In remembrance of 9/11, I am sharing these excerpts from my written reactions eight years ago.
From 11 September 2001, “the act itself”:
On the way to work I heard a correspondent on the radio say something about how the act itself was shocking, but the fact that it happened was not. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.From 12 September 2001, “the aftermath”:
I do not want vengeance. I do not want more violence, and I especially do not want more civilians — innocent people, regardless of nationality — to die. I realize how serious this act was, and is, and I realize that our government will exact punishment on those it thinks are responsible. I also realize we may be wrong. If we ever thought ourselves invincible, that delusion no longer exists. The loss of life, of way of life, has been more than I expected. But it was only a matter of time, as the saying goes.From 13 September 2001, “the current situation”:
Instead of discussing retribution, why don’t we consider how we got to this point? Can we see ourselves as others see us? Can we at least try? I’m disappointed and dismayed about what has happened, but I cannot sponsor the short-sightedness of an immediate campaign for more violence and destruction. If what matters most to you is a brief period of “got you back!” then clearly you should not be reading this ‘blog. I care far more about how this affects us as human beings than I do about what sort of tactics and politics make for good retaliation.Also from 13 September 2001, “survivor”:
“After the crash, and amid the screaming, he started to pray out loud. ‘I said, “Jesus save me and these two guys with me.” Neither one of them complained.’”From 16 September 2001, “the ignorant child”:
I am saddened to note that no one has come into our library and asked for any information on the situation in the Middle East, or U.S. foreign policy. But they have all been to Target to stock up on their American flags. The little plastic souvenirs are waving from many car antennae, flapping wildly as the wind hits them, as we drive fast and faster to war.From 18 September 2001, “stop, look, and listen”:
And after you understand what we did in Afghanistan, perhaps you can consider that I am as proud to be American as any of you are, but I am unwilling to pretend that “American” can be equated with “good” or “right”. Just like human beings are imperfect, so are the countries they populate and run. We have made mistakes, and although I have shed many tears for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we must bring away from this not a sense of vengeance but a sense of understanding … or we have lost all those lives for naught.You may wish to contribute your own story to Make History, a project curated by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
My writer’s block-busting exercise becomes a block in itself when I want to write standard “hey this is what’s in my head” entries. So here goes with one of those, long overdue.
For the past few weeks, no small amount of my spare brain-cycles have been spent focusing on the question of what I do next with my life, career-wise. After receiving two graduate school application rejections – what a fantastic economic period for this process – I have questioned whether this is the right thing for me to focus on while my writing lies stagnant. Not that I would ever ditch my day job for the promise of a future as a writer; I am far too attached to my current standard of living, and all of my major financial decisions impact not only me, but my partner, and not only now, but our future.
Since I stumbled into library science thirteen years ago, it became a natural outgrowth of my strongest traits, but I never intended for this to be Who I Am. There is some amount of sadness in my heart when I hear myself referred to as a librarian and not a writer. The truth of it is that I spent the past thirteen years focusing on my day job and not my writing.
And now when I want to change all that, to focus on my writing in the bits of spare time I can cobble together, I don’t know how to do it.
I have taken workshops; I share stories and critiques with an amazing writing group; I read books on the craft of writing and the art of getting published.
After a long talk with FunkyPlaid the other night, I realized something overwhelming and horrible: I have lost hope. It isn’t about rejection, either; I have lost the power to visualize myself succeeding as a writer. Because of this, I do not see myself as a writer anymore, so I do not behave in writerly ways. Stories go unfinished; poems go unedited. I wake up with ideas I never bother to write down.
Sometimes I spend hours staring at blank notebooks in stores, pretending that if I found the right notebook, I would see myself as a writer again. I fully realize how ridiculous the prospect is, and I do it anyway.
It is crazy to me that I am entertaining this bout of self-doubt while the rest of my life is soaring above my every expectation. It is crazy to me that I feel this despair while I am surrounded by creativity of every kind, musicians and artists and parents and writers and glass-workers and conspiracy theorists and designers and all of them, every one of them, seeing themselves for what they are.
All I see of myself is what I have not yet done.
I know how this reads to the cynical eye: a plea for sympathy, a fish for compliments. It is a confession, and only I can absolve myself.