Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You?

Sarcomical already asked this question, and I already answered it in her comments, but seeing as it's a day of remembrance and all, I don't think it hurts to ask it again.

Where were you when you first learned of the events of 9/11/01?

I was at work. Having just dismissed my class of 11th grade American History students, I was on my conference hour. I wandered down the hall to the office to run some random errands, and there the secretary asked me if our TVs had been installed yet (Our school was just completing massive renovations). No, I answered her and asked why she wanted to know. She said she had heard something on the radio about a plane crash in New York.

At first I was unsure what a plane crash had to do with our TVs. Were our TVs on the plane that crashed? And then the secretary said something about suspected terrorism.

I went across the hall to my friend A's room, where I knew there was an old TV that had been missed when they were all taken down the previous spring. We had no cable, but a student was able to rig up a makeshift antenna so that we could get the local NBC station in. And there it was. And as we watched, horrified, United Flight 175 crashed into tower two. There was no longer any doubt about it... this was no accident.

I asked A if it would be alright to bring my next class down to her room so we could continue to watch the coverage and she agreed. Third hour began at 9:40 and I led them down the hall immediately after attendance. Another Social Studies teacher had come in and asked to bring his class as well. While we discussed fitting another class in, I looked up at the fuzzy 19" screen and asked, "Hey, uh, guys... Why does that say 'The Pentagon'?"

I spent the entire day in A's room with my ninth graders and as it was one of only four TVs in the building, at times we had as many as five classes of high schoolers packed in there... sharing desks and chairs and floor space. The adults stood at the back of the room with our eyes glued to the TV. There was no need for classroom management... the kids were as fixated as we were. One of our student teachers frantically left the room, only to be met at the door with a message: his parents, who were on vacation in Washington, D.C. had called and were safe. That was about the only good news we got that day.

As adults, it was hard enough to make sense of that day, but we also had all those kids looking to us for answers we couldn't provide.

When I got home that afternoon, I called home. It was a day when I just had to talk to my parents. Shortly after I talked to them, my friend Richard called me. As a local firefighter, knowing what had happened to all of his fellow firefighters had hit him pretty hard.

I remember waking up the next morning after a fitful night and thinking (or maybe hoping) that it had all been a horrible nightmare. And then I turned on the TV, and it was still there.

This summer was my first ever visit to New York City, and I was able to see Ground Zero in person. It looks like a big construction zone, and that's what it is, but it is so much more. Even in the middle of the bustling city, it is quiet there. But nothing prepared me for St. Paul's Chapel, which is right across the street and was, miraculously, untouched when the towers collapsed. Seeing all those "Missing" posters in person was too much for me and I cried like it was yesterday. Anyone whose memory of that day starts to get hazy need only walk through that chapel and they will never forget.

I know I will never forget.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What the Hell Happened to My Summer?

Alright, enough with not posting because I don't have the time or energy to do a really well thought out post (now you know this is going to be quality, don't you?). While I still plan to tell you all about the last days of my trip to Connecticut (Really? I've been back for six weeks and I'm still not done?), I knew that, if I didn't post today, I'd really lose the moment. Plus, I'm starving, and I don't really think all that clearly when I'm hungry.

(What does that have to do with anything?)

I'm starving because today was the first day of "real" work. The day the munchins came back. While we did have three days of professional development and work time last week, I was still able to do my normal schedule of grazing nonstop from dawn 'til dusk. Not so today. Today I have eaten: one bowl of Cheerios, one cup of milk, one Lean Cuisine turkey meal, one cheese stick, three bite size 3 Musketeers bars, and about seven glasses of water. Now, normally, I lose track of what I've eaten by about two in the afternoon, so the fact that I can still list everything at nearly six o'clock is impressive. Man, no wonder I've gained back almost all the weight I lost during the stress from Hell that ended the last year. Maybe this means I'll lose it again. One can hope.

I also think I'm either dehydrated or there is something wrong with me. Despite having drank over seven eight-ounce glasses of water today, I only had to use the bathroom at work three times all day. And it was a long day. I had an extra hour and a half long meeting after work. In a way, this is a good thing, since bathroom breaks are limited in my chosen profession, but it is a little troublesome.

I had a little anxiety about the small people coming back today. Last week with the staff was fine and the only mentions of the ridiculous situation in May were shows of support, but I was worried about some of the kids. I needn't have. Not one of my current students even mentioned the situation (Hey, aren't you the MySpace teacher?) and the only thing I heard from last year's kids were how happy they were to see me back. Three or four of them even came down to my room and gave me hugs. One said to me, "We all thought you'd come back. We wanted you back." Since I can't really say much to the kids about the situation, I just replied, "I thought I would be, too. But I'm back now!"

Well, as I stated, I'm starving. So I'm going to go eat. Perhaps later I can talk about how Copper is not taking my going back to work all that well. She keeps chewing on the baby gates that contain her to the kitchen. And she took paint off the wall one day last week. Oh, I guess I just told you. Such is life.