Sunday, September 11, 2005

"When the world stopped turning . . ."

A pale bright side to the attacks on September 11, 2001 is the guarantee that I will never forget the birthday of one of my very best friends, Erika. Yes, Erika was born on 9/11.

Many memories of 9/11/2001 flood my brain, vivid and sad. I know that many teachers in Brainerd will forever link their memories of 9/11 to me, simply because I was one of the first teachers to know about it, so I spread the word to turn on classroom televisions. I am not bragging about this Paul Revere role I played; it is what it is. I just happened to have heard about it first, and just like many teachers heard it from me first, my first memories are forever linked to a former student, Rob Ocel. He happened to be watching t.v. in Mr. Peterson's room, and came into my room to tell me to turn on my t.v.
So that started a very surreal day at BHS. My first class was "Multicultural Lit." and we all watched the event unfold. The second plane, the Pentagon, Flight 93, the grounding of all planes, etc.
One girl in my class asked, "What's the Pentagon?"
Another student said, "Who would do this, because America has no enemies."
At the beginning of second hour -- one hour after the event -- a student walked in, noticed the t.v., and asked bitchily, "Is this still on?"
Ah yes.

But . . . for weeks before this, my friends and I had planned on having a big fun birthday celebration for Erika after school. We were all going to head down to the Last Turn Saloon and just have a good time. We comtemplated cancelling the party because of the national crisis, but in the end, we joked that cancelling our party would mean that "the terrorists had won." (Little did we know what a joke this catch phrase was to become over the next few months.)
So after school, we headed down to the Last Turn, and of course we were the only ones out in public that evening. And the party was incredibly strange -- we were having fun, but we were also watching t.v. in the bar. It was an exercise in "doses." We would watch the news unfolding, with no one on t.v. really quite grasping the reality yet, and then we would turn back to each other, have some beer, chat, laugh, joke. Then we would all turn back to the t.v., see new information streaming across the botom of the screen, learn about people leaping out of buildings, watch death toll estimates. When we had enough, we would again turn back to each other. The cycle continued for several hours.

In the end, we each had the same thought: Should we feel guilty that we were attempting to have fun? And I believe we all concluded the same thing: No.

Though it sucks for Erika to have her birthday linked to a national tragedy (in the most misused sense of the word tragedy), I think that it was good for all of us. Her birthday provided an excuse for a group of very close friends to be together on September 11.

In short: Happy Birthday, Erika -- one of the best friends I have ever known. Bummer about the day of mourning, though.


At 11:38 AM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

I bet plane tickets are really cheap today.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Jake posited...

It'll be interesting to see how much Bush tries to cash in on 9/11 today, considering how royally he fucked up Katrina.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Oh, Jake. We're not going to get into the "Blame Game," since it was the local and state government that messed up, not the federal government. So we're not going to get into the "Blame Game."

The Bush Administration -- Masters of Unintentional Irony Since 2001

At 12:30 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

Sarah Walker, the BHS Orchestra's Concertmaster for 5 years (until she/we graduated last year) also has her birthday on september 11th. It's a bit strange, I guess.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Houley posited...

Mr. Bjorge's Geometry Class, 8th grade. Second row on the right, third seat from the front.

But about that tragedy thing. Having studied it *fairly* intensively in Hewitt's class, I can see some elements of Aristotelian tragedy in the 9/11 attacks; the hubris seems quite obvious, as well as how America led to its own defeat (well, not really defeat...) by having given bin Laden and co. all sorts of help back in the day. It's obviously not as ideal as Macbeth, but I think it's closer than assumed.

PS I'm working on that bracelet thing ;)


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