I lived in midtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001. On that morning, I was awakened by my friend Paula in Massachusetts. She told me to turn on the TV because something had happened at the World Trade Center. And, so my day began.

Besides the endless looping of the television images of the horrific event happening three miles to the south, and the images of the smoking and falling towers from my rooftop, I have so many specific, indelible memories of moments from that day.

But today I want to write about what happened after the towers fell.

Sometime in…

Photo by Kevin Scott Hall

On the first day of the semester, I ask my students to take out a piece of paper. Then I tell them to take five minutes or so and answer this question: “Why am I here?”

After the time is up, I ask them to read their answers out loud. Many go with the obvious first answer: “My advisor told me to take it” or “It’s required.”

But after that first thirty seconds, many go a little deeper. I get variations of “I am the first generation in my family to go to college and I want to make them…

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

I, for one, was thrilled when gyms reopened about six months after they had closed because of the pandemic. My gym, which is a brand-name national chain, went to extraordinary lengths to make us feel safe as we re-entered the fitness world, which we so much needed. Studies say that most Americans put on about ten “pandemic pounds” during the stay-at-home months, and I was one of them.

My gym constructed little cages of plastic and tubing to surround individual weight machines and treadmills. …

The first time I drove up Main Street in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on my way to my little fixer-upper cottage (little cottage but big fixes, it turns out), I saw a Black Lives Matter protest on the lawn of the Town Hall. There were about twenty people participating and, I believe, they were all white folks, but still. It was something.

When I turned the corner to Route 101, my road, I saw iconic pink flamingoes in a front yard and a Pride flag hanging prominently on the porch. Nearby, another house had a BLM sign. …

As messy and tragic as this troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has been, I believe President Biden did the right thing. He carried through a promise that three other presidents could not keep. There could have been more planning around the exit strategy, yes, but ultimately we could not win a civil war in that country.

This is all reflected in his statements about the crisis: “We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence” and “The choice I had to make . . . was either to follow through on…

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As an avid chart watcher and pop music listener since childhood, I am making a bold claim here, but hear me out: 1984 was the greatest year in pop music.

For purposes of this essay, I’m going to start with 1955, which is largely regarded as the beginning of the rock era. (Sorry, 1940s — so many good songs, but maybe I’ll count you down some other day.)

Before I get to ’84, I will count down the years that deserve special mention, from number 5 to number 1.

5. 1973. While this…

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A few years ago, I became a certified health coach. I made a go of it as a business for about a year, but then my ambition petered out. Even though the program actually helped me on my own health journey, I did not have the passion to continue pushing it. People’s resistance to paying for something that would help them in every aspect of their lives — and extend their lives — was just too great. I’d have had an easier time opening a candy store.

See, most people want to continue on the same comfortable path they are…

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I don’t know who I am anymore. Or did I never know?

All during the pandemic, I used to get annoyed at the impatient folks who insisted on carrying on their lives without precautions and “getting back to normal” long before the end was in sight for the Covid pandemic. (It may not be fully in sight yet, but many of us are breathing a little more freely this summer, depending on our location.)

I would say, rather haughtily, “We will never get back to normal, whatever that is. …

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I recently received a beautifully written letter from a college student I taught two years ago and who is now about to graduate. My required course in public speaking helped her to change her major and the direction she wanted to take with her career.

“When I went into this course, I had every intention of being a biology major and sitting in a lab for my entire career, away from people,” she wrote. “However, after this course, I decided to explore my other passions — the social sciences and the law. This course pushed me to explore those passions…

I will be hosting my first post-pandemic party in my new home this Independence Day. The weather may be iffy in my neck of the woods, but the mood will be sunny. And my American flag will be up on display.

My friends and family know where I stand politically (left of center), even if some of them don’t agree with me. Some of my neighbors who don’t know me beyond a hello, however, may think a Trumper has moved into the hood. Some would like that, others . . . not so much.

That’s sad. It is sad that…

Kevin Scott Hall

I am an author, freelance writer, and singer/songwriter. I split my time between Brooklyn, NY and my native Massachusetts. I teach at City College of New York.

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