Friday, September 9, 2011

That Day In September - Artie Van Why

Before I tell you about Artie Van Why's book, I'm going to share a little bit of my 9/11 story with you.  Some of you may heard it, and to those people I apologize for repeating myself. 

My reaction was the same as the rest of the world on that day...I was devastated.  I didn't lose anyone in the terrorist attacks, but I felt that my innocence had been stolen from me.  All I wanted to do on that day was go home and be with my husband and children.  Instead, I worked for a company who wanted to seize the moment and come up with a patriotic but profitable promotion, and was asked to work late to make it happen.  Around 3:00pm, a teacher from my kids' school called me and told me my kids were the only ones remaining, and could I please come and get them?  I had to call my husband to do the honors.

I didn't quit the next day.  Who can do that financially?  But at that very moment, I made a promise that we would get our bills paid, and reprioritize our life so I could stay home and raise my children. Things were sacrificed and my husband and I made it happen.  Never again was I going to be put in that position, that my babies were going to be the last children left at school with the nation was falling apart.  It was an epiphany.  I quit my job, after a 16 year career, in 2004. 

For three or four years, I went into my shell on 9/11.  I grieved all over again.  Even now, ten years later, there is a pall cast over the day.  It is for this reason that even though I only accept 1 out of every 10 review copies, Artie's spoke to me.  Like me and thousands of people out there, he has a story to tell.

Artie worked across the street from the Twin Towers as a word processor for a law firm.  It wasn't his dream job.  He was a gay man, mostly in the closet, and had always wanted to be an actor.  Those dreams were put aside to pay the bills.  Artie was also a recovering alcoholic, and was just trying to get by day to day.     
 
 
But when the towers were hit, and Artie raced out into the street and saw bodies falling from the sky, something shifted in him.  He wished he could have saved some of them.  He walked home, changed his clothes, and went to his AA meeting.  He called his parents.  He slept with the light on.  He wouldn't leave his neighborhood.  He started when he heard an airplane.  He would silently plan his escape route if buildings started to fall as he was walking down the street.  His words are honest and raw.   

Ultimately, he quit his job and chased his dream.  He began getting his thoughts down on paper, which were published into this book.  He adapted his words into a one man show off Broadway.  He is doing what he loves.

I feel an affinity with Artie in that we both were irrevocably affected by 9/11, and made changes for the better.  His personal memoir is a testament to the human spirit, and honors the memories of all the souls lost on September 11, 2001.  This book is only 84 pages, something you can read in an hour, to help us remember a day that should never be forgotten.

4 out of 5 stars 



15 comments:

Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

This is a really great post! I can only imagine what it must have felt like to be held back at work while you were worried about family and the 9-11 attacks. I was in highschool when teh attacks too place, and as soon as I came home I was glued to the television. I'm a Canadian but that day will never be forgotten, my heart broke and I will always remember that feeling.

Trisha said...

Wow. I can't imagine working somewhere on that day. That would be horribly stressful even without the added stress of children! I'm glad you were able to quit your job.

farmlanebooks said...

It is sad to hear that a company wanted to make profits from that terrible day, but I'm pleased that you managed to get away and concentrate on your children.

I got back from my honeymoon the day before 9/11 and so was still on the high from my wedding/honeymoon. The whole world seemed to change that day and I'm glad that for a few people at least things changed for the better. It is going to be an emotional weekend, so thanks for the positive post.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, what a moving post! I tried watching one of the remembrance shows on TLC the other night and just ended up crying the whole time. It's funny how you can remember days like that so clearly, while the rest of the year (or your life) can just fly by!

Julie P. said...

I agree. It's a very powerful post and I love that you had the courage and strength to do the right thing for you and your family.

9/11 was a bit of a wakeup call for me too since my family had just moved to Central PA (from Washington DC) a few days earlier. It just seemed like I was getting a message that quitting my job and being a stay at home mom was right for me!

Ti said...

I think everyone remembers what they were doing when those planes hit. I was getting ready for work when the first plane hit,and on my way to work when the other one hit. I listened to news radio all the way in, and then my entire dept watched the horror on TV. My boss told us to leave and so we did. I picked up The Boy from daycare and we were both silent all the way home. Such a devastating day.

This books sounds very powerful, and I am so glad that the author (and you) were able to make your dreams a reality.

Alyce said...

I've been staring at this comment box for several minutes trying to think of something eloquent (or remotely cohesive to say). I'm glad you shared your story, and were able to make changes to benefit your family. I was at home with a one-month-old baby - nursing him while I watched the news coverage. The weeks after that were just a sleepless sorrowful fog for me. On the anniversary in 2004 our second son was born, so now we have a reason to celebrate on that day, and that's a gift.

Zibilee said...

I remember that when the event happened, I was the only one in an office full of people that knew what was going on, and I was frozen to my spot and not sure how to go about telling everyone. It was a strange feeling, and my sadness over what was happening was both shot with anger and fear. I clearly remember how scary and unbalanced the world felt while all those planes were up in the air, and no one knew what was going to happen next. Even ten years later, I can still feel that know in my stomach and in my throat.

I think your experience was life changing in a couple of ways, because not only were you reacting to it like everyone else, but it forced you to re-prioritize and make drastic changes to your life. And your reaction to the demands of your company that day make perfect sense. I certainly can't fault your reasoning. It sounds like this book and this event have so much underlying significance to you, and for good reason. This was a marvelous and very candid post. I appreciated it.

caite said...

as I wrote in my review, I think it is a small but powerful little book, well, worth reading. Glad you liked it too.

reviewsbylola said...

I love hearing about both your story and Artie's.

bermudaonion said...

Carl's parents were visiting us on 9/11 and I remember sitting with them watching the TV in horror. I think that day changed the lives of so many of us and we'll be forever changed because of it. Kudos to you and Artie for making positive changes in your lives.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

It's truly hard to believe it has been ten years. It's also amazing to think how many peoples' lives were changed by what happened that day. From you leaving your job to this author following his dreams, what a huge impact.

Jenny said...

Moments like that definitely make you re-evaluate where you are in life. Thanks for sharing that story. This book sounds like something I'd like to read.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Wow, what a great and powerful story or really, set of stories. I am so amazed by the books and stories, coming out for the ten year anniversary. I thought that they might all be the same but it seems as though the publishing world and the American writing community has really done a good job of tapping into seriously unique and personally emotional stories surrounding everyone's feelings on that day. thank you so much again for sharing your feelings on the event.

patebooks said...

Thanks for writing this. I'm still not sure if I want to post anything about 9/11, unless to recommend the book Poetry After 9/11, published by Melville House.
Those poems written in the immediate aftermath say it all.