I have been writing a post about 9/11 every year. Maybe because 9/11 comes right around the Jewish High Holidays, I treat my archive of posts a little like a prayer book. I read my favorite – the first one – because it’s still incredible to me that I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. Read more
After the World Trade Center fell, those of us who were there were divided into therapy groups. Sorted by trauma. People who lost a parent in one group. People who escaped down a stairwell in another group. I was in the group of people who got hit by flying body parts. Read more
In case you don’t know, I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. Here is the piece I wrote for Time magazine on that day.
Here is an archive of the posts I’ve written every year on 9/11.
Here are my two biggest problems today: Read more
I was there, at the base of the first tower when it fell. That night I wrote a piece for Time magazine to make sense of what happened. And each year on 9/11 I write again. This year I was thinking that I’ve been back to New York City so often with my kids that maybe my 9/11 phase of life has passed…
But then I decided to tell you a story. Read more
People are still finding debris from the World Trade Center attacks. Tucked into crevices, between building where you don’t expect it. This is what I feel like is happening in my body as well when someone brings up a topic that makes me think of my day at the World Trade Center all over again.
Recently, it was the discussion of how it’s a messed up life to work on your phone all day. Why are so many people saying they need to be an unplugged as parent? I think those people are desperate and misguided; being tethered to my phone gives me freedom to make decisions completely consistent with my values.
A way I test this hypothesis is go back to the moment on 9/11 when I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. I remember every minute of what happened from when the World Trade Center started to fall to when somebody found me. So I say to myself, During that time when I thought I was going to die, would I have been grateful for the times I was tethered to my phone? The answer is yes. Here’s why: Read more
I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. Every year I say to myself that this will be the last post I write about 9/11. And then every year I write another post. So, now I have a whole archive of posts about my story: I was so close to death, from suffocation, that I went through the acceptance process. Then I lived. Now I write about it.
For a while I thought the most remarkable part of my story is not that I lived, but that I walked toward the building. I had time to get away, but I wanted to see people jumping. I couldn’t believe it. So I stood, right there at the bottom, looking up to see what was going on. I talked to people next to me. I did many things that I could have regretted. Read more
During the year after 9/11 I went to counseling for post-traumatic stress. I went to a group that met weekly. The counselors explained that if we told our story over and over again, the story would have less power over us.
So I have been telling my story for ten years. I am lucky to have a blog, and an amazing community to tell my story to. And recently, as the 10th anniversary has been approaching, I've been telling my story again, to many news outlets.
I was there when the first tower fell. I was so close to it that I could not even see what had happened. I didn't run. I ducked for cover. I got trampled. By the time I could stand up, everything was completely dark.
I remember the moment I realized I should close my mouth and stop breathing. Time got so slow. I remember thinking that if I had stopped breathing sooner, I would have had a few extra breaths right now. I remember thinking don’t swallow, because there was too much stuff in my mouth.
I thought to myself that I had no idea what to do to save my life. I was in the dark and couldn't breathe. I thought I'll only be alive for maybe a minute longer, so I only have to keep trying to figure out how to save my life for one more minute. I told myself I can't give up until I pass out. I remember that I hoped for a fast death. Read more
It's 9/11 again. And for the last seven years, I've written on this day about how I have grown since the World Trade Center. I was standing next to the first tower when it fell.
Mostly, I don't think about 9/11 anymore. Well, not on a daily basis at least. But, for example, I so seldom hear a plane flying over my town—Middleton, WI—that when I do, I have flashbacks to hearing the second plane fly right over me and into the building.
I also have flashbacks when I go running with the farmer on his dirt road. On a dry day the dust gets in my mouth and it feels like the moments leading up to when the air was so thick with debris from the fallen building that I couldn't breath. We stopped running on the dirt for the summer.
In an odd way, though, 9/11 has helped me. It helped me focus my career, and understand my personal history, and it helped me have compassion for my husband when our marriage was ending.
Over the years, what that upsets me the most about 9/11 has changed. In the beginning, I was most upset about how when I saw danger, I walked toward the building, to see what was happening, rather than getting back on the train and going home. Later I learned that most of Wall St. responded the same way, so I was beating myself up for what was simple human nature. Read more