At first I just heard that there was going to be an announcement. People said, and I agreed, that if it was announced on this short notice, it was going to be big. I didn't think it was going to be at all good; I thought something about the tornadoes maybe? that was all I could think of that was big. Other people suggested war, and I was really really hoping not. Someone from I think CNN said it was something on national security, and I began very quietly flipping out. I briefly debated myself on whether I wanted to watch it and decided I did. I found a link to where the speech was going to be, a whitehouse.gov video livestream, somewhere in the ten to twenty minutes out range.
Discussion started in #dreamwidth-bitch, on the grounds that it might wind up political, and in any case vigorous discussions of current events that aren't Dreamwidth-specific or internet-related usually wind up in a side channel.
A few minutes before the planned speech time of 10:30 EDT (7:30pm my time), I hit the restroom in case it was long, and emerged to find my computer beeping at me: phone. I retrieved my phone (bathroom, on the corner of the random chair) and saw I'd missed a call from zarhooie. I called her back and couldn't half pay attention to her, still wondering what it was going to be and if it was going to be bad.
She got home and had to go. The speech hadn't started yet. I would intermittently refresh the page just to see.
Twitter shared a growing conviction that Osama bin Laden was dead. That was certainly better news than a new war or another terrorist attack. I swapped between Twitter (rumors, and I kept my reactions on hold in the very beginning of my crisis-mode until such time as I heard confirmed information), #dreamwidth-bitch (more reactions, fewer strangers), ##chatfish (yes, news happens, but we have homework), and Zuma Blitz (because this is how you burn off nervous energy). Twitter went from speculation to matter-of-fact to celebratory to making bad bad jokes diffusing all the pent-up spite of the last ten years.
Finally, President Obama showed up, after some spectacular headdesk moments reported to me by various friends from other news networks. He walked up to the podium and confirmed what all of Twitter had heard: Osama bin Laden was dead. He gave a historical perspective. They'd finally got confirmed intelligence. They carried out the operation today. He reiterated what Dubya had apparently been saying but the usual suspects hadn't been hearing: bin Laden was as much a threat to Muslims as he was to non-Muslims, and the United States has no problem with Islam. He didn't mention atheists when closing his speech with God-Bless-America, but then I don't think he usually does. He walked off.
Twitter went wild.
I called my best friend. He didn't answer. (It is, after all, a Sunday night, and not early.)
I'm still foggy. Mostly I was slurping in Twitter, which is part of what I do in moments of crisis: learn everything, get it straight in my head, be prepared to inform those around me if they do not know. That is what I did on 2001 Sept 11, taking notes on paper until my hand was shaking too much to hold the pen, my best friend holding on to my other arm as we sat glued to the TV.
Osama bin Laden is dead, killed by a targeted United States military action.
I'm still sorting out what that means to me.
Do I get my country back now?
It's hugely symbolic, of course. It doesn't get back the lives of the people who died. I don't know if it will make things any better. But he's dead.