9/11: Past, Present and Beyond



We were living in Brooklyn for the 10 year anniversary of the Twin Tower attacks, and I wrote a blog post that weekend on my experience. I dug it out to share pieces of it with you today.

On the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks, I found myself at a Brooklyn Catholic Mass. As we approached the anniversary, the wounds stung in the hearts of the country. It is felt all over with acute pain, but here in New York they saw the smoke in the sky, they stood in their streets watching it rise. Here in New York they knew the people that worked in those towers and performed the service of going in to search for the living, and the dead.

I was new to writing. I was new to motherhood and adulthood and my neighborhood. I was living in a strange city, one I simultaneously hated and adored, and I was trying to connect.

 As I sat on my stoop yesterday, Maria, my landlord’s wife, shared a few memories with me about the event.

She is not one to mince words. She is a matter-of-fact, Italian-Catholic with jet-black hair and eyes almost as dark. She is an immigrant to this country, and she is a Brooklynite to the core. She was pregnant with her son Anthony when the 9/11 attacks occurred. She was the one to tell me she could see the smoke from the impact of the planes. Then, as the dust began to settle, so did the debris. It settled as far as our street.

She watched people flock to the churches, crying for mercy and understanding. She watched anger and resentment wash away — it was replaced by deep and confusing wounds. She hoped people would see why they need a saviour and she told me she secretly knew that most of them would forget.

This is the way I will always remember Maria. Her stern, serious face turned outward, watching her street from the top step of her stoop, hair braided to fight frizz and heat, hands gently clasped in front of her. I knew I was not that kind of woman — she was black and white, I lived often in the murky gray area.

We were different, unique, not better or worse, and I was still learning what that meant.

When the attacks happened, I was sixteen-years-old. I was floundering, lost in my own world. I had never really felt the impact of this global war we are in. 9/11 was the first time I really saw the horror and senselessness bred by ignorance. It was hatred illustrated in a tangible way. It did that for all of us. It opened our eyes to the reality that we are not immune to terror, we are not isolated, and we are not untouchable. In this world we are unsuccessfully trying to share, we can be hit, we can be shocked.

We will never forget 9/11, we can’t, but there is a whole generation of children who did not know the time before, who only know now. They never got to meet someone at the airport arrival gate, they never saw the New York skyline with those towers shining in the sun. We will never forget the moment the towers were hit, but they will never a know a time when they weren’t.

The Stoop Life: Sam and his buddy, age 2

The Stoop Life: Sam and his buddy, age 2

If current events are any indication, they will never know a time without war. They will grow up fast. They will get their news from Twitter because sometimes that is more reliable. They will breathe air that is more polluted, but maybe they will drive cars that are kinder to the environment. They will have less wild land to explore, but more options for affordable housing.

We will watch them grow up while we are still growing up ourselves.

So, today, we went to Mass at our landlord’s church. We went to remember this tragedy and the hope that came out of it, with people who felt it deeply, with people who watched it happen on their stoops and from their balconies.

There were elements of Mass that I will never understand, and don’t need to, but I am not threatened by what I do not understand. I wouldn’t be here, in New York or at Mass, if I were.

On the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy I got a chance to do something the people who took down the towers will never get to do — share in an expression of faith that is different from my own, and see it as no less valid.

I lived two years in New York City, and I discovered the only thing we have the power to change is ourselves. I have watched people I love be unwilling to change, and become lesser for it, while others have overcome impossible hurdles, transforming themselves, changing lives around them. have changed in ways that are terrifying and breathtaking, that are obvious and personal and none of your business.

It is not enough to Never Forget. It was a national tragedy, but since 9/11 there have been tragedies beyond measure all across the world. There has always been war. There has always been terror. These are not things we can prevent on a grand scale. It begins with you, and me, and here and now.

We are the post-9/11 heroes.




What’s Up Wednesday: The Outlander Edition

Writing Rambles

RobotWUWWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

Finished the adorable How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blake. It was a fun read, and since it is an e-first the price is quite low. I totally recommend, plus, it takes place in London which just feeds my growing obsession with the UK. I am using Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas as a revision reward. I want to just devour it, but this is better…this is better.

What I’m Writing

Yes. I am revising. It is part revision and part rewrite, which has gotten me thinking about the difference between the two. There is a difference. When I started revising the draft stayed mostly the same with some well-placed additions or subtractions, new scenes, reworking old scenes. Then I made this BIG change, and the BIG change has required a rewrite of the middle third of the book. I am a million times happier with this thing, but holy hell it’s involved. I want to be finished with the revision by the 15th (or somewhere very near the middle of the month) and have it off to my CPs shortly thereafter.

What Inspires Me

Thinking outside the box. I sat with my eyes closed last night pondering out a particular sticking point in the plot, and came out on the other side. Being willing to step back and really look at each element in this book has broadened my own understanding of what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it.

Outlander…in no way does Scotland in the 1700s remind me of the world in my manuscript, but the beauty of the story, the romantic Jamie quotes, the pretty boy in the kilt…

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What Else I’m Up To

Watching Outlander

I don’t have Starz, and where we live (our house is in the woods) we cannot stream very much from the internets because our provider has a bandwidth cap. (I hate them.) So I go to my sister-in-laws on Saturday to watch Outlander. She is a teacher, and with the school year up and running she stays busy during the week. Saturday is our time to catch up, to fangirl and swoon, and to forget there is a world where Jamie Fraser is not real.



I’m gonna also need all these outfits, and her tartan with pockets. (My birthday is coming up, FYI.)


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Catching up with friends in general after the busy summer. Reading more. Writing more. Overall just having more time, while also somehow having less time. Mom’s with school age children, you’ll know what I mean.

Have a wonderful week!

What’s Up Wednesday

Writing Rambles

TreeWUWWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I just started How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blank. I started it about four months ago, forgot about it the hustle of things and it being on my Kindle app which sometimes I hate, and then remembered and opened back up. It was published in the UK and is absolutely adorable. It’s chick lit, which is not normally my bag — I say that, but I have loved quite a few books I’d call chick lit actually — but I’m really enjoying it.

I hope to finish it by the end of the week because as my reward for getting ALL THE REVISING accomplished, I am buying Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and may not speak to another human person until I have devoured it.

What I’m Writing

I am doing a revision on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. Mostly, it was prompted by really incredible notes from an agent I’ve been working with (not signed, don’t get too excited), but then as I considered her notes I began to see so many things come clear that it took on a life of its own. I am kind of killing this revision, and now that my son is in school, I have time to really knock it out.

In the last couple weeks I have witten over 9,000 new words and revised a whole lot more. So, in honor, here is a tiny little excerpt that I revised last week:

I hear Aiken move from the bed, shuffle across the room, and then lean against the door. After another moment he opens it. His face is washed in moonlight, revealing eyes hooded with sleep and hair mussed all over. He wears thin pants that hang from his hips and cling to his thighs, and for the smallest moment I forget myself, the reason Malia and I woke him… reason at all. It is work to force my eyes back to his face.

He glances between us, waiting.

What Inspires Me

I’ve been inspired by some really incredible YA high fantasy. I read The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which are very different brands of high fantasy, and both incredibly well done.

This for tone and emotion:

obandpinspireWhat Else I’m Up To

Still very much adjusting to my son starting Kindergarten. There is no doubt that he is ready, that he will flourish, but it is emotional to realize how big he’s getting, and how fast that’s happening.

I’m started exercising again. I have been mostly eating healthy and not drinking (not having a night cap every night). I really hate working out but I really love the sense of calm I have when I do, and hopefully the result of a cuter ass won’t be so bad either. 😉

Happy Wednesday!