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Thursday, September 11, 2008


I wrote a whole blog last night about the Victoria Rowell interview at Daytime Confidential, with the intention of posting it this morning. But I'm putting it on hold for twenty-four hours, because as I started editing, the somber beat of drums outside my window gave me pause... the marching of so many New Yorkers through lower Manhattan, across the bridge, and down Flatbush Avenue outside my window... it brought me back to seven years ago this morning, and where I was at this exact time.

Yes, it's a 9/11 blog. If you're not interested, by all means, stop reading. I won't be offended. And no comments are necessary. This is one of those "I need an outlet" blogs. If you guys wanted to comment, by all means, go ahead. But this isn't really one of those "We need to have a discussion" entries. Part of me wanted to flip the switch and turn these feelings off on here, but the other part of me that had something to say won out. As I watched the march outside my window, and the reading of names on my television screen, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love and friendship that surrounded me, in spite of the fear that morning, out at the Midwood studio where As the World Turns is shot. So instead of blogging about Rowell, I wanted to write about the amazing spirit that helped support me on that morning, in Oakdale.

My apartment is directly across the water from lower Manhattan... so when I woke up alone that morning to sirens, and faced a growing mound of ash on my fire escape, all I could think was that I had to get to the studio. It was a Tuesday morning, which means we were having our weekly breakdown meeting where the network gives us notes on the outlines we wrote last week. My assumption at 9 AM was that there was no possible way we were going to have our meeting, but all I cared about was getting to the studio. Mainly because I remember thinking if this was an all-out attack, and if I couldn't be with my family, it was the good folks at As the World Turns that I wanted to be with if it happened. I can't explain the logic behind it, but as I was leaving I grabbed my laptop and my keyboard. The "eighty-eight keys" kind of keyboard, not the "typing" kind. I have no clue why. At the time, I wanted it with me.

When I got to the studio, a handful of production folk and actors were there - only the ones shooting their scenes first up that morning, and were in the middle of dry rehearsal when it happened. Hogan was visiting a sick friend in Los Angeles and was supposed to fly back that morning, but obviously he didn't. Jean Passanante, Tom Reilly and a couple other writers were there. And one representative from Procter and Gamble/TeleVest was there.

Once we were out there, no one knew how any of us were going to get home. The D-Train (which is now the Q-Train) stopped running by mid-morning. I spent about an hour trying to track down two friends who worked at the World Trade Center (one of whom hadn't gone to work yet, the other whom we thought was lost, but was found twenty-four hours later huddled in the doorway of a West Side bodega, in a state of shock), and then we crowded into the writers' room. The television set in the room, usually tuned to the studio feed so the writers can watch what's being taped, was now on the news feed. And in the middle of all of this, our Execustive Producer and the representative from P&G... they decided to go ahead with the notes meeting.

Reilly, Jean, myself... we sat there completely floored, as they flipped breakdown pages, giving us notes on Paul persuading Carly to help come up with new designs for the NYC fashion show, since his mother Barbara, driven insane by the disfiguring burns on her face, had failed to deliver. We sat there stunned, as pages were flipped, notes were given, we hastily scribbled the changes in the margin, and the towers fell on a muted television above us. At the time, I remember thinking how cold and insensitive it was... but now, I realize people deal with tragedy differently. I needed to carry a forty-pound piano with me, and they needed to pretend like it was business as usual, and note our breakdowns. Strange, but true. I was angry then, but we all did strange things to deal that morning. Who am I to judge?

But what I remember most from that day, above and beyond anything else, was the feeling of love and support from everyone else in that studio. We didn't know how long we were going to be there... we were all either going to end up walking hours back to our apartment, or we were going to sleep in the studio. And I remember thinking if that's what ends up happening, it's okay. I can't think of a group of people I'd rather spend the night with than the good people behind the scenes at Oakdale. The Production Coordinators, the the Production Assistants, the Directors and Assistant Directors, the Hair, Make-Up and Wardrobe folks... everyone in that studio that morning.

When I finally did get home that night around eight o'clock, the mound of ash on my fire escape was now a mountain. I called whichever writers I could get in touch with to give them the notes on their breakdowns - but their first concern was for whether or not my two friends had been found. And I remember trying to hold it together - for Chris and for Hogan. After all, the show must go on. But Carolyn, Susan, Courtney, Judy... they were all too quick to tell me not to worry about it. This came first. Life came first. I then proceeded to sit on the bathroom floor with my roommate, sob my eyes out, and promise not to sleep, in case there was more to come and this was the last night for both of us.

This day has a powerful meaning for so many of us. But for me, seven years later, when I look back on it? I remember the amazing people who work at As the World Turns. In the midst of global tragedy, in the midst of being forced to take notes on a week of episodes about a fashion show, what I remember the most are the hugs I got when I walked into the Midwood studio. The cleaning woman... the security guard... the boom mic operator... the few remaining writers and the handful of actors trapped there. I remember sitting on my floor in the office and consoling (and being consoled). I remember Tom Reilly saying to me "What the hell are you doing here? Why didn't you stay home?" And I remember saying "Because I didn't want to be alone. This is where I wanted to be."

Grabbing my keyboard was a bizarre reaction I look back on now, and think "Huh?!" But finding a way to get to Midwood? I don't regret it for a second.

This morning, I salute the thousands who were lost that day... I salute the millions of New Yorkers, all of whom have similar stories to tell, similar remembrances... and on a personal level, I salute the friends who were there for me, the bonds strengthened that day. Michele and Alex, Jessica and Gloria, Jenn and Jen, Brett and Lamont, Mary Clay and Kate, Theresa and Kevin, Chp and Maggie, Vivian and Carole, Pete and Chris and Tommy... and the most incredible, down-to-earth, friendliest cast and crew I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Tomorrow is another day. For today, I thank you for indulging me and letting me go down the old "Where were you when it happened?" path. I'll get back to the soap world's latest scandal in the morning. Today is about remembrance.

To the NYPD.

To the VNYFD.

To the souls we lost,

And to the souls who lifted us back up,

I shed a tear and raise a glass to you.

Thank you..

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