How 9-11 Changed My Perspective

On September 11th 2001 I was driving up I-95 heading to Logan Airport in Boston. Traffic was a mess. Traffic in the Northeast is always a mess. So I opted for a Grateful Dead bootleg instead of listening to the radio.

I already knew about the traffic. I was in the middle of it!

I parked my car and checked into my flight. I was told it was delayed. With further inquiry, I got the agent to explain there was an incident in New York. A phone call from a colleague told me what I never expected; our country was under attack.

Before that morning I thought I had a really good life. I was pursuing one version of the American dream. Yet that day something in the way I viewed the world changed.

Call it a touch of paranoia. Call it a slap of reality. At that time the average  United States citizen really didn’t worry about domestic terrorist attacks or other such happenings. Those things took place in the European and Middle Eastern countries. That was why they had soldiers in their airports.  In the United States we didn’t worry about any of that; here we were safe. I often wondered how people live with fear and after 9-11, I found out.

I left Logan in a mental fog. Hit the Mass Pike and headed for the office. I had to reschedule the trip. My version of the American dream had business first, right? I worked at a major newspaper. Reality would hit fast.

My boss simply said, “Go home. Hug your family.”

It wasn’t long after I started to appreciate my life more than my job. A bedtime story with my kindergartener was better than a night in skybox. Dinner with my husband was far more superior to hanging out with movie stars. Pursuing my passion was finer than indulging a case of the material wants. I wondered why my career sucked up so much of my time and mental space.

9-11 kicked me off the hamster wheel.

As a nation, we now have a before and after 9-11-01 definition of normal. The before version of me was very driven and I can admit, not always the nicest person.

The after version still has goals, yet appreciates simplicities such as a slower pace, jazz in the woods, and staring at the moon. I like to think that I’m a bit nicer at least when I’m not driving. I still have issues with the traffic on I-95 that even Jerry Garcia live cannot solve.

This weekend my little town has a memorial out. A flag representing the country of every person who was murdered that day graces our town green. As beautiful and patriotic as this sight is, like with every tragedy, one wishes that this display wasn’t necessary. That the cataclysm never took place.

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Honing Ones Craft While Totally Geeking Out

Every human needs to recharge. Sometimes we use a different phrase for this process. I need to align my chi, restore my batteries, or simply take a nap. This is all the same process. For the last month I have been fortunate to be at live music events more nights than not. This helps recharge my soul. And this week I nurtured in a different way: ThrillerFest!

ThrillerFest is a five-day writer’s paradise where I had the pleasure of attending workshops with the great Walter Mosley, Bob Mayer, and David Morell. Yes – the women were present too! Heather Graham and L.S. Hawker were roaming the halls.
Here in the city (New York for those who are not East Coast -centric) I had the privilege of learning from the best thriller novelists in the business. They were generous with their advice and accessible to answer questions. (Confession time – I geeked out a little bit. (See Walter Mosley selfie)

My geeking didn’t stop there. I spent a day at The Federal Bureau Of Investigation, the F.B.I. for short. The agency provided an overview for writers in order to obtain an accurate depiction of their agents. Here we had the opportunity to ask questions about procedure as long as it didn’t interfere with any current cases. For me, it was good to discover some of my characters were accurate and my Maximum Mayhem sequel will follow procedure.

Writers are a strange bunch. Most of our creating is done solo, perhaps in coffee shops or bars. ThrillerFest featured many established writers yet they welcomed novices with open arms and encourage all to pursue their dreams. Seminars were relate-able to those who wrote their first sentence or are in the process of finishing their fifth novel.

We congregated. We told stories. We celebrated. The atmosphere rocked! All in the name of stories!