Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On this day in history...

Following suit from a number of other bloggers out there who I read regularly I thought I would write about what this day means to me.

Many people felt emotionally changed by 9-11, remember the sharp decrease in violent crime shortly after 9-11? It hit everyone, even the criminals. Too bad it didn't stick. 9-11 struck me emotionally as well, though I have always felt as though it didn't hit me immediately as hard as many others. It hit me after the fact.

I had gotten up and taken my dog out for our morning run. AB had already left for work and I was being lazy since all I was going to do that day was go in and sit at my desk and write my dissertation. It seemed quiet that day outside. In fact, I remember not seeing hardly anyone. As we walked back to the apartment huffing and puffing I remember a man looking at me like I was the strangest thing he had seen. Looking back I wonder if he thought he should stop me and tell me that thousands of people had just died while I was out for my morning run?

I turned on the TV and plopped on the floor to do my sit ups and push ups and saw Matt and Katie sitting in front of a screen of black smoke. It was nearly five minutes before I got the story. I sat and watched, glued to the screen. Finally, after at least an hour or more, I got up and headed into the lab still stunned.

I don't remember crying. I was in shock. I was angry. Incredibly angry that citizens, people and families seeking to exist peacefully were attacked. The towers were not a military installation, the people inside were not soldiers. Though it isn't just okay to strike a military base, it seemed that would have been easier to understand, a military attack, not an attack on unarmed civilians. How could they attack families? Everyone who died was someone's child. There were moms, dads, and grandparents. Pure evil was my characterization of whoever had done this.

Days after the attacks I held within me a desire I had never felt before. To avenge those who had died. I had never had a violent bone in my body, but if someone had put a weapon in my hand and pointed me to those who had done this I would have gone at them with a vengeance. I had never felt that anger I harbored in my soul before in my life.

Pre-attack I had job leads in the semiconductor industry and hoped to make computer chips for a living. Things at that time were starting to slow in Silicon Valley, but the attacks caused the industry to plummet. Suddenly my job prospects were next to nill and a fire was lit in my heart to protect the world. I searched for positions in national security and since I was an American soon to have a Ph.D., I was in demand.

I interviewed at the first place that offered me an opportunity. It was different from any interview I had ever had before. I was trying to sell myself, while they were trying to sell me I saw later on. The interview ended with the statement that, "if you want to come and work on these projects, let us know, we could use you tomorrow". I said I did and the next thing I knew, I was here.

So for me, 9-11 didn't just change my outlook on life. It changed my life in how I define who I am. I am fighting with the best weapon I have, my brain.

(I may just have convinced myself not to jump into the world of computer chips for profit...)

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