I did not want to write about the anniversary of attacks. Not because they aren't important, but because I feel I didn't have much to add. But this morning, on Instagram, I saw someone post a "Never Forget" message. That person was in their teens, and would not have been able to remember the attacks.

Strangely enough, "Never Forget" has begin to cloud the original memory of the attacks. All memories are subtly altered: sometimes I remember listening to a song at a certain time, and then realize that the song wasn't released yet. I think many of us have started to edit our memories, bit by bit. And as mentioned, American high school students and perhaps college students are too young to remember the attacks.

I am not saying this as an act of political revisionism. It is true that (as far as I remember), the idea of the attacks as an opening blow in an existential conflict between the West and Islam wasn't present at the time of the attacks. In fact, for the first few days after the attacks, the culprits were still unknown. For the first few weeks after the attacks, we didn't say "9/11". That was a later coinage, and at the time the attacks were referred to under a variety of names. This is just my memory, but there wasn't anger or even fear as much as there was stunned confusion. The attacks seemed so improbable at the time. And for myself, the scariest act of terrorism actually came afterwards, with the anthrax letters. I was worried about large scale biological attacks. These didn't materialize, and the anthrax letters are seen as a footnote to history.

I guess my point is that when people say "Never Forget", they are focusing on not forgetting September 11th as a symbol. A symbol of various things, some good, some bad. But what I remember, in a jumble of images, is the shock and disbelief, going to the store to buy a hundred dollars worth of grocery, walking around trying to make sense of it all, and then the three or four days of silent skies. I am sure that already I have forgotten details, and fabricated new ones to take their place. But my memory is still very clear.

Today is my first 9/11 as a New Yorker. I'd honestly forgotten what day it was until I got to work.

September 11, 2001 was an abstract for me. I lost no one that day; I could only feel the general sense of sorrow that every American shared that day. What I felt more keenly was horror and concern at the way my country was reacting to the tragedy, overcompensating wildly on the "freedom vs. security" tradeoff.

Ten years later, though, I lost a friend in the attack on the Benghazi consulate, and that made 9/11 very personal indeed.

Today I mourn him.

This morning I woke up early and took a chilly bath with Epsom salts and essential oils of clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary. I didn't think those oils would blend well together when I read about that particular combination that is now a favorite of mine. Lately I've been writing, what else is new right? I love the Orient, but don't know much about it so I pulled a few things from books, chatted with some friends, and figured out a way to work a few of my Aussie pals into my current work.

This morning I couldn't wait to go to the chiropractor. I met him back in January, and he's changed my life. Tuesday he told me I looked rough. He said he's known me long enough to feel comfortable saying that so I shared the story of my girlfriend coming over and us bawling our eyes out on the couch in my TV room. Red leather coach, old quilt, sobbing women who are old enough to realize that men can cause more problems than being with one can solve.

My therapist double booked me the other day, but I was glad when I got to go home because I was Exhausted. I was telling my chiropractor that I felt as if a piece was missing, and if I could only find this new bit of information out, my life would dramatically change. He told me that at least I didn't play the victim card, I gave him a strange look because often I feel like a victim, but he said I avoid gluten and dairy and that made me realize that I can be mature when it comes to my health.

Today my therapist wanted to do this new thing with me. I started crying when she asked why I was so angry. There are times when I am articulate, but as soon as I cross her door I feel like a tongue tied emotionally stunted robot. My life is me going through the motions, wake up, eat, sleep, pretend that life is worth living, you know the gig. So I'm really skeptical when she wants to try this experiment where she moves her fingers in front of my eyes.

We start with a memory of my mother beating me with a thick leather belt when I wouldn't practice my piano music. The piano was in our dining room and I could see the roses on the wallpaper, the curtains she had dyed to match and the piano that she had refinished standing next to our family sized dining room table where my dad threw a plate of food at her and walked out after complaining that she was a shitty cook.

When she asks, I rate this memory an 8 or 9 on the pain scale with 10 being the worst memory I have and zero being a good memory. I can see my mom's arm out of the corner of my eye and I can't get away from the slash of the belt that comes down over and over and pretty soon she's done, but tomorrow I can barely move because my backside is so badly bruised. At school I went to the guidance counselor that we made fun of and I squirm with shame when I remember having to expose my bare butt so they can see the extent of the beating.

My therapist keeps going through the memory with me. I can feel the hurt and rage in my chest building up and now I'm crying like I rarely cry. She sticks with me and asks what I see. I can see the room, but not my mom. Her fingers flash before my eyes and suddenly I see a book with this story in it sitting on a cofffee table. As I watch a whisper of smoke drifts through the air, and soon flames are licking at the book I haven't written.

The next thing I see is my parents standing in fire, flames surround them and they're asking why they're being burned. God says nothing, but points at the book on the coffee table. My therapist asked what else I saw and then there was a beach themed room that has walls of Caribbean green and bright white accents. I go back to the memory. Now all I see is the piano. It's just a piano. There's nothing significant about it.

We keep going, I see a calm scene, nothing much to it, but I'm at peace there. I can see the wallpaper and the carpeting. I hate carpeting, but this no longer bothers me. Ugly carpeting can be torn up and I tell my therapist that I'm back in the dining room ripping roses from the wall and laughing at the thorns that do no damage. My therapist asks me who is in control and I say that I am. I am and I am confident of this, but it takes a while before we get down to where I can think of the beating as a zero point in my life.

She hugs me and I pressed the back of my hand into her and I'm still crying, but there's a part of me that knows that this is healing and the tears are releasing decades of trapped emotion. This is the missing piece. My therapist tells me to let go, I fall forward and she starts naming body parts. My neck, back, wrists, knees, heart, everything that hurts is a product of years of not allowing myself to relax because I never knew when the blows would start falling again.

On a related note, I've been reading the artman2003 saga and I would like to take a moment and publicly thank him, and the many others who have posted brutally personal and intimate details that they would rather not be sharing with others. Long ago I was thin, but I was still sick. I'm so much better than I was, but I've surrounded myself with weight for a variety of reasons and made excuses about why I couldn't get rid of it.

I'm by no means cured, or even well, but I am changed and for the better. I no longer believe the finger moving thing is bullshit. It worked for me, possibly it wouldn't for you, I'm not here to compel anyone to find a therapist who specializes in this type of treatment, I can only share my experiences. I've wanted to look like someone else ever since I saw myself in a mirror. I wanted to be stunningly beautiful, and wickedly smart, dazzlingly clever and at times I can be witty, however today I realized that when you throw off chains that have bound you since childhood you're going to be an ugly and out of touch prisoner who blinks at the new world that lies just beyond the bars of bondage where you've been in captivity.

The sun scorches my sensitive eyes, it's so bright it hurts, I'm humbled by the power of its rays, but when I look up, the sky is cloudy. I'm naked, exposed, vulnerable, incompetent, I don't know where to start, my kids deserve better and I meant to give it to them, but I was stunted and selfish, and sorry that I didn't realize this about myself sooner. I need people in my life who tell me the good about myself so I can say yes, I am the things I don't want to be, and yes, there are still people who love me, care about me, and want me around.

I'm going back to therapy in two weeks. This morning I bought a cookie for my therapist on a whim. I don't have much money, or rather I am conscious of how I spend it, but I love to treat people, and since she's given me much, and dropped her rate by 75% so I can afford to see her, this is a small way to repay her for her generosity. I went on a tweeting spree and got a neat response from someone who was excited that I had a life altering event. Nothing has changed except for my perspective, which is what I needed to challenge all along.

All lost some, some lost all…

That’s the inscription on a plaque that was erected in honor of the twenty three alumni who graduated from my high school and subsequently perished in the events that transpired on September, 11, 2001. While I knew only a handful personally, it still hits close to home.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from my grammar school called Our Lady of Angels in Brooklyn, New York (I still don’t know how they managed to track me down since it’s been about 45 years since I went there) It seems there’s another plaque with an additional nineteen names. I recognized another five or six, three of whom were firefighters and another a cop.

Here’s how it read…

Dear Robert,

May God bless those who died 13 years ago today and their families. We especially remember members of the Our Lady of Angels community. Below is a photo of the OLA memorial and the names of our fallen Angels.

That brings the total to forty two people who grew up in the same community that I did that lost their lives that day.

I don’t know how many others suffered injuries or in the case of first responders, incurred any illness as a result of the debris and the chemicals they might have inhaled as they sifted through the rubble in the ensuing rescue and clean up efforts. I imagine there are probably a few more.

They say that time heals all wounds and while that might be true in some cases , it most often always leaves a scar.

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