On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where were you?

Honestly, I had a post prepared about running nonsense (you'll get to read it tomorrow), but last night was basically a holiday in my household. There are two people in my household, both with strong interest in the Middle East, one a former soldier. Yeah, we stayed up late watching the news and drinking and smiling.

(Oh, if you went to bed early last night and for some reason came directly to my blog without talking to anyone or looking at any other news sites, Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US forces last night.)
From the Daily News (although their front page is way classier -
giant ROT IN HELL next to his photo.)
I'm kind of mixed about the fact that I raised a beer - um, more than one, actually - in celebration of someone's death. But I wasn't celebrating a death so much as I was celebrating my patriotism, my intense pride at being an American and my excitement over seeing Obama be able to take the credit for living up to  a campaign promise. And how amazing that it wasn't a drone that killed him but instead US forces, on the ground. Exactly 8 years to the day after Bush announced "Mission Accomplished," nearly 10 years after 9/11, bin Laden is dead.

Sadly, so are the 3,000 Americans who died on 9/11 and the thousands of American (and coalition) troops who have died since fighting our wars in the Middle East.

My 9/11 story isn't exciting. I was living in Philly at the time, and I had the radio on as I was getting ready for class (it was Chio in the Morning, a godawful terrible morning show). Suddenly, the female announcer burst on and said, "There's been a second one! It wasn't an accident!" before she started crying. I turned on the news just after the second plane hit and sat on the bed, stunned. The Canadian I was living with came back from his shower and I said, "Something bad has happened." He blew it off as probably nothing and we walked to school together. I took my discman (ah, the good old days...) with me because it had a radio tuner and we showed up on time for our class. Classes were not officially canceled that morning, although our professor dismissed us immediately. We then spent the rest of the day stunned, but ultimately unaffected.

I'm glad that I don't have a more exciting story (like Carla's, for instance). And I'm certainly glad I didn't know anyone who was working in lower Manhattan that morning. What about you?


  1. I just wrote a long post about my morning in DC and thinking my husband was on the plane that hit the pentagon (ultimately, he was not) but Google login fucked me over upon submitting and so I'll just leave it at that.

  2. !!!!!
    I am so sorry. Yeah, I need to find a better blogging platform. Ugh.

    Incidentally, my sister's (then) boyfriend had flown out of Logan Airport that morning. I called my sister and she was strangely not worried. Just no big deal. "Oh, I'm sure he's fine." (I mean, he was, but still.)

  3. I was still on active duty in the Army. Lord, how I miss the Army. Anyway, back then most military posts were still open to the public. Any schmuck could just drive onto the post and roam around. That all changed on 9/11. It took my 4 hours to get to work on 9/12 because the MPs had shut the gates and were searching every single car by hand. Some people ran out of gas waiting in the long queue to get onto the post. No one complained.

  4. Wow. I was in French class, and our French-national teacher wasn't impressed with our concern over the first two planes when a janitor whispered "They got the Pentagon!" into our class from the hallway, and the class full of New Yorker college students obviously freaked out. Then I went to Philosophy of War, where the (really cool former Wall Street corporate lawyer) teacher told us about how he met his sculptor wife around the corner from the WTC 20 years prior and talked it out with us, then held a vote to see if we wanted to have class. Of course one kid was all, "If we miss class the terrorists win!" but the rest of us skedadelled to watch CNN like it was our collective job and try to call our respective downstate families. Thank God I didn't actually lose anybody, but the whole thing put me where I am today in a very peripheral way.

  5. I was a freshman in high school in Connecticut (lots of NYC commuters). It was first-period "silent study hall." Our study monitor got a phone call about it and turned on the TV. We watched the second tower get hit and saw both towers fall -- we were one of the only classes in the school that knew what was going on, and we were all crying and shell-shocked when we got out of class. No one else really had a clue yet. Then an announcement came on over the loudspeakers and we all got dismissed from school. Most kids didn't realize how awful it was until they got home.

  6. Ah, yeah, I was going to type my story, but see you linked it there already. So yeah, I was THERE.

    I still feel weird about celebrating someone's death, and at the same time, I think it's 10 years too late, no?

  7. I'm trying to ignore the "freshman in high school" part, as it's making me feel really old ;) But I am glad that I wasn't in or near NYC then, selfishly. Or in the Army - Mike, were you ever sent abroad as a result? How scary. And noble (I know that sounds cheesy, but thank you!).

  8. I'm one of those who went to bed really early and found out by reading weird comments on twitter. It felt very surreal. Though I'm glad it's been done, I'm not celebrating. I'm just holding my breath.

    I used to live in lower Manhattan. My (then) husband worked at One Liberty Plaza across the street from the World Trade Center.

    After the first plane hit he called to me tell me it had been a terrorist attack even though it was not being reported as such yet. The bank he worked for had locked exits to keep people from leaving and missing the opening of the trading day.

    He told me to go to the supermarket and stock up on bottled water & canned goods. On my walk there I saw the towers burning and at the check out line the girl working there asked me if I was throwing a party.

    I didn't even know how to answer. The towers fell as I headed back home.

  9. Majo, my mouth just dropped open at the thought that your ex's company locked the exits. How very Triangle Shirt Factory. Wow. I hope he's okay...