Saturday, September 19, 2009

100 Days of Eks and Katie

Today I celebrate 100 days with my boyfriend. Yeah! That's a record for me. In the past I haven't been good at the long term relationship thing so this is a big step. No, I'm not making any announcements; we're just taking it one day at a time and enjoying the moments. He's a great guy and makes life an adventure. For instance...on our second date, he took me up American Fork Canyon late at night, stopped by the reservoir, pulled out an inflatable kayak, and we went kayaking under the stars at midnight. It was fantastic! Dating is fun! :)
I only write this post as part of my explanation for my disappearance on this blog. Not that anyone reads it but just in case :)
Other updates on my life include a new job and grad school. This summer I started the Technical Writing Master's program at Utah State University and began a new job at another network marketing company as a project manager for the Marketing Communications department.
So, between school, work, boyfriend, working at the temple and my calling in the RS pres, my life is nuts! Hence the lack of posts. I'm not promising more either. I should be doing homework at this very moment. Talk to you sometime!... ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another Year and we haven't forgotten

I'm resurrecting this from last year:


It has been eight years and how quickly it passed. Everyone has a story and remembers where they were on that fateful Tuesday morning. I have my own personal memories that, eight years later, are still not written down. This is for me and my future family, so that we do not forget.

The fall of 2001 found me living a dream. I had visited Washington D.C. as a senior in high school and it had changed me. I fell in love with the city- it called to me- and I knew that one day I would live there. That “one day” came while I was a junior at the University of Utah when I was offered an internship with a media production company called Global Village Communications in Alexandria, VA. It was a season in my life that still affects me to this day. My eyes were opened to a new world and a new me, and I was happy.

My commute to work each morning involved taking the metro and then walking about a half a mile to the office. At one point in the trek, I went up a hill, turned a corner and was welcomed by the sight of the Capital and Washington Monument. The morning of September 11, I distinctly remember turning the corner to that incredible view and feeling an intense feeling that something was wrong. I paused and said a prayer that everything would be ok with my family. Then I entered the office and began my normal day.

We were interviewing a high school tennis player for a video and he had just arrived. Not too long after, a co-worker called, frantic, and started describing an airplane and towers and I didn’t know what else. I couldn’t make sense of what she was saying so she finally said “just turn on the t.v.” We did and immediately understood. We watched in awe with the rest of the world as the smoke swelled from the buildings. Soon they started announcing that the Pentagon had been hit. Sure enough, we opened the blinds on the second floor of our office to a screen of billowing thick, black smoke. Our office was about 2 miles from the Pentagon- close enough that a few hours later we heard and felt an after explosion (or something, we’re not sure what) shake our building and draw all the neighboring workers into the street in curiosity. We stood in the road together, staring into the black cloud, in shock and disbelief at what was occurring.

At word that the Pentagon was hit, our camera crew took off to get some footage, leaving me alone in the office with an anxious tennis player whose parents were both in the White House at the time. He had no way of reaching them or learning of their condition. At the time, rumor was spreading that another plane was headed toward the Capital so we were all on pins and needles. I emailed my dad for a bit and let him know I was fine. (Later that night I received many phone calls from frantic people back in Utah wanting to make sure I was alive. I didn’t realize how panicked they must have been. I knew that the damage was isolated and that I was a safe distance away but all they knew was that I was in a target city).

We spent the rest of the day trying to reach his parents and watching the t.v. along with the rest of the world. By that time, the towers had collapsed, but we continued to tune in for hopes of more information or to find out that this was all just a dream- or nightmare.

I didn’t realize the grandeur of it all until my roommate called. She had been alone in her office on Capital Hill and was surprised by a soldier knocking at her door. They evacuated the entire capital and she was forced onto the metro, then onto a bus around the Pentagon, then back onto the metro, arriving home hours later. She said that Salt Lake was calling to make sure we were all accounted for and she informed me that I was the only one of the 30+ interns still at work. That’s when it hit me how bad this really was.

I went home and spent some time with my boyfriend and on the phone with friends and family from back home as we tried to grasp it all and predict the future implications of the event.

The next day the world was changed. I remember stepping into the metro Wednesday morning to a thick feeling of sorrow. It was nearly tangible- and silent. For a long time the Pentagon metro stop was closed, but after a while it was reopened to individuals with I.D. only. You knew that everyone who got on or off at the stop had been there at the time of the attack.

That night, September 12, I went to a prayer/candlelight vigil at the Capital. All the Senators held a memorial inside while hundreds of us honored outside at the Reflecting Pool. We lit candles and sang patriotic songs. A few of the firemen who had battled the blaze at the Pentagon were there and they had, draped over their fire truck, a flag that had flown at the Pentagon at the time of the attack. It was a humbling experience to be there and participate in that. I was grateful to be close and to be able to take part with hundreds of other strangers as we connected in feelings of sorrow, hope, patriotism and gratitude.
I attended another such prayer vigil at the Lincoln Memorial the following Friday night.

That Friday brought with it a small miracle. It was a day designated by President Bush to commemorate the victims. At noon he asked that the nation pause in a moment of silence. The day had been a gloomy one and started out with rain. Our film crew had gone to the Pentagon to get footage but had forgotten some pieces of camera equipment. Two co-workers and I headed out to bring the materials to them. At the appointed 12 o’clock, we pulled over to the side of the road to observe the moment of silence. Our car was facing the direction of the Pentagon but we could not see the actual building from where we were. We looked up into the sky toward where the Pentagon was and saw the most incredible thing. The clouds and gray sky parted and the sun shone brightly through- just in that one spot. It was truly amazing. My co-worker called a radio station to let them know, through her tears, what we had just witnessed. It was such a remarkable moment of hope.

There were so many other instances of hope and goodness that came from the experience, despite all the horror. Growing up, I had often reflected on how the characters in the Book of Mormon were able to recognize the hand of the Lord in disasters and trials and they were consequently humbled and turned to the Lord. In all my life I had not seen that happened and wondered why disasters in our day did not have the same affect. This one did. For the first time I witnessed that very phenomenon as people turned to God and were suddenly not afraid to shamelessly declare their love for, and reliance on, Him.

I was grateful for the time that I had in D.C. We visited NYC 11 days later and witnessed for ourselves Ground Zero and the devastating effects the attacks had had there. We saw the buildings covered in ash and visited the church that housed so many people during the frightening first few days. But I also saw the resiliency of the cities and the people there. I attended a press conference in the Washington National Airport as they addressed new security measures. I witnessed the reopening of the airport weeks later and panicked a bit as it looked like the planes were again flying right into the ground as the airport is in the middle of the city. D.C. continued to experience difficulties- a tornado, Anthrax scare, and plenty of uncertainty- but it was an exciting place to be at the same time. It was life changing for me to participate in a great change in our nation and to be so close to all that was occurring.