Category Archives: September 11th

Another Marker…10 Years ago this week my first play was produced!

10 years ago this week my first play was produced in NYC. The play was aptly titled “The Miracle.” It was about a young man who had lived with a false HIV test for three years. He discovers the test was wrong, but it doesn’t really change his life or his choices.

Because I didn’t know anyone in New York City yet, I was also the play’s director and cast all my friends in the parts. The play happened right after Sept 11th and it was such a scary time.  I was totally afraid to put on a play during such darkness, but there was light in this play and with these people. Plus, I was urged to continue. The play brought levity to a dark situation, so I learned that theater, my theater could heal the heart. I could make people laugh.

My roommate Gabe was our co-director and lighting designer. My other best friends were my actors. Somehow we filled those seats for every single performance. I remember sitting in the full audience feeling the energy and hearing the laughter. There’s nothing quite like it, hearing your own words being interpreted by actors. I felt so inspired…like if I can do this, I can do anything. You can’t go too far without good friends in this life. I love all my friends who helped with that production and I certainly haven’t  forgotten how much fun we all had. In December my 50th production/and or reading/public performance of my work will be produced in New York City since that crazy show back in 2001. Follow this link for updates. My play He Says His Name Is John, a one-act I wrote while commuting to my job in White Plains in 2007 is getting a small production at The Looking Glass Theatre’s Winter Forum. I wrote this play when I was working for Starwood Hotels and I took the train to work everyday. The only free time I had back then was during my train commute. I wrote this play in the first few months of the job. By the end of two years I wasn’t writing so much, I had been corprotized.

September 11th. Where We are 10 Years Later.

We are approaching the ten-year reunion of 9/11 which brings back so many painful memories for so many Americans, including me. I was in NYC for 9/11. I had lived here for a just over a year at that point. The summer before 9/11 had been one of the best in my life. Back then, I lived in a tiny east village apartment on 6th and A with my friend Gabe and all we did was party, party, party.  I took a bus to the West Village that morning because I wanted to use the computer at my then boyfriend’s place. He lived on 10th street, just west of 7th Ave. Just before leaving the apartment,  I happened to hear that a plane had crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center. Therefore, I was the only one on that #8 bus who knew something bad was up. While everyone else was looking down, reading their books, I was looking up and saw smoke, people standing on their roofs. It was an eerie ride. When the bus let us out on Christopher and 10th at 9AM our lives would be forever changed. Here’s the article that I wrote about that day, still published in Friction Magazine which is still so poignant in my mind.

Where are we 10 years later? I married that boyfriend who lived on 10th street a few years later. We now have a toddler and another baby girl on the way. We still live in NYC. After 8 years of living in the West Village, in an apartment we inherited from a couple “who were too afraid to stay in the city after 9/11”, we moved to Battery Park City, a stone’s throw from where the Towers once stood. We live in a fancy “green” building with recycled central air and triple filtered water. 10 years ago I couldn’t even go down here because it reminded me of 9/11 and it felt dark and uninhabitable, like some sort of war zone. Now I live across the street from the buzz of the new “Freedom Tower.”

Because I’m so close to it all, I don’t think about it so much anymore. That is, until today. I watched a special on the show Sunday Morning. It talked about the strength of the new building. A 747 full of fuel could fly into it and it would survive.  The program also focused on the stories of the victim’s families. So many people lost someone that day. Just like all the other New Yorkers, I remember seeing the images of the “lost” all over the city and one image in particular is still vivid in my mind. It was of a man with white hair and a beard. He looked like Santa. He could have been someone’s dad, someone’s grandpa, someone’s husband. Maybe he was someone’s everything. His photo was plastered everywhere. I must have seen him 100 times in different places. For some reason it was his story, a story I made up that had me so sad. His story was the story of so many.

I can remember wanting to help, but feeling helpless. I can remember that I couldn’t stop crying. When I’d try to stop the tears welled up and I cried even harder. Days turned into nights, then weeks of this. Nothing but shock, tears and fear. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who died.  My roommate Gabe was supposed to be there that day but decided not to go to work. He was lucky, so many were not.

Back then I was afraid to travel, afraid to still live in New York, afraid I’d never get over the shock and horror of watching it happen right before my eyes. But like so many, I’ve moved on. I had my first play produced a month after September 11th, and became a graduate student in playwriting at a NYC university the next fall. Did the experience influence me? My writing? Yes. I think, for me anyway, the party kind of ended on 9/11. That summer of debauchery was over. Suddenly, on 9/12/01 the reality of what I was in New York to do became clear and present. I wasn’t 100% sure of myself before 9/11, after 9.11 I had to be.

I feel there is an analogy between the Internet business and 9/11. The Internet business was so frivolous and new before 9/11. It was one big party with money being thrown around for and at anything with a dotcom sounding name in the title. No one really knew what was happening or what they were doing. I was part of this world. I worked for a few of these companies. It was how I made my way to New York City from San Francisco in the first place. Just like New York in 2001, there were a lot of vapid Internet parties, and yes, they were related and intertwined. The Internet business changed after 9/11 and by 2003 it had officially become something new and better. It was no longer vapid and full of cheap frills. Finally business owners figured out how to make money by using the web. Web 2.0 it would be called.  New York might as well be called “New York post 9.11” or “New York 2.0.” The new New York was not nearly as hard and edgy as she once was, but the people making up her dreams are and will be (Paris Hilton aside).

One last good one: Bullets, Bums and Barack

Hope. Now I have it.  I’m so excited to see what Barack Obama is going to do with his presidency!  I feel proud for the first time that I am an American; that I had the chance to vote, to make a difference.
My interview project is nearly complete.   From September 17th – November 4th, I attempted to interview one person a day as an exercise to keep me writing.  The result is pretty amazing.  It’s a journal of New York City as we prepared to elect the first Black president.   On September 17th, the day after I arrived  in New York after spending two weeks in California, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the city in the fall.  It was as if someone had put V-juice in my coffee.  Or, I was in love again with New York.  The trees, the air, the people…everything was cracking with change.

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Look Up! Monday’s New York Interview

Monday, September 29, 2008
Okay, I’m getting serious about my daily interviews.  Now I want my camera, note pad and I’m thinking I want to bring a tape recorder too.  The things people do and say are so beautiful.  I’m finding that people truly light up when I stop to talk to them.
The day started kind of so-so.  I went to my café on Jane Street and it was packed, so I went to swim, but the pool was too crowded too (I have this thing where I really need a lane of my own or I won’t swim).  Finally I ended up eating a sandwich and opening my computer for all of five minutes at Doma, a little writer’s café on the corner of Perry Waverly and Seventh. Out of the window, beyond the Jade plants I see colors, streams of gorgeous blues and reds on a canvas. Next I’m outside taking pictures and asking questions.  The man with three brushes in his hand, who didn’t have a website or business card, but would like to sell his painting is John.  John lit up when I asked him about his painting and it made my day too.  Today John changed the way I saw the world. I looked up.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at New York the same way again.


Who:  John Van Ren
Where: Perry and 7th Avenue
Occupation: Painter
To me the corner of Perry and 7th is an intersection, but apparently to this painter it’s magnificent.  Oddly enough it’s right here on this corner that I watched Tower One crumble to the ground 7 years ago.  It was all death and horror on that day and not something I’ll ever forget, but today I’m finding life and re-birth, despite the economic crisis.

“Look up!” John tells me when I have walked over with my camera asking about his painting.
“Why this corner?” I ask.
“It’s the volume I think,” he says with intensity.
“Do you see how complex those buildings are?”
I don’t see it as he does, but I’m starting to.  There’s beauty in this city, it’s just a matter of where you find it.
“Do you see that little red door, the way it just pops out?” 
I look up and to the right and I see it – a building, then another and one that is red and a little door jets out of the top. I never would have looked and thought about the city the way he is right now if he hadn’t pointed it out to me.  So, I’m thankful, very thankful.
I spent the rest of the day feeling a surge of love for this city that I haven’t felt for a long, long time.  Dark clouds began to engulf the west village and as the light faded, I snapped some shots.  Enjoy.