Mar 11, 2009 - 9/11, Blue Dog    Comments Off

How Nine-Eleven kicked my ass.

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Everything wasn’t peachy keen on 09/11/01, but we were getting along pretty well. My kids were in middle school. My husband had his own business on the American Stock Exchange, next door to the World Trade Center. We had a house in a small town in New Jersey that I was coo-coo over. Setting aside the drugs and alcohol, domestic abuse, overspending and emotional problems we were like Ozzie Osborne & Harriet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, my husband, Stu Alpert, stepped out for a smoke at the Trinity Place door of the Amex where he was a floor broker. An impossibly loud noise made him jump, “What was that? A sonic boom?” Who would think a 747 airliner piloted by Muslim terrorists had hit the World Trade Center taking out the Windows on the World restaurant where he was supposed to go to breakfast?

The rain of burning debris sent people back into the building where Exchange Officials encouraged them to stay. Well, where would they go, with oily smoke and the raining debris and all.

Stu, as a floor official, was conducting a floor-by-floor sweep of the Amex when the first tower collapsed. The windows blew out and smoke, ash and burning crap flooded inside. Amex officials told everyone to evacuate, so they took off running with wet paper towels over their faces.

My daughter and I watched this on TV, and I remember thinking, “That’s it. He’s dead. No one can live through that. I’m a widow.”

At the Battery, tug boats volunteering to take people off Manhattan. As he climbed on the tugboat, the second tower went down, and a wall of smoke moved south towards them.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, he was in shock, and all he could think was, “I have to get to my car in Journal Square (in Jersey City) so I can get home.” Nevermind that his briefcase with cellphone, money and car keys were back at the Amex.

“How do I get to Jersey City?” he asked the Red Cross guy.

“Hold on, buddy. Sit down and relax” the guy said, handing him a blanket and wet towel.

“No, give these to someone who really needs them–just tell me how to get to Jersey City” he insisted.

An overcrowded bus in Hoboken took him to Journal Square in Jersey City. Journal Square was, understandably, closed. When cops told him he couldn’t get to his car he freaked out. “Don’t tell me I can’t get to my car! I’ve just been in a bombing!”

“Calm down, pal. We’ll get you in there,” cops told him. And they did. They took him right to his car when the uncomfortable reality hit that he had no car keys.

Highways were blockaded, so I couldn’t come get him. He got a bus to Newark Penn Station and a NJ Transit commuter train to Cranford, where we took him home, covered in white ash and a little wobbly. He cried later when we were alone. “It was Armageddon.”

Aftermath

Five of his buddies had managed to go to breakfast at Windows on the World. He attended their memorial services. A hundred other brokers, traders, customers and 50 restaurant staffers are gone. Only one of his friend’s bodies was identified. Six men from our small town are dead, including the father of one of my daughter’s friends. The next town over lost eight. Another, lost 11.

The Amex was closed for a month, which meant no business for Stu–which meant no income for him, his partner or their employees. Also none for the hot dog guy, the shoeshine guy, the sandwich shop or the newspaper guy. The Amex reopened eventually, but inevitably his business, like many others, died a slow lingering death.

Stu was never really the same after that.

“Bodies of 16 Bravest Found”

New York Daily News, 10/02/01, Michele McPhee and Corky Siemaszko

“A few blocks away from the wreckage, the American Stock Exchange’s 2,400 traders and clerks returned to their trading floor at 86 Trinity Place for the first time since the attacks.

Mixed Feelings Among Workers
Workers had to present identification at the police checkpoint at Trinity Place and Rector St. and pass through metal detectors at the building. Some had their bags inspected. Others were patted down by security guards.

“I’m scared to be here,” said 19-year-old Daniel Chipaio, a trader’s assistant from Bensonhurst. “If it was easy for [the terrorists] to do it the first time, why couldn’t they do it again?”

Elizabeth Fogerty of Manhattan, an Amex public relations worker, covered her face with her rabbit-fur shawl to avoid the pungent stench of burned metal and ash lingering in the air. “It can’t be good for you,” she said.

But as Gov. Pataki presided over the ringing of the opening bell, many employees said they were just happy to be back at work.

“A bell ringing is a good symbol that everything is beginning again,” said John Riccardi, 37, of Manalapan, N.J., who works in research. “I’m sure some people are nervous, but it’s nice to be back.”

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Where they have to take you in — unless you have a dog.

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“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” — Robert Frost (American poet, 1874-1963)

Perhaps Robert Frost didn’t have a dog. In that case, his 78 year old dad never said, “You’re welcome to come here, but not with a dog!”

penske truck in the rainMy mom and dad don’t want to be burdened with a dog. I get that. But I have a dog, and I’m emotionally attached to her. My dad, who mostly is content if you stay out of line of his remote, decided, passive-aggressive-style, to “make a stand” about my dog. I’m already racked with guilt about showing up on their doorstep, Prodigal daughter-style, with a 17-foot truckload of all my possessions. Now I have to be guilty about showing up with a big giant smelly dog, too? WTF?

What I did, was mostly nothing. I groveled appropriately, expressed my gratitude, and showed up with the dog anyway. I did this knowing the most likely outcome, based on my 50-some plus years as Walter Aisbet’s daughter.

Five minutes in the door, my dad said, “Heyna, that’s a pretty good dog you got dere.” Pansy did her normal polite thing, I had her do her three tricks, and that was that. They love her, and she’s part of the family.

Whew.

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Sep 23, 2008 - Blue Dog    1 Comment

How Chien Bleu became so blue.

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She came. She saw. She failed.

 
She tried hard, she thinks, to juggle life’s jellyfish: American middle-class corporate entity turned stay-at-home mom.  Autistic child. Too much stuff. Unresolved emotional issues. Overbearing future ex-husband. Money problems. Ever-present sparkly physical pain–and, obviously, pain meds. Alcohol. More pain meds (“Hey, a DOCTOR prescribed them.”) and inevitably, pain meds WITH alcohol.

Just one of the REAL housewives of New Jersey . . . until the World Trade Center blew up while Future Ex-husband was standing outside smoking a cigarette.  The jellyfish hit the ground hard. Lost the house, the car, the college funds, the retirement plans, the health insurance, the friends — and all pretense of sanity.

She wakes up four years later, in the looney bin at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, New Jersey next to a screaming geriatric paitent strapped to a gurney. 

She is now reconsidering her life.

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Sep 14, 2008 - Blue Dog, Milwaukee, The Bier of Beer    Comments Off

Thoughts on the leftover first post provided by WordPress

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WordPress left this little bit of nothing here when they left. It’s like that cheese they are always trying to give you at the food pantries. Everyone gets some, whether they like cheese or not. I like cheese well enough, as long as it’s not too much cheese. So far, this is just enough cheese.

Thanks WordPress for offering this delightful tool, already stocked with cheesy goodness.

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