’ve experienced, but I get overwhelmed by all of it. I found out about the bomb at the marathon on Twitter – which is where I get most of my news snippets now. I had some “joke” tweets scheduled for that day, but fortunately was able to remove them before they went out. Wouldn’t have been able roof I weren’t at home.

    • Katia says:

      Thanks so much, Kate! Yes, I totally get being overwhelmed by this. It’s not just my background it’s also being a parent that makes me really intolerant to any kind of horrific news like that. And I find out about everything through Twitter too 🙂

  7. Great post. You have seen more/lived through more than anyone should have to. The news is brutal and terrifying and nightmare-inducing. Your context is so different than ours and I do not think that your tweet was out of line. Great way to address it though, loved the post.

    • Katia says:

      I appreciate your comment so much. I haven’t seen any of this with my own eyes, thankfully, so I don’t really feel as if I’ve lived through more than anyone else, but I know that it sounds that way, reading this. Thank you as well for reassuring me that the tweet wasn’t that bad 🙂 I agree, I probably thought it was worse than it actually was, but I’m glad that it made me more aware and mindful.

  8. […] I Thought I Was so Cool When – Finish the Sentence Friday (iamthemilk.wordpress.com) […]

  9. Emily says:

    I too had scheduled tweets that day about a funny post and I realized it after the fact…and I completely understand you wanting to tune out the events in Boston after your history of living in Israel.

    • Katia says:

      Thanks so much, Emily! Don’t feel too bad about tweeting about a funny post. I think most people realize that we pre-schedule tweets for posts.

  10. I haven’t read the original tweet- but ya know- laughter, humor, turning in another direction, is a much needed respite for many. Otherwise we can drown in the down. Forgive yourself.

  11. I love that you are participating in FTSF. I’ve participated every week since I found it and it’s my favorite. First, I don’t think your tweet was insensitive. Second, wow, I cannot imagine growing up where you chose the seat furthest from the window in case of an explosion. You’ve led an interesting life, my friend. I’m glad you write about it here. And that I found you.

    • Katia says:

      You always make me happy, Kristi 🙂 Even before I read your comments.

      I don’t want to give the wrong impression, most of my life did not consist of what I describe here. There were a few really bad years in even then it was sort of on and off and it started happening when I was probably 18 or 19. Sorry if I made myself sound more heroic than I actually am. I guess I just really wanted people to get a better understanding of my home country and secondly to help people envision what Boston must feel like right now.

  12. Wow. What a powerful post. I agree with the masses that your tweet was not insensitive, but your description of the blood rushing to your cheeks and your reaction is exactly how I would have felt too. I felt like I was there with you- you are such a vivid writer. Beautiful job, and thanks for much for joining us- I am thrilled!

  13. Ruchira says:

    The fact that you are being sensitive about your tweet says it all!

    Interesting read, and sure those guys are a bunch of loosers!


  14. Dana says:

    Growing up in Israel, you have a unique perspective that Americans do not. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  15. I don’t think that was insensitive at all. But people read into things differently. You can go to any article on the web outside of out blogosphere and see how people get in an uproar over a simple opinion. We need a little humor sometimes – it shines a light through the darkness.

    • Katia says:

      You’re my kind of lady, Kenya, and for the record I totally agree with you. Had these events been happening in Israel, perhaps even in Canada I may have felt more entitled to selectively use my sense of humour (Israelis developed hysterical routines and dark humour to deal with the events). Since I’m not American, I feel like had I thought this through before posting I would still not do it feeling that it was not my place as an outsider to “shove my humour” in the face of someone who may not be ready to laugh. I can’t quite put this into words, but hopefully this makes some sense.

  16. pretty darn aggressive, this person advising you on how to think (and/or respond to situations in the world).
    I suppose I should ask if the person admonishing you was a personal friend or simply one of those people who know what is right and knows how we should all act and react. If the latter, I would try to dismiss her and as difficult as it might be to do, not feel bad or uncomfortable or any of the ways that (people like that ) are trying to engender in others.
    I would add my voice to the others in the Comments above, your thoughts and expressions, are your own and while we may all judge if we approve or disapprove, anyone who tries to cause you to doubt yourself should be relegated to the ranks of
    life’s bullies, of which there are far, far too many.

    • Katia says:

      Oh no, I should have probably explained this better in the post. She was not directing her tweet at me. Marinka is a well known humour blogger and when I was obsessing about this I realized she is following over 2500 people on Twitter, so doubt she was even responding to me.

      I really appreciate the sentiment though and totally agree with the general statement about other people passing judgement too quickly and harshly. Thanks so much, Clark!

    • Marinka says:

      I was not admonishing her at all. My tweet was directed towards those making jokes about the Boston Marathon bombings. I believe in humor, I do. But I also believe that sometimes the pun, the word play, the whatever it is that humorists lay claim to has to wait Because not being an asshole is also important.

  17. Wow. You know – I think we all make these temporary brain farts…and you know terror way better than we do. I think you can give yourself a LOT of grace.

  18. Marianne S. says:

    Just out of curiosity, how many people does that follower of your follow? It is possible that she was responding to a different person?
    Seems to me it was akin to you getting a fortune cookie that says “You will be met with trouble” before your child erupts into a tantrum….
    I didn’t read your original tweet… Anyway, I do understand the immediate ‘panic’ response… I might have done the same thing!!!

    Thank you for sharing with us on FTSF!

    Marianne @ Sandling All Day

    • Katia says:

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. I went back to my post and corrected it realizing it sounds like Marinka was responding me (which is what it felt like at the moment, but I quickly realized that it’s probably one of the other 2300 she follows and she confirmed). But thanks so much for the wise words, Marianne!

  19. melissa says:

    Thank you for allowing me a glimpse into your memories. You are a survivor-don’t ever question your reaction to violence. Everyone reacts differently in all situations, specifically horrific ones that have been commonplace in your past.. hugs to you..

    • Katia says:

      Thanks so much, Melissa. I thank God I haven’t witnessed any of this directly ever, so I don’t really feel like a survivor, but it definitely interfered with the every day life of the population.

      I really appreciate your comment and hugs back to you!


  20. […] I simply HAD to share the news with someone! I had just found out that one of my posts was selected as a Voice of The Year in the Op Ed category. I was not originally planning to attend […]

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