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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the weekend: How are you dealing with — or avoiding — the 9/11 anniversary?

In a way I’m glad I’m not in New York this week: the 9/11 remembrances and retrospectives have been painful enough on this side of the Atlantic, and I can only imagine that the looking-back is even more intense in the city where some of the events of that day happened. My memories of the day are agonizing enough; seeing what has happened to the United States in the intervening decade as a result of that day is even worse.
And yet, it’s impossible to avoid the looking-back. I was channel surfing the other day and came across a new British documentary on Channel 4 about the EMS workers who were at Ground Zero on 9/11, and the small community hospital that was nearest the site that ending up coping with most of the injured. The film was full of stories I’d never heard before, and provided a perspective on the day that was new to me, and I was riveted in spite of myself.

There’s been a lot of that this week. I thought we had seen and heard everything there was to see and hear from that day, yet all around us, new photos and new recordings and the like are cropping up. I end up getting sucked in to exploring them even though it’s awful. And inevitably, when people here learn I’m from New York, especially this week, they want to know if I was there on That Day and What Was It Like. So I’ve ended up talking a lot about how I don’t want to talk about it. Not that I blame people for being curious. And as with the photos and films I can’t look away from, if I really didn’t want to talk about these things, I would just change the subject.

So that’s me: to this day, my own reaction to 9/11 is like a scabbed-over knee. I know it’s bad for me and I shouldn’t do it, but I can’t help picking at the scab.

How are you dealing with — or avoiding — the 9/11 anniversary?

Perhaps you had an experience like beccity98, who sent me this email:

Since 9/11 happened pretty early in the morning on the east coast, and therefore, most of the rest of the country was still sleeping, and were woken up by this news, it seems likely that many people would have inappropriate reactions to it, not being awake enough to fully realize the scope and scale of the tragedy. (I’m not completely coherent or rational-minded when woken up.) I myself had a quite shameful reaction when my mom woke me up to tell me. Also, being a teenager at the time, and on the other side of the country, in California, I think it took me much longer to realize what a tragedy it was-perhaps weeks.

I’m not going to say my shameful reaction unless some other people share theirs

Did you, like beccity98, have a shameful reaction that you’re remembering? Perhaps you have a different most vivid memory of that day that you can’t help but remember?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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