2:53 p.m.: An AP news alert: "A plane crash has been reported on Manhattan's Upper East Side." I freeze. And probably along with most of New York, the country, and perhaps the world, I feel my heart skipped a beat. I then do a double take, learning in the process that that hackneyed phrase actually does describe a cognitive event. Our office is on Chambers Street, a few blocks uptown from Ground Zero. Several of us look south out the window.
2:59 p.m.: Another wire report: "No immediate word on any deaths or injuries." Some relief. I tell a colleague — unclear whether to reassure myself or her (probably both) — that it probably wasn't a terrorist attack. Right? People pick up the phone. I dial a friend but only get voicemail.
An editor calls me — distance in his voice — checking I'd seen the news. People have that slow-motion blank stare on their faces. That look that silently seeks comfort in the faces of others.