I was on the treadmill at the University of Illinois gym when it happened. The Today show was on the overhead TV, but I was listening to music on my headphones when I saw the first footage of the WTC on fire. At first, I thought they were showing movie footage. The thought that this could be REAL, and happening right NOW, was almost impossible to grasp. I had switched over to the TV audio in time to see the second plane hit on live television, and was completely and utterly stunned.
I got home and stayed glued to the television. I also called my mother to find out where my father was. He is an American Airlines pilot. Turns out he had been flying, but had landed safely just before the tragedy happened. After watching the towers fall on television, I didn't know what else to do so I went to work. Many of the other people in my lab are not Americans, so I don't know if that's why a CD and not the news was playing on the stereo, but I was dumbfounded that no one else seemed to appreciate the magnitude of what was happening. Was I the only one afraid that the attacks weren't over? Yes, it was true that we were a thousand miles from New York, but the absurdity of what had happened already that morning meant that nothing would be impossible now. I somewhat angrily dialed up the news on the radio, and struggled to get through the day. At some point that day, or maybe the next, at home in my apartment, I thought about the number of people who had lost someone in the attacks--a mother or father, a daughter or son, a sister or brother, a friend--and I cried.