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Audrey Hepburn: Beauty, Class & a Kind Heart

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were you When the World Stopped Turning that September Day?


     It's so hard to believe that it's been ten years since we woke up to the images of what Hell on Earth looked like. Pretty much every single person who was alive then remembers exactly where we were & exactly what we were doing when we first received the breaking news. I wanted to share a bit about where I was & why it had such a huge impact on my life.
     On September 11, 2001  I was a patient at Baptist East in Memphis, TN. I'd been there since being admitted on June 19th. I had been in a coma, had my legs amputated below the knee & was still recovering from all the damage Meningococcal Meningitis had done to my body. My mom actually had the TV on when the first plane hit but I was still asleep. Because the previous few days had been rough on me, Mom didn't wake me up when it happened. Of course, at the time, we (America) still weren't sure the plane hitting the North Tower hadn't been a tragic accident. I remember waking up & seeing the North Tower with smoke coming out of the top. I'd only been awake for a few minutes when I looked up to see the South Tower get hit. I remember not really being able to grasp what was going on. Luckily, I was on 2 REALLY strong pain medications & another med for anxiety. I don't know if I'd of been able to handle seeing the images of that day had I not been completely doped up out of my mind. I do remember the nurses having to give me a bit more Ativan that day to keep me calm. Of course, we watched the coverage all day & well into that night. I remember the nurses coming in my room more frequently that day so that they could watch the TV with us.

     For me, 9/11 didn't just represent a day of horror, tragedy, unknown heroes & the perseverance of our country. For me, the tragedy represented what was about to be an entirely different world. I knew that I would finally be going home in the next couple of weeks & of course, when I went into the hospital on 6/19/01, although I was just barely alive, aside from the disease attacking my body I was still a "normal" 19 year old. I was about to be released into an entirely new world that had never existed. Not only would it be the post-9/11 world, it would be a world that I would have to learn to do basic, everyday things all over again. I'd have to learn to walk, write, put on makeup & drive all over. It was such a scary, vulnerable feeling. Just 3  1/2 months before, none of these issues had even been thought of. I remember almost being hesitant about having to go home. I'd come to feel safe in the hospital. I kind of felt like as long as I stayed in the hospital, this new existence I was so afraid of didn't really have to exist.

     Anytime I see the images of the 9/11 attacks, not only am I taken back to the horror of that day's events, I'm taken back to the horror I was dealing with in my own personal life. Even with all that was going on at that time, I know that I am still so lucky. Unlike so many others all over the world, I didn't lose any family or close friends. I can't even imagine what it must be like to watch those towers fall over & over, each time feeling as if you're watching the final seconds of your husband or wife or son or daughter's life. I don't know how the loved ones of the passengers on United 93 can even look at a plane without thinking about what the people on the flight went through.  Of course, I know the family members of the United 93 passengers have to feel a kind of pride most people will never know. I'd imagine anyone who lost someone on that day feels a great deal of anger but I also assume there's a great deal of pride they must feel too.

     I've heard it said so many times that one day, 9/11 will just become another day, much like December 7th has now become just another day. (if you don't know what happened 12/7/1941, get your history books out!) Although I do understand how people can feel that way, I don't think that's going to happen for a long time. Unlike the attacks of Pearl Harbor, there are 1000s & 1000s of images & recordings from the day of the 9/11 attacks. Also, unlike the attack of Pearl Harbor, the world had never seen these kind of attacks carried out before. I think if we ever live in a world where seeing a 100+ story building crumble to the ground within seconds becomes something that doesn't completely strike terror into people, it's just time for Judgement Day to hurry up & come. I realize that the day of these attacks is not the most pleasant thing to discuss with children but I do wish more parents would do just that. We need to teach children of future generations about all of the heroes who came to be on this great day of tragedy. We need to make kids want to be more like the passengers of United 93 and the emergency responders/port authority officers of NYC & less like one of the Kardashian sisters!

     I think one more thing people need to start realizing is that hating all Muslims is in no way helpful to honoring the people we lost on this day! I seriously doubt all of the victims of that day are up in Heaven hoping that we start spitting at Muslims & setting their mosques on fire. All that does is piss the members of the Taliban off even more & then they want to attack us even more. The vast majority of Muslims in the world not only don't hold the same extreme beliefs as the terrorists do, they don't support the Taliban either. There were a lot of innocent Muslims killed in the 9/11 attacks. Hate will never be the answer to solving any of the problems in the world. All it does is add fuel to the fire. The more hate we see being spread in this world, the worse we see the conditions of the world become.

     When I attended Mass this afternoon, I was so happy with the message the priest had. I admit there are a couple of things I take issue with when it comes to the Catholic Church but the one thing I absolutely LOVE about it is that the priests are so serious when it comes to teaching love, not hate. I honestly believe if you belong to a religion that teaches you that unless someone has your exact religious views, you should treat them like they're below you, you need to give some VERY SERIOUS consideration to leaving that religion... ASAP! Jesus was supposed to represent the deepest kind of love mankind has ever seen. He did NOT teach hate. EVER! He was even able to forgive the men who tortured & killed him. He was forgiveness!! Today's church bulletin included the following statements: "This weekend is a most appropriate time to reflect on forgiveness. Ten years after the 2001 attacks, many of us still harbor anger and hatred towards those who perpetrated the attacks as well as innocent Muslims who had nothing to do with them. Yet, as today's readings remind us, how can we expect God to forgive our sins when we harbor vengeance toward others who have wronged us?". The bulletin also contained this paragraph: "On September 7, 2010, U.S. bishops and interfaith leaders met "to denounce categorically derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America's Muslim community... All acts of intolerance aimed at a religious community should find no place in our world, let alone in our nation which is founded on the principle of religious freedom." For that reason alone, I love the Catholic church!

     If we want to truly honor the lives lost on 9/11, we need to remember to be kinder to others & to love our neighbors. Being hateful accomplishes nothing and it's as if you're giving a part of yourself to the terrorists and allowing them to win. I personally want to thank every single NYC emergency responder, living and dead, who came to the towers to save lives and help others on 9/11. I want to the thank the courageous passengers on United 93 who were able to, by sacrificing their own lives, save many others from an attack. (it's believed they were heading to The Capitol Building) Thank you to Rick Rescorla, Frank DeMartini, & Pablo Ortiz who saved over 2,775 people (just those 3 men alone saved that many people!) from the attacks on the Twin Towers, ultimately, sacrificing themselves. Thank you to the many other everyday, ordinary people who on 9/11 became heroes. Thank you to the men and women of the military who have fought and continue fighting the war on terrorism. Also, thank you to Father Mychal Judge (aka Saint Mychal & the Saint of 9/11). His actions that day (as well as his life before 9/11) have made him one of my personal heroes. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people who lost loved ones on that day.

                             I'm not a big country music fan but I think this is a beautiful song!

1 of my biggest inspirations: Father Mychal Judge, FDNY Chaplin, killed on 9/11/01

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saint of 9/11 aka Victim #0001 of the World Trade Center Attacks

Father Mychal Judge

     Before I really get into this, let me start by letting everyone know that yes, I am okay! I know it's been over a month since I blogged but I just got lazy after my last work trip. But, with Sunday being the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I definitely have some things on my heart that I wanted to share.

    While I am a very spiritual person, I'm not the most religious person in the world. I was raised in the Roman Catholic church & there are so many things I love about the religion. (mainly the lengthy history of the church) When I do go to church, the majority of the time I go to a Catholic church. Do I agree w/ everything about the religion? No, there are a few things I take issue with. But, I'm seeing more & more people starting to feel that way about their religion as well. It's hard to find any religion that is going to fit you 100%. Anyway, the reason I'm bringing up the Catholic church is b/c one of my biggest inspirations is Father Mychal Judge. The Orthodox Catholic Church has actually made him a saint since his death on 9/11/01. It's a bit harder to become a saint in the Roman Catholic Church b/c it's quite a process. Father Judge was confirmed death number 0001 at the World Trade Center. Obviously, the people in the plane that hit Tower 1 & the people at the immediate site of the impact were the very first to die on that day but Father Judge was the very first death to be confirmed.

     Father Mychal was Chaplain of the NYC fire department & was a very well known figure in the city. He was extremely loved by the fire department. On 9/11 after the first tower (North Tower) was hit, he rushed to the site so he could be with his men. As he was walking up to the North Tower, Mayor Giuliani (also a Catholic) approached Father Mychal & told him to come with him. He told Mayor Giuliani, "No, I have to stay with my men!". As Mayor Giuliani walked off he told Father Mychal to, "Pray for us!" to which Father Mychal responded, "I always do!". Father Mychal gave last rites to several victims who were laying outside on the sidewalk before finally entering the North Tower. He remained in the lobby at the command post praying the entire time & asking God to end the situation. After the South Tower collapsed, debris was falling from it & landing in the North Tower. Debris hit Father Mychal directly in the head, killing him upon impact. After he was killed, a NYPD officer who had also been buried under debris when the North Tower collapsed, found Father Mychal's body & had a few other men help him get Father Mychal's body out of the tower. They took his body to St. Peter's Church which was nearby & placed him inside at the alter. Before going back out to help, the guys knelt at the alter to give thanks to God for Father Mychal. They then covered his body & placed his NYC FD badge on top of it. To me, the men placing his body at the alter was a way of showing that he literally sacrificed himself at the foot of the alter in order to help others. The picture of the 5 guys carrying his body has become one of the most iconic pictures from 9/11. Because Father Mychal's body was immediately ID'd by a longtime friend who was with the NYPD, he was ruled Victim 0001 of the attacks on the Twin Towers. Some have said they believe he had to be number 1 b/c God needed his services up in Heaven on 9/11.

Father Mychal's body being carried out of the North Tower

     Obviously, there were MANY heroes on 9/11. However, it wasn't just Father Mychal's actions on that day that make him one of my personal heroes. Father Mychal was a recovering alcoholic who still attended AA meetings on a regular basis. He was gay (In orientation! Obviously, since he was a priest, not in practice.) & had been a long time member of Dignity which is a Catholic LGBT organization which advocates change in the teaching of the Catholic Church's view on homosexuality. (many Catholic churches have become more open on the subject) When the AIDS epidemic took place, he was one of the first priests to deliver Last Rites to patients. He helped console AIDS patients & their families. He came from an Irish family & was well known for bursting into Irish songs. The NYC FP loved him. Not only did Father Mychal know all of the guys on the fire department, he also remembered the names of their family members. He had met w/ President Clinton once at the White House & when he came back to NYC, he handed out a bunch of cocktail napkins w/ the presidential seal that he'd managed to walk off with. Like most New Yorkers, he was known to drop some foul language from time to time. Anytime someone from the Right Wing would give him money, he'd turn around & give it to a Gay Rights organization! (LOVE it!!) Basically, he sounds like the kind of person you'd want for your best friend.

     The world needs so many more people like Father Mychal in it. He represents what Jesus stood for... LOVE! He loved EVERYONE! He had friends from all different religious backgrounds. He even had friends who were Atheists. I get so angry at all of these pastors from other religions who basically make the people of their congregations think that unless someone believes in the exact same things you do, you should fear them & treat them like crap. I know way too many people who are "Christians" who say some of the most hateful things towards other people. They don't like Muslims, period. Some of them refer to blacks as a certain racial slur that I do not tolerate. Many of them look down on others b/c maybe they don't come from a lot of money or maybe one parent is black & the other parent white. How can you act that way & then go around talking to people about being a Christian? You think Jesus would go around telling Muslims to burn in Hell? Jesus hung out w/ the lowest of the low in society. He had friends who were prostitutes & friends who were homeless. He believed in helping the poor & the sick, not looking at them as outcasts of society who you should ignore or treat badly. Father Mychal completely embodied that!
     I wish more people would start to idolize people like Father Mychal. It's sad that people like the cast of Jersey Shore are celebrities & well known by society yet most people couldn't give a single name of one of the almost 400 firemen who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11. THAT is the type of person people need to look up to. The passengers of United 93 who, after learning that their hijacked plane would likely be used in the same way the other 3 hijacked flights that day had been, decided that they wouldn't allow their plane to be used as a weapon & stormed the cockpit. They ultimately gave their lives when crashing the plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania. They are the type of people we need to teach kids to look up to. They are what heroes are! We should all be thankful that there are people like that who exist in this world.

     Since I am Catholic, there are times when I call on certain saints in prayer. Usually, I pray to God or to Mary but there are a few saints that I pray to b/c of what they "specialize" in. (I.E. Saint Jude b/c he is one of the saints who helps the sick) Even though Father Mychal has not become a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, in my eyes, he is most definitely a saint. There are times when I do just stop & kind of ask him to guide me in what I'm doing. Even though I never knew him personally, he has had a huge impact on my life. And obviously I'm not the only one who feels that way. Over 3,000 people attended his funeral in Manhattan including President & Hillary Clinton as well as Mayor Giuliani. Father Mychal's helmet was taken to Pope John Paul II. He has been honored in numerous ways all over the world. The next time my mom & I visit NYC, I've already told her we're taking a 30 minute taxi ride over to New Jersey so that I can visit his grave.

     Father Mychal's death is featured in several different documentaries on 9/11. One documentary was done on just him. The film is called, "Saint of 9/11". I couldn't think of a more appropriate title!! Thank you, Saint Mychal, for all that you did during your time on Earth & thank you for all you continue to do 10 years after your death.
Father Mychal's helmet being presented to Pope John Paul II

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy 100th!

     I've been a HUGE fan of Lucy (Lucille Ball) since I was a little girl. I can't imagine what the world would've been like had she not been in it. Female comedians owe her a ton for the road she paved!
     One of the main reasons I literally LOVE Lucy is that my grandparents enjoyed watching her. I have good memories of watching the show at their house. Another thing that drew me to her is that she was a redhead. (bottled, but still!) Of course, I didn't know that for quite some time since the show was in black & white but once I saw a picture of her in color, I knew I liked her. I was born a redhead. I mean, completely red! My natural color is VERY strawberry blonde but for whatever reason, I just don't care for the way the color looks on me so I end up covering most of it. MOST... not all. That red hair is one of the markings of the Gray family so I have to leave just a teeny bit out of love. My great-grandmother, my granddad, & my dad are all redheads!
     Anyway, she would've been 100 on 8/6 so I just have to give a nod to one of the ladies who paved the way for crazy, sassy, funny, loud, obnoxious women all over the world! I have to say, one of the reasons I'm loving Emma Stone so much is b/c I look at her & see a modern day Lucy! Oh, & I've totally been enjoying Hallmark Channel's "I Love Lucy" weekend marathon. What a great cast that show had! I know most everyone who knows anything about the show has an absolute favorite episode! I know a ton of people love the episode where she works in the candy factory. Another popular episode is the one where she's stomping grapes & gets into a fight with the lady. (also known as, "The episode Vivian watches in the hotel room on the floor in the movie Pretty Woman") My favorite episode is one of the Hollywood episodes. I love the episode that John Wayne was in. I've never been much of a fan of his & I really only remember how he looked as he got older but I must say, he was quite a handsome man. And tall!! Are you a Lucy fan? If so, what's your favorite episode?
From one (natural) redhead to another (not so natural) redhead, Happy 100th, Lucy!! We all STILL Love Lucy!!

Michigan, Take 2

     First off, sorry I've been completely slacking on keeping my blog updated this week. Things were a bit crazy this week & my mind was in a million places at one time. Plus, I haven't been living on the computer like I seem to do way too often. I've been working out a few times a week for the past month & I have finally gotten to the point that I actually look forward to it & feel blah if I don't do it. I haven't been like that since before I got sick so it's a VERY welcomed feeling. I doubt I'll ever get back to the shape I was in before I got sick but still, I can tell my energy level has gone up some & my arms are getting some of their definition back. (I have a very strong upper body b/c of how much I have to use them due to my disability.)
     I am leaving for a job, well, actually, 3 jobs, in Michigan this afternoon. I was originally supposed to go to New Hampshire & I was really looking forward to it b/c I was going to see some of my stepmom's family while there. However, some issues came up w/ that job & then one of my friends who works as a rep. for Novartis (the pharmaceutical company I work w/) put in a request to have me come do some work w/ her in Michigan. So, even though New Hampshire fell through, I'm looking forward to seeing Melanie & hanging out w/ her for a couple of days. (she has the cutest baby boy!!) This job is going to be a bit different from the speaking engagements I usually do. Usually, the events I speak at are nice dinners. Two of these jobs are going to be lunches & one will be an early dinner. I realize this probably sounds super interesting to a lot of people. The main reason I'm blogging about this is to explain why I won't be posting much during the coming week.
     Aside from seeing my girl, Melanie, I'm REALLY looking forward to cooler temperatures for a few days! This 105 degree crap is seriously for the birds!! Even Satan would hate it here during Summer. I just keep reminding myself that if I can make it through 4 or 5 more weeks, the first signs of Fall will finally start to come around. (SO excited! It's the start of my favorite time of year!) I've checked out the temps. in the area I'm going to & I am looking forward to a nice 80 degree day with a wonderful 65 degree evening.
     Unlike the last trip I made to Michigan, I have already made sure my camera is packed. So, I should come back with some decent pictures that I can post. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend!! Be back in a few days! =)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Good!!

If you have not been to see Crazy, Stupid, Love... RUN! Go see it, ASAP!! I knew it was supposed to be really good & that it had a bunch of great reviews but seriously, it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. The cast is amazing! Steve Carell is hilarious & heartbreaking. Julianne Moore is gorgeous! Emma Stone is her usual cute, charming self. (& I'm now coming out & admitting my huge girl crush I have on her!) Marisa Tomei is hilariously crazy. Kevin Bacon isn't in it too much but he does a great job. Plus, he can now add a million more people to "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon". AND RYAN GOSLING... HOLY MOTHER!! I honestly think that even if the movie sucked, (which it doesn't!) just watching Ryan Gosling w/ his shirt off for 2 hours would've been well worth it. Oh, & the kids in it are all great. I mean, I don't know if there's ever been an ensemble cast like this one. Honestly, I can't say enough good stuff about this movie. And the added twist that comes in about half through makes it even better. They throw it at you at the perfect time! You'll walk out of Crazy, Stupid, Love w/ a huge smile on your face. With all of the crazy ass stuff going on in the world right now, it was so nice to escape reality for 2 hours w/ this amazing cast. Another thing I personally enjoyed about the movie was the music. I haven't checked it out yet but it has to have a killer soundtrack. Then again, my taste in music seems to be an acquired taste, especially where I live. My friends don't know who half the people I listen to are. Of course, when people talk to me about a lot of the singers who are on the radio now, I don't know who quite a few of them are. I seriously never listen to the radio. (I'm never w/out my mp3 player! It's even been to the hospital w/ me.) Anyway, I knew I'd end up liking this movie the first time I heard the name of it. I don't think anyone who's ever been in love can't NOT relate to the title. Let's face it, love is crazy. It makes us act crazy, it makes us do crazy stuff that we swore we'd never do, & of course, God knows, it makes you do STUPID things. Speaking of God, I'd like to take a moment & thank Him for creating men like Ryan Gosling. I'd also like to ask Him to send a man like that my way. AMEN!