Ocean Water

Thanks to everyone who emailed about today’s User Friendly…that’s pretty cool. A pretty spiffy way to start out September.
Jesus. September.
I can’t believe it’s already September.
September 3rd.
Kids start school in 2 days, and it feels like they just got out last week.
In 8 days, we get to experience the first anniversary.
Is that messing with anyone else? It’s really messing with me. When we remove the politicalization and the jingoism and the fear, and think about the real people whose lives are forever changed (which I guess is all of us, but clearly some more than others)…it just seems like, maybe since it’s been a year, there should be answers and resolutions…but each day seems to bring more questions and more uncertainty and grief.

82 thoughts on “Ocean Water”

  1. Yeah, time has flown far too fast. I most certainly was not ready for a 6 week separation from my boyfriend. (He left for college.) I can only hope that september goes by just as fast and homecoming is here before I know it.
    Of course, you’re talking about September 11th. Personally, I’m over that now. Have been for a long time–my life has changed so much over my first year in high school that the start of freshman year (when 9/11 happened) seems like four hundred years ago….

  2. *laugh* I stopped reading UF a while back, but I’m glad I clicked through to see that strip.
    Not to blow off the other more serious topic. It’s not really messing with me, except on a “wow, it’s been a year” level.
    It’s been sixteen years since the Challenger explosion.
    That was the one — not that 9/11 wasn’t profoundly affecting — but the Challenger was my ‘Kennedy moment’.
    9/11 was … different. Partly because I’m older. Partly, maybe, because it still seems so … unreal. Despite all the footage, one does not simply make sixteen acres of building … disappear.
    Gosh, what a lot of ellipses.

  3. I turn 33 in two days. Six days later I will mourn those who fell. I’ve been kind’ve depresses around my birthdays in recent years, this just adds to it. I guess the one thing I feel the most over this is dread. Not over what “may” happen on the 11th, but dread over where this country is heading. 9-11 did something to me, it shattered my world and left me feeling 15 again. I was helpless, angry and I blew up. Now we’re on the verge of a year and I can’t say with complete certainty that I have recovered. I’m still a little raw, and I’m not exactly the poster boy for rationality, but I’ll manage. I only hope that this country regains some semblance of sanity and realizes that this mad war is not the way.

  4. Let’s see, two recent posts.
    1. Our country is being run by lunatics and criminals, each with their own price tag.
    2. The questions keep piling up with no answers to go along with them about September 11.
    Add these two together, and perhaps you will get an inkling as to why there will never be answers to this televised work of fiction.
    Consider this: if you live in a bad neighborhood, and you leave your doors and windows wide open when you go to sleep at night, would you be surprised if someone waltzed in and robbed you?
    Do you really think the government would be so stupid as to leave the doors open?
    I worked on the 80th Floor of WTC2. I know who sneaked in and murdered my friends and coworkers. I’d like to know who left the door open for them. And why.
    Perhaps we are better off NOT knowing the whole story, because the truth would be as horrifying as the events.

  5. I will remember the 11th. Being frightened watching t.v., thinking W.W.III was on the way, thinking my brother in the army was off to war, waking up my husband, telling him the world was coming to an end. I’ll also remember the days and weeks that followed, being frightened, talking to the nice Iranian couple that run the corner store about how they took their little girl out of school because she was being threatened in grade 2, how my husband had to stop a grown man from harassing an Indian lady, calling her a terrorist and a murderer. I still don’t know what frightened me more.

  6. Well I’m probably going to sound like a real asshole for saying this, but a lot worse things have happened in America before and since September 11, 2001. The one that springs to my mind first is that more people have been getting killed by drunken idiots in cars every single month than by the destruction of the World Trade Center. Every month since last September, and every month before then, going back for decades. For the friends and relatives of all those folks, those deaths were just as sudden and wrenching, the feelings of helplessness and violation just as deep. Only spread out thinly, so as not to create as much of a ripple on our overall sense of normality.
    Doesn’t that kind of suck? But we don’t see marines stationed at onramps with breathalizers. We don’t see a huge high-tech push to defeat the average drunken dickhead from starting a car. If you can figure out which hole the key goes in you’re there. This problem has been going on consistently through the terms of a dozen presidents, not one of whom has ever declared war on it or even attempted to make fixing it a national priority.
    There are numerous ways in which people are continually getting fucked up by complete assholes, who usually walk away unscathed. God knows we aren’t going to see SWAT teams crashing into the homes of CEOs’ who have bankrupted their own companies, put thousands of their own employees out of their jobs, ruined plans those people have worked hard for for years — retirement, kids’ college, whatever. Not one of those shitbags in suits is going to get a cruise missiles up the ass, or be duct-taped to a stretcher and dragged into a detention camp.
    Crap like this happens *all the time*. It’s a part of our landscape, usually not presented to us in the form of a vivid, sensational, Spielberg-scale event. If we need that level of stimulation to focus our feelings, it’s because we just don’t pay attention.

  7. Wil,
    no, it doesn’t mess with me.. I saw this comeing
    many years ago.. and more will happen..
    times have changed.. it could as bad as what happens in Isreal.. scripture tells us that in the
    end, man will be in fear of everyday events;
    “not knowing the way out”
    and “unless those days were cut short, no life
    would be saved”
    still, there will be a day when John Lennon
    will be able to sing “Imagine” and it will be true..
    “vengenance is mine.” sayth the Lord God Jehovah
    “I shall repay.”
    with that promise, I fear not what will happen.
    peace be with you all…

  8. Yes Wil…it’s messing with me quite a bit. I work for a PBS station on the overnight shift. Ever since that day a year ago, I’ve had to watch the footage or hear stories about it every night (sometimes twice) since then. I knew no one in any of the atrocities, so I can’t say that I suffer anymore than anyone else. But already the footage has began again. We are a week away right now, and already I’m wanting to crawl into a hole to escape. I wish nothing but happiness for anyone that reads this, and I hope that you all remain safe in whatever you do.

  9. Newbie to WWDN (but notice how quickly I pick up the acronyms and act in general like I know what the hell is going on), and had to comment here (as it would be silly and off-topic to do so elsewhere): I’m really wondering what this anniversary will be like. I was blessed enough not to lose anyone I knew or loved on 9/11, but it still was one hell of a shakeup. This year, purely by coincidence, I find myself booked on a cross-country flight on 9/12. My husband fondly says that it will be me and a bunch of air marshalls and no one else. I’m honestly a little frightened to fly; I’m a seasoned traveler, and I’ve never had anything worse than turbulence. But this seems…*big* now.
    I’m not very fond of the armchair patriotism that swept our nation last year; it got to be a sort of show-us-your-flag-or-show-us-your-papers for a while there, and I don’t favor that. Part of being in Free-Speech-America is having the freedom *not* to wave the flag and sing the praises of a great but flawed country.
    We have a flag, and I still have faded and frayed red, white and blue ribbons dangling from the antenna of my car. Normally, though, I don’t feel the need to declare my patriotism in strident, bumper-sticker-y ways.
    However…I will be wearing a shirt with an American flag on it when I fly. I can’t quite name what is motivating me to do so; I don’t know if it’s respect or patriotism or fear or the hope that it will help me get through the security checkpoints that much quicker. I do know that it feels *right* to wear it.

  10. Yeah, it’s messing with me as well, Wil. I work in Times Square and it seems like it was only yesterday that the chaos of that entire week was running rampant on the streets. Bomb scares. Buildings shut down for the remainder of the week. No trains running, then suddenly you could get out.
    It was and remains a moment burned into my psyche.

  11. I will never forget where I was at on 9/11… Just about to my office in 2 World Trade Center! I was only a dozen blocks from the complex when Tower 2 collapsed.
    Luckily I didn’t know anyone who was lost and everyone in my company got out unharmed. While everyone feels very deeply for those who lost loved ones, I hope eveyone will remember that the survivors are suffering, too.
    For me, it’s been a very unproductive year and I still tear up from time to time. I haven’t been able to gather the emotional strength to go back to Ground Zero since 9/11. Hopefully, the pain of thinking of that day will fade with time.
    My biggest wish, however, is that everyone remember 9/11 as a period in history when mankind witnessed the extremities of humanity. From the horror of the attack to the outpouring of help and support for victims and their families we saw it all that week. But the most important lesson to be learned is that we choose what level of humanity we present to the world. May we all choose love, understanding, tollerance, and peace.

  12. Visit http://www.politicsandprotest.org/ to remember 9/11. Make sure your speakers are on and give it time to load. You will cry and then you will get angry again.
    Thank goodness W. and the republicans are in power. I shudder to think what Gore would have done in their place. We would be paying the Taliban reparations by now.

  13. Hey Wil;
    I was affected by the events of last 9.11, I was angry–Jesus, I even recall saying “I’m glad there’s a Republican in office.” but I may have been trying to comfort a conservative co-worker [at least that’s my preferred delusion].
    But I find that like everything that I experience through the infinite picture window of TV, the outrage faded, quickly giving over to doubts and fear that the idiot in the White House was going to do something idiotic. Which he has, but not the idiotic thing that I was afraid of. We have liberated yet another Arabic country under false pretenses. Yes, Bin Laden was there, maybe he’s dead now, maybe living in a Tel Aviv penthouse, who the fuck knows? Not anyone who can do anything about it. And that’s the small measure of revenge that I feel, get that guy, just that guy, that shit, and bring him back here. To New York. To trial. Which won’t be anything but a spectacle, but Rome loves it’s spectacle, doesn’t it? However, the Bush family, and extrapolated from that, the entire Bush administration, has oil interests in Afghanistan that were being threatened by the Taliban’s continued hold on power in that country. So why are we there and, aside from the human rights abuses [of which we contribute to with certain sanctions], why do we concern ourselves with Saddam Hussein?
    Anyway, I have gone far afield from what I was going to say.
    I work for Borders Books. I am a supervisor in #201 of nearly 400 stores. We are required to display in our front window, a large vinyl banner with a tasteful photo of a front porch–somewhere in America–replete with rocking chairs, peeling paint, and the hint of the Star-Spangled Banner off to the left, showing just enough red, white and blue to spark…what? What are we doing with this display?
    …An aside, Borders lost a store in 3 [or 4, I can’t remember] World Trade Center. No employees were hurt or killed, one was missing for a while but she was playing hookey…
    Are we commemorating the loss of our capital expenditures? The trauma of our faithful 30 employees? Or is it a pseudo-psycho tug to try to get people through the door and pick up one of the myriad books on the subject? I choose that last one. It is exploitation, pure and simple, by a corporate entity that will do anything to keep it’s stock prices up. I am embarassed to enter the door beside that banner with it’s black band embossed with the simple “We Remember”. And I am sickened to think that I helped hang it. Which I did, because it’s part of my job, and other than the normal dehumanizing elements of retail work, and the occassional uncooperative nature of my staff, I like my job. But I am beginning to dislike my company. As I look across the parking lots of the massive retail center that I work in, from mega-store to mega-store, I don’t see anyone else engaging in this kind of crap, not even Wal-Mart!
    So, yeah, 9.11 is messing with me–but it’s no longer the incident, it’s this massive lingering grief that’s fucking me up. And now heaped on that is this guilt that I’m contributing. It became gratuitious long ago, now it’s pornographic, cheap titillation for the programmed masses.
    Let’s get on with the healing, for chrissakes!
    Anyway, it’s all the media’s fault.

  14. Wil –
    You were also linked from today’s Iambe column…
    As for 9/11 – I plan on going to work that day, on the Red Line, and working all day in the state building, and eating lunch in the Deloitte food court as usual, and going home on the Red Line. That’s about it AFAIK.

  15. Wil,
    I can’t honestly say that the looming date of September 11, 2002 is messing with my head.
    It terrifies me.
    I’m scared of the possibility that Bin Laden and his ilk will try to use the anniversary of their attack on the Twin Towers to make another terror attack which will lead to the loss of more lives.
    I’m scared because I’m living in a world where people in powerful possitions are actually daring to use the tragedy as an excuse to manipulate the masses, and i’m scared that they are going to use the coming anniversary as an excuse to drive us into accepting a war against a dictator who is not connected to Al Quaeda.
    Behind it all is a dreadful cynicism, that tells me that the shit is going to hit the fan, again, and that all I will be able to do is stand by and watch, again.
    I was at a funeral on 9/11. As we left the “reception” in the hotel afterwards, we saw the footage of what was happening. It didn’t seem real, at first. It was too horrific. As the day wore on, and we drove home listening to reports on our car radio, I could almost predict what would happen next.
    Racial violence.
    Fatuous retoric.
    Brutal retaliation.
    More death. More violence.
    The perpetrators would elude capture (Bin Laden is still out there).
    The situsation would get worse, not better.
    Everyones horror and grief would be twisted by the heartless for their own ends.
    Innocent people would be hounded and harried.
    Liberty would crumble.
    The new drive to prevent a repeat atrocity would get sidetracked.
    As 9/11/2002 rears its head, I ask this question. What is being done to bring Bin Laden and Al Quaeda to justice? With the Taliban gone, where are we searching now? Why have we become sidetracked into aiming at Iraq, less than a year after the Twin Towers were attacked?
    I’ll tell you whats messing with my head. Its the knowledge that Al Quaeda are still operational, and we don’t know where they are. Its nearly a year since we started this “war on terror”, and guess what? Terrorism still exists, and by our actions, perhaps in greater fervour than before.
    I just hope we mange to sort things out without some wacko nuking someone.
    And that includes Bush.

  16. The first anniversary of anything can be either the most exciting or the hardest to bear!
    9/11 is no different. How many people die every day in tragic circumstances? The fact that these incidents are more widespread makes it easier because the whole world doesn’t grieve at the same time. When a terrorist attempt takes thousands of lives in one go it seems pointless and even more terrifying. Why let that terror ruin your lives from day to day – what will be, will be. We can only deal with our own grief and we WILL deal as and when it happens. If you spend your time in grief or fear it won’t take away the shadow of events of 9/11, it keeps them alive!
    Feel sorrow for the people lost and the people who lose. Feel sad for yourself for a time for this loss, but don’t lose all perspective – you are wasting your own life, don’t be terrified by every day. You risk your life every day by waking up, you never know which will be your last breath – make the most of every day free of worry.

  17. I’m wondering what headlines the press will come up with. In my head I see a simple one…. “The Day America Stood Still”
    (not that I want to compare 9/11 to a sci-fi movie but I remember watching the flames increase in the second tower seconds before
    it collapsed, thinking it was like some kind of Hollywood movie, Die Hard 4 or something but for real.
    The things to think about are how it has impacted your life in this last year/what you have done with it, what progress has been
    made in catching the people behind it – as well as the obvious screw-ups by the agencies involved – and what has manifested as a
    result of it, and whether those manifestations are actually for the good of The People and the Freedoms for which this country was
    created, and not for the good of Big Brother.

  18. I remember in our family lore, my mom had a dream the night before Kennedy was shot, she dreamt he was stabbed during the parade, and then just about fainted watching it the next day on live t.v. The morning of September 11, I swung my feet onto the floor and said, out loud, just for me and the cats, “what a beautiful day”. Being in Toronto then, I freaked when I heard about what happened in New York, but I think I really shook when I heard about the Pentagon. A woman I worked with had her best friend working at the WTC, and thankfully, he escaped with a broken leg. Since moving now to Winnipeg, I worked this summer at a place where a nurse was killed that day at the WTC, visiting her brother who worked there, on the 101st floor. It’s like wherever I go, it is there. So no, I don’t think we should make it huge, but yes, it was only a year ago, and it is our Kennedy, our Martin Luther King, Jr..We can pretend to forget but we can’t really let it go just now.

  19. Hi Wil
    I have to say I find the anniversary a depressing prospect, if only for the way that some will no doubt attempt to capitalise on it (whatever their persuasion). The posts of many people here have given me some reason for hope. As long as people continue to pay attention, and demand to be kept in the picture, and as long as people do not let their rights be consumed by the demands of security, goverments may find they have to pursue policies that actually make things better.
    I would like to see a concerted effort to pursue a legal prosecution of anyone who can genuinely be found to have colluded in the attacks of Sept 11th. This in conjunction with earnest work to repair relations with the middle east, seems to me to be a much better way to honor the dead of Sept 11th than the farcical ‘War Against Terrorism’. I do hope they stop that monster in time. When will The War Against Terrorism turn its sights on the USA, and the UK (Al Quaeda were initially trained by both in Fort William, Scotland)? Or is there a statute of limitation deal?
    Although my thoughts are with the victims families, their grief is their own. No amount hideous media tributes will make the deaths anything other than cruel, stupid, and pointless.
    I know what I’ll be doing 09-11-02, I’ll be doing my best to enjoy the day with those I care about. I wish everyone else the same.

  20. I’m in Australia.
    I work for the fire brigade here and while our brigade is hardly going to have an effect on NYFD – it affects firefighters everywhere.
    I’m involved in the memorial we are doing here – and even being so far away, let me tell you, the first year anniversary has come too soon.

  21. This had to be the most shocking event ever…and it’s been a whole year since it happened…seems like yesterday…
    We’re having extra security here in Sydney as well on the 11th…just feels really weird…but you just can’t blame anyone for taking precautionary measures, however unnecessary they may be…the world’s full of bad, bad people. No matter where it is, not matter who’s doing it…killing people is no answer to anything. Destroying lives, separating families for ever…it’s hard to believe how many sick individuals there are in this world. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected either directly or indirectly by these attacks…I’ll say a prayer for everyone.
    My birthday’s on the 12th…so after last year it feels really weird to switch from remembering those tragic events one day and then blowing out candles and cutting a cake the next day…but that’s just how it is I guess…life goes on.
    Take care everyone.

  22. This really is messing my head. I remember my wife comming in crying and waking me up like 5 minutes before normal and the panic. I walked out into the living room and just sat there and watched as the second plane hit the tower. Then running into the bedroom to get dressed for work and rushing out to see what I missed. Just before I had to really leave to get to work a few minutes late, the first tower collapsed. Our son had just turned one month old on the 8th and we just wondered what would change and how life would be for him after 9/11. So far so good I guess…

  23. When it happened, everyone said our lives would be changed forever. What’s changed? Doesn’t seem like much has changed “for the better” …

  24. I bought milk last week.
    I usually buy a specific brand, we’ll call it brand A. I used to buy brand B. But like that freaky little girl in “Signs” I always thought brand B had a funny aftertaste. So I started buying brand A. Much better.
    Until last week. Last week, I reached for my milk and, like always, checked the expiration date.
    I’m a rational guy. I usually laugh at things like this. They don’t affect me. I know what’s what.
    But last week, I bought brand B milk.

  25. I was woken up by my father who was passing on grossly inaccurate reports about world-wide hijackings and saying “we’re at war!” Thinking it was bullshit because he knew my wife and I were leaving the country for good in two weeks I turned on the tv to see the towers burning.
    It was quite surreal. Our main concern was when the airports would re-open naturally so we could get the hell out of there in case any further madness took place, but like much of what we see on tv these days I could only think “wow that’s pretty surreal.” It still doesn’t quite seem real to me, but it had no personal impact on me.
    Now we can only dread the actual day and hope that the airwaves aren’t dominated by bullshit doucumentaries. I’m still waiting for the big Hollywood spectacular about the heroes who crashed the plane (that would have been shot down by fighter jets anyway before it got anywhere significant) starring Harrison Ford.
    Sadly I’ve moved to a country whose leadership seems to think that being running dog to the USA is more important than listening to the populace who are against a war in Iraq.
    Time to get on with life already.

  26. My husband is a Petty Officer Second Class in the US Navy. He is currently in the Indian Ocean on his way to the Gulf. He is going to be in the lion’s den for the Anniversary. I have to say, what they did to us should have changed us forever. Unfortunately, it was a shock that wore off for too many. My husband is out there trying to keep us safe, but he can’t help us with the people in our own backyard that just got another reason to hate. Violence begets violence. You know sometimes, we need to give up things like fear and hate to get along. Sometimes, we even ned to give up a few of our many freedoms. I think keeping my husband out of WWIII is worth not knowing if the library received a subpoena or if a few people were not allowed to burn the symbol of our wonderful country. You have the right to think what you want, but you don’t have the right to hurt those who think differently.

  27. You want to talk about being messed with by the memories of 9/11? I can tell you all about what a great day it was for me:
    I live in a suburb of Washington DC, and I spend my weekdays toiling in academia just minutes away from the Pentagon. When the planes hit, basically every phone on campus ceased to function, and what students and faculty heard was filtered through about a hundred ears and mouths like some sadistic game of “Telephone.” There are more planes in the air! The National Guard is sealing off the beltway! The President is missing! Okay, so that last one was true, but you get the picture.
    Within a few minutes we had a bomb threat in the administration building, complete with a suitcase apparently filled with explosives and rigged to go off. Police sirens howled as a horde of cops descended on the scene. People were streaming around all over the place trying to reach family, the parking lots, or anywhere. I couldn’t get hold of my wife, on another nearby campus, or my mother-in-law, who was at that time taking care of my infant son. I, and everyone around me, had no clue what was happening, or what was going to happen, and we were practically right in the middle of it!
    Eventually I abandoned my schedule and left campus, even though the university president announced that we were in no danger, and that faculty should conduct classes normally. Yeah. Right. I still can’t believe that little announcement.
    The roadways were jammed with people trying to get out of the city. Maybe they had heard the same rumors about road blocks as I had. I was still cut off from my wife and child by phone as I tried to cut through the gridlock and get to them. On NPR, I heard about the buildings collapsing, and still more conjecture about another crash, and on and on and on.
    Eventually we were all united back at our home, where we watched, like everyone else, the endless replays of the World Trade Center impacts. After hours of that, we shut it off and didn’t turn the television on again for two days. I had practically been scared out of my mind for my family, and they for me, because for all we knew in the DC Metro area, the planes would keep on dropping from the sky, or something equally horrible might happen on the ground.
    It all worked out, of course. The bomb threat on my campus turned out to be a hoax (probably by students, though we never did find out), and we were all together quickly enough. The day was rough, and the emotions rougher, but we were never in any real danger, unlike many others.
    And the real kicker? The icing on this particular cake? September 11, 2001 was my thirty-first birthday. I went to campus that morning expecting a routine day, followed by a nice dinner out with my family. What I got was a visitation by the holiest of holy terrors, right in the heart of DC, when it really seemed as if things really were falling apart, and that the center could not hold.
    Thanks to a confluence of dates, I now get to remember that day every year I grow older. My birthday is inextricably entwined with mass murder, and all the awful things that have (and will) proceed from those murders. That’s not exactly the best present I can think of, or much of a reason for me to look forward to blowing out the candles.

  28. Hi everyone,
    I live 2 blocks away from the World Trade Center site and saw the whole thing happen from my living room window. Our neighborhood (Battery Park City) was hit really hard by the event – fortunately nobody in my apartment building was killed or injured. We couldn’t go back home for 2 weeks after 9/11 and once we did, the smell of the WTC fires was at times overwhelming – and it went on round the clock for 2 months.
    I’m happy to say that our neighborhood and my neighbors are back as strong as ever. In fact, we’re all just kind of dreading the next few days as every TV network from around the world it seems will be setting up their satellite trucks all over our neighborhood. Kind of makes our area look like one big media circus. Sheesh!
    Anyway, enough rambling for now…

  29. I think this is messing with people’s minds more because they are LETTING it mess with them.
    Yes, something terrible happened. But it is not something that we can’t recover from. The minorities in Germany endured far worse during World War II and their torment lasted much longer. Bombings happen in Israel all the time. One of the first rules of Buddhism is that suffering exists. This is true. Shit happens but we deal with it. I’m not saying we should forget the people who suffered because of the attacks. But we should NOT give the attackers what they wanted. They WANTED to change our way of life. They wanted to make us frightened. Well y’know what? I’m not scared. And I’m not going to let their shit interefere with my life. It sucks that it happened. But it’s over. We are much luckier than people in other places where there is constant terror and death. We should be happy about that. This sort of thing will only bother us if we let it. Humans have had to endure all manner of atrocities and hardships. We have to be strong and move on. If we let ourselves get caught in the past we never move forward.

  30. Somebody asked if the world would ever be safe. My answer, insensitive as it may sound, is that the world was never safe, and will never be 100% safe, no matter what people do. Although what happened was certainly life-changing and all of that, I believe that we (America and Canada) got what we most needed – a kick in our complacency. That’s been said somewhere before, but it’s the truth. When you get past the emotions, logic tells you that we really needed to step down from our “godly” pedestal, and if the attack hadn’t happened on September 11th, 2001, it would have happened sometime later.

  31. Who Watches the Watchmen?

    Wil Wheaton writes over at WWDN about a new effort to make a movie out of Watchmen. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins created this masterpiece, perhaps the best graphic novel ever made. If this project ever comes to…

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