Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Must Learn to Sail in High Winds....

One of my favorite quotes is from Aristotle Onassis

"We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds."
I think of this often when I'm trying to get something done and things just aren't going well. Like how most of my days go, which is why I have my tagline, and why I so frequently question if I really exist, or if I'm just actually a real life Truman Show...

My life has gotten exceptionally out of control yet again (my chronic case of FOMO insists that I say yes to all the things....) so I'm in a place where I have so much I want to get done in a day, that there is no room for anything to go wrong.

So of course things do go wrong and I end up feeling like I will surely perish at the hands of my own To Do list.

Like Sunday, for instance:

-I head to church and have already made a list of errands for myself that are located around church because if I don't multi-task MY WORLD WILL END.

-I leave church and head to my first stop: buying new running shoes.

-skip to two stops later: returning an item at Target. Except I get distracted (as I always do) by the clothing racks (because: clothes.) and I end up finding things I want to try on (because I need harem pants). So I walk to the back of the store, enter the dressing room, glance at my reflection in the mirror and:

realize one of my pant legs is inexplicably rolled up.

I must've done that while trying on running shoes two stores back and I'm so focused on my To Do list that I didn't even realize it.

Yes. Two stores. As in, I've not only walked all around Target looking like an old-school gang member, but I also walked all around Staples that way. Because stop number two was to have computer nerds help me find the printer toner I needed. So I walked all over an office supply store with one pant leg to the ground and the other rolled up like that half of my body had just waded through a river.


I will say though, that my Target experience was at least salvaged by the fact that after I emerged from the dressing room, I walked past a lady who was scolding herself - out loud - to "focus!" because she too had succumbed to the siren song of the clothing racks. The struggle is real. 

-I head home (getting gas on the way because: multi-tasking) and I proceed to dealing with the next task: ordering a new phone.

And here's where the wind in my day picks up. And also where my technology anxiety gets 47% more intense.

I hate online stuff. I mean, yes, it's convenient - WHEN IT WORKS - but every time I go to log into things, I don't have the right password, or I'm using the wrong browser, or the security on my computer won't let me through, or the screen freezes, or aliens abduct me and when I come back my information needs to be re-entered...

It's seriously one thing after another. These days I nearly have a panic attack just hearing the words "you'll need to log in...."

So long story short (and I do mean long story - I end up working on this for over 2 hours and may or may not have been in tears at one point) I have multiple issues ordering my iPhone, then ordering the accessories, then trading my other iPhone in, then talking to multiple customer service people online, then talking to another one over the phone, then curling into the fetal, then cursing the day computers were born.... and I finally get it ordered.

And the ONLY reason I'm even doing this is because my current phone is freaking out, and apps aren't working right, and the screen freezes, and the battery sucks, etc. etc. More reasons to hate technology...More wind in my day....

But whatever, the phone ordering is done and I'm now trying desperately to move on to my next 14 tasks, which include doing some work for my regular job, doing some work for my Navy job, doing some different work for my company, training for the Army 10  Miler, logging my miles for charity in an app on my phone, doing laundry, giving my cat a "sani-clip" for reasons I will let you Google "sani-clip" to understand.....

Did I mention this is Sunday? As in The Day of Rest? High winds indeed...

I go for my run --

and my running app won't work.

I need to scream now.

I finally give up and finish my run without the app (because: see! still sailing, Aristotle...) I go home, shower, and sit down at my computer. And I have this little security token thingy that I have to use every time I log into one of my email systems. So I use it, log in, and am starting to get work done, but then -because technology hates me - I realize I can't do something because I'm using an Internet browser that this particular system doesn't agree with. *angry words!!* So I open a new browser, go to re-type my security token thingy and realize:

I don't have it anymore, because about 10 minutes ago, I threw it across the room as a diversion for my cat who had perched herself on my desk,clawing at my hands and changing my Touch screen with the presence of her tail. I couldn't find anything for her to play with so in a desperate attempt, I threw the first little thing I could find.

And she apparently batted that thing into oblivion because I didn't see it anywhere. She somehow sensed that my work life depended on it, so she made sure to thoroughly hide it and I was so focused on my To Do list that I didn't even notice. *Hurricane force winds*

So now it's 10 p.m. and I'm on my hands and knees, crawling around my living room as my To Do list mocks me from the corner. I finally find the token thingy  -in a completely different room - and I'm able to finish the day out in my own personal funnel cloud of issues.

Oh, Onassis. I appreciate that you remind us that we all have to keep sailing, but surely even you would agree that some days maybe it's better to just run for the tornado shelter...

Monday, September 22, 2014

This is a Fairly Safe Neighborhood...

I had signed up to pull a plane...

the week before, one of the friends had to drop out

The mroning of - the other friend called sounding like one of Marge Simpson's sisters. She was ill.

BUT - she was a trooper and came anyway.

11:00 am we head out to the Dulles airport.

12:30 PM we see these guys.

There's no way we are beating those guys.

12:45 PM we see the other teams around us putting on gloves and chanting.
There's no way we are beating those guys. Either.

2:00 PM We finally get our chance to pull this 1. xxxx ton plane. My friend and I take our place and start to prepare....

2:01 PM We feel a tug on our sleeves and hear a shrill "ladies! ladies! we have too many people!"

Some other woman on the team ...

I head to meet my friends at the H Street Festival.

4:00 PM text friends to see where they are

4:15 PM all the gauges on my car freak out and I feel like I'm imploding. I pull over, park illeagally, turn my engine off -
and can barealy get out of my door.

What the? What on earth would cause my door to suddenly stop fitting my car?

I get out -- because whatever is happening is clearly a John Grisham type bomb under my hood that someone put there because I've suddenly become someone powerful with secrets -- close the door to see if it will close properly. Walk around the car looking for I don't even know what, get back int eh car, turn the ignition (while bracing for the explosion that is obvioulsy going to ensue)

...and my car just makes a strangling noise and won't turn on.

4:20 PM "Never mind. Car just broke down. Have fun!"


4:25 call my father for advice

4:30 call a tow truck

4:35 call my insurance because apparently they have to call the tow truck

They verify my address and I tell them I'm not sure that's right and don't see an address but I give them my exact cross sttreets. They sound like they understand...

5:05 I get a call from the tow truck. He's in the wrong place. He's now mad at me because the insurance people gave him the wrong address.

Then he hangs up.

No "I'm still on my way," no "don't worry, I'll be there soon." Just - silence.

5:06 I call my insurance back

And I forgot to mention that the On-Hold music they keep using is Telletubbie-esque. So I didn't lose my cool when my car acted like it was going to explode. Nor did i lose my cool when my tow truck was sent to the wrong place after I waiting 30 minutes. But what may finally push me over the edge?

The Telletubbies.

Why would that be the music of choice? Are they trying to push already-stressed out Roadside Assistance victims over the edge completely? Do they believe that children call in the majority of vehicle emergencies?

Whatever the reason, it was not helping.

My tow guy finally arrives, barely says anything to me but continues to talk seemingly to himself on a blue-tooth while he hooks my car shamefully up to his truck as people around us look at me like "what did you do???"

He asks me if I'm "ridin' with it." Uh. I don't know how this normally goes. Do you not just take it somewhere?

He tells me he doesn't know if the garage is open this time of day, so I choose to ride with it. We get in and I'm fairly certain I smell marijuana.

"you don't know where yo car is going?"

well *I* wouldn't leave *My* car just anywhere....

I fix it myself..

Oh dear. ..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reminiscing about painful awesomeness

I promise a new post soon, but today I'm reminiscing about doing Tough Mudder a couple years ago. You can read the original post here as well as read the subsequent posts about our adventure here, here and here (it was a really long day, you guys.) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tough Mudder: Why Do We Pay To Do These Things?

I'm going to attempt to post about my experience in Tough Mudder yesterday, but it'll probably take a couple posts because: A. A lot happened; and B. It's difficult to type given no comfortable position exists for my body any longer.

I'm trying to rest my elbows on the table, but they are both scratched. I prop my feet up and rub the cut on the back of my ankle from where pebbles got stuck in my sock the whole race. I try to cross my legs, but I have bruises on the side and backs of them and scratches down the front. And every now and then, I accidentally graze the bruise on my hip and fondly remember torso-planting on the side of a muddy bank.

In other words - the race was Awesome.

I stand corrected. In the words of Tough Mudder, it is not a race, but a "challenge." And it's a good thing it's not a race, considering it took my team just shy of four hours to go a little over 10 miles. Granted, we took our time, stopped for photos, lost each other at one point, etc. but it adds to the "challenge" because that's four hours of being wet and caked with mud, four hours of squinting in the dust and sun running around farmland, and four hours of waiting in nervous anticipation of this:

That's Everest. And for whatever reason, that was one of the obstacles I feared most and it's the second to last thing you are asked to do by Big Mudder. Please don't focus like the camera on the nice spectators sitting under their proper umbrellas. But look under the arrow - yes, at all those silly humans running up wet half pipe, then launching their bodies towards the hands of strangers, hoping they are caught and held.

And believe me, soooo many were not. But more on that later.

So that was on my tired, mud-filled mind the whole four hours. You know what else was on my mind? Congestion. Because not only will I pay to endure torture, but I'll do it when I'm sicker than I've been all year. And let me tell you, besides not being able to breathe normally, it's not easy going through a race where everything is muddy and you need to blow your nose.

I used a banana peel at one point, people. Not cute.

But let's back up to the beginning. Per usual, I start psyching myself out by reading reviews and looking through photos online of the race beforehand. Reviews like "The worst that those wires will do is shut down your body and make you poop yourself. Otherwise, you're all good." And photos like this: 
So I was good and terrified excited by the time yesterday rolled around. I layed out my clothes the night before and think "remember, the gloves you bought are in your car - don't forget them in the morning." (mechanix -- pink of course.)

5:00 am: I wake up and take my 4th dose of Airborne in 24 hours and get ready to meet my team.

6:30 am: Riding down the interstate in my teammate's car, I realize -- I forgot my gloves. Awesome.

8:30 am-ish: we finally get through heinous traffic, get parked, and head to registration before our 9:20 start time.

9:00 am: One teammate is still stuck in a registration snafoo.

9:20 am: We watch our heat start the race. Without us.

It's fine. We'll just go with the next heat. Some of the girls on our team start people watching and see racers like this:

That bonnet is sooo not staying on through the race
Then we watch as people do warm up exercise, make comments to each other that we'll be doing that next, then the rest of our team joins us and - we all start running.

Like, right then. Towards the start line. Wha?? We look at each other like "that's it? No warm up? No gun going off? Guess we're starting!"

It was like de ja vu from when I tucked and rolled out of a car to sprint to my marathon start two years ago. We make comments about how anti-climatic it was when we realize we were runningto the start line, where a large group of other runners already were receiving final words (that means more when you've literally just signed a death waiver) from our race MC. Good thing someone on our team was paying attention!

9:40am: We get the best pep talk I've ever had before a race that included compliments about our braveness, and praised the Wounded Warrior Project for which the race raises money for. We have several rounds of yelling "Hoorah" at various statements and at one point we are waving our hands collectively, Hip Hop Hooray style, and chanting things. The MC calls out different folks as examples of what Tough Mudder is all about, like this guy who was behind us:

Those horns are sooo not staying on through the race
And at one point, we're told to "take a knee" and the motivational speech continues. But intermixed with all the pump-you-up accolades from our MC are his buzz-kill warnings:

"be careful out there - we've already had people hurt."

"Already seen sprained ankles, dislocated knees..."

"If you can't swim - SKIP THE WATER OBSTACLES. you all laugh but there'll be someone who does it anyway- and you will need to pull that person out."

"We write your number on your forehead and arm so that people can identify your body later"

"enjoy this time now- cuz pain's coming!"

Um, I think I've had enough motivation now, sir. Can we just start now, please? Before we change our minds?

And with a flume of orange smoke rushing at us -- that's exactly what we did. 

More in the next post.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Insight into typical text conversations with one of my BFFs

I like my friends to have big hearts that are nearly totally shrouded in sarcasm and a bit of irreverence. Below is a snippet of today's text discussion with a friend I've had for over a decade. I think we make good adults, don't you?

Me: Some company in Oak Ridge just called for a reference FYI. 
Are you gunna work with nukes? Cuz that'd be cool.

Her: I've applied to so many jobs I genuinely have not idea

Me: I'm going with nukes then. Good thing I told them you'd be really good at nukes. 

Her: Yeah, good thing!
 I mean its oak ridge...do they do anything else there?!

Me: not since the mall closed...
The Oak Ridge Boys still exist. Maybe it was to be a Roadie! Crap, the nukes thing probably won't help you then. Sorry yo. 

Her: I hope I get super powers. Like spider man or batman or something.
Blast! Get with it! You have one job! to make me sound awesome at all things!!!

Me: Ugh. I was distracted by her ridiculously thick accent

Her: Thick foreign or thick backwoods? Cause thick foreign could still be nukes!

Me: Ha! Good point. But thick backwoods.
...soooo probably roadie. Dang it.

Her: Well, I'm probably more suited for that anyway....

End Scene.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hopefully not the Air Show of Confusion

I'm planning to head to Baltimore tomorrow to watch my Navy Blue Angels perform for the first time. The air show is part of a giant event commemorating the birthday of the Star-spangled banner. 

And it looks like it might be a logistical nightmare.

Which makes me think of the last time I was in Baltimore in a logistical nightmare: The Baltimore Grand Prix.

So I'm re-posting my account of that again below. Enjoy. 

The Grand Prix of Confusion (originally posted 2011)

This weekend I attended the Inaugural! Baltimore! Grand Prix!

The race itself was awesome. The whole getting there and getting back, however, was less than a smooth ride.

My friend J took me and I was put in charge of reading the directions from the website. And because the Grand Prix is a car race THROUGH the downtown of a city, they set up shuttle busses from satelite parking areas to get people to the race. 

The directions were fine until the last task of "take the second right at Light Street."

We couldn't find a Light Street so ended up driving into an old Walmart shopping center where we saw a lot of cars parked, but no signs about why. Our directions said "the shuttle bus area will be clearly marked and there will be volunteers to help you."

i.e. "You'd have to be an IDIOT to miss this, it will be so obvious"

We see two young guys handing out flyers so we ask them. "Do you know where Light Street is? Or where we pick up the shuttles for the race?"

They hand us a $5 dollar off coupon for "Nick's Fish House" and tell us Light Street is across town.

Okaaay. This looks like a parking lot for something since there are cars PARKED ON GRASS everywhere, but we'll try this again. So we leave, drive around, make U-turns, finally find a lot that says it's for the race, and we pull in. And the guy asks for $20 bucks. 

Huh? It's supposed to be free, this must not be the right lot. So we ask him where Light Street is. 

He says it's across town.

So we nearly just pay the 20 bucks just so we can stop driving around but J and I are both of the "I'll walk 5 miles before I pay for parking" type so we decide we'll give it one more try before conceding.

So we head back to Walmart. 

And get offered a coupon again.

But this time, we see shuttle busses and ask one of the drivers "do these take us to the rac..." 

"Get on that one!"

We obey, and I start to show THAT driver my Grand Prix ticket and he waves me off with a "I don't need to see that."

So J and I take our seats, passing by rows of interesting looking people (some slumped over) and think "Ok! We're getting somewhere now!"

(...ooor we just jumped on a random bus that will take us Who Knows Where! Either way, it'll be an adventure, right?)

So we drive for a bit and the bus finally stops - and no one does anything. The driver doesn't say anything, the people don't move. Finally a lady yells "is this where we get off?" And the driver says yes. But still most of the bus doesn't move (particularly the slumped over ones). But whatever, J and I are getting off! 

We look at our tickets which say Gate D. And there's a sign in front of us that says Gate C. So we figure that's close enough and start heading that way. 

Our tickets were to get us into the "Infield", which is the large area of downtown that is in the middle of the course the cars are running around all day. And we can HEAR race cars, but can't SEE them yet, so we walk around trying to get "in" and No One Can Help Us. We ask no less than 5 different people how we just get IN, and we are pointed to a different place each time. We finally realize we have to go in a building, up escalators in a mall, and over a pedestrian bridge to finally get "in" the infield. (which is outside). 

And after waiting in line, we finally get on the bridge and see a line of complaining people being held up by metro cops, going the other way. So J and I keep going our direction, and now we wonder "after all this to get in, are we not allowed to get OUT??" and that's when I hear a volunteer tell someone that the bridge isn't built to hold all the people that are currently trying to use it.

Oh neat! Good planning, Baltimore!

Needless to say, J and I picked up the pace.

Once we finally got IN, we relaxed a little, bought lemonade, and tried not to worry about how we were later going to have to get OUT. Whatever! We are here now! Onto the cars!

We stake out ground right in front of the start line and realize we are allowed to go down on the track to meet the drivers. So of course I have to take photos. And I really know nothing about this sport. But I get a photo with a car anyway. But that's not enough. I need one with a driver. So we find a guy who is half wearing a race jumpsuit thing, so I pounce.

Me: Can I take a photo with you? 
Him: Oh, I'm not the driver
Me: Can you pretend to be? 

So here's Fake Driver:

(Then I found a REAL driver right as the race organizers were pushing us off the track and I pounce on him too. So here is Real Driver:)

So then J and I take our place outside the protective fence and the cars start up and take off.

And here's where I black out from happiness because those cars are LOUD and FAST and I have a ridiculous half-mouth-open, half-goofy-grin expression on my face for the next few laps.

And I'm not alone. The people around me have similar expressions and it's funny how Mutual Excitement! makes everyone feel like we all know each other. So the little guy standing in front of J and I turns to look at us like "Do you see that man!!! Do you see that!!" Except we can't actually understand him, he's just excitedly mumbling and HITTING J repeatedly.

So I'm still gazing in awe at the cars, and J's trying to pry this man off of him, and the lady next to me feels she needs to let me know which car she loves the most, and the man next to her is yelling "oh he has that WIIIDE open, that is WIIIIDE open!!!" 

So that's the little scene of our spectator group. I then attempt to actually photograph the cars. But did I mention they are FAST? Here is what I ended up taking like 6 photos of:

Yep. You can't actually see a car in the photo at all. 
I eventually got a little better at it:

And seriously, besides the poor logistics (and the whole possible bridge collapse thing) this was a fantastic event. And we stayed for hours before finally heading back home....

...then we realize: How do we GET back home?

By now, we've wandered around the "infield" so much we don't know how to get back to where the bus dropped us off. So I remember we were near Gate C and we look at the map-

And there is no Gate C.

So we see a Gate A, and head for that. Eh, it'll lead OUT somewhere, right?

We ask YET ANOTHER PERSON to help us and after a long process, we finally find random busses picking people up in a parking lot.

So we start to get on one and I realize -- these are City busses. Not so much Free Shuttles. And I have no idea where they are going, since I don't live in Baltimore.

So I'm trying to explain things to the driver, who is giving me the "Blink....Blink...." face like he has no clue what I'm saying and thankfully two guys FROM NEW JERSEY that are sitting on the bus tell us they know exactly what we are saying, they are going to the same place, and to just get on.

So we all bond, talking about how poorly organized this whole thing was and how we all got lost getting into the event, and the bus starts driving into a part of town J and I have not seen.

But the Jersey guys are adamant and they assure us "it's fine, he's going to drop us off at the corner, then we walk to another corner and get on another bus..."

Oh dear. But since J and I don't have a better plan, we follow along. And guess where the random corner in this random part of town is that the bus drops us off at?

Light Street.

So we've now come full-circle in our frustration. And we head to this elusive Other Bus --


No freaking way! We really just took a bus across town...to just get around the infield. Sigh.

Nonetheless, surely these HAVE to take us back to our cars, right? And we see a sign that says "Port Covington".

What tha? We aren't trying to go to A PORT, we are trying to go to the street -that isn't Light Street- where the old Walmart -AND OUR CAR- is!

But once again, J and I have no other plan. So we hop on.

And lo and behold, we DO end up back at the Walmart -- which we realize is part of the "Port Covington Shopping Center." Ah, nothing like labeling things in a way WE COULD UNDERSTAND, like, I don't know, "Shuttle Parking Lot A"??

And as the bus is driving, we pass ...."Nick's Fish House". 

Ha! We really have come full-circle.

So we take our coupons and eat at that darn fish house and happily finish out our day of confusion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My 9/11 Story

This time each year, I'm reminded of when I first moved to this city. I've been in D.C. 13 years now and I'm still so in love with it - which is surprising, given how my time here began: with 9/11.

I've posted this before, but here is my personal story of being at the White House when that happened. I in no way want to belittle the tragedy, loss, symbolism and heroism of that day and I'm so grateful that everyone I know was kept safe. But below is what happened to me, humorous parts and all.

During my Semester In D.C. (told briefly about here), our school work consisted of half in-class work and half internship work. By some miracle, my internship ended up being at the White House, where I later got hired full-time as a Political Appointee.

Me and the other interns in my first office

But my internship started on 9/10/01....

So the next day - aka My Second Day on the job - I came in early to open the office. We quickly heard reports of the first plane hitting the tower in NYC and everyone just thought it was an unfortunate accident.

When the second plane hit - we all knew something bigger was happening and we felt like we were likely going to be a target.

Everyone wore worried expressions but kept working and kept an eye on the news. After the third plane hit, I distinctly remember standing on the balcony of our office, watching the smoke rise from the Pentagon.

But we continued to stay.

After a little bit, the headline on television read "White House Evacuated." To which we understandably were like -


Because we were still there and hadn't heard anything outside of our office either. I stepped out into the hallway just to see if anyone looked like they might be scurrying away and further down the hall was a Secret Service agent in bomb-squad gear. And he saw me and yelled:

"What are you doing! This is real!"

To which I kind of slunked sheepishly back in my office with a timid "uh, guys? I think we're supposed to leave...."

Being the Type A go-getters that us interns were (there were 3 others besides me) we, of course, were not going to be the first ones to freak out. We were going down with the ship too, dang it! So even after I convinced most of the office to leave, another intern kept typing away before someone forced her to also get out.

This is how crazy people in D.C. are. Our lives are at risk, sure, but let's try to go ahead and finish that press release anyway...

It was weird because we didn't run. It felt so much like a dream that it was hard to get all that excited. I remember exiting the building and into the sunshine -- that day was gorgeous in D.C. Later, we would all comment on the sick juxtaposition of having such a horrible act take place on such a beautiful day...

The streets. Were. Gridlocked. And I remember people incessantly honking as if that would make anyone move faster. There was no place to move. Cars had already swarmed the streets, there were erroneous reports of fires on the National Mall, fires in the Metro trains, car bombs at the White House, etc. No one know what was going to be hit next.

Thankfully, a staffer in our office lived not too far away in Georgetown so a few of us walked a couple miles with her, passing by places like The World Bank which made me look up warily like "are YOU next?"

Somehow I was able to call my mom on my cell - which was a miracle in itself because the phone lines were jammed by that point - and I remember her tearfully telling me to "just come home." Of course I didn't consider that, though other people in my school program did and the school itself considered sending all of us home. That all happened later though. Right now, I was planning to stay in Georgetown until we could figure out how to get me back to our school's building on Capitol Hill.

A group of people ended up at the staffer's house and I remember being glued to the news (that was before the networks stopped showing the more graphic images of the towers) and some of us prayed, others were on the phone with their doctors proactively getting prescriptions for Cipro (again...type A-ers don't mess around...) and the staffer, me, and another intern (who would later become one of my best friends and incidentally was part of the Slap Game and created Henrietta the Turkey here) decided to go buy supplies - just in case.

Here's where it gets humorous because we were PARANOID. And granted, no one knew what was happening at that point or whether there had been any sort of bio or chemical agents released, or how long these attacks were going to continue, etc. But even still, we may have gone a bit overboard....

So the three of us - me, the other intern and the staffer - set out to buy food and bottled water. You know, just in case we needed to build a fallout shelter in the nicest neighborhood in D.C. And we think "what if there IS some kind of biological something in the air?"

So we put on sunglasses.

And bandanas.

...on our faces. So now we are tredging out of the staffer's home - in posh Georgetown - and we look like bandits.

And we head to what was referred to as the Social Safeway.
Side Note: D.C. has had several Safeway grocery stores in different parts of the city that were nicknamed for their various qualities. "Social Safeway" was in Georgetown where the cool kids went. "Unsafe Safeway" (the one *I* had to use by my school) was in a bad part of town on Capitol Hill. "Soviet Safeway" was so named because it had long lines and little options...and so on and so on. (Have I mentioned I love this city? Such character.)

So we stop by an ATM on the way to Social Safeway and we realize we look like we are going to rob a bank. So then we just look at each other, burst out laughing, and take off our ridiculous terrorism prevention "gear".

We bought some things and returned to the house where we stayed the rest of the day until the roads cleared and I was able to be driven back to my school.

The next day - we went back to the White House. And that always struck me because everyone went back. We still didn't know for sure what was going on or if the attacks were over, but no one let fear stop their lives. The President himself came around later to personally thank people for coming back to work. It made me feel good to see that and also hear the stories of how people had helped each other the day before. And we continued to help in whatever way we could over the next few weeks, even if just in little ways, like buying coffee for the National Guard troops and extra security personnel who quickly moved into our city to protect us, or serving food to the workers cleaning up the Pentagon.

The next several months held other interesting events as well (false alarms of more attacks, anthrax, snipers, etc.) but now you know what memories go through my mind on 9/11 every year. DC changed so much that day, with road's being closed and security ramping up, but of course our country and the world changed in much bigger ways as well.

Each anniversary, us staffers used to go to the South Lawn of the White House to have a moment of silence with the President before he headed over to do the same at the Pentagon at the exact time it was hit. Now, I usually hold some sort of my own moment of silence for not only that day, but in gratitude for my own safety and for the people, many of whom I'm proud to call friends, who have continued to work in intelligence and military operations to make sure that hasn't happened again.

We will never forget.

Part of a candle-light vigil outside the Capitol after the attacks. (All of my photos from that time are hard copies so forgive the poor quality)
Anti-war protest that formed a couple weeks later

Police cars and police in riot gear filled the streets

After serving food all night to the workers cleaning up the Pentagon, I met this man who was bringing signs school children had made for the makeshift memorial there. More of that memorial below: