Friday, September 11, 2009

My 9/11 Diary, Part Two

(Continued from Part One here - my diary entry from September 11, 2001, that "day that will live in infamy" - and keep in mind I'm writing this at about 10 a.m. California time):

The ride home on the subway seemed to take forever, even though it was the normal 20 minutes. I tried to read my book ("The Perfect Storm"), but really couldn't concentrate, so just gave up and stared out the window. When I got back to North Hollywood I walked to my car feeling what we were all feeling that morning, I'm sure - walking wounded.

I drove back to my apartment. At first I thought about going over to the cemetery and just watching my little TV for a while, but I had to go to the bathroom, and anyway I wanted to call my folks and let them know I'd gone home. I parked my car and started towards the building when I noticed a beautiful yellow-and-white cat sitting a few spaces away. I smiled and wiggled my fingers, and it sat down, but didn't approach me. I cautiously walked towards it but it sprinted under a parked car, so I gave up and went inside (see, I'm always hoping to get a stray cat to follow me home - and this would be a good day for it.)

After picking up my mail (Mom's invitation to Grandpa's birthday party) I went upstairs and into my apartment. Tried to phone Mom but her line was busy. So I got online and sent her an e-mail to let her know I was home and OK. Then I tried to find some news, but Yahoo and Drudge were down.

I went to Internet Infidels' chat group and saw a few posts but after making my own statement, I just decided to sign off. Called Mom again and this time got through. We rehashed all the news and I asked about Laura. Was VERY relieved to hear - she was OK. Her furniture store is only 5 blocks from the Towers, but she didn't go there. She was watching it from a rooftop - I guess from her apartment building. I was so relieved she was OK. Then Mom said she'd heard something about shopping malls being closed. Even in the horror we were able to joke - that if we can't go shopping we KNOW it's serious!

I don't really know what else to write. I'm sitting here watching TV and wondering what else is going to happen, just like everyone else. But it seems like, if I could somehow send this notebook back in time, even just a few months ago, it would seem like a science fiction story. It still seems like that now, as I'm watching the pictures. Just unbelievable.

But it really did happen.

And now - life goes on. I'm hungry. I'm going to "nuke" a frozen dinner and totally go off my diet today. Because the whole world has changed. But I'm hungry.

I have to add this - I just switched to The Weather Channel to get a break from The Terror - and the weather guys are very somber, wearing black suits, and saying things like, "Weatherwise, at least, it's calm on the East Coast." They look very sad.

Oh, and I'm happy to report all the news stations have already got their graphics up - CBS's is "Attack on America"; CNN - "America Under Attack"; Ch. 7 (ABC) is also using "America Under Attack"!. Other networks will follow suit, I'm sure.

Bits & pieces:
  • The MTA is closing the Red Line at 1 PM for one hour. Good thing I'm home.
  • All the amusement parks are closed - Disneyland, Knotts, Universal.
  • Three of the 4 planes that crashed were bound for L.A.
  • The schools are still open - poor kids!
  • The U.S.-Mexico border is closed. Ha! That made me laugh. If it doesn't stop the gardeners, it's not gonna stop the terrorists! (They just said it's reopened, but slow.)
My feeling about the plane that went down in Pennsylvania - that wasn't the plan, it was aiming somewhere else but failed. Maybe the crew, the passengers, stopped it from reaching its goal. And they just said, someone in the plane called 911 on his cell phone to say they were being hijacked.

Wow - QVC, the shopping channel, has suspended its broadcast "in light of these events." Now you know it's big when they stop selling! (HGTV too, and the Food Channel)
And that ... is where my 9/11/01 entry ends. There are more entries, another one on 9/14 where I repeat the phrase everyone else was saying, "The whole world changed this past Tuesday"; and this:

We're now saying, "the attacks of two weeks ago", and soon it'll be "last month", "last year", "ten years ago" ...

And here we are, dear Stooges Women (and Men), at the 9 year anniversary, and what has changed? Do you feel any safer? I don't, really.

And yet it's certainly NOT because there aren't brave men and women out there, putting their lives on the line every second, trying to keep us safe. So to them, and to their counterparts who died on that day, I have two words that are totally inadequate, yet heartfelt:


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)