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Monday, September 11, 2006


Most likely what I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle's Two Cents section won't be published, therefore I will post it here in my blog. Everytime they asked me about where was I on the morning of September 11, 2001, I responded the same way.

I was in Los Angeles, living at a student’s Co-op next to UCLA. I can remember September 10, a Monday. I went to an office and I was waiting for at least two hours for an appointment. In the meantime, I was watching CNN. Fox and Bush just had a meeting and they were discussing the main problem of the U.S. at that time: too many illegal immigrants. Something has to be done with too many mexicans crossing the border. That was the main problem U.S was facing then. No word of muslim terrorists, and the freedom of bringing nailclippers and vaseline on a plane.

On the eve of September 11, 2001 I went out with a girl from Russia and we were talking about how great was to be in United States and enjoy this freedom and good times. Before I went to sleep, I read my copy of Alan Moore’s Watchmen for the umptenth time and fell asleep. The last chapter of the series features a catastrophic alien attack in New York, killing half of the population.

My roomate woke me up at 6:30 AM. He was working at the dorm’s kitchen and he told me “Wake up, Javier, it’s World War III! Two planes have destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon!” the very first thing I thought was an attack of war planes like F-16’s or MIG’s. As I was getting up and going to the TV room, the information was arriving really, really fast. I remembered one of the students who lived there had her mother working at the World Trade Center, and like an hour later, I asked him, Is your mom OK? And he shoved me, yelling and calling me bastard. He thought I asked him if the communists did it or not. Her mother didn’t go to work on that day. One of the students there was from Lebanon and his words were hair-raising: This is what they get for helping Israel. I thought he was talking non-sense. I thought that the attacks were too perfect to be perpetrated by religious fanatics. I thought of the Colombian Guerrillas and maybe, maybe, an inside attack from renegade U.S. army members wanting to overthrow the new president, George W. Bush.

The weather was beautiful on that awful morning. Not a single plane in the sky. News were arriving from Downtown LA where most buildings were evacuated. After having breakfast with an american guy, I realized: This is gonna be big. So big I can’t even think how is it going to affect the World.

It started affecting us little by little. Words we never heard before started popping up in the news, the conversations, our life in general. Al Qaeda, Taliban, Afghanistan, Tora Bora, Terror Alerts, War. Again. As an old man said on a Tower Records store on that day… once again, they caught us with our pants down.

Of course they did. One of those funny tabloids you see at the grocery store was already blaming Saddam Hussein and Irak for the attacks. I compared that headline like blaming Bigfoot or the UFO that crashed in Roswell, NM. Again, I tried to predict how big the changes would be for this country. But I couldn’t. I had to see it.

I went to the UCLA Events office, where I used to work, and everybody was quiet. No jokes, no smiles, no more fun. What happened in New York was the equivalent of the end of innocence for America. I asked, again, if there was anybody with family in New York. For some reason, I felt I was being looked like a potential danger. I stopped working there less than a month later.

Everything changed radically from then on. Something called Homeland Security was invented, even tho I thought something like that already existed. It turned out the terrorists were here in the country legally, and they were getting ready to attack by training in Florida.

If you don’t move on, 9/11 traps you and fills your brain with paranoia and fear, which is what lots of people want us to have so they can control us either economically or emotionally. Sell us security, a bottle of soda, or offer us a discount in a Timeshare. To use tragedy as a way to get benefits from the people is the wrongest thing this terrorist attack has caused here. Five years from that date, we have learned so much about the world and the intrincated game of chess we all play, but some of us are still feeling fear.


2 comments:

nada said...

do you speak Spanish?

nada said...

lo siento pense que solo escribias en ingles, retiro la pregunta