The World Trade Center - taking it personallygreenspun.com : LUSENET : Hedgehog Talk : One Thread
I didn't sleep much on the night of the 11th. Every hour I would wake up thinking, "That was the worst yet." I dream about disasters all the time: earthquakes, floods. I dreamed several years ago that I was in a skyscraper when the wing of a plane sliced clean through it, in fact. I was the only one in the room who ducked, while all the other people were severed at the waist, because for some reason the leading edge of the wing was as sharp as a blade.
And every hour when I awoke, there were a few seconds of tremendous relief, and then the reality, over and over again. Kymm's entry today reminded me of that night, which seemed to go on for a week -- longer, even, than the day that preceded and inspired it.
Not being in New York, I'm isolated from the physical consequences of Tuesday's attacks, but I have felt these days in my gut in a way that no news item has ever touched me before. I have not been eating much. I have not been leaving the house much, because every time I turn off the TV I end up sitting there in the quiet, the remote frozen in my hand, the screen just a few feet from my face (because I am perched bolt-upright at the edge of a sofa cushion), and I can't make myself leave the set off. Every hour there is some new development, and for some reason it is vital that I stay apprised.
Today I heard the first jet go overhead since Tuesday morning, and I paused in the middle of my living room, waiting. I didn't know what I was waiting for at first, but then I realized: the crash.
I know that my neighbors, at least, have been as immobile as I have; I didn't even think they owned a television, because I'd never heard it before this week. Now the punctuated drone of Dan Rather can be heard through our shared wall late into the night.
So what have you been doing this week? Have you been able to function? How do you feel? I'm curious esp. about the feelings of those, like me, who have no known connections to anyone missing or to the city itself. No such people are being interviewed for the record (of course not) and I have no idea whether my reaction is completely abnormal.
-- Kim Rollins (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 13, 2001
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: I am profoundly and foolishly grateful that by the time I found out about the attacks, they were already over. Watching things getting progessively worse: the first plane, the second plane, the collapses, the Pentagon crash, the fourth plane down in the Pennsylvania forest -- that would have been unbearable, not knowing when it was going to stop. By 11:30 Seattle time, nothing freshly horrible had happened for several hours and the sky was finally still.
I am interested in stories of how people found out and when. Mine: Until yesterday when I had broadband installed, I had all my connectivity through AOL following Ricochet's going belly-up (which would have been interesting to complain about a few days ago, but not right now). From the mail I sent to Kymm that day:
"I found out about the situation when I logged in this morning. AOL has this annoying little panel that pops up when you first connect; it always has fluffy McNews bits linked from it. Earlier this week they had "Fashion Police" and, not making this up, "Top ten dog breeds for meeting men." Today it was "America under seige: New York, D.C., attacked," with pictures of the World Trade Center in flames. I sat there looking at it. I thought it might be some kind of movie promo, War-of-the-Worlds-style..."
-- Kim Rollins (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
Kim, you mentioned something that kept flashing though my head: "This could be another War of the Worlds, but people are gonna be REALLY pissed when they find out..."
I'd rather be pissed off at Hollywood.
I was at work in the Twin Cities; I have no connection with any of this except for some online acquaintances who work near or in the Trade Center. So far as I know, they're all okay. I caught most of the story in fairly real-time, as I was browsing a message board as people began posting eyewitness reports of the attack. I didn't get any work done on Tuesday because I spent the whole day trying to find out what was going on; they took all the TV's on rolling carts from the conference rooms, wheeled them out into the common areas and left them on for people to see what was happening.
I had my mid-year review at 10 a.m. Central time, just a few minutes after the towers fell. My manager hadn't heard anything about what happened, and actually saying the words out loud, "They're gone. Both towers. Thousands of people died..." I've never broken out crying at a review before...
I haven't gotten much work done this week.
-- Colin (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
Tuesday morning I was about to head upstairs to a management meeting when one of my colleagues called out "My husband just called from the State House. He said a plane hit the World Trade Center!" Since I was having a very busy day, I said to myself "I'm not going to take this in right now," and I went up to my meeting.
That meeting broke in time for us to watch, from an unused office with a TV, live coverage of the second tower collapsing. There were a dozen of us sitting or standing there, either gaping or tight- lipped. And the terror -- I choose the word carefully, as horror implies a certain fascination -- came over me that the Power of Darkness had become manifest in the United States, manifest in the absence of two huge buildings.
Since the phones weren't working reliably, I had to walk over to a nearby caterer to cancel a luncheon order. Returning, I looked at the Hancock Tower (this is Boston) in a new light. It's only a few blocks away from my office, and it's narrow enough that a plane could fly through it, sending glass everywhere.
I was able to account for high school friends in New York, and called my mother in Louisiana just to check in. She told me that my aunt had confirmed that my cousin and her family were OK, and I went cold. I'd completely forgotten they lived in New York. How many other people do I know there who I don't know are there?
In the evening I went to a friend's house to watch the TV coverage. Terrifying to see the footage of the second plane, from so many different angles. We are a culture of surveillance or voyeurism (you choose) but it wasn't enough.
Wednesday I had to call several people to let them know we were cancelling an event. One woman I talked to had returned from the West Coast with her husband the week before. They'd befriended one of the flight attendants, a warm outgoing woman who was adopting a baby from China the following week; they'd already written to the airline to tell them how wonderful she was. This flight attendant turned out to be the woman calling American Airlines from the back of one of the hijacked planes that crashed into the towers. She's a real heroine. That story set me back.
My personal reaction has been one of futility, hopelessness, a sense of the triviality of my job as an event planner, and a need for sleep. Also guilt, as I interpret all this to be a form of cowardice. I'm not galvanized into patriotism -- I'm paralyzed by fear. Getting through the days has been difficult, though yesterday afternoon I started to rally. This morning, though, after reading the papers, I only want to crawl back into bed.
-- Robert (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
I've never been so shaken, and am in a place where there seems to be a massive lack of compassion -- the news here is mostly focused on how outrageous it is that the football game is cancelled this weekend. It feels wrong to be so far away from the people I love.
-- anne (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
I was at work in LA. (I just moved out here a year and a half ago after living 40 years in New York) I was coming to the end of my shift on the graveyard shift, when one of my co-workers said, "Hey did you hear that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center." We put the TV on in the back just in time to see a replay of the second plane hit and as soon as I saw that I knew it was no accident. Then we heard about the Pentagon and then I thought, maybe I should call the head of our security department to see if we might be in any danger here. As we were trying to get ahold of him, I went back to the TV right after the first tower collapsed - I couldn't believe it - that was more shocking to me than the fact that someone had flown a plane into it. How could they have taken it down? And then the second one went. Right about then, building security came up and said that the building was being shut down, in fact all of downtown LA was being shut down. So I went through the six floors of our offices telling everyone to go home, still not really believing that this was real. How could it be? I finally got everyone cleared out of here and the head of our security department showed up (he was stuck in LA traffic) and then I went home and watched the horrible replays of the towers collapsing and trying to get in contact with everyone I knew in New York. So far everyone I know is alright (physically, anyway) but there are still people I haven't been able to contact - they should have had no reason to be down there but you never know. And it doesn't matter if you don't know anyone personally because it feels like you do. I knew the city personally, I love that city. I feel so useless out here in LA. I want to be back in NY with my friends and family helping out in some way. I can't even give blood. I'm at work now and I should just give the money back for all the use I'm doing. I just went on-line to make a donation to the NYC Firemen's memorial fund. At least it's something. Just wish I was back home.
-- Bart Tangredi (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
I thought of that too, Bart and Anne, how awful it is to be here, but how much worse it would be not to be here. If I had moved away, if I were away from my friends, I would be going through the roof, I would be vibrating like a tuning fork. I miss you both and wish you were here, too.
-- Kymm Zuckert (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
Tuesday was my last day at work (I was supposed to leave for Europe this afternoon); I heard about the attacks pretty quickly after the first plane hit, because one of the people I work with paused by my cubicle and told me to be careful what plane I got on. At the time, everyone could still think it was some awful pilot error.
Naturally, I got online, and naturally, all the web sites were jammed. For the first hour, my information came from a) my dad in Los Angeles, who had the news on, and b) the BBC and Guardian web sites--I figured they'd have less traffic than the US ones. Of course, they were getting the same confused information as everyone else; the Guardian announced that a rocket had hit the Pentagon.
I know no one in New York (except an old college bridge partner who's a day trader, but I haven't spoken to him for years and have no idea where he works) and of course some journalers. But I've been watching the news pretty constantly, not eating a lot, having a sick feeling in my stomach all the time.
I'm worried because no matter what our government does--and let me say that I'm glad Colin Powell is on the team, because I do not have any confidence in Dubya--it will never prevent a reprisal. Commentators are saying that this all began back in the gulf crisis. If we take out bin Laden, he'll become a martyr and a dozen more will spring up to take his place. This is not going to end. I don't want to see the US become like the UK during the heavy IRA attack days of the early 1990s; to this day you cannot find a wastebasket in a British train station, because of fears that bombs will be placed in them. But it's possible we might become that way.
In light of all this, working on my thesis seems egregiously irrelevant, but at least it focuses my mind for a few nanoseconds at a time.
-- Dorothy Rothschild (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
I had just logged in at work and turned on IE to check webmail and journals for the day. My start page is Yahoo so I saw the curt line "Plane hits World Trade Center." I didn't believe it, and went to the full story, which wasn't much longer, but said something about the fact that it was just "reports say". I wondered if it was a hoax. Someone came to my desk and I turned on my TV...just in time. Just in time to see the second plane as it hit. Just in time.
We sat and watched in disbelief - it really did look like something out of an 80s Schwartzenegger movie in some ways. I had a session to go to near the Pentagon so I left... and as we were driving that way I heard on the radio that it had been struck as well. We continued to the studio to hear that our voice talent had actually witnessed it- and as I was talking to my boss on the phone she haltingly said "It's falling! Collapsing! Oh my god!"
I came back to find my entire company gathered around the TV, horrified. People here at K12 had family in WTC and also in the Pentagon.
-- Jennifer (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
i'm in new york, i live in queens and work in the bronx. i found out when i got to work tuesday that a plane had hit the world trade center. of course i assumed that it was an accident, like when the plane crashed into the empire state building in 1945. but i ran to the tv, where everyone was watching cnn, and thats when i learned it was two planes and deliberate, and learned about the pentagon.
the first thing i did was call my husband who works in manhatten. luckily i got through on the first try, because circuits were intermitantly busy as people tried to contact each other. he's ok, doesn't work anywhere near the towers. couldn't get through to my mother on long island to tell her we were ok for several hours though.
we watched the tv together, seeing the towers collapse. i couldn't take in what i was seeing for a long time.
they closed the library (thats where i work) early, and sent us home, though i would rather have stayed with other people. as my bus crossed over the whitestone bridge i saw the plume of smoke, thats when it started to sink in. i murmered the lords prayer, the woman across the bus from me crossed herself. everyone turned in their seats to look, but few people said anything.
i went to my daughters school and found that they were not closing, but that they were allowing children to be pulled out early. i wasn't sure if i should or not, so i wnt home. called my husband again to tell him i was home, called my mother and got through to her machine.
i turned on the tv, and also got on-line. after about an hour i called my mother again, and got her. she thought i should take my daughter out of school, so i did. the school had cancelled classes after lunch and had all the kids in the auditorium. the older children had been told about the planes, but not that it was deliberate, the younger children were just told there was an explosion. i had to tell my daughter what had hapened. that was difficult, she was shocked and horrified and how do you even start to explain to an 11 year old?
we went home and i tried calling the red cross to find out where to donate blood. all their circuits were busy, so eventually we went down to the local ambulance corps, where i'd donated blood in the past. they had a sign up that they didn't have the resorces to take blood but told us where we could go, so we headed over.
the crowd waiting to donate was amazing. they told us there was a 4 hour wait, and that we should go home and wait to be called.
that night i had a meeting of an organization i belong to to go to. we were all stunned and very quiet. worried about one of our members whos a fireman. (i still don't know but think i would have heard by now if he were missing)
the next day schools were cancelled. i took my daughter to work with me. the bus was very, very quiet. as we crossed the bridge again we could see the plume of smoke. people crossed theselves, wiped their eyes.
they closed the library early and we are closing early for the rest of the week. there have been bomb threat hoaxes at some librarys, but not mine. that makes me angry, how could anyone do anything so sick at this time?
after work, went to donate blood again. they said they were only taking people who had been called in. i said i'd been away from home all day, and could they check if i was on the list? they said since i was there i might a well donate, so i did. the dr. told me her secretatarys husband was missing, almmost certainly dead. he'd called her after the first plane hit, to say he was out and ok, but since then, nothing.
my husband, whos a vetrinary technician, volunteered to be on-call to help with the search and rescue dogs, but so far hasn't been called.
my church was having a 110th anniversery celebratio, with a play that ydaughter was to be in, and the rehersal was last night. its all been cancelled.
my daughter and i counted over 150 american flags on the way home last night (i had to take her in with me even though schools were open. they had delayed opening, and i had to get to work long before). we bought some little plastic ones, and have one hanging out the window. i sewed a small cloth one on my backpack. unusal display for me. normally ostentatious displays of patriotism are not my style, but this feels right.
last night when it thundered, my first reaction was fear that it was a bomb or something. i hate feeling like this.
i feel a strange bleak numbness today.....
-- nicole (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
I thought I was just in shock and dismayed and worried and depressed. But yesterday when our tiny little airport opened, a man at the ticket counter told the agent, in all seriousness, "If I don't get my bag, I'm coming back as an assassin."
He was arrested on the spot and is being held on felony charges, but I find myself irrationally obsessed with the incident and furious with this idiot...all I can think of is how stupid and cruel he is, and how I hope he spends many, many years behind bars.
And I'm beginning to think he is just a convenient receptacle for a deeper anger. And fear.
-- Jody (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
I was sleeping peacefully in Central Ohio when the phone rang. Muttering and swearing, I answered it. My friend Abby: "Do you have the TV on!?" "What? No. Why?" "Just turn it on. Oh my God. Just turn it on." "Why!?" "A plane flew into the World Trade Center! Turn on the TV." And then we hung up. My first instinct, like so many others', was that it was an accident -- an errant plane gone haywire. As I turned on the TV, the phone rang and I answered it. "Yeah?" "Um...hi. Is Audrey [my roommate] there?" "Uh..no. She's at class. Can I take a message?" "This is her mom. Do you know what happened?" "Yes." "She is going to be upset. She is going to freak out. Tell her I called, okay?" "Sure thing..." And we hung up. And I started to watch the television as my sleep-addled brain tried, failingly, to make sense of the whole thing. I called my mom. She hadn't heard, so I tried to explain...and then I started to cry. "I'm scared, Mom! I'm so scared...." She didn't know what to say, so I hung up with her and went downstairs to Abby's room...she was in the hallway. She had been on her way to come to my room. We retreated to hers, and huddled together on the bed to watch as it unfolded. I had turned on the television right before the second tower fell. We sat, nearly silently, and I wondered how this could be happening -- what it meant. Tom Brokaw offhandedly mentioned something about going to war -- and that's when it hit me. One of my best friends, Jonathan, is a Junior at West Point Military Academy in New York. I'm even closer with his mother than I am with him, and I suddenly realized what this meant for him and his family -- that if we went to war, he would probably go. And also that he was at a huge, well-known MILITARY academy just north of NYC -- 52 miles, actually. So I screamed, "JONATHAN! EMILY [his mom]!" and sprinted upstairs, Abby trailing behind me, trying to figure out why I suddenly ran off. I got to my room, grabbed the phone and called Emily. She wasn't there, and I knew that was a good sign -- if she was still at work, she must be fairly okay. And then Jonathan got online. I couldn't believe it. I asked him what was going on up there, and he said they could see the smoke at West Point. He said, "Erin. This is awful." And then he had to go to a briefing. The second he left, I began to sob. My roommate came home, we hugged eachother and she called her family members -- her aunt worked at the WTC...they didn't know if she was okay. (She is.) I said, "Audrey, I want to go home. Do you want to go with me?" She nodded. So we drove the 3 and a half hours to my house in Northwestern Ohio -- I wanted my mommy. We came back to campus Wednesday night, and I talked with Jonathan again yesterday -- Thursday. He told me that on Wednesday he and 24 other cadets had volunteered to go to NYC to help with the search and rescue. He was horrified at what he saw. "Were you able to find anyone?" I asked. "No one alive," he answered. He told me about people running to him crying, begging him to find their grandchildren. About pulling the bodies of children out of the rubble. "The media is doing a really good job of keeping the awful reality out of it," he said. "I'm glad. America doesn't need any more reality right now," I answered. He agreed. Once more he said, "It's awful, Erin."
I'm thankful for him, and the thousands like him, who are willing -- and able -- to risk their lives and their sanity just to attempt to save the lives of others. He is incredibly beautiful and brave, and I'm very proud of him.
I'm scared for him. I'm scared for all of us. And I'm angry. I'm feeling the same emotions as so many others. And I'm glad we're all feeling them. I'm also feeling lost, alone, and helpless. Yes, I can give blood -- but they don't need blood right now. So many have offered theirs. I want to do something proactive...but I can't find anything proactive to do. And so I find myself sleeping, and staring off into space -- and wondering what will happen next.
-- Erin Copple (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
I was at work, doing my usual morning routine of reading email and web surfing. I logged onto Boston.com to read the days news, and saw the little box at the top of the screen: "Plane crashes into World Trade Center." I thought it had to have been an accident. Then a coworker walked by, listening to the radio on his headphones, and said told me that the second plane had just hit. I couldn't get into any news websites except Boston.com, and so I kept refreshing the page over and over -- each time there was more news, and each time it was worse. I sat at my desk whispering "Oh my God, oh my God" and shaking, trying to figure out what to tell the students who kept coming to the desk and asking me what was going on. My mom called to see if I was okay -- I assured her that everything was fine in Boston, but I was still scared to death. I still am, in fact.
-- Mary Ellen (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
(from Austin, TX) I was conferencing with my son's teacher when another teacher ran by, rather hysterical, and said "Did you hear what happened? A plane just hit the world trade towers, a kamikaze." She ran off and we looked at each other and he said, "Do you want to turn on the TV or finish up?" I said, "We can finish up, I'm sure it'll be on the TV all day long." I said, "I wonder who did it?" and he said, "Probably that Bin Laden guy, he's been threatening for years." We had no idea.
I left there and started driving to work, but listening to the local djs on the radio, I started to realize how big it was. There were reports of a fire at the Pentagon and a second plane hitting and a bomb at the Washington Mall, and they had no idea what was real. So I drove to Target and bought a little TV and took it into the office. When I walked in, my partner started to laugh, because I am always buying some ridiculous gadget or other, and here I walk in with a little TV.... she hadn't heard yet. We plugged it in and turned it on in time to see the second tower collapse. We watched it all day long.
I don't feel fear -- I'd fly tomorrow if I needed to, or go into a tall building -- but I feel incredible grief, though I knew no victims, and I also am affected by all the emotions floating around in the atmosphere: unfocused anger, helplessness, patriotism, compassion. Every time I see someone on TV or hear someone on the radio, full of emotion, whether I share it or not, it somehow infuses itself into me... exhausting.
How I'm handling it with the boys is another discussion. They are doing well. One thing I am doing is sneaking all of Will's GI Joes and army men out of his room. There are gonna be enough military images on the TV in the coming weeks; I don't want to do anything to heighten his fascination with army stuff.
It just seemed so harmless before Tuesday, playing with plastic tanks and army men, no more real than Pokemon. Now I'm reminded that it's very real, and very evil. "War is sad," I keep telling them now. "People die."
-- deb (email@example.com), September 14, 2001.
Like Kymm, I am a New Yorker, born and bred. My day started out normally enough. I took the subway into work. I got some breakfast, then went up to my office. As soon as I got to my desk, I overheard co-workers say that they'd heard over the radio that a plane had crashed into one of the WTC's towers. Figuring it to be a tragic accident, I went on with my work. Then a few minutes later, the same co-workers said that ANOTHER plane had crashed into the WTC. By then, I became frightened . Not long after, other people stated that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. I truly thought that this was Armeggeddon and started to cry. Some people tried to comfort me but it only worked to a limited extent. Some of us were concerned that we would be an indirect target because our office is directly across the street from the Empire State Building, another recognizable landmark. At around 10:15, we were ordered to evacuate. When I got outside, I could the smoke drifting across the sky. From FIFTH AVE and 34 ST, which is about 3 or 4 miles away. Since the subways had been shut down at this point and all the bridges and tunnels had been closed to vehicular traffic, the only way that I could get to my home in Brooklyn was to do it on foot. I walked across the 59th St bridge, then took two buses home once I got into Brooklyn. It took me 5 1/2 hours to get home after my office had been evacuated. My incovenieces are nothing compared to those who didn't make it. I was grateful to be alive, something I took for granted before.
There are no words to describe how surreal this all is. I am heartbroken over the fact that a part of my heritage is gone. Most of my waking thoughts over the past 4 days has been the disaster. While my immediate family and friends are okay, I say a prayer every day for my best friend's cousin. He's still among the missing. Sometimes, words are really inadequate to describe the magnitude of all this.
-- Vena (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 14, 2001.
Almost two weeks ago, I moved to Vancouver BC to attend graduate school. I only lived two hours away from the border and it's usually easy to cross, so it seemed like a fine decision.
On Tuesday morning, I got up with my alarm and was getting ready to head off to school when suddenly the phone rang. Sort of unusual to have it ring so early in the morning; I figured it was my parents. It was my boyfriend's mom, who simply said, "Do you have your TV on?" When I said "No..." she said "Do you have your TV set up yet?" When I said "Yes..." she said "Well, you should really turn it on." When I asked her why, she reluctantly told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Confused but concerned, I said I'd turn the TV on, and thanked her for calling.
I turned on the TV just as the second tower fell.
I contemplated not coming to school that day, but the only thing keeping me from sitting in my pajamas in front of the TV shocked all day was the committment to come to class. I wanted to be with other people, wanted to do something else, wanted to not think about it. I was too shocked to cry until the Canadian news channel announced that all borders were closed; it was impossible to get into the U.S. And when I realized I could not go home, I couldn't help but break down.
I managed to get to school, but there was no distraction to be had there. People were hushed and somber, classmates were surprised and suddenly quiet as I walked in the room. (I am one of two U.S. citizens in this class.) The instructors then cancelled our planned program for that morning and instead, we had about an hour and a half to just reflect on what had happened, saying things or simply sitting there in silence. I was on the verge of sobbing, tears flowing down my cheeks. And I have to say that the support I received from the other students was incredible. After we broke class that morning, there were a lot of hugs and support waiting for me.
Two days later, I managed to cross at a different border crossing and at least set foot on U.S. soil. A little thing, but very powerful. I'd never been to that particular border town before, but suddenly it was home.
I don't know anyone who is missing (at least I don't think I do). The people I do know in New York are fine. My worries now are that people I know in the service and in the reserves will be called into active duty, and if things progress further, both my boyfriend and my brother are of prime draft age. My reaction now is spotty--most of the time I am fine, sometimes I am somber, and sometimes I am sobbing.
Will we ever be the same?
-- Katie (email@example.com), September 15, 2001.
I work for the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville MD, just north of Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, I was in my regular staff meeting from 8:30-9:30. When the meeting broke up, I walked down the hallway and a group of our staff were gathered around a TV in one of our media rooms. When I walked in, there was a tape of the second plane hitting the tower. I guess I've seen it a hundred times by now and it makes my blood run cold every time.
I went to my office, which is on the twelfth floor and faces south toward Washington and, beyond that, the Pentagon. I called my wife at home and we exchanged what information we had and were just there for each other for awhile. While we were talking, I looked over my shoulder and saw a huge plume of black smoke to the south. At about that same time, it was announced that the Pentagon had been hit. There was so much smoke I thought the fire was much closer.
I called my sister in NY - she regularly has business in the Javits Center in lower Manhatten. I had heard that cell phones weren't working so I called her at home and left a message. It was a few hours before we heard from her and my brother-in-law, but they were both far removed from the disaster and fine. My brother-in-law's sister, though, had been in a meeting in a hotel conference room with a view of the Trade Center and she witnessed firsthand the second plane crash and the collapse of the towers. If possible, she is in deeper shock than the rest of us.
My building was evacuated soon after and I went home and sat like a zombie in front of the tv, and that's what I've been doing most of the time since. We took a break today though and went to a special memorial mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. It was comforting to be around so many people who were feeling the same emotions we were. And, when we sang "God Bless America", there were tears in every eye. It came to me later that the capacity crowd (5-6,000) present in the basilica, the 7th largest church in the world, was roughly equivalent to the number of people who died horribly in the collapse of the twin towers.
They say we have to get back to normal tomorrow. But, nothing feels normal to me right now. The people who did this challenge everything I've ever believed about human nature. My generation has always scoffed at the whole idea of the Devil but here he is after all.
-- Jon Arthur (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 16, 2001.
This is the first time I've done something other than just talk about the disasters. For me, writing about something makes it real, and I really don't want this to be real.
I've never been to New York. And out here in the provinces I wish I could really feel far removed from this horrible situation.
I listen to NPR in the mornings to wake up. I first thought that the report of a plane flying into the WTC was some surreal dream (I have some doozies waking up to news, let me tell you). So I turned over and snuggled down, confident that my dream would morph into the dinosaur on roller skates one in due time.
But it didn't.
I got up on and turned on the tv. Saw the second plane crash. Heard about the Pentagon. Watched the towers fall one after another and went before my shrine and down on my knees and begged god to make this stop.
I almost cried then, but couldn't. I envy those of you who have been able to cry. I want to, but my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has kicked in. Horrific things will do that. And all I can think about is all of the nearby witnesses, and all of you who will suffer PTSD now because of this. And I wish I could spare even one person the pain it can cause.
I feel numb. I want to feel something. I want to be angry, I want to cry. But I can't. And I thank all of you for your tears.
It's like we're all in a huge collective nightmare that we can't wake from. And worst of all, we can see more of the nightmare coming.
I worry a bit now, too. I don't want to be here, in Salt Lake. In a few months the Olympics will offer yet another tempting target. And I live and work within a half mile of the main venue. Frankly, I was hoping that they would reconsider hosting the Olympics, in light of the past week. But I heard this morning that the Olympics will go on as planned.
I worry about the security. I worry about the 'life in a bubble' attitude of most Utahns that nothing bad can ever happen here (after all, they are the 'chosen people'!).
I'm probably not making a lot of sense. So I guess at this point I will thank Kymm for having this space for us, for me, to talk.
Thanks Kymm! :)
-- Carol (email@example.com), September 17, 2001.
I am a writer, live in a small city in Oregon, and am fifty-five years old. I have made a commitment to writing, and I am in graduate school. I was directed here by a friend who has a journal on livejournal.com.
I have been unable to write fiction since Tuesday. Reality is stranger than fiction right now, and much more compelling. I have been watching a lot of TV this week, which I rarely do. Tuesday morning, my husband was having breakfast and watching some stock market news. I crawled out of bed to make him a latte, a joyful morning ritual to send him off to work. He looked up and waved me into the living room. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center," he said. Then as we watched, the second plane hit. Our eyes locked. In that moment, we knew this was intentional. A few years ago I had taken a weekend Buddhist workshop on the practice 'Tonglen,' which a breathing practice to transmute suffering. Instinctively I began that practice, and have been doing it ever since.
Shaken, my husband left for work, and I sat numb in front of the TV. I saw both buildings brought down. If I owned a sniffer dog--an interest I have always had but not fulfilled--I would be in New York right now. I am not aware of knowing anyone killed or hurt. And yet-- don't we know everyone? They are our neighbors, the people we pass in the grocery store.
I am hurt, angry, of course. But I am also terrified about the course this country might take. I believe it is our actions of the last few decades that have brought this tragedy upon us. Our corporations and the way we move in the world reeks of arrogance. I believe ignoring terrorism will not help, but the action to stop it needs to be carefully and deeply considered.
It has been six days, and my school commitments mount. I still feel unable to write fiction. I assume this will change over time.
For a few days we have been without hot water. I have been grateful just to have water! I think last Monday I might have moaned about it.
I thank each one of you for sharing. It helps to read the experiences of others. Skye
-- Skye Blaine (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 17, 2001.
I, too, have no close connections to NY save the journalers I read, and I've been devastated by the news. I'd been sick Tuesday morning and had gone back to sleep after Jake went to school... something I don't usually get to do, since we have an office here and the phone usually rings too much. I even turned down the ringers so I'd get at least a little sleep, and when I woke, it was to my cell phone ringing (it never rings) and I answered it -- my oldest son was calling from LSU, in a state of shock, telling me to turn on the TV. Which I did, just in time to see the second plane plumet into the building.
I don't think I uttered anything coherent for hours, except "oh my god" and I sat there, like Kim described, on the edge of the seat, unable to turn off the TV and unable to leave. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't believe it was real, I couldn't comprehend, and I hurt for all those families. Even after a couple of days, I just couldn't leave the TV, becasue I ached so much. I've cried more this last week than I have in my entire life, and I find myself still, here on Monday, unable to even speak about it without feeling sick and feeling like I'm going to start crying again. How do I explain something like this reaction I've had, here in the deep south, where I'm so far from the horrible event? Maybe it's seeing these people, these brothers and sisters and moms and dads hold up photos of their loved ones, begging for any information, holding out hope against hope that, "We know they're out there, we just have to find them and bring them home and everything's going to be okay." And it's not, and we know it's not, and it's breaking my heart. I see the heroism, the kindnesses all over NY and Washington, and I want to tell each and every one of them how proud we are of them, how much we love them, how much a part of our greater family they are. It's the big gestures (the men digging) and the small ones (the little girl who made peanut butter sandwiches for the families standing in line) that amaze me and rend my heart in two.
There were debates among groups I've belonged to for a while about what should be done and how, and lots of raging tempers and fury and frustrations. And through it all, the people in NY quietly persevere on, keeping on helping, keeping on being tough, and I admire them so much.
I hope they know. I hope they see. I will never forget.
-- toni (email@example.com), September 17, 2001.
If you want, you can light a virtual candle and send a short message -- I think at the time I'm sending this, there are upwards of 370,000+ candles lit.
(I hope I did that html right... Kymm?)
-- toni (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 18, 2001.
Nope, entirely wrong, but it's all fixed now.
-- Kymm Zuckert (email@example.com), September 18, 2001.
Thanks, Kymm. I cross posted that on Beth's forum and saw how she fixed it. My brain refuses to remember html. It thinks it's math or something.
-- toni (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 18, 2001.
I was in the school I work in. My co-worker came running in..."Did you hear what happened?! A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!!" She had just arrived from the school office where a teacher and a parent were sobbing. One had a daughter who worked @ WTC, the other had a relative there. Then we heard about the Pentagon. That was the first moment I felt scared. We asked the custodian to unlock the library (where there is a big screen t.v.) We turned the set on and all three of us sat in that large, quiet room in front of that insanely large screen and watched our world crack and shatter. We saw the tower just implode and I will never forget that shocking, hopeless image. Quite a few parents came to pick up their children at school. This act really frightened the children who were left behind. Most of the afternoon was spent talking to the kids and assuring them they were safe (Were they?!?) I called my Mom (who is from NYC) and went thru the list of relatives and friends, most of whom live in the city. They were all accounted for. My husband is a Firefighter. We "knew" that the FDNY, NYPD and EMS would all be under that pile of rubble. My husband said that that type of collapse is called a "pancake" collapse and would allow little room for pockets of air. Little chance of survival. "only a miracle..." I work in a parochial school so our children were allowed to pray that day. It was so sad. Everyone is so Sad. People are in a state of shock. People are going down in droves to the city. But I think that is making it harder on the FDNY. This is their territory. We live in Connecticut and it seems everyone knows someone missing. The kids at school made the most beautiful projects expressing their feelings. One child made at least a dozen "skyscrapers" out of primary colored cardboard, all of various sizes, to look like a city block. Then stretched from one side of the"city" to another was a stark white banner upon which was scrawled in a nine year olds handwriting "Let there be Peace on Earth". That is when I first felt like crying. I still haven't cried. I want to. It is now one week later and people seem to be either angry or so very, very sad.
-- Theresa (TMarieM480@aol.com), September 18, 2001.
I was working at home (outside Philadelphia) on Tuesday. I snapped on the TV to check the news and weather, and they had the cameras on the first tower, and just as I sat down, I saw the second plane hit. I sat there for the next five or so hours, watching in absolute disbelief. It was a bad time to be alone. My friends at work were listening; they had no access to TV. In retrospect, I think it would have been better for me to be here with them, not watching the towers collapse live.
I called the Red Cross early on and they told me to come in, since my blood type was O-. After I did that, I felt better, but not by much. I wnet right back to the TV.
I have friends and family in NYC, although no one was close to the site. I was afraid for them, though. I was afraid for the New York journalers I read. I was just plain afraid. My mom called late in the evening, and when I heard her voice, I wanted to five years old again, so I could crawl into her lap and she could make everything better.
I wonder how long it will take before I can watch a plane crossing above Liberty 1 and Liberty 2, our towers in Philadelphia, and not wonder if something is going to happen.
I've cried more in the past week than I have in the past year, and when I think there are no more tears, I see something else that brings them on. I've been able to function, mostly, but I just don't feel right.
-- Elle (email@example.com), September 20, 2001.
I was driving to work at Orangeburg Tech, a small tech college in South Carolina. My first class begins at 9:30. Just before I got to school I heard the radio announcer say in a soothing voice, "There's been a plane hitting the World Trade Center. Now here is some music to soothe you." I pulled up and ran into my classroom and pulled up cnn.com My students and I just sat around frantically trying to get something on the net and nothing was coming up, all sites blocked. I called the technician and asked him to come check the volume control. He said he was busy but that there was a tv set over at the library. We all eyed each other and ran for the library. When we got there the second trade center was just going down and I was absolutely in shock. People just sat around watching, stunned. I had class at 11:00 and at 12:30. Other professors were TEACHING THEIR CLASSES. I cancelled both classes. At 10:50 one of my students was waiting outside the classroom and I told him class was cancelled and he just stared at me blankly. I said, Paul, this is a day that you will tell your grandchildren about. New York and Washington are under attack." He just stared at me and slowly walked off. I didn't cry until the next day. I used to live 6 blocks from the WTC at Independence Plaza. And the NIGHT BEFORE I had bought tickets to fly to NYC Columbus Day weekend. The night before. We are going...
-- Lorrie Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 24, 2001.