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All content by Nicole Willson. Copyright 2000. No stealing.


Insomniaville -- All the Stuff that Keeps Me Up At Night

2/8 -- Breaking News.

My route to and from the Metro every day takes me right past George Washington University Hospital, "Where Famous DC Residents Go to Have Health Emergencies." Tonight as I neared the traffic circle outside the hospital, I saw that the place was overrun with news trucks and shiny black cars with long antennas. Satellite dishes loomed like giant Mickey Mouse ears over the whole scene. Reporters stood in front of cameras, waiting to go live.

"Whoa. Who's sick this time?" I thought. This happened a few months ago when Dick Cheney suffered heart problems in all the post-election turmoil. The reporters and news trucks and vans converged on the traffic circle, staking out the emergency entrance of GW. They stayed for days, long after it was obvious that Cheney wasn't going to die. They left well before it was obvious who our next president would be, however.

Tonight, it dawned on me pretty quickly: It's the guy with the gun who got shot at the White House. They must have taken him here. Of course. This man didn't rate nearly as many news trucks and satellite dishes as Cheney got. But he still got his share of the self-important camera crews running around glaring at you for being on public property and getting in their way. And I nearly got run down by one of the black antenna cars, the driver having decided to take a little spin around the sidewalk and those pissant pedestrians be damned.

I had a terrible urge to stand in the background while one reporter was speaking to the camera and make ooga-booga faces like an idiot. Like the guy Jim Carrey used to play in "In Living Color."

I don't have any grand conclusions to draw here. The president's life was never in any real danger, and this man didn't get far with whatever he'd been planning. Maybe after eight years of looneys crashing planes on the lawn of the Clinton White House, some pathetic fucked-up soul with a gun just seems rather old hat.

It's just strange, though. I take that walk by the hospital completely for granted and on any given night I'm slogging along in total oblivion, focused on whatever I've got planned when I get home that night. And then something like this happens and suddenly I'm a spectator witnessing a drama, a little piece of history. "I was there! Well, no, I wasn't really there. But I walked by the hospital where they took the guy, and I saw all the news trucks outside." It jars me out of my stupor and reminds me that I'm actually in Washington, DC. And for all the rude people and congestion and crime, I still like it here.

The next entry.

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February 2000