9/11, Year 11

11 years ago this morning, I was asleep after a long night shift and really didn’t want to be bothered for a plane crash in New York.  I knew it would be on the news later, no need to get up now.  When my mom said another one crashed I was mildly stirred, but grumbled again that I’d see it later.  When she came back and said a third plane crashed in a whole other state, I finally understood that something was very wrong.  My family and I stared at the TV for hours, mesmerized, watching every piece of that awful story unfold.  In the days and weeks that followed, a hush fell over the entire country.  People were quiet everywhere we went.  An entire country in mourning is a strange but oddly comforting thing.  We all lost something, whether it was a person or an idea.  Sharing that loss with millions of people connected us all, made us strong.  We cried openly in public, but we stood taller and firmer, with more dignity and pride in our country than I’d ever known in my lifetime.

It was months, maybe a year, before I could listen to a patriotic song without bursting into tears.  “God Bless the USA” was a popular one to play at public events.  As soon as I heard the first few strains of the melody I’d well up.  Memorials always get me emotional, too, and I know I share this with my fellow millions.  I was okay today: no tears or much emotion, until I came across this picture:

David Reed Gambora-Brandhorst

A former coworker took this at the 9/11 memorial in New York, built over the site of the fallen Twin Towers. Three-year-old David was in the second plane to hit the towers, with his parents, Ron and Dan.  This would break the heart of anyone that has one, but what turned on the waterworks for me was his birthdate:  David was exactly one month older than my son, Andrew.


This one.  This lanky 14-year-old who knows and loves all things Dr. Who, will do anything to impress a girl, wants to form an improve group with his friends, has a wicked sense of humor, and would shrivel up and perish if something happened to his beloved iTouch.  David might have been this way today.  What is more profound to me, though, is that David could be any teenager.  He could spend his Friday nights sitting on the curb at the local farmer’s market, or on a picnic table in a nearby park, with his feet on the bench, the way our neighborhood kids do.  He could be complaining about wearing a bowtie in this heat before a piano recital.  He might be slouching behind his dads en route to his grandparents’ house, secretly happy to get homemade Filipino food.  David should be a contemporary of my son, and his fathers should have as much grey hair as I do.  That is what broke my heart today.

I found this wonderful blog post, In Honor of David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst, about David and his family.

Be gentle to each other today.

Mellow Yellow Monday


Potato chip bag

Empty potato chip bag.

It is disgustingly hot today. 98°F (37°C) in the shade on the north porch that never sees sun.  I’m at my parents’ house because I thought it would be a good central location for the people who needed my help today.  Alas, everyone’s plans changed.  I remain, however, in this climate-uncontrolled remnant of the past my parents call home.  You see, If go back to my own home I will bask in the air conditioning while I play mindless PC games, check my Facebook and email every 20 minutes for counterfeit signs of human connection, and get absolutely nothing done.  So here I sit in front of my laptop, next to a box fan, under a ceiling fan, blowing around a bunch of hot sticky air and trying to convince myself that it’s not so bad today.

Friends, 98° in the shade is a bad day.  I can’t fake otherwise.

So moving on to this happy yellow potato chip bag.  Rob hands it to me after emptying it and says, “Hey, check out this contest!  You know, people actually win these things, sometimes two or three times!”  You’ll notice near the bottom right corner, the bag says I could win a million dollars.

It makes me nauseous.  Deep-fried starch on a hot day doesn’t sound appetizing in the least.  Some fresh salsa sounds good, though.  Pico de gallo, specifically: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and salt.  No jalapeños, no black pepper, not even garlic. Yum. I could eat that with a spoon right now.  It’s just gazpacho without the cucumber, after all.  “You should enter,” Rob says.  “You’re creative.”

Gaaawwwgh! Okay.

So I enter this goofy contest. Turns out it’s an app on Facebook, which doesn’t thrill me but since I have nothing better to blog about, I click it. I invent a flavor name (“Summer Salsa”), pick 3 ingredients (tomato, onion, and cilantro), and give it a description based on my inspiration (something about being hot hot hot today, an August heat wave, and pico de gallo).  It kicks back my description for adult content. wHaT?!  After three tries I take out the “hot hot hot” part, and that does the trick.  I even don’t want to know what kind of person would blush at that.

I can’t say my new flavor is creative, but there it is.  Maybe I should come up with “Potato Salad,” but what kind of flavor ingredients would that include? Pickles? Hard-boiled eggs?  Mayonnaise?  HA!  Wouldn’t that be the most white-bred potato chip flavor ever?

I think I’ll go work on that.