A look back at 9/11/2001 from 9/11/2021

I was 28 years old, in my second year of teaching music at Robertson Elementary School. In a way, our campus was “mourning” already because the move of our beloved principal to another campus. We were slowly getting accustomed to this new principal and working hard to give him an opportunity to be a different leader than we were used to.

I don’t remember a lot of details about first thing that morning, it was just like any other. I started the day with my planning time while classroom teachers started their day in their regular routines with students. I walked to the door of my classroom to welcome a 3rd grade class to music a few minutes early so I could chat with my classroom neighbor Cheryl while she got her day started.

This was an era in which we had TVs and VCRs in all our classrooms with (limited) cable TV connected. The TVs in our (Cheryl and my) wing were rarely on so when I got to the hallway and saw her intensely watching something that looked like a movie on her TV, I was thrown. I remember asking her, “what are you watching? Is this a movie?” when the second plane hit the World Trade Center Tower 1.

Here comes the class that I need to teach music to, walking down the hallway and the world is literally changing before my eyes on this broadcast I’m watching over Cheryl’s shoulder. Everything from that moment on is in my memory in segments or short phrases, but I can’t remember exactly what order anything happened in.

  • I remember going to my computer to check my email to figure out how we were going to be asked to handle this situation.
  • I remember trying to search and find out how I can get updates on the situation. (this was before smart phones and instant notifications)
  • I remember hearing that the Pentagon had also been hit and worrying for my oldest friend Tiger, who was living in DC at the time. I think I tried to call him but phone lines in DC were all busy and I couldn’t get a hold of him right away.
  • I remember Tina, a kindergarten teacher, learned a friend she had just reconnected with was on one of the flights that went down that day. She and her friend hadn’t seen each other in many years before that summer and now her friend was gone.
  • I remember Kay’s son Michael was in the Pentagon that morning and for a bit, Kay couldn’t get ahold of him (phone calls into DC were difficult to connect through).
  • I remember being told by RRISD to turn off the TVs in classrooms and to not talk to students about this incident until we knew more and feeling both relieved and frustrated. I was still a brand new teacher and having the responsibility of knowing what to say to not overly upset these young children was such a relief. On the flip side, there was a sense to me that it wasn’t fair to keep them unaware of history in the making. It was a teaching moment and even being just a music teacher, I wanted to take hold of it. Still, I did as I was asked and kept the news to myself and taught whatever lesson I had in store for that day.
  • I remember being told that our neck of the woods could possibly be a target with the large campuses of Dell Computers and the Dell Diamond nearby.

For several days, all I watched on TV at home was news about the events of that day. It was all that was on. Watching it everyday caused me to feel my first bout of major anxiety and after about two days of it, I had to just turn it off. No new information was coming and reliving what I saw on TV that morning all the time was not good for my mental health. The first non-tragic thing I saw on TV was David Letterman and his iconic monologue on 9/17. Was it really only 6 days later?? I remember it feeling like it was WEEKS or MONTHS later.

Now, I’m 48 and the events of that day feels like it was just a few years ago. There are memories from that time that are just frozen in time. I don’t think anyone I worked with at Robertson is still there. Several friends (including Kay and her son Michael) have since passed away. I’ve taught in several other grade levels and areas of Texas. I’ve gotten a masters degree, started a second as well as a doctorate. I now teach band back in Round Rock ISD and am working towards a move into Central Administration. The kids we taught were between the ages of 5 and 10 at the time. That makes them between 25-30 now. Wow! I’m so glad to have taught at Robertson with THOSE colleagues 20 years ago. I’m not sure I would have experienced that whole time in the same way. I’m not even sure I would have stayed teaching if it hadn’t been for the love and support we all gave each other there. I’m so grateful for them!

Gotta keep movin’…

It’s official – the house is listed and I have a place to live in Huntsville. I had a little episode yesterday after Karen (my realtor) put the sign in the yard and got all the information and pictures necessary to list the house. I bought this house 5 years ago and the thought that I may never live here again kinda freaked me out a bit. I know I’ve only put the house up for lease but with the nature of the degrees I’m looking to get and the possible jobs that might be available when I’m all done with my post-bacheloriate work, I really may not be back to live in Austin. Kinda scary – I’ve lived in the Austin area since 1983 so I’m kind of attached to the area. I can’t focus on all that, though. I have to keep the end goal in mind and know that the things that are meant to happen will become available to me in due time.

So the official listing of the house can be found here. Because it’s officially listed in the MLS, I need to ask that you contact Karen Halsema if you’d are interested in the house. You may use your own realtor if you have one, of course.

I’ll have another garage sale on Saturday, July 2 and I have quite a few things for sale online and some others coming. I think I’ll end up trying to sell all the stuff I have online at the garage sale. For the most part, only people not serious about buying have contacted me.

Alright, more packing must be done. Does anyone have any boxes?
Love you, mean it!

It’s a SALE!!

Okay, here are the links of the things I’ve posted for sale so far:
* Printers & other tech gear: http://austin.craigslist.org/sys/2449974611.html
* Area rug: http://austin.craigslist.org/hsh/2455652730.html
* Scrubs: http://austin.craigslist.org/clo/2454497558.html
* LOST Season 1-3: http://shop.ebay.com/big-benford/m.html?_nkw&_armrs=1&_from&_ipg=25

I’ll add more links as I post more items. I know for sure there’s a short dresser and a garage fridge coming soon. 🙂 Thanks everyone!

Love you, mean it!

A Today Show deal, huh?

This letter was submitted this morning via the Today Show email app on their website:

Dear Today Show:

On June 14, your show featured Yogen Chargers For Life with a special Today Show deal price. I ordered 2 of them (almost ordered many more at that price) but other than a receipt from a 3rd party shopping cart company, I haven’t heard anything about my purchase. Yesterday, I went to the Yogen Chargers For Life website (Yogenstore.com) to find it down and it is still down now. The company’s blog hasn’t been updated since January, 2010. Has a company your show recommended taken our money and run? Have you heard anything about what’s happening or have a way to contact Yogen Chargers For Life? Please advise. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Cathy Benford

Let’s see what I get back.

To the Tiger Band Class of 2011 –

There are so many wonderful things you’ve been a part of, I congratulate you on a successful past 4 years. I hope you continue working hard to achieve great things. Never be okay with “good enough” because that can lead to a lifetime of “Senioritis”. No one needs or wants that nonsense. Always remember the fun you had in public schools but remember that that was then and there’s no use trying to recreate it. Accept it for what it was and always look for the path of what’s best for your well being. Your well being includes educational, emotional, spiritual, financial…anything that involves YOU. If you can’t take care of yourself, nothing and no one can expect you to take care of them. Don’t be selfish about things, just make sure you don’t leave yourself out of the equation when thinking about others. I will miss all of you very much. Please keep in touch.

Love you, mean it