I believe that 9/11 will live on in the minds of all Americans who were around to hear of it 10 years ago. Many would probably compare it to the day that JFK was shot in terms of its effect on the national psyche. It could be viewed as the moment where those who believed in Pax Americana were shaken and the innocence of that view was lost.
Until that time I had never really thought about terrorism or considered whether or not my nation was under attack or worried about nuclear warfare. Although it became something that I pondered deeply and studied in classes in the days, months, and years that followed, I do not refer to it casually or speak of my experience much because of its significance to me. Like many others, I have become aware of how the jarring events of that day have been appropriated and somewhat exploited by many different causes. I think I did not want to cheapen its meaning by writing out my trite thoughts but, as its the 10th anniversary, I couldn’t help seeing many people discussing online what they went through that day and reflecting on my own experience. Here is what I posted on facebook:
I was in NYC at Columbia, leaving my dorm for Calculus when I passed everyone crowding around the TV. We saw the first tower in flames and thought it might have been an accident but as we watched, we saw the second plane hit and knew this was no accident. The campus went into lock-down and communications aside from the internet were cut off. I emailed my family to say that I was okay but worried for my cousins who worked and went to school downtown, near what was later to be called Ground Zero. That night we [on campus] had a candle-lit vigil for those who had passed on and the next day we [my roommates and I] walked to the Red Cross at 49th Street to find out if we could donate blood or anything. It was a confusing and distressing time where we wanted to help and yet there was far too little any of us could do and no clear view of why we were being attacked.
I remembered that my class would have begun around 9am but I couldn’t quite recall if I had been in front of the dorm floor lobby TV when the second plane hit. To check on my memory I looked online for a 9/11/2001 timeline and was almost shocked by the wave of emotion that I could feel myself trying to hold back as I read in dismay about how the pilots and flights attendants were killed and people were trapped in the upper floors of the first tower while those in the second tower were told to it was safe to stay in the building only to also be trapped when the second plane hit. I tried to remind myself that I was only looking to double check my facts but as I tried to navigate away from the page I was overwhelmed and choked back a sob as I felt tears come to my eyes.
It came to me then that even though I disagree with many of the things that 9/11 supposedly justified (wars and loss of civil freedoms) and/or promoted (spread of terror and Al Qaeda) that didn’t mean it deserved to be brushed away. I remember that I learned a lot in the wake of that traumatic day. This isn’t everything I learned, but a few things that came to mind now I as I tried to give myself space to reflect.
- I am a patriotic person - I realized how much I identified with and wanted to defend my country, after watching it from a distance as I grew up abroad, when it was attacked.
- New York City can be a kind and courteous place. People really wanted to help each other out and connect after experiencing the fragility of each other and the city.
- It’s hard to know what to believe or think of people based on their appearance so… don’t try. It was terrible hearing about how Muslim friends were spit upon when trying to just order a slice of pizza near campus.
- Sometimes you really do need to go to the airport 3 hours early for an international flight…
- Even college professors can be understanding and generous, like the Intro to Economics teacher I had who ended up being very kind in her grade giving in light of the emotional stress she knew so many of the students had experienced post-9/11
I don’t believe this is the most insightful or deep thing written on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 but I hope that by offering my own memories of that day I am preserving some of what made it significant to me, without allowing it to be subverted or used by someone else. My small offering of experience and thoughts.
So, I just finished the 1st chapter and then some of “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” by John Gray, that good old fashioned bastion of relationship advice that we’ve all heard about since Friends first aired on TV. Although I’ve heard of it since I was old enough to care about male-female relationships, I never thought of actually reading it since by the time I was old enough to seriously consider an adult relationship the book was seriously old. Still following? Well, recently I was strongly recommended the book by an older female friend who has never been married although she has always been interested. Often when we meet up she’ll ask me about my experiences as a mother and wife and on this occasion, she asked me about how my premarital dating life had gone and whether or not my mom had helped me navigate those tricky waters. She was curious because she lost her own mother at a young age and wondered if she’d missed out on important mother-daughter insights and was now cautiously stepping into an internet relationship on a social networking site. As we talked she asked me if I ever read books to help me in my marriage and when I responded that I had not spent a lot of energy on such reading, she could not recommend MFMWFV (as I will abbreviate the book’s title going forward) enough.
So, what does this book have to do with gaming? Well, these past 2 days have been the Hari Raya public holiday here in Malaysia and while my husband, S, was sinking all his enjoyment into really mastering his latest RPG xBox video game. I don’t mind as we’ll be heading on a little trip this weekend to take advantage of the Labor Day holiday but I did feel like I was missing out on the gaming experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely NOT that I want to be playing the xBox and can’t seem to rip the controller from his hands for my own obsessive enjoyment. S would actually love it if I wanted to play. Rather, I just can’t get into the achievement/battling/character-leveling strategic game play. This brings me to MFMWFV, where today I read this gem:
…while women fantasize about romance, men fantasize about powerful cars, faster computers, gadgets, gizmos, and new more powerful technology. Men are preoccupied with ‘things’ that can help them express power by creating results and achieving their goals.
So, I guess that this explains why when S was busy building the perfect teams of high-level characters to most efficiently win battles I was busy on my iPad and computer looking for Tetris, Bejeweled, and Mr. Giggles 2, all games that I enjoy but don’t really depend on high scores or special achievements but are just stress-free time-passers. I’m not saying that MFMWFV has blown my mind or anything yet, but I don’t really read or do things unless they’re really enjoyable or else really insightful. I am hoping for the latter with this book and am willing to give it a chance, given how much I’ve heard about it. We’ll see.