Archive | September 10, 2011

9/11 memories

Ten years ago on a lovely morning in September I got up as usual at 5:30, took my shower and wandered downstairs, turned on the Today show and stood watching in horror. The first plane had already hit the building and they didn’t know yet what was causing the fire at the World Trade Center but they still thought it was a small plane. I watched in shock and pain as I watched the second plane hit the other tower live right behind Matt Lauer’s head. It looked like a really bad disaster movie. I wanted to scrub my eyes out because I couldn’t really even believe what I had seen. I ran upstairs and woke up Alison who is never at her best in the morning and I don’t think she believed me.

I don’t remember if I had breakfast. I do remember being on the way to my job at Aetna downtown when the first tower fell and burst into tears on the 101 freeway and wondered if we should be worried in LA.

I was still a claims auditor then and Auditors had a strange status. We weren’t considered part of the local office but part of the National Operations group so they hid us away on a floor with nothing but the gym and some empty training rooms because of conflict of interest issues. We had no idea what was going on in the rest of the building. Aetna had the top 9 floors of the building and there were supposedly another 20 underground and they were owned by different banking facilities like B of A and unknown to us at the time several floors dedicated to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve actually extends for several blocks and even under the Freeway under 7th street toward downtown. Sometime during the morning our boss was informed of this but not much else. One auditor found a radio some where and because radios in big building are hit and miss we had a hard time getting news from KNX meanwhile we continued to work.

I remember sitting with my colleagues at one point since concentration was sporadic at best, of making a list of potential Los Angeles target especially aware that we were sitting atop one. It’s not well known but still the Federal Reserve is a fairly large target. The problem with LA is that it’s so big. It’s not like Manhattan which is a small area compared to LA in square mileage. And would they focus on something like the entertainment industry or something well known like Disneyland , or the subway terminals or even one of the 2 harbors? Together they are the biggest port in the US but that was just too mind boggling to keep up for long.

Around 8:30am one of the auditor’s friends came running in in tears. Her grandmother was on the flight from Boston to LA and had called after she had checked in to say she was on the way. She had been in Boston at a hospital getting cancer treatment and was coming home after finishing a chemo treatment in clinical trial. That was when we learned people we might know or their relatives were part of it and when it really hit home and became real.

It would turn out later that she got sick from the chemo and missed her flight sick in the bathroom. I know that she probably thanks the Lord now for chemo and missing her flight but at the time her family had no clue and wouldn’t know until a few days later when she finally managed to get to Kansas City and get ahold of her family. We thought an earthquake had happened because when she got the news the adjustor came bouncing in our room and she was a really large woman but it was wonderful to get good news for a change.

Meanwhile we kept working and wondering if someone would send us home what we didn’t know was we were the only ones left in the building. I don’t think we knew about the Pentagon or the crash in Shanksville. And I don’t think we were getting too much work done but we stayed at our desks and at least stared at the screen. Around10:30am a janitor came in to turn off the lights and got the shock of his life. He thought he was alone in the building. That was how we found out we had been totally forgotten when the police gave the evacuation order an hour or more before. They’d evacuated every building a top the underground Federal Reserve because they thought a plane might dive into one of the buildings and no one had remembered us in our 4th floor sanctuary. Driving home was an eerie experience almost everyone was already gone and the 101 freeway was empty. That does not happen in LA.

I remember going home and just staring at the TV crying and trying to make sense of the nonsensical. I lit all kinds of candles for prayers because there wasn’t much else a person could do and hoped no one else I knew was involved.

I later ordered the book that volunteers had put together of all the photos from New Yorkers. I still have never made it through the entire book. It’s just too awful.


I had the weirdest dream last night it started out at a place in Europe that was Some kind of botanic garden/museum/ them park and it started almost at the end of a school tour near a huge pond that had rotating kinetic sculptures of huge bronze lotuses and I wanted to sneak back and see them on the ground after seeing them on the aerial tour but some how ended up doing a mandatory craft project at the theme park.

The craft project as decorating an apron with paint and I painted a big witch’s hat on the front. A beautiful stylized black and red one with ribbons and for some reason this offended the man who was handing out materials to paint and he reported me back to my high school as suicidal and homicidal.

So all of a sudden I’m in a high school in AZ and it’s the day before graduation and I go to get my cap and gown at the window and there is this man again and he’s angry at me for not getting in trouble and the man at the next window is trying to get him to leave me alone but instead I get sent a very strange robot guidance counselor who gives me 12 tasks (labours?) to do to prove I’m not homicidal or suicidal and with help I sailed thru the first two and was just about to tackle the third when the cat jumped on me and woke me up but I still have no clue what it means or what it was about. It was weird too because it was almost a nightmare but not quite because I was amused by the whole witchcraft thing because the man thought I was being anti-social and I knew I was a witch and just had to complete the tasks which were mainly magical and not difficult at all and by magical I mean Druid/Wiccan magical not Harry Potter magical.