On this 20th anniversary of the attacks, many people have been remembering where they were and what they were doing when they heard. Like everyone who was old enough to be aware, I recall that morning very well, even though I was thousands of miles away from the tragedies.
My morning routine at the time is worth noting for how I learned of the news.
I lived alone in a studio apartment. To allow myself to sleep in as late as possible and still get to work on time, I had it down to only the essential actions. When the alarm sounded I'd immediately get up and get in the shower, then brush my teeth, get dressed, run a comb through my hair, grab my bag, and head out to walk to the train station a few blocks away. I'd get something for breakfast after I got to the office, so I had that whole process from waking to out-the-door down to around 35 minutes.
The key: In that 35 minutes, I did not turn on the TV or even a radio. It was all about getting done as fast as possible, and that would only have been a distraction. (Obviously this was before smartphones and news alerts.)
I walked to the train station unaware of anything happening in the world. While waiting on the platform, someone did say, "Crazy morning, huh?" I recall nodding just to acknowledge but not knowing what the person was referring to. Even then, that was a comment that could be taken a number of ways.
I did have a Walkman-type AM/FM/Cassette player in my bag, and after getting on the train and taking a seat I put on my headphones and tuned in to the Kevin & Bean show on KROQ (something I still did back then). Rather than their usual silliness, their tone was of shock and disbelief. That's how I learned about what had happened: from a rock station's morning show that ordinarily devoted maybe five minutes per hour to actual news.
I listened for a while, trying to take it all in. Then I did what I usually did on the ride, and pulled out a pad of paper and pen, and jotted down thoughts in my journal. I went back and looked at what I wrote that morning, which I offer below not because it is particularly profound or insightful, but as a record of the moment.