Obligatory 9/11 Post

I didn’t have a blog on 9/11/01. I can’t imagine that I didn’t have one then, but in retrospect, I don’t think I even owned tsukata.org then. (Ed. Note: Yep, I checked ICANN. I bought tsukata.org on 10/23/2001. I need to remember that. I should have a birthday party for it.)

So, if you’re curious about how I spent this day, six years ago, here goes…

I was supposed to fly out of town that weekend. I had a flight booked for 9/13, for a (then) dear friend’s wedding in NC. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid. I’d bought a dress and everything…a dress I later wore to another friend’s wedding, got champagne spilled on it, and never got to wear it again…but that’s another story. 🙂 I woke up that morning at the usual time and sat down to my computer, which also was my TV (TV cards rule…I’d have the same setup now if I had my choice about things). When I signed onto AOL to check e-mail (sign #1 in my memory that I wasn’t using tsukata.org back then), I saw a headline that a plane had crashed into one of the WTC towers.

Just like everyone else, I was like, OMG, some idiot flew into a skyscraper with his private plane. So, I opened up my TV app and flipped to CNN. I saw the smoke in the building, and I thought to myself, wow, that’s a lot of smoke for a little plane. I turned on my speakers so I could hear what they were saying. They were cutting between various shots of the tower that was on fire. I left the computer to go to the kitchen to make toast. As I got to the kitchen, I heard a news anchor say something like “Is that another plane?” and I turned back to look just in time to see a plane-shaped shadow plow into the other tower. I remember CNN didn’t have the best camera angle onscreen at the time. They later cut to footage they had from a direction where you could more clearly see what happened. But, for the live coverage, what you saw was the shadow of a plane go behind a tower and then fire. That was the holy shit point for me, and for most of the US, I imagine.

I wasn’t sure what to do. When I was a kid, school would be closed. I couldn’t imagine that work would be closed, but for a moment, I was like, what do I do? I shrugged it off, finished getting ready, and headed into work. While I was driving, I listened to Mancow on Q101, who was giving the kind of live coverage that you hear in movies…the panicked voice of a person who desperately wants to document what is going on but realizes that any sane person would be at home with their family…as well as self-aggrandizing due to that same realization. (Q101 broadcasts from the Merchandise Mart downtown, which is a theoretical commercial target in terms of size and population.) They got evacuated later that morning and temporarily went off the air.

The plane flew into the Pentagon while I was driving, I think. I know I didn’t really hear about that until I got to the office. I think that was when they started evacuating “secondary targets” like the Sears tower, the Merch. Mart, etc. My company also sent out a note about a half hour after I got there basically saying that anyone who needs to be home should go home. But, most of us stayed. The traffic was insane to get anywhere that day, and we were a relatively social department…a bunch of us gathered in the hallways to watch the news.

This was the day that I began to really dislike my conservative friends. This was also the day that I realized I better stay relatively closeted as a liberal minded person, for awhile at least. As the news trickled down that this was the work of middle eastern terrorists, one of the managers in our department (not mine) made a joke…rather funny in a dry and dark sort of way…about what we’d do with all the glass. People looked at him quizzically until they made the connection (and this was a group of engineers after all, so it didn’t take horribly long): the glass that would be metamorphosed from intense heat (e.g., from bombs/missiles) on a desert landscape. Everyone laughed, me along with them. Well, it *was* funny….and it was the kind of elitist “I get it and you don’t” humor that I love. But later on, I got a little nervous about it. I mean, there were a number of people of middle eastern descent in our office. They weren’t in the room at the time, but still. I was nervous because I started to realize how much their lives were going to suck here for awhile, how many jokes they’d overhear. Oh, and it got far worse than I imagined it would, both at my work and in general. But again, that’s another story. And, I’m not going to lie…I was in the bomb the hell out of whoever camp. I was even more so in the bomb the hell out of whoever camp when I eventually heard about the Taliban link, because I’d wanted to bomb the hell out of them for years. Again…another story…and I digress. My point is that this event, in my mind, made a stark division between the political leanings of people, and not in a good way…and my sub-point is that I was no angel of mercy or anything, just closer to it than most of my friends and colleagues at the time.

That night, I commiserated with my then-friends. We went bowling, which is what I did on a regular basis as a social activity at the time. I brought a guy I was seeing (seeing being a loose term…friends with benefits is more like it) home and we had happy, glorious, life-affirming sex all over the place. Then, I played Half-Life: Counterstrike until late while he slept in my bedroom. It was harder than normal to find teammates for the terrorist side.

My flight for 9/13 ended up getting cancelled, of course. I missed the wedding; my mom drove up anyways, as this was a friend I’d had since childhood, and she knew her as well as I did just about. I called my friend, and she said that it was happening with everyone, but the wedding was still on…it was just going to be smaller. That night, the gamers at the Plus talked about the geography of Afghanistan for hours…they pulled out scenario maps from various wargames and talked about the mountains and how hard it will be to wage a war there.