So this is my obligatory daylog for 9/11/01. I’ve never done one of these before. Obviously it’s a memorable day, but I have a different perspective than most. Which is not to say IN ANY WAY more valid or more important, just something people might want to read.
Please excuse my tense shifting.
I got to work at 8:30, the same time I always do. I went downstairs (I’m the only one who works in the basement of my office), checked a couple websites, and began noding.
Someone, I think it was GangstaFeelsGood, started typing into the chatbox the info he saw on the news. One plane crashed into the tower. Everyone assumed it had to be an accident. It wasn’t much longer until someone mentioned the second plane. I couldn’t believe that. I ran upstairs and I asked my coworkers about it. They’d just heard something from someone else, they hadn’t seen anything. We talked about it without making any sense for a few minutes. Small talk, rationalizing.
My boss walks in. “Could you see anything?” I ask him, not quite remembering what the view of the towers is outside. He stares at me. “I was up on the roof when the second plane hit. It was gross.” He turns and walks to his desk. Clearly he’s not gonna say anything else. But then: “Yeah, from the roof you can see everything.”
I work on Lafayette Street (equivalent to 4th Ave), just above 4th St. Standing outside the doors of my building, you can just see the tops of the towers. You can’t see the bases because they’re too far west.
So I go outside. The security guard, Norm, and lots of other people, are just staring. There’s a massive plume of black smoke pouring into the sky. I’m sure you all saw the footage, but the smoke was thicker than both towers put together.
I kind of stupidly assumed that this early in the morning no one would have gotten to work. Especially not that high up.
I got back on E2. We tossed back and forth updates about Palestinians, death counts, blah blah blah. I can’t remember. I’m not gonna go look in the archive.
I mean, it was very strange to me. Thinking that every morning now when I go into work, as I walk down Broadway, I’m gonna stare at those big black holes in the towers. Freakish, but fascinating. I’m trying to gauge what the long-term effects of this will be. What will be lost.
And then someone says that one of the towers COLLAPSED.
Well, that can’t be true, can it? It can’t just be DOWN. I mean…even if it were possible, it’s just too big.
I go outside. Now there’s still a column of black smoke coming out of the right tower. And next to it is a pillar of grayish-white dust. The sidewalks are mobbed with people walking steadily north. The streets are getting emptier of cars by the minute.
And the thing was, once the first one went down, you knew the second one was gonna go. You knew it was just a matter of time. But you didn’t dare say it. Not only because you didn’t want it to happen, but because you couldn’t even process what had already happened.
I’ve got adrenaline flooding through me. I need to go take pictures. But I don’t have film for my camera. I run (literally) a block away to the WIZ to buy it. About 30 people are crowded around the big-screen TV display, blocking foot traffic. I leave the store with film in hand. The mob of New Yorkers is so intense that I can’t walk against it. I have to go with it and go around the block the other way, walking in the empty street.
I go back down to the basement to load the camera. I click on the chatbox and find out the second tower is now gone.
If anything about this could be considered comical (and it can’t, to me) it would be that I missed seeing every development live when it was happening right next to me. Meanwhile, folks all around the world are informing me. Not that that’s bad, just…ironic, I guess.
I decide to go shoot the Dust Cloud anyway. I can’t get up the courage to ask my boss how to get to the roof since he seems so shaken by the whole thing.
I wander a couple blocks south and snap a whole roll. Chris-O said he’d post them on his site.
I wander back, not convinced I’ve done anything useful, and just click on the chatbox, waiting for…what? I don’t know. We’re just waiting out the cloud. I get kind of upset that no one’s told me I can go. Later I realize what was actually going on was no one was telling me to stay. They assumed I’d take off if I felt the need. I probably should’ve, but my E2 addiction was keeping me just a little bit sane.
I got in touch with most of my friends, made sure they were okay. I got in touch with my family, they know I’m okay. I didn’t know anyone who worked down there, although it turns out some friends of mine temped there last month.
Around 2:30, I decide I’ve got to go give blood and I leave the office. At this point, the trains were still down and I was thinking I might have to come back to the office couch to sleep or crash at my roommate’s girlfriend’s place on Houston St.
I go up to Beth Israel Hospital on Union Square. There’s yellow police CAUTION tape blocking the doors. I ask the guard where I can give blood (I’m type O negative, the universal donor, it’s very important that I give). He tells me they’re full up, that there’s a 4 hour wait and not even enough room to store what’s there. Well, I guess that’s good, right?
I head up to QXZ’s workplace. Walking through the park, I’m struck by how many people are relaxing. It reminds me of the way I saw people eating and laughing in outdoor cafés in Quebec City as protestors ran from tear gas clouds just a block away. But psychically, atmospherically, the situations are not the same. There isn’t that SEP vibe. Everyone here is feeling this. No one is talking about anything else.
QXZ and I watched CNN for hours. I got more and more nauseous as I saw all the footage. Eventually we found out the trains were running and we decided to take off.
I get off at my stop in Brooklyn. You can still see the fucking cloud across the river. It’s so big. It’s so much bigger than anything else that’s ever been in Manhattan.
I go home and a friend is waiting there for me. It’s really good to see her, she’s one of the ones I hadn’t heard from/about yet. She goes to volunteer at a hospital up on 77th, not entirely sure they can use her, but willing to help. Bless her. I asked her for a hug before she left, it really helped me out.
I’ve just been watching CBS News (all the other stations were knocked out with the towers) for hours and hours. I’m still not dulled to the footage yet.
Here’s the thing. This is something that happened to MY CITY. To the buildings I see every day. I saw so many effects that didn’t make the news. This is not a TV show for me. I saw the smoke and dust with my own eyes.
(Which is not to say that the way you feel affected by the news is wrong in any way. I’m just trying to express that for me personally)
I CAN’T GRASP THIS YET. Even after all this time. Forget about the people on the planes, forget about the Pentagon, where my dad used to work. Just on the level of the BUILDINGS being gone, I can’t accept this as fact, because it’s too big. It’s like Arthur Dent trying to grasp the destruction of the earth. It’s too big. It will not fit in my mind.
When I try to think about what this means as a news event? As something you hear about on TV? When I try to think about the ramifications for the whole country? For the WORLD? Forget it. My brain just shuts off.
I didn’t cry. I haven’t cried all day. I’m not one of those guys who doesn’t, or won’t, but I don’t do it a lot either. I might have to before I can get to sleep tonight. If I can.
This feels so silly. I have no right to be worried about this when so many have lost so much, and I out of sheer blind luck still have everything. But. I really wish someone were here to hold me and kiss me and tell me it’ll be all right. I don’t have anyone like that right now. So I’m even more sad.
I love all of you. Please people. If you believe in a god, don’t let him tell you who your enemies are.