First Responders, 9/11

Self was in New York just this past fall.

For some reason, she remembered an article she read in Salon, only days after 9/11. It was a first-person piece written by a student at Juilliard who, as soon as he got the news, grabbed his violin and headed downtown.

The Armory was where the injured were taken, and that’s where the music student decided to play. He played, Salon said, “the concert of his life.”

He played until his fingers bled. The weary and bedraggled survivors, the firemen, everyone listening at the Armory were in tears.

When he could no longer play, another student came and took his place.

So, in New York, this past fall, after a very determined internet search, self found the identity of the young man: William Harvey.

Did you know that self wrote her very own 9/11 story? It was very short. LitnImage published it. It was called “Wavering.”

LitnImage no longer exists. The link she posted a while back came back “broken.”

In her story, a businessman was late getting to work because his wife found out he was having an office affair and they fought.

In self’s story, the businessman arrives too late. His lover is up there in one of the towers, and he can’t get to her. And something in him dies, too. Even though he stays married. And all the wife reaps is bitterness.

Recently, Congress passed a law according medical care to the first responders of 9/11. She thinks she heard a figure like, roughly 4,000 first responders developed cancer. (If you add that figure to the number who were killed in the collapse of the towers, the number of 9/11 victims actually doubles and becomes close to 10,000)

On TV a few days ago, on a show about a medium, a wife tells the story of how her husband, a fireman, went straight to the World Trade Center and stayed there for days. When the TV show began, self was expecting to hear that the woman’s husband died during the collapse. But no. It turns out he lived for several years after, but he got cancer.

And self wondered: why did it take 14 years for Congress to pass a bill according these men medical care?

Self wrote another 9/11 piece called “The Walker.” Would you believe, the Yale Review wrote her about it? It was rejected, but just barely. She still has the story in her files. She hasn’t sent it out since.

Roughly, it’s about an insomniac who roams his neighborhood at 3 a.m., whose Filipino neighbor has a counter on his front lawn, counting the days after 9/11: Day 1, Day 2, and so forth.

So the man roams his neighborhood and is struck by the fact that the counter has been put away. It was the day after Osama bin Laden was killed.

When 9/11 happened, self was a visiting instructor at Santa Clara. When she asked the students to write about 9/11, they said “It’s such a cliché.” And six of those students went to the Department Chair and complained about her.

Seriously?

Why wouldn’t you write about 9/11? Especially since it just happened. Self was barely hanging on, it felt like such a travesty to tell the students to do craft-y exercises like construct/de-construct or do meta-fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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