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I am...a New Yorker
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Thursday, September 12, 2002
A New New Yorker
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Seeing...
NYPD guarding churches, synagogues and mosques.

Drinking...
Nope.

Joking...
Nope, I have no sense of humor at all.

Crying...
Nope.

Working...
Yep.

Remembering...
A sunny Tuesday - at once like only yesterday and yet so long ago - but not the silly worries I had that morning.

Photographing...
Coworkers, fire fighters, houses of worship, a lovely boy with jet black hair, solemn gatherings.

Wimping...
Out on going to the mosque. I was in a funky mood, not ready to do something new alone.

Retaining...
The strength that is slowly starting to replenish itself. Soon I'll once again be that brave woman who moved 3,000 miles from everyone and everything she ever knew for the city she loved.

Refreshing...
Doing the urban sidestep with a man on 14th Street. Instead of getting made, he said, ?Ha! That?s funny.?

Thinking...
What's up with the "New New Yorkers" label? I never thought New Yorkers were one iota as nasty as the stereotype. Still, things move fast, people are rushed and there is some truth in it. Beginning on the 11th and declining gradually since then, I've noticed more kindness, fewer arguments are groans.

I am...very much delayed in writing this entry. I'm not sure what all I was going to say. The week got a bit hectic toward the end, with comforting a very sad man, having dinner with a friend on Thursday and dealing with someone else's crisis on Friday and Saturday.

On Tuesday morning, staff was invited to come to work after 8:30 to watch the city's observances, to hear staff read accounts of that day and to add their own memories and thoughts.

I marvelled at the namesakes in the towers, and wondered if they knew there were other Peter Allens or Robert Kellys so close everyday. It also struck me that the names represented the wealth of diversity in this city, New Yorkers all.

Afterward, we broke into smaller groups and talked about that day and our lives since. I was sitting next to a woman from MIS who gave me half of her carrot muffin. She's also new and apparently came from a similar workaholic employer. She too decided on September 11th that life was too short not to have a life outside of work. Given the economy, it took months for her to find another position, despite her technical skills.

That's why I get pissed at people who said I should have just left my job. It's not like things were great economically in New York on September 10th, 2001.

She asked me if I'd found myself severely trimming the friend list. Some I trimmed, some trimmed me due to a misunderstanding. I wrote an entry about this about a month ago, but never posted it. I was sad at the time and once in a while think of something that this or that person would get a kick out of. However, if they took my being too overwhelmed by working 12-16 hours a day and trying to cope with not only September 11th, but the continuing threats we New Yorkers heard about on a daily basis to argue with people I actually liked as something sinister, then they didn't know me at all.

There are still a couple of people I've been on the fence about. They have their good qualities, but their narrowmindedness is difficult for me to deal with. I know they care about me and have been there for me during the many weepy days this long year, but there is that other side of them and I don't know where to draw the line. Some days, though, you're just grateful you're all still alive. Indeed, for weeks, I woke up feeling strangely surprised to be alive, but still somehow empty and sad.

. . .

After the services, a group of us prepared to take food over to the local fire house and other staff were invited to join in. Instead of the half dozen people expected, about 30 came along. I could not believe the group and the caring; it's a foreign concept to me for people in New York to take time out of their work day to do a mitzvah.

Almost immediately, the food was unloaded from the carts and onto a table in the middle of the firehouse. Indeed, there were so many of us, I was barely in the door of the firehouse before all the food was unpacked.

I had not been in a firehouse since I was 6 or 7 at the most. I loved the sight of their big coats and hats all lined up on rods and shelves in the distance. Some were in their dress uniforms, others in the shorts and polo shirts they wear around the firehouse, waiting to get a call and strap on the heavy gear.

One of the rabbis made a brief statement and led the group in a song of remembrance. We said we would remember something each of us has thought about everyday for the last year. We said we would honor those who were no longer with us.

I stood there, looking at the 3x6 poster of all the FDNY's casualties of a year ago. I knew the numbers, we've all heard them to the point it becomes unfathomable. But standing there, looking at the faces, tiny so all could fit, of all these beautiful, selfless New Yorkers and a table full of food seems so meaningless.

Later, we got word that the local firehouse invited 2 other firehouses to partake in their feast, so that this deed reached 3 firehouses, instead of just one. There must be some way we can show our appreciation more regularly and not only on the maudlin anniversary.

. . .

Giant American flag in a midtown lobby
Giant American flag in a Midtown lobby.


Flowers for firefighters
I was so glad that my coworker P., who recently converted to Islam, carried the flowers in. She had been feeling uneasy as the anniversary approached, that people were hostile toward her because she wears a hajib. She invited us to an open house at a Mosque after work.


Inside the firehouse
Inside the firehouse


Art dogs
One of the art dogs stationed all over the city. I actually saw a semitruck full of them on the 10th, which was surreal.


Firefighter checks out Art Dog
Firefighter didn't know what to make of the art dog.


Camera crew
Camera crew films shrine at firehouse.


Sky over firehouse
The sky was so blue and the clouds raced across it.


. . .


After work, I headed uptown to the Midtown Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center. I'd invited Rafe, and as I was calling him to let him know it went until 9, there he was, looking for the address across the street. He asked what I was doing there, which should have been a clue to me, but I reminded him I'd told him about the place.

What I had not counted on was my coworker going up to the mosque at mid-afternoon. There was a weird mood to the day and it just wasn't a day I wanted to do something new, especially not alone. I was hungry, so I decided to mull it over dinner. Afterward, I stood outside, still debating. Sometimes I can be just painfully shy.

While I was standing there, waiting, calling Fang to say I was doing OK, Rafe came out of the mosque, having finished praying. He'd had tentative plans to meet a friend, so I let him use some of those ultra-precious daytime minutes to try to try to get in touch.

No dice, so I talked him into coming down to the Village with me, since he didn't look like he should be alone. He seemed distant and sad. This would all make more sense later.

Central Synogogue
This building was marked as both the Central Mosque and Central Synagogue. Every house of worship we passed was guarded by NYPD.


roof of synogogue
The roof of the building. It was odd lighting at that hour, so you can't quite make out the brilliant colors on the roof.


E. Midtown skyscraper
Midtown skyscrapers I never saw before. I don't often make it to east midtown, at least not before I started working there.


E. Midtown skyscrapers


More skyscrapers in E. Midtown


. . .


The memorial in Union Square.





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