Disconnect: My 9/11 Story

The relationship between our perception of the passage of time and our age is something that I’ve never been quite able to grasp. I mean, while I know that one second in 1991 and one second in 2011 are supposed to be the exact same amount of time, my mind somehow convinces me that they’re unequal, and I’m not sure why it does this.

For instance, I’m 32 years old. On Sept. 12, 2001, I was 22. 10 years before that — Sept. 12, 1991 — I was 12. When I was 22, it seemed like there was an eon of distance between my age then and me being 12. It may have only been 10 years, but being 12 or 13 or even 16  seemed so foreign and distant to me that it felt like my teens happened an entire lifetime ago.

Now, though, the distance between 22 and 32 seems much, much, much smaller. I remember everything about being 22. I remember what my apartment smelled like (Guardsman, Curve, bbq sauce, sneakers, and condoms). I remember the color of my roommate’s girlfriend’s hair, and I remember trying to find a subtle way to ask him if that was her natural color. I remember exactly how I felt when first learning I’d been betrayed by two of my closest friends. I remember riding to some party with my boy and seeing the face he made as he listened to Eminem’s verse on “Renegade” for the first time. (Any diehard hip-hop fan knows this face. It’s the exaggerated squint/”I just smelled the worst smell on Earth” combo face you make when first hearing an outstanding verse. It’s almost like you can’t believe what you’re hearing.)

I’m bringing this up because of the psychological disconnect currently going on in my head regarding the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years already because I (think I) remember everything about that day.

I remember my roommate waking me up to tell me that a plane flew into the World Trade Center, and I remember my half-lucid response. (“N*gga, stop playin. I’m still not letting you hold my watch.“)

I remember the shared collective consciousness of everyone on campus. (People use always use “surreal” to describe this feeling, but to me the best way to explain it was that it seemed like we were all extras in the same movie.)

I remember not wanting to talk or even think about anything other than what the hell was happening.

I remember not being able to reach my parents until early in the afternoon, and manufacturing anxiety even though I knew they were probably just home, watching the news like I was.

I remember that the two or three people I knew who were actually able to get service on their cell phones became rock stars that day.

I remember wondering exactly how “big” this was going to get. How many planes were hijacked? 4? 10? 24?  How long would this continue to go on?

I remember watching CNN and trying to put myself in the shoes of a person near Ground Zero¹ to try to imagine the fear they must have been feeling. I also remember failing at this, becoming annoyed with myself for not being able to produce that level of empathy, and then wondering whether the people around me who seemed completely distraught were genuine or if they were hysterical because they felt that the moment called for hysterics.

But, despite the fact that 9/11 almost seems like it happened 10 months ago instead of 10 years ago, it doesn’t feel that way. The memories are still vivid, so you’d think that when watching a 9/11 related news story or tribute or memorial with footage from that day interspersed, the same feelings I felt that day would come back. But, although I remember how I felt, I can’t reproduce those feelings. I watch the 9/11 footage now, gripped and transfixed by the imagery and the sounds the fact that I remember seeing much of this before, but surprisingly unmoved.

It’s almost as if my heart is outsmarting my brain, convincing me that it’s useless to actually feel the feelings associated with those memories; emotionally downgrading 9/11 from “an event that left everyone shook in some way” to “an especially intense thing that happened on TV a decade or so ago” — really no different than the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.”²

I think I understand why my mind does this. While remembering important events helps us make judgements, decisions, and predictions, continuing to go through the emotional rollercoasters associated with those events would probably make us insane. Still, while watching a few of these tributes last weekend and seeing the tears roll down the eyes of people in attendance, I wonder if I’ve gone too far, if becoming as emotionally detached as I seem to be is dangerous. Hmm. Maybe I’ll figure it out by 2021. Seems like a while to wait for an answer, but if the last ten years are any indication, it should be right around the corner.

That’s enough from me today. People of VSB.com, what are your 9/11 stories? How did it make you feel, and how much of a disconnect is there between how it made you feel then and how it makes you feel today?

¹It’s also interesting how my mind continues to think of 9/11 as just a NYC event, even though I’m very aware of what happened at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA — a city maybe 60 minutes away from where I’m sitting right now.
²I didn’t say this in the entry, but I do also realize that if I personally lost a loved one that day  (or even was in NYC or the Pentagon or Somerset County) my feelings about this would probably be much, much different. And, for those who did actually lose someone, I don’t mean to be flippant or minimize any pain you might be feeling.

—The Champ

Osama Gone.

I'm dead.

I had intended to write a whole other post and then I happened to look at Twitter. And all of a sudden I see ninjas talking about Osama Bin Laden being dead.


I stopped EVERYTHING I was doing and immediately turned to CNN and here goes Wolf Blitzer (I swear, if ANYTHING goes down Wolf is involved) and some other white guy I know but can’t name talking about the death of Osama Bin Laden.

It’s an oddly weird feeling to hear this news. It’s been nearly 10 years since 9/11. At this point Bin Laden was just one of those names that’s become part of the American consciousness. For a long time his name caused venom but over time, and much like anything else, he just kind of became part of the culture. Apple pie. New Yorkers. Osama Bin Laden. I think for most of us, we kind of assumed he’s either been dead or quit life altogether and just holed up in some cave somewhere.

It’s kind of like the terror warnings and levels. They mean nothing at this point. They just exist somewhere out there but most of us keep going on about our lives. To some degree it even seems like al-Qaeda had taken a break as they definitely hit a terrorist lull (I’m fully aware that many terrorists acts have occurred around the world and continue to to do so with fervor, but al-Qaeda hasn’t seemed as active) which is either a testament to our foreign ops or a reminder that some of these cats are REALLY trying to take their time planning more attacks. I don’t know, and I think that’s the point. You just never know.

But if its true, the world just took an interesting turn. First and foremost, Obama just got his trump card. Pun intended.

But more importantly, my guess is that Bin Laden just became more of a martyr than he’s already been. And I can’t imagine what kind of retaliations might happen to our troops and any Americans abroad. I’m actually worried about this. The Taliban will either go the short game, immediate action and reaction and death to infidels route or pretend its not true and make sure they hit the airwaves to say that America is lying.

I’m wondering what affect this will have on the world. More suicide bombings? Forgive my lack of focus and clarity but this is just some odd news. It’s world news and world history. It’s a significant part of the fabric of American society. 9/11 has significantly impacted the lives of everybody in the world.

It means something.

And I think it will from here too. If terrorists didn’t have motivation to go out and do commit more intense crimes, they have it now. I feel like the CIA is about to be on their highest alert ever. And we kind of need them to be. Who knows whats about to go down?

Now that we got all of that out of the way….on a slightly more ignant note…I kind of wonder if Obama is giving folks the pound or dappin’ ninjas behind the scenes? Obama is about to be on his Mr. Big D*ck game for a while now. In fact, if I was him, I’d go straight to the GOP and be like, “yo, whatever I want for the next two years,  you all might as well make it happen. I got Bin Laden. Did you? No. You didn’t. So what if I didn’t do it myself. I proved I’m American, b*tched Trump in front of  him AND snagged the world’s public enemy #1 within the span of 4 days. Get like me. They’re about to rename the “dougie” the “obamie”. Oh, and I am about to require American’s to learn the Electric Slide. What?!!! Balance the budget b*tch.”

Sorry. I just had a ninja moment.


So, what’s your perspective on all of this?

Oh, and how much you want to bet Osama died with a “Stop Snitching” tshirt on?

Shake something.

By the way, I love how Obama said, “I did this. Me, n***a. I George Bushed da button. What?!”