Category Archives: 9/11

The End of the Innocence (My Kids Don’t Know About 9/11)

There’s a picture in our family album that was taken on the first anniversary, on September 11, 2002.  My kids are seated in their double-stroller, stationed on the sidewalk leading up to the home we lived in back then. I’d positioned my 9-month old twins strategically, by the flowers and the American flags that lined the path.

Just as I snapped the picture, they both turned their little heads – and the result is both kids gazing, almost reverently, at the flags.

Someday Daddy and I will tell you about That Day, I thought, looking at the photo after it came back from the lab. (My first digital camera was still several years away.)  We’ll tell you what happened with the planes, and the people who flew them into those buildings and into the ground in Pennsylvania, and the thousands of people who died.  We’ll tell you where this happened, and where we were, and how devastated we were, and how the country came together as our world was forever changed.  We‘ll tell you about the who, the what, the where and the how.  

But we will never, ever be able to tell you why.  

 * * * *
In all of the last 10 years, we have never had that conversation.

And because we haven’t had that conversation, my kids don’t know about 9/11.

I would know – believe me, I would know – if they knew.  There would be questions.  My kids are forever asking questions.  And one day they will have questions about this, and I will do my best to answer them, even though I don’t want to.

I suspect this may be the year. Today is “Wear Red-White-and-Blue Day” at school.  And last night, Boo wondered aloud why there was a flag on September 11 of his lunch menu calendar.

(After my initial great, there goes my pre-scheduled blog post thought, I tried to engage him in conversation about it, but he moved on to something else before I could ask why he thought there was a flag on that day.)

On September 11, 2001, my twins were still in-utero, so we were spared having to tell them anything about the events of that horrible day.  Like other expectant parents, we worried what this meant for their future, for the world we would be raising them in.  We worried about other things too.

I became a little obsessive about saving everything I could from that day – newspaper articles (and the actual newspapers themselves), magazines, photographs, editorials, the program from the church service we attended that evening.  My intention was to make a scrapbook – morbid as that sounds – perhaps as a way of avoiding that conversation I didn’t want to have, or perhaps as a way of aiding it.

One of the things I saved, that was intended for the scrapbook, was the newspaper from September 10, 2001.  I wanted to remember what it was like Before.  Before we knew that people could commandeer planes to crash into buildings.  Before we knew that evil lurked among us and was dead-set on killing every single one of us.  Before we knew that no matter how we lived our lives, it could all be ended in a New York minute.

I saved the paper because to me, it was a tangible thing. We would long remember the after.  We would, I knew, soon forget the before.

And I mourned that for my soon-to-be-born twins.  It seemed grossly unfair that they would be part of a generation who would live under the specter of such horror.  Who wouldn’t know a world where this was still unimaginable. I mourned this for them, and I deeply mourned for all the children whose parents were taken that day, suddenly, without warning. As someone who lost a parent at a young age, even I couldn’t even begin to imagine what losing a parent in such a way could be like.

I was angry about that, and I was angry that these terrorists had the nerve to take away their innocence before they took their first breath.

I’m being dramatic, I know.  Or maybe not, because isn’t that is what’s at the core of this parenting thing of ours anyway?  We’re charged with protecting their innocence and that we’ve done.

But up until what point? I’m not naive to think that I will be able to shield my kids from 9/11 forever. There’s going to come a day when they will learn about this. And, as I said, maybe this will be the year. And if it had come up in the past decade, I would have answered them honestly, and to the best of my abilities. (Except for that inability to explain why.)

As The Husband would tell you, as a mother I am the Queen of The Teachable Moment.  I answer their questions with almost too much honesty, with the bare minimum of sugar-coating (if any). My kids know about our infertility, about my uncle dying of AIDS, about how some girls like girls and how some boys like boys.  We’ve talked to them about all of these as these issues and topics have come up.

Somehow, even though it is one of the defining things of our lives, 9/11 has never come up.  So, because of that, we haven’t sat down with them and told them there was something they needed to know.  What parent wants to sit down with their kid and start explaining 9/11?

My kids still believe in Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. And the Tooth Fairy.  They believe in all things magic and in dreams and in a world where good triumphs over evil.

I could have told them about all of this.  I could have given them a history lesson about 9/11 or brought home books from the library.  But I want them to have this – an untarnished belief that the world is essentially a good place, and I want them to be able to hold onto that as long as they possibly can. Because you never ever get that innocence, that child’s sense of wonder and belief, back in the same form as you first had it.
I want them to have their Before. Their September 10. Because I know it won’t always be this way.  I know my luck and the years of their innocence are quickly running out.  It will be taken away. 

I just don’t want to be the one to steal it from them.

Although I probably will.

“Remember when the days were long 
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world 
With mommy and daddy standin’ by
But ‘happily ever after’ fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales 
The lawyers dwell on small details’
Since daddy had to fly ….

O’ beautiful for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening
They’re beating plowshares into swords
For this tired old man that we elected king …

Who knows how long this will last
Now we’ve come so far, so fast
But, somewhere back there in the dust
That same small town in each of us
I need to remember this 
So baby give me one last kiss 
And let me take a good last look 
Before we say goodbye ….” 
The End of the Innocence – sung by Don Henley, written by Bruce Hornsby

P.S. A great article about talking to your kids about 9/11 is here

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Into the Fire (or, my new weekly feature in which I talk about "Rescue Me".)

OK, people … I want to talk “Rescue Me” with those of you who are so inclined.   And yes, I plan on making this a weekly thing.  I’m calling it INTO THE FIRE, for the Springsteen song, ’cause I’m creative and shit like that. 
(But first, a word about that photo. I LOVE this photo.  It’s one of my favorites among the many, many thousands I’ve taken. This was from an event in October 2010 at a firehouse in Lewes, Delaware and they had moved the racks of coats towards the windows to make more room for the event set-up.  The blue sky, the symbolism of this in relation to 9/11 with the firemen being trapped inside but at the same time forever in the brotherhood of the firehouse… well, I just love this one.) 
Which makes it fitting (if I do say so myself) to talk about the last night’s final Season Premiere of “Rescue Me.”  If you’re a fan and haven’t seen the episode or aren’t caught up to Season 7, feel free to skip this post and move on with your day.  I won’t be offended. I mean, I can count on one hand the number of TV shows I currently watch, and I’d be pissed if someone spoiled them for me (I hear you laughing, my Darling Husband).  
So, last call, people.  KEEP BACK 500 FEET. Any speculation about what might or might not happen are my own theories, not based on anything else.
OK, so we’re all good here?  Good.  Now, I missed episodes 7-10 of Season 6 (Netflix had already pissed me off about not having this, so with their rate hikes on top of that, I’m cancelling my membership.)  But from the recaps last night, I’ve surmised 4 critical things: 1) Damien was badly injured in a fire; 2) Tommy was, as per usual, responsible; 3) Sheila lost her shit, as per usual and 4) Damien now has a brain injury and Sheila is, as per usual, delusional about the reality of the situation.  Oh, and that Janet and Tommy’s little no-strings-attached deal has produced The Baby That Will Of Course Be the Emotional Replacement for Connor.
Did I miss anything?
1. All right, then. First off.  DAMIEN!  God, this is heartbreaking to watch … but it’s going to be interesting to watch how Michael Zegen grows as an actor in this role. I think this has some potential for him, professionally. I was a little disappointed to read that he wasn’t happy about the changes in his character.  If I was his agent or manager or something, I would be suggesting that he spend some time at a rehabilitation center for people with brain injuries.  It could also be a good catalyst for him to do some charitable work in that area, but it seems like he’s not personally ready for that. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe he already has or has plans to do so.  Whatever.
BUT. I will say this.  I would really, really, really love to see a scene where perhaps Tommy is out with Damien somewhere, pushing his wheelchair, and someone calls Damien a “r****d.” Hell, he doesn’t even have to be out with Damien someplace; he just needs to be at a bar (yes, definitely a bar) where another person calls someone that despicable word and then, then, all of a sudden Tommy Gavin GETS IT. Tommy’s been fast and furious with his (almost excessive at times) use of that word on the show, a quality of Rescue Me that I have personally struggled with and cringed at every time. I think this would speak volumes for Denis Leary’s character (his real one, his soul) if such a scene were to be written into the script.  It would demonstrate that Leary, himself, does in fact get it, which he hasn’t always done. 
2. What’s with this bullshit of Janet and Sheila being BFFs??   I’m so not liking this grief bonding of the babes.  I’m just NOT.  Give me a good old-fashioned, down and dirty catfight with those two any day over their junior high school style giggling over Tommy’s various anatomical assets. This whole “sisterhood” shit with them is not flying with me. Also? My prediction/what I’d like to see? Since this is the last season, Janet dies in childbirth. Or in some kind of accident. Tommy can’t cope with raising two kids under 3 alone and he gives The New Connor to Colleen and Shawn to raise. Which, of course, would not be pretty because it would be Tommy and Janet all over again, but with the roles reversed.
3. Colleen and Sean (how does he spell his name?).  Love that they’re getting married.  Knew that her working in a bar was a bad idea. Was kind of thinking/hoping/wishing that Tommy would have seen the ring on Colleen’s finger when he found her passed out in the back room.  I think the writers missed an opportunity there, ’cause that could have been good. 
4. Best Line goes to Sheila with her remark (I can’t find the exact quote) about “you kidnap one baby and everyone thinks you’re a criminal,” or something to that effect.  A close runner up is Tommy suggesting “Yoga? Pilates? Goddamn Facebook?”  to Uncle Teddy when he says he needs something to keep things interesting. 
5. Funniest Scene: When Tommy is on the hood of Janet’s car and lands in front of her ob-gyn doctor.  Hilarious.  And classic.  And so very Tommy and Janet. 
Overall, I think this season is off to a good start. The Sheila/Janet bonding is a bit too jump the sharkish for my tastes but if they can get that nonsense remedied, then we’re good.  
OK, your turn. If you watch Rescue Me and saw last night’s season’s premiere, I wanna know what you thought.  C’mon, c’mon ….

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Problem Solved

“We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do.
We have got big problems to solve.”

President Obama, April 27, 2011, on the release of his birth certificate

Oh, so that’s what you were referring to, Mr. President.

Problem solved, indeed. 
And yeah, yeah, yeah … I know the events of this evening will likely prompt more problems, but you know what?  I’m enjoying this, goddammit, and I’m not apologizing for enjoying this. We’ve earned the right to enjoy this. And to those who think this photo is too crass? Tell that to Daniel Pearl.  Or Nicholas Berg.  Or any of nearly 3,000 innocent people who died on a brilliant September day in 2001, or in the name of freedom in nearly a decade since, or the ones who still bear the physical and emotional scars and horrific memories of doing so.

Because the truth is that the people who hate us will always hate us, and would be (and still are) plotting our demise even if Bin Laden wasn’t dead.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Ding, Dong, The Bastard is Dead!

I had just been sitting here thinking I could kind of use some good news about now, given the absolute shitty week I’ve been having.
Yeah, I think this will do just fine.

Rot in hell, you fucking bastard.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Always Remember

We will always remember.
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Book Review: Read My Pins (along with a look at some of mine)

 Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box
by Madeleine Albright
Harper Collins
176 pages

Like Madeleine Albright, I love wearing pins.  I’m not always very good at the schmoozing and small talk that I often need to do for my job, so in business settings I’ll sometimes wear a pin as a conversation starter.  I’m guessing Madeleine Albright doesn’t have that problem. What she might have difficulty with is deciding which pin to wear, because according to this book, her choices are limitless as she has hundreds to choose from.

My Betty is a bit of a girly-girl, to say the least, and I borrowed this book from the library in an attempt to use the pictures of the jewelry as a way to introduce her to one of the world’s most accomplished women.  I wound up being more enthralled with the book than she was.

Read My Pins is a coffee-table type of book that is both filled with glorious photos of beautiful pins but also stories about the pins’ history and their place front and center of world events.  As Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright often chose which pin to wear each day with great care and deliberation, often with subtle significance to a negotiation or a meeting with a world leader or some situation happening on a global scale.  Her choices were thoughtful as well as sometimes whimsical.  (After reading this, I’ve noticed I’ve become more deliberate about my choices of pins now.)

In this book, Albright gives her reader a peek inside her jewelry box with photos of more than 200 of her pins that she has collected over the years, from purchases in small boutiques and villages to extravagant gifts.  I don’t have anywhere near the number of pins as Madeleine Albright has, but as part of this review, I thought I would share some of my pins, including my newest pin which has special significance for this weekend.

And my newest pin, which I actually purchased last year (not actual size):

I’m not sure how many people outside of Philadelphia know about these pins, but it is a brilliant example (in my mind) of a successful fundraiser and frankly, a great cause-marketing campaign. Some consider him controversial (among other things) but every morning I listen to Michael Smerconish, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host based in Philadelphia. (I’ve been listening to Michael, of whom I am a very big fan, for probably seven years now.On his radio program and in his newspaper columns, Michael writes and talks extensively about 9/11 and how our world truly changed on that fateful day nine years ago.

Last year, Michael partnered with Philadelphia jeweler Steven Singer (a marketing and branding genius in his own right), who created the pin above as a way to raise money for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA, estimated to cost $58 million.  For $10, you receive the pin and the proceeds are donated to the memorial.  You don’t have to be in the Philadelphia area to purchase a pin; they are available online here

As of this writing, sales of the pins are over $100,000.  Yes, there are some definite promotional benefits for Messrs. Singer and Smerconish, and some might argue that donors shouldn’t need a promotional incentive to contribute to the memorial fund.  But I’ve been in the fundraising business a long, long time and in this economy, it would be incredibly difficult to raise that kind of cash one $10 donation at a time.  I highly doubt it would have happened in a matter of weeks, as this year’s effort was.  It is an admirable effort, one that remembers and honors an even greater admirable and heroic effort that took place nine years ago as of tomorrow as well as those who lost their lives on that September day.

As I said, I often wear pins because they are a natural conversation starter.  This one is no exception.

Because in my mind, we can never talk enough about the event for which there are no words. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Imagine

One of the highlights of my trip to New York last week for BlogHer was going to the Top of the Rock, the observation deck of Rockefeller Center.  We went on a breezy summer Friday night (72 degrees!) and the view was beyond spectacular. While I got some decent photos, my camera decided that was the time to act strangely and I was experimenting with different settings in order to try and get the best photos. 

Which is how I happened to take this one:

Kinda creepy looking, isn’t it, with the face of the person next to me (I think) looking out onto the city that never sleeps.  Adding to the creep factor was The Husband’s reaction when I was showing him my photos from the trip. 

“Oh my God, that’s really similar to the last photo of John,” he commented, referring to the former and beloved Beatle who is known by only his first name in our house and  Paul Goresh’s photo of the late John Lennon, taken while the former Beatle looked through his limo window on the fateful night of December 8, 1980.  It would be the last photo ever taken of John. 

If one really looks at it (and possibly stretches the imagination) this one taken by me atop Rockefeller Center could resemble what an older John might have looked like today … glasses, an older face, contemplating the post-9/11 state of his adopted city nearly 9 years later (that number 9 again!) and that of the world. 

Something to think about, especially this week, as we contemplate Lennon murderer Mark David Chapman once again being up for parole … and all the what-if’s and possibilities that entails. 

For more Wordless Wednesday photos (and likely some not as wordy as this), go here.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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