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9/11 six months on: New Yorkers whose emails we published on the Sunday after 11 September bring us up to date
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The Independent US

Claudia Gonson, Musician

My post-traumatic reaction is a nagging worry over "what's next?" I have never been so attuned to the news; I listen to the radio while reading the newspaper. Since 11 September, I have felt directly involved, responsible and helpless, over the depressing state of the world. I see how the media are monitored by the government; so when yesterday The New York Times reported that "dirty bombs" were extremely unlikely to wreak widespread havoc on this city, I wondered what the function was of that story. To calm my fears? To educate me? To dissuade or warn an enemy? And what is the government doing issuing these bizarre alerts? Clearly there's a dialogue going on that I can't understand. Of course, you cannot evacuate an island with five million people on it. Rightly or wrongly, I feel that by being here I'm taking a risk. My friends don't agree with this. They view the city in the process of rebuilding.

Fred Bernstein, Lawyer

Less than two months after the destruction, I participated in an act of creation: I expect to become a father in July. I have plenty of misgivings about bringing a child into the post-11 September world, but what choice do we have? Anyway, other people don't seem scared to be here. On weekends, the city is mobbed – everyone, it seems, wants to feel part of this place. When I hear from long-lost friends I can sense that they're not worried about me, they want to speak to someone who lives near Ground Zero. And that's why the city needs a very big monument. I had an idea that we should build two piers in New York Harbor. I posted it on the web (www. twinpiers. com). I've received thousands of emails, 99 per cent of them positive. Hillary Clinton's assistant emailed me that the Senator was interested, and I'd be hearing from her.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, Journalist

It's remarkable – and a little unsettling – to see how easy it is to go on with one's life. At least when, like me, you don't know anybody who died on 11 September. Like many New Yorkers, I've been moved by the outpouring of sympathy, but also annoyed by the contradictions that have accompanied it. I can't help being sickened when I see a Ground Zero baseball cap. But it's been nice to see New Yorkers recover their sense of humour. At the same time it would be preposterous to say that we're back to normal. During the weeks that followed, I was consumed by the fear that we were on the verge of nuclear armageddon. A certain fatalism now applies to the way I approach flying as well as to the rest of my life: I might as well get on with it because there's nothing else to do.

Lewis Holman, Accountant

New York seems to be back to normal. Ground Zero stopped smoking sometime in December, and that helped those of us not in the immediate vicinity to find some respite. My friends and family here in the city all seem to want an escape from that day. I limit my reading of the "Portraits in Grief" that the New York Times continues to publish sporadically to the ones about the firefighters from our street. Reading all of them is just too sad. And none of us wants to see the television special scheduled for this week that promises previously unaired footage from inside the tower. It's perfunctory now when seeing an acquaintance for the first time since that day to say something like: "I trust you made it through OK?", hoping not to hear bad news.

The day had a strange effect on me. For some months preceding the attack, I had been depressed and unsettled. This worsened after the attack and after the death of my father two days later. The following weeks were awful. Everyone seemed to be suffering from despondency, forgetfulness, sleeping and eating disturbances. But a month or so later I noticed a change as humour and joy began to creep back into my life. And as they did the depression that had preceded the dark days of early September seemed to lift as well. It's not really that we're back to normal; it's more that there's a new normal, and we've adapted.

Lise Hilbodt-Stolley, Actor/Journalist

In the midst of all the wondering what might happen next, most of us have gone back to work. That is what Americans do best. We work. It's why people died on 11 September. They got up, had a cup of coffee, and went to work. The Trade Centre wasn't a giant symbol of international capitalism – it was office space. In the aftermath, the huge hole in our wounded economy was quickly filled by the money made turning atrocity into an industry. There were best-selling books, magazines, television specials, documentaries and flags galore. The policeman who sang God Bless America at our services received a recording contract. Even the stock market rallied, as if this too was our patriotic duty. I was a student during Vietnam and, like most of my generation, I protested and fought to end it. We don't feel that way about bombing in Afghanistan. It's the best we can do to make sure that thousands more don't die in the next attack.