Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A River of Problems

Being productive.  I have my take on this, but it’s something we all strive for.  We can turn life into a hamster wheel of activity, or we can find meaning in the things we are already doing or aspire to do.  And in some cases you just can’t avoid doing stuff around the house no matter how little meaning you find in the activity of dusting the furniture.

On Friday and Saturday the first Clay City Red River cleanup took place.  A group of seven worked on Friday to excavate and pile up tires and garbage from the river and on Saturday a different group of ten came behind and either removed or moved to the top of the bank those piles (about fifty tires and other sundry garbage) and excavated and removed another fifty or so tires and other sundry garbage including a TV, washing machine tub, and a surprise dead deer.
The Saturday crew and property owner (in orange) who let us haul out
In the whole scheme of things our little group barely scratched the surface of the problem.  A big part of the issue is cultural ignorance.  And I don’t mean we’re a bunch of stupid hillbillies.  I mean that there is little societal awareness of the importance of NOT allowing discarded appliances and used tires to get washed into the river during floods.  Er, was that litter?  Or household garbage dumped out the back door?  Anyway, in some cases the garbage in the river is simply things that got carried away from where they were deposited.  In a few cases there were river dump sites.  Out of sight; out of mind, and I don’t have to pay any dump fees.
The river is a convenient place to store things that you never want to see again.  Like dead bodies.  Or the castoffs of a disappointing and hollow life. 
But I digress…
We’re (Powell Countians, Kentuckians, or human beings in general) not too poor to deal with the problems of garbage.  And we’re not too stupid to figure out where used tires go.  We’re just too lazy to clean up after ourselves.  We think we’re too busy to take the time to put trash in its place.  Not throw it away, because we know there is no “away.”  But our refuse has a place.  We—as humans—have come up with many ways to get rid of the things we don’t want.  We bury a lot of it.  We burn some of it.  And we build walls to keep the rest out.
It’s all interrelated.  When we don’t value relationships between humans we’re not going to value the land or the air or the water other humans need to live and thrive.  The problem is that we’ve become too good at ignoring the threats to our own health.  We let politicians, ad men, and the bad assumptions they peddle blind us to the adverse effects of our lifestyles.  So our water is polluted.  We ingest rust, and filth, and chemicals and shrug our shoulders as if to say “what can I do about it?”
Water pollution is not a problem of class.  It’s not a problem of race.  It’s not a partisan issue.  Except some people think it’s okay to pollute as long as you can afford to pay your fines.  That’s such a dysfunctional way to do business.
There are some who say water will become more valuable than oil soon.  I submit that it already is and always has been more valuable than oil.  Without it we all die.  Second only to air we depend on water to survive.  Oil is a passing fad.  It’s made a lot of people rich.  And when it goes away the wealthy will turn to water.  They’ll sell it to the poor at a premium.  PS, you and me are poor in the grand scheme.
All of us need to care about water right now.  Not tomorrow.  Not someday when the tap is dry, or foul, or when the price is too high.
It’s important that we care enough for our communities that we stop dumping trash just over the hill where it’s out of sight but still upstream of someone else’s water intake.  It benefits us and our neighbors.  We can’t keep harping on the need for “somebody” to do “something” and bring jobs to our town when we can’t even be bothered to haul off our own trash. 
There is no meaningful purpose behind laziness.  I’m not talking about taking a lazy day to enjoy the weather or the view or to just decompress.  I’m talking about the mental laziness that leads to apathy and eventually to the decision to do something like ignore that pile of tires down in the field until after the flood carries them away or the decision to look fast up and down the road to make sure no one’s looking before chucking that broken down recliner in to the ditch.
We all do stupid $#!+ like that.  Or do we?
I don’t litter.  I never have.  The floorboard of every car I’ve owned has looked like the bottom of a dumpster, but I NEVER THROW GARBAGE OUT THE WINDOW OF MY CAR.  It’s a decision you make.  And you don’t ever have to wrestle with that moral alligator ever.  Just decide not to throw stuff “away” and when confronted with something you don’t want to hang onto for nostalgic reasons then go find the proper waste or recycling receptacle to put it into.
Oh, except dead bodies.  Just don’t mess with them to begin with.

PS, we made the front page of the local paper


 
 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Convert


I haven’t touched The One in quite a while.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I moved it out of the way to get to the floor pump when the SSB needed a little PSI.
It’s not like I’ve been riding much either.  But since I acquired the SSB I have ridden it exclusively.  I’m a full convert to the ways of the Simply Simple Bike.  My focus lately has been on running with less riding going on.  My body is complaining. 
I managed a half marathon PR (on the road, self-supported, non-event run) the day of a conspicuous local trail run (take that Blow Jowen!).  My previous PR was my first half ever: the 2013 Iron Horse in Midway.  I ran that in 2:14.  Saturday I did a big Red River road loop and threw down a 2:09 run.  Actually, I ran it in 2:08:51.
But I impress…er, digress.
Needless to say, I’ve drank the singlespeed kool-aid.  And it’s goo-ood!
What was I afraid of?  Not being able to climb?  Not a problem.  So far I’ve only faced a small handful of climbs that thwarted me.  Only one seemed legitimately related to a lack of grannier gears.  And if I were in better shape…
After all of the derailer trouble I’ve had of late I am much relieved of stress riding the SSB.  Its whippy lightness of being is nice too.  I can yank the front end of that bike around like a small dog on a short leash.  Something about the geometry just feels right.  I can’t manhandle The One like that and it’s really not any heavier.  Maybe just a tad…
I’ve ridden the new-to-me bike at VP, CVP, Waverly, and Cherokee.  I have not yet taken it to Skullbuster or Cave Run.  I think the Big Limestone loop at Cave Run would be the real test.  The climb up from the visitors’ center seems like it would be the SSB showstopper.  And I know the northbound climb on Lakeview would shut me down.  But then again, it shut me down with full geared wussitude.  I need to build up some real climbing endurance.
Why do I need to build climbing endurance on the mountain bike?  I’m so glad you asked!  Leadville.  Oh yes, Leadville.  I’m going to throw my name into the hat again this year.  2016 lottery, here I come!  And I’m going to do it right this time.
I’ve been sitting on my book.  As bad as I want to see it in print something has held me back from really trying to push it on down the road.  In a text conversation with the CTL I realized: I need to get a belt buckle.  That’s what I set out to do and I didn’t do it.  How can you write a book about that?
And I need to do it in the right style.  I need to prove to myself that I can focus on a long reaching goal and meet short term milestones.  I’ve failed miserably my whole life when it comes to certain types of goals.  Thirty pounds off.  Core strength.  Speed on the bike.  These things are stepping stones on the way to the success I outlined for myself five years ago.  I’ve not even tiptoed across a single one.
My interim goal is to finish the Rough Trail 50k trail race.  Finish.  After Rough Trail I am going to lay off the long distance trail running.  It’s beating me up too much.  I say this…and yet I still want to do Yamacraw.  Maybe I’ll just do the 10k.  And half marathon distances seem to work good for me.  That feels like a good hard distance to train for and enjoy.  More than that taxes my social and familial resources.  I’m not an ultrarunner kind of guy it turns out.  I just have too many other and more important things going on in my life that I’m not willing to forfeit.
I did have a good long run this past weekend.  My training calendar has an ominous “22” on Saturday.  I was behind in my mileage after my Achilles detour and the New York trip.  I basically took a week and a half off and then also missed a second weekend of mileage.  And to protract the healing instead of running this past week I rode the aforementioned SSB.
My last long run was the 12th of September (my aforementioned PR) and before that I ran a 16 mile road run on August 29th.   The injury and the trip serious derailed me.  I was determined not to give up though.  I was somewhat despondent when I woke up Saturday morning and lay there scrolling through Facebook on my phone finding absolutely no motivation to get out and run.  I had conceded 20.  I figured if I could make that leap, then hit my scheduled 16 mile long run next week I could make another leap to 24 the week after that.  I’d be back on schedule.
I didn’t have confidence that I could run 20.
Then I came across this video
Needless to say I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed.  I pushed fears of injury, cramping, and bonking straight out of my skull.  I know I have the knowledge and ability to block those things from happening.  I loaded up my hydration pack, shoved down a little food, and spent a solid half hour stretching before I ambled into the cool dawn fog at a conservative 11:30/mi pace.  And I maintained that pace for 20 miles.
I have a hard time holding back.  I don’t want to take easy runs.  I want to be fast and longsuffering.  And for now, the reality is that I can be one or I can be the other.  But I finished 20 miles feeling pretty good.  I won’t say I was ready to go out and do it again.  I considered going ahead and socking in those extra two miles, but in the end decided 20 was enough.  I’ll get back to my scheduled mileage, and I’ll finish the Rough Trail 50k.  Nuff said.

 

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Kick


I’ve written about my running past before.  I don’t want to beat any proverbial (or, for that matter, literal) dead horses, but now that the season is in full swing I can’t help but pontificate upon the merits of running and specifically running cross country for a minor-type person.
Bean is in her second year with the elementary team.  She came back into it having reverted to her old ways.  She’s made meager improvements and we attribute a lot of it to her attitude.  She hates practice and comes up with excuses to get out of it.  She has a lot of “headaches” and her legs seem to hurt except when she’s running around chasing her friends before and after practice.  She does seem to enjoy meets and going to practice just not running during practice.
Bean running strong last season
(I've not been taking photos this year as I am a volunteer coach)
 
The first couple of meets of this season she did fairly well; her times were finally starting to improve, and she was complaining less.  And then she twisted her ankle.  I saw it happen.  I saw her limping around for a few days after.  She got better and went back to running after we returned from New York.  Then she twisted it again.  I wasn’t going to let her run at Bath County last night, but she assured me that her ankle was fine.  And the coach said she was running around with the other kids at school before they got on the bus to ride over.
Less than halfway through the race she stepped in a hole and tweaked her ankle again.  I saw her limping far behind, crying, and in obvious pain.  I let her DNF.  It didn’t make sense to push her to walk to the finish.  I should have made the executive decision before the race.  Lesson learned.
So now Bean is down for a little bit.  She’s going to miss at least one meet.  And that’s okay.  I don’t want to send her down a long road of perpetual injury.  When I was a kid I was prone to ankle sprain.  I couldn’t seem to shake them.  I’ve had three pretty bad ones as an adult and a lot of minor ones that I just “walked off” as my dad used to advise.  And I agree for the very minor ones.  And walk not run.
All that said, as I stood on the side of the course cheering Bean and her teammates on it brought back all of those good feelings from when I ran cross country in the paleo-eighties.  Meets often encompass a hundred or more kids from different communities within a small region.  They have a lot in common, but they don’t share exactly the same backdrop for their lives.  It’s a good environment.  Typically everyone is supportive.  We did hear reports of some elbows being thrown. 
Anyway, the beauty of cross country is that it is a mix between an individual sport and a team sport.  There are benefits from both kinds of activities.  For the most part as a runner you are simply running against the field.  You can focus on PRs or you can focus on overall placement, but in the end no one else can do much to help you.  But on the other hand your placement as an individual contributes (or not) to the overall placement of the team.  By doing your best and beating your own times or your rival you help your team.  Your motivations don’t have to be as pure for you to be a great team player.
Some might question this as a good aspect of the sport, but being the quirky guy I am I have to acknowledge that not everyone comes from the same world  view or have the same motivations to excel in life.  And being able to tap into whatever strength a child has and foster that is truly a good thing.  Being limited to the strict confines of a certain form of participation tends to exclude the vast majority or kids.
What I loved about cross country as a runner was the support and encouragement shown for every runner on the team despite ability or performance.  We cheered the last runner over the line as hard as we cheered the star runners.  Sometimes harder.  I ran JV, but I remember the JV races were as heated and as loud as the varsity.
 
The thing I picked up on last night was that there is a prevailing encouragement to “kick” at the end.  When they hit that hundred yard mark, or the last turn before the finish its go, go, go.  And it doesn’t matter of that kid is running a sixteen minute mile or a forty minute 5k or it’s the two star varsity runners duking it out for first…everyone is screaming and yelling and waving them to run faster, to sprint, to finish strong.
I love that.
I wouldn’t have thought that one bit of my athletic past would have been so deeply ingrained in me.  But in subtle ways I’ve incorporated that into who I am.  I won’t say that I always finish strong in life’s endeavors, but I have at times pushed through difficulties due to that philosophy of digging deep to find the strength to run faster when you think there’s nothing left to tap into.
There was a moment during the middle school race last night where two kids who were probably 38th and 39th place took off for a sprint duel for the finish.  Those two kids raced their hearts out.  You could see as the trailing runner started to overtake the lead racer there would be a burst of speed, and a countering burst, and the leader would surge again until one of them had no power left to deliver to tired legs.
That’s primal.  That’s a hunter/prey tactics.  That’s survival instincts being stretched out and exercised.  And it was beautiful to watch over and over again as the same drama played out with each group or pair of kids, or even each individual.  Yes, even those who were separate from the field, running alone, dragging behind…you could see them kick into a different state of consciousness as well.  Run.  Sprint.  Charge to the finish.
It’s good for all of us to be so occupied with effort that we forget everything else in the universe if only for a few brief seconds.  That’s good for the soul.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sprint Road Trip to New York: Part I


We arrived at Bushwood during the early evening on 4 September, 2015.  As I walked in, cooler sloshing against my hair pale leg with mostly melted ice, sunglasses propped up on my greasy head, yanking the sodden material of my workout shorts from my rear, wrinkled t-shirt clinging to my flabulous body, I couldn't help but smirk at the other guests.  Snooki and her entourage scowled.  Well, it probably wasn't that Snookums.
Did I say Bushwood?  It was actually the Doral Arrowood in Rye Brook, New York.  It seemed a bit Bushwood as we ambled in.  It seemed less so when we woke up Saturday morning to find there was no hot water in the shower.  My, how the other half lives!
We were in New York for a mini-vacation attached to some family business.  I don't mean to make it sound so cold, but we made the trip to gather with Mandy's family and scatter her grandfather's ashes.  George DeFilippo passed from this life earlier in the year.  He lost a battle with multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer).
I had the privilege of meeting George twice.  I regret that I didn't get to know him better.  I am sad that my children only got to meet their great-grandfather once.  I have a great deal of respect for the man.  I've heard many stories from his family, and I know he was a good man and well-respected by all who knew him.  I have a great deal of respect for his firstborn son, who happens to be my father-in-law.  The one, the only...Tomahawk.
Mandy kept thanking me for being willing to put up with her family through all of the hoopla that went with the trip.  But I assured her that I was happy to be along for the trip.  I love her family.  They truly are a second family to me.  Her parents are like second parents.  I love them like my own.  I was honored to be a part of George's last memorial.
But before we got to the more somber (maybe) portion of the trip (see the previous post) there was a lot of traveling and touristing to get through.  To spoil the ending...it was an emotionally draining trip.  But I'll get to that.
We left early in the AM on Friday of the Labor Day weekend.  In the new Swag Wagon (we now have borrowed from the bank for a van of mini proportions) we carried accoutrements for the trip and four minors.  I know, I know, we only have two kids.  At times its felt like there were six in the Chainring household, but in fact two of the interlopers are DeFlips.  We took Ty and Alison along with us.  The niece and nephew. 
It was a good ride up.  Basically uneventful.  Mandy and I took turns driving through seven states.  When we arrived at Bushwood I had not a care in the world how the other guests perceived this Appalachian renaissance man; I simply wanted to eat mass quantities and crash into a hotel bed and oblivion.  From the looks we got I figured they could smell the hillbilly on us. Meh.
We got real New York style pizza that night.  While it is requisite to eat New York style pizza when you're in state, I have to say that the absolute best NY style I ever ate was in Denver, Cee Oh.  A little place called Famous Pizza.
Anyway, that pie was just the beginning of a series of good/bad food choices.  To give away the ending I gained a full seven pounds on the trip.  Ugh.
The whole gang included me, Mandy, Boone, Lily Bean, Alison, Ty, Mandy's sister Holly, and her boyfriend/fiancee Willie Dear.  Tomahawk and Laur came along on Saturday.  They flew up in the morning and met us in the Empire State.
Early in the AM on Saturday we were headed to THE City.  Tom had arranged for us to park at the Rye Police Station which was immediately adjacent to the Rye Station Amtrak stop.  After we parked Mandy went to check and make sure we were good.  The officers she spoke to said we were good to park there over the weekend for free, but since she was George DeFilippo's granddaughter she could park for free all week.



 
We made the 7:50 train south to Grand Central and were off to adventure.
I had only been to Grand Central once.  But it’s really cool to step out from the underground platform and walk into that big, well-lighted bustling space.  I don't like crowds.  I enjoy living in a rural area with close proximity to the non-human wooded spaces, but there's just something about a city—and a train station—that gets me all fired up.  I love visiting cities, and abiding in them for a week or two, but after a while I have to get away and find some quiet and stillness in which to throw myself.  It was good to be back in NYC.
Mandy and I visited in the summer of 2002.  It was only a few months after the world I knew as a child had ended.  I was no longer a political ostrich.  I had decided after 9/11 that I had to educate myself and keep abreast of current events.  I couldn't afford to ignore the wide world.  So when we made our solemn pilgrimage to Ground Zero in the July after 9/11 I was shaken.  The stillness and quietness within the greatest city in the world stirred my soul.  It reverberated within me.
One of the things we wanted to do was visit the 9/11 Memorial while we were in THE City.  We had tickets for 1:00, and that was our only constraint for the day.  As we exited Grand Central onto the street we went into full hillbilly tourist mode.  But I figured we earned it after the twelve hour drive we had endured the day before.  We started walking toward Central Park, making a quick breakfast stop along the way at the Oxford Cafe as we walked up Lexington Avenue.
Mandy made the offhand comment that we would walk the length of Central Park.  I was a bit skeptical but bit my tongue.  On the way to Strawberry Fields we passed by the boulder that I scampered on back when I was more of a rock climber.  I had Boone recreate a pose and snapped a photo.  Thirteen years later my son was ironically dressed almost exactly as I had been.  We continued up a little ways and visited the Lennon mandala.  There was a small crowd gathered and a gentleman was playing an acoustic guitar and singing Imagine with impromptu tourist accompaniment.  We had only traversed a small bit of the park, but later Holly would be shocked to discover that we had not walked the entire length of the greenspace.



Strawberry Fields Memorial

 
After a brief turnabout we found ourselves descending below street level to get on the subway.  We went to Ground Zero (mediocrely chronicled in my last post) and afterward headed back north up Manhattan Island.
We stopped at the Amish Market long enough to eat lunch.  It was fun to sit out on the sidewalk and commiserate over our lunch orders.  The surly deli jockeys gave Mandy a run for her gyro.  She finally exited into the sunlight with her hard won meal and refueled for the push home.
Times Square was on the agenda.  I wanted to see it since it has been closed to vehicular traffic.  It is an amazing pedestrian space and kudos to the city for giving Times Square back to human beings.  And speaking of human beings…
Right out of the subway we were surrounded by people in costumes posing with our children for photos.  One man was dressed as Captain America.  Another (or two) was dressed as the Hulk.  There were Power Rangers, Minions, Thor, and all kinds of other iconic comic book and movie characters.
They mobbed us.  I took Boone’s photo with Captain American and a Power Ranger.  I thanked them, but the good captain moved in close, and in a thick accent told me he worked for tips.  Almost guiltily I gave the guy five and said to split it with the Pink Power Ranger.  Before I could usher my son on down the sidewalk we were flanked by Spider Man and the Hulk.  I ended up giving them another five because I didn’t want to take out my bigger bills on the street.  Again, I almost felt guilty because I didn’t want to give them a dime.
 
When we had a moment to look back I watched what was going on.  The characters looked shabby from a distance.  Some pulled up their masks to wipe away sweat and to get a breath of fresh air.  Many were dark skinned.  All had accents.
Then it hit me…the characters who worked for tips could probably get no other work.  They were likely immigrants working on the street outside of the system to get by.  I wondered if they owned their costumes or if there was some boss somewhere doling out assignments and identities and taking a huge cut of the “tips.”
A little further down the way we noticed a nearly nude woman having body paint applied all over.  She was wearing little more than a thong and her breasts were painted in patriotic colors.  I didn’t realize she was in the same boat—so to speak—as the super hero characters.
Again, we ushered the kids on down the sidewalk.  Boone had wanted to check out FAO Schwarz.  He was disappointed to learn that the store had closed.  But there, on the Square, was a ginormous Toys ‘R Us.  Mandy and Lily went off to the American Girl store and I took Boone into the toy store.  It was pretty amazing.  Four levels.  Lots of cool vintage Star Wars toy displays.  Lots of Lego sculptures.  An animatronic T-rex.  It brought out the toy-loving little boy in me.  Boone was beside himself, but he behaved admirably while we were in the store.

 
 
After we had met up with the rest of the family I regretted that I didn’t even offer to get him anything.  But I was proud of him for not begging me to buy him everything.  I think we were both just having a good time looking at all the cool stuff.  It was less like a store and more like a museum of toys.  And I thought again about the characters on the street in Times Square.  The regret didn't linger.
Mandy and Lily had already headed toward Grand Central Station and we followed.  When we found them near our train platform Mandy had a huge grin on her face.  She had found and purchased a Junior’s Cheesecake.  Happy dance!
When we visited in 2002 we bought a cheesecake at Grand Central before jumping on the train back to Rye.  It sat between us and our hungry stares.  We walked footsore back to her grandfather’s house to discover he had gone out.  The doors were all locked.  So we sat on his back porch eating the cheesecake with our bare hands.  When he returned home he was somewhat disgusted by our behavior.  I don’t think either one of us cared.
We shared the cheesecake with everyone.  That was nice.  It was a good way to finish off our trip into THE City.
I've got at least one more post to make.  Stay tuned for the conclusion...








Ground Zero






 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ground Zero


Today’s post is actually Part II in the story of our recent Labor Day Sprint Road Trip to New York.  I decided to post it out of order because of the date relevance.  I’ve been uber busy (not with driving people around, Silly!) since we got back into town and have only managed to rough out my write up of the trip so as not to lose any memories.  I’ll dole then out as I finish them up and subsequently sequential.  Without further ado…Part II of the New York Sprint Road Trip Saga: Ground Zero.

We exited the subway at Tribeca.  It was only a short walk south to World Trade Center.  In July, 2002 the subway didn't go anywhere near WTC so Mandy and I had hoofed it all the way from Grand Central to Ground Zero, asking bystanders how to get to Battery Park to avoid looking like we were looking for Ground Zero.
One World Trade towers above the city.  Whereas we found our way to the site thirteen years ago by gravitating to the big hole in the city, in 2015 we found Ground Zero at the base of the incredible towering tower.  I have conflicted feelings about the iconography that looms over the site, but I’m not going to go into all of that.
 
 
We walked into the plaza and made our way over to the north pool.  It was a short wait to move up to the plaque with the names and look into the pool.  While it wasn’t as eerily quiet as I remembered from my first visit there was a certain stillness and peace in the midst of the city that never sleeps.   
 
Boone was lost momentarily as we all wandered through the crowd.  After we rounded him up we made our way to the museum entrance.  We were about a half hour early, but they let us go ahead and go in.  The above ground building is deceptively small, but the bulk of the museum is under street level and actually under the pools.
Right away visitors are confronted with voices and words projected on the walls.  A few steps further you come out on a balcony overlooking the Last Column and one of the reinforced walls.  A turn to the right puts you at the top of the Survivors Staircase.


The exhibits under the south pool were the hardest to view.  There was the steel cross.  Photos weren’t allowed in the area, but I have a photo I took with my last film SLR when it was still above ground at Ground Zero in 2002.  There was the discreet corner with images of the people who jumped from the burning buildings.  Those images have always hit me the hardest, and I couldn’t look at them for more than a few seconds.  I stood around the corner anxious for my family to move on with me.
All through the museum there were more voices and more ghosts.  I'm not overwhelmed with patriotic emotion, but with the knowledge of what those people went through on that day when I was merely on my way to another day of college so far from the center of the world. 
Of course I know right where I was when I first heard about the attack on the Twin Towers.  Mandy and I were commuting to EKU.  We always listened to John Boy and Billy on the radio as we drove over.  They broke in as we crossed the Powell-Estil County line and said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.  Before we reached Richmond they broke in again an announced the second plane had hit the other tower.  I knew the world had changed.
My thankfully ex-brother-in-law was losing his mind in front of the evening news.  He had a plane ticket in his hand, to fly off to basic training in the army on Thursday.  He ended up grounded like everyone else for a week longer.  But while the inevitable was delayed, the inevitable became a date with ground combat in Iraq for him two years later.  We wondered how he was doing in the sands of the Middle East even as we welcomed Boone into the world that April in 2003.
Mandy’s Uncle Jim worked in the city until 9/11.  He left his job and relocated to Connecticut afterward.  As the skies were devoid of contrails and time seemed to stand still, hearts and minds in Kentucky agonized over loved ones held silent in New York.  We didn’t have a direct connection to the attacks but it was felt through her family and simply from being a citizen of this country and a member of the human race.
When we climbed back up to the plaza I was an emotional limp noodle.  I don't think I ever want to go back to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  It’s like a coworker said when I got back to work: it's not exactly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 
This post doesn’t do the experience justice.  I feel I fail as a writer because I can’t truly convey what I felt then.  Somewhere—I can’t find it right now—I wrote a letter to my children about 9/11.  I’ve never been able to channel the words to describe what I feel about this paramount event in my life.  9/11 is the JFK assassination of my generation.  It is the D-Day, the moon landing, and MLK’s death all rolled into one.  But it’s complicated in different ways.  It’s dark and sinister but full of the triumph of the human spirit and of a sense of coming together like no other I have witnessed in my four decades of life.
For me 9/11 was an awakening.  I realized I could no longer ignore world events.  I knew I needed to better understand politics and economics.  It was apparent I needed to learn more about Islam and Christianity than I thought I knew.  As an individual my innocence was stripped away in that moment—it was inevitable when I first heard the words “a plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers” and the moment was presented in its entirety when the second plane hit.
Nothing else in my life has had such an impact on my world view or my personal beliefs.  To say that makes me feel less silly for standing in a dark corner of the 9/11 Museum and trying to hide my tears.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Time Lapse to Tide You Over

New York posts coming!  But until then, check out these two photos taken in the same spot thirteen years apart.  The one on the left is me and the one on the right is Boone.  Yes, the photo of Boone is staged, but I didn't realize he had on a very similar outfit to me during my visit to NYC in 2002.