Skip to main content


Do you ever have one of those weeks when you just feel grumpy about everything, when the little daily things just annoy and overwhelm? I'm having one of those weeks: My house is a mess, my yard is a mess, my checkbook's a mess. My kid just whines and cries at me constantly, my husband is home late every night, and they both just piss me off. Work is consistently aggravating. I'm short-tempered and bitchy. It's an ugly week.

Then this morning I got in the car to drive Sweet Boy to school, dread creeping in because I know he's going to scream and carry on when I drop him off. So I take a deep breath. After all, it's a beautiful almost-autumn morning. As we pull out of the driveway, a plane passes overhead. And I realize it's 8:45 on September 11th.

Suddenly I'm thinking about that horrible day in 2001 when we all lost so much. I recall the clear blue sky and the panic and the nausea. I recall the sharpness of the images but the fuzziness of my thoughts.

I remember the flood of relief when my brother phoned to tell me he was safe; he had missed his bus that morning and didn't make it to the audition in Manhattan. Instead he was standing on his front porch, witnessing the towers fall across the river from his house. He was crying and didn't know what was really happening; the only words I could understand were "it's a bomb! All I can see is smoke!" And I could only squeak out "Please God please God please God." I don't know what I was asking for, but I just kept praying it. From that moment, we didn't speak, but we stayed on the phone for 40 minutes, afraid to cut that connection. Just the sound of breath on the line kept us both calm.

I remember driving home from work in a fog -- they closed the office early because no one really knew what to do -- then gluing my eyes to the television when I got home, as if just seeing that the news anchors were still on the air meant that the world was still turning. The phone lines were all tied up, and I remember when Big Daddy walked through the door of our apartment, I just held on to him, just clung to him because he was the only thing I was sure of.

And I remember driving down I-95 on September 12th and thinking why is it so painfully bright today? I sobbed my way to the office that day, but I know I wasn't the only one crying on the highway.

September 11th was the worst day. Period. But I was one of the lucky few who didn't know anyone personally who was lost that day. Suddenly in this brief few minutes of remembering all the grumpies about the daily miscellany of my ugly week have left me. I've regained some perspective.


Popular posts from this blog

Grace happens

Today Honey's roommate in room 364 at Maine Medical Center was discharged. Some other day I'll tell you about why Honey is in the hospital again, but this story is about the roommate because it's way more interesting. Let's call him Elton, because all I really know about him is he plays guitar in an Elton John tribute band and he's originally from the very northern part of England, bordering Scotland. (Or as Honey described it, "that place in England where the Roman Empire decided, nope, those Celts are crazy, and put up a wall.")

Elton was in room 364 before Honey arrived, and what struck me immediately, besides his delightful accent and soothing Liam-Neeson-esque voice, was his gentle, good-natured manner. He was going through heck from a botched surgery and compartment syndrome - pain and gore and fear of losing the use of his dominant hand - yet he spoke kindly and softly to every person who came into his room. Every time a nurse walked in, Elton gree…

Boardwalk ghosts

“Imagine this, buddy, in the middle of summer, especially near the Fourth of July. Wall to wall people, just sort of moving in and out of each other. Flashing lights. Loud music. Screams from Morey’s Pier, laughter on the swirly rides. Oh...and the cream, funnel cake, fudge, cheese steaks, pizza, fries...the smells alone would drive you nuts!” 
It’s 5:00 on the evening before his Nana’s funeral, and we’re standing in a windy drizzle on an empty Wildwood boardwalk. My mind has flashed back to the summer of 1991, when I spent a week here with my best friend. Wicked sunburn. Tandem bike adventures. Water slides. Thrill rides. A ground-shaking thunderstorm. Friendship bracelets. College guys taking showers outside. Ice cream and VCR movies every night.

Back in the here-and-now I’m trying to explain to Zippy what this place is like when it’s not October. He’s been to Rehoboth and Ocean City and Old Orchard Beach, but none of those come anywhere close to Wildwood in peak season.…


Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."