It didn’t seem right, on this day, to blather about writing and publishing, but I also didn’t want to say nothing. So I just want to remember where I was ten years ago.

I was in college, my sophomore year. I remember walking through the business building, which has screens everywhere that are always on CNN. I saw the red banner “America Under Attack,” and some footage of smoke rising from a building. I wondered if it was some kind of spoof. Seriously, I thought, “I’m in America. I’m standing right here and nothing is happening to me.” Then I saw the second plane hit and everyone gasped. It still took several minutes for it to sink in.

In acting class that day we were supposed to do an exercise that involved pretending we were on an airplane. We didn’t do that exercise ever again. We talked about what was happening, and what it meant, and how we felt. My professor described how he felt he had been slightly desensitized to the whole thing, because as he was watching the footage of the plane going into the tower he said he had a small moment of thinking they could have done a better job with the special effects. I guess it was kind of similar to my thoughts that it had to be some kind of spoof.

I wonder if we’re all desensitized a little bit. I wonder if the way we consume drama and media has somehow made us unable to sometimes see reality. We don’t even know what’s real anymore, because we immerse ourselves in a virtual life. Our unreality has become our reality, and when we see reality, we’re not even sure it’s real.

And yet, I make up stories for a living. In a moment of national crisis it feels small and trite, but I think it’s those moments where the stories become the most important and powerful, because even though I didn’t know what was real right away, when I figured it out, I went back to the stories. Maybe they’re not all real, but they show me what to do when the real stuff comes. They show me what’s important and why we’re here.

God bless America. 


  1. Great post, Liesl. I remember thinking something similar, that it looked like something out of a movie. But it wasn’t out of a movie. It was real.

    I think our hyperrealistic unrealism has definitely desensitized us. It drives me crazy when they put graphic beatings or images of dead bodies killed in a war zone on the news. We should treat reality–and real life–more sacredly than that.

    • Anonymous

    • September 17, 2012

    • 7:50 pm

    I remember being in my 2nd year of undergrad degree, walking through the student centre waiting for a bus after class at my university. TV’s were on all over the place. I live in Canada, but I was watching the news on the screen and not comprehending what was going on at all. It wasn’t until I was home much later that I chatted about it with a friend and realized what had really happened. I’m not American, but it was a profound shock in this world I think.

    On an unrelated note: acting class 🙂 I wish I’d been taking your degree! I was foolishly deep into the sciences and now that I’ve rediscovered my writing bug, I’m kicking all the years doing things one doesn’t even want to be doing.


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