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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Curve Ball

In case you were counting (and color me very impressed if you were!), I made it through Day 47.  Neeeeearly the half way mark to my 100 Days of Blogging goal.  Then the fates decided to have a laugh and throw me a curve ball.

An angry appendix.

That’s what my surgical team called it.  It didn’t rupture and my body wasn’t reacting as if it would burst–no fever, no elevated white blood cell count–but the inflammation looked like it was starting to spread, so the surgical team wanted to take it out.  ASAP.

angry appendix

I believe my exact verbal reaction was something like “okay, great, thank you,”  while the thoughts in my head were a little lot more expletive.  Since the surgeon wanted it out ASAP, it was considered emergency surgery, however, not-so-emergency that I had to wait in line behind two other more-pressing-emergencies for the operating room.  I didn’t ask.  I really wanted to know what qualified as more emergency than an emergency appendectomy, but as the actual possibilities started swirling through my brain, I thought perhaps it best not to know.

The surgery went well.  The inflammation had not spread and about 12 hours after surgery, I was given coffee and my release papers.

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I had grandiose blogging ideas at this point, having only missed Day 48 and 49, of getting back on track–but my body had other plans.  Despite my brain’s restlessness, I managed to sleep most of last week except when Ann very kindly brought me food or coffee or coffee and food.  You know, when she wasn’t answering a barrage of text messages from the Fam and feeding & walking the Princess Pupcicle and Evil Kitty…well, I don’t think she actually walked the cat…but point being, she’s been absolutely amazing!

Now that I’m on the mend and my restless brain is starting to win out a bit more, I realized that I owe you 53 more posts (well, 52 after this one!).  At this point I can’t guarantee they’ll be every day, but hopefully more frequently than every 10 days!

Ciao-ciao for now-now!

La Bella Vita

Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays have been wonderful and bright and all that jazz.

I recently have been playing host to 4 friends from very different parts of the globe.  Now that they have all gone, stillness has quietly crept back into my house (aside from the yelling at the &%*I$(#^&^%$^ football game), which has allowed for some inner reflection of the craziness that was 2014.  I had some pretty spectacular moments; unfortunately they were not all happy spectacular moments, but a few gut-wrenching ones as well.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a sappy-Shez-has-had-too-much-champers-and-going-to-make-everyone-cry post.  First of all, I don’t do sappy very well and secondly, I need to get a move on because it’s halftime and I definitely don’t want to be writing/editing when the game comes on again, lest my laptop be accidentally thrown in a fit of screaming “my granny could run faster than that!”

Where was I?  Oh yes: I just wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who support me and challenge me and make me laugh.  And an even bigger THANK YOU to my amazing family and friends for, well, everything.

I’ve had some very surreal moments this year.  Snorkeling with jelly fish, for example, or watching the Times Square ball drop and being covered in confetti or sitting on a deck in Minnesota, staring at a beautiful sunset looking out over Canada or standing next to my cousin while she solidified her life with a really great guy (although NO ONE tell him that because we’ll never hear the end of it!).

Not too long ago, I was having coffee with my friend Des, who remarked that her favorite thing about me was that it didn’t matter what crazy place she wanted to go or what crazy thing she wanted to do, I had a story about why it would be a great idea.

I realized at that very moment that I had been blessed with a very unique outlook on life that made it unpredictable, but oh-so-beautiful.  It was nothing like I ever imagined it would be when I was growing up smack dab in the middle of Texas and it certainly isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I think–no, I know–that I have spent a lot of time in the past few years obsessing about the negatives and everything that has gone wrong, and so my goal for this year is to focus more on the positives and figure out a way to create even more beauty in my life….starting with reminding the Cowboys they are actually playing today and figuring out how to get them show up and win (what? surely you didn’t expect me to end on a sappy note?!?!).

Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and beautiful 2015!

xoxo,

Shez and the darling princess pupcicle

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