Going offline for 10 days – Parting thoughts

I am on my third around the world adventure! Not sure where I got my love of travel but I suspect being an Army brat and a 30-year consultant has a lot to do with it. This trip has been amazing, as those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook have seen.

Before I head to the Solomon Islands today and completely disconnect from the internet, I have to express the cognitive dissonance I’m feeling about being in paradise  (a.k.a Fiji) on the eve of a day that broke my heart twice.

That blue sky.

That blue sky.

Heartbreak number one is, of course, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which I witnessed and experienced first hand. I’ve sat in my living room every single 9/11 since 2002 to hear the names of the victims, honor their lives and weep aloud along with the readers whose mourning is as fresh as it was on that day. I won’t do that this year and I somehow feel I am abandoning the souls who I know are still around

my neighborhood. How angry and sad they all must be, taken in the prime of their lives. I will miss seeing the Towers of Light and having dinner with my dearest friend Ann Marie, a tradition we started about 10 years ago.

Dads graveHeartbreak number two is saying goodbye to my Dad back on September 11, 2012. He was stolen from us by the horrid disease, Alzheimer’s. I was walking home after a stroll in the neighborhood as I always do after the 9/11 memorial service when Deb called to say he’d gone peacefully. This moment only reinforces September 11th as day forever marked by sadness. On that day I boarded an airplane for the first time in 11 years (and probably the last). You see, I don’t work or fly on 9/11, ever. Except on the day my Dad died.

So, here I am half way  around the world, so far removed from the sadness and my loved ones, feeling so very grateful for my life and remembering to not squander a moment of it by being unkind or selfish.

I am grateful for the things I’ve seen and done on this trip:

  • Heard the bells of Notre Dame ring on beautiful summer day in Paris
  • Visited my dear friend Philippe, a former colleague who as a big part of my success
  • Enjoyed five-star service as La Mamounia in Marrakech with daily spa appointments
  • Toured Marrakech and picked out a beautiful Berber rug for my home
  • Drove to the desert and hiked through a Berber village
  • Drove the Garden Route in Western Cape, South Africa where I breathed some of Earth’s freshest air
  • Got up close and personal with a massive great white shark
  • Petted and fed the Elephants
  • Saw the Big Five on a game drive
  • Spent the night in a luxury tent listening to rain pound the canvas
  • Slept in the tree tops at the Tsala lodge
  • Visited a few South African vineyards and breweries
  • Looked for whales while enjoying a nice sea-side lunch
  • Hiked in Tstisikama and saw a 1,000-year-old tree
  • Spend four nights sleeping on an airplane

Two Berber girls strolling

I’m in Fiji about to catch my flight to the Solomon Islands where I’ll spend 10 nights on a liveaboard and do little more than eat, sleep and dive. Here are some of my favorite shots. See you on the 20th when I return to civilization.

Goodbye Morocco! Love you

Goodbye, Morocco! Love you

Elephant: "that Zebra's stripes are messed up!"

Elephant: “that Zebra’s stripes are messed up!”

Rhinos at risk.

Stepped in cement in the Berber village. The workers all understood the word, "shit."

Stepped in cement in the Berber village. The workers all understood the word, “shit.”

Storm River Mouth hike in Tsitsikamma, South Africa

Storm River Mouth hike in Tsitsikamma, South Africa

View from my room at Tsala Treetop Lodge.

Happy Shark Hunter. It was cccooolldddd!

Happy Shark Hunter. It was cccooolldddd!

 

Yee! Great White!

Yee! Great White!

IMG_9745

First night in Cape Town

Hermosa Beach, SA. Looking for whales, saw cool art.

Last night in South Africa

Retired lion. She was a breeder of lions for the assy game hunters, like the Trump boys. Bless this beautiful creature who is now enjoying life.

He was a walker (walked with tourists) who now, gets his food delivered.

He was a walker (walked with tourists) who now, gets his food delivered.

 

When in Paris

Around the World #3

Bags are packedIt’s just a few days before I head out on another adventure. A little over a year ago today, I decided to abandon the safety and security of a full-time job and start my consultancy, Two Rivers Partners. You can read about it here http://www.tworiverspartners.com. What a year it’s been! Aside from the last 30 days, I’ve been busier than I’d ever imagined; it only slowed when August rolled around. I am incredibly thankful for my half-time retainer with the National Organization on Disability (NOD) which I’ve had for over a year old now and am about to renew for another year. While I may not make as much money on this client, given the 40% discounted “low bono” rate I’ve established for them, I am overpaid in terms of satisfaction and sense of purpose. NOD was founded by a man who was paralyzed after a diving accident. Now deceased, Alan Reich was a father of four, Dartmouth grad and successful businessman. NOD helps businesses create organizational readiness to recruit, hire, develop and retain people with disabilities. Apparently, 80% of the 56 million people with disabilities who want to work, are not employed. This matters not because it’s just wrong but because corporations are suffering major talent shortages and are just not able to tap this pool of qualified labor. So, my work with NOD contributes to this mission and I couldn’t be prouder. I do it in honor of Cathy, my “step-Aunt” who worked her entire life with Downs and my Aunt Bootsie who worked in a bank despite her hearing impairment.  NOD keeps me engaged and working and presents the challenge of only having to sell the other 50% of my time. And, when I don’t feel like selling that time, I can enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle.

One of the reasons I went out on my own was so that I could travel the world. When January clicked around and I’d been working about six days a week, I thought to myself, “well, I’d better plan a trip.” So, I booked my third Around the World ticket which will go something like this:

  • Two nights in Paris, visiting dear friends
  • Four nights in Marrakech where I’ll buy a rug to replace my cat-puke stained bedroom rug
  • Four nights in Cape Town that will include great white shark cage diving, hiking in Tstisikama, game reserves and sleeping in a luxury tent
  • Two nights in Fiji where I’ll meet up with my dive boat buddies (I only know one of them)
  • Ten nights on the MV Bilikini live-aboard in the Solomon Islands where we’ll do 4-5 dives per day
  • Five nights sleeping in a flat-bed on a plane, reading, entertaining, and disconnecting
  • Time to just be present in the moment and also reflect on how I want to build my business

Admittedly, I’m no backpacker – I’ve booked business class and five-star hotels (using miles!) and hired tour guides – I am a 50-something adventurer who’s squeezing all she can out of life! Deciding to remain childless has its perks, especially when blessed with three fabulous nephews and one very special niece.

I’ve shipped my dive gear to Fiji and managed to get 16 days of “stuff” in carry on, determined to avoid long luggage delays and possible lost luggage.

I’ll be blogging during my trip, so stay tuned. I hope you’ll follow my adventures.

Bon Voyage to me!

I’m gonna miss this sweet girl, though. Sam the Cat

#diveforpeace – Day 6 (last day)

The Dive Deck where we suited up 5X per day for 6 days.

The Dive Deck where we suited up 5X per day for 6 days.

#diveforpeace – Divers Log

It’s the last day on the boat. We’ll do two dives this morning and then back to the dock where we’ll have a barbecue lunch on the sun deck and then all go out for dinner on the town somewhere.

I wrote that as the day started and now we’re all off the boat. Here is what I’d say about this liveaboard:

There were lots of issues with the boat, but my Navy Dive Buddy tells me very boat just out of dry dock has issues.

This was just the beginning.

This was just the beginning.

We had one bad weather day that caused us to lose three dives (out of 27). To be honest, I think we were all relieved. It happened the day after we were all banged up pretty bad by the first Manta dive. The bar opened at 3pm and it turned out to be a day and night of great, crazy fun!

The Captain, while a really great guy, was on his last trip and was a tad disgruntled. He is a really cool guy but it was for sure time for him to move on, which he has and is now on a plane to Florida to upgrade his Captain’s license and reunite with his girlfriend. That’s nice.

 

Having said all that:

There were 10 divers on the boat, and we were all pretty much matched perfectly. In and out of the water with ease, no one got lost, no one had any issues. It really was a perfect group to dive with.

Everyone got along incredibly well and I think we all genuinely liked each other. No one complained about anything. Everyone went with the flow when things went wrong.

There were tons of laughs. A lot of teasing and joking. What can I say, everyone seemed happy each and every day.

The crew members were fantastic – I really do not know how they do it. They don’t get a day off and they do it all. They live on the boat and have to me “on” 5.5 days out of every week.

My Dive Buddy, Jason

My Dive Buddy, Jason

My dive buddy, Jason is Naval officer who lives on Oahu with his family. Such a nice guy and a perfect dive buddy. When you dive alone, it’s a bit of a crapshoot in terms of who you end up being paired with. This one couldn’t have been a better fit. We hung out today watching the Army-Navy game and thankfully his team won. When you finish a trip like this, there’s always a sad feeling. I miss the rhythm and flow of five-dive days, I miss being barefoot 24X7 with no makeup or hair done. You go from an amazing social, outdoors experience back to reality. So, it was nice to have a person to hang with as I make this transition.

My only regret is not heading home tonight. I called American Airlines but there’s no way for me to get out early, so I’ll have to make the best of another 24 hours of vacation; damn.

 

 

I am grateful for the chance to bond with strangers. From the amazing Captain Chris who fights for our oceans to Cherry Sue

Cherry Sue

Cherry Sue

whose likely a Trump supporter but is a wonderful person. I learned that although you may not agree with another’s point of view, there’s more to life than politics Sure, we all care for our own issues and sure we want to fight for what we think is right. But, intolerance is a sickness. I took a week off from politics and I must say, it felt great. I think I need to take a permanent break and post judiciously on topics that divide us. That will be my commitment beyond this week.

Tomorrow I head home and “dive” back into work. This trip should sustain me for a long time.

Hui Hou (until we meet again) Hawaii. Hui Hou my newfound friends.

IMG_7235IMG_7243

#diveforpeace – Day 5

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray

#diveforpeace – Divers Log

Today the weather is much better. Splash at 8 am for a pretty dive and again at the same site at 10:30. It’s really amazing how the same dive site changes from one dive to the next. The second dive we were visited twice by a gorgeous Spotted Eagle Ray. These are the most graceful creatures in the sea.

Dive 1, 8am — lovely mellow dive
Dive 2, 10:30 am – amazing dive on the same spot. Swam with Spotted Eagle Ray.
Dive 3, 2pm — Beautiful dive at a sit rightfully called The Aquarium. So many beautiful little fish, including this flounder. Flounder are flat with both eyes on one side and they change colors to camouflage themselves. IMG_7078

Dive 4, 4:30 pm — Eel point dive. Was nice. Cold. Nothing special
Dive 5, 7:30 pm — We took another run at the manta rays!!!! It paid off. Was so much better than the first night. Just a light surge. So many Manta’s and some of these were HUGE!

IMG_7047

#diveforpeace – Day 4

View from under the boat

View from under the boat

#diveforpeace – Divers Log

It’s 5am Hawaii time and we’re up for a dawn dive. I’ve never done this. The crew is trying to make up for the one lost dive the day the prop fouled in a rope. I am not sure I’ll make all six today, especially diving on air (vs. Nitrox). I have no idea what to expect underwater. What do underwater creatures do when they wake up in the morning? I’ll soon find out.

Here’s how today went:

Dive 1: Dawn dive. Splash in a 6:15 am! Awesome to see the sunrise from 60 feet under
Dive 2: HAMMERHEAD SHARK! I deco’d! Whoops!! Partly due to diving on air.
Dive 3: Cuz of Deco could only go to about 30 feet. Very surgey and stormy

These are killer waves.

These are killer waves.


Dive 4 – 6: CANCELED. Seems there is a storm out in the Pacific that’s causing major surges. The dive sites are too dangerous. We tried three other spots and it’s the same story. So, it’s 3pm and we’ve broken into the beer and wine. The plan is to snorkel with the Dolphins. We had a false alarm Humpback sighting, but it wasn’t to be.

I am grateful that I get to escape my day to day life and have these adventures. It’s really easy to get New York City tunnel vision. I’ve met folks from around the country – people I would likely not ordinarily include in my circle of friends, but it’s amazing how great it is to experience a connection with strangers that comes out of a shared passion. No one’s mentioning the craziness back on the mainland. No talk of Trump, of shootings, or other such things, thankfully. It’s just pleasant socializing.

So, back to the Kona Aggressor. The boat just came out of drydock and it seems to be jinxed. First there are all of the breakdowns and now the weather. What was supposed to be a six dive day is now a three dive day. The crew feels really bad and as I said, the passengers are being really cool about it. I’ve learned that complaining does you no good. These guys (and gal) work 19 hour days – up by 5am and in bed by 11 pm or midnight. They drive the boat, look after our safety, get us on an off the boat, fill our tanks, clean our rooms, serve our food, do the laundry and fix the breakdowns – they have to be HVAC experts, carpenters, electricians, housekeepers, waiters, navigators and all for what I’m certain is very little money. It sucks that their company doesn’t provide them with better tools — a boat that’s in good working order, to start.

I’m still having the time of my life and will never forget this trip. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow (our last full day) will be a great diving day!

We’re now back in the Kailua-Kona Harbor, unexpectedly. Oh well. Gotta go with the flow! Aloha

A few of my new friends

A few of my new friends

#Diveforpeace – Day 3

Look at that face!

Look at that face!

#diveforpeace – Divers Log – Day 3

It’s a beautiful day today. Blue sky, calm-ish seas, cool breeze in the air.

The nitrox air compressor is broken; it seems the Kona Aggressor has a few problems. The customers have remained cool and calm throughout. Whether it’s a cabin door that won’t stay closed (me), a leaky AC (my neighbors), a prop fouled by 7-inch rope, and so on, everyone has been extremely understanding. However, when you mess with a diver’s air, it’s a different thing altogether. Diving on air not nitrox is tougher when you’re doing five to six dives a day. Enriched air allows divers to lengthen no-decompression limits, shorten surface intervals and get an added safety buffer for decompression sickness. All this to say, we can go deeper, stay down longer, and have a shorter time between dives.

The food is absolutely fantastic. There’s a chef on board and he has the touch. We’re all over eating but hey, it’s OK when you spend five hours a day diving.

Here’s what a typical day looks like:

6am wake up
6:30 am Hot breakfast to order
7:00 Dive 1 – normally a deeper dive, one hour
8:00 – 10:00 am rest, snack
10:30 – Dive 2, one hour
11:30 – 12:00 – Rest
12:00 — lunch, rest, socialize
2:00 Dive #3 , one hour
3:00 – 4:00 Rest
4:00 Dive #4, one hour
5:00 – 6:00 rest
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Dive # 5, night dive, one hour
8:00 HOT SHOWER! WINE! BEER
8:00 – 9:00 most people are crashed out in bed

Repeat six times!!!

It’s a full day that leaves very little time for much else. I find that I like hanging out with everyone and spend little time in my cabin.

So, it’s not an easy day. Getting ready is a drag, pulling on a skin tight, wet, wetsuit and taking it all off five times a day is a workout in and of itself. The water temperature is in the high 70s which is quite cold when you’re down there for an hour so we all bundle up — 5ML+ wet suit with layers, hats, gloves, etc. Getting out of the water is really hard cuz it’s so darned cold!!!

Gratitude. I am grateful for all the friends I’ve made along the way. My jobs have been my greatest source of friendships and I tend to think of them in phases.

Update: it’s 5am Hawaii time and we’re up for a dawn dive. This is exhausting. I am going to publish now and edit later. There literally is no time to write or read with this schedule!!!

IMG_6978

#Diveforpeace – Day 2

IMG_6846Divers Log – Day 2.

We were on our way to the first dive site of the day and the Captain accidentally ran over another boat’s line and now the prop is down. So, here we sit. Should have had our first dive of the day done by now. Actually it’s not all bad because we all need time to recover from last night’s bruising Manta Dive. It was spectacular but the surge was so strong we all got tossed around like seashells.

Here’s how it works. Manta Rays are attracted to light at night because the light attracts plankton; dinner du jour. The minute the sun went down the lights from the boat brought six or seven right over to us. We geared up and splashed in and were immediately surrounded by these most amazing and playful creatures. We descended and circled around the spot where the dive master placed our light. It became clear in the first few moments that this was not going to be easy. Everyone loaded up with six to eight extra pounds of weight to keep us anchored to the bottom but the wave surge was so strong no one was staying put; not even the big, strong Navy guys. As we clasped the rough rocks and tried to shine our torches upward as instructed, the magnificent show began. Manta Rays swam overhead and around, so close they gently grazed each one of us. Sounds peaceful right? Not so much.

There are 10 divers on this boat and we’re all very experienced but on that night we all looked like beginners. Flailing around with our lights, cameras, kicking each other in the face, tumbling around and around. But we didn’t care. We stayed down for about 45 minutes and at the 15 foot safety stop one of the Manta’s swam up as we held onto the line and did about 16 somersaults right in front of us, rubbing each of on one of its turns. Wow!!!!!

When we got back on the deck we laughed and apologized for finning each other but everyone was thrilled. Pretty much everyone showered and crashed. I stayed on the upper deck with my dive buddy looking at his videos. I didn’t take my camera thankfully because it was all I could do to keep myself from the spin cycle.

When I woke up I could barely move. So sore and banged up; but it was all worth it.

As I write this I hear the engines kicking in again. They must have fixed the prop and we’re on our way!!! Probably will only get four dives in today, that’s OK.

So, #diveforpeace is about gratitude. There is a couple on the boat with over 800 dives apiece (they are in their early 70s). The were highschool sweethearts and just the nicest people you’ll ever meet – Jim and Cherry Sue (yep, you read that right). Cherry Sue is just how she sounds. At first I was little worried but the two of them are hilarious together! Anyway Jim survived cancer twice. Cherry Sue said that was not about to lose her husband to cancer and so they tell their story of the fight. Jim says that every day is a great day and that he never gets down about anything. Seventy something, scuba diving and in last night’s conditions. So, I am grateful for my health and I am reminded that everyday could be your last day. So, please make it a great one.

Signing off, getting ready to splash. Will add pictures later tonight. Aloha

Dive 1: Beautiful Dive. Saw a small white tip reef shark and an eagle ray.
Dive 2: Was one of those ho hum dives, but every dive is a great dive
Dive 3: A beautiful dive. Saw another spotted eagle ray
Dive 4: The night dive. I skipped it! Had a glass of wine instead. It is actually pretty cold here and I was chilled to the bone. Sometimes, you just don’t have to do it all!

IMG_6836

#Diveforpeace — Day 1

Kona Aggressor II ready to go.

Kona Aggressor II ready to go.


Divers Log – Day 1.

I boarded the Kona Aggressor II last night, got to know some of my fellow passengers, and went to bed early. It seems that two of the seven nights are spent on the mooring line in the Kailua Kona harbor. The dive sites are not too far off shore so I won’t be getting that “far out in the middle of the ocean” feel; but that’s OK. The diving is supposed to be super. They say they’ve spotted whales recently. Fingers crossed!

The crew seems great – seven of them to ten passengers! Must be some training going on. People who do this for a living are motivated by a love of the sea. These guys (and gal) live on the boat and some don’t even venture onto land for months at a time. Had I discovered this career path earlier in life, I just might have gone that direction myself.

I am a little bummed all the passengers are American; in fact I travelled the farthest to get here. One of the things I’ve loved about my trips to Thailand and the Great Barrier Reef was being the minority and meeting people from all ends of the globe. So, this will be different; four couples and two singles (the lone guy’s wife doesn’t share his love of diving).

IMG_6760#diveforpeace is my desire to bring about change in myself that might help me help change our crazy world. This starts with a daily reflection of gratitude. All my life, I’ve been the “glass half empty” sort who normally wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. I’ve always worn those traits proudly, but it hit me the other day that constant consumption and regurgitation of negative news is unhealthy and most likely annoying. While I do not intend to avoid it forever, because we all have to stay informed and be in the conversation, I’m taking a break. Remember? No more political posts.

Back to gratitude. I am grateful that my life has pretty much been without struggle. Losing my Dad to Alzheimer’s is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I am frustrated by the fact that I have yet to meet my soul mate, my one true love. Even with that, life is full of riches – friends, adventures, opportunities and lots of wonderful little things along the way.
IMG_6812
So, #diveforpeace starts today and Captain has just pulled out of the harbor.

Dive 1: Saw a spotted Eagle Ray
Dive 2: Saw and Octopus
Dive 3: A manta ray just cruised by! Will post video
Dive 4: Just a beautiful smooth dive
Dive 5: Swim with Mantas. OMG. There were so many of them and despite getting banged around in the surf and rocks, it was magical. They are playful creatures.

Peace, love and happiness. Aloho till tomorrow.

IMG_6768

#diveforpeace

SUP in the morning

SUP in the morning

December 5, 2015, Kona Hawaii

I’ve been here for three days and just can’t believe how beautiful it is here. Yesterday I took a 9.5 hour tour of the entire island. It has a mix of desert, farmland, rain forest, volcano, lava fields, black sand beaches, white sand beaches and green sand beaches. It has the southernmost spot in the US. It has natives, called Hawai’ians, locals (Filipinos, Japanese, whites and others). It is the United States of America, yet it feels like a foreign land.

Let me start by saying that today I pledged to not post about politics for the entire trip. In fact, I plan to write a blog post every day that starts with what I am grateful for and then I’ll share the many adventures that await me on my seven-night Kona Aggressor II dive trip.

Before I start I want to explain what’s motivated this.

I am brokenhearted by all of the gun deaths in this country and how helpless I feel. I give $25/month to the Sandy Hook Promise and just gave $1,000 to Americans for Responsible Solutions, a PAC formed by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. I also vowed an additional $100 each time I slip and post politics or make a complaint. So, I am sure there are many of my conservative (and liberal for that matter) friends just waiting to trip me up! Bring it on!

Here’s the deal:

1. Politics: we have a number of men and 1 woman (and her name ain’t Hillary) running for the highest office in the land who are hate mongers. The rhetoric and stupidity coming out of the mouths of the likes of Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Christie, Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee must stop. They inflame the “right to lifers,” they create bigotry and hatred and they claim to be God-loving, God-fearing. But they are not, they are as bad as the terrorists doing jihad in the name of religion. These people must be stopped.

2. Guns. Why do people need war-grade weapons? Why do gun dealers sell guns to just anyone? Why do we have a gun-loving mentality? Why are people afraid of the Government? Why do people with guns kill innocent people (children)? I cannot get my head around this. But, we must end this violence.

3. Climate. We are destroying our planet. I am about to spend 7 days under the sea marveling at mother nature’s unending love for us. But why don’t we love her back? I hope that we start to reverse the spiral of disaster we are in.

So, those are my three big political issues. Last election they were 1) civil rights — the right marry anyone you want to, 2) stem cell research — I do not want to get Alzheimer’s, and 3) A woman’s right to choose — get the fuck out of my uterus. Luckily we are well on our way to solving #1. As for #2, I’ll take my chances and have resolved to live the best life I can. Number 3, well I won’t need to choose anymore and while I demand that every woman have that right, it has to move to the back burner.

I have the best life. I am healthy, I have plenty of money, I have great work and great friends, a wonderful family. Wow, how lucky am I? So, for this week, while I’m on the boat, I plan to fill up the “Travel” tab of this site, so long ignored, with my stories of my underwater adventures. Each day, I will also practice gratitude – I’ll start each day thinking about this great life of mine, and acknowledging my many fortunes. I figure I need a break. I do not want a digital detox, but I do need to get away from all the bad news. I need peace. So, that’s it, no more politics, no more complaints, just peace, love and happiness. Stay with me while I #diveforpeace!

The boat flag on my  Great Barrier Reef trip.

The boat flag on my Great Barrier Reef trip.

Aloha!

I wrote this a year after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks (unedited)

I had an 8 am meeting in the office that morning. If not for that, I would have likely been at 6th Avenue and Spring Street catching a cab to the office around 8:45. I was grateful that I was in the New York office surrounded by the warm comfort of my colleagues. I found refuge in the Viant office and team in the days following the attack.

I was coming out of my meeting when I overheard Mercedes tell a few people that Michael said a plane hit the empire state building. I recall riding in the elevator with a bunch of people and we were not overly concerned…just wondering why did a small plane hit the Empire State building? To me, it was a last moment of innocence.

I looked north to the Empire State Building and saw nothing but the stunning blue sky. Then, looking south there was a huge jagged tear and thick black smoke high up on the North tower. I immediately knew we were being attacked. I am an avid plane watcher and I know that they do not fly south this close to Manhattan. Suddenly we saw the 2nd explosion. Doug Whitten said he saw a plane go in. The rest of the day was a blur of disbelief, fear, sadness and shock.

Thankfully, everyone on the Lehman team was safe. I didn’t really know any of them well, but I remember feeling so grateful that each and every one was not physically harmed. I remember crying in front of the TV with Janice, Carrie and others when that tower fell; thinking of the people we knew.

I spent the next two weekends wandering the city. I observed war and peace debates, candle vigils, dogs wearing the American flag, a lone bagpiper belting out the most mournful of tunes, rock and roll wannabies playing Dylan, Taylor, a sole cellist playing on West Broadway at 7am. I just ambled through the city feeling very alone but also embraced by the outpouring of community and love.

Immediately following the attack, I would spend my evenings on Canal and West Broadway watching the flatbed trucks hauling enormous beams of mangled steel down Canal Street and out to the Holland Tunnel. When I went out for my runs, I had to try to avoid the transfer zone where dump trucks full of debris would load their haul onto waiting barges. Sometimes you could recognize a water heater, a door frame, but mostly it was just violently twisted steel. I went to mid-town to have dinner with friends one evening and I was struck at how “normal” everyone seemed to be. There were shoppers on 5th Avenue, people laughing. It was weird. I couldn’t wait to get back downtown.

The smell — each night sitting in my southern facing Soho apartment only reminded me that there were thousands of dead people just a short distance from my home. It seemed obscene that I was sitting on my couch watching TV knowing the hell that was downtown Manhattan.

On 9/11 this year I did not go to my office in midtown. I was compelled to say home in my new place in Tribeca. I walked down to the World Financial Center and sat and took it all in for about an hour. The wind was amazing – there was paper swirling through the air, a huge dust cloud reaching for the sky, a tattered and torn American Flag on the Deutche Bank building. As I struggled to walk against the wind, I couldn’t

help but think of the 2,801 people who lost their lives that day – were they sending a signal to their loved ones or were they expressing their rage at what happened to them? I won’t soon forget the feel of that wind.

These days, I am so sorry that I did not look up more often and take in the sheer power of those towers. The Sunday before the attack, on my normal run from SoHo to the Statue of Liberty Ferry, I took a detour. Instead of backtracking along the bike path I turned in and found myself on the Trade Center Plaza. I remember thinking “I hate it here” I felt uncomfortable; I can’t really say why, but my feeling was to get the hell out of there and back on my picturesque path by the water. In retrospect, I am sure that my ending up there was sheer coincidence, but what happened the following Tuesday, makes me feel grateful that I got to walk that ground one last time. I miss those towers and only wish I had appreciated them more when they were here.