Archive for September, 2007

Promos begin tomorrow

September 23, 2007

In about 10 hours, my charges will sit for their Promotional exams.  I wish them well, especially to those I’ve seen over the last few days for consults.  It’s been a long hard road getting here, and I hope they will rise to the occasion.

Also, in about 14 hours, 104 scripts will land on my lap, and must be duly completed by 10 Oct.  So if you think I’m blogging less and less these days, you shouldn’t hear from me at all in the next few weeks. 


got 102 minutes?: 90th Floor Frozen, Even as Ground Zero Changes

September 12, 2007

Jim Dwyer of the NYT wrote the following article on 12 Sept 2007:

Anne Foodim, Manhattan apartment dweller, lighted three candles on her dining table yesterday morning, then switched on the television to hear the name of a slight man in a sport jacket. With a few soft words, some gentle squeezes to shoulders, that man, a colleague, helped save Ms. Foodim and others on the 90th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.

His name — Ed Emery — would be somewhere around the 700th on the list of 2,750 read at the Sept. 11 memorial service. So Ms. Foodim absorbed the stately pace of the event, taking note of its scale six years after the attack. 

On the first anniversary, she had been chosen to read names as a representative of those who had escaped. The city stood still. Thousands crowded the site, and others who could not get in stood on sidewalks, listening to the ceremony on the radios of parked cars.  

Yesterday, on a showery morning, no more than a few hundred relatives and friends of the dead gathered on Liberty Street. Ahead of them, a grove of construction cranes rose from the pit of ground zero. Behind them, traffic heaved along Broadway, the soaring notes of a flutist’s “Amazing Grace” dueling with the diesel wheeze of buses.  

The families hiked down a ramp to drop flowers into a pool. No one will make precisely that memory walk again; the ground will be built over next year.  

Sept. 11, as a public occasion, has shrunk to life size: potent as ever for people holding photographs of fathers on their wedding days and mothers in their backyards, but unlikely to start wars again. 

Babies are in first grade, children have graduated from high school, teenagers have finished college.  Ms. Foodim, now 63, has effectively retired. She had been fighting cancer, and could barely get down the stairs that morning.  

“In some ways, strange as this is to say, Sept. 11 was good for me,” Ms. Foodim said. “I didn’t know what I had in me. In certain ways, you could say Ed saved my life.” The personal narratives of that day in 2001 were almost immediately overtaken by the cosmic. The initials N.Y.P.D. and F.D.N.Y. were stenciled onto T-shirts and hats, then onto the sides of munitions that were launched first into Afghanistan, where the Taliban had sheltered Al Qaeda, and later into Iraq, which had no connection to the attacks.  

“I don’t know how the country could buy into it to begin with,” Ms. Foodim said. “Whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?” 

Two presidential candidates, both New Yorkers, attended the memorial yesterday. One of them, Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, was scarcely seen; the other, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, briefly spoke, quoting the writer Eli Wiesel on the need for a moral response to evil.  

Other members of Mr. Giuliani’s administration were present, including his business partner and protégé, who was then the police commissioner: Bernard B. Kerik, who pleaded guilty last year to accepting $165,000 in home renovations while in office from a company suspected of ties to organized crime. In his path to the stage yesterday, Mr. Giuliani, whether by design or chance, kept well clear of Mr. Kerik, who was standing in a section reserved for dignitaries. 

Ms. Foodim recalled the day six years earlier. She had gone to work, at the end of a long siege of chemotherapy for breast cancer; she was just starting the ordeal of radiation.  

That morning, she said, “I struggled up the steps out of the subway at Fulton Street, and said, ‘I am so glad I’m alive because look at that blue sky.’ ”

She worked for Fiduciary Trust, which had offices in the south tower. When the first plane struck the north tower, she felt the heat through the windows. Mr. Emery arrived with a sense of calm and command, she said. “Ed came running out of his office, and he said, ‘Come on, let’s go,’ ” Ms. Foodim said.  

He ushered a group from the 90th floor to the staircase, and led them down to the 78th floor, where they could take an express elevator to the lobby. 

As she walked down the stairs, Ms. Foodim felt the weight of the moment, and the cancer treatments, wearing on her.  

She paused on landings, exhausted. Through her illness, Mr. Emery had coaxed her along, encouraging her to get rest when she needed it, but welcoming her company at work. He had given her a book on tranquillity for her birthday a few weeks earlier. 

Now, she said, Mr. Emery was talking her down the stairs. “Ed said, ‘If you can finish chemo, you can get down those steps,’ ” she recalled. 

At the 78th floor, one of their group, Elsie Castellanos, who had also been working at the trade center when it was bombed in 1993, became upset. Mr. Emery patted her shoulder, and urged her onto the elevator with the others.

As they approached the elevators, they heard an announcement. “Exact words: ‘The building is secure, please return to your desks,’ ” Ms. Foodim said. 

“I had been out the day before. I was always a good little girl. How could you go home, if the building is secure? Ed said, ‘You know what, it’s O.K., go ahead.’ ” 

The Fiduciary group boarded the express car. “He promised to be down directly, but had to go back up for something or someone,” Ms. Foodim said.  

Ms. Foodim and her group got clear of the building. Somewhere between 14,000 and 17,000 people escaped from the two towers, investigations later found. 

Not Mr. Emery. He climbed to the 97th floor with another Fiduciary employee, Alayne Gentul, to evacuate a group of people who were working on the computer systems. They were trapped by the second plane. 

For months after, Ms. Foodim worked as the Fiduciary representative at a family center set up by the city on Pier 94, helping with benefits and death certificates for the survivors of nearly 100 people. After two years, she had had enough; she attributes her own psychic survival to a therapist she continues to see.  

She lives with two dogs and has a network of friends, women she has met over the last six years. Most of them are from her neighborhood on the Upper East Side. “I don’t keep in touch with anyone from Fiduciary,” she said.  

She gathered with some of her friends at her home yesterday morning.  She wept a little when the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the memorial. And she lighted the candles, one for her lost Fiduciary colleagues, one for Ms. Gentul and one for Ed Emery.

got 102 minutes?: of memory & commemoration

September 11, 2007

In “Remembering Lower Manhattan’s Day of Horror, Without Pomp or Circumstance”, New York Times writer Edward Rothstein writes, “It isn’t memory that is the issue. It is commemoration. Memory, at least right now, is readily summoned. Commemoration is something else altogether.”

Read the complete article here.


At first glance, ground zero is another busy, loud part of New York City construction site with people rushing past. Yet the area is oddly open for the city. And once you look past the obstructions that hide the actual site from curious onlookers, you get the deep feeling that something is missing. The painful truth that steel and human lives have been ripped out of the concrete is revealed in a glimpse of the gaping hole left by the missing towers. It can be measured only by looking at the trucks and people nearby, shrunken, in contrast, to ant size.

– Paul Hoppe, “Perspectives on 9/11” slideshow

Being sick

September 6, 2007

I hate being sick, especially when I have so much work to finish even though it’s the term break.  Tried to self-medicate since Sunday but it got so bad last night that I went to get looked at this morning.  If I had just gone to the doc on Sunday or Monday instead, I would have recovered by now. Instead, I have to live in a murky semi-drowsiness and force myself to mark and finish up some admin collation.  It’s the suckiest feeling ever.  Your mood’s bad because you don’t have the energy to do anything but you know you have to still meet deadlines. 

Okay, I’m gonna stop bitching now and get back to work.

got 102 minutes?: Posner poses good questions, but feels like a Lawrence Wright retread

September 5, 2007

Maybe it’s the run-up to the 6th anniversary of 9/11, but I’ve been going through books like candy. Gerald Posner’s Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 provides good grounding for people who haven’t come across Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, but it’s unfair to compare the two since Posner precedes Wright by a good 3 years. 

Why America Slept

Still, Posner’s documentation of the CIA-FBI turf war, and his chapter on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, are two of the highlights of this book.  For a more comprehensive history of Islamic radicalism and how it shaped the story of 9/11, Wright’s tome is highly recommended.

Have started on Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, which aims to lay bare the true facts of Giuliani’s pre- and post-911 leadership.  Having started on this job, I’ve had less and less faith in the veracity of the media, its agenda, and how its corrupting influence distorts more than reveals. A scary thought in a rudderless world indeed.

Got 102 minutes?: dealing with loss and recovery

September 3, 2007

Borrowed 3 books on 9/11 from the library@orchard; this is a capsule reivew of Tom Murphy’s Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 And the Untold Story of the Men And Women Who Kept America Flying:

reclaiming the sky cover

My biggest beef: the proofreading was not stringent enough (I found, not one but several glaring errors), and it’s not really strong on factual accuracy (Murphy dubs Marwan Atta’s cousin!), but it does give a unique look at the reactions and actions of several key aviation sector personnel that have hitherto not been subjects of extensive coverage – including the crew of American 77. A former Member of The Job, Murphy doesn’t so much document as undergo the healing process as he attempts to find the keys to “moving forward”, which he claims is specifically different from “moving on”. By the end of the book, he learns 4 key lessons from his aviation friends-in-arms: Soldiering On, Making Connections, Taking Time, and Getting (as well as Giving) Support. I’ll leave readers to decide if this is yet another ‘the terrorists can try but can’t stop us from living our way of life’ mantra, but its message that the only way to defeat pure unadulterated evil is by trying to live lives that exude flashes of pure, unadulterated good does resonate strongly with me, especially as a Member of The Job.

Reflections on TD; term break begins

September 2, 2007

TD celebrations on 31 Aug was all right; not counting my huge embarassment prancing around on stage playing a pest for the amusement of others. I guess about the only saving grace I had was when I fell but people thought it was all part of an improvised acrobatic roll.  Go figure.  The BOG/BOD/BOT lunch treat at Peach Garden was good.  Seriously good.  It was so good that I couldn’t have dinner afterwards.  Then I started showing signs of the flu yesterday and it got to a point when I decided I had to skip the gathering at L’s place or I’d end up giving everyone a nice bout of illness at the start of the break.  Not a good thing, that. The fever and aches have started to come down quite a bit, and I hope it goes away soon.  Like tomorrow. I have quite a bit of things to do, even though it’s the break.

No TD reflection will be complete without my thoughts on the way my new workplace celebrates it. For one, we did not say The Pledge. For another, I was quite surprised at the unabashedly profuse amount of affection our charges had for us.  Once again, it was nice to have my preconceptions overturned.  I had assumed that, being young adults and all, our charges would maintain a detached and even aloof response on TD.  Imagine my surprise to see the common room besieged by flowers, chocolates, home-made gifts and other manifestations of their appreciation and affection.  And it was doubly nice that they remembered me too.  7A’s personal touch was well, touching, and 7D’s clever take on my apparent verbosity was not lost on me 🙂 6F made me realise once again why non-members of The Job will not get this whole fuss about TD; it’s about people –  the people who are nurtured whom we nurture and those who take on the awesome responsibility of nurturing them.