Monthly Archives: November 2012

GET INVOLVED with Ongoing Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

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Hello to all my fellow New Yorkers, tri-staters, out of town friends, and all of you who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Although I’m grateful that my son and I and our immediate family were spared the worst of Sandy’s wrath, I have several dear friends whose homes were lost in the storm, and I’m disturbed that so many of our community members are still suffering way past the point of acceptability. Business as usual is resuming for so many, but not for others. Fortunately, there are still many of us who care and who are doing something about it.

For the past several days, I’ve been collecting information regarding events and ongoing work on behalf of the people who are still without power and basic supplies in the wake of the hurricane. I’ve assembled a list of articles and notices for those of you who want to know more about the various relief efforts and how you can support them or get directly involved.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does speak to the various communities with which I’m personally connected. Feel free to comment with additional information that you’d like to share with one another.

  • In Brooklyn, active relief efforts have been undertaken by Red Hook Initiative and Occupy Sandy. These groups both still require volunteers for this weekend.
  • The NYC Service page lists a number of agencies and programs that can use your help or contribution.
  • The venerable international organization, Doctors Without Borders, has applied its technical and logistical expertise towards assisting local aid workers in the most affected areas. They can always use more financial support.
  • The organization Acupuncturists Without Borders is offering a series of free acupuncture clinics for trauma and stress at locations in Rockaway Beach, Point Pleasant, NJ and Manhattan, including one this afternoon (Friday November 9th) at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM, 915 Broadway, 5th floor at 21st Street NYC) from 2:30-6:00.
  • A group of Long Island ex-pats, their families and friends have galvanized relief efforts in Western Massachusetts on behalf of beleaguered residents of the Long Island towns of West Babylon and Lindenhurst. With operations based in Turner’s Falls, MA, they will be trucking supplies to Long Island this Sunday, November 11th.
  • On his blog, New York Theater, Jonathan Mandell has assembled a list of resources for theaters and theater artists affected by the storm.

On the Lighter Side:

  • One of our venerable lower east side eateries, Russ & Daughters, has done its part by keeping the lox safe.
  • The good folks at TrivWorks have decided to convert their scheduled November 13th trivia night at The Bell House in Brooklyn, into a full scale hurricane relief fundraiser.

ALSO: This AMAZING article by Deanna Zandt in Forbes Magazine: When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: How to Improve Sandy Relief

Thanks to everyone who is contributing their time, money or energy. Our community grows in strength and resiliency with each person’s participation!

The Eve of Election in Mercury Retrograde

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OK, so did y’all know that Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow? What the hell does that mean, you say?

It means that all hell is going to break loose. Communication is going to be challenged (ha! that’s an understatement…), technology may break down (voting machines, eegad!) and wires are going to be crossed whichever way you turn. I predict (and honestly, it doesn’t take an astrological expert or a rocket scientist, of which I am neither, to figure this one out) that the election results will not be decided for at least a couple of weeks. Maybe longer.

I hope I’m wrong. Damn, I hope I’m wrong. We need to know what is going to be happening with our stupid, broken, (yes, better than so many others, before you start calling me un-American, God forbid) political system for the foreseeable future. We have to make plans. I need to know which way the gloating is going to go, so I can prepare myself to be either a) humble and appreciative or b) quietly resentful… or maybe that’s c) ecstatic and manically expressive of my boundless joy and relief or d) really, really, really pissed off or e) disgusted and pondering a relocation to Vancouver.

I’ve already made my feelings known. I’m an unabashed Obama supporter. You should see the back of my car. It’s got several, OK six Obama stickers on it. I can’t help it. I really think the President rocks. And obviously not ashamed to share that with the world. Despite the fact that not once, but twice, some kind neighbor left some very profane and hateful anti-fan mail on my dashboard, proclaiming Obama to be an Israel hater and other nasty things I don’t want to repeat here. I reported it to my local police, but hey, it’s not a burning cross or a spray painted swastika, and nobody got hurt. Hell, they didn’t even break the windshield.


I figure I’m OK driving around most of NYC, but take if a few miles too far to our West, or park it in the wrong neighborhood, and I feel the heat of lunch counter racism breathing heavy down my neck. I don’t love that in this day and age, it feels rather radical and a bit risky to be openly supporting the President of the United States. I’m talking beyond the usual partisan divides. This self-consciousness is grounded in a whole other awareness of historical violence and unthinkable atrocities aimed at human beings who look just like Barack Obama, my son or anyone else at least as dark and lovely as Halle Berry.

It’s confusing and humbling, to say the least. Yeah, it’s still a little dangerous to support the Black man in the highest office. Wow. Really? Yep. That’s right. This here’s America. Love it or leave it.

OK, I HATE getting political. But it is the night before the election.

Here’s a couple of questions I just want to pose…
1) If I think that everyone should be taken care of equally in the wake of a natural disaster like Sandy, or Katrina, does that make me a socialist? And why is Socialism such a dirty word, anyway? Is it because there have been corrupt socialist leaders? Or is the idea of shared responsibility and reward really so heinous?

2) Seriously. Is Mitt Romney really such an admirable man that we should want him for our President? Or is he just THE Republican candidate, the one to be supported by the party, no matter what? (I’m SO tired of our political system.)

3) Republican women… do you honestly think that the far right agenda is going to be good for you, as a woman? Have you thought this through carefully enough?

4) Does anyone think that Mitt Romney is really genuine and sincere? Or do they just hate Barack Obama, or THE IDEA of Barack Obama so much, that they will elect anyone the Republican party puts on the campaign trail?

5) Republican friends – will we still be able to talk civilly to one another after tomorrow? (I hope so!!)

Please give me strength.

Photo by jetheriot

Stormy Thoughts

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It’s calm here in NYC, in this upper west side Starbucks, five days after the fury of Hurricane Sandy hit our metropolis. I am still trying to make sense of my feelings and the significance of the experience to me, to my family and friends, to the city and region as a whole, and of course, to our world.

I was not severely affected. My home lost power for a couple of days, but my son and I had a warm and loving place to spend the blackout days and nights. Aside from the inconvenience of having to relocate ourselves, some bags of food and basic supplies to another location, we were not significantly impacted. We did not lose our lives, get injured in any way, or incur damage to any of our property.

I have friends who are still without power. Again, none of them are in shelters, and none are in any life threatening positions of which I am aware. SO DAMN LUCKY!!! One friend’s mother lost just about everything she owned out of her home in Long Island that was completely flooded with about three feet of water. Despite the fact that her childhood home was ruined and her mother will no doubt be living with her and her family for at least the next six months, she is now in Ohio working to get out the vote for President Obama. I love her more fiercely than I can say for her commitment to our future, despite the shambles of her past and present.

On Wednesday night, I went trick or treating with my son and some of our friends around our mostly dark neighborhood, gathering what candy there was to be had from the sporadically electrified or otherwise determined to celebrate homes (our neighborhood always incurs random outages from block to block). It was an act of optimism. We didn’t mind letting the children get sugared up and run crazy for a couple of hours. On the flip side, it was a bit desolate and creepy, and we parents had to work to keep the atmosphere festive. Also, I ate too many bite sized candy bars, and now have two massive pimples on my way-too-old-to-be-going-through-second-puberty face.

Evil Sponge Bob on Halloween – note the evil eyebrows, bloodshot eyes and bloody fangs…

I have another friend who recently went through a period of renting out a room in her apartment on airbnb. After a half a year of that, she maxed out on having strangers living with her and swore she would never do it again. This week, after being offered large sums of money from individuals through that online platform, she’s been giving people access to her bathroom to take showers. She’s only accepted a fraction of the dollars they offered, and has used a portion of it to buy diapers for needy storm victims in nearby housing projects, who are still without basic resources. Unable to travel to her usual place of employment, her volunteer service has become her job for the week.

Today my next door neighbor and I donated some clothes, water, juice boxes and tampons to a local temple collecting supplies for people still in need of basic supplies. I had a bag of baby blankets from my son that I was saving for my cousins who are expecting their first child. After taking out one special piece, I donated the rest of those, too. I feel confident that my cousins will understand and support our choice.

My sister, returning to the east coast several days ago from California, spent two nights with us at our house with her cat, because her dark apartment is in what was until last night the dark and largely deserted east village. After emptying my own refrigerator and then bringing things back home again two days later, we did the same from her apartment to my place, and then back again this morning.

And so, this week has felt like one big disjointed moving sleepover party. Warm and loving, yet tinged with the pressing knowledge of the desolation and suffering happening in other places. I do not know how to make sense of this, only to report random details of the experiences. I feel grateful and sad, exhilarated and drained at the same time.

Workwise, it has been a lost week. Internet service for me was gone for several days, and even after I got it back, key people with whom I work have been unreachable. But mostly, I have been unable to focus on anything significant for any length of time. Transporting my and my sister’s bags of food and toiletries all over town has been a welcome distraction – tasks with a distinct beginning, middle and end.

Today I took my son to a friend’s birthday party at Dave and Busters. I stuffed my face with pizza, chicken, french fries and tortilla chips. I talked to the waitresses. They told me that people who have lost their homes and are staying in various Times Square hotels have been coming in for their breakfast buffet, spending time there distracting themselves while they wait for their government disaster assistance.

Come Monday, some NYC public school students will be sharing their buildings with shelter residents still living at their schools. The subways may be almost completely up and running again. Some people are still trying to put their lives back together again. Some of us who have already known hard times in our lives are putting our hard-earned muscles to use dealing with this latest manifestation of the spooky and random great unknown breaking up our familiar reality. Some of us, not quite as adept at handling major obstacles, have been forever scarred by the trauma of this new and frightening intrusion into our sense of safety. The latter group is learning that they will have to get in shape, sooner than they’d like…

My heart is fluttering. I am aware that everything is changing. I knew that things would be different after Wednesday, but I didn’t know that it would feel so diffuse, so raw and random and unfocused and paralyzing. My emotions are so close to the surface, but any sense of logic I could impose on this is absent. I am not sure. Of anything.

Honestly, did you think I was going to try and wrap this up in a neat ball and deliver it to you? Shit. It doesn’t work that way.