Remember Them.

Like Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and the Challenger Space Shuttle, everyone remembers what they were doing when the news broke of a plane hitting the North Tower.  Many of my friends and family were watching the news while getting ready for work.  Listening in shock and confusion as speculations were made about how and why the plane was off course and hit a such a large building in lower Manhattan.  This shock and confusion quickly melted into horror and disbelief when many of them watched on live tv the second plane hit the South Tower.  The world as they knew it was dissolving right before their eyes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I slept.  My friend and fellow American Matt called and woke me up by asking “are you watching this? The plane. The plane hit…” he trailed off, unable to finish his thought.  “The Pentagon,” he whispered. The bottom fell out of my stomach.  I couldn’t breathe.  My heart stopped beating.  It was like someone pressed the ‘pause’ button on my life.  I just sat there staring into the dark, my brain trying to process.  The Pentagon?  Surely not, I reasoned, he must have misheard.  He had to have.  The Pentagon?  THE PENTAGON?  I sleepily marched into the living room and turned on the tv.  Every station was replaying horrible images of New York under attack and producing billowy clouds of black smoke.

I call home, my hands shaking as I dialed the phone.  The lines were busy. I tried again and again.  Waiting.  Watching the tv project surreal images of a city I had never visited, but still identified as home. My brain was trying to make sense of the entire scenario and praying for it to be some horrible made-for-tv movie.  It wasn’t.  My friend Penny sat up with me all night holding my hand, while we shook our heads and tears rolled down our faces, plopping into our cold cups of forgotten tea.

The morning sunshine brought no happiness.  Just more horrible stories about people jumping out of the buildings, rescue workers who had perished trying to save as many people as they could, and everyone looking shell-shocked.  The death toll was in the thousands.  People were frantically searching for their loved ones and coworkers.  The numbers of victims just kept rising and no one knew where it would stop. At that moment, 8:14 am Australian Eastern Standard Time, the newscaster said the scariest thing I had ever heard in my life:

Americans abroad are urged to stay where they are and do not under any circumstances go to any US Embassy or Consulate Office.

At that point in my life, I had been traveling for nearly a decade and the one thing that was hammered into my brain from the time I was preparing for my first international trip: if you are ever in trouble or lost or need help, go to the Embassy.  Now I was being told not to under any circumstances?  I couldn’t believe it.  My heart started pounding.  I just stared at the tv, shell-shocked.  What the literal fuck was happening?  I didn’t know what to do.  Mind you, I was in Australia, and I felt safe. But I did have thoughts during the middle of the night that I should probably check in with the Embassy in the morning, you know, just because.

That was the moment 9/11 felt real to me.

Fast forward 17 years and I now live in New York City.  I have met people who were first responders or who had loved ones die or who were stuck in Manhattan and couldn’t get back home to the other boroughs or who were in schools or buildings nearby and can remember the ground shaking when each plane hit and each tower fell.  For the city of New York, nothing would ever be the same.

As a country and as a world, we mourned.  We mourned the loss of nearly 3,000 people.  And it changed us.  We are a little less naïve.  We pause a little more when a plane flies a little too close to buildings or just a bit lower than we think it should.  Even I glance wearily at these planes.  Me, who did not live here at the time and could never possibly hope to understand exactly how the city coped.  I can only observe the aftermath as an outsider.  And the aftermath is raw and rough, but yet, beautiful and graceful at the same time.

On Monday, the World Trade Center Subway Stop on the 1 Train opened.  Since I moved here, it was only a grey dot on the map indicating that it wasn’t in use.  Honestly, until a couple of months ago, I didn’t think it would ever open.  But here it stands, as a poignant reminder of true American grit.  She might be broken, but she will never stay that way and what will emerge will be better than before because of what happened, not in spite of it.

Always remember how fragile and fleeting life can be.  Two waterfalls stand where two buildings once proudly towered over all.  Etched into these waterfalls was every person who fell with those buildings.

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Remember them. Honor them, so that they too may soar.

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Chalkboard Art: Santa

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

Merry Christmas!

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Sunday Comics: Texas Heat Wave

too. hot. to. type.

Actually we were given a brief heat wave reprieve today in NYC–but Sundays are great for being lazy.

Meanwhile, back home:

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Stay cool & hydrated–and watch out for rings of power!

Chalkboard Art: Summer in NYC

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I think this accurately sums up today…

Subway Art: 42nd Street

NYC has some of the most amazing museums in the world, however, art can be found anywhere in the city.  In fact, I’ve found that some of the most intricate pieces can be discovered only a subway ride away…

Like Penn Station, the subway station at Times Square is huge and spans from 40th to 44th Streets and from Broadway to 7th to 8th Avenues.  And like Penn Station, different sections of Times Square have very different tile art.  So like Penn Station, Times Square will get multiple posts.

This set of tiles are located in the 8th Avenue/Port Authority section (aka the blue A/C/E train lines) near the tunnel entrance to the trains running on the Broadway & 7th Avenue lines (aka the yellow N/Q/R/W and red 1/2/3 train lines).

 

Chalkboard Art: The Simple Things in Life

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I mean honestly, when it’s in the mid-90’s (or mid-30s Celsius), who could ask for anything more (aside from beer and a beach, of course!)???  😉

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Subway Art

In following up to my More From South Ferry post, I was chatting with a fellow blogger, Andy (of The Wandering Poet–check out his website!), about some of the amazing murals that can be found on the New York City subway platforms.  This reminded me of another series I wanted to bring over from my other blog shezzaspeak: Subway Art.  Plus it occurred to me that perhaps you want something other than Hawaii 24/7…

NYC has some of the most amazing museums in the world, however, art can be found anywhere in the city.  In fact, I’ve found that some of the most intricate pieces can be found only a subway ride away…

If you’ve never been to Pennsylvania Station in New York City, it is busy.  In fact, it is said to be the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere.  I don’t have all the data to back that up, but I feel anyone who has ever navigated Penn Station during rush hours would agree.

This is because Penn Station plays host to 6 MTA subway lines, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).  Amtrak estimates that their annual ridership at Penn Station (ranked #1 in busiest for Amtrak) is just over 10 million commuters a year.  The average weekly commuters on New Jersey Transit is about 95,000 (just shy of 5 million for the year).  The LIRR hit their highest numbers in annual ridership since 1949, with just over 89 million commuters.  And the MTA estimates their annual subway ridership at Penn Station is slight over 50 million commuters.

That is a lot of people.  But you’re not here for the people, you’re here for the pictures.  And not only is Penn Station busy, but it is also big.  Perhaps not as big as the commuter numbers might suggest, however, it is expanding.

What that means in terms of this blog is that you’re going to see several different posts from Penn Station, as each section has its own style and they are all very different from each other, so I felt it a slight to craftsmanship to slap them all in one post.

This first set is from the New Jersey/Amtrak transit side of Penn Station at the 7th Ave & 31st Street exit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is also large and expanding.  This is all just a preface to explain