Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memories of 9/11

A lot of people never forget where they were at a moment in history. Some of those moments for me included the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and the Boston Marathon bombings.
Of those moments in history, one that sticks with me are those events of September 11, 2001. The year had been rough so far.
Tropical Storm Allison struck in June, and the lingering effects caused damage campus wide at The University of St. Thomas. Guinan Hall, our dormitory, was shuttered due to structural damage. We were relocated to a neaeby hotel and shuttled back and forth by bus.
On the morning of Sept. 11, I woke up to my clock radio. Instead of music, the station switched over to the national news. Word came across the wire that a plane had struck a building in New York City.
I thought nothing of it at first, so I turned on the TV. As a reporter covered the first crash, a second plane blew up behind him. I had a class at 9:35 that I needed to get ready for.
My room mate was awake by then and was glued to the TV. As I was about to dash out the door, I watched in horrof as one of the towers collapsed.
On the shuttle to campus, we were all quiet. Some of us shared our shock at what we'd witnessed. I made it to class and our professor dismissed us so that we could go pray or be with our families. Eventually all classes were canceled.
I went to Crooker, the student center, and watched the events unfold on the television in the coffee shop upstairs.
I sat there in awe as I watched footage of the second tower collapsimg. Then there were the subsequent plane crashes at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. I spent the day shell shocked by the events I witnessed.
The events of that day still stick with me. Any time I see the footage, I can't help but shed a tear. When I read about alll the innocent lives lost, it upsets me.
Our University of St. Thomas community was affected by the events of 9/11. We were later informed that a fellow alumni Barbara Olsen was among those lost in the tragedy. She was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What's New

So many changes in my life recently. Not only have I moved into a new place, but I have a new store to work in. Both decisions were difficult ones, but I felt it was time to move ahead.
I have often railed both for and against urban renewal and gentrification. My apartment complex is a good example of urban renewal.
For many years the name Skylane Apartments was synonymous with crime. In recent months, three have been purchased and are now in the process of being renovated.
I'll admit I had my reservations about moving into a former Skylane. The owner reassured me most of the bad element was gone. After my experience at my last complex, I wondered what awaited me inside.
The apartment was airy and clean, no carpet in sight. Unfortunately the last tenants got color happy. When I moved in though, the apartment was bright and new again. Even then I still had my reservations.
I had to figure out a new route to work. Before I was a short 10-minute walk from my job. Now I was a bus ride and a walk up Montrose. I would also be further from the night life.
The latter was less of a drawback. I hadn't gone out much since the search for a new place began. To be honest I am growing tired of the scene, but I like to see my friends occasionally.

The other big change was in my job. For the last six years I've worked at the same grocery store. The buzz surrounding the new store had grown steadily as grand opening approached. I didn't give it a second thought until my department manger contacted me about possibly going to the new location. At first I thought it would be a temporary assignment and then I would go back to my regular post. However, there was some kind of miscommunication between my store manager and my department manager. What I understood would be temporary would actually be permanent. The store was across town in the burgeoning Memorial Heights area. Getting there would be a slight challenge, but my boss was willing to work with the bus schedule. Grand opening weekend at the new store arrived and I had my apprehensions. New store, new managers, new co-workers, and of course a different clientele. I put my fears aside and went into it like I would any other assignment. The first night was not so bad and I realized that the routine would be about the same as at my old store. After a busy opening weekend, I had finally adjusted. As much as I would miss my regular customers, business is business. My reasons for leaving my old post were many, but what it boiled down to was a new opportunity. The new store would be on the front lines of the battle for grocery customers. We were sandwiched between a Target which was already well established, and a new Walmart, the first ever inside the Loop. While many in the area were opposed to the new Walmart, it was built anyway. I went to both my store and the new Walmart for their opening and my store was better received. The opening of two new retailers in the area was a testament to the renewal that had occurred in the last decade. The Washington Avenue Corridor was in 2003 a place no one wanted to be after dark. Today the street is lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants. Swaths of rent houses were cleared to make way for apartment buildings, town houses, and strip malls. As Houston grows, the city will continue to change rapidly. Along Richmond Avenue, where I moved to, excavators scrape the land with extreme prejudice to make way for new developments. Where apartment complexes sprawled across entire city blocks will soon be replaced with mid-rise buildings. I'm a bit nervous because of how quickly they've moved, but I know for now my complex is safe. All I can do is roll with the changes both in my job and in my personal life.