Category: writing Page 1 of 25

Battle Hymn for a Weary Republic

It is quite easy to forget that on the morning of September 11th, very few people thought that the twin towers would actually fall, that the audacious spires of steel and glass and concrete would betray the rescuers climbing heavenward inside their cramped stairwells, and give out, and vanish in enormous clouds of dust. Instead, we imagined the fires would be extinguished, that the buildings would be fixed, and our lives as we had known them until that point would simply continue.

We were wrong.

“Oh my God.”


You can go back and find full broadcast episodes of the major network morning shows from the morning of September 11th and see for yourself how naïve we all were. Five minutes after the first plane struck the north tower, Good Morning America‘s Diane Sawyer returned from an otherwise mundane commercial break to carefully attempt to describe what becomes the first of many horrific and unprecedented television images from that Tuesday.

The slow, deliberate pace with which Sawyer describes the scene–the tower, captured from a news chopper, a black scar high across its upper reaches, fatally engulfed–exemplifies the relative innocence we all woke up with that morning.

“We want to tell you what we know as we know it,” Sawyer says, a look of concern on her face. “One report said–and we can’t confirm any of this–is that a plane may have hit one of the two towers.”

40(ish) people who mean the world to me

I am turning forty this month and along with all the humorous trappings of reaching a milestone birthday, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about people in my life who give me incredible inspiration. How lucky am I to know so many amazing, wonderful folks! How lucky they put up with me!

This summer I started reading Sean Dietrich’s blog, “Sean of the South.” He’s a witty storyteller with a rich, southern voice. Sometimes he shares letters people write to him, and in one post, he shares a letter that began, “I sincerely love you.” And I thought, that’s something I ought to say more to people in my life.

So: I decided to start a list. Forty people (or groups of people) who mean the world to me. People I sincerely love. This list isn’t conclusive. Some are people I don’t know well. Some I’ve only recently met. Some I haven’t talked to in ages. For reasons that probably make sense, I specifically omitted family members near and distant.

Here we go.

The More Things Change

If you look at something five ways, how can it seem different on the sixth?


We return to the sea again and again. This, the sixth year of spending a week in Cherry Grove, this the first year of the new normal, the post-pandemic stranglehold more or less released. Things appear different.

First, our vista: our friends’ condo at the beach’s point changed hands, and after five summers we had to search for a new place. Serendipity being the kind saint that she is, I discovered a colleague owned a place just half a mile away. We are here, oceanside.

Things are physically different. The pier on the north end of the beach is missing a ninety-foot portion of its middle. The end of the pier (or most of it) still stands, stranded in the water, planks reaching out shore-side, waving for help. This damage is almost a year old; last August, Hurricane Isaias swept across this sandy string and took the pier’s belly with it. The dunes on that side of the beach have been clawed away by angry seawater. The beach moved.

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