Sometimes memes are so ridiculous, but then there is that one that hits you right between the eyes. My neighbor posted it this morning, a day after the Supreme Court decided presidential immunity from criminal activity was a good idea. The post said:

“Remember that feeling you got when the second plane hit the Twin Towers and you realized what was going on? You should have that same feeling again right now.”

I did. I do.

And for an even more specific refresher, I went back to my memoir, Alive in the Sunshine, and reread Chapter 2: The Towers Fall. Here’s my account of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — on my commute to Chelsea Market — as I emerged from the Christopher Street PATH station in the West Village:

     I start my walk north on Hudson. The children going to school and the people walking their dogs make this a nice atmosphere to be in every day. I start to notice people gathering on the opposite side of the street and then clusters of folks looking and pointing south.

     I turn and look downtown, but the tree-lined street has little visibility from that side. Curiosity gets the best of me and I cross to see what is happening. Smoke is pouring out of one of the World Trade Center towers. It looks serious and everyone is aghast. I continue walking north, but turn every block or so to look. I’m surprisingly not overly alarmed. This is New York. Smoke happens.

     A cab is stopped by the curb and the driver has his doors open, his radio blaring as he watches the smoke. He tells the small crowd gathered around that a plane has flown into the building. I can’t imagine what this would be like for the people sitting there having their coffee and doing their work. A plane coming through the window? Before I can even process the vision, the other tower explodes in flame.

     “Oh my God, oh my God!”

     “Shit. Fuck.”


     I don’t even know which of those reactions is coming from me. I reach for my cell phone, frustrated when I can’t get a signal. Everyone around me is saying “terrorism.” I keep walking, trying my phone and manage to get through to my parents’ house in the Central Jersey suburbs, but there’s no answer. When I reach Oxygen [Media] I call my sister to let her know where I am. We talk about the fact that the Pentagon has been hit. Then as my co-workers and I frantically run around trying to figure out how to get home there is a collective gasp. One of the towers is collapsing right there on the television screen. The other quickly follows and the atmosphere in the office turns from frantic to fatally somber.

It’s all there, right? In the space of an hour and a half, I went from enjoying people walking their kids to school to full-blown terrorism at my doorstep.

That day opened the door to a whole new reality and I’ve spent a good part of my adulthood trying to mourn it, move on from it, and extract its lessons. I ultimately made my life better and sought out more meaningful options because of it.

Now here I am, with all of you, in that formative fear stage of this crisis. You know those videos that randomly come up in your social media feed where a bus crawls along a tiny road on a cliff somewhere in Asia and there’s no guardrail? And you hold your breath because, man, you’re sure that thing is going over? But then it doesn’t, even when the driver makes an excruciatingly methodical K-turn, and you let out a sigh of relief?

The United States of America is the bus, people. We’re in K-turn mode. How are we going to steer this thing to safety?

I think it’s obvious I’m going to be writing about this a lot more. It’s a calling at this point. I’m still working on a plan of action (and I welcome suggestions, by the way), but there are some things already screaming in my head.

I’m done with being polite. I know that made some of you spit out your coffee because you’re wondering when I was ever polite, but I am going to get more vocal to make sure those who don’t pay attention to current events are up to speed. I feel strongly that the apolitical among us need to get informed about what’s at stake. I am particularly drawn to the 18-30-ish age group on this.

In situations where I can stomach it, I can imagine engaging Trump supporters, particularly the flag-waving Christians, and drill down on how they concluded that God sent the Supreme Court to grease the way for a dictatorship in the U.S. I’d really like to know.

One note worth reviewing – the reason it was so easy for Trump to sell his followers on the Big Lie of 2020 was their media narrative. They were astounded he lost because they were being told day after day on right-wing media that he was a shoo-in, that they were in the majority, and that Biden was wildly unpopular.

They were never enlightened that many of us were so scared of another Trump term that we came out in droves to campaign. For the first time in my life, I got on a Zoom training to learn how to phone bank. I wrote Biden-Harris postcards to Michigan and Pennsylvania until my hand cramped. So did many other newbies. That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised when Biden got more than 81 million votes, but MAGA was in disbelief.

Now we’re here — “Today’s decision destroyed the principle on which this nation was founded, that all people in the United States of America should be equal before the law,” wrote historian Heather Cox Richardson.

Our best counter is to not just get back to work, but to double down, triple down even, on making sure our fellow citizens are fully informed. We outnumber the bad guys already. We need to take those numbers to another dimension.

Jump in. Get dirty.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to keep living under a cloud of dread.

[Editorial Note: This is my 24th installment in a series I began in order to give my writing some flow after being in a healing phase from knee surgeries for a year (2023-24).]