9/11: Dreaming with a Broken Heart

We spent the weekend of September 11th in New York City a few weeks back (for those still trying to figure it out, I moved out East in June and took a job to run a start-up company, our update in a forthcoming post). I was in the City all day Friday for meetings, one that was supposed to last 90-minutes which continued for eight hours. By the sixth hour of meetings, with no end in sight, I told E and the kids to come into NYC and we’d stay the night. We’d already planned on getting up early to drive in to spend the morning at the 9/11 memorial. By the way, before I dig much deeper, please note all photo credits go to the amazing photographer and writer Jodi Kendall; www.jodikendall.com

We had a great night that evening over Tomoe Sushi during the kick off of “Fashion Week” in Manhattan, and the following morning we awoke early and caught the R subway line down to Rector Street, but not before taking the kids to a typical Manhattan-style coffeecart (“regular” with two sugars for me and E), a kaiser roll with butter, and an everything bagel w/ cream cheese. Kids loved it.

Riding the subway south brought back so many memories; the hotel we stayed at Friday night was, literally, less than 300 yards from my old start-up company in midtown (right by Macy’s, 35th and Broadway). And I used to take that exact subway from our apartment, departing from Rector and jumping off at the 34th street. On this particular day, Saturday,  September 11th 2010, I was doing the reverse commute nine years later, down to the area where we lived during the event.

As the subway clickity clacked from stop to stop the late summer smell of the subway brought back so many memories; a smell of heat and humidity, sweat and metal, urine and basement…Oddly pleasing yet borderline nauseating. Like skunk.

“Rector Street, Rector Street next stop! Brooklyn-bound R-train last stop in Manhattan” barked the conductor, and I wandered ahead with one kid in tow tightly wrapped around my hand, and another kid being corralled by Erica. I can’t remember which kid it was, but I was squeezing her hand so tightly–never forgetting for a minute the time I saw a guy fall into a subway that came all too close to being crushed by an oncoming subway train. As well the time when I was ten years old in Chicago and having a guardian angel change my life as a result of a near-death subway experience. I’ll forever compensate for those experiences by overprotecting our kids in subway stations. It’s now in my DNA. It’s interesting how life’s experience dramatically change you. Sometimes, in ways that you can’t or won’t let yourself change.

As I started to walk out the subway on the gum tattered steps, the morning sunlight rays streaking through the underpits of Manhattan transit as I climbed the steps, I forgot about kids, work, my wife, and my life.

Transcendence, I think is what they call it. The colloquial definition, not the Kant definition.

And I was lifted back to nearly 10-years ago on such a crisp summer morning; this Saturday was no different. I walked over to Broadway, one block south of our old apartment, two blocks north where the World Trade Center used to gallantly stand. And the memories flooded. As did the emotions coming with it.

Sorrow, at the tragedy that happened years ago.

Inspiration, to be able to see and hear again the stories of so many people who were so valiant during such a difficult part of time.

Anger, at not just the events that occurred years ago, but also those who used the day as a platform to espouse personal political belief, like those who maintain a conviction that 9/11 was an “inside job” to the  drama around the mosque as well as proposed burning of the Koran’s (all of which I also have personal opinions about, but the 11th was a day to memorialize those lost–not to use as a platform for  political gain or statement-making).

The sights and sounds so powerful, the air resonated deep with conviction. I’d been downtown since the actual attacks, staying in our apartment a few blocks south of the WTC after 9/11, to our move out of the City a month thereafter, to various visits over the years. But, Saturday, well, Saturday was different.

Trinity Church, made very well known during the events of the day and thereafter, lined with flowers and luminaries memorializing the many who passed.

Feeling the methodical notes played with the breath of human life through the bagpipes singing solemnly in the background as we walked closer to the memorial.

The quiet rustle of people walking by, calmly and contemplatively, with shared glances of an understanding of the sacred ground on which we stood.

Hearing, name after name after name, hours and hours worth of names, read by family and friends for those whose lives were savagely claimed.

Seeing the bright morning sun eclipse through the 9/11 memorial as I stood with both kids and Erica by my side, near my sister Jodi, as I stood with many others and simply cast a gaze upon the worksite of regentrification as well great sorrow.

Watching other Americans, one with a British accent to my left, an Arab-American to my right, a group of Amish Mennonites standing behind me, with every other imaginable nationality in close proximity, all paying tribute to those whose time had past.

An experience that can’t be articulated or “explained”, but something that, again, has changed the way that I look at the world and our life.

It was, simultaneously, not enough and also too much.

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An Unexpected Gift

This is probably one of the most amazing stories I’ve heard in quite some time…Words don’t do justice to it, so if you read the article and like it I’d suggest you also watch the video. What an incredible story of an unexpected gift.

Although Phoenix cab driver Tom Chappell insists he always knows where he’s going, he has been known to miss a turn or two.
Such was the case the day we rode with him, and such was the case a few months ago, the day Tom got called to the home of Rita Van Loenen.
“I was running about 30 minutes late. When I finally did pick her up she was not a happy camper,” said Tom.
“Well, I mean I’m expecting a cab driver to be able to find his way,” said Rita.

Read and watch this story.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Real Heroes are Dead

the20st4

There are certain people that I think about at least every month who have made an impact on my life, what I think, and who I am–from those who are close to me and others are famous figures.

Some are obvious, like my family. The next genre, perhaps, is unsurprising. People like Levi, Mother Teresa, Bob Bonanducci, and others.

And then others still are relatively unknown, and I knew of them from some reading or study. Rick Rescorla is one of those people.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in the last few weeks I’ve been going through lots of old papers and files, some of which contain stories and articles from years back. This was one of those transformational articles to me, and an incredible lesson in courage and leadership. It’s so good, I thought to post it on here.

Note that this was published in the New Yorker, but that it also contains a bit of strong language. So reader beware.

It’s an amazing love story between two people, as well as a look into the heart and composure of an exceptional leader. And it’s also a heck of a long article, but so worth the read.

The Real Heroes are Dead
As Susan Greer was walking her golden retriever one morning near her home, in Morristown, New Jersey, she heard footsteps behind her. It was just after six, on a warm Saturday in late July of 1998; she liked the quiet and the early-morning light. The footsteps came closer, and then a jogger passed her. He was tall and somewhat heavy, and appeared to be about her age—she was fifty-six. What really caught her attention was his feet. He had no shoes on. It wasn’t like her to say anything to a stranger, but curiosity overcame her, and she asked, “What are you doing jogging in your bare feet?”
The jogger didn’t stop, or even turn around. “I need to know what it feels like to run without shoes,” he shouted, and explained that he was writing a play, and it was set in Africa. Then he was out of earshot. Even though Susan hadn’t glimpsed his face, something about his voice made an impression. She felt sure the same could not be said about her. She hadn’t bothered with any makeup that morning and was wearing old shorts and a T-shirt.
The next morning, she and the dog, Buddy, were again on their walk when a dark-green Lincoln Mark VIII pulled up, and a man inside said hello. She recognized the voice from the previous day. “Why not come to breakfast?” he asked.

Click here to read the full story.

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Seven years ago today…

raz-nyc-apartment
It’s taken me five days to finish this post that I started on 9/11.

I remember so vividly the crisp fall morning, awakening early to what literally started as a most idyllic day–and quickly morphed into something quite different–from the freshness of having just learned that Erica was pregnant two days before, to enjoying a cup of morning coffee while overlooking the morning sun and blue skies as well as the Manhattan skyline from our apartment a few blocks South of the WTC (pictured above).

And I remember the walk into the office, arriving first to the office at 8am–abnormally early by Manhattan start-up company standards–while feeling a strength of excitement to my event-filled day with Exec’s from planned meetings throughout the day.

And then I got the call from my friend commuting into the City, whose frantic plight was among the earliest acknowledgments that something was terribly wrong.

And the day, as everybody knows, turned horrific from that moment on. Each of us has a story of where we were, the people we knew affected, and the resulting impact from this day many years ago.

And for six years I awakened on this memorial day with an almost methodical remembrance of the anniversary of this days events, with a customary moment of silence during each of the major attacks, along with numerous phone calls to those with whom I shared the day from years back.

Perhaps this year it was a culmination of being on the West Coast, where I expect there exists some direct relationship to distance and discussion, though perhaps it was also the factor of time that had passed as well as a harried and busy calendar for the day.

Yet on 9/11 I felt like something was missing from the day, an intangible that I couldn’t–and still can’t–quite express.

Now today, five days later, when I read a touching 9/11 remembrance article from the Wall Street Journal that my dad emailed onto me, copied and pasted below, it struck the chord that I seemed to miss from this past Thursday.

Wall Street Journal
September 13, 2009

‘They Are All Better Than Me’
By AMY FINNERTY

The taxi driver did not want to take me to Brooklyn. Stephen, a very tired-looking man from Ghana, muttered under his breath when I got into his cab on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village and asked for Montague Street — just over the bridge.

He was just starting his night shift. The ride downtown was one of those passive-aggressive, stop-and-start affairs that cabbies use to punish inconvenient fares. But the driver’s mood softened when we reached the site of the World Trade Center.

On the eve of the seventh anniversary of 9/11, the lights — two soaring, vertical columns of blue-grey mist representing the Twin Towers — were projected heavenward, as they are each year. We had just passed the stretch between the Village and Tribeca when the two of us were caught off guard south of Chambers Street. We were directly under the light beams, at the base of operations, as it were, near the construction site that is still a mess. The annual civic display was both less romantic and more impressive up close. Bugs swarmed in the electrical glow of Big Machinery. The wattage was alarming.

We lingered in the phosphorescence, stuck in traffic, mesmerized by the shockingly muscular beams. He stopped the car. This, we agreed, was a big deal, and must have cost the city a lot.

“Where were you when it happened?” I asked, glad that he was no longer mad at me for dragging him to Brooklyn. “Don’t ask me, please,” he responded. “I’m getting tears in my eyes.” The New Yorker in me suspected this intimacy might be a bit of theatrical tip-seeking. But I soon felt terrible for thinking so.

“The night before it happened, I dropped a fare right here at a hotel under the Twin Towers. I don’t know what happened to them.” Back then, Stephen had just recently left his day job . . . at the Twin Towers. “I worked for a freight forwarding company,” he said, and I thought that the very African way he pronounced “freight forwarding” made it sound as vital and noble as it actually is.

“Two people I knew died,” he continued. “I had recently quit working there in the day, because of my kids, to work nights driving a taxi, to make sure my kids were OK, to get them off to school. We had problems with babysitters.” He seemed energized when I asked what he thought about Osama Bin Laden. “Those people!! So wicked! So smart! So Samaarrrt!”

Moments later, he handed me a color photo as he turned on to the Brooklyn Bridge. A lineup of dark-faced, pastel-clad kids, several girls and a boy, all gorgeous, strapping and smiling broadly. “The oldest girl is so pretty,” I said, stupidly. “That’s my wife,” he confided. “She died two years ago of throat and neck cancer. I can’t believe it’s two years.” I asked him for a pen.

“You’re doing an incredible job of raising these happy kids,” I told him, wanting to write down his words and make him feel better. “What do your kids do?”

“See that one in the green shirt?” He asked the question without turning around. “Master’s in psychology.” He slowed down in the bridge traffic. “The one on the end? She’s the oldest, a teacher.” There was a boy in his second year at college, and yet another accomplished girl. “They’re all better than me” he boasted. “Psychologist . . . cab driver!” I told him he was wrong — he gets credit for raising them. “Teacher . . . cab driver!” he boomed. “They are better!” Tears welled in his eyes as he added that he missed his wife terribly.

We arrived at my home. Stephen politely accepted my tip and I got out of the cab. Then he headed back over the river toward the lights that had, at least momentarily, bridged the differences between us.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.