Monthly Archives: September 2011
I could write a War and Peace-length book about how much I fail as a functional human being.
Take this morning for example. I brought a Fiber One brownie to work and stuck it in the freezer for a snack. It’s never too early for some chocolaty goodness, and I was really craving it by 9. I guess the freezer at work is a lot stronger than mine at home, because the brownie was too hard to eat. “No problem,” I said to myself. “I’ll just nuke it for a bit!”
Not a bad idea, right? Except for the part where I’m a complete moron and thought 45 seconds would do the trick. Yeah, that warmed the brownie alright… and filled the microwave with smoke. Oops.
So after cleaning the kitchen I nearly burned down, I sadly picked at my crumbly, blackened brownie. Then I ate it. It tasted like an ashtray and burned my tongue, but I freaking ate that thing. My tastebuds are still stinging.
The really sad part is that this kind of thing is totally typical of me. It’s truly a miracle I haven’t earned myself a Darwin Award yet.
10 years ago today, I was just coming down from the high of my 13th birthday & ready for an average day of 8th Grade. I can’t recall what period of school it was – 2nd or 3rd, I think – but the class was Social Studies with Mr. F. Mr. F was an interesting teacher. He’d assign us these really huge, detailed projects, & often had us do our reading in class at our own pace. With his full white beard, red face & short, round stature, he looked just like a leprechaun. In fact, he’d dress up as one every St. Patrick’s Day. He was involved in a ton of school-wide events & projects, & his booming voice commanded attention & respect. I think pretty much the whole school simultaneously loved & feared him, even the principals. He really swung between the extremes, jolly grandpa figure & serious disciplinarian.
That particular morning, Mr. F was just serious. But it wasn’t his strict, “shut up & read your textbook!” kind of serious. This was grave — his face was washed out & he was acting frantic & jittery. He wasn’t focused at all on our class, & he kept getting calls from the administrative office. Eventually, he was called out of the classroom & another teacher came in to supervise us. Something big was definitely going down.
Maybe halfway through our class, a TV was rolled into our room. The teacher put on the news for us; there was an attack in New York. Planes were being flown into buildings.
It didn’t hit me at first. This stuff wasn’t real. Skyscrapers blow up in movies all the time, but not in real life. This massacring of the NYC skyline was all fake, Hollywood special effects. But the longer I watched the footage, the more reality began to set in. Reality was terrifying.
Then we found out why Mr. F was as panicked as he was. 2 of his kids were supposed to be in the area near the World Trade Center that day, & he couldn’t get in touch with either of them to see if they were alright. (Fortunately, they were both unharmed.) Because of that, we were the first class in the school to be told what was happening. By midday, everyone knew.
Rumors started flying from all over. I don’t remember too many of them. I think it was just a lot of stupid stuff, or stuff I didn’t want to hear because I was still trying to convince myself it was all part of a bad movie. There was a lot of speculation over whether they’d let school out early or not (they didn’t.) But the rumor that really scared me was that Philadelphia was going to be attacked next. At the time, the theory made a lot of sense to my naive, confused brain. If a terrorist group was “making a statement” against American culture, they’d have plenty of reasons to target Philly. It is the birthplace of our nation, the original capitol, home to Independence Hall & the Declaration of Independence, nestled conveniently between New York & Washington DC.
It’s silly now, but I was shaken to the core with paranoia at the time. We live so close to Philly — would we see the plane zoom down? Smell the smoke? Feel the shake of impact? What about my dad, who worked just outside the city? Or, even worse, my sister Caitlin, who was a freshman at a college in the city? In the next few hours, days, weeks, anything could happen. I didn’t feel safe, & I wouldn’t again for about a month.
Home was very weird that night. When my little sister Annie and I walked home from the bus stop, we found Mom waiting for us on the front porch. I knew she was there to see how we were doing, but as we approached, she said something that almost made me faint on the spot.
“Did you know your uncle works in the World Trade Center?”
“He’s okay; he wasn’t in the building when the crash happened.”
What a fucking lead-in. Seriously, she couldn’t have prefaced with the “he’s okay” bit?
After my near-cardiac arrest, we had a major hug-fest. I didn’t want anyone to leave my sight for the rest of the night.
Turned out my sisters didn’t have it any easier than me. Caitlin was only a college freshman, on her own for the first time for only a couple of weeks at that point. Annie was in the same boat as me, maybe even more confused, being a year younger & not having received the in-class news coverage I did. Kelly probably had it the worst, though. She was a junior at a new high school that hadn’t opened yet, so she had that day off. She got to sleep in ’til around 8, when Annie & I had already left for school, Dad off at work & Mom out running errands.
Imagine what it must have felt like for her to wake up & turn on the TV at 8 on the morning of September 11, 2001. There was nothing but news reports about the plane that flew into the North Tower, smoke & screams & chaos, terror in the reporters’ voices. Then, as the camera holds on a shot of the destruction, a second plane zips into frame and strikes the South Tower.
This was before cell phones were commonplace & definitely before social media was a viable tool for the average American. She had no way of contacting our parents. She was completely alone, stuck with the haunting images onscreen. I don’t envy her experience in the least.
That attack on Philadelphia never did pan out, so after maybe a month I finally relaxed a bit. But there was more permanent change. That was the first time I started paying attention to the news, despite dreading what I might hear. Have they uncovered any new details? Made any arrests? Would we be going to war? It was all unpleasant, & probably too morbid for a 13 year old. But it was life now.
Thankfully, there was a bright side. For every unsettling recap of the damage, every shadowy image of Osama bin Laden, every heartbreaking soundbite from a tearful survivor, there was something beautiful that filled me with hope. The footage of the Star-Spangled Banner flying over businesses & highways all over the nation; the triumphant strains of patriotic songs, old & new; the heroic stories about firefighters and police officers risking their own lives to bring others to safety. These were the things I’d cling to, the things I wanted to pop inside my mind when I thought about that day. But mostly I wanted to remember the way that everyone across the United States, people from all walks of life, people with vastly different beliefs, came together. United We Stand — these words were true for that moment in time.
The difference between 13 and 23 is not just 10 years, & I’m a completely changed person from who I was then. But one thing that has remained is my strong sense of patriotism. As much as I complain about the government or society, I really do love the United States. I’m proud of my fellow Americans who prove, day after day, that we can still call our nation the Home of the Brave.
United We Stand.
How young is too young to start lying about your age? “I’m 22” just sounds so much better than “I’m 23.”
So yeah, today’s my birthday. I’m excited to celebrate in a low-key way. Chinese take-out for dinner and then going to see The Help with my mom, aunt & sisters. I just finished the novel 2 weeks ago and loved it – I expected a lot of fluffy melodrama, but it was frank and poignant. Definitely worth the read. Plus Kathryn Stockett’s a Phi Mu! Lion pride!
Tomorrow night I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings with a couple of friends. Between work, editing, shooting a music video, exercising and cleaning out my room, I don’t do anything in my spare time but sleep. So it’ll be nice to go out and enjoy a couple beers!
Half my family was born in August and then there’s me in September, so we always do one big celebration for everyone, usually about a week before my real birthday. I already opened my gifts last Thursday – and they are all AWESOME.
From Mom and Dad, I got some super cute boots. I’m not really a shoe gal – I like looking, but I’m happy wearing Chucks or Docs. But I really wanted a good pair of riding boots for dressier outfits, and these are perfect! (Comfy, too!)
From my Aunt Sue and Uncle Kenny I got a mini-fridge!! When I do my own grocery shopping I always put my name on everything (I can’t afford to feed the scavangers) and my produce takes up a lot of space, which is annoying for everyone. Now I have my own personal fridge! I’m keeping it in the basement – very convenient because I can keep my water bottles nice and cool while exercising!
Then there’s my BIG present – a ticket to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway!!!!!!! I’ll try to deny it, but I am a musical fangirl (just very picky about my shows) and Matt Stone and Trey Parker are pretty much my biggest heroes. Mormon tickets are insanely expensive and practically impossible to get, but Mom ordered a pair months ago. My sister Annie and I are going in December, my favorite time to go to NYC! I’m stoked!
Mom’s been cleaning out the basement and sorting through all our crap. While going through some of my old boxes, look what was uncovered:
Aww, yeah! Sailor Jupiter keychain! This is totally going on my wristlet. Now I keep listening to this over and over (dare you not to dance!):
Here are the Need-To-Knows on my life: I turn 23 in a couple of days; graduated college over a year ago; still live with my parents; work 2 jobs – 1 part-time, 1 unpaid; barely have a social life; am struggling to lose weight; can’t get a handle on my finances; and am generally dissatisfied with my lot. That Quarter Life Crisis is a real bitch, man.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seriously considering starting my own blog, just to sorta spice things up a bit. I know everyone and their mom has a blog these days, and so few actually worth reading. I also know I’m not exactly Hemingway when it comes to writing and my life is way too dull to keep public record of. And how does one even begin to cultivate a readership? What if I put in all this time and effort, but nobody ever reads it? Do I really want to set myself up for that kind of failure?
On the other hand, there are a lot of potential benefits. Blogging could be the kind of project that gets me out of my post-grad funk. I like that I’d be doing something productive and creative in my spare time (as opposed to scouring YouTube for old episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark.) I also really love writing and want to improve my skills, so the practice would be awesome. Then there’s the possible career benefit – as an aspiring filmmaker, a blog would be a great way to let potential employers see what projects I’ve worked on and what I’m capable of doing. But the main thing is, I really want to give it a shot, and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.
Alright, I’m doing it. Now… what do I write?