Attacking Life with Comedic Jaws of Sarcasm. Recovering Dating & Relationship Blogger - Made it to Step 12 When I Got Married.

Have You Forgotten How It Felt That Day To See Your Homeland Under Fire, and Her People Blown Away?

When I graduated college 11 years ago, my parents had these grand plans for me that included working on Wall Street. Lacking any other real plan, I entertained their idea. I interviewed with some of the big names, but it never felt like me. Wearing a suit every day at a time when women were “just starting to be able to wear pants,” tying my hair up, covering my tattoo, being generally understated, wearing pantyhose with socks and sneakers. Ugh. Believe me, if I ended up there, I would have made friends with the chicks from Longuyland, smoking cigarettes and getting fake nails on our lunch breaks.

Standing in the lobby of one of the Twin Towers at 22 years old, I recall taking what I remember to be two separate elevators to the 80 something floor for my interview. Why two elevators? Well, in case you’ve not been in buildings ridiculously high, they just can’t make elevator shafts that tall. It’s engineering stuff, not anything I understand. And you don’t always get the first elevator. You may wait for three or four cars before one becomes available. So you could get to the lobby of your building at 8:45 and feasibly not be at your desk until 9:00. That, my friends, is why I wouldn’t have perished in the September 11 attacks. Because I’m fucking late everywhere.

I went on to have a lazy job working for Nine West, buying shoes and stocking inventory at their Corporate Offices in Connecticut. Then the wind blew me off to Atlanta, where I worked in a buying office for what was Rich’s, but is now Macy’s. Then I bailed out of retail entirely, managing a restaurant until AtlantaBoy and I decided to leave Atlanta and drive cross country in April, 2001. The Christmas before we left, my mom spent many hours trying to talk me out of it, telling me how dangerous it would be, and to be careful for all the “crazies” we would meet on the road. Bottom line assessment? Yes, there are some freaks out there, but for the most part, everyone we met was nice, if not a bit simple. Especially in smaller towns.

We came back to Atlanta to get our things out of storage on Sept 2, 2001. We planned to spend a couple weeks there staying with AtlantaBoy’s family, tying up loose ends, closing bank accounts, fixing vehicle transmissions until we were ready to leave for D.C. Four airplanes and 19 terrorists altered our plan slightly, but not forever.

Driving cross country didn’t seem so dangerous anymore, when compared with the thousands who went to work that morning, like every other mundane morning of their lives, only to find an airplane crashing into their office.

My brother’s office building is on the south side of midtown. That part of downtown NY is relatively unobstructed by buildings, giving him a clear view of the Twin Towers. He said he saw the first plane hit, and instantly knew we were under attack. What continues to amaze me, is that many of the people in the 2nd tower who started their descent to the ground believed others, namely security guards, who told them everything was okay and to return to their offices. Everything was NOT okay. We discussed this phenomenon in one of my grad school classes – how in times of mass hysteria information gets skewed and people don’t make the right decisions on faulty information. It basically amounts to people not following their intuition. When it comes to my safety, no one can assure me of it – not a WTC security guard, not a coworker, especially not a D.C. Cop.

When I finally got my brother on the phone, I said I wanted to come up there and help. He said two things I distinctly remember. The first were comments about capitalism and how amazing it is for our economy. Agreed wholeheartedly. The second was that those in small towns were safest.

Events like September 11th bring out both the best and the worst in people. While some hoteliers were charging three times their nightly rate to those who were stranded in places far from home, others were cleaning up rubble and helping search for people they never knew, and never would.

For anyone who hasn’t read the 9/11 Commission report, you should. It’s fascinating. Reports were documented in August, 2001, basically outlining the probability for a major air attack on U.S. Soil. Can you point the finger at any one person for ignoring this? Eh, probably not. D.C. is a city of Liberal Bush-Bashers. I’ve said before I’m a Centrist, possible Libertarian. I think all politicians are assholes and liars. But Bush doesn’t act alone. His decisions are ultimately voted on by those other shitheads in Congress getting their dicks sucked by interns, so we can’t pin all the blame on him.

I drove to work this morning thinking about all of our presidents, wondering which one had the most difficult and trying term, based on events going on in the world, not on anything personal like illness. Who is it? I don’t know, but I certainly would argue that GW is in the running. We’re seeing times right now unlike any other, weapons of many kinds, plotting behind our backs that we can’t foresee and don’t always have the intelligence to uncover. Shit, one of my friends who shall remain nameless, made it through Pentagon security with a homemade bong in her car. They searched her car, and she still made it through. Post September 11. Fun shit I tell you.

I might have a Greek Flag tattooed on my back, but I’m an American through and through. The national anthem gives me goose bumps. My grandparents wanted so badly to leave Greece to get here, and they did, some not legally. They did that so that life for my parents, and ultimately for me would be better. There’s not a day that goes by that I take being here in this country for granted. Sure, we’re not perfect, what country is? And if you can answer that question, then you should move there. And spare me the hiding behind your First Amendment Rights to justify your criticism of our government.

In addition to the fact that driving cross country proved to me that danger can find you anywhere, I also learned something else. This country, state to state, offers more diversity in one continuous stretch of land than any other country I know of. Now, I haven’t been to Alaska or Hawaii, but I plan to go to each in the next few years. But, for the lower 48, all climates, all cultures, all political and religious beliefs converge here in the states. If you haven’t been to the Rockies, you should go. If you haven’t been to Glacier National Park, it’s worth the trip to get there. If you haven’t put your feet in the Pacific Ocean, cold as it is, you should. If you haven’t spent a weekend in a cottage on Cape Cod, you are missing out on a New England ritual. If you haven’t seen the line of people trying to cross the border from Mexico, you may not realize how many people really want to be you. If you haven’t been to New York City and had a slice of pizza, well, then you’re just not living.


  1. NR

    This was a nice post, particularly the last paragraph. I really should visit some of those places. Maybe I’ll take my (not yet in existance) kids someday.

    By the by, I assume your brothers office had a mostly unobstructed view of downtown New York?

  2. BC

    Your post gave me goosebumps as I read it. I expected it to be completely different than it was, based on the title.

    The images from that day and how I spent it still flooded back into my mind, even though you were talking about other things… Great post, is what I’m trying to say.

    On a random note, Don DeLillo and one of his characters talks about the elevators in the towers of the WTC in the book, _Players_. Pammy thinks of those elevators in particular as being “places,” too big to be thought of as enclosures of any kind.

    Okay, I’m done playing English major.

  3. DCVita

    Velvet, this was a great post! I was actually thinking along the same lines that this president had to endure ALOT. You are right, he is not the sole decision maker, he is the mascot and the face of someone we want to point the finger on. The world changed on 9/11. We need to all open our minds a little bit and accept the fact that nothing will ever be the same again. You are right about NYC…EVERYONE need to have a taste of the apple.

  4. Bill

    Beautifully said, Velvet. This country is strong through its diversity, through the freedom you and I have to define and redefine our lives. It can be attacked, but not destroyed from without – only from within.

  5. cosmic shambles

    There is a lot of stuff in your post here, so I will just hit on a couple of things. Bush has become the easy target for bashers, but really all politicians are corrupt at some level… and he certainly did not act alone. The Dems in congress were just as much to blame for the Iraq mess. BTW I am a registered Libertarian, and anyone who really thinks there is a de-facto difference between the Dems and Repubs are just kidding themselves.

    On a security note, my brother is an air marshall (post 9/11) and he said that on a particular flight he had The Red Hot Chili Peppers sitting in first-class. John, their guitarist, had brought a machete on board and was using it to cut up fruit during the flight. My brother laughed and asked him how he got it on the plane and he said that he just carried it though, no questions asked. Those crazy rock stars.

    Finally, I think 9/11, as terrible as it is, should be a reminder to all of us to get out and live life. See the country, meet good people, and take advantage of the freedom we all take for granted.

  6. playfulindc

    I believe that most problems (political, theatre, business, etc) can be blamed on a host of people, but we usually pick just one. The president of a company, the President of the Free World, the actor, the director. I try to stay away from blaming, although it is important to note that good communication and clear expectations can solve almost any problem.

    Great post.

  7. KassyK

    Fantastic post. Beautifully said. 🙂

  8. Carrie

    Eh, I think I’d have to give Lincoln my vote for having the hardest time to serve as President. Civil War, ending slavery and then after all that, still taking one in the back of the head at a theater. Doesn’t get much crappier than that!

  9. Siryn

    Bush gets the blame because as a commander, that is what you do. You’re blamed for your failures, and you reap the rewards of your successes. It’s called responsibility. His scorched earth politics is what makes him an easy target.

    W has had it rough, but a lot of it is of his own making because he is relentlessly obdurate, most times unreasonably so. I used to be sympathetic, but not anymore. He lacks vision, and the world – Americans and beyond – often pay the price in blood.

    I’m not blaming him for the Islamofascism that breeds these terrorists. I blame him for his lack of geopolitical and historical savvy, failing to know that going into Iraq would mean a generational struggle akin to Korea and the former Yugoslavia that would require a continued presence spanning years, decades and sending our countrymen in on a half-assed mission, already stretched thin by other ongoing obligations, to die, probably in vain.

    And for that, he deserves every last shred of criticism.

  10. Siryn

    Oh, and a nice, hot space in Hell.

  11. cosmic shambles

    I agree, but we also need to hold (virtually) every person in Congress equally responsible for this lack of vision. One person is not able to implement such policies without support from our elected officials, and ultimately the voters who placed them in a position of power.

  12. Siryn

    I agree, because Congress basically became a brothel beholden to the pimp in the White House and his cabal of puppeteers, and were cowed into doing whatever he wanted. Congress, the media… if you wanted access, you had to be on the bandwagon. I’ve never seen anything like it. Hope they have enjoyed it while it lasted.

  13. Rachel

    If we want anyone in Congress to actually take notice of how they are helping fuck up this world maybe they should be required to have at least one child enlisted in the Armed Forces for a minimum of 4 years (same time as a Senator’s term in office).
    Regarding Bush ~ I can admire someone who has a vision and a goal. What I can’t abide is someone who continues on a path that is wrought with death, disaster and failure because you refuse to admit that you made a mistake and are adamant that you are going to “stay the course”.
    Part of me is hopeful that the next POTUS can turn things around, but I am so jaded at this point I really don’t expect anything more than self-serving corruption.

  14. Old Lady

    Well said in Velvet style.

  15. Velvet

    NR – The view is unobstructed, yes. That part of NY, south of midtown and not quite to the edges of the island is Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, Tribeca etc. There are no skyscrapers there. Only walk ups.

    BC – My most vivid memory of Sept 11 is one that changed my life, encouraged my hippie spirit of floating through life and is one I didn’t mention because it just didn’t have a place in the post. It’s the people who jumped. I would never ever want to have to make that kind of decision, knowing that either option was going to result in death. I recently read an article in Vanity Fair where a man whose son was in the towers showed up on a photog’s reel. He saw an image of his son, leaning out the window of the tower, just before he jumped.

    DCVita – Thanks. Scary that things will never be the same. I think about all the post-Sept 11 babies, who will never know a world before all of this high-security stuff.

    Bill – What you wrote almost sounds like what the Spy Museum was saying in their commercials for their Terrorism on our Soil exhibit. Did anyone see that by the way? I missed it.

    Cosmic – I would register as Libertarian, but the candidates are always so wacky. The last Lib. candidate for President had just gotten out of jail. Though, you could argue that many of the rest of our leaders may also belong in jail. As always, I agree with the rest of what you say as well. I graduated from UB in 2003, and I had to speak at Graduation. My entire speech was about exactly that – getting out and living. No one got anywhere by sitting in a fucking office all day.

    Playful – There always has to be a scapegoat, right?

    KK – Thanks

    Carrie – I was definitely thinking about Lincoln. Trying to prove to people that black and white are equal? Lord, you can’t even prove that to some people nowadays.

    Siryn – Actually, the true mark of a leader is one who takes the blame for the failures and credits the team for the successes. I agree that heading to Iraq was really ridiculous considering that public enemy #1 was and is still supposed to be Bin Ladin.

    Cosmic – And there’s the reason why we should get married. Oh wait, I’m already committed to Ninja, but still. You’re dead on. Everyone in Congress is responsible too. And for what it’s worth, Siryn won’t back down, so you should just let her have the last word.

    Siryn – I truly feel that what we know and see is really only 10% of what really goes on behind the scenes. I learned this through various situations I’ve been in, where I’ve been privy to information behind the scenes etc., that others may not have known, and it really can change outcomes. Take for instance the time I worked at a place where my boss was jealous of me and afraid I could take over her job. She badmouthed me to the man I was sleeping with, viewing him as her confidante. Little did she know, after we rolled around his house for a few hours, he’d tell me everything she said that day. I headed that bitch off at the pass as so many turns she never knew what hit her. But she never could have known something like that. There are ALWAYS alliances, things we don’t know, reasons stuff happens, that dictate the outcome. I’d like to have faith that our government (as evidenced by recent thwarts of terrorist activity) knows what they are doing, I’m not always convinced, but not being so angry about it helps me get through the day.

    Rachel – The fact remains that most in Congress are “upper middle class” and most enlisting in the army are from the poorer are not “upper middle class.” The men and women who make up our armed forces usually do so for patriotism or necessity. And when you’re a Congressman’s son, sometimes raping and pillaging the women and drinking and driving are much more appealing alternatives.

    Old Lady – Thanks!

  16. elvis

    I remember that day because… I saw the plane that went into the Pentagon. I was home that morning and lived about a mile from the Pentagon. The plane was so clear, so silver, so big, so low, so loud. The unmistakeable bunting of an American Airlines. I saw the windows, and thought, “oh no… the children…” As a child, we’d travel alot, and I loved looking out the windows at the little world below. And that’s what made me think of them. I thought, those poor passengers, they probably had no idea… and I’m witnessing the last seconds of their lives. Just aweful.

    Later, I discovered that a teamate I played college ball with never made it out of the South Tower. You’re a good man, M… We’ve never forgotten you.

  17. cosmic shambles

    Velvey: I think Siryn and I are on the same page. Also, my Libertarian affilation is based on the principles of the party yet I do not always vote Lib during general elections. I realize that in many ways my vote will be wasted so I often vote for “lesser of two evils” from the main parties. It puzzles me that people don’t realize that if you vote for either of the two major parties you are basically saying that you DO NOT WANT CHANGE in government.

    And if things don’t work out with the Ninja…

  18. scarlet


  19. Siryn

    There are leaders and there are commanders – they are not necessarily the same.

    And even then, good leaders pass on credit, but in truth, they get the credit from the masses and more importantly, their bosses. We think about Washington and Lincoln, not their Secretaries of War or other subordinates. That is just how history is written. It just comes with command.

    10% is probably a lot, especially with this administration. You’re right about the secret alliances. But faith in this administration? I am having a very hard time with that.

    I generally don’t think about this stuff or else I think I’d give myself an ulcer.

  20. Luck O' the Irish

    Nice post. I agree that it’s many politicians driving the decisions along WITH the POTUS…the good, bad and ugly ones. We as the general public just don’t get to see all the detail of every decision made and also most of what goes on behind the scenes in terms of planning and decision making. Political games most likely. However, my dad spent 30+ years at a govt agency in DC and he said that we would be shocked if we even saw a snippet of what came across his desk. Some things so terrifying, we can barely fathom them. Equally some things so ridiculous that if he could share them, we’d have a laugh.

    In any case, good post. I remember with respect and honor those who died, survived, and volunteered.

  21. Dan

    I was just about to come over here and bitch you out for wasting time commenting on my throwaway 9/11 post instead of writing your own, and here you are with a just the kind of post I knew someone else could write better than I.

    Get to Alaska – but don’t do the punk-ass summertime trip. Go in early March for the Iditarod – it’s amazing beyond all pre-existing standards of amazing you may have.

    I tell you, GWB has it rough, but it’s a tough job. He stood up there and said “I’m up for it, whatever may come” and I can’t help but feel he had an extraordinarily imaginative opinion of himself. Now, I have one of those too, so it doesn’t make him evil or bad or wrong – but I fear he’s markedly underqualified.

    Contrast him with Lincoln, with Adams, who had to win the War of 1812 or we were all British again, with Truman, who had to decide to drop a bomb that some credible scientists thought could ignite the oxygen in the atmosphere rending Earth inhospitable to humans… GWB went to Yale, I think it’s safe to say he either knew, or should have known, that it’s a job that requires a certain level of responsibility and accountability.

    Why exactly did he want to be President anyway? For the interns?

  22. NR

    You missed the point, sweetie. Your post says, “That part of downtown D.C. is relatively unobstructed by buildings…”

    If you get to tease “people” for errors in the post I get to, as well. Although, your error is less grating than those of “people.”

  23. Dan

    Sorry – correction to my post: Madison had to win the war of 1812, not Adams – you see, I was thinking of Abigail Adams and Dolly Madison, the two hottest, sweetest pieces of First Lady ass we’ve had, and pretty much decided that Abigail would be my total number one “if I ever met her, I get to bang her regardless of who I was in a relationship with” choice — way ahead Barbie Benton and Bettie Page, and then I had Adams on the brain…

  24. NR

    Wow, Dan. That was easily the most disturbing post ever. It caused glowing chaotic runes to appear on my screen. The rune-beasts proceded to eat my face. The whole thing. Which is actually sort of a blessing because the pain distacts me from the mental image of someone shellacking Abigail Adams.

  25. Velvet

    Elvis – I’m not sure how many children were on board. I don’t recall seeing many school age children in the lineup, but I have to check again. Neurotic in Ashburn did a post today of all the victims names, by location.

    Cosmic – Again, agreed. I’d love to vote for a Lib candidate (so would my would-be-husband Ninja) but they are rarely worth anything.

    Scarlet – Sigh. You just made my panties wet thinking about the prospect of having a REAL PRESIDENT who knows what to do, how to do it and gets it done. I don’t get very involved in politics, but you can bet your ass that if Giuliani ends up going for 2008, I will turn this into a full on support blog for him.

    Siryn – The faith in the administration comes from an old Economic Theory that we can’t have all the information available, but in pieces, each of us has enough to make a collective knowledge that is valuable. It’s about trusting that the pilot knows how to fly you from one place to another, or that the mailman knows how to get your mail to your mailbox.

    Luck – That is exactly what I’m talking about. Shows like (don’t laugh) the X-Files should remind everyone that our government hides a lot of stuff from us, but they act accordingly.

    Dan – I envision cruising through Alaska. Literally. On a boat. I’ve heard about all those drunk eskimos. Interesting stuff on past presidents. Despite my thirst for American History, I’m not as well versed in the past administrations. But I will pipe in and say that half the battle of those fancy name schools is getting in. I think he’s more of a simple Texas boy who may understand the intricacies better than we think but can’t express that to us in any valid fashion. Fool me once, can’t like, fool me again beeyotch.

    NR – Fuck off! I hate you. Kidding. And I fixed it.

    Dan – Um. Dolley Madison was a cow. Mooooo! But Abigail Van Buren, daughter in law to one Martin? She was a hella-hottie.

    NR – You. Kill. Me. But leave Dan alone. He’s from Connecticut. We have to stick together, all 4 of us.

  26. Mel

    Well said! I meant to check this out yesterday because I figured you would have something good. And I was right.

    I love your post about it and the different perspectives & making sure to live life. The people who say they don’t want to remember or talk about it – they bother me. If you don’t remember it, then you’re not facing the truth. You’re not realizing that this could happen again and that you have to prepare yourself for it. We’re not invincible. The other, most important, reason to remember is for all those innocent people who lost their lives. They were just trying to carry on with their work day, or take a flight – they didn’t wake up and think “that’s it – I’m packing it in”. No, the majority of them tried to fight. And that’s why the casualty is ~3,000 and not the tens of thousands they were hoping for when they sons of bitches attacked us.

    This should affect everyone and it will make us better humans for it.

  27. NR

    Mel, some people don’t want to talk about it because they haven’t achieved enough emotional distance to have any sort of conversation about it. Likewise, I can’t handle movies like United 93 and World Trade Center. I can’t watch the documentaries. In fact, the only thing I ready for are moments of silence. In my mind, for my sanity, silence and respect is what 9/11 needs. Not endless talking and certainly not commercialization.

  28. Drunken Chud

    the national anthem still gives me goosebumps. sometimes, i well up a little. try and think how hard that is to march in an rotc color guard every time your school had an athletic event. pretty much, autopilot.

  29. Caribbean Lurker

    That was a beautiful post!
    And I know what you mean about people in power filtering out the information they give to the public. In 1998 we had a big hurricane down here (George), I lived two blocks from the ocean then, and I could see the waves crashing, the wind killing the palm trees all while the Director of Civil Defense was saying on TV that everything was all right, that the hurricane was not going to hit us. His reasoning? HE didn’t want the refuges to get filled up with people!

  30. cuff

    “And spare me the hiding behind your First Amendment Rights to justify your criticism of our government.”

    I don’t get it. It sounds from the comments that a whole lot of people are exercising those rights at this moment.

  31. Stef

    I’m a few days behind, as usual, but I want to follow-up on cuff’s comments. I don’t ever consider it “hiding” behind the First Amendment to criticize the government. I think the 1st Amendment is one of the greatest things about our democracy – which is a pretty amazing thing all told, too. But I think it’s not just a right but a duty of all citizens to pay attention to their government and criticize or support based on their own opinions, regardless of who’s in charge. The beauty of democracy as a system is that ultimately those leaders work *for* us. Sure, they’ve got a lot of power, but ultimately we give it to them and we can vote to take it away.

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