It was eight years ago, another quietly sunny September morn, bland but for the start of that back-to-school bite in the air, and we were together all day. You called out from the next room, just as I was waking with a slight stomachache, and a feeling of disquiet.

Before the news could really absorb, you bent your head mulishly, continuing to reformat pages of your dissertation at the kitchen table. It was due today. With occasional firmness, you shooed me away from the staticky cable-less television and the tinny radio. I tried to feed us, pulling out the food processor, bowls, baking pan; an array of nuts, flour, vegetables, greens. Healthy, heavily pigmented things that had had roots. The vegetable loaf turned out as a kind of fallen pate studded with sunflower seeds, which you kindly spread onto a cracker or two, chiding and half-giggling, it’s ok, it’s ok, and no, no, no.

It was airless and stifling in the dining room. From the window, the bridge, the pools of hazardous waste in a human-made chemical wetlands, the view from which toxic sunsets bled towards south Jersey; all the same. I put all I had into lifting up a paint-stuck window pane and glass shattered, a neat red line running down my hand as a small breeze entered. Later, my landlady would yell without conviction; a hard pulse at her temple, and a plangent note curling up in her hammered-flat Jersey oh-s. Her eyes stared out over the jagged shards, and I can’t remember any words said that day.

From the other side of the house, the cloud approached, and a metallic-tasting silt dust settled in our eyes, noses, and lungs.

Limbs too loose and dialogue too punchy, we walked in the sepia light down to the little community park nearest the water. People were standing around in clumps, smoking joints and cigarettes, or just standing. Helicopters dipped, swayed and circled like gulls. The smoke mushroomed, billowed, and continued to spread across the water, acrid and stinging. It was hard to understand that we were in the cloud, because we could see it there. Downtown Jersey City took brown and hazed snapshots of itself, and we carefully talked around and away from the idea of people.

The video store was still open.

We bought some food and wine, and watched "The Straight Story," of which I remember nothing but what might be printed on its sleeve. The main character a man pushing forward on a workyard CAT, to deliver sad news halfway across the country.

More like this:

Comments

thestoryteller Sept. 26, 2009 @ 12:08 a.m.

As usual, your language is thick and overdone. Not conversational at all. Half the time, you don't state what the story is about up front, which is surprising for a teacher. The posters may give you love, because they can't find it anywhere else, but I don't think the editors have given you any. I just wish I knew where you teach, so I don't go there.

Maybe if you got that car-selling job I suggested long ago, you wouldn't have to buy your shoes at Payless. It's just a thought...

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antigeekess Sept. 11, 2009 @ 8:49 p.m.

Lovely, as always.

It was a strange day. I was attending ASU, and even in Arizona, there was stillness and shock in the air.

The only two things I remember:

A student with a handmade t-shirt that read "Please Don't Hate Me. I'm Indian."

I went to Taoism class and thought simply, "How appropriate."

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SDaniels Sept. 11, 2009 @ 10:27 p.m.

All of NYC audibly shared your mantra, gringo. I don't mean to stir things up, but wanted to remember and write what I could without too much upset.

Yes, AG. Today I saw a t-shirt reading "Katrina Relief Volunteer." I informed the wearer that he had the wrong disaster today. Humor feels ok.

Another guy was wearing a shirt that read "Love Speaks Louder Than Words."

I also thought "How appropriate," but with a generous splash of unwelcome irony.

The friend who stayed with me married, and has now two beautiful boys, as well as a fantastic career as a French lit prof. I was lucky to have such a strong and comforting presence that day.

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David Dodd Sept. 11, 2009 @ 10:41 p.m.

No, SD, it was great. Anna and me spent the evening watching a documentary on nine-eleven tonight, yours was spot on as a memory. It is the first documentary on it that I've been able to watch since it happened, and what I took away from it was how determined people were. And, how through the entire two hours of the ordeal, people in general, mad as hell and sad as they were, would somehow come out of it. I found that part of the documentary inspirational.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 11, 2009 @ 10:43 p.m.

It is hard for me to even think about 9-11. When I do I think about it I think we should have nuked every major city in Afaganhistan.

Yeah, I know it is wrong-but you don't allow terrosrists to kill thousands of innocent people and get away with it.

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David Dodd Sept. 11, 2009 @ 11 p.m.

Yeah, but Surfpuppy, Afghanistan didn't fly the planes or plan the attack. I was mad as hell, too. But if the U.S. had responded that way, then they're no better than the Middle Eastern countries that react the same way. What is the saying about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaving us all blind and toothless?

What really sucked about it, for those of us who were pretty mad about it, is that in reality the people responsible took their own lives in the process. In that respect it's tough to get any closure on a tragic event like that. First response is to bomb the mother-effers who might be planning the next attack, but when you think about it, what's that really going to accomplish? It's going to take many civilian lives and, ultimately, not really put a dent into religious extremism.

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antigeekess Sept. 12, 2009 @ 12:24 a.m.

For me, personally, 911 will always be tied with the memory of this man more than any other:

http://fateh.sikhnet.com/s/BalbirSodhi

I didn't know this man, but I lived just down the Apache Trail from his store in Mesa, AZ. Not only did his community love him, but when there was a memorial for him downtown at Phoenix Civic Plaza, 3 to 4 thousand people showed up. Many of them were strangers who, like me, had heard the story on the news.

I couldn't go. I took flowers to the store instead, and placed them on the sidewalk, with hundreds of others.

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David Dodd Sept. 12, 2009 @ 12:32 a.m.

anti: Hell's to the yeah! I didn't even have to click on any of your links. Even before that happened, this was my first fear. It remains my first fear.

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SDaniels Sept. 12, 2009 @ 12:09 p.m.

You read my mind, AG. I was about to mention that Sikhs were terribly mistreated in the aftermath. You'd think in NYC and the boroughs, and especially in the area I promptly moved to-- Ditmas Park/Cortelyou--which has, btw, been named the most ethnically diverse community in the WORLD--that people would have understood that a turban and beard does not equate one with terrorism--or even with Middle Eastern heritage. People already challenged by geography and cultural awareness saw Aladdin with their kids, and forgot about the existence of such small bergs as say, South Asia. Not to say that anyone from the Mid East deserved anything they got, either. I had colleagues who considered taking a hiatus for self-protection, but who wanted to try and get on a plane?

I felt like apologizing to every Sikh I saw in the city those days, and you could see the fear and apprehension on people's faces. Giant ads were taken out in local papers to announce and educate on the basic tenets of Sikhism...

Refried, been tinkering with that time machine? How's it going? Future or past? :)

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RRwriter Sept. 24, 2009 @ 10:49 a.m.

Wow, I loved the descriptions. I could taste the smoke you were speaking of. The glass and trickle of blood were memorable visuals. Great tone and pace. I felt like I was watching a film short instead of reading. Thank you for writing this.

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David Dodd Sept. 11, 2009 @ 10:06 p.m.

I went to work and found out once I arrived that building two was gone. The other one fell shortly there after. My mantra, all day long, was this: "Holy s***!"

When I got home, here in Baja, I wrote.

"The world changed today.

If I could go back in time, and take all of you with me, I'd invite you into a time where we could all form a country where our 'God' wouldn't have an agenda. He wouldn't hate Jews or Christians or Palestinians. There would be no reward in taking any form of human life. There would be no such thing as a Jihad, because we would all be simple human beings."

Unfortunately, my time machine remains broken.

Yours is a more bittersweet memory.

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SDaniels Sept. 30, 2009 @ 1:31 p.m.

This is priceless...or is it "payless?" And to think I didn't have to pay a dime for this astute assessment of my work. Thanks, Mindy! PS: Publishing is not my goal, writing for pleasure is. I'll keep that car salesman job in mind; perhaps you can suggest a particular dealership?

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SDaniels Sept. 30, 2009 @ 10:29 p.m.

Censorship strikes, for the first time in one of my posts--despite a lack of profanity: Let's try that again, Mindy, in different words. I commented that with your habit of trolling around craigslist for dates, you have most likely made the extremely close, personal acquaintance of quite a few car salesmen in town. With all of these 'contacts' at your disposal, perhaps you could suggest a particular dealership for me to find a job selling used Buicks :)

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David Dodd Sept. 30, 2009 @ 10:48 p.m.

Here's the deal guys: You can't approach libel. You can wonder how many men that someone has slept with, but you can't suggest that someone has slept with someone. That's my guess. I mean, unless you have pictures and stuff. Then you would win the blog contest ;)

Point is, the Reader needs to cover it's Mindy... er, I mean, it's a$$.

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antigeekess Sept. 30, 2009 @ 10:43 p.m.

Daniels reported:

"Censorship strikes, for the first time in one of my posts--despite a lack of profanity"

Really. They let the s*** in #12 stand -- which is nothing but a childish personal attack tacked to the bottom of a MEMORIAL STORY ABOUT 9/11 -- and they censored YOU? What a bunch of crap.

Daniels, shame on you. You neither write about BJs nor do you give them to the editors at the Reader. Ya gotta get widda program, beeyotch!!!

;)

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antigeekess Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:16 p.m.

thestoryteller sniped:

"As usual, your language is thick and overdone."

Translation: "You use big words. Me no understand."

"Not conversational at all. Half the time, you don't state what the story is about up front, which is surprising for a teacher."

It's not supposed to be "conversational." Why? Because it's in PRINT. If you had encountered more teachers during your rather obviously limited education, perhaps they could have imparted to you the difference between the spoken word versus the written one. Because I'm feeling particularly magnanimous this evening...

Oh, wait. I'm sorry. That was nice at all, was it? Here:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/magnanimous

As I was saying, because I'm feeling particularly mag-nan-i-mous this evening, here are some articles with which you may 'begin' to educate yourself on the subject of the spoken vs written word:

http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/spoken-word-versus-written-word20093.html

Zig Ziglar certainly gets it. Note item #3 on the list, here:

http://www.candogo.com/search/insight?i=967

"The posters may give you love, because they can't find it anywhere else, but I don't think the editors have given you any."

Yeah, that's at 'least' a two-way street, I hear (if not three).

I'm not quoting the rest. It goes something like, "MY shoes are more expensive than YOUR shoes. Nyah, nyah."

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_CKURmBUYXL8/R6IjEE-BGsI/AAAAAAAAAGk/awgoJtRf7UA/s320/Nellie.gif

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Russ Lewis Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:19 p.m.

(#16) Gringo has it right. Newspaper publishers are touchy about getting sued. And the comments in #12, as far as I can see, are harsh but they aren't libelous. Or obscene.

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David Dodd Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:26 p.m.

AG: No, not you! I was referring to SD's comment that was changed. Something about sleeping with Auto Dealers or something...

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antigeekess Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:21 p.m.

Refried suggested:

"You can wonder how many men that someone has slept with, but you can't suggest that someone has slept with someone."

Did I do that? All I said was this:

"Daniels, shame on you. You neither write about BJs nor do you give them to the editors at the Reader."

Which is stating that Daniels doesn't. I didn't exactly say anybody else did. Or 'who' they did, if they did.

:)

Besides, anyone who likes can sue me black and blue. Ya can't get blood out of a turnip. They can get in line behind the student loan a**holes, the I.R.S., and everybody else.

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Russ Lewis Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:39 p.m.

Gringo, you're about the only mother****er around here who ever keeps his facts straight. Thanks. Maybe we should appoint you the officiator of these catfights and bitch-fests.

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David Dodd Sept. 30, 2009 @ 11:44 p.m.

Aw, russ, thanks for the fine compliment, but I'm far too much of a mischief-maker at times to officiate anything. Catfights are bound to occur. Sometimes we get a little ticked off, the Reader isn't unlike any other wonderfully disfunctional family :)

But I'm happy to help, whenever I can.

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:25 a.m.

Now, now, russl, if this is a 'catfight,' then what do you call the ongoing enmity between Mindy and refried? Mrrrowwwaahhh!

I prefer to see these posts as brief, perfunctory reality checks for Mindy--she needs more of this kind of 'check' :)

AG, your 3rd link in #17 also contains this fun vid:

"Control Your Temper by Using the Telephone Method By Zig Ziglar"

http://www.candogo.com/search/insight?i=4431

Freakin' hilari-mouse.

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Russ Lewis Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:25 a.m.

I think you've already helped plenty (i.e., comment #21) just by accurately recounting details that the Reader expunged from the above pissing contest. (Can women have a pissing contest? I think they can if they employ the following.)

http://www.femalefreedom.ca

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CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:33 a.m.

Something about sleeping with Auto Dealers or something...

Wasn't this a movie with Larry Craig?

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Russ Lewis Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:43 a.m.

(#24) "if this is a 'catfight,' then what do you call the ongoing enmity between Mindy and refried?"

I don't know. There isn't a name for it yet.

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:59 a.m.

re: #25: Hey russl, I reworded the comment in #14 for ya. And thank you so much for that link--the Dutch are so resourceful :)

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 1:02 a.m.

Clicked on the first link in #28, but just not into reliving any video from 9/11/01. The actual experience was close enough, thx much. Feel free to summarize here, though, PP.

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PistolPete Oct. 1, 2009 @ 1:09 a.m.

Without getting political since I'm a 9/11"truther",the first video was about a young man who saw firsthand,the devastation caused by Christine Whitman's lack of ethics in proclaiming New York City to be safe enough not to need special masks while the first responders were searching for survivors. EVERYONE high up in politics knew that the air wasn't safe to breathe but released a false report stating that it was in fact safe to breathe. As a result,many first responders are dead and dying and he wants to hold those politicians responsible for the murders they have commited. VERY good video.

The other video is Part 1 of"102 Minutes that Changed America". It's not narrated. It has tons of actual video-professional and ameture. Again,a must see.

And again,I don't want to turn this thread into a political bitchfest. I have my opinion. The people that read this have theirs. That's ok.

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 4:18 p.m.

This thread is about 9/11, Pete. You can do what you like with it, with my blessing and full attention--as long as you don't get racist, threatening, or out of control with the sexist remarks. I do not believe every theory 9/11 "truthers" come up with, but am always open to new information. One issue that still, sadly, needs address is indeed the air issue. I did have enough trouble with breathing that crap at the time--stirred up frequently by September/October winds--living across the water, and going to school everyday in Manhattan. and cannot imagine how the lungs of people living close to ground zero were really affected. It reminds of the coverups over Agent Orange and other nerve gases used in war, for two wars I can think of offhand.

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nan shartel Oct. 1, 2009 @ 4:24 p.m.

could i export this to my NEWS site in Canada SDaniels???

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:20 p.m.

Wow! Very cool, nan. I am proud to have 65 hits, potentially from Canadians, and in turn am touched by your very sweet description of it :)

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PistolPete Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:27 p.m.

It's cool SD. I'm not an a**hole 24/7. 9/11 is something I keep close to my heart. I understand and can respect differing opinions. Nothing is set in concrete.

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CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:28 p.m.

Oooooh, I just went to the site and saw your piece on there, SD, nice going!

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:31 p.m.

"Nothing is set in concrete." Bad pun? :) Anyway, I intuited that you would not make light of this event, as most Americans wouldn't. I'm serious about being interested in hearing more of people's theories about the origins of 9/11, and governmental action in the aftermath. Anything you want to post here about it, I'll read.

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SDaniels Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:33 p.m.

"SD, nice going!" Yeah, thanks to nan! Honored to have my story out there on her fave site :)

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PistolPete Oct. 1, 2009 @ 8:37 p.m.

Sorry. Didn't realize the bad pun. I'm usually more observant than that. I'll go into my theory more later. It's pretty standard though. I just feel that there was a cover-up by our government. Too many inconsistencies and really strange"coincidences".

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SDaniels Oct. 2, 2009 @ 12:21 a.m.

I remember you started to go into it on one of JB's threads. You think the towers were wired for bombs, and then refried was saying something about the way the towers fell. I can't watch any videos, but can certainly read, whenever you have time to post the info. One thing I'll throw out there: To most strange coinky dinks, I bring up the concept of synchronicity--in short: What do the coinky dinks mean to us as individuals? How do they add up to a narrative that tells more about us than about the coinky dinks? (Up to you to decide whether or not I just like writing "coinky dinks") :)

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PistolPete Oct. 2, 2009 @ 12:27 a.m.

LOL. Tiddly winks? Coinky dinks? Welcome to Bizarr-O World ;-D I'm too tired to discuss 9/11 tonight but I'll throw some info to consider your way. Like I said,nothing is set in stone. I look at 9/11 with full skepticism because of other false flag incidents ie;Gulf of Tonkin,Pearl Harbor,etc,etc. I truly believe that our government is capable of murdering all who don't fully cooperate with them regarding NWO. I'm not a right-wing fanatic by any means. I'm the government's worst enemy-a man with a brain who is not afraid to use it.

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ben09reader Oct. 29, 2009 @ 6:18 p.m.

I like your use of details here, particularly with respect to the senses and elements. The air and land and architecture feel close to the reader. Much more evocative and effective for memory than the hyperbole and sentiment that often surround 9/11.

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SDaniels Nov. 1, 2009 @ 9:18 p.m.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Ben. I'm glad I came back to find your comment (thanks nan for reminding me of my blogs!). So yes, you got it-- I meant to treat this from a different kind of perspective--that of the intimate spaces we inhabit daily, and which we often forget necessarily play part in our interpretation of any event-- tragedy of horrific scale or no...

For more writing treating a delicate sense of place and space, and for desert lovers, I would wholeheartedly recommend ben09reader's (Ben Hill's) piece:

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2009/sep/10/space-death-and-memory-my-summer-vacation-quartzsi/

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