Displaced Yankee Chick in Texas

This blog chronicles my life as a displaced Yankee chick in Texas. I'm from the NY/NJ/PA area and quit my job 1.5 years ago to move to TX with DH and become a SAHM to our 3 kids (2 DDs and 1 DS). **Please note that names have been changed to protect the innocent.**

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blondie, this one's for you.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true. Although examples of self-fulfilling prophecies can be found in human literature as far back as ancient Greece, it is 20th century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression "self-fulfilling prophecy" and formalising its structure and consequences. In his book Social Theory and Social Structure, Merton gives the following definition:

The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come true.[1]

In other words, a false prophetic statement may affect humans (through fear or logical confusion) to take actions that will ultimately result in fulfillment of the prophecy.
Taken from wikipedia

Friday, September 15, 2006

Since I'm on a roll...

First, I found out last night that my father's dear friend had passed away. Apparently my dad had been thinking a lot about him this month, and called him on Tuesday. He never married and lived alone. A woman answered the phone. My dad asked if he had reached Dick's apartment. The woman said yes, but that he had died that morning. So sad. My parents are at the wake tonight and will be at the funeral tomorrow.

Second, I never had grandfathers. Both had passed before I was born. So when I married DH, I got both a grandmother and a grandfather in the deal. Six years ago, Granddaddy had bypass surgery; this was around the time that B was born. He never fully recovered from the surgery but was able to be home to recuperate. We brought B up to Rhode Island to meet her great grandparents in early August. Granddaddy's leg wounds were weeping, and he was half the man he had been the year before. All he did was sit in his recliner and stare at the ocean. He had no energy, no appetite; nothing. He was doing poorly during our visit, and was rushed to the ICU the day after we returned home. So we drove back to RI from PA. Once it seemed that he was stable, we returned home on a Friday or Saturday because we had B's christening scheduled for that Sunday. Grandaddy's kidneys were failing and he was receiving dialysis. He was transferred from the local hospital to Beth Israel in Boston. In early September he was moved to a nursing home while he convalesced. Six years ago today his sons were en route to Boston to meet with the nursing home staff. He was not going to be able to stay there, and Granny, my FIL and DH's uncle were going to determine where Granddaddy was going to go. He wanted to be home in RI, looking out at the ocean from his recliner. However, before his family arrived at the nursing home, Granddaddy slipped away, making the decision himself.

B had just turned three months old and DH was on his way home from a business trip to Ohio. He called me from the road to see if I had heard anything about Granddaddy. I lied and said no because I was worried he'd be so upset he'd have an accident. As it turned out, he had gotten a speeding ticket in western PA; he was eager to get home and see his little punkin. Worse than receiving the news from Granny's sister was having to tell DH. That just broke my heart. Granddaddy was a US Army veteran, and DH played Taps at the funeral. I don't know how he did it, but he did, and it was beautiful.

Rest in peace Granddaddy on your sixth anniversary. And rest in peace Dick.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another 9/11 story

At just before 9am my father was sitting in the cockpit of a small jet, awaiting clearance from the tower to take off. From the tarmac my dad had a view of lower Manhattan. When he noticed that there was smoke coming from 1WTC, he radioed the tower asking if they knew what was going on. The tower responded that a plane had hit the tower. My dad sat in the cockpit in disbelief. How could anyone miss the Twin Towers on such a clear day?

Right around 9am he received clearance to take off. Shortly after take off, my father looked over at the WTC, which from his vantage point, looked like one tower. At that moment, he saw the fireball that was the plane hitting 2WTC. He wondered how a small plane (as he and the tower crew believed it was a small plane that caused the fire) could cause such a huge fire. Shortly thereafter, his flight was grounded at an airport just north of NYC. By the time he was on the ground, the towers were gone.

He and the rest of his crew were able to rent a car and drove back to the airport in NJ and then he returned home.

Years later I was sitting in the family room with my parents watching A&E's "Flight 93". My father got pissed when they showed the terrorists storming the cockpit, and he left the room.

I cannot imagine what went through my father's mind on September 11th and the days that followed, after learning what had happened. In the mid-80's my father left his job working on the 70th floor of 2WTC (the south tower) to follow his dream of flying. He became a pilot full time, not just flying for the military. If he hadn't become a pilot full time, would he still have been working at the WTC? What if he had gotten a pilot job with another company? These are sobering thoughts for me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Brief moment of silence

in honor of Chris, who is believed to have been in the North Tower, and most likely perished five years ago this minute.

Songs I heard a lot then

Superman, by Five for Fighting

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird...i’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd...but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed...but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away...away from me
It’s all right...you can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy...or anything...

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Inside me
Yeah, inside me
Inside of me

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
I’m only a man
Looking for a dream

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm...

Its not easy to be me

And of course,

God Bless the USA, by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

This is one I wish I had heard more, because I felt it symbolized what I felt:

Fragile, by Sting

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are

Five years later: memories and tributes

Me: It was a beautiful morning. I remember that the lead story on the Today show was Michael Jordan coming out of retirement. DH and I got B dressed and then the three of us headed out to work/school. B and I were listening to my favorite NY radio station, WPLJ, as we always did, during the hour long commute to my office in central NJ. I dropped her off at her room at daycare, and left the daycare center. As I walked out, I took a deep breath, and looked at the sky. The weather was amazing -- the sky was a bright blue, and there were no clouds in the sky, and the temperature was perfect, not too hot, not too cool. It was a beautiful day, and it was a shame that I'd be spending it in the office.

It was a brief, half mile drive from the center's building to my office. In the two of three minutes of that trip, I heard the DJ's talking about something strange with the traffic reporter. They were describing something about a plane and a building. They had a TV on, perhaps Channel 7 (ABC) since the traffic reporter did the live traffic reports for Good Morning America as well. As I was putting it all together and realizing that they were talking about a plane hitting a building, I heard them on the radio. They were describing seeing the plane hit the WTC. At first they thought it was a replay, but then realized it was a second jet. Todd Pettingill said, "That was no accident." My mind reeled.

I parked my car and hurried into my building as quickly as I could. As I passed my coworker Cindy, I said, "Horrible day." Once at my desk, I logged on to my computer and tried to get onto msnbc.com or cnn.com. Also, I turned on the radio, and tried to get one of the two local NJ stations that we received inside our brick fortress of an office. Reception for NJ101.5 was best, so that's what we listened to all day. They had callers calling in from everywhere with eyewitness accounts. The worst one was the sound byte they repeated all day long, of a caller witnessing the collapse of the south tower. It took a while before I realized it was the same sound byte; I kept thinking other buildings were collapsing.

I called my mom at her office, but was told that she was at a doctor's appointment. So I called my parents' house and reached my grandmother. She hadn't seen the news, so I told her to ignore my ranting. She didn't know where my father was, so I gave up calling people for the time being. Once we heard that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and that rumors were flying that cars were exploding in the Pentagon parking lots, I decided to call my aunt in northern Virginia. My uncle was working at the time for a government agency, and I feared for his safety and also that of my two cousins, who also worked for government agencies or contractors. I was able to reach my aunt, who hadn't heard from my uncle. She said that his office had an emergency procedure in place, where the employees would be taken to a safe area in case of emergency. We assumed that was where he went. To this day I haven't found out where he did go. My one cousin left her office in NoVA for her boyfriend's apartment, since it was in a much safer area. My other cousin and I were in email contact throughout the day and I begged her to leave her office ASAP. Finally she left and arrived at her home safely.

Photo of my co-worker's daughter Alisa. The TV in our cafeteria was playing CNN. The headline read "America Under Attack." I was asked my my coworker Melissa to wait to go to lunch and cover her phone. Her eldest daughter worked in the World Financial Center, and had called Melissa right after the first plane hit. She was just coming out from the subway when the plane hit, and debris fell all around her. In order to appease her mother's fears, Alisa called her mother to say she was alright, in case she had already heard about the accident. While they were on the phone, the second plane hit, and Alisa was pelted with rubble. She screamed and her phone went dead. Melissa wanted to see the TV coverage in the cafeteria, but needed someone to watch her phone, and I happily agreed. Alisa didn't call, but a friend of hers did, and I was thrilled to receive the call. Alisa had been at his place, and was headed uptown. She was safe.

My boss, whose birthday was the previous day, and a few other people huddled around my desk to listen to the radio. My boss' husband was a private pilot. I think she shared the same personal horror that I did. My father is a pilot. What would you do to prevent someone from taking over your cockpit or your aircraft? I believe in my heart that the flight crews fought to the death to protect their passengers and aircraft. I shed a tear for the passengers, and for those office workers. I was certain in those early moments that the death toll would be in the tens of thousands.

I grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria, and watched the replay of the fall of the towers. I hadn't beleived when Cindy and Melissa told me that there was nothing left. How certain I was that only the top floors had collapsed onto the areas below where the planes had hit. I was down in the cafeteria with Cyndy that I used to work with; we watched in stunned silence. "All those people who didn't make it out," I said, trying to cry, but unable to.

DH called me and I made some lame excuse about being afraid to cross the bridges back into PA. I was going to my parents' house for the night. Honestly, I didn't want to be further from NYC than I had to be, nor did I want to watch some idiots from Philly talk to me about what was going on in My City. As we were talking, DH mentioned Chris. Chris who? I wondered. DH reminded me that his BIL's brother, Chris, was a firefighter and worked building collapses and rescues. That was his specialty. Was Chris OK? Surely he had been called. Surely he was there. Surely he'd be alright.

I finally couldn't take it at work any longer. My best friend was temping for a department at the other end of my office complex. Her EMS unit had been called up to go to Liberty State Park and await casualties. I told her to be careful and that I loved her. The bridges to NYC were closed; traffic was becoming a nightmare. As was usual for my conservative company, once the roads were closed due to flooding or snow, that's when they'd close the office. So once interstate travel became impossible, they allowed employees living in NY to leave. And then they let the rest of us leave as well. I walked out of the office to a silent world. Instead of hearing traffic, or seeing airplanes heading to Philly or Newark, I heard only birds. It was surreal to hear only nature, and it was to be that way for days to come.

I picked up B at the day care center and then headed to my parents' house where I immediately put the TV on Channel 7 (ABC) in NY, as I preferred them to the other two channels (Channel 2 - CBS and Channel 4 - NBC). Channel 4 (NBC) had lost their antenna, and was off the air, so the Philly affiliate was broadcasting in their stead. I thanked God that B was young enough that she wouldn't remember seeing the footage that was replayed endlessly.

Once my father arrived home, I greeted him at the door. I can still remember how he greeted me: "Helluva world to be raising kids, huh?" I firmly resolved to raise B, and any other children we'd have, as loving accepting people.

I cried myself to sleep, and awoke the next morning to another beautiful day. For one brief, shining moment, as I fully awakened, I believed it was all a terrible dream. But then the horror and dread returned. Of course it had happened. Otherwise, B and I would have spent the night at our own home.

--more to come tomorrow--

Photo of Chris, DH's BIL's brother, a firefighter who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a 20 year veteran of the FDNY and was highly decorated.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The next visit with the parents

The week following my parents' hit and run visit was an awkward one for us as a family. I had to relearn how to talk to them because the cancer had quickly built a wall between all of us.

We invited my parents to come over so we could head to the local base for an airshow the weekend following the cancer announcement. We took B, who was nearly 15 months old at the time, knowing that she'd enjoy seeing the airplanes. Traffic was crazy, so we wound up missing most of the show. Ultimately, we parked on the highway outside the base and watched the show from there. It was great because when the Blue Angels flew, they flew right over us.

That was Sunday, September 9, 2001. Who knew that the world as we knew it would change in 48 hours...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The rug pulled out from beneath me

That's what it felt like five years ago. I had days ago celebrated my birthday by going to the US Open with DH and MIL. We spent the night at my parents' house and then went back to our homes in PA the follwoing day. That was a strange Saturday as DH and I awoke in my parents house. My parents were out, and no one seemed to know where they were or when they were coming back. However, it seemed like something was off...

It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend 2001 and my parents called and said they were in the area. Could they stop by? Of course, I said. So they stopped by and I got them drinks in the kitchen. I forget where DH and my dad went, but finally, it was just mom and I in the kitchen. We were standing there when mom mentioned something about my jeans. "You know those jeans we gave you? They're not so great after all." I stood there wondering WTF she was talking about. My parents didn't give me jeans for my birthday... As I stood there trying to figure out what she was talking about, my mom then blurted out the punchline: "I have breast cancer."

And thus, the rug was pulled out from beneath me.

Mom hastily explained that the lump she found the year before, and had had biopsied the year before, shortly before eldest DD was born, which then was benign, was now cancerous. A second biopsy performed in August confirmed the malignancy. I felt myself falling into a deep black pit, feeling much like Alice in Wonderland tumbling into the Rabbit's hole.

And as quickly as they arrrived, my parents left. DH was surprised that they didn't stay for dinner, and was even more surprised when I told him why they stopped by. It was a hit and run. My wonderful life was now out of control.