It was 20 years ago today

Before 9/11, there was 9/10. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our new and improved Understandably Live yesterday. You can find the video of the interview with author Toby Harnden here. (We’ll have some great announcements about more interviews, coming up soon.)

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. At the risk of stating the crazy-obvious, that means today marks the 20th anniversary of The Day Before 9/11.

This is an important date. It gets overlooked, but it was the last day “before we knew.”

I remember a lot of details, myself. I had just moved to Los Angeles to pursue my then-dream of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter. I needed to make a living, though, and September 10 was the first day at my new “day job,” working as a lawyer at the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.

Things I recall:

  • Being the only passenger on the subway to work at 7 am. (The subway, in Los Angeles? I found this amusing.)

  • My new boss keeping me in his office for hours, asking questions. He’d never had the chance to interview me before I got the job. I don’t think he liked that.

  • Eating lunch at a Korean barbecue place. Some coworkers took me there. It had a “B” rating from the Department of Health, but the food tasted good.

  • Perhaps related? My new colleagues advising that the men’s room at the nearby federal court was much cleaner than the one in our building.

  • Thinking about how I was going have to make sure I got out of the office on time that first day, so that I could make it across town to UCLA in time for the screenwriting class I’d already started taking.

Anyway, the things that I dreamed about and worried about back then—well, I wouldn’t say they didn’t matter. Many of them did. But looking back today, my big lesson is that they all worked out—one way or another. And that I had a wildly different perspective on them just 24 hours later.


My wife sat next to me last night as I wrote this. She lived and worked in NYC in 2001. Her 9/10 story? Work, then Yankee Stadium, but the game between New York and Boston got rained out.

So she hung around with friends for a while, but then headed home, since she had jury duty the next morning. As a result, on the morning of 9/11, she was in the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center.


All of this is leading up to … a Friday call for comments. In short, we’re all going to be talking about 9/11. But I’d like to hear your 9/10 story.

What were you doing then? What were you planning or hoping for? What were you worried about, if you can remember? Did those things really matter in the long run? And what do they tell you about what’s really important today?

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7 other things worth your time

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