Thursday, September 11, 2008


In all of my various postings, I've never written about September 11th.

I think that, for a lot of people who lived near the sites of the terrorist attacks, it isn't easy to talk about. It's hard to explain to someone who lived hundreds of miles away what it felt like, the chaos, the fear. And, to be honest, in some ways I also don't have that direct experience, compared to many who lived in Lower Manhattan (like Shelli, or my uncle and his friends), or some friends of mine who were actually in the Towers at the time of the attacks, and managed to escape-they had a first-hand experience that I never, ever want to have to go through.

I had just started teaching (I was in my second week of school), trying to get acclimated with the whole school routine for the first time. Sean, who was celebrating his 30th birthday that day, had started a freelance gig working at NYC Fashion Week, and had already left for Manhattan to get to a call on time. We had made plans for dinner that night, and went our seperate ways.

It was in the morning, I was on my prep time, and I was sitting at my desk when the principal came in and asked to see me outside in the hallway. She then told me and the art teacher that two planes had crashed into the WTC, and into the Pentagon, that it was a terrorist attack, and that we needed to go into a lockdown situation. I actually didn't believe her at first; in fact, I thought that it was a drill. Then I suddenly realized that Sean was in Manhattan, and told my principal that he was there. She immediately said to me, "Go" I remember going upstairs to the Teacher's Lounge and seeing a television on, with a group of people huddled around it; this is how I saw the first tower fall-through a grainy transmission on an old TV set. Then the phone calls started-from my parents, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law...."Have you heard? Where's Sean? Has he called yet?" Of course, I had NO IDEA. And I was started to panic.

We were three weeks from celebrating our first wedding anniversary.

Since the cell phone reception was sketchy due to overloaded lines and connection problems, it was difficult getting through to anyone in the Tri-State area. My uncle lived (and still does) about 12 blocks from the area, my aunt worked in the Chrysler Building, I had friends who worked in both Towers........and we had no clue if they were were okay, or if there were going to be more attacks in Manhattan.

I went home, and turned on the news. I saw the second tower fall. And, I waited.

The phone rings. Different voices, different people calling. Have you heard? Can you believe it? Do you know if they're okay?

I have no answers for anyone. I can't stop watching the images on the screen; the dust clouds, the destruction, the fear in people's faces. I can't move from the couch.

It's completely silent outside. No cars driving down the street. No kids playing outside.

No sounds of planes in the sky, which is the norm here, being that we live less than 10 miles from Newark Airport. And that unnerved me most of all, that day, and in the days afterward-lying in bed and not hearing that drone of airplanes overhead. Of hearing nothing and wondering if more was coming.

I remember, distinctly, the sound of helicopters overhead. I ran outside and stood on my front steps, along with my neighbors, to see military helicopters swooping overhead, rushing to guard the refineries that are a few miles away......refineries that supply gasoline to the airport. And, I remember seeing the fear in people's faces, the fear that I'm sure was mirrored in my own face.

The phone rings again. It's 3pm. It's Sean, finally; calling from a payphone in a Midtown bar. He's okay, thank God. He's not sure if he can get home, since there's no public transportation allowed in or out of Manhattan. The company he's working for are planning to put them up in hotels, but he's going to try to get out if they open the trains up.

I don't want to stay in the house alone. What if there's more coming? But, what can I do? I have no choice.

And so....I wait.

Hours pass. The television is still on. More phone calls-uncle is okay, aunt is home and okay. So and so got out of the Towers; another friend, luckily, didn't have to go to the complex that day because her meeting was rescheduled at the last minute.

I can't eat or sleep. My stomach is in knots. Will we have to go to work tomorrow? Yes-the district decided that schools should remain open, to give the kids a sense of normalcy. Yeah, right. Nothing will ever be normal again.

Finally the door opens. He's home-scared, dirty, and sweaty after a three hour wait at Penn Station. He managed to get the first train out of Manhattan. We hug. We cry. We give thanks that he's home and okay.

That's what I remember. Like I said, compared to many who witnessed the horror first-hand, it's fluff and trite. But still, it's something that I'll never, ever, forget.

May we always remember.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Squash and Repeat

Well, I guess I spoke too soon...

I got a letter in the mail about my boob-squashing results. Apparently, they found something "inconclusive" about my right breast, and I now need to go for a repeat mammo and ultrasound.

Yeah. You've read that right. Did I freak out? Slightly, considering that my grandmother had both breast and ovarian cancers (which she eventually passed away from, at age 61). I called the gyno's office and spoke to them about what the report said, and they told me that I shouldn't worry too much (yeah....riiight), because repeat mammograms happen A LOT when you get your baseline. It also seems that I have "dense breast tissue" (shit, I could've told them that one-my cans are huge and always have been, even when I was a skinny 110 lbs in college), which makes "inconclusive" results more common. Luckily, I'm pretty fanatical about doing self-exams, so I know that I haven't felt a lump anywhere. But, that letter was like a kick in the gut.

Of course, the first thing I thought of was the shitload of fertility meds I've taken over the years. The RE's all have said that there's no correlation between taking IVF meds and breast cancer; but, let's be honest here-there's no way that they definitely know one way or the other. Did I open myself to a risk that I shouldn't have? Perhaps. And, the sad thing is, I was getting this mammo not only for my regular gyno, but also for Dr. Pipsqueak as part of my IVF checklist for another cycle. Now there's a possibility (a small one, but one nonetheless) that I might never do this cycle.

So, I have make my appointment to go back next week, once I get my period (because there is NO WAY I'll go near that thing with sore PMS boobies). Of course, there is that slight possibility that I won't get my period, but.....well, we won't hold our breath on that one.

There's the story......not the funny one I started writing (which is still in my drafts). Once the dust settles, and I find this shit funny and not scary, I'll post it.

Until then, make sure that you don't neglect your tits, girls. There's my public service announcement of the day.