Today, We Remember

The Pentagon Memorial.  Photo Credit: George Clack

The Pentagon Memorial. Photo Credit: George Clack

Fourteen years ago today was a pretty ordinary day.  I was your average 7th grade “unpopular” girl – dorky, bullied…I didn’t want to go to school.  In fourth period, my algebra teacher was pulled out of the classroom for a few minutes, but came back and continued the lesson.  For the rest of the day, kids kept getting pulled out to go home.  No one ever said anything.

After school, my dad picked me and the girl we carpooled with up.  As I opened the door of our van, he asked, “did you hear what happened?” I shook my head, no.  “A plane crashed into the Pentagon.”  My heart dropped.  “Where’s mom?”  His response came only a moment later, but the space between my question and his response seemed too long.  I still feel as though my entire life could fit in that space.

Mom was at home.  My brother had broken his arm the night before, and had had an appointment with the orthopedist that morning.  Mom had taken the morning off to take him in, and they’d been sitting in the waiting room at the Fort Belvoir hospital when everything happened.  She didn’t go in when they were done.  My mother is (now) retired from the Army.  In 1998, she was moved out of that first wedge when renovations started and over to NGB Headquarters, 4 miles away.  Because of what she did at the time, she spent a lot of time over in the Pentagon for meetings.  She had been there the day before, she likely would have been there if my brother hadn’t broken his arm.  Things were “fine,” in the way that nothing is fine when everything you know comes too close to the edge of catastrophe.

That moment, standing next to the van outside my middle school, was the moment everything visibly changed for me.  Older generations have Pearl Harbor, JFK, Martin Luther King.  Songs have been written about it.  “Where were you when the world stopped turning?”  I know now that I was in algebra.  That the superintendent had decided that schools would not share the news with students.  We had too many students with parents in the Pentagon, too many military families, too many parents who traveled.  To share the news would have incited mass panic, and the phones were already tied up.  We were just far enough from DC that we weren’t in danger, it was better to maintain as much normalcy as possible.

I’ve always been grateful for that decision.  11-year-old me would likely not have recovered from seeing those images before seeing my mother.  When I finally did see the horrors on the news that afternoon, it was while my mom held me.  I knew, solidly, she was safe.  We, like so many of our friends, were lucky.  Several years later, we talked about how she saw it then, and I found out she had been prepared to go pick up friends’ kids, because we hadn’t heard from them.  They were okay, but we teetered for a while.  The question rang, “why?”  One of our closest family friends had come exceedingly close.  Both parents were military, both worked in the Pentagon.  She was on the other side of the building when the plane hit and went through his office.  He was home sick.  There are so many of these stories.  So many people who wonder why.

My brother is 3.5 years younger than I am, and was 8 at the time.  He watched everything on live television in the waiting room that day.  We both exist, like so many millenials, in a place of “before” and “after.”  We stand at the cusp of having been old enough to know and remember life before the attacks, and having grown up with everything colored by what happened that day.  We both insist on phone calls or texts any time anyone flies anywhere.  We need to know you landed safely, that everything was fine.  That’s where the similarities between my brother’s reactions and mine end.  We stand at wildly different places politically, we have very different world views, colored by the same event.

In college, I had planned to major in International Relations.  Sitting in a class on Human Rights, I discovered that geographic lines had been drawn in experiences.  So many people had just watched the attacks, maybe an aunt or an uncle or a distant relative had died that day, but the attacks weren’t deeply personal to them.  They hadn’t existed in that horribly vast expanse of time between knowing and not knowing.  The attacks had happened here, and that was horrible, but they were roughly as relevant as the tsunami that had devastated Sri Lanka.  I decided, after that semester, to drop the major and switch to Biology.  But I did one more class.  I had the wonderful opportunity to take a Terrorism/Counter-Terrorism course from an FBI agent who had been on the Terrorism Taskforce.  His classes were wonderful, and the case studies we did were cases he had worked.  We covered the 9/11 attacks on 9/11/08.  I sat in the front of the classroom and silently cried through the entire class.

Today, we remember.  We remember the men, women, and children who died at the hands of extremists.  We remember those who sacrificed their lives to save others – the first responders, the passengers and crew of UA flight 93, and the military servicemen and women who have fought in the ensuing conflicts.  We honor the fallen, we honor the survivors.  We thank our lucky stars that our loved ones are safe.

It’s been 14 years since our trajectories were so violently altered.  And today, while we remember and honor the survivors and the fallen, we need to remember to practice tolerance and love.

Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog,  with her owner Denise back in 2001 Photo Credit: Texas Task Force 1

Bretagne, the last surviving 9/11 rescue dog, with her owner Denise back in 2001
Photo Credit: Texas Task Force 1

August Recap

I know I’ve said this before, but the past month has been extraordinarily crazy.  I’ve started posts so many times – on scratch pieces of paper, napkins, sitting here at the computer – and they all just get pushed aside for something else.  I don’t know the last time I was as mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted as I’ve been this month.  This is a LONG post, and it starts out a little heavy, but it lightens up.

I started out this month in Boston.  I had a weekend trip up to spend one more weekend with BFF before she moved to Germany for her PhD.  I cannot even begin to express how wonderful that weekend was, but it was also incredibly difficult.  I’m not sure how you get to the point where you’re okay with your best friend moving halfway around the world, but I am not okay with it yet.  She’s been gone for a couple weeks now, and I already miss her in the worst way.  Most of the time it’s totally fine, but sometimes I feel like someone cut out my heart and a lung, and then had a go for a kidney while they were in there.  We’ve been friends for five years, and of those, four have been long distance.  Nothing horrible has ever happened to make it necessary, but it was always possible to jump in the car or onto a plane and fly to Boston if she needed me, and the other way around.  It came close one year though.  It was New Years Eve 2012 into 2013.  M and I had left the bar we’d all gone out to early to go back to his place, make some pizza, watch the ball drop in our pjs, and then go to bed.  I have no idea what time it was, but we were sound asleep and my phone rang.  I sat straight up in bed, knew it was her without looking at it, and answered “what’s wrong?”  She was on the other end bawling her eyes out, and it was all I could do to calm her down and tell me what had happened.  I came incredibly close to getting on the first flight to Boston the next morning, but she promised it would be okay, and it was.  Getting to Germany in the case of something like that is not anywhere close to that simple.  And it would be a big fat lie if I said I wasn’t worried about that.

On a happier note, I did send her off with a metric ton of bags and travel things.  She doesn’t do organization well (I swear we’re the same person), so I wanted to make sure that she had, at the very least, cute tools to maintain some semblance of order while she’s traveling.  I didn’t get everything on that to-sew list done, but that’s what Christmas is for!  She did get a lot of it though, and then promptly tested a bunch of it out on her trip to PA with her mom.  So, without further ado, here’s what she got!

  • A Weekender Bag (Amy Butler)
  • 1 Large Open Wide Pouch (Noodlehead)
  • 1 Small Open Wide Pouch (Noodlehead)
  • 1 Wherever You Go Travel Wallet (Fishstick Designs)
  • 1 Manicure Wallet (Noodlehead/Robert Kaufman)
  • 2 Tiny Neat n Tidy Zippered Pouches (Erin Erickson)
  • 1 Jane Market Bag (Alicia Paulson)
  • 1 Large Wet Bag
  • 1 Travel Document Wallet (Thimble)

Most of the stuff I sent to Germany with BFF. She’s got a fantastic Christmas coming too!

I went for a palette of teals, aquas, corals, and purples.  Bright colors, a lot of her, a little of me, and where I could get away with it, some fabrics that reminded me of our time at Roanoke together.  We went from pretty much not being able to stand each other to best friends on a May Term trip to Mexico after junior year of college.  We were both biology majors, and the class was a Tropical Marine Biology thing.  After that class, we ended up having vertebrate biology and our senior seminar together, which means we had a lot of very interesting times in classes together!  I used some florals (we also had the same advisor, and she mostly works with plants,) the coral reef on her weekender bag was because Mexico, same with the Cuzco plume on the wallet.  Inside her weekender, there are a couple of zippered pockets.  One of them got a fish print, the other one got a print that has always reminded me of kelp.  The Jane Market Bag was a different beast.  I’d been hoarding that fabric for a WHILE.  Two years, maybe?  I picked it up off of one of the first destashes that Quilt Barn did, and I never really had a use for it.  It’s a home dec fabric, and there isn’t anything in my home that I wanted in those colors.  I was considering destashing it, and then I started pulling fabrics for this project and they insisted I use them for the Market Bag.  I was happy to oblige, and amazing happened.

Sometimes, the projects design themselves.

In any case, I showed up in Boston with a pile of stuff for her, and she was thrilled.  I still had to finish a few things (like, um, sewing in the lining of the weekender.  Oops.), but for the most part, we used them to transport her stuff from work home, and then as we started cleaning up her bedroom to take back to her parents’ or over to Germany.  I did get this really awesome snapshot of her while I was working on sewing in the lining…

We had a fun weekend in Boston, with lots of good food and some pretty unintentional BFF things happening.  I got to see the sights, we did a lot of walking, I skipped my runs.  All in all, it was a solid weekend.

I got home late Sunday night, M and I had a lovely few hours together before bed, and then he woke me up at 5AM Monday to drive him to the airport.  He spent a week in Dallas for training, came home Thursday night, and we had a bunch of errands to run, family stuff to do that weekend.  I got not a whole lot done, but I did get my Broadway and Hogwarts swaps shipped out mostly on time!


Broadway Mini Quilt!


This doesn’t need much introduction! This was the Hogwarts Swap Mini I sent out!

M flew back out to TX for more training the following Tuesday, and I peaced out on Friday for the DCMQG Quilt Retreat.  It was SUCH a fun time.  I honestly could not ask for a better guild.  Everyone is so supportive and inspirational.  I had a super productive two days at retreat, and managed to get a bunch of swap work done, plus a little tiny bit of selfish sewing.

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Unfortunately, I had to leave retreat early on Sunday to get to the airport to head to the National Meeting for work.  I spent Sunday-Wednesday in Boston, and I was so tired by the time it was over.  It was a great experience to be able to go to the meeting, and I’m really hoping I’ll be able to keep going!  I did manage to get a little bit of work done, and I spent some time in our booth on Tuesday (the last day) working on my (drumroll please…) Epic Chemistry Quilt.  I’m not spilling the details on the full design, but it’s going to be pretty sweet.  More than one member was super excited to see me working on it, which was pretty exciting for me!


I ended up spending most of Wednesday sitting in the airport.  I got the call at 12:30 that my 3pm flight was cancelled, so I hustled it over to sit on standby and hope to get a flight.  I managed to get a little something finished for my Zodiac Mini Swap, and also finished up the embroidery piece of the Best Birthday Ever package I shipped out at the end of the month.

IMG_5127 IMG_5163

When I finally got home (on a 6pm flight that was delayed until 7pm,) I was pretty much ready to sleep for a week.  The last week of August was mostly just a cluster of exhaustion, but I finally got my life together and finished up that Best Birthday Ever swap, and got back on the Marathon Training bus.


So, it’s now September 2.  My next post is going to be a run down of the swaps that I’ve finished/received starting with Alison Glass, as well as the DCMQG Bee update that I’ve been slacking on.