Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Bloggers Block

September 19, 2008

Been doing too much writing (and twittering) elsewhere these days. I don’t have much left to add here? Which is NOT normal for my normally chatty self.

Instead.
I’m cheating today.
Again.

A selection of knitted cupcakes
Photo by 49333775@N00

But it’s worth it I promise. Head over to BlissfullyDomestic.com where I wrote about THESE! Yes, in the crafty section? They keep telling me that’s where I fit? I guess I’m not cool enough for the Fashion Parade?

AND!! I got my prize in the mail today. THANK YOU DOT!

Even more thanks to all of YOU for voting for me. I think that was the real prize. Knowing that you executed random acts of voting –for me, just because I asked you to. I promise I won’t forget. Try me..

Photobucketure-one-1.jpg” alt=”Photobucket” border=”0″ />

Advertisements

My Husband’s 9/11 Story

September 11, 2008

He said I could print it here, and it’s long. And it’s worth it. Here’s my version.

One thing was how, around 11 in the morning, there was absolutely no traffic on the streets. Another thing was the smoke, at first a gigantic plume and then sort of everywhere. And the feeling of despair, loneliness and helplessness. And then the days, weeks and then months of flyers, posters, pictures, almost all with a face or a family photo, always with the same message: “believed to have been in the World Trade Center on 9/11, someone said they saw him being taken away in an ambulance, please call if you have seen him.”

Just thinking about how beautiful it was that morning in Maplewood, New Jersey makes me tear up, the stunningly gorgeous prelude to a universally sickening day. Seven years ago, Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

I lived in northern New Jersey, about 15 miles west/southwest of Manhattan. Lovely two-story colonial, a very short drive to the New Jersey Transit station, a nearly four year-old preschooler attending the Weekday Nursery School in South Orange, a nine-month old baby girl, and a wonderful wife trying very hard after only one year of my working for a large New York City law firm to deal with practically being a single parent, given the type of hours I was working. From the Maplewood train station, I had about a 35-40 minute ride into New York Penn Station (“NYP” as abbreviated by NJ Transit), and then depending on how I felt, the weather, or the shoes I was wearing, either a 14 block walk uptown to 1585 Broadway, at the northern end of Times Square, or a short, two-stop ride on the 1 or 9 train to 49th and Broadway.

I basically had two real choices for the commute – either an 8:25 train or an 8:50 train. There were earlier trains, all known as the MidTOWN DIRECT on the Morris & Essex line, but it really didn’t matter too much because regardless of how early I got to work I was going to be there until midnight or later. And the nice thing about being a lawyer in New York was that nobody really cared what time you got there, as long as it was before 10 and as long as you acknowledged that there was no quitting time, just convenient stopping points that you could take advantage of to decide to leave. For whatever reason that morning, I left home around 8:30 and drove to the station to catch the 8:50 train. Kissed the wife and girls good-bye and took off into the just-getting-cooler late summer morning.

The train station was uneventful, bought a bottle of diet Coke from Joyce at the coffee stand, put it in my soft leather briefcase, and assumed a standing position at where I hoped one of the train doors would stop, briefcase on the asphalt between my feet, New York Times in hand, waiting for the train. How stupid I was all those years to be spending so much time – so much time – waiting for a train.

The train only made a few stops before NYP – South Orange, Orange, Brick Church, Newark Broad Street, and then the long stretch across the Passaic River, the Newark marshes, past the still-under-construction Secaucus transfer station, and then if lucky a smooth trip under the Hudson River into New York City. If unlucky, you’d sit and wait while an Amtrak train or two passed by, since Amtrak owned the tracks and got priority use.

Shortly after leaving Broad Street, the train tracks run sort of parallel to the New Jersey Turnpike, and then along 495, leading cars to the Lincoln tunnel. The train car was not too crowded (another attraction of the 8:50), with only a few people standing near the doors as the train barreled toward Manhattan. It would have been about 9:05 in the morning. The mood was normal, some people buried in their papers, some trying to catch some more sleep, others engaged in animated conversations. I recognized a few “regulars” from Maplewood, nothing unusual. One guy had his headphones in, listening to what faintly sounded like a sports show on the radio.

Just a couple of minutes past Broad Street, I looked out the window to the north and noticed traffic was stopped heading toward the Lincoln Tunnel. No biggie. Then I noticed that traffic was stopped on purpose, and people were standing on the south side of the road, shading their eyes and looking south toward the bay or lower Manhattan. Tons of people, pulled off to the side of the road. Traffic in the main flow was fine.

At that moment, the guy seated across from me, his cell phone rang. He answered it quickly. He listened, his face turned white (well, he was a white guy but his face got even more white), and then he stood up and abruptly bent over to look out the window on the right side of the train car. He said “Oh my God,” and sat down and folded his phone. I seriously thought he was having a heart attack, he was sweating so bad and shaking. Uncharacteristically for the morning commute, I leaned over and said, “hey, are you okay? Do you need some water or some air?” He said “no, that was my wife and she said the radio is saying that a small airplane had hit into the World Trade Center, and that another plane in the area did the same thing.” I said “huh?” – how does one plane crash into a building, let alone two planes. I said to him “one plane is an accident but two planes, that’s terrorism.”

The guy with the headphones (who I frequently ran into several times in the next three years and whose face always reminded me of that day) turned his radio dial quick and was listening intently. He took a few seconds, took out his earphones and told me and the other guy that 1010 WINS was saying that a plane had crashed into one of the towers, but that they were getting reports that two planes had crashed.

I looked back out the window to the left, saw all the people staring south, and then stood up and bent over to look south. The day was so clear: I saw two gigantic candlesticks, the tops in flame, and a huge plume of black smoke rising from each, merging somewhere before Staten Island. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I said, both towers are burning. That’s impossible. I said, that’s not an accident, that is terrorism.

(Short explanation: I had first visited NYC in June 1988, and returned in September 1989 and lived in New York until July 1991. I returned to NYC in August 1995 and eventually lived in the NYC metro area until April 2004. So, I had missed the 1993 WTC bombing, but had intently followed the news stories and so I knew that terrorists already had tried once to take down the towers.)

I reached into my pocket for my cell phone, dangit! My wife and I only had one cell phone at the time (and that had only come after a lot of discussion about the fact that we’d never get rid of it if we got it). We didn’t think two were necessary, just one for me to have to take to work and to call if a train was late or I needed to make a personal call. My wife had the phone because she needed it that night and knew I wouldn’t be home in time.

For a few moments everything happened slowly. The dude listening to the radio, the other guy sweating and trying to call his wife back, the people pulled off the interstate, and the rest of the people on the train oblivious to what was happening. The enormity of it took what seemed like a long time to sink in. And then it hit me: New York City was under attack by terrorists and we were going there! I thought about where to find the conductor, whether to go up to the engineer, and see what they thought about us going to New York with a disaster taking place. And all those people who didn’t know what was going on, laughing, talking sports, sleeping – you idiots – what should we do? I thought several times about pulling the emergency brake – yeah, that would have been a story, but maybe I’d get away with it and the train could turn around and go back to Newark. (You know it’s a big deal if someone prefers to go to Newark instead of New York, that’s pure desperation, reserved only for true emergencies.)

I didn’t pull the cord. We started under the river. I started praying, but I didn’t even know what to pray for. I didn’t know if this was a one-time deal, if the danger was over, if I was going to be able to get back on a train and go back home once I got to NYP, or if I should just go to my office. I actually thought about how much trouble I might get in at work if I didn’t show up. Imagine.

When we got to NYP, at around 9:18 or 9:20, that decision had been made for me. They were announcing that all commuter train traffic in and out of Penn Station was stopped. There were TVs on all around Penn Station, all broadcasting New York One (the NYC all news station). It was hard to hear, but it was clear that planes had hit into each of the towers.

I thought I’d better just get to my office, call my wife, and sit it out. I also thought that the last place I should be in an emergency was on a subway train, so I decided to walk even though it was a bad shoe day.

Surfacing to street level, I was amazed that foot traffic was virtually stopped, everyone looking south at what even from 3.5 miles away was clearly a major disaster. Police, fire trucks, and ambulances were all racing south, even on streets that were one-way north. I walked north past 34th Street, 35th, 36th, 37th, stopping every so often to turn around and look downtown. I didn’t know what to think – I was there, just a few miles away, but I also felt far removed from it all. Today I regret that not once did I have the thought that maybe somehow I should go downtown and see if I could help. Not once.

By the time I reached Times Square, 42nd Street, it was just too weird. It was too quiet, there were too few people on the street, and there was none of the usual commotion. I stopped in the middle of Times Square, about 80% empty, and watched the big screen across the street, no sound but it had subtitles. They were discussing the plane crashes, and showing a picture of the site of the crash. I couldn’t quite tell what angle they were shooting from because it didn’t look too familiar and the smoke was too white. Several times I looked downtown to the giant candles and their black smoke, and became more confused. I wondered if they were shooting from Staten Island toward Manhattan, or maybe from Jersey City? All of a sudden the words caught up with the video, and it wasn’t New York City at all – they were showing footage of the Pentagon, what the heck, the Pentagon? The announcers were saying a plane had hit the Pentagon? What? How in the heck? And then they were saying that they had received word that a bomb had just gone off at the State Department? Another. “what?”

And then I suddenly became very conscious of where I was – smack dab in the middle of Times freaking Square, in the middle of New York City, the largest city in the United States. I entertained a quick thought, “if I were a terrorist and wanted to kill people, I would crash a plant into Times Square. Maybe even first after creating a diversion downtown.” I turned and began to jog toward my office building a half-dozen blocks away.

I finally got to my building, the Morgan Stanley building (it’s the one you see all the time on TV commercials and TV shows and movies, with the three electronic tickers across the front of the building, all moving at different speeds). My law firm was sandwiched on about 10 floors in the middle of the building between all the Morgan Stanley people. I walked inside the lobby, pulled out my ID and swipe card, and headed toward the turnstiles by the elevators. I didn’t get ten steps across the lobby when a security guard told me I had to leave. I showed him my ID and told him I worked there and needed to go to my office, but he said the building was being evacuated and that everyone had to get out NOW. Well, I had another selfish thought, what the hell am I supposed to do now? I don’t have my cell phone, I can’t go to my office, I’m wearing bad shoes, and I can’t leave Manhattan. (Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was not just commuter trains that had been stopped – all car and train traffic into and out of Manhattan had been stopped. The bridges were closed, the tunnels were closed. I really was stuck.)

I wandered west on 47th Street, where I ran into a co-worker. I told him they had closed the building and I was going to go try to find a pay phone. He said he had been in the office, had left to get coffee, and was going to try to get back in. I never found out if he did, or if he just went home. I walked across 8th Avenue to a bar on the corner, where people were crowded inside watching the news on TV. I watched a bit, saw what the chaos was and decided I better try to call my wife. There were two payphones on the corner (remember those?). I of course had no change, but I had a calling card. But that just meant more numbers to dial and more numbers to screw up, as the day progressed. Several times I got a fast busy and couldn’t get a line, and so I’d wait, let someone else try, and then try again. Nobody was getting through. I kept trying to figure out if I had the phone numbers of any friends who worked in the city that I could call and maybe go crash at their office for a bit, but realized all my contacts were on my computer at work (no Blackberry at that time). The one number I had was for my friend Robin, who worked a few blocks away. Surely I could go hang with her if I could get a hold of her. I tried several times, no luck. Tried my home number in Jersey, no luck. Tried the cell phone, no luck. Tried Robin again and it rang. Her secretary picked up, I explained I was a friend of Robin’s and asked if I could talk to her. She said that Robin had decided to work from home on Long Island today and wasn’t in the office. I asked the secretary her name and she said Valerie. I said, “Valerie, I know you have no idea who I am, but I am a friend of Robin’s and worked with her for two years. I can’t get a hold of my wife, I don’t have a cell phone, and it took me about 40 minutes to get a hold of anybody, and you’re it. Would you mind, if I gave you my home number, calling my wife and telling her I’m fine and I’ll be home as soon as I can?” She said of course she would. And she did. I wish I would have saved that tape recording of her voice on my answering machine as a reminder of the kindness showed to me that day in my desperation. (My wife didn’t get that message for an hour or two after it was left, but she DID get it.)

I went back to the bar, got a diet Coke (free, courtesy of the barkeep), and tried to decide what to do. I couldn’t remember where exactly any of my other friends worked, let alone their numbers. I finally remembered where one worked, but when I went to the building about five blocks away, the building, like mine, was locked down. Nobody was going in.

I finally convinced myself to think rationally and logically. I was stranded. I was diabetic and eventually would have to have some food, although if worse came to worse I could survive for days and have no problem. So that was basically a non-factor, although I had to convince myself of that. I only had about twenty dollars on me, and if things were bad – no electricity and bad phone lines – we might be a in cash-only society for a few days. I had no place to go, but knew if I hung outside my friend’s building, I’d eventually see him (although an hour and a half of waiting later that afternoon proved that theory a bit unworkable).

I went to the ATM and got out $300 in cash. Good. I stopped and grabbed lunch at a pizzeria when I realized that for some reason the stores were closing. Whey were the stores closing? I had, and still have, no idea. Places like Duane Reade and CVS that were open 24 hours were closed. McDonalds were closed. So I had lunch while I could, and then found a deli where I stocked up on a box of granola bars.

I finally decided to walk uptown to Cornell University Medical College (CUMC), where my wife had worked for three years when I was in law school, to see if her old boss was there (and who had shown us unbelievable kindness and generosity over those years), and see if I could just hang out in the lab. I had begun my walking (bad shoes, remember) at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, already had re-traced my steps several times back to that payphone, and was on about 8th Avenue and 49th Street when I had this idea. CUMC is on 66th Street and York Avenue, on the Upper East Side. I was on the West side. I cut through Central Park.

The barren streets still get me. That and masses of people that occasionally appeared, walking uptown in the middle of the street. And the fighter jets – I don’t know if they were F-16s or F-15s, but they flew low across the city several times that day, scaring the beejesus out of me each time – crazy me for thinking that perhaps more planes were on their way to crash into buildings.

I got to CUMC and by a stroke of fortune – and acting like I knew exactly where I was going and who I was going to see – the security guard let me in with my ID and signing a log-in sheet. Lucky indeed. The PA kept breaking in, announcing that all employees and visitors were being encouraged to go to a certain location in NY Hospital next door to give blood because they were expecting a deluge of emergency and severe trauma cases any moment. (Those trauma cases never came, at least nowhere near the expected volume. There weren’t that many injuries. Everyone was dead.)

I got upstairs and luckily Bill was there and welcomed me in. He had no idea what was going on outside, at least the magnitude of it, and seemed content to just be doing lab work. He said he’d sent everyone else home.

At that time, I had no idea the towers had fallen, although certainly they had by the time I was walking from West side to Upper East side. The prospect never even crossed my mind, and there were so few people that I passed that I didn’t even overhear it.

Bill let me use the computer in his office, but the internet was not working. He let me use the phone and I tried my wife, no luck on either home or cell phone. I decided to call my mom in Utah. It was about 1 pm by now. She was bawling when I called, before I called, actually. Although she knew I worked in Times Square, she had become convinced during that morning that I worked in the World Trade Center. She said the towers had collapsed. I said no way, she said she was watching it on TV. I asked her to try my wife and to keep trying, and also to call my siblings and tell them I was fine.

Another sidetrack. Here is the text of an email message I received from my older brother in Utah on September 11, 2001 at 8:22 a.m. Utah time, with the subject line “are you okay??”:

Considering the chaos in NY, just want to make sure you are OK.

Hopefully some communications lines are open. I’ll pass on any status you can give me to family.

God bless….

Jeff

Here is one from my other older brother, who lived in Texas but was in California on business at the time, dated September 11, 2001:

I have offered prayers of gratitude for your safety and protection during the horrifying events of today. There was high anxiety this morning until we heard that you had been able to contact [your wife]. As for me, I’m stranded in Anaheim, CA for the near term. I was scheduled to be here until Friday anyway, but who knows if travel will be back in order to get me home even then. [My wife] is quite shaken, but she is thinking clearly and is being very strong. I wish I was there with her, but she has a good support structure. [My company] is making arrangements for individuals to return based on their personal needs. They are sending single parents and moms home first, some by Grayhound busses. Some people on my team are too freaked out to fly, so they want to go back by ground. My priority is lower, but I can stay at the hotel as long as necessary and could even go stay with [my high school friend]. Hopefully the nation’s travel infrastructure will be back in order by this weekend.

I’m anxious to talk to you about what you saw, heard, and felt. I assume you will be home tomorrow. I will try to call sometime.

In case you need or want to chat with me, here are the ways to contact me:

Cell:

Pager:

With love and gratitude,

Shawn

Here is an email I received from one of my best friends, with whom I hadn’t had much recent contact, on September 11 at about 11:00 in the morning, from Minnesota:

I couldn’t help but think of you at this time. What a sad day. I hope that you are alright and that your family is fine. I feel like that I am worlds away, and at the same time, I am

scared. I can’t imagine how you feel right now. I lost several professional friends today. They worked for Tradespark and CantorFitzgerald in the top 10 floors of the 1st building hit. Fortunately, my best professional friend left NYC for a Westcoast trip.

I apologize for writing now, under such dire circumstances. My prayers are with you and your family. Please, let me know that you are safe.

Love your long, lost buddy.

Nate

Here is another from a former co-worker who was in Denver, sent a few days later:

Hi. I’m not sure if you’re back in your office, but I just wanted to drop you a line and find out how you’re doing. The pictures that continue to come from New York are simply unbelievable. I feel so much sorrow, and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming too. It must be sheer agony to have to see New York right now. Please know that I’m thinking of you, and you will be in my thoughts especially tomorrow during our national day of prayer and mourning.

Love,

Simone

Yes, I still have those emails, saved in my archives. Interestingly to me now, I was still shaken enough five weeks later to write the following email to my parents, siblings, and best friends, seeking their advice. This was dated October 17, 2001:

“Am I completely stupid continuing to work smack in the middle of New York friggin’ City every day? I need some perspective here.” By the way, I stayed until April 2004 so I got over it somewhat.

Anyway, back to the events. I stayed at the lab for a while, then started trying to figure out how to get home. I eventually was able to contact my wife and talked to her several times. She was attempting to relay messages to me from other friends in the city who lived in Maplewood and South Orange, some of whom had heard that the NY water ferry was open, and another who was going to walk across a bridge and have someone pick him up. I could never contact any of them when she gave me their numbers. At one point I had been given an address of an office building and after I walked a mile to get there, there was no such address and it was a residential area. So I walked back.

Around 5:45 or so I heard people saying that the NJ Transit trains were to start running at 6 pm, so I half-ran to Penn Station to see. I wasn’t the only one. It was the worst I’ve ever seen it. Crowded does not begin to describe it, and all of us, to a person, was exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually. Fortunately kindness ruled the day. I managed to find a spot near the “big board” and around 6-ish they announced that a train was boarding to New Jersey. It was not the MidTOWN Direct, and it was NOT on the Morris & Essex line, but I wanted out of NYC, and the stairs were right next to where I was standing, so I went down to the train. I figured I’d figure out what to do in NJ when I got there. The train was packed, worse I’ve ever seen, but the doors eventually closed, we made it out of the station, under the Hudson, and eventually stopped in Newark, at Newark’s Penn Station (yes, Newark has a Penn Station and so does every other major East coast city).

I got off the train, and figured I was about 15-20 blocks from the Broad Street station, and that I could walk (even though it was getting dark and I wasn’t terribly excited about walking alone in Newark for 15 blocks in the dark, even if people were being nice in a national tragedy). I stopped at a payphone to call my wife, who said a neighbor was coming to Penn Station in Newark to pick me up and here was his cell phone number and I should just wait in the normal pickup spot for passengers and he’d be there soon.

I sighed with relief and began walking toward the front of the station. Just then everyone started shouting and telling everyone to get out, get out, get out. They wouldn’t even let us stay in front of the building, we had to go across the street by the Marriott. There were cops and fire trucks everywhere, and transit cops, and they were saying someone had called in a bomb threat to Newark Penn Station. Would it never end?

Because of the hoohah, my neighbor couldn’t find me. I kept trying to walk back to the station area but kept getting shooed away. I eventually found a payphone about six blocks from the station, called home, called my neighbor and tried to describe where I was. He finally found me. I wasn’t hard to spot. He took me home. I collapsed in my wife’s arms and held her for a long time. I held my daughters. I cried.

And then I wanted to watch TV – even though I had been there, I had missed a ton of information. I had very little details although I knew what had happened. There was no way in hell I was going to work the next day, and in fact the city was for all intents and purposes shut down until the weekend anyway, so I stayed up all night watching CNN and MSNBC. It was horrifying to see, finally, what all the world had been seeing all day and to realize I was there.

Spent several somber days with my family, went back to the City and to work on Monday the 17th. There were army guys with machine guns at New York Penn station. I was creeped out. Didn’t feel safer. Work wasn’t too productive. We all had a lot of stories to tell and heartache to share. Not long after that, within a few days, we got a memo from the chair of the firm, who informed us essentially that he had decided our mourning was over, the firm was losing money, and we needed to start billing again. Callous bastard. I left that firm 8 weeks later, actually went to work at my friend Robin’s firm, where I got to see my angel Valerie every day for the next two and a half years. And I thanked her for her kindness on 9/11 frequently.


Seen a Good Thing?

June 21, 2008

Me too.

Meet new people?

Me too.

I’d like to share some of what I loved this week.

Email me your favorites and I’ll share those too.




This was sad. But real. Bless her.

It all started at Kent State University.

Right in the middle she lists this:

1. Why can some people have twins, triplets, quads, etc. and are able to handle it?
2. Why can other people have twins with siblings and can handle it?
3. Why would God take my babies?
4. What did I do to prove to God that I could not handle it?



In Birds Nest posted some pictures, and this one says it all. That dad is great.



And Blog of Beth and Babes had some ‘Dirty Talk’, and Dirty pictures for you.


Mommy Pie. My new twitter friend.

She says, “How a stupid waste of time reinforces my faith in humanity.”
I only barely get twitter. She seems to have it down. Go. Learn. Then click her twitter button.
(My Twitter name is rogbark. I know. But anything related to my blog name was taken.)

I love the Lolly Jane Boutique. I want my blogshop to look just like hers. (Do you think she’ll mind?) And I want someone else to do it. I can’t find the time to prettify it.


Angie has perfected the Scientific Method. With some help from her son and um..pee.


And now do you want to know why? Why I’m sharing some good things I’ve seen along my blog-hopping trek this week?

Because Goodmom/Badmom linked to my blog last week. (And I want to pass it on). I suggested this silly little gem. But. Instead.

They linked to my 9/11 story.

And today I’d like to follow up. And say thanks.

Thank you internet for hearing me out. And for your comments.


I want to share some responses.

From Jacki
I always enjoy reading someone’s 9/11 story. I mean, not because it was a fun event, but it gives another perspective on it. The thing that always sticks with me is that my dad was supposed to be on the plane that crashed in to the Pentagon, but at the last minute his company put him on another flight.

From Kat
Wow. Great post, and interesting to me to hear your story. I was living in NYC with my boyfriend then – his dad worked in the WTC but was home with a cold that day. We didn’t know that though, and my boyfriend walked from Washington Heights, where we lived, to his parent’s apartment in Stuyvesant town where his parents lived because we couldn’t get them on the phone. Scary, but turned out well for us. Glad your husband was okay.

From Givinya De Elba
Wow. Thankyou for writing that.
At the very same time, I was woken up here (just after midnight) in Australia by my agitated husband urgently saying, “Come and see the news!” CNN was on three of our TV channels and your ABC was on the other – and we all started freaking out.
And the whole time, half a world away, you (and thousands of others) were going through … THAT. I’m so sorry that those things happened.

From cndymkr / jean
I’m so glad you wrote about this. I still think about that day and I always will. My husband (a cop in NJ) was called into work to block the GW bridge on the NJ side. I waited hours to hear from him. I knew that he was not near the towers but I didn’t know what else was going on there. He was gone two days. He came home when so many didn’t. I still can’t look at a plane in the sky without replaying that second plane hitting the tower.

I didn’t really plan to have the whole world read my little housewife version. I had maybe ten readers when I wrote that. (And half were family-hi mom!).

And so many people were and are so much worse off.

I totally get that Everyone in America and the world were affected by this. My parents in small-ville USA who usually only read the local paper, were shocked and scared and upset just the same as you and I. I honestly get that.


Photobucket

My 9/11 Story.

June 9, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to go about this post.
It’s hard. And it’s long, and I don’t apologize.

I’m sure everyone has heard every view inside and out about September 11th. Should I add my housewife’s version to all the rest? It’s hard to wrap my head around my own experience. Let alone share it. (My husband was truly the one who was there). I was safe all tucked up in my sweet little New Jersey-ian suburb. But I was freaked out and seriously scared all the same.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we only had one cell phone. It seemed decadent having it at all, much less considering having two! He commuted into the city via NJTransit everyday and it was ideal for him to make work calls while on the train. And to call me on his way home letting me know he was on his way, or when there was a delay and the ETA.

Every once in a while, I needed the phone for some mom thing, and he would leave it with me for the day. No big deal right?

I needed the phone on that particular Tuesday, because that night it would be my turn to drive around to several neighborhoods picking up young girls for a church activity. I had to take my kids with me, and it was hard to find a place to park, and then get the kids out and knock on (usually apartment) doors. Having the cell phone, was fabulous for just such an errand.

Let’s rewind to the morning of Tuesday, September 11th.

We don’t usually watch TV in the AM, and my husband apparently did not listen to the radio that morning driving to the train station. He generously left the cell phone behind (at my request) and left around 9:15AM, to catch a 9:30AM train.

I grabbed my grocery list and left soon after to take my then nearly 4 year old to pre-school. Again NOT listening to the radio. I dropped off my kid and another mommy grabbed me and asked: had I heard about the plane? The what, I replied? She said, it’s on the radio, some sort of small plane has crashed into a building in Manhattan. A plane? That’s crazy! I checked the radio. And sure enough, that’s exactly what they were reporting. A small plane has crashed into a building in the city, no more details than that? I didn’t know what to think, and not that I didn’t believe it, it sounded tragic, but I still needed groceries, right?

Fairly nonchalantly I meandered over to the grocery store. (It seems so crass in hind-sight, I know). By the time I got to the store, the reports on the radio were growing quite a bit more intense, and there were clear updates that for sure the small plane had in fact hit one of the twin towers. Okay, now THIS got my attention. My husband did not work in the World Trade Center, he worked way up in Midtown, practically right on Broadway. But his train, the one he was literally on at that moment, traveled directly UNDER the towers!! I sat in my car for a long time listening to the radio. My younger kid was getting agitated sitting in her car seat.

I finally got out and attempted to do the shopping. Remember now, I AM THE ONE WITH THE CELL PHONE!!! I have tried several times to call his work, to leave a message. But the lines are jammed, you know that awful fast busy signal? And I’m not the only one. There are all these other zombie mommies walking around the store with a toddler in the seat and no groceries in the cart, talking or attempting to talk on their cell phones. We kept looking at each other with these questioning stares, wondering…

I gave up, and bought the few things that miraculously landed in my cart, I certainly didn’t remember putting them there. My drive home takes me up over a little hill before dropping back down into the valley that is my town. And while on the top-most part of the hill, in the not too far off distance, I can see the Manhattan skyline. And there is a thin trail of smoke at the southern end of the island, right about where you can clearly see the two towers. Only the smoke is too thick to make them out.

This completely does me in. I loose it, right there in the car. I’m all tears and mushy, and still don’t have any real information. My baby is blissfully oblivious, but confused at crazy mama. The radio by now has gotten some better information and they are letting us in on the gruesome realization that it was NO small plane, it was a huge and very packed jetliner, with a full tank of jetfuel! Remember I still haven’t seen any television footage, most Americans at this point know more than I do. They are describing how people are being evacuated. Evacuated? From a hundred and ten foot building? How is that going to work out??

I make it home and my home phone rings. Praise be, I think, he’s calling me finally! But no. It was a close friend, calling to see how much I knew and whether my husband had checked in. I caught her up on what I knew, which was nothing. And she let me know that she too couldn’t contact her husband who had taken a much earlier train. She sounded much more upset than I was, and I agreed to drive over to her place for a while.

This is where I first watch actual television footage, now I am totally and completely horrified. AND the news about the second plane, and the one in Pennsylvania and the one at the Pentagon start filtering in. Should we pack up the kids and start driving West? North? Where? Without our husbands!? I still can’t get hold of my husband and my friend was more under control. I decide to go pick up my preschooler early, because it is truly freaking me out not having my whole family right with me– right that second.

Soon after we get home again the phone rings. I remember this being around 11AM, but the details are way fuzzy for me, it’s all smushed together. The person on the other end of the line is someone I don’t know. She is apologizing that it’s strange for her to be calling, but that she is calling on behalf of my husband (Thank God). She is the secretary of a friend of my husband’s who is an attorney at a totally different law firm than my husband’s. I don’t care who she is, she’s my new saving angel and I love her. Her message was that he was not able to get into his building at all, as they were evacuating it. But he was fine, and working on getting home. That’s all the news I get. I don’t hear directly from my husband for 3 or 4 more hours.

The activity for the young women, was of course canceled. I never needed that horrible phone at all. And it would have made such a difference for him.

He caught a train from Penn Station to Newark around 7PM that night. He was stranded in NYC, (never did get into his building), for no less than 9 hours.

I leave him to tell his side of the story. (I’ll post it, if he’s willing…)

For several weeks after that day. People were…different…nice. You’d wave to people you didn’t know (a rarity there), you’d ask strangers directly if they had lost anyone. There was no honking on the streets (truly odd). I remember the first time someone honked at me in annoyance, about 3 weeks after 9/11, and I was totally upset. Didn’t they know? The rules? The new rules? We are genuinely concerned for everyone, we don’t honk, because it’s possible that person you just honked at, might have lost their husband to a terrorist attack in our own back yard.

Please pardon my multiple tenses in the post. It’s still all sort of real and current for me, and I’m having a hard time placing this story wholly in the past?


Midnight and 6:54(AM) do not play well.

June 7, 2008

Midnight is raucous.

Wants to finish that project before going to bed. Likes watching House around 10PM and would so much rather do the dishes tomorrow. Midnight figures the kids will let her sleep in, and if not, actually believes there will be time for a nap? If Midnight starts reading a book, she cannot put it down and will stay up past her bedtime reading ‘just one more chapter’.

6:45(AM) wakes up perky and bounces out of bed. 6:45(AM) makes a nutritious breakfast and while slowly savoring it (sitting down) makes a tidy to do list. 6:45(AM) checks off each item with a fastidious (obsessive) flair. Every child receives exactly 47.3 minutes of alone mommy time. And those same children are nestled in their beds by 8PM. 6:45(AM) then nestles herself down with a hot cuppa cocoa and the latest Phillipa Greggory book and has lights off by 9:45PM in order to have precisely 8 hours of sleep. 6:45(AM) would have a coronary if every dish wasn’t cleaned and put away every evening.

We hate 6:45(AM).

(Possibly because Midnight and I are jealous).

But starting Monday morning. 6:45(AM) has been banished for 2 and a half months! Summoned to the dungeon of Summer Break Castle. (May she rot, and never come out).

Midnight is up for a rockin’ good time (and NO EARLY MORNINGS).


You Made Me MEME All Over Myself!

May 19, 2008

I’ve been working on this for a few days. Bear with me, I’m getting to it.


Angie over at SevenClownCircus managed to get herself tagged for a MEME. And for a practical joke she tagged me (it’s like a stomach virus, —gets passed along to the unsuspecting large intestine–ME in this case).


And for the record…I still don’t get what the heck a MEME is? Tag you’re it! Is it the internet version of ‘NoBearsAreOutTonight’? Mainly I think we all like the idea of someone paying attention to us, even if it’s in the form of
DoAsI’mDoing-OrI’llBeatYouUp’ or called ‘WorkitWednesday’ or whatever those weird days of the week thingy’s are called. Let’s just call them what they are: A Reason For You to Link to MY Blog.

All right, for this occasion, (and because I like Angie) I have created a button. (A reason for you to link to my blog-duh). It links to my “what the heck does MEME stand for?” post.

MEME Button
(Pick up the button link here, copy and paste onto your blog.
I hope it works, cuz I have no idea what I’m doing?)
MEME Button

Feel free to join in. Follow along. (Baa-Baa). Use my button whenever the need arises or you feel like another MEME is just plain weird. Call it the Anti-Meme. I think I’ll have a MEME-THEME all week long in fact; (cuz the funny thing is, Jamie at TheHeinerClan tagged me too, on the same day. And sheesh I don’t want to leave anyone out or make someone feel bad, now do I?)
There you go. I just tagged you. For reading my blog. YOU are tagged. With the anti-tag.
GO MEME YOURSELF. Have fun, I know I will.

Bring on today’s NOT-MEME:

(the rules and regulations are defined in Angie’s post, check it for yourself, cuz I pretty much ignore that stuff.)

MEME-the first:

Label yourself in 6 words. No more. No less.

Hmmm. That’s tough. I’m such a big person to fit into a little sentence?

Okay. I’ve got it.

Do you shave for your Gynecologist?


Because I figure there are two types of people. Those who like Neil Diamond…and those who don’t. (Name that movie).

But then I got to thinking… Maybe this one fits me better?


What is the definition of Snarky?


Because I really need to know.

And here’s the part where I MEME-ed all over myself. And guess what? It’s fun! Try it.


There’s a hole in my underwear.
or

I buy EASYMAC by the caseload.
or
Have Tomatoes. Can’t plant. Too COLD!
or
Sick of school. Need. Summer. Break.
or
Married 14 years. Need. Summer. Break. (hi sweetie, just kidding!)
or
5 foot 7. One Hundred thirty-nine.
or
Molecular Biologist turned poop expert, yick!
or
Leftovers for lunch.Every.Single.Day.



This is empowering. This is enthralling. Tag me anytime! (Go ahead, make my day.)

Not your Nightmare

May 12, 2008


You know those recurring nightmares? Where you find yourself naked in your neighbor’s backyard? Where you spiral downwards in a black pit (in slow motion) and your screams echo off non-existent walls? Where you show up to your high school basketball game and you have forgotten your game shoes? PLUS you’re 3 hours AWAY from your terrifying teenage bedroom, where they reside (maybe) in the closet?

Oh wait. That’s not your nightmare, that’s my private nightmare. And even though my college hoop dreams died more than 15 years ago; I have this particularly upsetting, sweat-drenching version of a night terror about once a week.

These demon dreams must be stress induced, or fear related, right? I wonder what a therapist would tell me? (Imagine an old lady German accent here.) You are acting out repressed fears of shoe fetishness. However, my genuine adult fears won’t remedy so simply.

My child comes home with blood dripping off his forehead and a gaping hole where his eyebrow should be. Now THAT’s stress! How I wish I could borrow a friend’s pair of ill-fitting Air Jordans to ease the pain of my 3 year old’s slashed wound. And then again later when ‘YES! there’s going to be a second shot’, and ‘yes it’s going to hurt too’!

I’ll willingly bear the sting of forgotten shoe embarrasment or the shame of letting my team down anyday, I’ll even run out on the court in flip-flops, just please spare me my own children’s distress.

Maybe that’s what those misplaced hightops are doing?

Saving me from reliving my children’s very real pain during my dark induced nightmares.

Entered in Scribbit’s Write Away Contest, titled Shoes.

I locked my kid in the car once.

May 1, 2008

It was a long time ago. My oldest was 2. I had only been a SAHM for 6 months, quite the failure wasn’t I? It wasn’t a hot day and I had just handed her a sippy cup full of juice.

I realized the second I closed the door that it was locked…AND that my keys were right there ON THE SEAT, right in plain sight. Okay. WAAAAY before cell phones. I seriously began to loose it. My kid? Hardly noticed anything was amiss. She was happy all buckled up nice and TIGHT, no way she could get out on her own…that’s the point with those seats, right? I was in the library parking lot, and my dilemma began. I needed to go make a phone call, but sheesh, I would have to leave her there, alone. With out me!

I finally decided to run inside. (oh please don’t let any scary people break into my car, with the keys in plain site, with my KID inside…)

I called the police. They said they were on their way. The library ladies were sympathetic, but not about to run out and help me. I went back out and waited maybe 5 minutes. By now my kid had finished her juice and could tell something was not right? Why do you keep looking at me from OUTside the car mommy? Just get in already, mommy?

I ran back inside. This time to call my husband. He was 20 minutes away, but had the extra set of keys with him. He left immediately. I called the police back. They said, we’re on the way. (What? Stop at Dunkin Donuts along the way?)

And nearly 20 minutes of my life drained away while stressing and waiting for them to get there. My baby was VERY upset by then, talk about helpless mommy syndrome.

The police made it first, and had the car open in exactly 5 seconds.

My husband pulled in about 3 minutes later. What a mess I was. My little girl got over it all pretty quick. (Hey Dad’s here! What a treat!)

I honestly thought the police were going to take me down to the station in cuffs. I would have entered a Guilty Plea of Horrible Mommy, Throw Away the Key.

It passed, we all recovered. And I haven’t repeated my car child abuse episode since. (oh gosh, knock on wood!) And I now realize that pretty much everyone has either done this exact thing…or something like it.

It turns out that it was my neighbor’s turn yesterday. In her case, her wireless key fob stopped working. It would lock the vehicle (with baby in it) but wouldn’t UNlock it. She borrowed a cell phone and called a locksmith (at the suggestion of the cell phone Good Samaritan). She called 1-888-POP-OPEN. Pop-A-Lock . In less than 10 minutes they were there and opened her vehicle for FREE! The nice man said it was a ‘community service’ they provide. Wow, a big thank you from all of us moms!

It’s not that she didn’t stress and all… but let’s just compare those 20 minutes of my life to the dissimilar 10 minutes of hers? I lost at least 5 years of my life due to my freaking out. I choose life today WITH cell phones.

I keep hearing that the police will not help you unlock your car, I don’t know if that’s true or not (they were slow—but they helped me?) But now you know. If you lock your kid in the car; your friendly Pop-A-Lock dudes will help you for free. You’ll still be a horrible mommy, but it’s a well frequented club.

Please, everyone be careful when the temperatures get high, forgetting your keys is one thing, forgetting your kid is another.


Our Song

April 29, 2008

We were in college. We were roommates. Okay, he lived on one side of a polygamist house duplex with 4 other guys, and I lived on the other side with 4 roommates. But we slept in rooms that were the mirror image of each other, so it’s like we were roommates.

And besides, he was dating my roommate.

We liked each other fine, and he made me laugh a blue streak, but when friends suggested that we should try going out, we would laugh/cough/ahem and set them all straight. I usually said something like: ‘we’d kill each other’. He was a very intense young man. He wore suits to church (which was a tad bit much, most guys wore khaki Dockers and no tie). I was a very intense myself. I couldn’t stand being late for ANYthing. He was studying communication and political science. I thought those were ‘soft sciences’. I was a biology major. I was 20.

After the summer of ’93, (a magical summer for all of us in the tiny neighborhood we called the 28th ward), we had become VERY good friends. His on again, off again girlfriend had gotten engaged (to someone else). And he just wasn’t too upset about it. I had been through a string of not quite boyfriends…’nuff said. I had just married off our mutual friend (a guy) who had palled around with us all summer completing our foursome (including the now ex-girlfriend). I set him up on a blind date, and they were married 3 months later.

It sort of left the two of us, to range around the couch cushions for frozen yogurt money. Left us to find our way to the local dollar theater. And we became best friends. I still dated guys, but usually never let them even get to the hand holding stage. And he kept saying things like: ‘I’ll know her when I see her’. We might hold hands while watching a video with the gang of people who often showed up to the duplex apartment house we called home. But we didn’t think anything of it. He was my best friend, I can hold his hand if I want to, I thought.

You have to understand, in our culture at that time, finding someone, and getting married was a HUGE pressure held over our heads. He was 23, and that was old.

Around this time we saw the movie, Benny and Joon. Johnny Depp at his best. There was a song in it. I was mesmerized by it. We waited until the end of the movie credits to find out what it was, who sang it? It wasn’t there??? Now this is WAAAAY before internet as we know it. We had to wait until the video came out, and we watched the credits and finally found out where that song came from.

I needed a ride home from the airport after Christmas vacation that year. And who else would I ask? My best friend, of course. He surprised me when he picked me up. He had found the song! He had bought the cassette (see, ancient times), and had it cued in his car radio. I was so happy, finally THAT song. I had broken up with the latest non-boyfriend just before Christmas (this one gave me a friggin’ BLENDER for crying out loud!)

Around President’s weekend I went to visit a friend at another college. When I got back there was a note for me, from my best friend, he wanted me to call him when I got back, apparently he didn’t know where I was. There was a little tickle in my tummy at the thought of him not knowing where I was? He was the only one who knew anymore. I ran over and gave him a hug. I think we stayed up most of that night, talking. Things moved fast at this point. We went to neighborhood gatherings together, which wasn’t strange, since we always did that. We held hands, again, not weird. But then we started kissing, and while not weird for us, it was a little hard for the gang around us to figure out!

Here’s the song. Our song. (let’s all give a collective sigh, AHHHHH)

I would give anything to be able to play this on the piano. If you know where to get the sheet music…please share! Over the years, we’ve gathered a few other ‘our songs’ and I might share them with you, but not today.

And this is us…today.

Blog Review

March 12, 2008

Okay, I was just catching up on some of my favorite blogs. I put them in the sidebar if you are interested. I only put a few (for now) mainly because as I peruse other blogs they all have 100s of blogs listed on their blog roll. Just how are you supposed to sample that many or know for that matter which ones are worth reading?

I think I’m going to review an interesting blog every so often as I come across them. And since I have in no way any expertise, who cares if I get it right or not?

The blog for today is:

Get That Out of Your Mouth!

I can’t find much about the wizard behind the curtain on this one. I know he is a dad, and he is the main caregiver for his 3 children. But it’s not clear whether he also works at home outside of blogging of course. In his about page it lists under interests:

tucking everyone safely in, come nightfall

how sweet.

This blog IS amazing writing. I wish I knew about the bloggy awards in time to vote for Getthatoutofyourmouth!, I would have cheated and voted as many times as I could figure out how to do it. His posts are like little bits and posts of poetry, with wisdom and kidfunnies thrown in. Read a few, you’ll see what I mean.

Some recent posts I LOVE:

the truth is a terrible thing Today’s post.
this must be what a cruise ship feels like (I think I will run a review of the best/worst flu stories, send me some if you come across them?!)
gender war Seriously funny, girl hair, ha, ha, ha.
personal space My overall favorite one from the past two months. If you catch a better post than this one, share.