Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Song of Thanksgiving

This year has been a nonstop shitfest, a series of really bad months. If it were a movie, it'd be directed by Wes Craven. We're talking colossal fucking horror show, folks.

Illness, financial misfortune and a forced eviction from our apartment.

And yet...I can't help but be thankful. It's not the Hallmark card, maudlin emotions leading me to this conclusion. Despite being treated like God's spittoon, I am extremely grateful for the people in my life. Even this shitcloud has a silver lining, and it's imbued by the good people in my life who love me.

When you're standing in an apartment ruined by floodwater and most of your stuff is waterlogged, it kind of puts things into perspective. Most of my furniture, the necessary items, are gone. However, I'd be a quivering mass of gelatinous, blubbering custard if it wasn't for my girlfriend and parents. Their presence in my life enriches my existence. So props to Elnie and mom and dad.

I'm thankful for the career I still have in this turbulent economic climate. It might not be exotic, nor bestow upon me any accolades, but it's better to be pencil-pusher than living under a bridge.

I'm thankful for living in America. The good ol' U.S. of A. presents me with the freedom and opportunity to make my dreams real. America's success is measured by our participation. So dream big, dreamers!

Before I head to the table to overdose on tryptophan-laced turkey and cranberry sauce so good it would make the Olympian gods weep, I want to extend my thanks to you, the readers of this blog.
I don't know who you are, but I know someone reads this, somewhere on Earth. Thanks for humoring me and suffering through my angst and bullshit. I appreciate your time and attention.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Settling In

It's been two weeks since the storm forced me and my girlfriend to move from our apartment. Two active, stressful weeks of orienting myself and recall rating my life. Two weeks of surviving without a permanent home and living like a gypsie nomad.

Moving the bulk of our possessions into a storage unit, throwing away damaged furniture and settling into temporary accommodations occupied most of our time. In between the laborious task of getting our collective shit together, we both had to work our daytime jobs. This blend of going to work and surviving was strange and disconcerting, however, we pulled together and handled it in a tight timetable of a few days.

Now we're moved into our home for the next few months while the landlord repairs the apartment. I've been told the floors and walls will be gutted and an "open concept" design planned. This means additional space and comfort, with new appliances ad kitchen cabinets thrown into the mix. In other news, I met with a FEMA representative and am still waiting for any financial assistance. Snowball's chance in Hell I'll get any compensation for my lost furniture, but I am hopeful.

We live 20 minutes away, lodged in my family's summer cottage, a gracious offer, by the way. I haven't had a long commute to work since 2007, so it feels good having distance separate my job from my home, as if the space acts as a barrier between the insanity of work and the comfort and tranquility privacy affords.

Things are, for the most part, normalizing and this past week saw us back into a familiar routine. We both had colds and recuperated on the same couch, taking turns making tea. My girlfriend made a delicious dinner and we watched some inane TV ("Chopped"is both riveting and terrible) and generally made the best of our situation.

It's weird writing about cleanup efforts from the storm when you're an unfortunate victim of it. Idea
I've the job demands an inordinante amount of impartiality and objectivity, yet it's tough to separate yourself from an event when it impacted you. I haven't had time to wax eloquient or offer anything insightful about the storm. Maybe I've repressed the true hurt and devastation the tempest caused.

While we're on the subject, I find it odd some news outlets are referring to the storm as "Superstorm Sandy". While Hurricane Sandy moved up the coast as a category 1 hurricane, it weakened into a sub-tropical cyclone before hitting New Jersey, so technically, it wasn't a hurricane when it made landfall. Stories recounted how the storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a cyclone ad mixed with a cold front to transform (by elfin magic) to a "Superstorm". I'm a purist here. Though it wasn't a hurricane when it hit, it started out as one before gradually losing steam and weakening before making landfall. To me, it's Hurricane Sandy, not Superstorm Sandy and definitely not a "Frankenstorm". Whoever came up with that one should be run through with an ice pick. No, Hurricane Sandy fucked my life up and caused widespread damage to the community I work and live in. Calling it a "Superstorm" makes you sound like a retarded media whore who gloms onto everything because it's trendy. National Weather Service be damned! Sandy was a hurricane, despite changing into something else. Besides, it's natural for visitors to Atlantic City to lower their standards before visiting. Sandy was just slumming it by the shore. Pennsylvanians do that every summer.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cleaning the Past

One of the most heart wrenching things a hurricane victim goes through is cleaning up after the storm, scrounging through the debris and deciding which of your possessions are salvageable and what is destined for the trash heap,

I spent a good part of the morning sifting through my water-logged things. It wasn't easy confronting those saturated possessions. Some were easily replaceable graphic novels and books, while others, like playbills from my trip to London in1994, including Patrick Stewart's remarkable performance in A Christmas Carol, were sentimental. I lost many CDs holding computer files, including ones with my writing. I dare not contemplate which short stories, novels or essays were lost within, just that I backed them up on those discs and now they're gone forever.

I ended up throwing away five plastic trash bags filled with soaked books, papers and CDs, and I feel I only scratched the surface of what's really gone. I curse myself for not storing them in a safer place and leaving them on the floor or on the lowest bookshelf. The water entered my closet, and my shoes and other clothing succumbed to flood waters as well.

The landlord is having the wet carpeting torn up today, and that is somewhat of a relief, but moving all my furniture and remaining possessions requires time and effort.

My thoughts shift to a dull kind of depression, a gloomy yet begrudgingly state of melancholy. The thought of temporarily relocating and ridding myself of items which bring me comfort rattles my sense of security, yet I'm compelled to reluctantly soldier on, to put up a brave front. This entire process of digging through my stuff and realizing what I've lost is jarring, yet I can only do what I must in order to move on. I cannot wallow in sorrow or pretend fate has slighted me. I can only move forward, to rid myself of damaged property, and to remember all things, even personal treasures, are fleeting.