A Silent Awakening

It’s the day that I dread every year; it can’t get here slow enough and it can’t go away fast enough but it arrives on schedule.  For me, September 11th is all about when a major part of my life ended; several years of crisis and upheaval began; and over the past two years, a process of self-understanding and healing had begun.  I am usually very somber and quiet on this day.  I do a lot of writing, spend some time playing some music or composing a new piece, or just hang around with my wife and kids very grateful to be here and very thankful to be alive.

On the last night of the Republican Convention, a so-called “tribute” film about 9/11 was run which featured the more graphic aspects of that day.  It was clearly an attempt to   capitalize and claim political ownership of 9/11 rather than inspire and respectfully commemorate that day.  It was exploitation of the innocent and the afflicted, and unbelievably insensitive at best, disgusting at worst.  The MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann (who was anchoring the coverage at the time) was visibly shaken, he himself having lost friends in the attacks.  He begged the audience’s pardon as he gently slammed what he had just seen.  For two people who are usually not at a loss for words, Keith in the studio and I watching at home, were connected in our grief, dumbfounded silence and disgust. (Keith knew how to channel his righteous anger and disgust in his brilliant “Special Comment” piece on last night’s “Countdown”.)

My first instinct was to go and write a very emotional piece; the angle of the angry survivor taking umbrage.  Then I realized that in addition to me being way to emotionally worked up to collect my thoughts and write something coherent, there had to be something better than the knee jerk response.  I simply walked away from the Mac and hope that either I would collect my thoughts and go down the original path I was going to go, or maybe the muse would call me in a different direction.  Perhaps inspiration would come from doing exactly the opposite of doing what I wanted to do.  Every year I write a commemorative piece on the Anniversary of the attacks, and this year would be no different.  In previous years, it was always about me: my feelings, my hopes for the future.

This year is different, because this time I will be talking about YOU.

The very fact that video was shown at the RNC suggests a lack of awareness of the part of most people in this country about what that day is really all about.  Of course, it is a time to remember our losses of friends and family.  It is a time to remember those souls who passed on who we may not have known personally,  but who at some point in our lives may have come in contact with us; six degrees of separation and all of that.  It is a time for those of us who survived and/or witnessed the events firsthand to try and come to grips with how much our lives have forever been changed.  It is a day when all of America recalls exactly where they were and what they were doing, and to share in the sense of loss and remembrance.  It becomes a sense of community and oneness. On that day we no longer belong to a political party; we are simply Americans, human beings who realize the fragility of life and the horror of the dark side of the human soul.

What the 9/11 Anniversary is NOT about is ownership of patriotism by any one individual or political party on that day.  It is not about wanting to seek revenge against the Terrorists even more on that day than any other.  It is not about promises by political candidates to do more to combat an unseen enemy, nor is it a time to solely laud our military and first responders all the while forgetting the thousands of office workers who continued to work in the Downtown Manhattan Financial District for years afterward.  Thank God we haven’t reached the point of “9/11 Anniversary One Day Sale” signs in stores; but the way things are going in this country, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that eventually happens.

You see, what is beginning to happen is the Anniversary is starting to take on a form of it’s own, shaped by those who happen to be in political power at the time.  It is starting to lose it’s reflective and contemplative quality in favor of forced and manufactured  patriotism.  The coverage of the memorial services have been reduced over the years so that even now only two local stations in the NYC area will be broadcasting the ceremonies in their entirety.  The media message is being narrowed like the end of a funnel, and eventually all of the meaning will have been channeled in dribs and drabs so that the Anniversary completely loses its meaning altogether.

As I said earlier, this is about YOU this year, not me.  It’s about what YOU can do to help keep 9/11 a sacred day of reflection and reverence rather than a political showcase.  It’s about what YOU can do to help by ensuring that the souls of the dead are respected as their names are read into the wind every year.  It’s about YOU not falling into the trap of using 9/11 as a focus for revenge and a fear card to be trotted out at every opportunity someone in a political party wants to make a point about how we need to sacrifice our freedoms for protection.  It is about YOU standing up and saying “Enough!” when you are asked to send a Son or Daughter off to a war that is about something that the United States has no business being involved in.

This is also a day when WE should realize that the answer to our disputes lies not at the tip of a bayonet and a gun.  This is a day WE should count our blessings to be alive, and help those who are less fortunate; perhaps spend the day visiting returning Iraqi War vets suffering from PTSD and letting them know someone cares…because the Federal Government sure as hell doesn’t.  WE allowed those brave men and women to be sent off on a Fool’s Errand, sometime pulling several tours of duty…all because we were lied to by the President and The Vice President…and WE did NOTHING to stop it when we found out it was a lie.  WE questioned someone’s very patriotism when they did not support the War.  WE allowed ourselves to become so distracted in Iraq that our very security at home was threatened because of a severe lack of National Guard troops.  This all happened in OUR watch; we all share the blame and dishonor of being silent when we should have been boisterous.  We cost thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis their lives by our complicity and complacency.

I am a firm believer that those of us who survived that horrible day were spared for a reason: we are Messengers.  Not Messengers of God, or the Universe or any other Divinity or non-Divinity of your choice…rather, messengers of the Human Race.  I believe we are gradually awakening to this fact; many of us beginning to write about our experiences (like myself), combined with a different view of the world and our lives as a result of 9/11.  While I have begun the painful process of recalling the events of that day for a memoir I am writing, other Survivors I know have been braver and gone back to the site of the attack to confront their inner demons in an attempt to understand themselves so that they may perhaps help others.  I see an awakening beginning to happen in other Survivors I know…and we’re beginning to talk about it more…not just   about the events of that Tuesday in September, but what have been gestating inside of us over the past seven years.  We are beginning to tell others that there is an awareness of self that was never there before, an understanding and compassion for others that has been magnified.  A feeling that now, more than ever we need to be loving rather than hateful; that a connection exists between us as Human Beings that is stronger than any national border, religion, or skin color.


For too long we have remained on the sidelines and stood by as our world began a dangerous spiral downward toward God only knows what end.  We were there at the very beginning of all of this, and it is now time to step forward and try and stop the slide into oblivion that our politicians have put us on.  The time has come for peace and justice, not just for our country, but for all nations.  It is time to spread the message.  It will come by way of blogs like this one.  It will come by word of mouth.  It will come by music and art and audio and video.  But surely, the message will come.

All YOU have to do is listen to it, and pass it on.

Memories Of Two Towers Struck Down

I am a Survivor of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

There are moments in History where you know where you were when they happened, and sometimes you become a part of History yourself.  I’ve been to some famous sporting events, watched the first man walk on the moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I was on the Tappan Zee Bridge when I found out Miles Davis had passed away, and I had to pull over once I got off the bridge, and cried my eyes out while “My Ship” played softly on my car stereo.  There are moments when you see History and you choose History.  Then there are moments when History chooses you.

When I woke up that Tuesday Morning, I had no idea what was about to happen to me; nor did I have any idea of how much my life would change over the course of the next seven years…but that was a moment History chose for me to be a part of.  It began a very long journey into depression and alcoholism, recovery and triumph over my inner demons.  It began a period of self-discovery and awareness that was not there before in my 40 years on the planet.  But all of this is for a later time.

What I would like to do now is reprint a piece I wrote a few days after 9/11 while I was still very much in shock and totally unsure of what happened and where I was going next.  It has been printed on several web sites over the years, and it resides in the Library of Congress as part of a collection of written history from eyewitnesses and survivors of that day.  It is graphic and intense, but it is MY story of that day…the day when my world, and everyone else’s changed forever.

———Phoenix Uncertain: Originally written on Thursday, September 13, 2001—————-

CATHARSIS I: The Road to Damascus

I need to write all of this down right now, while the smells, sounds, and experiences of the past few days are fresh in my mind. I also need to do this now because I’ve gotten some clarity in the past few hours and I don’t know how long that will last for. I have alternated between disbelief, sorrow, confusion, and anger…and sometimes all of these simultaneously. On Tuesday, the man I was ceased to exist. The light has been extinguished from my eyes. I’ve tried to explain things to my wife and broke down every time. I cannot even begin to explain to my daughter Katie how lucky she is to have her Daddy around, nor can I explain to her why her Daddy screams in his sleep or why he shakes for no reason. I cannot explain to her why every time I head a loud sound or bang, I practically jump out of my skin. All I can do is try and take the medication that keeps me normalized and try and make some sort of sense of the whole thing. Now that I’ve just popped a “happy pill”, I’ve got 8 hours to write this all down, before I descend into my own abyss once again. In the past 72 hours, I have witnessed events that I never thought I would see with my own eyes. What you are seeing on your television is absolutely nothing…and I do mean NOTHING…like it actually was to be there. I keep telling myself that something or someone must have had a greater plan for me, and that is why I am alive today instead of being buried under a ton of rubble. Perhaps that plan just to write this document of my experience to share with others so that they may carry on the memory of those who survived like myself, and the memory of those who were lost. Perhaps it is to share with you that amidst all of the evil, I witnessed some of the finest moments of compassion and humanity that I have ever seen…an affirmation of a belief that I have always held: that we have greatness inside all of us. Perhaps it is about the redemption of my own soul, for like Saul on the way to Damascus, I’m slowly coming to the realization that my life has indeed reached a turning point. I also know that there is no going back to the person I was, and I just have to figure out just who the hell I am now.

CATHARSIS II: Abnormal Normality

TUESDAY, September 11th, 2001: 7:22 AM, Little Silver Train Station, NJ
Kissed my wife and daughters good bye as they dropped me off at the station. Took my coffee, laptop, and briefcase…bought a copy of the NY Daily News. Thankfully since the NY Giants/Denver Broncos game ended late, I don’t have to read about how my team was defeated. Read through the paper all the while sipping my coffee on the one hour ride to Newark NJ, where I will catch the PATH Train (a subway between NJ and NY) to the World Trade Center, just 3 blocks from my office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza.

8:20 AM, Penn Station, Newark, NJ
Board the PATH train…and actually found a seat! I consider this a good omen for the rest of the day, especially as I was lugging around a very heavy laptop PC in addition to my regular briefcase. It was for this reason that I decided NOT to listen to my CD Player today…it would be just too awkward carrying around a CD player strapped to my waist as well as a laptop and briefcase. I close my eyes to catch a few winks on the 22-minute ride into Manhattan. 8:42 AM, World Trade Center, New York, NY Leave PATH train for the ride 6 stories up a series of escalators to the street level. I decide that my laptop is sitting awkwardly on my shoulder, and that I would fix it when I reached the top of the escalators.

8:45 AM, WTC Path Square (located in the center of the WTC Complex, 1 story Below Ground, where there’s a Shopping Mall)
Reach the top of the escalator, and begin to fix my laptop. As soon as I get myself situated…something happens…a sound…something different. Sounds like a crash at first…then a low rumble…then a “whoosh” throughout the complex. People are starting to run, and once others see people running, they too scramble for the exits. At this point, I think it’s a good time to get the hell out of there, and start to run toward the exits as well. Someone, in his or her haste to get out, knocks me over. I’m falling face first toward a plate glass window in one of the shops. Somehow, I manage to contort my body so that I land on my left knee pretty hard, but my face hits the floor. I’m dazed…compose myself for a minute…and realize I have to get out no matter what just happened. My knee is killing me, but the endorphins take over, and that pain is quickly gone. I feel something warm on my chin, and realize that it’s blood. My fall knocked one of my front teeth into my lip, putting a nice gash in it. I wipe some blood away, and follow another crowd into the lower level of the Border’s bookstore, which also has an exit to the streets…it’s much less crowded, and a calmer exodus of people. I reach the street and exit into the air. There is a burning smell…I’d never smelled anything like it. There are thousands of papers falling from the sky in a quiet procession of calm amidst the chaos. A paper rain, much like one of those party favors that you might have had when you were a kid…you know, the fake champagne bottles filled with confetti. I start to walk across Church Street. I can see smoke, but because I’m so close to the tower, I can’t really see anything. I begin to walk westward toward Broadway past St Paul’s Chapel. As I walk, people are looking up at the North Tower, then looking back down at my blood stained face. I see their eyes are filled with confusion. When I reach the corner of Broadway and look up I can finally see what happened. There, at the top of a building that is approximately ¼ of a mile long is a HUGE hole…several stories in length…plumes of smoke and flame billowing higher into the air. I can only stand there, watching in disbelief as I realize that what we had all feared had probably taken place: a bomb had gone off in the World Trade Center.

CATHARSIS III: Another Ulysses

APPROX. 9:00 AM, Broadway
It’s funny how the mind operates. You know, kind of like when you see a magic trick, you can’t believe what you saw…or when your team makes a triple play…or when you witness a birth. You know you’re seeing something, but your mind sends signals that it’s just not possible, but there it is. From out of the Tower, I’m seeing debris fall…but it’s coming in very irregular intervals. Usually, debris falls in a pattern as a structure is weakened, and at the same rate of descent. This debris was sporadic, and it wasn’t just falling in a straight line from the Tower…it was arcing. I saw it happen once, twice…but on the third time, I saw what I thought was debris MOVE, I thought I saw arms move…and I realized that debris cannot move, nor could it have arms. I had just seen people throw themselves from the North Tower to escape the consuming flames. I began to shake, began to shout “No F***ing way!” and “Oh my God” at the top of my lungs. Someone came over to me and put their hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was all right. I think I said something to the effect I was, but they offered me a bottle of water and some tissues to wipe the blood off my face. I accepted and I asked if they had seen the explosion…and that’s when they told me it was a plane that had crashed into the North Tower. They also told me it was an airliner. The brain couldn’t register that one really…except for the fact that I thought it was a terrible accident, and thank God it wasn’t a bomb. Another person in the crowd came up to me and asked if I needed help getting to where I was going. I realized that my hands were trembling and couldn’t hold either the tissues or water steady and my knees felt weak. Brain kicks in again: yeah, take this guy up on his offer. It turned out he worked for my company but at another location. We began to walk toward my building, and I notice some debris along the way. About a block from my office, right in front of the Federal Reserve Building I see some debris that catches my eye: some tacky looking upholstery that looks like it came from an airline headrest. It was then that I saw a seat cushion and an armrest…THANKFULLY empty.

APROX 9:12 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I walk one block further south to my building, and reach the Plaza. Just as I’m about to turn to enter my building, I hear the whine of jet engines. I look down the block at the South Tower, and see a fireball engulfing the building, showering flaming debris across the skyline, arcing outward and in my general direction. There is a low, rumbling sound, very much like what I had heard earlier…a sound that grew as the flames spread and debris rained down upon Manhattan. The crowd begins to run frantically toward the east, away from the falling debris. I overhear someone say that it was another jet that collided into the South Tower. It was then I realized that this was no accident, that my greatest fears were realized: we were under attack. It was at that moment, I knew that I had to somehow survive this…get the hell out of there…and get home to my family. I had just become a modern day Ulysses.

CATHARSIS IV:The Silence before the ROAR

APPROX 9:20 AM, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
I’m pretty superstitious. I usually sit in the same seat for a baseball or football game if my team is winning. I never pick up a penny “tails up”, and I don’t walk under ladders. In some convoluted manner, the Universe played a trick on me, for I work on the 13th floor of my building. It never bothered me before, but on a day like Tuesday, there was just no way I was going to go up into my office…so I decided to go downstairs to the Branch to use the phone to call my wife to let her know I was OK. (A footnote here and an important one because it’s going to come into play later: The Branch is an underground structure, kind of like a rectangular “donut”. It is just below the Plaza, with a circular glass enclosure in its center containing a fountain. There is an opening at the top of this enclosure to the Plaza to let light in. From the Plaza level, there is a circular wall that allows viewing of the fountain from the Plaza, and it’s quite beautiful when viewed from inside the branch at the level of the fountain.)

Just before entering the Branch, I meet up with a co-worker who sees me and is pretty amazed at my condition at this point…I can only imagine: A deer in the headlights look accompanied by a bloody face. I try and tell him what’s happened so far. It turns out, he’s not going to his floor either…and he helps me into the Branch. Needless to say, the Branch had been closed to all but employees with ID. I also know the Branch Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and many of the staff well because I’ve worked with them directly when I was in the Branches myself. I got in there; they sat me down and got me some first aid as well as some water. I called my wife, told her I was OK and told her of what I was going to do next: try and take the Staten Island Ferry and get to either my parents or my in-laws and have them drive me home. I just wanted to get the hell off Manhattan as soon as possible, especially with the thought that there were two ¼ mile buildings a few blocks away that had the possibility of collapsing. I called my parents and told them of my intentions as well. Needless to say, I’m pretty shaken up at this point. I decide to sit a few minutes to try and relax, collect my thoughts, and move on. A woman named Maxine (who I’ve never met before) sat with me and comforted me. She also spoke with my wife during my phone call and said she was taking care of me. God Bless her…she was a BIG help. We turned on the radio to listen to the news, to see exactly what had happened, and it was just as we feared: two jet liners were hijacked and were rammed into the World Trade Center…and one other thing that hit us all like a ton of bricks…the Pentagon was also attacked the same way. Nothing was the same anymore.

CATHARSIS V: No World Order

APPROX 10:15 AM 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Some people talk about a “New World Order”. At this point in my life, there was definitely a New World, but anything but order. I had finally calmed down, and was about to make my way toward the Staten Island Ferry when the unthinkable happened: That ROAR happened again…that ungodly Roar that still was imprinted in my head from the last few hours… …And then I saw the debris and smoke fill the glass enclosure around the fountain. The ground shook, and we all began to rush toward the escalators that would take us to the vault sub-basements in the Plaza. We arrived down there followed by a cloud of smoke and dust…we made our way through passages that led to the underground cafeteria where security told us to go. My first thought was that my building was attacked, but something completely unexpected happened. We had just found out that one of the icons of the New York Skyline, one of the World Trade Towers had crumbled to dust…and that rubble had spread across Lower Manhattan, washing across the Plaza. We were told to stay put…it was safer here, and there was NO visibility AT ALL outside. More people started to file into the cafeteria…all of them covered in dust…stark white ghosts with terrorized eyes peering from the rubble that had been strewn onto their bodies. Among them were two people who worked in my department. I rushed up and the three of us hugged and held onto each other. We got a table in the cafeteria; got some of the water and wet rags they were handing out to help us breathe. …And we sat…for two hours…and waited for news of when we could leave the building. In the meantime, there was another dull roar in the distance…THAT ROAR… …And the other Tower had fallen. …And God only knew what the rest of the world outside looked like.

CATHARSIS VI: A Hole in the Sky

APPROX Noon, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
Now I know what my cat feels like when I let him out of his carrier after we bring him back from the vet. He always wants to get the hell out, and yet he steps out gingerly, unsure of what he can expect. I kind of felt that way as I exited our building after we were told to head toward the East River. I also felt like a B-Movie actor on one of those bad 50’s “Day After…” movies, the ones usually used for cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. There was dust everywhere, and it looked like it was snowing in September. There had to be two inches of dust and debris on the streets as CJ (one of those guys I mentioned earlier who worked with me) and I made tracks for the South Street Seaport. We’re wandering around, towels around our faces like some post-apocalyptic version of TE Lawrence and The Shadow trekking across the Nafud, or Paul and Jessica across Arakis in “Dune”. We looked back where the Twin Towers had been…the same two towers CJ and I came through every day from the PATH (she’s from North NJ)…the same two towers that had dominated the skyline since we were children (we’re both 40, born a month apart). There was nothing. Absolutely nothing…except for a huge black cloud where those beautiful towers once stood gleaming in the sunshine. It was as if you used a photo program on your PC, highlighted the Towers, deleted the image and filled the blank area with smoke. It hurt to breathe (and I’m a smoker, so I can just IMAGINE what a non-smoker would have felt). The dust stung your eyes and skin. It was raining dust…a horrible snowfall on a late summer day…a snowfall that contained pieces of building, asbestos, paper, jet fuel, and God only know what else. I was reminded of Good Friday for some reason… We finally got to the River, and began to follow the exodus uptown toward God knows where. All CJ and I knew was that we had heard there were ferries still running to NJ (the SI Ferry was shut down at this point, so my first plan was abandoned) and we had to catch one. The air was clear, and I decided I REALLY needed a cigarette at this point (NOTE: A martini was my first choice, but the bars were closed). I offered one to CJ…who hasn’t had a cig in 10 years…she took it, we lit up and moved on.

CATHARSIS VII: Dorothy and The Scarecrow

I’m thoroughly convinced that The Universe has a sense of humor. CJ and I stop and look out at the river just below the Brooklyn Bridge. We can see hundreds of people walking across the Bridge to Brooklyn, the same for the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. It’s actually a beautiful day; there are no clouds in the sky…there are people just sitting on benches on the esplanade looking out at the water…some are fishing…some are making out. Order amidst chaos. We had just come from chaos into one moment of perfect beauty. I think to myself that this is really a beautiful day, and I imagine myself at the Shore or in my backyard with my kids…and then it hits me… …No beach to walk on unless I get home. No backyard and no kids and wife unless I get home…and God only knows what else happens on this day. Snap back to reality…we’ve got to get home. CJ and I meet a Police officer who says ferries are leaving from Pier 11 for NJ and directs us Uptown. Just a slight problem…Pier 11 is just South of us a few blocks, so CJ and I are headed in the wrong direction. Like I said, the Universe has a sense of humor…

CJ and I have walked for a while. I’m still carrying the laptop and briefcase, and I really can’t feel the pain in my knee yet, but at least my lip has stopped bleeding. Needless to say, both my shoulders are killing me. We walk around trying to find Pier 11, just Dorothy and the Scarecrow trying to find Oz. We walk through neighborhoods that we would never walk through regularly, and people are coming up to us and asking if we are OK (we’re covered in dust at this point). They give us water and comfort. We see others helping people…a woman in a wheelchair giving directions and a bottle of water to two people…four people hugging in the middle of a street glad to find each other…Police Officers with their arms around people offering them comfort as well as direction. I realize at this point what my Dad always said about the blackout of 1964 (he was trapped in the subway) that New Yorkers are people who put all differences aside when in a crisis. We finally find a cop who points us in the right direction…we head back downtown.

CATHARSIS VIII: Just Click Your Heels Three Times…

PIER 11, New York, NY: Approx. 2:00 PM
We found OZ. No emerald city here, just a bunch of ferries that were going back to New Jersey. CJ and I parted company here. She headed back to Jersey City and one of the few remaining trains that were running out of Hoboken. I got on a high-speed ferry bound for the Highlands on the Jersey Shore, about 10 miles northeast from my house. I decided I’d worry about how to get home from there…I’d walk if I had to. The Police search our bags before we get on… The ferry is VERY comfortable, complete with bar that is, unfortunately closed…it costs approx. $18 each way, about twice my cost for the trains (which were NOT running at this time), but they were ferrying everyone at no cost. They gave us water, and there were two clergymen on the boat, a Catholic Priest and a Minister, both Chaplains of the Highlands Fire Department. A call comes over the loudspeaker asking for 50 volunteers to take the next boat. People get up and leave, willingly with no problems. I see the Priest and yell out, “Father, are you riding this boat?” He says yes. I decide to stay.

NY HARBOR, Approx. 2:20 PM
The boat leaves, and the Scarecrow decides to look back at the Emerald City. The Towers are gone. The Black Void is still there. The Scarecrow loses what Brains he had left and breaks down. Like the Towers, I’ve just crumbled into a pile of rubble.

The Minister sees me and comes over to talk. He was in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. I tell him what I’m feeling, and he tells me what happened to him. He’s describing what I’m feeling to a “T”. I’m amazed that someone else can describe what I feel…and realize just how fragile we really are as humans…and I also realize at this point, I’m not the same person who woke up that morning. We both pray publicly. It is my first time praying in public since I was 14. Like I said, the Universe has one hell of a sense of humor.

CATHARSIS IX: …And Say ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

HIGHLANDS, New Jersey Approx. 3:00 PM
We arrive in New Jersey The Minister walks me off the boat and asks if he can do anything else, and I tell him he did more for me than anyone in a very long time. I follow the crowd off the gangplank. We are told that we will have to present ID. We are also told that if we are covered in dust we will have to be decontaminated. I am told to go to the “left” line. My belongings are put in a bag; my laptop and briefcase are scrubbed by men in isolation suits by hand. I am told to stand forward a man with a fire hose that then proceeds to spray water on me from head to toe. As he is doing this, I can see the NYC skyline in the background. What two gleaming towers, had once dominated, was now dominated by a huge cloud of smoke and a gaping hole where the towers should be. I was told to turn around so they can spray my front. They do so…and I have been baptized into the New World. I’m handed my belongings, and a Police Officer takes my statement as he was informed that I was in the WTC when the first plane hits. It’s the second time that day that I’ve told my story…but this time more emotions are coming out…and I find I cannot look anyone in the eyes when I talk to them… I’m directed toward a bunch of vans, busses, and private cars where I’m told that someone would drive me home. I walk slowly, drenched…laptop and briefcase still present…away from the water and toward a parking lot. All I can do is stare straight ahead and make no eye contact with anyone. I feel like I’m there (here) but somewhere else. A woman named Doreen asks me where I’m going, and I tell her. She says she volunteered to give rides to people, and really has nothing to do…mainly because she was just laid off from Nike the day before. She offers me her cell phone to call my wife…it’s the first time we’ve spoken my phone call in the morning. I tell her I’m coming home in a few minutes. Doreen assures her I’m shaken, but OK. We drive off to my home.

CATHARSIS X: Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

We arrive at my house…and I run to my wife (holding our month-old daughter) and my 4 year old daughter, Katie. Everything comes back to me in a big rush…I break down. We all thank Doreen, and I give her a big hug goodbye. In the next few hours, I try and explain things to my wife…and some of them I can…most of them I cannot. We call my doctor who tells me to go to the ER at the Local Hospital for a chest x-ray and some tests…apparently the stuff I was exposed to may have contained asbestos…and God only knows what else. While getting tested, they had me speak to a Psychologist…just like others who were coming in. I told my story the best I could, and she was a HUGE help for my family and me. I needed to talk and I did…and I realized that there is a lot I still have to deal with.

CHARTHIS XI: Phoenix Uncertain

I’m hanging in there as best as I can…and for the past five hours, I’ve been spilling my guts out for those of you I know, and those of you I do not. This has been my story, and there are thousands of others such as I. I mentioned before that I am not the same person I was when I woke up on Tuesday. Quite frankly, I’m not sure who the hell I am anymore…but these things I do know: *I am a Father of two beautiful girls *I am a loving husband of, quite simply, the most amazing woman on the planet AND THOSE THINGS ARE THE ONLY THINGS THAT ARE MY LIFE! Please…just take the time to hug your kids, wife, partner, loved ones…NEVER take them for granted! Hold on to your friends and keep them close…chances are that this has touched us all in one way or another.

We have all been transformed in one way or another by this event. We are all filled with a plethora of emotions…I certainly know I am.

Let us work together to seek justice for those who have been killed or injured. Let us offer a hand to those who need it, whether or not they have been there first hand. Let us all show the strength of humanity and compassion that we are all capable of. Let us rebuild our city, our nation, and our fragile planet.

Let us go forward with one voice that says we shall never allow this to ever happen again.

God Bless You, Your Families, The United States Of America, and our Beloved Planet.

Arkangel3 BORN: Mar 14, 1961 DIED: Sept 11, 2001 REBORN: Sept 11, 2001

And So It Begins…

If anyone is a fan of Babylon 5, you’ve pretty much guessed that I am as well, based on the title of this entry and the title of this Blog.  I need to get that out of the way for two reasons, first (and foremost) to acknowledge the fantastic work of J. Michael Straczynski the creator and writer of the series, as well as countless other television programs and graphic media.  It is quite simply one of the most influential and landmark Science-Fiction shows ever done for television.  It had a profound influence on me, not only as a writer but as an inhabitant of this small world we inhabit and my place in it and in the grand scheme of things.

Second, and most important: one of the major philosophies of the show was about Mankind’s ascendance beyond our fragile world and into the void of space; about how we, as a species, have the potential for greatness within us…if only we can acknowledge our Humanity by getting past…well, our Humanity!  It is also about choices, consequences and responsibility; how you make a choice, the consequences of that choice on your life and those around you, and taking and accepting responsibility for your actions.  It seems so simple on one level, and yet in today’s very complex world, all of our choices have a much more profound impact than they have ever had at any time in our history.  A simple decision you make today can impact the future of your children and the world tomorrow.

Basically, all of the choices we make in our lives boil down to the Past, Present, and Future all interacting at the same time, crossing pths simultaneously…intersections in real time.  This Blog will most certainly be about Politics a lot of the time, as I am a Political junkie, and I have been for as long as I recall.  It will also be about observations on current events and the Human condition.  It will be about where we have been, are at, and where we are going as a species.

As you can imagine, this will not be a Blog filled with graphs and statistics.  It will definitely be a Commentary from Yours Truly about everything I just mentioned and then some.  As a Stay At Home Dad, I also have a plethora of tales to tell from the Homefront as well.  I hope it will be informative and engaging as well as entertaining.  If I get you to laugh or cry or walk away thinking about something, then I’ve done my job.  My Comments Section is unmoderated, so please feel free to say what’s on your mind about the topic; just try and keep it civilized and somewhat family friendly.  I may originally be from Brooklyn and can pretty much handle anything, but some of the other readers might be sensitive to certain things, so keep that in mind when replying.

I look forward to our adventures together.

And so it begins…