Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Navel Gaze

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," recording a navel gaze on the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers. The tragedy happened well before I began writing "The Gods Are Bored" -- just about the time when the Old Ones began a gentle tug on my soul.

First, the politics. I am one of those people who think we ought to examine this tragedy with a touch of hubris. Why did this happen in the first place? I ponder. One thing I believe to be absolutely true. The terrorists won. Our economy was already on the brink of a downward curve, and 9/11 just pushed things over the edge. You can feel differently if you like, but anyone with a drop of Scottish blood will tell you that a few determined warriors can plunge a mighty nation into bankruptcy.

Just an opinion. Opinions are entitlements.

On September 11, 2002, I was working at the job I loved -- writing -- at home, sitting just where I am now. In those days I had recently completed a long gig for ESPN. I had a t.v. on my desk, all hooked up to the cable. Mr. Johnson called me on the phone and told me to turn the t.v. on. When I did, one tower was already in flames, and the second plane was just tearing into the other one. Honestly, dear readers, my jaw dropped. Literally.

I watched the horror unfold, and then the little Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder said, "Get back to work!"

Just at that moment, the announcers said another plane had crashed in "rural southern Pennsylvania." That's where my farm is.

So I watched on, in ever-increasing horror, until the shock turned to rage. I turned the t.v. off and went back to my mundane reference book work. Damn if I was going to let terrorists keep me from earning a wage!

Of course I couldn't work. I was too horrified. And then it was time to go pick up The Spare from school.

The Spare was in second grade. Chances are she is one of the youngest Americans who will actually remember 9/11.

The elementary school was within an easy walking distance of Chateau Johnson. Almost every day a crowd of moms would be gathered in front of the school, waiting for dismissal. (I never let Spare walk home alone until she was in Middle School.) On this day there were easily ten times the usual number of parents on the lawn. One of them was weeping. Her brother-in-law had been on the 80th floor -- his first visit ever to the World Trade Center.

When the bell rang, I witnessed something I'll never forget. The kids came charging out as usual. They hadn't been told about the tragedy. But we parents knew. We rushed our children, grabbed them and held them tight. Rare was the child who didn't have a parent, or aunt, or older sibling, crushing his ribs.

I held onto the Spare for dear life. It turned out that her teacher had been called from the classroom. The teacher's daughter had been scheduled to take one of those flights and hadn't made it to the airport on time. Of all the classes in the school, Spare's was the only one that had an inkling it hadn't been an ordinary day.

Spare remembers. She remembers me telling her to go upstairs and not watch any channel but Nickelodeon. But when she turned on my upstairs t.v., of course it came onto the news channel, and she never switched.

Heir was in sixth grade. Her school had an assembly. The principal told them what was happening. She came home with a million questions.

The rest of the day is a blur. What chiefly stands out for me was seeing this horror unfold, stubbornly and angrily returning to work (Appalachian trait), and then grabbing my little one for dear life (human trait).

There are crazy people out in the world. Real psychos, who cling to any religious fervor that feeds their inner demons. Beware of these people. They come from every praise and worship team known to humankind. We never know when they will go over the tipping point and start blowing stuff up.

When a place like Norway isn't safe from terror, why should America not stand on guard against every lunatic fringe?


Aquila ka Hecate said...

I was being interviewed on that day for the job I still hold, and then I had a nap, not waking until late afternoon over here. I heard about it on the radio.
My son was in the air, flying to my brother in England, where he also still is.
In a way, I've been a bit frozen in time since then.

Terri in Joburg

Lady Grace Dreamweaver said...

I had been laid off from what was to be my last technical writing job. The dot com crash was happening, and I was job hunting. That morning, my best friend called and said I needed to turn on the tv. I watched with horror as the second tower was hit. I sat in my recliner, frozen, for the rest of the day.

Your comment about the economy hits hard for me. That was the first of four layoffs. My standard of living has dropped with each. I admit to feeling bitter about the struggle to just pay the bills.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

It was a life-changing day, that's for sure.

Michael said...

Bin Laden won. They spent how much total for that operation? How much have WE spent in blood and treasure and what made us America ever since? Yes, they won. I lost my country. The nation I was born in remains in name only.

Bukko Canukko said...

You can be younger than a second grader and still remember where you were during moments of great tragedy. I was coming home from kindergarten when JFK was assassinated, and I recall clearly how so many adults were sitting outside in the courtyard of the apartment complex where we were living inside the Washington Beltway in Alexandria, Va. listening to their radios. (That's where you turned to get more up-to-date coverage of fast-breaking events back then.) I knew it was some bad stuff that had happened, but at the same time during the next week, I was bummed that the boring, non-stop comiserating on TV meant that "Captain Kangaroo" would not be showing.

As far as "Where were you?" goes, I first got an inkling when I was trying to donate blood. (Which I was not allowed to do because my temperature was too high on a sweltering day on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Just as well, because so much blood got given during the next week that many units wound up being thrown out.) There was a bloodmobile on the campus of Manatee Community College, where I was taking classes to earn my RN degree. (I was already a licensed practical nurse, so I only had to go to school for one more year.) A TV in the blood trailer was showing footage of the first tower to be hit. Later on, school let out early because of the overwhelming scardeyness.

Sorry if it seems like gloating, but my income hasn't suffered a bit since 2001, because hospital nursing in the places I've lived has been in high demand. In fact, since my wife and I decided to leave America after Chimpy and the Weasel got re-selected in 2004, we've done amazingly well. Sold our house in San Francisco at the peak of the bubble, cashed out my wife's University of California pension because we figured the bastards at the top were going to figure out some way to screw future retirees... We've gotten to live in Australia and Canada, we travel to Switzerland regularly to, ahem, "visit the vault..." We own our current comfortable lifestyle to our vehement rejection of George Fucking Bush, may he burn in Hell, except there isn't one. Bummer about that.

Anne Johnson said...

Bukko, that's very interesting. Mr. Johnson has talked about cashing out pension funds and taking it on the lam for some foreign country. I'm sure I would love Canada, if they would have me.

Anonymous said...

Seems like David at third world County has lost his marbles