Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Tuesday, September 12, 2006  
So I've been working a couple of free lance gigs and a part-time job in addition to my regular job to support the Furry Creature's medical needs. I'm starting to feel a little sympathy for women who strip to pay for their children's medicine. No, "free lance gig" is not a wink wink nudge nudge euphemism for stripping or "dancing." I hate my free lance gigs. And I really hate my part time job. But as much as I hate those ridiculously low paying hardly worth my effort jobs, I hate my actual day job more. There are new lows in contempt and loathing regarding my job.

How could it get any worse? you ask. I asked that too. And then I was given answers. The Universe has a way of answering those kinds of questions. Swiftly.

For a long time I've been telling myself, "Trill, maybe it's not them, maybe it's you, so cool it. Chill. Deal. Cope. No job is perfect, keep trying to find another job and until then remind yourself it might be, and probably is, that your standards of professionalism and office conduct are different from theirs. Different outlooks, different goals, different motivations. You're tired, you're stressed, you've had a really horrible string of the worst things in life, you're lonely, you're worried, you're a lot of things that can cloud judgment and put you on edge so just keep reminding yourself it's not them, it's you, and you have to deal with your clouded vision of things and fit in with them. You can't expect, nor would you want them to change to fit your mood right now. Just roll with it, go with the flow, do your job the best you can, smile and be nice to people even when they annoy or provoke you and deal with the rest in a courteous manner. Respect and understanding, Trill, respect and understanding. Make sure the worst thing anyone can say about you is that you are professional." I know. How very zenny of me. Hey, I try to be enlightened.

And then, just when that fake smile pasted on my face was nearly permanently affixed, some other stuff happened which loosened the paste and turned that smile upside down and made me realize: It's not me, it's them.

They're ignorant, immature and unprofessional. Period.

There's a person in my office, an advertising specialist, who gets sucked into to every online and television marketing ploy there is. This person blindly and obediently looks on in wide eyed, sometimes teary eyed awe at "reality" television shows. They get caught up in media hype. Basically: If it's a marketing gimmick, this person buys into it. Okay, fine for anyone not actually in the business, what's a little media hype or marketing gimmick now and then? Harmless fun, right? Right. But. When you're in the business and have allegedly studied the business and profess to be a hot shot in the business, it's probably not a good thing to be openly suckered in by the business. Sure, have fun, maybe even respect the other guys for coming up with a good one, and play along because you're a good sport, sure, of course, but to continually get suckered in and believe and buy every marketing gimmick thrown at you, especially from of all people, FOX television, makes me think you don't really know your business and probably aren't savvy enough to be in the business in the first place. In the years I've worked with this person they have never, not once, had an idea at a brain storming session. Never, not once had an original or innovative or creative thought. This person is nice, this person knows a lot of people, this person is very popular and is very good at "networking" (read: blabbing on the phone and getting hammered at "work" events) But regarding the actual job description is lacking most of the skills and has yet to develop them. I'm all for giving people a chance to learn, for a lot of reasons, among them is that some of the best ideas come from outside an industry. But this person, while nice, and social, and popular, is very dull. Not particularly bright. Not exactly a think outside the box type of person. Not exactly thinking inside the box, either. Not stupid, but not bright. Just kind of dull. Which is fine in industries like accounting or medicine or data entry. In fact you probably don't want an accountant or doctor to be creative unless the idea of a tax audit or medical procedure gone wrong is exciting and innovative to you. But, in a field which prides itself on being creatively ingenious, there's not a lot of room for a dull personality. Or there shouldn't be. And yet, this person is thriving, somehow absolutely thriving by doing, well, nothing creative.

I'm not saying I'm a creative genius. I have off days, off weeks, I openly admit I've phoned in a few performances. Sometimes there's just no inspiration. But. On the other hand, even a few of those phoned in performances are based in solid, albeit tried and true, foundations and have resulted in enviable response data not to mention a few industry accolades. So yes, I am in a position to judge. I usually don't, but it would be from a position of knowledge that I could. And lately I've had cause to stand back and judge. Because I'm not thriving, in spite of the response data, in spite of the letters of heartfelt gratitude from clients, in spite of recognition from peers outside my company, I am not thriving. I wonder why, assume it's me, and take a look at the people in my company who are thriving. And what do I see? A naive and dull person who has yet to spit out one idea, good or bad. What the...?

It's all about playing the game. Which is difficult for me because I'm not a game player, and even if I decided to play the game I have no idea what the rules are or the goal or the strategy.

One day around 2:30 I realized there were only a few people in the office, turns out everyone in the department except five of us went to a big luncheon shindig. Three of us knew nothing about it and were not invited, the other two just didn't want to go. That's how we found out about it. I asked one of the others if he knew when someone was going to be back (thinking that someone was at a meeting, which, by the way, they were supposed to be attending but ditched for the luncheon, so now our department has no one representing us in the talks regarding potential changes to our benefits, but hey, no big deal, right?) Anyway, I asked one of the other four people in the office when someone was due back from the meeting and they said, "No, they're at lunch."

About that time our office weird potential maniacal homicide killer/child molester guy who's real quiet, too quiet, came over and said, "Where is everyone?"

The person I was originally talking to gave me a look. A conspiratorial "help me" look.

"I guess everyone's still at lunch."

"Not me!" cackled the office chain smoking woman on the edge of retirement (lame duck) as she walked in from her every half hourly smoke break.

And then, hearing the conversation, over came the office manipulator. "Everyone went to lunch at (expensive restaurant), it was just going to be (x group and y group) and then (senior manager) had all the unit managers turn it into a little Fall fling. Didn't you get the email?"

No. I didn't. Nor did Creepy Kevin or Smoking Sally. The person I originally asked and the manipulator opted not to go for two different reasons. One claimed to be way too busy to take time out from their job and the other didn't want to go because not everyone was invited.

Welcome back to junior high school. You'll be sitting by yourself at lunch, or if you choose, you can sit over there with the other dorks and losers and have torments and food hurled at you. Either way you'll never be accepted or invited to join the cool kids so deal with it. This is your place in life, you are the unwitting victim of office politics and popularity contests in which you will never be considered a potential contestant because the Universe has chosen you for a higher purpose: The unpopular one no one bothers to get to know because it's easier and more fun to exclude her or make fun of her. Every group needs someone to pick on so they can feel unified as a group and better about themselves. So. In life some people are the ones who are excluded or mocked. No matter what these people do to either mind their own business and ignore the others, or, attempt to fit in, once excluded from a group, always excluded. That's the rule of bully group dynamics.

So, it's me, Creepy Kevin and Smoking Sally (who's going to retire soon) at the uncool table. I used to pride myself on blending in, finding common ground with all types of people, not belonging to any particular group, not playing games and going out of my way to stay out of office politics.

The lesson I have finally, too late at this job, learned is that's the completely wrong attitude. The first day of a new job should be spent sorting out the office dynamics and ingratiating yourself to the most popular kids. No matter how sycophantic it seems, no matter whose back you stab, no matter how unprofessional and immature you have to be to get in with the popular group, do it. The members of this group may not appear to have any, or much, power based on their position on the org chart, but, they can make or break your status in the office far beyond your actual work performance. In fact, get in good with this group and no one will notice or care that your work is not up to par. No one will notice that you habitually send email to clients with glaring grammatical errors and stats that are just wrong. Why won't they care? Because you're in with the popular group, you're a team, you all kiss each others' arses and make each feel good about the sub-par work you do.

Why would anyone want to be a part of something like that? I have no idea. But. I do know that people in that group are getting promotions and merit effort awards for doing very little work and much of it mediocre at best. It's promotion baby, marketing. Being in with the in crowd is very good for a career.

Bitter? Jaded? Resentful? Paranoid?

Oh yes.

Wouldn't you be if you were purposely excluded from a department outing and left back in the office with the creepy guy and the chain smoking lame duck? Or had yet another record breaking response to one of your designs go unnoticed by your coworkers while the dullest person on the planet gets a merit memo for passing out drunk at a client's event?

I don't care why or how I hit this new low, it doesn't matter now. It's beyond repair and I don't care anyway. Would I really have wanted to go to that lunch had I been invited? No. Would I really want to be given credit for doing nothing? No. Am I hurt? Yes. Badly. I have put a lot of myself into that job. Not so much for the company or even for myself, but for the people who pay us to do our job, our clients. I feel responsible to them. And for the most part they notice and appreciate my effots, which is great, you know, that's nice. But I don't share office space with them, I don't cowork with them, they're not my boss, they're not the ones who affect my attitude on a daily basis, 8-10 hours a day (at least), 5 days a week (at least). They come and go. But coworkers are always there. And the fact that none of my coworkers apparently recognizes (or cares) about the efforts and the huge chunks of myself and my life I've given in that effort, to the point that they deliberately exclude me from a department "fun" event, hurts. A lot.

It's my problem, all right. And the only way to fix it is to leave. Things are very bad financially for me. Really bad. Scary bad. I'm working three extra jobs for swut sake, obviously things are bad. So just walking out the door and hoping to find something in the next few weeks is not an option. It's what I should do, for myself and for the company. I know my boss would be absolutely thrilled if I just quit. I know it's long past time to leave. I have been trying, I have been applying everywhere and going on interviews, but so far, no solid offer, at least not a reasonable one, one with a salary which will pay the rent.

Sure, I'd love to advance my career, move up to the next level, kick it up a notch or two. But that's not happening. I'm in this sort of weird place in my career where I have to really sell myself hard to be considered for upper level jobs, and explain away doubt for why I would want a job at my current level to hiring managers. Story of my life: Too something. Too much, too little. Too nice. Too intimidating. Too creative. Too boring. Too old. Too young. Too something but never enough.

I even applied for a lower level job at my company, a job which sounded interesting to me, but get this: The HR guy wouldn't "let" me apply because it was below my current level and they frown upon demotions, even voluntary ones. "But I really think I would like that job!" I exclaimed.

"It's not appropriate for someone with your experience and qualifications. You'll thank me for this. You don't really want to demote yourself. Have a nice day," he said as he motioned to the door.

Yes. I'm being held up by The Man.

Except in this exalted and esteemed position I get excluded from a department fun event, get zero recognition while people do nothing and get praise heaped on them, can't pay rent and take care of my cat, so I have to work three extra jobs. Oh yeah, you wouldn't want to give up that high life of luxury and power.

I'm sharing this with the class so someone can learn from another of my mistakes. Play the game, get in good with the popular kids, embrace your inner sycophant (if you don't have one, get one) and eschew everything you know about integrity. All those pretty words like integrity and character and professionalism will never pay the rent or buy the sick kitty his pills. Idealism is a lofty concept hippies and losers hide behind because they're not in with the popular kids. Spiritual leaders and extremely wealthy people can afford to hide behind ideals. Greeting card poets and kindergarten teachers need idealism. But for the rest of us who have to go to an office and work with other people and deal with society in general idealism is a slow death. Sure, it's a safe place to hide. Who can fault idealism? The problem is that it's not realism. The world, other people, offices, coworkers, are not ideal. Trying to change that is less than ideal behavior - an idealist would accept the fact that trying to change people is not ideal. Reality is that idealism is a cozy place to hide from the harsh reality of the world but a bad place to hide if you want to get something other than smug satisfaction of being ideal out of life. People do mean things to better themselves and fulfill their personal agendas. That's reality. Ignoring that reality, denying that it exists or thinking it will change is the kiss of professional death.

8:23 PM

Sunday, September 10, 2006  
I hate 9/11. For a lot of reasons. Obvious reasons. Terrorism. Death. Hatred. Politics. "Conflicts."

I have nothing profound or wise or new to say about it.

It's horrible, it stinks, it makes us realize how vulnerable we are as individuals and as a country. The subsequent years have been rough for everyone. "One nation, under George, confused, with vulnerability and ambiguity for all."

I was surprised by the attacks. But not because it was an attack on America.

Maybe it's my Cold War youth, maybe it's my cynical nature, maybe it's my experiences abroad, maybe it's common sense, maybe I am a conspiracy theorist at heart, but, I never felt America was safe from war or attack. I never felt America was impenetrable. I felt more "safe" here than some other places in the world, but, I was never smug or confident that "nothing bad would happen here." Probably because a lot of bad stuff happens within American borders. If we can't solve serious crime problems within our country how can we expect to be protected from attacks from outside our country?

I always assumed another country would see huge problems America has amongst its own and devise an attack through one of those factions - gangs, racists, power brokers... I always envisioned an Arms Trade type of situation, North Korea supplying guns or nuclear arms to attention starved gang leaders in the inner cities, for instance, with the promise of supporting them when they overthrew their rivals and eventually the government.

Or Canada. I mean, you know, there's only so much abuse one country can take, get the French on board and the next thing you know America is under siege from their neighbors to the North. Terrorist coup by beer, cheese and Cuban cigars.

So yes, while I was surprised by the success of the multi-pronged attack, I wasn't surprised that a) Other countries hate the US to a terrorist degree, b) people, groups, have been plotting against America, c) someone was able to pull off a successful attack on American soil.

Not that I'm standing around, hands on hips saying, "I told you so. What did you expect?!"

But.

What did you expect?

No. I'm not saying all the innocent victims deserved to die. Of course not. Seriously, I'm not saying that.

However.

This brings up the whole lack of unifying cultural identity issue. Most of the victims of 9/11 probably had no idea who Osama Bin Laden is. They probably had no idea why there is such strong hatred of America throughout the world. Many of them probably had no idea there is hatred of America throughout the world.

Why this naïveté? One theory: Because we have no idea of what it means to be American. Ask any American what it means to be American and they'll start talking about freedom. A few might bring up the Constitution. Some might allude to democracy. But it will come back to freedom to do whatever they want to do. It's all about individual and personal freedoms. Which is great. I enjoy many of those freedoms myself.

But.

We're so busy being free to be our unique selves that there's no unifying American culture. A few symbols, a flag, an eagle, some monuments, but those symbols have as many meanings as there are people who look at them. Americans are selfish. It's a Constitutional right. We are given the right to pursue our personal life, personal idea of liberty and personal version of happiness. Even where the Constitution and laws are concerned there's a right to challenge them to suit individual needs. Even laws do not unify America. Forget individual challenges, one of the things people from other countries find confusing and very odd about America is that laws vary from state to state. Even Federal laws are not necessarily upheld in certain states. Local authorities with blind eyes do not always uphold Federal laws. Daley shut down an airport in the middle of the night. This is against FAA regulations. But. He did it. Sure, it's a small private plane landing strip, but, nonetheless, there was flagrant disregard for, well, everyone, including the FAA and yet: Meigs Field never reopened and Daley remains the beloved mayor. The Constitution is very clear on Martial Law. But, um, well, oh never mind. God Bless America. Habeus corpus for everyone.

The point is, with even our leaders pressing for personal agendas there's a lot of room for vulnerability in defenses. One of the biggest surprises of 9/11 for me was now surprised people were that anyone would hate America, and Americans, that much. I'm stunned every time someone incredulously throws arms Heavenward and says in genuine surprise and confusion, "Why would anyone attack us?!"

Apparently Americans don't get out much.

I've never been able to pin down certain factual data on how many Americans have a passport, but, at best it's less than 25%. That's the most optimistic stat I've found. Most reports show a much lower percentage. So, not many Americans are traveling abroad. Which means apart from military personnel serving in other countries, college students spending junior year drinking their way across Europe, some business travelers who duck in and out of countries as if they're driving through a fast food drive-thru window, senior citizens on pre-planned tours through the "nice" parts of countries, and a few globally curious world travelers, Americans have no clue what it's like to be in another country let alone what people from other countries think of America...and Americans.

The non-passport holding, non-traveling population of American doesn't grasp the concept that there is not a distinction between individuals, that in other parts of the world Americans are simply: Americans. All lumped in together, labeled, branded and judged as: Americans. In America, Americans simply do not grasp that concept. It's unAmerican. It's all about individual rights and freedoms and how unique and special each and every one of us is. They're too busy pursuing individual freedoms and rights to notice that there's a whole world out there who doesn't give a toss about John P. Chevrolet's dogged pursuit of liberty to McDonalds because Big Macs led to a heart attack. Likewise, he was too busy defending his personal right to litigation that he apparently didn't notice that there are countries other than America, places where people die of starvation and diseases other than heart disease, and that the people of these countries resent Americans, in one fell swoop, simply because they're Americans. Americans who represent gluttony, narcissism, arrogance, violence and stupidity.

And yet, "Why would anyone want to attack America?"

Speaking of unique and special, I have a somewhat unique 9/11 situation. Something I don't talk about very often. Not because I'm ashamed, but because, well, it's difficult. And complicated.

I left the country on one of the first international flights to leave O'Hare after 9/11.

No, I wasn't fleeing.

Well. Not intentionally.

This was a trip I'd been planning for quite a while. Almost three weeks off work. A real vacation. To the UK to be with HWNMNBS.

Yep. We were still engaged, then. But, for me, 9/11 is inexorably entwined with the break-up. The break-up. The life changing event that began my downward plummet into depression and insanity. Isolation. Loneliness and despair. It all began with 9/11. Irony: Thy name is Trillian.

My family and friends didn't want me to continue with my plans. My parents were very worried about my safety. Some of my friends thought it was wrong of me to leave "at a time like this." I thought long and hard about continuing with the vacation plan. Could I really enjoy myself? Could I just merrily go on vacation, tra la la, when there was such chaos and, well, terror going on? Could I be so selfish as to cause my family and friends to worry about me just because I wanted to go on vacation and be with my fiancé? Gotta say, HWNMNBS was great about understanding. From the day of the attack through the few days that followed between the attack and when I was due to leave, he was incredible. Not that I expected (at that time) anything less, but, to me it was proof positive that this was the guy for me. I was proud of him for his response, his concern, his knowledge, his calm in a storm, his compassion and passion for the events and for me. I was proud of him and I was proud of us for weathering this storm so well together.

The morning I was to leave I still had no idea if I would actually go. I thought for sure the decision would be made for me. Very few flights were leaving at that point - only a few "integral" flights had got off the ground the day before, so I really didn't think my flight would leave. My dilemma to that point hadn't been if I would fly on my original flight, but if I would go at all, or at least in the next month.

But, true to my life in the Universe, my late evening flight was one of the first "okayed" to leave O'Hare. I stared incredulously at the phone when I called to find out how to reschedule or get repayment for my ticket. "Oh, no, ma'am, your flight is scheduled to leave this evening," the airline rep told me in a very weary voice, trying to add the usually perkiness to her tone but failing miserably.

"Oh. So. What does that mean? Do I have to go on the flight or lose the money or rescheduling rights?" I asked, dazed, confused, surprised.

"Normally yes, but given the circumstances we are allowing passengers to reschedule within a year, what do you want to do?" she wearily demanded.

"Oh. Um. Well. I dunno. I didn't think flights were leaving today, I didn't think I'd have to make this decision," I said, weakly.

"Well. You do. We're very busy, what do you want to do?" she said, again.

"Erm, well, I guess I'll go as planned. What happens if I change my mind later today?" I asked hopefully.

"Call us back. Allow yourself four hours at the airport, take three forms of ID and be prepared for intense security. Click." That was it.

I didn't have a suitcase out let alone packed.

Several phone calls to HWNMNBS, my parents and my BFF later, I was throwing random items in a suitcase. Everything after that is a surreally vivid slow motion yet dreamlike memory.

I took the train to O'Hare. It was eerily empty except for police with dogs in the station, on the platform and in every car. A rather menacing way to begin a merry holiday: An unmuzzled German Shepherd staring at my suitcase. I nearly turned around when I saw all that security, I wondered if it was a sign from the Universe: "What the swut are you thinking? Vacation? Now? Are you serious?" Once at O'Hare I had to show my ticket and ID to guards as I exited the train. The airport itself was also devoid of the usual crowds. I could actually hear the muzak. But I soon found out where everybody was: Check-in and security really did take four hours - and there were only a few flights scheduled to leave in the next 12 hours. My flight and one other were leaving from the International terminal.

Along with all the other confusion and chaos there was a television news crew clamoring for a story or soundbite from someone actually leaving, a brave flyer, an intrepid soul, someone with an interesting back-story as to why they chose to not only fly that day but also, leave the country.

Yes. The rest of us had to show valid plane tickets, three forms of ID, pass through metal detectors and deal with attack dogs ready to pounce just to get into O'Hare, yet somehow the media were able to get in and freely roam about harassing the first international travelers to leave O'Hare post 9/11. Is that really news? With all the news, real news events happening at that time, does the home viewing audience really care why anyone is getting on an airplane? Were they, we, so human interest starved that my reasons, or anyone's reasons, for getting on a plane so soon after 9/11 were interesting? Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down. The bubble headed bleach blonde can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. One of the reporters approached me as I left the ticket desk and wanted to know where I was going and why.

I gave her a dirty look.

She persisted.

I suddenly worried about all the security around the place and if it would look suspicious if I snubbed a reporter. So I said, "The UK. Long planned trip."

"And you're not going to let Bin Laden ruin your vacation?" she eagerly asked me.

"Well. Not so much that, I haven't seen my fiancé for a while and we've been planning this trip and..."

"Ooooooooh, you're going to visit your fiancé?! (camera guy tried to zoom in on my engagement ring but couldn't get a good angle) You feel a need to be with him, to comfort you now?" she said as a question/statement of alleged fact so I wasn't sure if, or how, I should respond.

"Yes, it will be great to see him..." I said. And she left because there was a senior citizen couple having trouble in security and that was a much better "story."

I don't know if it ever aired on actual TV, but if it did I'm sure the home viewing audience got a good laugh at my annoyed yet dazed look and "eh, Bin Laden schmaden, it's all about me and my needs" attitude.

The flight went okay. Quiet. Very, very, very quiet. Surprisingly full - not capacity full, but more than half full. Mainly Europeans who'd been stuck in America since the 9/11 attack who were anxious to get home.

When anyone says 9/11 the one thing that comes to mind immediately after the initial attack footage is walking off the jetway into the gate at Heathrow to both smiles and suspicious looks from a few airline and security people. And Heathrow customs. If you don't Heathrow customs here's an analogy: Hockey arena. Every time I go into Heathrow customs I feel like I'm on the ice at a hockey arena. Huge. Cavernous. Weirdly lit. I vividly remember all the security people there that day. I could still pick out any one of them in a line-up. And how we were almost individually escorted through the winding stable usually chock full of travelers. More muzak echoing through the vast empty space.

And: Never in my life have I been so happy to see anyone as I was to see HWNMNBS standing outside the customs door.

These visuals come to mind like a rapid speed slide presentation. Sitting in my office, having got in extra early to get work done in preparation for vacation and already several emails send a few calls made. My sister calling panic stricken telling me to get out of my office and "somewhere safe away from buildings" and to call our parents because they're worried sick and can't get in touch with me. Me, confused. A woman down the hall screaming. Literally shreeking in terror. Someone running down the hall. Me running to see if she's okay. The woman frozen in her chair, whiter than white and shaking. There, on her monitor, the video of the second tower being hit. A security announcement over the building PA. Me running back to my office and calling my parents. My mother begging me to leave the office. My friend calling me on another line telling me they were going to hit the Sears Tower. Calling HWNMNBS and leaving him a voice mail. Remembering he was out of town on business. People arriving at work who hadn't heard The News. People running. People confused. The long, long, long walk down the building stairs. The bright, bright harsh early Fall Sun seeming eery and wrong. Walking, calmly, in complete silence, with thousands of other people along the Lakefront path, heading away, just: Away. Noticing the shadow of the Hancock Tower. Being relieved to be out of the shadow of the Hancock Tower. Figher jets whizzing across the Lake. Walking home. Seeing a drug deal going on in the park. (Hey, life goes on.) More fighter jets flying scarily low. Furry Creature. My parents on the phone. Turning on the televsion. Seeing the Pentagon attack. My mother saying over and over, "The Pentagon? The Pentagon?" Calling HWNMNBS again, and sending him a voice mail. Calls and email coming in from friends and family all over the world. And then: Nothing. The screen goes blank for about five hours. Everything was just blank, black and empty. Until the phone rang and I heard HWNMNBS' voice.

Then, more rapid fire slides of the next few days. The whole thing is all lumped together, like a PowerPointless presentation with no pause control. I can't think of one of those moments without thinking of all of them. At the same time. It makes my head hurt. Sometimes I try to slow it down, remember each of them individually. But, like the pace of those days, it's fast and all at once. There is no slowing it down. Yet the detail, every detail is ultra-vivid. I remember not just what I was wearing, but the way the fabric looked as I descended the stairs to leave the building. The exact color of the sky was PMS 279. Furry Creature had turkey feast for lunch...

HWNMNBS was never big on public affection, at least not at airports. Which is cool, me either. I hate airports and the last place I want to be affectionate is in front of the swarming, teaming, annoying travel masses at airports. But. The hug I got upon that arrival will go down as the most heartfelt physical response to emotion I've ever experienced. He was truly happy to see me, fully, completely happy to see me. Funny, I didn't think I was particularly stressed or anxious about the flight, my assumption was that it was a very safe time to fly. But. The enormous sense of relief and comfort I felt in that embrace made me realize I wasn't quite as tough and blasé as I thought I was. To feel that sort of relief clearly I'd been carrying around a lot of anxiety. And weirder still, for me, was that I felt safe. I knew I wasn't any more safe with HWNMNBS than without, let's face it, he's super terrific but he's not exactly a match for terrorist plots. And I have never harbored needs to feel protected or safe, particularly at that point in my life. But, right then, that moment, that hug, in his arms, I felt supremely relieved and safe. I felt loved and that gives people funny senses of security and invincibility. Boy was I wrong.

Had I known in a few weeks I'd never know that feeling again I would have clung to it a bit longer. Though as it was he had to nearly carry me to the car, I was exhausted from no sleep and completely melty from the joy of being with him. I remember stopping at a roadside restaurant for a quick bite to eat and even the crap food tasted good. When we got home I slept for a few hours and to this day I remember that being the best, soundest sleep I've ever had in my life. Everything was ultra vivid and ultra good.

We spent a week in Scotland. It was after the peak tourist season so things are quiet up there anyway. But things were really quiet. Which was good. I felt so removed and distanced from everything that was going on in America, and, oddly, for me who's usually on top of world events, it felt good to be away and apart from it. When people found out I was visiting from America they were mostly sympathetic. But I also got some, "Well, you had it coming" remarks. Not in a "serves you right" way, but in a, "I mean, it's a shame but let's be realistic" way. This is why Americans need more exposure to world opinion. This is why Americans need to put aside their individual needs now and then and think of the bigger picture, the bigger world, and their place, as an American, in that world.

The fact that a random sheep farmer bloke in the farthest regions of Scotland knows more about world events and world opinion of America than many Americans should be a sobering lesson.

For the most part we had (I thought) a very nice, quiet holiday, away from it all and apart from the madness in the world. It felt good to me. But that was a false sense of security.

A few weeks later I returned home (another long travel ordeal, my airline, Virgin, abruptly discontinued service to Chicago, and even though Virgin, being Virgin, had gone out of their way to accommodate me by having several alternate flight plans arranged for me and gave me several generous vouchers for food, merchandise and services at Heathrow, I suffered an incredible amount of hassle at the airport, on the flight and once I returned to O'Hare) A few weeks after that HWNMNBS ended our engagement and our life together.

I was stunned senseless. I don't remember much about the next months. Fortunately other people were walking around shell shocked from 9/11 so I kind of blended in.

Turns out I was as deluded about HWNMNBS as many Americans were about terrorism. I trusted him, I had faith in him, I didn't think he would hurt me. I was wrong. What I wanted or believed in was insignificant and inconsequential. Everything I knew and trusted was taken away from me. Just as many Americans had a life changing epiphany about the world around them, I had a life changing epiphany about love. You never know what you don't know and ignorance is bliss but ignorance is never a valid excuse, so learn everything.

Other people rushed to get married and have babies after 9/11. People re-evaluated their lives and wanted "something more." For a few months people valued relationships more. People were nicer, or at least people who were usually nice were even nicer. People were afraid and feeling needy. I'm not sure these are good reasons to get married, and I've never understood why having a baby after a terrorist attack seemed like a good idea to anyone, but, hey, five years later there are a lot of married couples with pre-schoolers running around with names like Liberty, Justice, Rudy and George.

Me? I got rejected and dumped. It may be that 9/11 prompted HWNMNBS to think, "life is fleeting and I'm not going to spend it with someone who looks like her", but I don't 9/11 is to blame. I don't think HWNMNBS dumped me as a result of 9/11, I don't think the contemplation and life evaluation so many people experienced post-9/11 affected him that way. I think he just didn't want me. Period. I can't blame Osama for that. But. Unfortunately for me, the timing was, as usual, ironically bad.

Because every year when the "Never Forget" campaigns start rolling there is a double meaning for me.

No, I will never forget the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And I have difficulty believing anyone alive on that day ever will. The date dredges up a lot of emotions and insecurities for everyone. Visuals embossed on our brains. Stories of terrorism, shock and lives lost. My personal loss is nothing compared to what victims of 9/11 and their families have endured. That always puts things in perspective for me. "So I got dumped? Big deal. Those people died. Their families lost a loved one. I just got dumped. I have my life, HWNMNBS has his. Life went on for us, apart, but not dead, not injured, not really directly affected by 9/11 at all apart from some travel inconveniences." But unfortunately on a personal level, "Never Forget" reminds me not only of what happened and the victims of the attack, but also reminds me of HWNMNBS, how happy I was to be with him, how we were going to embark on our life together and how abruptly that changed. All the visuals of 9/11 are symbolic for me in all the sad and patriotic ways, but also in personal metaphoric ways. No matter how hard I try, and how well I succeed at forgetting HWNMBNS and putting him behind me, every year, for the rest of my life, I will be forced to remember. There's no way for me to separate him from 9/11. He's woven into the fabric of that day and the days following.

I assume other people have the same sort of thing - events before and after 9/11 woven into their memories of 9/11. Which is one reason why I find the whole, "Never Forget" campaign a bit, well, annoying. I mean, who's going to forget? How can we? Even the unpolitical, most disaffected among us gets a knot in our stomach when we here 9/11 or when we see the date on a calendar. Never forget? Huh? C'mon, give us a little credit. It's insulting and disrespectful to force this down our collective and individual consciouses when for most of us 9/11, the attack, the subsequent "conflicts," Homeland Security... affects us on some level nearly every day.

People avoid that date for weddings and dread the birth of a child on that date. A woman at work had a baby last year, September 12. Why do I remember this child's birthday, and probably always will? Because as September 11 drew nearer and she was close to delivering she was panicked that her child would be born on September 11. When the announcement came via email on September 12 there was a sigh of relief throughout the office, "Thank God, he wasn't born on the 11th," was the first thing everyone said about the kid.

And yet, "Never forget?"

10:02 AM

 
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