Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Recent Past, in Three Acts

Hello! I’m not dead. Let me bring you up to speed:

In February I changed jobs and started working on a new website launch, and finally it’s live! Check it out. It’s so gorgeous and witty and smart, I want to marry it. This is a real high point in my career, because it meshes so perfectly with the life of diapers, Play-doh and toddler OCD that I already live.

And yet, as we got closer and closer to our live date, life got steadily more unmanageable. If I wasn't clacking away at the office, I was logging in right after I put Muffin to bed – every night. Errands were not run. Doctor’s appointments fell off the calendar. I canceled on friends. The apartment descended into squalor. The Canuck was rebuffed. I often went full days, sometimes two, without seeing Muffin. My gym membership mocked me as I started to get the squished-butt look that's the hallmark of a sedentary lifestyle. My nails I don’t even want to talk about. The only bright spot was that I worked right through lunch so often that I now actually weigh what I claim to on my driver’s license.

There is a ton of work, but what has really crippled me is how my mind races and short-circuits as my stress level increases. Sometimes I find myself rushing to the bathroom, bladder busting, and realize that I have had to go for hours, but have somehow forgotten. Yes, I forget to pee.

Not long after our launch I was working late. Chatting with a co-worker, we heard what sounded like very loud thunder as the building started to shake. We turned to the window and saw an explosion just outside our window. Someone (maybe me?) screamed “Get out!” and we all ran for the emergency exit. I barreled down 8 floors, falling several times in my stupid platform sandals but not stopping because I was pretty sure that the building was about to come down on me. I would venture to say that anyone who lived in New York during September 11 had nightmares about rushing down steps, and I can’t tell you how desperate and helpless and scared shitless I felt to find myself in the nightmare wide awake. I’d like to think I’m a decent person, but horrifically, I did not wait for my co-worker who stopped to take off her heels, and even worse I told a woman in front of me on the stairs that she had to move faster, faster, faster. Ignoring the rule about feeling the door for heat, I slammed right through it to the street, where I was ½ block from this:

It appeared a building was coming down. I was so turned around that I couldn’t tell if it was our building or Grand Central across the street, a potential target I worry about every time I walk through it.

After one quick glimpse, I ran like my life depended on it, because in my mind it did. Shoes and briefcases littered the sidewalk. I didn’t look back again and waited for the smoke to overtake me, but it never did. Two blocks later my legs were burning and I was wheezing. My co-worker caught up to me, and we found shelter in a nearby building, where I deep-breathed, tried not to faint and hoped very hard that everyone else I worked with was ok. Word soon spread that it was not terrorism, but a water pipe explosion that looked a whole lot more deadly than it actually was. Hours later, when the trains were running again and I had borrowed subway fare to get home, people were laughing and yakking away on their cells, just like always.

Because the explosion happened in front of our building, our offices were closed for six days while they made repairs and tested for asbestos. My purse, wallet, keys, phone, credit cards and ID were all sitting on my desk. I did however have my passport, which expires in 19 days. My renewal application was on my counter at home, but I hadn't gotten it together to send.

The first night I barely slept. The next night was a little better. I feel closer to normal each day, although I think loud noises are going to give me the heebie jeebies for a while. The city’s moved on, and as for me, well, I’m getting there.

If you ever survive a pipe explosion, I highly recommend you go on vacation immediately afterward. Three days later we flew to Chicago to meet my family and caravan to Michigan for the week. It rained most of the week and there’s something about a lake beach that doesn’t sit quite right with me, but all in all it was a restorative week. Although by the tail end Mommy started having that second vodka and tonic, seeing my daughters experience the pleasures of watermelon on the rind, squirt guns, monster bubbles and ketchup-drenched corn dogs made me feel about a zillion miles away from New York.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to know you and Muffin and the hub are all alive and well.. love,

8:59 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

wow-- so sorry you experienced that. your description of the running down the steps really resonated with me. i haven't thought about it in a while now, but i had a similar experience when there was that huge fire in my building years ago a few months after sept 11th, while we were running down steps, (and got stuck in the thick smoke), and had no idea what had caused/ was causing the fire... just fearing that this was it for me. your description is just how it felt to me. so sorry you went through that ordeal, so relieved all is well...

12:31 PM  
Blogger momo said...

scary. being in ny on 9/11, i would have nightmares about the exact same thing. sorry you had to actually experience it. and glad to know you're ok.

kisses to muffin for me. when you guys making a trip to austin? i miss you guys!

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Camiseta Personalizada said...

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10:12 AM  

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