Category: Life and Stuff

Quick to judge, quick to anger

Slow to Understand

Ignorance and prejudice

And Fear walk hand in hand..

-Rush – Witch Hunt

The Casey Anthony trial and subsequent verdict sparked quite a bit of emotional outrage as is evidenced by many of the posts I’ve seen both in my Twitter and Facebook feeds. “How on earth could a woman that even her own family suspected of murdering her innocent child be set free?” “Is our justice system truly that messed up? ” “How blind IS lady justice after all??” ” And the jury?? How dumb are they? They should be shunned, nay, FLAYED. Hell kill them all!”

This may be difficult for some folks to stomach, but the cold hard fact is, the verdict was exactly what it should have been based on the evidence, or lack there of, as was presented by the prosecution.

Speculation, circumstantial evidence and hearsay are not enough to convict anyone in this country, and unfortunately, that is all that prosecutors had to work with.  The fact is, they didn’t have any proof whatsoever that Caylee was murdered, let alone who did it. All they had was a whole lot of speculation, circumstantial evidence, public outrage and a media looking for a bloody headline to deliver to their insatiable audience.

Anyone who sits on a jury cannot be swayed by public demand or even their own personal emotional reactions to the evidence and testimony. Jurors have to be objective. The only thing the prosecution could prove, beyond a reasonable  doubt, was that Caylee Anthony was dead and  that Casey Anthony lied to the police.

Anyone remember elementary school history class – specifically, The Salem Witch trials?? Anyone?? Back in those days you didn’t need proof to have someone burned at the stake. All you need was an accuser. And if you think something like that can’t happen in modern times… try the McCarthy era. Anyone even remotely suspected of being a communist back then was put on trial and more often than not, considered guilty before they could plead their case.

The law specifically states that a person charged with a capital crime, such as murder, must be proven guilty – BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.  It is the burden of the prosecution to provide the proof. In the case of Casey Anthony, they didn’t. The only proof they had was that a child was dead, and the victim’s mother didn’t seem to care.

The fact that Casey Anthony was out partying and getting tattooed may stand to prove her to be a heartless bitch. What it doesn’t prove is that she had any hand in her daughter’s death.  And while everyone who knows Casey Anthony was all but screaming from the rooftops that she was a pathological liar who didn’t give a shit about her child, not a one of them could claim to witness her abusing her child, let alone murdering her.

The fact that Casey Anthony’s brother, mother and father all seemed to think she did it doesn’t matter. The fact that the whole damned country seems to think she did it, doesn’t matter. What matters is that there was no proof a murder was committed, no time of death and not one witness to corroborate any of the prosecution’s theories.  What matters is, that in the eyes of the jury, there were two, if not three, other people with access to that child who could have committed the crime, if indeed it was a crime and not an accident as was presented by the defense.

Now,  you may ask, what kind of a shitty system do we have that would allow an accused child killer go free? Well, actually, we all should be grateful for the system we have. The system was created to protect those falsely accused. And while it isn’t perfect, and does allow for genuine criminals to occasionally walk free, it is certainly preferable to a system where there is no burden placed on the prosecution to prove the accused guilty at all.

Take for example the case of Amanda Knox, a 24 year old American girl, studying in Italy, accused, and despite any evidence, in fact despite proof that she wasn’t involved at all, convicted of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher.  The facts of the case are dizzying. There was no proof that Ms. Knox was anywhere near the scene of the crime when it took place. As a matter of fact, she had an alibi. She was at her boyfriend’s apartment – (computer activity proved that at least one of them was definitely at his apartement any case, and yet they were both convicted).  Additionally, the actual perpetrator of the murder, a petty thief named Rudy Guede, whose footprints, fingerprints and DNA were all over the crime scene,  was also convicted of the crime.

The only proof of Ms. Knox’s involvement was a coerced confession, and a statement by  Mr. Guede claiming Ms. Knox was present at the scene. A statement, mind you, retrieved during his appeal process where upon, thanks to his implication of Ms. Knox, his original sentence of 30 years was knocked down to 16.  Add to that the fact that the prosecutor in the case is a headline grabbing attention whore who sees ‘Satan’s influence’ as a valid means of  prosecutorial evidence and a system that would permit all kinds of speculation and circumstantial evidence be presented at trial where the jury is permitted to talk among themselves throughout the proceedings and pay no attention to what is going on in front of them (a system, which, at present is being itself investigated) , and you have to thank your lucky stars you don’t live in a country with a justice system that throws out any means of sane reflection and inspection and gives way to public outcry and speculation.

Did Casey Anthony kill her daughter? We may never know for sure. I know, I know, everyone thinks she did it. Hell, folks who’ve never met anyone involved think they know the answer. But the truth is, it’s all speculation fueled by a media that loves to sensationalize everything for ratings.

Regardless, you cannot blame the jury for doing its job just because you don’t agree with the verdict. You can’t even blame the prosecution. They did the best with the evidence they had. The verdict cannot be over turned, and Casey  Anthony can never be tried for this murder again should new evidence be found to prove that Caylee was indeed murdered (Double Jeopardy).

The best we can do is pray for the soul of a little girl who was taken too soon and for justice for her to come from a higher place. Believe me, no matter how big a bitch anyone thinks Casey Anthony is, Karma is way worse. If she did indeed have any part in the death of her daughter, she’ll pay one way or another. (Put it this way, OJ, the poster child for getting away with murder,  is in jail for committing a separate crime, and anyone who was involved in his defense during his murder trial, is now dead).

Ultimately, blaming the judicial system or the jurors will not serve anyone. As a matter of fact, the justice system actually worked in this case and the jurors were not wrong in their final verdict. Our justice system may have some flaws, but it does work more often than not. I personally am grateful to live in a country where, at least in the courtroom, a person is still considered ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ rather than the other way around and where a person cannot be convicted of a crime, whether they are or aren’t guilty, based soley on conjecture and without solid proof.

More about the Amanda Knox case:

You don’t have to worry

All your worried days are gone

This will be our year,

Took a long time to come

-The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year”

I’ve seen a whole lot of “2010 sucked, bring on 2011” status’ on Facebook, Twitter, etal, and have realized, that despite my initial desire to say “hells yeah!” I honestly can’t complain. I mean, in comparison to 2008 and 2009, where combined, I think I attended something in the realm of 13 or 14 funerals, one of them being my husband’s, I have to say, 2010 wasn’t so bad.  All I really lost in 2010 was a job , 40 pounds and a friendship that clearly wasn’t real anyway.

In 2010, my sister got married to a wonderful man, gaining me a brother; My cousin had a baby girl, a little angel really, who fills my heart with nothing but love whenever I see her smile; A man I love dearly beat the shit out of cancer and is ending the year, bald, but in remission (I’m going to say that his E-Mail relaying that news to me is my favorite moment of 2010); One of my closest friends had a baby as well, her second miracle in as many years as she wasn’t sure she’d ever have kids;  I had another cousin that got married too – I’d say any year where you go to more weddings than funerals is a good one;  I reconnected with some old friends I had lost touch with; Became closer with some new friends who I had just started to get to know at the end of the previous year; Started putting myself back out there and enjoying life the best way anyone can, and having many wild adventures; Gone to more concerts and musical events than I can possibly remember all at once;  I’ve been blessed by being surrounded by wonderful people on a regular basis and look forward to more of that in the coming year.

In 2010 I realized, that indeed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m one step from reaching it.

For the first time in what feels like years, I am myself again. I missed this bitch staring back at me in the mirror, she’s pretty damned awesome. And while I can’t say that I totally hated 2010, it will go down as the year I finally bounced back. I can only say, that it’s nice to be welcoming a new year feeling this positive and whole again. I haven’t felt this way in so long, it almost feels like an out of body experience. The truth is, I’m leaving behind a year that literally has put me in a position to where I feel that not only is anything possible, it is entirely probable – Instead of kicking 2010 to the curb in disgust, I’m fondly waving goodbye as I greet the New Year with this thought in mind:

What you got 2011??! Bring it! I’m ready!

Happy New Year everyone!! See you all in 2011!!

Does he love me, I wanna know.

How can I tell if he loves me so?

Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) – Rudy Clark (Aretha, Cher, and many more)

Before I got married, I can tell you honestly, I went through a myriad of relationships. No joke, I’d been dating pretty steadily since the age of 16. Everyone who’s ever put themselves out there tends to be a victim, especially early on, to their own insecurities – causing all sorts of drama and misunderstanding as a result of said ‘issues’ – and clearly I was no exception. However, I have to say, I was pretty lucky for the most part. Because despite my ‘daddy’ issues and all the insecurities that come along with being overweight , or a child of divorce, or, hell, a female in a society that views Barbie as the epitome of the perfect woman, I did manage to date some pretty awesome guys, many of whom I still keep in touch with, two of whom I still count among my closest friends.

Eventually, I did meet a man who loved me for who I was, daddy issues, insecurities and all; who didn’t try to change me, but who managed to do so, for the better I might add, all the same. There was non of that jealousy or insanity or, well you know the usual drama, at least not between us. I never had to ask why he didn’t call, because, he did. I never had to wonder when he went out who he was meeting, because, for the first time in my life, I felt totally and completely secure in the knowledge, that this guy, crazy as it may sound, actually wanted ME. I’m not saying we never argued, but I never doubted how he felt about me.

After my husband’s death, realizing that as a widow at 36, there was a chance I might find someone else, and not having been out in the dating scene in six years, I was a bit wary of having to go back into the dating pool. I desperately didn’t want to repeat the mistakes I’d made in the past, fervently hoping that maybe I’d learned my lesson.

A friend of mine told me about the book He’s Just Not That Into You (written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo).  For shits and giggles, I bought it. I thought it was absolutely spot on. It’s actually pretty damned obvious stuff to anyone who’s actually stopped to think about it, which I had. And the truth is, it became my mantra.

Before I go any further, I feel  I need to address any men that might be reading this. I am not going to do any man bashing here.  I sincerely can’t say how, or why men act or react the way they do in any situation, because, well, I’m not a guy. While I do joke and say “boys are dumb and smelly” or “men suck” on a regular basis, the truth is, they aren’t (mostly) and they don’t.  Believe me I am well aware that women can be just as shitty sometimes.  The thing is, more often than not, it really is a matter of “he’s just not that into you.”  And as much as one might scratch their heads in wonder when a guy rejects a fabulous woman’s affections, you can’t fault him for not being into her. It happens.

I’m going to take a wild stab here and guess that there are many guys out there who have gone through as many crappy situations, who are just as insecure, and who have also felt the sting of rejection in a relationship as there are women. However, since I am female, I’m going to have to express my opinion from my point of view, as clearly I can’t relate to the men’s side of the story as well as the female side.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, He’s Just Not That Into You really is 100% common sense. I found myself, after reading the book, when comforting my friends, hearing the lame excuses guys made for why they didn’t do right by these wonderful women forever repeating: “He’s just not that into you. Move on. Don’t waste your time.” Or, as the book states “Don’t waste the pretty.” Truly, even as I started to go through my own  romantic trials and tribulations, I’d recognize that through the veneer of excuses, the guy just wasn’t that in to me. And honestly, I felt relieved not having to agonize over what amounted to the guy just not wanting to hurt my feelings outright.  I Got it. Message received. That mantra saved me many a heartbreak, and more often than not, a valuable friendship or two.

Of course, we women still like to believe, even if just a little, that there is that one guy who is the exception.  We all have our well intentioned friends who, when we get fed up with the lame excuses, lack of follow through, or just generally feeling as though we’re not getting the attention we deserve, will give us a plethora of excuses as to why or how the treatment we are getting can be justified.

And while there can be on rare occasions, legitimate excuses, the truth is, eventually, there comes that moment where it boils down to “put up or shut up.” I mean, judge as you might for yourself, but ultimately, if a guy really wants to show you he’s interested in you, there really should never be an excuse.

Neither is the guy an ‘asshole,’ ‘douche bag’ or ‘jackass’ for not being who you want him to be. The truth is, if you feel the guy isn’t treating you the way you want him to, then the problem is, more than likely you two weren’t meant to be together in the first place. Move on, and find a guy who you don’t have to nag into submission – Because honestly, if he were really that into you the nagging wouldn’t be necessary. That’s not to say that things will always go smoothly, or that there would never be any issues between you two, but you should never have to question his affection or desire to be with you.

As for the excuses, well, the guy who wrote the book states that guys are basically cowards. They (most of them) really DON’T want to hurt us ladies and will do or say anything if they think somehow it will spare our feelings.

And while they may not have the courage to actually say they aren’t “into you”, because well, it might be a bit harsh hear, the fact is, if a guy is not treating you as if he is into you, then he isn’t. End of story. No exceptions.

I mean we’ve all heard the excuses, right? See if any of these refresh your memory… Please feel free to let me know of the best ones you’ve heard, I’ll add them on.

  • I’m afraid of ruining the friendship.
  • I’m busy with work/school/family
  • It’s not you, it’s me
  • I’m not ready for a relationship
  • You’re too good for me
  • I’m not a good guy (seriously, one guy actually said, and I quote “I am the devil” – personally, I think he was too full himself. Actually, come to think of it, that dude really WAS just a douche bag. Not because he wasn’t into me, but because, in general, he was just a big ol’ lump of poop, but I digress)

Note to any man out there who may be reading this: CUT IT OUT!!

Women aren’t as fragile as you all seem to think. I know this might come as a shock. And I know you all are probably well intentioned, but most of us don’t need to hear the things you think we want to hear. Most of us really DO want the truth. A simple “hey, it was fun, but I’m just not that into you” while initially painful, would also serve to save us months of speculation as we dissect flowery words and promises as you try to convince us you’re not a jerk.

Thing is, by doing that, men become the very things they don’t want to be perceived as being. Seriously, I know many a well intentioned guy, good hearted, and sweet who in trying desperately to not hurt an equally sweet and good hearted woman who he just isn’t interested in romantically, turn into the most despised man alive simply by glossing over the truth in some effort not to appear to be an ass.

It’s honestly unfair to either person involved.

Granted, not everyone is going to live up to one another’s expectations all the time. There will be times when one of the parties in a relationship will be disappointed. However, if you’re not into a person, just let them know. It’s really so much easier. Think about it as ripping the band-aid off. It hurts a bit, but then it’s done, allowing you both to move on that much quicker to a situation where a band-aid won’t be necessary.

Personally, I think “He’s Just Not That Into You” should be required reading for any girl once she hits puberty.  Actually, I think guys should read it too.  Because while the book is geared towards women, there are a lot of truths in it that guys should hear too. Women make excuses too, never fret, we’re not any better than the guys sometimes… But, again, I digress…

I can tell you from experience, when a guy IS into you, you WILL know. You won’t have to ask. You won’t hear lame assed excuses and you certainly won’t be wasting your time waiting. He’ll figure out a way that will make you damned sure, no matter what else is going on in his life that he is, at least, thinking of you. It won’t be through flowery words or promises. His actions will be all you need to be certain. That old adage of ‘actions speak louder than words’ is really true.

So how can you tell if he loves you so??

Well, it’s not JUST in his kiss…

All I’m asking, is for a little Respect

-Otis Redding (but we all know Aretha Franklin’s version best, don’t we?)

Earlier this year, my friend, almost as a joke, and certainly as a way to vent out frustrations we were both feeling about some people in our lives, sent me one of those ‘note’ things they have on Facebook. The instructions were simple, all you had to do was write down your top five pet peeves. Recent events have made me look back on what I wrote, and I realized, it was still relevant, only this time, maybe not directed at the same folks (mostly because those people are no longer a part of my life).  In either case, here they are, five of the things you can do that will most certainly piss me off. (I haven’t changed one word… this is exactly the way it appeared in my ‘notes’ back in February… Hey, I’m nothing if not consistant)

1. Lies. I HATE Lies. I don’t care what kind of lie it is. My mother brought me up on the concept that even the sweetest lie is more bitter than the most bitter truth. I believe that too. Lying is a total form of disrespect… and I don’t go for that. Don’t call yourself my friend if you’re not and don’t tell me you love me when you barely know me. You know, like those people who just tell everyone that they “love” them. Really? You love me?? REALLY?? You’ve known me for 5 seconds.. I’m sure you mean it too.. yeah, right.

2. Empty promises. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. I keep mine. If I promise I’m going to do something, it generally takes an act of God to stop me from actually doing it. I’ve been disillusioned so much by false promises, I’m really at the point where I rarely believe in anything anyone tells me they’re going to do, but on the rare occasion that I allow myself to believe someone’s words, I’d rather not feel like a complete idiot for having faith in that person.

3. People who do things because they feel obligated. I don’t want to be an obligation. I don’t want to feel like someone is being nice to me just because they feel they have to be. Seriously, I can handle it if a person doesn’t like me. I”ll get over it. What I won’t get over is feeling like an idiot because I believe an act of friendship is an act of friendship only to find out that they’re really doing it because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.

4. People who think they know everything about me… and then proceed to act like they know what’s best for me, or give me advice like they have a clue as to what’s really going on in my head. I’m a nice person. End of story. Right up until the point where I’m not. Don’t mistaken my being sweet for my being naive or gullible. I’m neither. There’s way more to me than most people in my life know or will ever know. Just because I SEEM to be an open book, doesn’t mean I really am.

5. People who feel they need to put on a show because it’s expected of them. You know the type. You know a person. You really know who they are.. not everything about them, but the essence of who they are… but when they’re in a crowd they turn into a caricature of who they think people want them to be. I loathe that. That is probably the quickest way to get me to lose respect for a person.. seriously.

You got mud on your face

You big disgrace

Somebody better put you back in to your place!

Queen – “We Will Rock You”

Halloween night is known for mischief. Even us older folks like to get dressed up, step out of our own reality and just have fun.

So when a friend of mine in San Diego shaved off his beard, leaving his mustache, and decided to go out dressed as Freddie Mercury, I thought, “can’t wait to see the pictures from THIS night.”

The next morning I woke to read via his Face Book feed that he and his friend had been assaulted by a soldier, recently returned from Iraq, because, well, Freddie Mercury was a Homosexual man, and this soldier didn’t, and I will quote what I read he said, “like fags.”

To add insult to injury, some douchebag who I will refer to as Don Buffoon, (denying him the attention and exposure he so obviously and desperately craves) essentially defended the soldier’s actions because, and I quote: “I am against hate crimes, I am for people being able to defend themselves, I am also against fags, I am for military, I am for protecting women, I am for men being men. Sometimes men fight, sometimes the loser cries like a little girl and calls it a hate crime”

Excuse me Mr. Buffoon, this WAS a hate crime. It doesn’t matter that the two men who were assaulted are not homosexual. The fact that they were assaulted because one of them was dressed up as Freddie Mercury and the guy admitted that it was because he didn’t like gay men makes it a hate crime. And yes, I have a huge amount of respect for the soldiers fighting so that we may retain our freedom of speech and all the other freedoms which we in this country tend to take for granted, but the fact that this guy was a soldier does not excuse his ignorant, violent behavior.  This soldier’s actions only went to dishonor the rest of the soldiers out there. I honestly hope he is caught and brought to justice and that whatever military branch he belongs to does not sweep his disgusting behavior under the rug.

And while I do not know YOU Mr. Buffoon, I will guarantee you that the man who was dressed as Freddie Mercury, is in fact, a man. While you no doubt are nothing more than a scared little boy in man’s clothing more than likely questioning your own sexuality and fearing that you are the very thing you hate.  Why else would you be SO profoundly against the lifestyles of others? You know what they say, we hate in others that which we most fear we see in ourselves.

See Mr. Buffoon, freedom of speech IS a lovely thingIn this country we DO have the right not only to like or dislike whoever we choose, we even have a right to state our opinions. However, in this country, there is no law against sexual preference, or dressing up as someone, in this case a homosexual man who also happened to be a genius musician and the best voice in any musical genre EVER, on Halloween (or any night, IMO.) But the freedom of speech and freedom to believe that which you will (however ignorant) does not give anyone the right to physically assault a person they do not approve of.

At present I choose to use my freedom of speech to call you out on your blatant ignorance and stupidity.  You are a shining example of why some folks should be prevented from breeding altogether. I honestly hope you enjoy your ignorant, small existence and pray I never meet you in a dark alley or parking lot. Who knows, I may be dressed up as Joan Jett… at which point buddy, I could totally take you, but I choose to do battle with my brains, and judging by that Uncle Fester picture up on your Face Book page you are clearly lacking in that department.

To read more about the initial incident, please go to:

Celebrate we will,

Because life is short but sweet for certain..

Dave Matthews Band – “Two Step”

When my husband was first diagnosed, he and I and pretty much the rest of our family went in to battle mode. We were going to beat this thing – no matter what. After the surgeries, chemo and radiation, we started to play a game of ‘catch up’ and worrying. During those first few months of his illness we developed what can only be described as a routine that included me nagging him about his meds and his food intake and him trying his best to rise above this illness that was eating him away.

Both of us were worried about the future, a future we didn’t  dare discuss except in the guise of morbid jokes. We were both concerned about the well being of the other. He showed his concern by insisting I go out with friends and enjoy concerts to relieve me of my caretaker duties and escape the reality neither one of us was willing to admit was a possibility, and me by going on with my daily routine as if I didn’t notice the axe looming over the life I had so come to adore.

Almost a year in to his illness, due to circumstances I won’t get in to here, we were forced to take a real look at the situation and how it had changed our relationship. We didn’t like what had become of us. And we decided that, no matter what the outcome, we weren’t going to allow the illness to devour who we were as a couple. It was then we started to seriously discuss the ‘what if’s’. It was then we also decided that should the worst happen, we weren’t going to allow our final memories of our marriage to be consumed by grief, pain, pills and cursing fate.

We decided to celebrate the time we had, because we didn’t know how much time that was.

Recently, among some of my friends, I’ve noticed an almost matter of fact acknowledgement of ‘life sucks.’  While I am very prone to wallowing in my own self pity from time to time myself, I realized a few months ago, that wallowing, and whining and bemoaning my fate would be so against  everything my husband believed in, I actually felt ashamed for doing it.

The thing is, life doesn’t suck. Life, as cliché as this may sound, really IS what you make it. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to seek out that which makes you happy. Even if it is for a brief moment, anything that will make you smile – Because life is meant to be enjoyed.

I hate to sound like I’m preaching, and you don’t have to take anything of what I’m saying to heart, but the truth is, even unemployed, down to the last of my savings with hardly a job prospect on the horizon, I still try to find a reason to smile. There are days where that is increasingly difficult for me to do, but then I think of my family, my friends (and I have to say I have some of the best friends and family anyone could hope for), my sister’s impending nuptials, the amazing summer I had and the phenomenal events coming up this fall and winter and I know, even for a minute, I can smile. This moment sucks. True. But it will pass.

In the midst of a conversation with a good friend of mine, I came to an epiphany.  Life is full of shit happening. It is up to us to find the happiness somewhere in that pile of dung. People suffer through illness and financial hardship. People we trusted can turn on us. Friendships we relied on can turn sour. Seemingly healthy and robust people can die suddenly. It is up to us to rise above all the bad and somehow find a silver lining. Life is too short to spend miserable. Happiness is what life is about. We are the only ones who can find joy among the hurt, anger and pain thrown at us. It’s a choice we make daily. It’s up to you to decide to celebrate the life you have.

Imagine all the people…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one..

John Lennon – “Imagine”

I was nine years old, trying to pretend I’d gone to sleep at a normal hour, when my mother came home from an outing with her best friend. She was crying, hard. Now, I love my mother, and I hate to hear her cry. So, out of concern for my mom, and with no care about the repercussions my being awake when it was way past my bedtime would incur, I walked out to the living room and asked her what was wrong.

“Somebody died” she told me.

“Who?” I asked, suddenly running through the roster of family members in my head, and hoping they were all okay.

“No one you know, a musician. You don’t know him, John Lennon” she said, tears streaming down her face.

“Oh, isn’t that the guy who sings that song ‘Just like Starting Over?’”

“Yes, that’s him.” – She replied, almost annoyed.

“Oh, okay. “ I was really confused. I mean, yeah, I knew it was sad when anyone died, but, this guy? Who was he to my mom???

The next day, in the car, every radio station was playing the Beatles. Again, I was confused. I mean I LOVED the Beatles so was happy to hear all my favorite songs, but what did that have to do with John Lennon?
So I asked my step father, who , turned to me, and condescendingly replied;  “well, that guy who sings that “Starting Over” song you like so much was in the Beatles, he started the Beatles.”

That’s when I started crying, surprising both my mother and my step-father.

I didn’t know.

See, my uncles played the Beatles for me incessantly growing up. I loved the music and am not exaggerating when I tell you I pretty much knew every Beatles song by heart by the time I was six years old.

My mother, who had found it amusing and a bit baffling that I was so enamored with music made by a band that had broken up before I was even born, used to tell me stories about growing up listening to the Beatles. My stepfather used to tell me stories about buying Beatles records on the black market in Russia, and getting into trouble for trying to grow his hair like theirs.  So, while I knew who the Beatles were, by virtue of their music, I didn’t know who the band members were or the impact they’d had on my parents’ generation or the impact they had and would continue to have on every aspiring musician that followed them. In my defense, I was only nine. But I have to say, that was the day my outlook on music and the folks who make it changed.

I now understood my mother’s tears. She on the other hand was baffled by my utter devastation and growing obsession with needing to know everything about the Beatles.

I started reading every news paper article, every book I could get my hands on.. everything.

I started listening to more John Lennon solo material.
I even shut up for the ten minutes of silence in memorial to John Lennon that Yoko Ono had requested.  Which, I’m sure more than anything else, REALLY surprised my folks.

And when Strawberry Fields was dedicated in memory to John, all I wanted to do was visit. Which, when I was fourteen, unbeknownst to my mother, and with assistance from my friend Julie, who told my mother we were going on a chaperoned school outing, I finally did. I literally hopped on the ferry, by myself, and headed towards Central Park. When I finally wandered into the small area allotted for Strawberry Fields and saw the “Imagine” symbol in the center of it, that little area became my favorite place to visit in NYC, and still is to this day.

Today would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. It has been thirty years since a deranged fan decided to end the life of a man who’s existence meant so much to so many and who’s work continues to influence so many artists to this day. I credit him, and the rest of the Beatles, with starting me on a path that to this day brings me more joy than I can imagine.  It was because of him and his three friends that I stopped just ‘liking’ music, thanks to them – I started paying attention to it.

It’s amazing to think of John as a 70 year old man. What amazing things would he have accomplished had he still been alive? Would the Beatles ever gotten back together? Would we really have wanted them to? (I’m going to say ‘yes…’ seriously).  Unfortunately, we will never know. Wondering ‘what if’, never really helps in any situation. Knowing, however, that in his short time here with us, he played a huge part in changing the landscape of how many folks view, record, write, and deliver music; his challenging us to imagine a world of peace and love; his messages of hope for the future; will have to be enough. I’m not going to saint him. By all accounts (and believe me I’ve read almost every book about the guy), he wasn’t a saint. He was just a man with an amazing gift, a gift he chose to share with us, and one that will still be here long after all of us are gone. One that to this day is missed by folks who may not even have been born while he was alive, but who hear his influence any time they turn on the radio or pop in a CD or pick up a guitar. That’s huge.

Happy Birthday John, wherever you are, may all you imagined be a reality one day.

  Before you accuse me, Take a look at yourself

Eugene McDaniel  – “Before You Accuse Me”

So, against my better judgment, I decided to be nice to a group of fans who I THOUGHT might appreciate some videos I took, that came out really well, of a certain artist, that I, like them, enjoy watching perform.

I went on this artist’s site, created my account and proceeded to wander in to possibly the craziest group of wingnuts I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

I was, within seconds, accused of first, being a troll, then, being another person who they all think is a troll, and finally, an Adam Lambert fan (which is apparently worse than being a troll or a troll imitating another troll) who came in there for the sole purpose of bashing them.

Realize that not only did I direct them to my YouTube channel (which has zero Adam Lambert, FYI. Really? Couldn’t they at least accuse me of being a Daughtry fan like they used to? I mean I don’t particularly like his music, but, hell, at least I hear he’s a good guy – and not a diva).  I also directed them to this blog… oh and I went on using my REAL name.. not my nick name “Meerkah.”

I found myself angered at the accusations. Not because I felt in any way that they might directly reflect who I was as a person, but because the whole ordeal immediately reinforced every bad thing that has ever been said about this artist’s fan base. These folks love to say that everyone ‘bashes’ them, but how can anyone NOT bash them when the reception received, by someone who for all they know could be a potential new lifer, is so heinous??

Seriously, they love to complain that this artist needs to widen his fan base, and that people just don’t ‘understand’ good music. But really, what if I had been a new fan? What if I had just come on there to chat it up with other fans? Anyone not already accustomed to the rampant, ridiculous, stupidity that permeates this particular group, and didn’t already know that among the whack jobs there were some legitimately good people, would have run for the hills.

One fan asked me to please not take it out on the artist. Well, of course I wouldn’t. I’ve been a fan of his long enough to know better. But it’s no surprise to me, that when I go see him play, it’s always the same group of people running for the merch table at the end of the show to catch a glimpse. It’s no surprise to me that any new fan is looked upon suspiciously. And it’s really no surprise to me when my friends, who’d never seen him play, but who very well might enjoy his sound, refuse to go see him play, because, well, they don’t want to deal with a fan base that has a reputation for being insane, or even worse, when, my friends who have been fans as long as I have been won’t go to a show because they’d dealt with the crazy before, and really don’t want to have to pay to be subjected to it again.

Really? I am aware there are far more ‘normal’ people, than ‘crazy’ ones, but the ‘crazy’ ones seem to be the loudest, most obnoxious of the bunch. I am appalled at the reception I received in that room, and if I actually DID know the guy (as I was informed that the other “Troll Persona” they attributed to me had claimed) I’d tell him what an insane group of jackasses are doing to HIS reputation. Because make no mistake, when a new fan comes on to that board, these old timers are representative of the artist.

The folks who ‘live’ on that site need to realize, that they very well might be the ones inhibiting the growth of the artist. That no matter how amazing he is live, or how great his songs are, they are, much as crabs in a basket, keeping him down by perpetuating the ‘crazy’ fan base reputation that they themselves created.

For me, as a fan, it is infuriating to watch. This is a very talented musician who doesn’t deserve his reputation sullied by a bunch of crackpots who somehow think it’s their God given right to police HIS site. He has moderators for that folks. You all are there to just enjoy, chat it up, make friends, and not alienate any other potential newbies.

I don’t know the guy. I never said I did. But guess what, neither do you. Stop ruining his career because of some fantasy you may have that he will thank you for chasing away folks that YOU may not like or may be jealous of for whatever insane reason your deranged minds come up with.

You like this guy? Do him a favor and learn some fucking manners.

A glistening smile, a twinkle in your eye

Well, I can smile like that, just give me a try

And I’ve traveled around just to hear you

And your songs don’t leave my mind

So tell me what should I do, to get you to say “hi”

Toby Lightman – “Don’t Wanna Know”


Fan – (noun)     1. An enthusiastic admirer of a celebrity or public performer    2. Same as fanatic (noun)  –  a holder of extreme or irrational enthusiasms or beliefs


One day, while hanging out on my Facebook page, I noticed someone had sent me an I-M.

Fangirly: “so umm.. Hi, this is so and so, we met the other night at Canal Room, do you remember me?”

Me: “of course I do. We were introduced by whatsisface” (Hence the reason I accepted her friend request)

FG: “Yeah, so umm.. how close are you to whatsisface, I mean, like, are you two, you know, together, cause, like, you seem pretty chummy”

Me: “No. We’re just friends.’

FG: “Oh, cause, I think he’s hot”

Me: “Umm yeah, he’s a good looking guy.. I guess, I just don’t look at him that way”

FG: “Really? Cause I think he’s  HAWT!”

This chick then begins to go in to detail exactly how HOT he is.. and what she’d like to do to him.. prompting me to ask her, nicely, to please stop as he is a good friend, and I find the images she was conveying to be disturbing. And then I unfriended her.

Seriously, I understand liking a performer, whether it’s a musician or an actor. I get the whole ‘fantasy’ thing – I mean seriously, we all have our fantasies. I even get the whole wanting to discuss, among other fans, any particular fantasies one might have. I don’t disparage that at all. What I DON’T get is full on obsession, or the absolute craziness that some fans have where they believe the object of their, shall we say, affection, might in any way respond or make the fantasy reality.

Take for example the woman who, while I was walking down Bleeker Street , with one of my musician friends after one of his shows, propositioned him. The guy, trying to be nice without alienating the fan, turned her down. She proceeded to offer him fellatio, right there, practically getting down on her knees, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, to prove she was serious.


How disgusting, never mind degrading!

Once upon a time, I joined a fan site. Now realize, it wasn’t a fan club. I mean I’m a member of the Dave Matthews Band Fan club, but hey, for $35 I get first dibs on seats, and am never in the nosebleed section. What I’m talking about is a site, devoted to one artist.

I had never been part of a ‘fandom’ before and was taken aback, at some of the craziness I witnessed there.

As a disclaimer, I will say this was ONE site. I actually was convinced, after running away from this site to join another one, where the fans were more like me. They liked the guy. Some were a bit overboard, but the crazy was quickly squashed by the sane there – but that first site? Wow. It opened up a window to insanity I never even knew existed.

Exhibit A:

One evening, bored, I decided to wander in to the site’s chat room. There weren’t many folks in there. Just me, and about four other folks, three of whom I had become personal friends with (and am still quite close to today). In wanders one of the ‘crazy’ fans and posts a phone number and writes: “This is his number, anyone dare to try it?”

Two of my friends, not believing this crazy person, tried it. It was the artist’s actual phone number.
I immediately started fearing for this guy – And, hoped he had the sense to change his phone number (he did, thankfully).

Exhibit B:

The lady who swore she was destined to be with this guy because a) her cat shared his birthday and hair color, b) she and her boyfriend broke up the same day she first saw him sing, c) he was really nice to her when she got to meet him – she SWORE he was giving her the eye…

Exhibit C:

The lady, who after meeting the artist, decided that he has to be gay because he didn’t come on to her in her chest revealing, leopard print blouse and too tight jeans – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the dude’s lack of sexual desire for the woman had nothing to do with him being gay (not that there’d be anything wrong if they guy were – it’s just, that, well, he’s not) rather, it had more to do with the fact that this woman was older than his mother – and she looked more like a supersized ‘Snookie’ than, say, Demi Moore.

Exhibit D:

While on that site, I befriended a group of ladies who had become friendly with the artists’ former band members. They were friendly enough with the band to have been given permission to set up and promote a few shows in the area. Because actually setting up these shows required contracts being signed, arrangements being made for travel, accommodations, etc.. the ladies who were setting up these shows couldn’t divulge information freely until all ‘I’s’ had been dotted and ‘t’s’ crossed.  This, however, was not quick enough for some of the folks on this board. The folks running this board were promised the information would be posted there as soon as all was finalized. One of the moderators on this board decided to publicly denounce these ladies as liars, stating that they didn’t know what they were talking about and were taking the whole board for a ride. She continued to threaten these ladies with all sorts of stupidity and proceeded to spread her ridiculous accusations on other boards.

What proceeded next was a week of hair pulling, name calling and cattiness unlike any I’d ever had to endure before. This was effectively what sent me running in the first place. I mean, as a friend of these ladies, and as someone who was going to be helping out at the events, I did have some knowledge of the work they’d all put in to making these events happen. The folks on the board knew that and in addition to attacking these ladies publicly, I was sent some of the nastiest, idiotic E-Mails decrying my own sanity, stating I was naïve to believe these women and to not come crying to the board moderator once I’d realized I’d been played for a fool . The sheer ignorance of some of the people on this board, folks who would call up potential venues essentially trying to insert themselves into situations they had no business inserting themselves in to, trying to discredit people who were working on creating an event for THEM to enjoy, was horrific. If memory serves my final post on that board was basically me telling them all to kiss my ass.

Now while that experience was bad enough, at least it was, well, virtual. The up close and personal experiences tend to be even more ludicrous. For example, standing with one of the band members, and having him show you a Face Book E-Mail from some chick who’s calling you and your friend “groupies.” Him laughing about it and saying  “Really? Cause neither of you have tried offering me what SHE was offering me the other night – which I declined, by the way. I mean I have standards!” Or, watching your friend get the stink eye from the less attractive fans as they whisper and point to you both because they’re pretty sure one of you is going after the object of their affection (again, wrong).  Or even worse, folks KNOWING you’re friends with an artist and them walking up to that person and saying “I’m friends with Meerkah” in an attempt to either discredit you, or to use your name to get them to maybe befriend the person (what these folks don’t realize is the phone call/text I then get in an attempt to confirm said ‘friendship’ and my immediate response of ‘stay away – stay VERY FAR AWAY’).

I guess, because I don’t see these guys that way, or even when I DO, initially, see them that way, once the fantasy is broken, and I meet them in person, I tend to just see them as the human beings they are. I mean yes, they are very talented people who perform nightly to an appreciative crowd, but sometimes I wonder if the fans themselves don’t expect a bit much from these guys.  They all have personal lives. Their job is to entertain, but once they’re off that stage, shouldn’t their lives be all their own?

Seriously, I’ve seen entire fan groups  have a collective heart attack at the mere mention that the object of their affection might have a girlfriend, or might be getting married and all I keep thinking about is “what? You REALLY thought he was going to marry YOU?” That’s the part I DON’T get. The part where fans seem to think they own the right to dictate the artists’ life.

I’m not going to say that I haven’t been guilty of fantasizing – of COURSE I have. But at some point you’ve got to realize that a fantasy is just that. At some point, you’ve got to realize these are real people, with real lives – Lives that they should be permitted to live in peace without some crazy stalker jumping out at them from the bushes while they’re trying to have some time to themselves; or lives where, if they’re out having dinner with friends, they don’t have to stop mid-bite to take a picture when you know full well, you’ll get your chance later that evening at the show they’re in town for; or lives where their girlfriends don’t get stalked to the point where they give up because your fans are insane.

I think my point might actually be made better by a note that was posted by a fellow fan of one of the artists I follow during one of the crazier times on one of the crazier sites. While this note was originally geared towards one artists’ fan base, I feel it relates to many ‘fandoms’ I have witnessed since then. I am reposting this, with permission, deleting the name of the artist and anyone associated with him that might be mentioned:

Perhaps the saddest reality, is that each and every person here has wasted an inordinate amount of their life on this whole bullsh*t parade.

Herein lies the truth. 99.9% of you will never be able to call “the artist” your friend. (Well you can claim it all you like, but being #23,452 on his MySpace page ain’t gonna make it so!) Hell, I’m going to go so far as to say that another 99% of you will never even have “crew and band members” think of you at all. That’s the real deal folks.

Facts are facts and you can all (and I do mean ALL of you) cry a river of outrage if you want. Friends are made when you actually care to know a person for who they are, not because of what they do or what (scary) you think they are all about.

Fact: “The Artist” is a great artist. Fact: He is actually kinda sweet and does some really great things for the underprivileged around him. Fact: He is a business person and appreciates you as fans who support his music and allow him to do what he loves to do. Fact: He has had girlfriends in the past. He will have them in the future. Not one of them is, or should be your concern. Sorry.

Grimmer reality: Even the “band and crew members” of the world need you for one purpose and one purpose alone. Buy the ticket – take the ride. That’s all folks! We all have a job to do. They sell stuff and make it so that you all have an escape to the lives that clearly aren’t what you’d hoped they’d be. That is all they owe you. They are not here to sleep with you or make out with you or put you on their top ten friends to make your life worth living. In fact, I am quite certain of this. If you happened to have a “lucky” (and I use that word loosely) encounter with any of “The Artists’” extended posse, well good for you (I guess) but ask yourselves the real reason you tried so hard for that “precious connection.”

That goes for all of you who sit here and bash one another. You all struggle to find the thing that makes you special and to have others look upon you as worthy of praise or jealousy. Look inside yourself and realize what is really important. It’s not the cyber-fame that will be with you when you need a friend the most. It’d be those around you who you actually have stood the test of time with.

Trust me on this, fame is fleeting – and by fame I mean real fame – not this crazy board hysteria. When real fame is gone, guess who is left? REAL FRIENDS. That’s who will be there for “the Artist” and every other celeb-du-jour when their star dims. They know this. That’s why they don’t waste time in these cyber palaces of the unholy. It’s why you shouldn’t either.

All of these women being bashed are clearly in need of some good ‘ol self esteem. Yes, it’s sad, yes, it’s more than sad. It’s devastating to those real people in their lives who have lost them to this nonsense. IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS PEOPLE! Get over the insanity, step away from the keyboard and go outside! It’s flippin’ nice out. No excuses! “The Artist” is on vacation and so you all need to take one too – a vacation to the land of Normal, and a return from the land of the loony where you have existed for way too long.

Leave “The Artist” and his friends and employees alone to do the only thing that is relevant. Make the music.

I hope you all manage to get some perspective sometime soon. Sadly, by the time that happens, “The Artist” will announce the next tour. Then I can see the backbiting, eye-gouging and dart throwing shall begin again, just to grasp that 43rd meet and greet pass!!!!

Ok, I have now clearly wasted way too much of my time on you all already, but I thought I’d remind you what reality looks like, as its been way too long a respite for most of you. I’m going off for a run and a nice dinner out with friends. You should try it sometime.

Best of luck to all of you trying to grasp the golden ring of computer coolness. Try not to fall off the horse.

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathing in and out’s a blessing, can’t you see?
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive and well
“Alive and Well” – Kenny Chesney

A few years back I had written an account of my experiences on September 11, 2001. Like many New Yorkers who were there that day, it’s not an event one can easily forget.  Some friends of mine asked me to repost my 9/11 story on this blog. So here it is, with a bit of an update.

Today is the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. My experiences on that day more than likely are very similar to that of many who worked in the area at the time. I am pretty certain that no one will forget the day that planes were flown into buildings, the world shook and a city was terrorized, but not beaten.

Back in 2001 I lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and worked three blocks away from the World Trade Center. My train stop coming into Manhattan was across the street from Tower One.

My plan to catch an earlier train than usual was thwarted by my more immediate desire to look good for our monthly board meeting. I remember running in my three inch platform heels and cursing my vanity as I watched the train leave the station. I didn’t realize at that moment how lucky I was. You see the train I took back then left the station every twelve minutes. Had I made the train I ended up missing, I would have literally been walking up the stairs to street level as the first plane hit Tower One.  Instead, I caught the next train, which had me arriving in Manhattan shortly after the first Tower had been hit. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know any of this.

During the ride in to the city, we were stuck between Brooklyn and Manhattan for a few minutes.  There was no announcement until we actually got to Manhattan and all they said was: “Due to a Smoke condition we will be bypassing the Courtland street station.  For the Wall Street area, please use the Rector Street or City Hall Stations”.  Everyone looked irritated. It seemed back then that every week there was a “Smoke Condition” at the Courtland Street Station. Usually, it meant a garbage can was on fire or some stupid kid was pulling some stupid prank effectively delaying the trains for what amounted to nothing, leaving harried employees irritated, and late for work – But not this time.

I got out at Rector Street because it was closer to where I worked than City Hall.

When I got out of the station I could smell the smoke.  I walked up to street level and saw smoke and fire coming from the first tower and paper wafting down to the ground from the building as well. All I could think was, “oh no, not again”.  I apparently said this out loud because a lady passing me by stopped to say, “oh no, it was just a freak accident – a small jet or something flew into the tower – it’s very weird – they think maybe the pilot had a heart attack.”

Now mind you, I was suspicious – Hey, I was there in 1993 too. But, I decided to just go on to work so I started making my way in the direction of the WTC. Downtown can be a bit difficult to navigate because it’s not the nice little neat grid that the rest of Manhattan is so I was trying to use the most familiar path I knew. I got to this park across the street from the second tower, which was full of people staring – some were crying – and made a right to head towards my job all the while hearing many folks talking in disbelief about the ‘freak accident’. I walked three steps (my back was towards the second tower) and suddenly heard three very loud crashing sounds. I, along with countless people, started to run.  At this point I was thinking that maybe the plane that had flown in to the first tower exploded (later, I learned that, in fact that noise was the sound of the second tower being hit). I was also, at that moment, thinking “don’t fall”… (I was wearing 3 inch platform shoes, had I fallen, I would have been trampled).

Once I made it to my building on William Street, I could see my co-workers staring up in disbelief in the direction of Tower One. We had a very good view of that tower from the corner of our building. One of my friends, having noticed me, out of breath, and I’m sure disheveled, asked me if I was okay.  As I began to nod my head “yes,” I put a hand through my hair to push it out of my face, and noticed there was glass in it. I also at that moment felt glass down my back. As one friend handed me her orange juice, another started to pick the glass out of my hair. I was a little freaked out at that moment, but not nearly as panicky as, should I ever have imagined myself in that situation, thought I’d be. I looked up towards the tower to see why folks had started gasping and noticed fairly large figures falling from the area above the smoke.  It took a while for it to register that those were people throwing themselves out of the tower.

I realized at that moment, that whatever the situation was, my parents needed to know that I was fine. No one’s cell phones were working, so I went upstairs to try the landlines.  I managed to reach my father’s answering machine.  One of my friends had offered to let me come to her apartment in the Village but I declined her offer, saying: “No offense, but I’m getting off this Island even if I have to swim.”  Another one of my co-workers was in her office crying and I looked in to see if she was okay.  She said that the Pentagon had been hit too.  Clearly these were no freak accidents.

And then we started hearing rumors of other planes.

I had decided I was going to cross the Brooklyn Bridge with three of my co-workers.  We all agreed to meet in the lobby by the elevators.  I got downstairs and met up with two of the three ladies I was going to walk home with.  I told them I wanted to let the girl who had offered me to stay with her in the village know I was going with them.  She and another co-worker were out in front of our building next to the revolving doors.  As I walked towards them, the building began to shake and the lights began to flicker on and off.  We heard a huge rumble and lots of crashing noises.  The folks outside ran into the building and we all ran towards the side door.  I linked hands with the two women who had been waiting for me and we ran outside.  I was the last in our human chain and looked behind me.  I saw a huge cloud of smoke heading our way.  I tried to yell to them that we’re better off inside the building.  They didn’t hear me. I broke off the chain and ran back into the building.  I found out later that another co-worker HAD heard me and followed me inside.  She said that had she been caught up in that cloud of smoke she most likely wouldn’t have made it as she was asthmatic.

Once the initial brunt of the cloud of smoke that once was Tower 2 passed, all those inside the building walked out to the street.  It was eerie.  You couldn’t see or hear anyone. The smoke/dust was so thick that you could be right next to a person and they would sound as if they were far away. I could vaguely hear crying and I swear I heard my own heart beating – for the first time, I was truly scared.  I thought I was never getting home.  I tried to keep myself in check though, as I tried to make my way to the South Street Seaport.

I turned left on Pearl Street.  The smoke/dust on that block seemed to have lifted a bit and I recognized a familiar face from work.  He took one look at me and said “are you okay?” and suddenly I couldn’t control the tears anymore and whimpered, “I want to go home.”   He asked me where home was and I said “Brooklyn”.  He was from Brooklyn too and told me that he was looking for another one of our co-workers and that once we found him, we’d all go home together.

The third person found us pretty quickly (they had told each other where to meet), and we headed for the Seaport.  At that time I worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and we were working on moving the Fulton Fish market to the Bronx.  The guys I was walking with were working on that deal so the folks at the fish market let us go into their offices for a quick rest before we started out to the bridge.

The folks in that office were very nice to us and kept trying to clean off my bag, my skirt, my shoes – giving me wet paper towels to wipe off my dust covered face. All I wanted was a working phone line. I HAD to get in touch with one of my parents to let them know I was STILL okay.  While we were there, the news was on and they were talking about rumors of other planes and were trying to confirm a plane crashing in PA.

At that moment I felt a sudden urgency to just get going.  I wanted off the Island of Manhattan.  We decided that since the Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous bridge in New York City, and would be the first target if they wanted to cut us off from the rest of the boroughs, we weren’t taking chances.  We walked to the Manhattan Bridge (which also goes into Brooklyn) instead.

As we got to the foot of the bridge on the Manhattan side, we saw a throng of people running in our direction.  We found out later that the Tower One had fallen as well.

The Twin Towers were gone.

As we crossed the bridge I kept looking back at the smoke coming from the spot where the towers used to be in disbelief.  Again, my thoughts were spoken aloud and I said to one of the guys “Wow, not to get all biblical or anything, but this reminds me of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.”  My friend responded “well, we don’t want you to turn into a pillar of salt, so stop looking back. Let’s go home.”

When we got to the other side of the bridge, we all breathed a sigh of relief and just sat there on the grass watching as more people poured into Brooklyn.  The folks in Brooklyn were passing out water.  I bumped in to the lady me and my other two friends had been waiting for inside our building.  I was relieved she had made it out. She took one look at my feet and said “go into the store behind me and get yourself a pair of flip flops NOW.”  So I did.  My shoes had given me a couple of very large blisters at the bottom of my feet.  I was in pain, but relieved to be out of the city.

Bay Ridge was clear on the other side of Brooklyn and it would have taken me all day to get home if I had walked.  Luckily a nice gentleman was picking up folks and driving them as far as his daughter’s school, which was about fifty blocks away from where I lived.  I took the ride.  Then I got myself a cab.

I had managed thus far to keep myself together but as I turned the corner of my house (the cab had to let me off about five blocks away because there was traffic backed up to the Verazzano bridge which had been closed because of the day’s events, so I walked/ran the last five blocks), I started shaking.  Once I was inside, I just slid down to the floor and let it all out.  My roommate at the time came out of her bedroom and said “Thank God you’re okay. We’ve all been trying to reach you. Call your sister. She’s in a panic.”   Luckily, outgoing calls from landlines were working, so I was able to call my sister and let her know I was fine. With the exception of the message I’d left on my father’s home phone (which I later found out he hadn’t heard, having not been able to leave his office for two days), I still hadn’t reached either of my parents.

After taking the longest shower ever, I still felt as though I had glass in my hair and down my back, and no matter how many times I bathed, I could still smell the contents of the big ball of smoke I had walked through. It took days for me to feel physically normal again.

For the next few days I slept in the living room with the TV on.  By day two I had it on PBS because that was the only station NOT airing continuous images of the Twin Towers.  I had to take sleeping pills to be able to sleep.  Loud noises scared me.  I’m a pretty tough person, but for the first week or so after 9/11 I wasn’t me at all.

I went back to work the following week.  We were working out of offices in downtown Brooklyn.  Like I said, I worked for the Economic Development Corporation and we were clearly going to be busy for a very long time to come.  They told everyone to take their time, come back when we were ready.  But I had to be around people who understood how I felt.  No one in my personal life did because they hadn’t actually been there.

A week later we were back downtown and I can’t describe to you the odor or the sights.  There were national guardsmen walking the streets asking for ID to prove you had a reason to be below Canal Street.  I took to wearing my Work ID around my neck.

I was lucky, really.  I truly feel like I was blessed that day.  I have a sense that maybe my grandfather, who had passed a couple of months earlier, was watching over me on that day, making sure I got home alright.

I was also lucky in that while I knew a few of the people who perished (three firefighters), all my family and close friends managed to escape physically unscathed. Because of this, I was able to concentrate on the folks who did lose those close to them and on the work we had ahead of us.

I still wear the outfit I wore that day.  I consider it my lucky outfit actually.  And those 3 inch platform shoes were repaired over and over again, until, sadly, I had to retire them permanently in the summer of 2008. But for the seven years after 9/11/01, every time I’d wear them, I’d remember how they got me across the bridge on the scariest day of my life.

It’s been nine years and my heart still races and I still tear up when I think of the devastation of that day.  Like I said, I know I was lucky; I’m here to tell you all the story.  I know of way too many people not as lucky as I was.

Needless to say it’s a day I know I can never forget. And even though time has healed the fear, it’s still a shock to me to look at the skyline and see the empty space where the towers once stood. It amazes me that bureaucracy, greed, insensitivity and bullshit have essentially prevented the rebuilding of that area. But I still have hope, we will rebuild.

I know that so much has happened in the years since the towers fell. In my own life, I met and married a wonderful man and then he passed away. Other friends and family members have gotten married, had babies, and still others passed away.  I’ve had, and lost, two jobs since the one I had been working on back in 2001.  And yet, with all that passing of time, whenever the anniversary of the date rolls around, I still feel as though I can remember every sound, every smell, every emotion I felt on that day.

There are so many different stories folks who managed to escape that day, physically unscathed, will tell. I can pretty much guarantee each one will contain two elements:

– Gratitude at having been lucky enough to get out of there alive and unhurt.

– The need to  never forget the ones who weren’t as lucky as we were.

Update – 9/11/2011:

Ten years later, Ground Zero is finally starting to come to life again. Buildings are going up, memorials are opening. Some the infighting seems to be dying down and folks seem to be healing, much like the city itself. There is still work to be done. The manner in which the real heroes of that day, the first responders, are still being treated, is appauling. And while I’d like to go off on a rant here, I think, today, I just want to focus on the good and not on how badly I still want to bitch-slap every politician that refuses to give these heroic men and women the healthcare, and the respect they are due.

While there is no way that anything could replace all that was lost ten years ago, it is reassuring to see the sky line filling up again. That gaping hole in it was painful to look at. It will never be the same. No one, least of all those who went through that day, who lost loved ones, who lost the sense of security they felt walking the streets of downtown Manhattan, will ever forget what happened. To me, recalling that day never really changes. It’s been ten years, but it could have happened yesterday, the memory is that vivid. But the city is doing better. Life goes on, as it should. Remember those lost. Rejoice in being alive. Never forget.