Monthly Archives: September 2011

When Will I Ever Learn …?


My September 11


Yesterday caused a lot of memories to bubble up.  The vast majority of these were memories of the suffering and pain of others.  You see, I, like most of us, experienced September 11, 2001 as an observer.  Most of the tears I shed were for the pain and suffering of others.  I wasn’t there, I didn’t lose anyone I knew.  My heart broke for those that did, but this was not what changed me.




That is what changed me.  I believe that it is what changed all of us.  I also believe that it was the part of the whole experience that we most wanted to forget.


My September 11, 2001, started when I got my two-year-old son up and brought him into bed with me after my husband left for work.  This was pretty typical.  I wasn’t working that day (back then I had my own law practice, but only worked part-time), so we could laze in bed for hours after my early-rising husband left.


Some time later, the phone rang.  It was my husband.  “Turn on the TV,” he said.  “Something has happened in New York.”


A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was awful.  My brother was a pilot for United Airlines.  I found plane crashes particularly upsetting.  This was reportedly an American flight.  It was just awful, but I was relieved that my brother could not have been involved.


It was terrible to see, the flames and smoke marring the blue sky.  Those poor people.


I held my sleeping son closer.


Then, before all of our eyes, a second plane hit.


This was something different all together.


That was when I started to feel fear.  Someone was attacking us.  It was on purpose.  And all of those people in the towers.  People were jumping.  How terrified would you have to be before you would jump?  I was sobbing and clutching my son.


Then they announced that the second plane was a United flight.


Could it have been my brother piloting a high jacked plane?  What would he have felt?  How scared would he be right up until impact?  Oh my god.


Then they came on with more news.  Another plane had hit the Pentagon.


I kept thinking over and over, as I looked at my son, “You will live in a different world.  The world will forever be different now.”  We were being attacked, and who knew when it would end and where it would stop.


By this time, there were so many horrors, I don’t remember in what order they happened.  One tower collapsed, clearly burying so many people inside, including the firefighters and police officers who were there to help people.  Another highjacked plane crashed in field in Pennsylvania, this one another United flight.  The second tower collapsed.


I watched it all, in disbelief.  It just couldn’t all be happening.


At some point, my mother called.  She had heard from my brother.  He was safe, and in San Francisco.    I was so relieved.  This made me feel guilty.  Clearly so many people had died.  But not my brother.


I stayed glued to the television.  For days I watched the hundreds and hundreds of stories of horror and loss and heroism covered by the press.


We learned that a college student who worked at our local Chilis was on one of the flights.  A local man was one of the heroes on Fight 93, and one of the pilots grew up nearby.  Theirs were stories among thousands.  Too much to comprehend.


My brother was grounded in San Francisco for days.  I took my son and we drove up to see him.  He was staying at the St. Francis on Union Square.  The city seemed empty.  Union Square was vacant.  I had never seen it like that.


When we met him in the lobby of the hotel, he was standing holding a piece of paper.  It was a fax from United, listing the United personnel who had been killed.  The co-pilot on one of the flights was someone my brother knew.  My brother had been one of his flight instructors in the military, and they had become reacquainted when this pilot had joined United.


I had never seen my brother look like this.


We went to get something to eat, though nobody was hungry.  We went to The Cheesecake Factory.  It was completely empty.  We ate without tasting the food, but we were glad that we were together.  My son was a good distraction since, at two, he had no idea what had happened.


Eventually, a day or two later, my brother got in a plane and flew away.  I don’t know how he was able to do that.


After that, I just remember days and days of tears and fear and, mostly, the numbness.  People vacantly walked through the grocery store because they had to get things, but they couldn’t remember what.  It didn’t seem right to talk.  We just did what we had to and got out as soon as possible.


We didn’t know what else would happen.  We were afraid to go to public places or to gather in groups.  That year we were afraid to trick or treat on Halloween — it just didn’t seem right.  We didn’t want to take the kids to Halloween gatherings at the mall or downtown.  At some point, Anthrax scares started. It was all very bewildering.


I worried about the world in which my son would live.  Would he grow up afraid?  He wouldn’t remember any of this, but I just assumed that more incidents would happen and that the terror would go on and on.


Gradually, though,  the fear was buried.  Our ordinary lives went back to the ordinary.  I know I started to worry less about how our lives had changed, and more about the day to day things.


After the first of the new year, I got pregnant.  I started to feel hopeful about things.  We were no longer afraid to go out.  Gradually, we pushed all the fears down inside, and could read about the war on terror without shaking.


My nephew (the son of my pilot brother) joined the army and went to Iraq.  Mercifully, he came back.


Now, ten years have passed since the attacks.   Our lives have changed in innumerable ways, but, as it often is with fear, not in many of the ways I feared.  My children know about September 11,  but it is a distant thing to them.  They don’t worry that it will happen here.  It is something that happened a long time ago.  They know about “the war” but don’t feel affected by it on a daily basis.


And, when my son watched a program about September 11 yesterday, he saw about specific loss to those many, many families directly affected.  He did not understand that, at least for a time, we all lived in incredible fear.  But I remember.

Adventures In Decorating


Several  people have asked me for updates on my on-again, off-again relationship with the dream chest I was trying to purchase for my upstairs landing.  This is the chest I wrote about in my post entitled “That’s Why It Is Called A Reservation.”

For those who were not riveted by my first description of my rocky relationship, I will recap.  Saw chest, fell for chest, thought I had secured chest, went to pick up chest, chest was sold to another, heart was broken, possibility of another chest was on the horizon.  To be continued…

I am happy to report that, not only did I secure my new chest (after a fair amount of inconvenience), but the nice man at the Pier One in Fremont knocked a few additional dollars off it for my trouble.  The chest became the deal of the century.  Oh, and we have worked through the rough-patch in our relationship.

Here it is, sitting in its appointed spot.  What do you think?  Worth the emotional turmoil?

It is kind of like me — it doesn’t photograph well unless the lighting is JUST right.  And it looks taller and thinner in person.

Now, a word about me and decorating.

I can’t do it.

I really can’t.  Somehow, I was born without the innate ability to feather my nest.  I try, but it just doesn’t come naturally.

Now, to fully understand my decorating dilemmas , you need to know a bit about me.  You see, I am a total commitment-phobe.  Let’s just put it this way, I was engaged three times, but couldn’t quite go through with it until the last time.  There are many reasons why (not the least of which being that I was waiting for my husband, who, not unlike my dream chest, was just what I had been searching for, and, despite being a bit banged up, was the deal of the century).  But I will not go in to all of that  here.  Suffice it to say that most of the problem was my reluctance to commit.  Because when I do commit, I am all in.  That’s a big decision.

Anyway, now that I have been married and deeply committed in my relationship for 13 plus years, my aversion to commitment has transferred over to the decoration of my home.

Settled as I am with my husband, it now takes me FOREVER to settle down with a decorating choice.  For example, I have paint sample patches all over my walls because I can’t decide which color to go choose. (See those samples back behind my dream chest?  On those otherwise starkly white walls?)  When I first put these samples up, my husband was encouraged that I might be close to making a choice.

That was six months ago.

Closer to choosing colors?    No such luck.

All I have done is eliminate about 6 of the one hundred trillion colors in the world.

It may be a while.

This is why the chest thing was a big deal for me.

Thank goodness that worked out all right.

Anyway, this brings me to a decorating device that I can whole-heartedly recommend, especially for the decorating commitment-phobes like me.

The Fathead.

For those who don’t know, a Fathead is basically an industrial strength adhesive decal that you stick to the wall.  A Fathead sticks like nobody’s business, but comes off easily.   Best of all, it can be moved and reused!  Fabulous.

Ok, maybe not the decorating tool that will solve all of your interior design issues, but these things are great for your kids’ bedrooms , your play room or your basement.  I have also seen more than one Doctor’s office adorned with one of these babies.

I wish I could think of a way to decorate my living room with one without making it look like a frat house, but I can’t.  Oh well.

But the Fathead (and frankly, its knock-offs) have resolved several decorating roadblocks in my kids’ rooms.

Let’s take my son’s room.  I was considering repainting his room.  It was blue, because this went with the bedding for his crib.  He is now 12.  Might be time for a change.

I was considering a change to tan.  It would only take me about 5 years to choose from all of the possible tans.  This would bring him to his senior year in high school.

This might not work.

Then, the Giants won the World Series.  And I discovered the Fathead.

This is Andrew’s room now.

Nice, huh?

Another view.

And, while Fatheads aren’t exactly cheap, they are cheaper and far easier than painting.  Obviously the large one took two people to apply, but my husband and I got it on the wall in about 20 minutes.  The rest of the decals took about 5 minutes to apply.  They are very substantial and really adhere to the wall.

Best of all, they come right off and can be stored and/or re-applied.

So, in other words, if the Giants don’t shape up and make it to the post-season, Andrew can transfer his loyalties and remove them from his wall.

Not that he would do this.

But the Giants might want to start hitting.  Just in case.

Fatheads are primarily available in sports themes, though they do have a connection with Disney, so princesses, the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana are also available.  So are some superheros and Star Wars characters.

All of these leave my daughter flat.  She is no longer a Hannah Montana fan since she saw a picture of Miley Cyrus smoking.

But all is not lost.  I found non-Fathead decals at Cost Plus.  There I found all sorts of fashion and art related decals.  These decals were much thinner and somewhat more difficult to work with, but they were also much less expensive.

My daughter could express her personality, which, at 8, is a bit all over the place.

So, if you decorate your daughter’s walls with Miley Cyrus and then Miley gets her tongue pierced or arrested for shop-lifting, so what?  In an hour you can change your daughter’s room over to that of a Parisian fashionista!

These dealies are right up my alley — they don’t require commitment.

But if you come over to my house and find that my living room looks like this:

I do.  Require commitment, that is.  Please haul me off immediately.