Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Five Years Ago

Five years ago, I didn't know it, but my days as the managing editor at a magazine were almost done.

Five years ago today, I was probably sitting in my office (with a door!) in downtown Minneapolis, surfing the Web and trying to decide if it was just a little too paranoid to be thinking about buying my own personal gas mask to store under my desk. You know, just in case. I'd spent much of the Sept. 11 workday sneaking looks over my shoulder out my window (my window!) at the IDS tower, the tallest in the city, and that evening Matt and I sat outside with a pipe and watched the empty sky.

After that, even though "everything changed" and irony was dead, not too much changed for me. In fact, by November, I was more than pleased with my status in the world. Right before Thanksgiving, I got a hefty raise and some new duties. I loved my boss and my job. Matt's job was booming, too.

My first day of work after the Thanksgiving break, I was running a little late to the office. It was snowing -- the first real snow of the season, and a little Vince Gauraldi "Charlie Brown Christmas" music was on the radio. Downtown was gorgeous. I felt competent, grown up and, frankly, rich.

When I got in, I saw that everyone was in the meeting room. My boss came out and as I opened my mouth to apologize for being late, she said, "They're shutting the magazine down. They're going over severance packages right now."

In addition to our severance packages, we were also given cardboard boxes and instructions to be out of the office by noon. My reaction? Well, incredulity, obviously. And shock. But more of an amused wonder, than anything. While I'd heard all the talk about how Generation Xers wouldn't be able to find a company and stay there for the 40 years and gold watch, I generally assumed that leaving a job would by my initiative, not the company's.

I was unemployed for 3 1/2 years. Through it all ran that thread of amused wonder and shock. I understand we were luckier than many people in the same situation, and we always had people to rely on if we needed to. The publishing industry took a dive in the Cities, and Matt hit job troubles too, which is his own story. We became one of those families that had to time their bills carefully -- do we pay day care this week, or the medical bill? -- and do not a little juggling.

We always had enough to eat, and were warm. But the small luxuries we had had -- having flowers delivered for a friend's promotion, or new clothes for me (why did I need new clothes? I didn't have a job), or rare books for us, or a tune-up with the brake job instead of just the brake job, and so on -- were gone. My sense of financial scale was totally off. One day, I was depositing a few checks at the bank, and they totalled about $1,000. I was driving through the ATM line and thought, Wait a minute, a thousand dollars? Do they need to have me come in for a deposit that big? Or should I have Matt countersign the checks, or something? And then I remembered that the paycheck I got from the magazine was even bigger than that, and I had deposited them without incident twice a month at the (then) Norwest building, standing in line in my wool suit and heels.

Work on the house ceased. Projects we did do became maintenance ones instead of enterprise ones, because that's as far as the money went (and sometimes, not even). Matt did a great job accounting creatively, but it will still hard -- even in ways I don't necessarily want to blog about.

This is what is on my mind when the 9/11 anniversary comes around. I love my job now. On Saturday nights, after I am done with the Sunday front page, I drive home along the lakeshore and watch the moon rise. I feel content and competent, and I think about how people going to bed now will get up and read the paper in the morning. I think about training I want to get, and about the different jobs I want to do someday, on my schedule and initiative. I think about how my weekend is coming up, and how next week I'll do it all over again, building the newspaper. And then, every Saturday as I drive up the shore at dusk, I remember how I felt when I was handed that cardboard box.


  1. I remember that day. I cried when I heard (and reading this entry almost made me cry again). Hard to believe it's almost been five years since your Black Monday... and my five-year Black Tuesday anniversary is coming up in February.

    Both companies were FOOLS to let us go, and the eternal regret will eat them away from within until they are nothing but shallow shells of the businesses they once were.

  2. I am certain that in the last five years both companies, even if they have thrived, have been troubled by the fact that their success is not ever quite what they had hoped it would be. They are doing fine, but everything lacks that spark that won awards, drove content, and turned good writers into great ones. Things just haven't run as smoothly as they did before Sept. 11, at either place.

    Will they ever make the connection? If they do, it will be TOO LATE.

    This post stemmed from the realization that I can never relax after a week's worth of good, hard work where I feel like I've gone above and beyond what I usually do. Because last time I did that -- relaxed and patted myself on the back a little for what I'd done -- my job disappeared. No one expects to be laid off, but after I was, I think about it a lot.

  3. Damn right it will be too late.

    Remember the relationship analogy? We both swore we weren't going to fall in love with a job again; the plan was to just use it for a salary but not get emotionally invested, so if the job dumped us, we wouldn't get hurt. And in the meantime, we'd flirt with other jobs just to remind ourselves that we still had it.

    But then the inevitable happens and you DO fall in love with the job, and then you're happy and frightened at the same time.

    It sounds like your current job loves you back, krup... as well it should.

  4. I totally get that feeling--man do I--but I think the flip side is knowing that you made it. I mean, to butt in on and continue the analogy, you know you can survive if you do get dumped again. It'll hurt, but you can do it. You know? But you can't keep yourself only halfway happy. That'll suck, honey. And if you let yourself be all the way happy and it doesn't last, well, at least you got all the way happy for a while...

  5. Very, very true, both of you. Currently, to continue with the analogy, I feel like this job loves me so much it couldn't possibly do what the other job did. The only time I don't think that is when I drive home on Saturday nights and I think, "The OTHER job did that...maybe THIS one will, too." But then I get home and I stop thinking like that. I like my job now, and it likes me, so I'll just go with it.

    God, I love extended metaphor.

  6. Thanks to Ethel for the reconnection...reading this brought back feelings of humiliation (carrying a box through the skyways to my car), feelings of despair (who'll be the cheerleader for the entrepreneur), and feelings of freedom (wow- we get to leave and we get some kind of severance?!?!?1)
    Glad it's led you to a higher ground.
    Best- Alison Simons James

  7. Enlightenment1:10 PM

    One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

    Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
    someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
    still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
    and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:

    Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
    another neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
    Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
    N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
    F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
    Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=Display&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID

    Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
    USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
    Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
    Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
    Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
    Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
    Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
    Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
    Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
    Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
    Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
    The pyroclastic cloud (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
    Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
    Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
    More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
    Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
    Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
    More of WTC # 7 controlled demolition:
    Naudet brothers' video footage of the North Tower crash:
    Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):
    More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:
    Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
    More about the fake “Osama” tape:
    Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
    Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
    More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
    Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
    More about the impossible cell phone calls:
    Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
    Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
    Where the hell was the Air Force?
    More about the Air Force impotence question:
    Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
    Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
    Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
    More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
    The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
    Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
    Evidence destruction by authorities and cover-up:
    9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
    The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
    Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
    Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
    Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
    Tracking the “hijackers”:
    “Hijacker” patsies:
    “Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
    Several accused "hijackers" still alive and well, wondering why they are accused:
    Yet the F.B.I. insists that the people it claims were the "hijackers" really were the "hijackers":
    No Arabs on Flight 77:
    Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
    “Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
    Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
    Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Castro to use it as a pretext for America to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk: