Friday, September 11, 2009

My 9/11/01 Diary, Part One

Long-time "Stoogeswoman" fans know that I took 9/11 VERY SERIOUSLY. There wasn't anything to laugh about on that horrible day. Which is why I'm so grateful to CNN for giving us a much-needed chuckle this morning. Thanks, guys & gals, for truly being the "Check News? Never!!" network!

In some ways it seems like 9/11/01 was a long time ago - and then you come across something that brings it all back. This morning I found a diary entry I'd written. This was before I had multiple blogs to do this sort of thing in.

The entry is in a notebook I'd bought, according to my first entry on 9/3/01, to chronicle my very confused love life. At the time, I had just broken up with a guy I didn't really care about that much, and was still nurturing forlorn hopes that I might get back together with another guy I'd really been seriously in love with. As things turned out, he was the "Mr. Big" to my "Carrie", only with one of the "alternate endings" in which he dumped her.

But I was still hopeful, and according to my diary entry of 9/3/01, "Until the pain of NOT being with him outweighs the pleasure of BEING with him - I'd rather take my chances. Am I nuts or what??"

(Um ... "what", dear Stoogeswoman of the past, definitely "what"!)

Anyway - flip the page, and here's the next entry:

September 11, 2001 ... (about 10 a.m.)

"... day that will live in infamy ..."
and we are all wondering what's next.

I woke up to the radio at 5:30 a.m., as usual. KNX 1070, my favorite station. I listened to the headlines. Nothing major, no dead movie stars or anything. So I hit the snooze alarm and got an extra 9 minutes of pleasant drowsing. It would be the last pleasant minutes of the day ...

When the radio came back on I heard the words "breaking news ... we're switching live to our affiliate in New York ...", a lot of confusion, voices, then the startling news that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. Hmm, well, very sad, I thought, and flashed onto an old "Simpsons" episode - the one where Homer's car is illegally parked at the Towers and he's running back and forth trying to get to the bathroom before he gets another ticket. I've never been to NY so that's the most vivid image I have of the Twin Towers. I get up, dress and get ready to go to work, still listening. It's still at the point where it's "oh, too bad, a plane crash; hope no one's hurt."

(I just had to stop writing because on Fox News they showed a tape of people leaning out the windows of the building, still hoping for rescue - then, the announcer said, a lot of them just jumped out to end their misery. God, oh god.)

Anyway ...

I gt in my car and drove through the quiet streets of North Hollywood to the subway station, still listening to the radio. I switched from KNX to 89.3, the NPR station, but they weren't talking about it so I switched back. Now, of course, the 2nd tower had been hit and the reporters were obviously getting caught up in "ohmigod" mode. So it seemed pretty serious. I wondered if I should get on the subway, but figured they'd have shut it down if there were a serious threat.

When I got to the office I decided to go upstairs and get my little portable TV out of my desk so I could watch the news while I ate my breakfast. See - even at this point - I still thought - as bad as it was - that it was "just" a plane crash. A really bad one of course, but still, planes do crash so ...

When I got to my area, Theresa
[my boss] was there and listening to the radio. She told me that the Pentagon had been hit, and that's when I understood it was a lot worse than "just" a plane crash. This was war. This was the beginning of something.

As Theresa was talking, my phone rang - a double ring for an outside call, so I answered it. It was my mom. She was worried about me being at work and wanted to know if I was watching all this. I told her I was still finding out what was going on but that I was sure we would be okay. I told her I'd talk to her later.

I went downstairs to my little "hiding place" - the cot room next to the coffee room on 45, taking with me a "vending machine" breakfast - two Rice Krispies bars and a Coke. (I got the REAL stuff - caffeine and NON-diet - figured I'd need it!), then I settled in and started watching the unbelievable - but very real - horror in NYC. I couldn't believe it, just kept saying out loud, "God, oh my God, oh Jesus, oh shit." Just like the rest of us at that point.

Then - as I was watching ABC with Peter Jennings - the 2nd Tower collapsed. They were both gone. I'd never gotten to visit them - only seen them in a cartoon - and now they were gone.

And the worst part was knowing all the people who were there, inside. People like me, just trying to make a living, just going to work and doing their best. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

It was 7:30, and I didn't have to start working till 8, but I couldn't watch any more, so I just decided to go back upstairs, start working, and maybe they'd let us leave early. As I headed for the elevator, I passed 3 men coming in to work, talking about it. I told them the 2nd Tower had just collapsed, and they were shocked.

I want to be very honest here, as sometimes you read stories about historical events and you have a hard time identifying with the people involved. So maybe this will make it more real to you, if I tell you that even as horrified and sad as I felt, I also felt kind of a perverse pleasure at being the bearer of bad news to people who hadn't heard it yet. I knew it was awful to feel that way even at the time, but I still felt it. I'm sorry ...

Anyway ...

When I got back upstairs Theresa was still listening to the radio and I went to my computer to get online. Yahoo! News was still up at that time but only had one brief story - "Plane hits World Trade Center," nothing else. I checked my email, then went to my chat board and wrote a little message asking everyone, no matter what their beliefs, to pray/send good thoughts or whatever, for all the people who were suffering. As I finished, Carolyn Mertes
came over and told us the building was shutting down, and that Greg Moore (managing partner) had confirmed we should all go home.

Carolyn needed a taxi voucher so Theresa decided to stay a little while longer in case anyone else needed one. I was only too glad to get out. Everyone on the elevator was talking about it, and I got to be the 1st one to offer the cliche about how this must be what Pearl Harbor was like. At that point till I got back to my car, I got overwhelmed by sadness and fear. I met a few co-workers coming up the hill, told them about the closure and some of them turned around to go back (Dee Bunce was one). Some people, who obviously hadn't heard the news, thought it was a joke and went on. I shrugged - they'd find out too soon.

(Go to Part Two here)

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