September 11th – My Story

It was a warm day. I was a new transplant to NYC having only lived there for the last three months. I was still naive and afraid of the “big city” so I would wake up every day and make my fiance look at me to confirm that he knew what I was wearing when I walked out the door. You know in case, I got kidnapped and murdered on the way to or from work? Naive right?

I was wearing a red light weight sweater and navy blue pants that I had just bought from the mall inside of the north tower of the World Trade Center that weekend. I woke my fiance up to look at my outfit and hurried down the steps of our fifth floor walk up apartment to catch the #6 train downtown to Brooklyn. I was working for a company in Metrotech, downtown Brooklyn, right over the bridge. I walked in the office with a cup of coffee and began to check my messages.

As I began to work, I received a call from a billing agent for one of our health plans about the erroneous billing for terminated members. I was frustrated. We got off the phone and I walked to find my boss to tell him the news. He was walking towards his office as I was approaching him. His head was down with tears in his eyes. I began talking and I stopped and asked “Keith, what’s wrong? Is everything okay?” He said, “No, a plane just hit the World Trade Center.” I asked, “Someone, can’t fly?” He responded, “New York City has a no fly zone. This wasn’t an accident.” He told me to look out the window of the executive conference room.

I walked to the executive conference room and stood there with three other co-workers and saw the north tower on fire. It was just before 9 am and I stood there in shock. Five minutes later I saw the second plane hit. I screamed. People started yelling, “This is not an accident”. I was in shock and said, “I need to call my fiance”. I ran to the phone to try and call my house.

There was no dial tone. I kept pressing the button on the phone by the receptionist’s desk over and over. Trying to get a dial tone. Finally, I heard the dial tone and called home. My fiance answered, “Are you okay?” I responded, “Yeah, I think so. What is this?” He yelled, “I don’t know. Get out of Brooklyn now. Get home.” I responded, “How can I come home?” He responded, “I’m going to call Muhammad to try and get you to his house.” I replied, “Okay, I will try and call you back. I need to call my mom.”

I rushed back to the window to see what was going on. With tears running down my eyes I looked at the TV that someone had cut on in the conference room. Chaos. What was happening? I rushed to my desk to call my mother. I knew she was worried. I couldn’t get a dial tone. I pressed the button on my phone repeatedly praying for a dial tone. I heard the familiar tone and called my mom at work. She didn’t answer the phone. I left a message saying, “Mommy, it’s me. It’s chaos. They’re saying we’re under attack. I’m okay. I am at work. I don’t know how or when I will get home, but I’m safe. It’s hard trying to get a dial tone. But, I love you. I’m okay. Please tell everyone.” I hung up.

I called my sister and my brother-in-law answered. He was asleep. He had just gotten off work two hours prior. He worked overnight. I said, “William, it’s me. Please wake up. Please tell my sister that I’m okay. Please tell her I’m safe.” Sleepily he replied, “Okay.” I hung up. I ran back to the executive conference room and continued to watch with horror the burning towers. I looked at my watch. It was 10 am. Five minutes later, the second tower where I saw the plane hit collapsed. More screams and chaos.

New York City had already been shut down. Flights grounded. This was not happening. This was America. We are the strongest country in the world and we are under attack. I didn’t know about terrorism. It was a foreign concept. Terrorism was crazy militant folks killing kids in Oklahoma not bringing down planes on Wall Street. The fire, the debris, the sounds of sirens. The MTA buses that drove down the streets empty with passengers but filled with armed military men and women with machine guns. The dust, the smoke, the reality.

I will never forget the events that occurred on September 11, 2001. I witnessed history. What was meant to break us, made us stronger and we are survivors. So, say what you will about a country that has it’s faults, but in times of crises we become one family. United. New York taught me that I can overcome anything. You can rebuild. You will survive and you will be stronger because of it.

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Resolutions for the New Year

Can I just say that 2010 went by at lightening speed? I can’t believe that another year has passed and I’m staring 40 in the eyes. Not that I have a problem getting older. I have a problem remembering to capture life as I enjoy it. Brennan will be 3 in April and I keep thinking about all the things I forgot to capture this year. I really hate New Years Resolutions because I feel that people make them in a last ditch effort to soothe their conscious. Are you really trying to change? Do you believe you have the will power to change? Have any of your New Years Resolutions ever been successful?

When I started to honestly think about what I wanted to resolve to do in 2011, I wrote out a list of things. In reviewing the list I found that I had three emergent themes: family, friends and self.
Family
The fourth quarter of 2010 was very hectic for me. I worked crazy long hours and I was rarely home to see Brennan go to sleep. Lee told me that Brennan started asking for me at night. He would ask “Daddy, where is mommy?” Hearing that he used to ask about me all the time made my heart break. I wanted to be there to bathe him, read to him, tuck him in bed and kiss him goodnight. I didn’t want to be stuck working late and missing a moment of my son’s life. If you read my earlier post, you know I got over that guilt, but what I resolved to do in 2011 is be at home more, spend more quality time with Lee and Brennan. Document through journals and pictures our life throughout the year. A lot of good photo opportunities were missed because I wasn’t around or I forgot to bring a camera. No more. I will journal, photograph and video all of our the “little things”.
Friends
I think as busy working mothers, we tend to forget our girlfriends. If they are like me, busy working mothers, they understand the pressures and scheduling demands so they understand and there are no hard feelings. In 2010, I missed 3 birthday parties for close friends due to unfortunate accidents (pipe burst, out of town and funeral). I didn’t get a chance to give the children’s their birthday presents until December when I was handing out their Christmas gifts. That is sad. I resolve that in 2011, to be a better friend. If I have to miss a party due to an unforeseen event, I vow to mail all their gifts right away if I can’t get over to drop them off. I don’t want to hold on to gifts for months at a time and feel like a bad friend. The guilt is killing me. I also resolve to have more “girl time”. That means happy hours, dinners, plays, etc. We need to find time to catch up and be ourselves. Your girlfriends are your rocks of Gibraltar. They will always have your backs. Making time to just hang is a key component of reinforcing your friendships. I’m already on the right path… A few of my girlfriends and I are going to see Alvin Ailey Dance Group at the Kennedy Center on February 4th. It’s about 10 ladies already. See, we’re making time for each other.
Self
This was a hard one. I know that I am constantly struggling to make time for me. Me time includes: catching up on some reading, talking with friends, sending cards, movie time or sleep. As many of you may know, sleep is one of my favorite past times. I love to sleep and unfortunately, I don’t get much of it lately. I love to come home and take a long hot shower, put on some smell good lotion and climb into bed in fresh sheets for a long night’s rest. I never seem to have the time to do it. I come home and I’m preparing for the next day by reviewing homework (yep, he has homework at 2), washing clothes, cleaning the kitchen and bathing the baby. I don’t have the time to spend with me. I shop on-line rather than in the stores because I can’t afford the time to go in and try on clothes. I resolve that in 2011, this will change. I will take the time to spend alone with myself doing whatever I want. I will make sure that at least once a month, I do something frivolous just because. I need to be a better me in order to be a better wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter, etc.
So, if you’re like me and you feel that you need to create some resolutions this year, how about lumping your goals into themes so that you can meet your resolutions? Don’t let another year pass and you by and you’re still trying to seek a balance to your life. I won’t die feeling as though I never lived. I resolve to make 2011 the year of me!