The Memorial

We happened to be in New York for Christmas. After the loss of his father, my husband wanted to be far far away from home and all the reminders that Christmas would bring, of happy family times spent together. So we decided that a visit to the Big Apple was in order.

Ironically, however, it brought home to me the memory of another loss.

Our room overlooked the 9/11 Memorial. They are now twin reflecting pools, nearly an acre in size, featuring large manmade waterfalls, and sitting within the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood. My daughters were curious about them, standing as they were amidst all the sky scrapers and the construction that surrounded these pools of serenity. I gave them a broad overview of what had happened, sparing them the horror of the carnage, the sheer scale of devastation, the disbelief of watching these buildings collapse upon themselves.

Certain events in History have a way of etching themselves into one’s mind forever. Every generation has its seminal moment. People talk about where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, or when they heard of Elvis’ death. 9/11 is another one of those instances. I remember being at the US embassy in London, renewing my visa. Back in the day, it was straight forward enough. There was a token nod to security. Key fobs and mobile phones were allowed in. How soon all that was to change.

My overriding memory though, is of being at my friend’s, and her getting a call from the US, saying, “Switch on the Television!!”. It was just after lunch, a little after 2pm in the UK. Our mouths fell open as we watched the first plane hit the Tower, and then shortly after, the second follow suit. Was it an accident, we wondered. Who could have done this? Why?? Then, as the blaze ate through the innards of these imposing buildings, and they started to crumble, our shock turned to disbelief! The aftermath of those events have been documented well enough. Yet, in that instant, that particular moment, we all felt a shift. A certain knowing that somehow the world had turned on its axis, and things would never be the same again.

I visited the site in December 2001, with some colleagues. We were given access with our id’s. It was still too recent a catastrophe to completely absorb the impact it would have in the years to come. Three months on, there was still an acrid smell of burnt metal and flesh that shrouded the area. We did not visit it as a curiosity. We visited it as a shrine. To pay homage to our fallen colleagues, who had woken up that day to go to work, with no idea that they would never return. We had stood there in silence, holding hands, our heads bowed, an avalanche of unexplained feelings rushing through us.

Twelve years on, I stood in my room on the 18th floor, with a birds eye view of the Memorial. There were queues of tourists snaking around, waiting their turn to walk about , read the names inscribed, exclaim over the events of that day. I looked down upon those beautiful pools of water, and felt the same sadness I had felt all those years ago.

Innocent lives lost to what avail? How many more 9/11’s will it take before we wake up to the realisation that terrorism is not the answer?



Frape and the debate thereof

This blog post arose from a funny experience I had last week.  Having been justifiably busy with the run up to Christmas, I was jotting a few random thoughts on my laptop, in the hope of fleshing it out into a blog post later. The thoughts were a jumble on fidelity, constancy, marriage, partners etc. This had been triggered by an interesting discussion I had had the previous day with some old school friends about soul mates.

Needless to say, the ideas were still amorphous, and the post in its absolute infancy. At this point, I did, what no thinking individual should do, with a teenager around.

I left my laptop unattended.

A few hours later, I found the following addendum:

Usually, you may find that that only happens in stories or ‘happily ever afters’ however that is not always true. I have pledged my life to another, a great being who understands me: he just gets me, if you know what I mean. He is my soul-mate, my other half, the one. I have pledged my life to him trusting him with everything, even me and my soulllllll. Thank you, thank you for being such a passionate and loving man. 

I have dedicated this wonderful love paragraph to MIKE ! Thanks babe for being there to feed me all the time (would be nice if u cut down a bit tho ;)). I love you no-matter what and you will always remain my hubby, you are one of the coolest soul-mates a woman could ever ask for. Thank you xxxxxxxxxx

 tehehehehehehehhe mummy like my creative writing?????

I had the biggest belly laugh upon reading this! Immediately I thought about the times I had seen my friends being “fraped” on Facebook. Their statuses being hijacked by mischief mongering sisters, husbands,children or friends.

I wondered if there was a blogging equivalent of the term, and went in search of it.

Wow! Did I open a can of worms?! While never entirely comfortable with the word Frape, I had just assumed it was another one of the teenage slang terminology that circulated for a while, became a part of the lexicon, promptly lost it’s edginess and was dropped just as quick by the aforementioned teens.

However, I had much to learn.

Frape is, of course, a combination of the words Facebook and rape. A violation of privacy, and of status.

Rape however, is no joking matter. By including it quite as widely in our daily usage, are we trivialising what is essentially a beastly attack upon another human being? Feminists seem to think so. And to be fair, I am not too far from agreeing with them.

Words like “Ho”, “Bitch”, “Nigger” lose their shock value over time. They become mainstream. And therein lies the danger.

Reams have been written about gangsta rap and it’s objectification of women and perpetration of violence against them.  Can Frape, a word that carries connotations of violation and abuse be the first step towards legitimising another cowardly misogynistic attitude?

One could argue it both ways, and people have.

However, as a woman, and as a mother to two young, impressionable girls, I choose hereon to NOT use this term. Vilifying it gives it the importance it does not deserve. Ignore it, relegate it to a store of bad taste verbs, and hope that the teens out there are way too smart to let it dictate their code of conduct.

In the meantime, however, sign off and shut that laptop!