9-1-1: My husband woke me up with a jolt. He had been watching "Good Morning America." He rushed me to the television. We had just left NYC and, from San Francisco, we watched the first tower fall. For over three years, I had worked at the 103rd floor of One World Trade Center. Then the second tower fell. And we watched Charlie Gibson unable to see what was happening. We watched Mr. Gibson unable to process, thus see, the fall of the second tower -- a lesson again in how (1) people fail to see what they do not want to see, and (2) we see only what we want to see. Later, I made a scheduled class visit. I held up a newspaper's front page featuring "The Falling Man". I said that this image revised the image I have of my book BLACK LIGHTNING. I raised the cover of my book, which reproduced a painting by Theresa Chong. I said I could no longer look at my book cover or Theresa's painting (which hangs in my house) without seeing the falling man superimposed against its lines. Theresa had made her painting by standing the canvas on edge, thus, allowing gravity to dictate the fall of the black and white paint stripes. Gravity dictates ... so much. September 11 -- my Birthday for so many years, and still my *legal* birthday. A few years ago, my mother revealed that, actually, I was born on Sept. 10 but the village recorder the next morning failed to adjust the day since I'd been born at night. The revelation shocked, then brought extreme joy. I no longer shared the same birthday as the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. And I was no longer a 9-1-1 baby.
"Black Lightning" by Theresa Chong