Sunday, November 25, 2012

To sing a requiem and such rest to her.



"For in that sleep of death what dreams may come."

Hamlet,  Act III, scene 1, line 66


I pulled into the driveway, and put the car in park. It was a risk, just showing up like this to see my sister, but I missed her. I pulled out my cell and hit her number on my contact list.

After two attempts and nothing but voicemail, I called her husband, Manny, who was at work.

"Hey Man, she is home, right?"

"Yeah, Li, she is. She doesn't have the car, and it's what, 11? Where else would she be?"

I eyed the clock. It was 11:37, and mass at my church would start in twenty. With the phone held up by my right shoulder, I took off the seatbelt and opened my door, which immediately started Zoe, who had been sitting quietly in her carseat, to all out wails of protest. I walked up the front stairs like I had countless times throughout my life, and banged on the door.

"Is she answering?," Manny asked.

"No. Augh...". I headed back to the car to calm Zoe when I heard the call waiting beep. It was Joscelyne. I quickly hung up with her hubby and made my demand to her: she had fifteen minutes to get herself down to the car. I'd go to Dunkin' in the meantime and get us some much needed caffeine. She agreed.


***********

We made our way into my church a couple of minutes after noon. We headed down front. This was a special All Souls Mass, two weeks after it was supposed to be held, postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. All total, there was five of us in attendance. My pastor, Father Ros, asked us each to do a reading. We both said yes. As he stepped away to begin mass, she studied her assigned passage earnestly.

"So how do you like that? Your first time here and he's got you working! Don't worry, we follow everything on the paper, and it's very similar in order to Catholic masses," I said quietly.

When her time came, she walked up the stairs and stopped and did a quick genuflect at the Communion table. I smiled. Fast learner. She read from Psalm 130:

Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?

For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared. 

 I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope.
 
Towards the end of the service, Father Ros read through the pages long list of the Faithful Departed. Name after name after name.

I looked up at him, wearing purple vestments, the one I saw all through Lent. Purple is solemn. Purple is royal. Purple is my favorite color.

I looked over at Jos. She was holding Zoe and frowning. The names were many.

"It's sad," I whispered to her.


***********

We lit candles after mass. Between us two, we had pretty much taken up two whole rows. I held Zoe's little hand while Jos kneeled. Feeling voyeuristic, I suddenly looked away from her and towards the tiny stained glass window angel behind me.

"You see the little angel, Zoe?," I asked quietly. Zoe smiled through her pacifier.


***********

At the diner, she ordered a reuben and some fries and dipped them in gyro sauce. She always did stuff like that, switching up her food orders and making them even better.

Two elderly women came in together. I grabbed Jos' hand. "Do you think we'll be like that, you know, two little old ladies, still coming to the diner together, gabbing away?"

She looked at me and laughed, "Yes, Li, yes."

************

I grabbed some Glade candles and started sniffing. I settled on a couple of purple ones and threw them in the cart. Jos got garbage bags. We were at Target, but both of us being broke, we couldn't get anything from their new winter clothes collection.

Once we were done and back in the car, she opened her new lip gloss. It was a pretty reddish purple color. "Brandy" was the name on the label. She moved the wand back and forth across her lips.

************

After a few more errands, I dropped her home. She reached back and kissed Zoe and held her hand. We exchanged "I love yous," and she went inside.

I looked back at the house as I pulled out the driveway. This house, our momma's house, the little yellow Cape Cod we grew up in. We both came home from the hospital to this house.

I sighed. Mom is in a nursing home, and times being tough, Jos and her family had moved in. It was supposed to be for a few weeks, but then month after month after month had passed.

************


"Death lies on her, like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field"

Romeo & Juliet, Act IV, scene 5, line 28


Four days later, I got the call. Manny came home from work and  found her. Passed on in her sleep. He called me, sobs and screams. His sister took the phone and talked to me.

"Is she breathing?," I heard myself stutter.

"I don't know, I can't tell.... she's not. She's cold and hard and stiff..."

I heard gutteral, deep screams. A loud wail.

Lord Jesus, those sounds were coming from me.

I looked up at my daughter. She looked confused and frightened. On the desk behind her, the two purple candles burned.

"After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further."
Macbeth (1605), Act III, scene 2, line 23

Requiescat in pace, Beautiful Baby

On Tuesday, November 20th, my beautiful sister, Joscelyne Denelle Flemming Rita, passed away. She leaves behind her loving husband, Emanuel, son, Justin, and daughter, Sophia.

Please pray for all of us. It's been devastating.

I miss my Baby.

Friday, November 23, 2012

School's In

Zora Neale Hurston

Cool story by my friend Rajul Punjabi, who, like me, interned at Vibe, but is actually putting her education to use and writing for real sites like Huff Po. Here, an excerpt:

For homework in my undergraduate Literature course, I asked students to pen a prose piece in response to one of Jamaica Kincaid's works, emulating her format and cadence while creating their own content. For thirty fruitless minutes, I droned on, trying to explain the assignment. Blank faces, more questions, more confusion. I began to doubt myself as an educator and a human being in general. Why didn't they get it?

"Look," I finally said, exasperated, "It's essentially throwing your original verse onto someone else's beat. Like they do on mixtapes."

I had never in my life heard such a synchronized "Ohhh, I get it now."

This happens often. I can do my best to break a literary concept down to my class, but it doesn't resonate until I contextualize it in an accessible way. And in 2012, I'm confident to say that hip hop as a genre and culture is an integral tool to make almost any text accessible.

Now of course, it's easy to defend my claim in an English-based curriculum. I employ Jay-Z for his abundant usage of metaphor, allusion, and hyperbole to teach figures of speech. Tupac works when we're looking at socioeconomic backgrounds in literature. Lauryn Hill? Indispensable during a lesson on imagery and narration. And don't get me started on our close-reading of the word "swagger" nee "swag" (Shakespeare vs. Soulja Boy). It was a long, loud, two hours but no English instructor worth her salt likes a quiet classroom anyway.

Last week, during a discussion on Zora Neale Hurston's autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, a student raised her hand in class and said, "Professor, I feel like Hurston was the Nicki Minaj of the Harlem Renaissance." This exemplified a deep and thoughtful observation. The girl had taken her knowledge of Minaj's persona -- outspoken, controversial, and gender-bending -- through her lyrics and likened it to Hurston's force in the arts and feminist politics of 1930s New York City that she read about. Proud mama moment for me, another point on the scoreboard for my theory.

Hip hop is all over the college campus now -- take the sociology class at Georgetown based on Jay-Z's Decoded, hip hop as a language at Stanford, and Questlove teaching in NYU's music department this semester. It was cute and novel a few years ago when skeptics dismissed it as a trend, but this isn't going anywhere. It's not just fun. It's necessary, and this very contextualization that I cling to in my classroom is the reason why.

Read the whole thing here. Great read, although I'm personally perturbed by that Minaj-Hurston linkage. *Shudder*

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Relax, relate, release.

Have trouble relaxing? No, I mean, do you find it stressful to relax? Me neither. But it IS a thing. From The Atlantic:

Christina Luberto is a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Cincinnati. She is in D.C. today to present research on a concept called relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA). It is precisely what it sounds like: being relaxed, itself, actually triggers anxiety.

RIA has been mentioned sporadically in medical literature since the 1980s, but never as a diagnosis in itself. Luberto looks at it as a disposition; a maladaptive process. She says about 15 percent of people have experienced it, and it's not outside the realm of benefiting from treatment. So she developed an index to identify exactly what part of relaxation is causing a person's anxiety, which should help inform targeted therapy.

RIA is different from just being the sort of person who doesn't find traditionally relaxing things to be relaxing. If those things (doing yoga, playing harp, brunching with Yanni, etc.) actually make you feel anxious -- but you then feel at ease, say, organizing socks -- that's not RIA. Because you are able to relax, albeit by atypical means. In this model, anything that elicits relaxed physiology (slow heart rate, decreased muscle tone, deep breathing) counts as relaxing.

It's also different from being straight-up unable to ever relax, as in severe chronic anxiety.

In RIA, you are able to relax (by whatever does it for you -- cooking, chilling, vacuuming), but it's not long before the relaxation triggers anxiety. You briefly enter a parasympathetic (chill) state, but then your heart rate spikes, and your respiratory rate increases, and you feel anxious.

So why does this happen? It varies, widely, but that's where Luberto's work comes in. She developed a 21-item self-examination that is supposed to help people with RIA identify exactly what part of relaxation triggers their anxiety. She calls it the Relaxation Sensitivity Index...

The prompts are broken down into three subsections, and each would be rated by the patient on a five point scale.

Social:

"I worry that when I let my body relax, I look unattractive."
"I worry that if I relax, other people will think I'm lazy."
Cognitive:

"I don't like to relax because I don't like it when my thoughts slow down."
"I don't like to relax because it makes me feel out of control."
Physical:

"It scares me when my breathing becomes deeper."
"I hate getting massages because of the feeling it creates when my muscles relax."

Treatment could then be tailored based on the responses.

Quite fascinating. Since Zoe's seemingly never-ending supply of energy is only matched by her limitless curiosity, I've been salivating at the thought of a massage.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Her Story: I Went On A Missions Trip To India



I've known Cecelia Christmas for over a decade. We met when we worked as Teacher's Aides at the childcare center on our college campus. She's always been positive, warm, adventurous and sincere in her faith in God.

So I wasn't too surprised when the 29 year-old Connecticut resident announced on Facebook that she was heading to India for a Missions Trip with her church, Cornerstone Christian Center.

CeCe, as friends call her,took some time off fro her day job as a pregnancy prevention facilitator, in order to make the exhaustive trip.  "I work at a residential facility where the youth are between the ages of 13-21 as well as... run groups discussing self-esteem, sexual risks for teens, contraception, goal setting decision-making and any other topics that effect teens today in various schools for high-risk youth."



This wasn't CeCe's first Missions Trip, having traveled as a child with her mom, but she still felt concern. "This is my first mission trip as an adult... and this trip and where I was going took a lot of prayer and for God to make the trip happen because the trip was the most expensive... and the farthest we as a church have traveled.

"I needed to do this as an adult. This was something i wanted to do as an adult."

Braille Bibles for the blind members of Victory Church.

So they headed off to  in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. For CeCe, the prayers, the expense, the days of travel were all more than worth it. "I would move to India long term because there is so much work to be done there."









Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Pleasure Principle

 I took this in November 2011 at Memorial Park, Linden, NJ.
 

"Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product. Paradoxically, the one sure way not to be happy is deliberately to map out a way of life in which one would please oneself completely and exclusively. After a short time, a very short time, there would be little that one really enjoyed.

For what keeps our interest in life and makes us look forward to tomorrow is giving pleasure to other people."

-Eleanor Roosevelt




I came across this very awesome quote this morning at Brain Pickings Weekly. I thought of teen me, trying my hardest to map out my life to the fullest. I'd major in Education, be out of college at 21, land a dream job teaching kindergarten, get a great place of my own...

And of course, my life did not turn out like that at all. Funny how life happens while you're making plans.

I then thought of a piece I read at Rod Dreher's blog a few days ago, "What's Wrong With The Freakin' Show". He writes about reading an article by The New York Times columnist David Brooks about "how the world of choice and plenty in which we now live has occasioned the rapid decline of the traditional family." Dreher writes:

To some degree, we’re all implicated in this mindset — in this idea that life should be a buffet of choices, and that we shouldn’t be bound too tightly to any particular choice, because that limits our freedom to act to maximize our own happiness. It is a well-known paradox that the happiest people are the ones who don’t pursue happiness for its own sake. This is what Brooks is getting at by saying that people are better off when they are embedded in a structure of commitments that limit their freedom. By closing off their ability to move laterally, they have the capacity to dig deeper...
The thing is, there’s no escape from struggling with commitments, no matter where you are. It’s simply the social and psychological landscape all of us live in. Have people ever lived under conditions in which so many people had so much freedom of choice, where the direction of their lives was in profound ways contingent on the exercise of their own free will? This is what we all think we want, because many goods come with that freedom. But we know, or ought to know, that it won’t make us happy, not permanently so.
This is one reason why lottery winners are often so miserable. They don’t know how to deal with the freedom all that money buys them, and it ruins them. People who don’t have much money love to imagine that if only their financial problems were taken care of, they would be happy. More often than not, they just exchange one set of anxieties for another. Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.

Such truth there, that to find joy within is to focus out. And up.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My E-Addiction

On the ride down the Turnpike to my neurologist's office last week, K, who was driving, suddenly turned to me and grabbed my iPhone out my hand. I looked up surprised and asked, "What are you doing?" He looked at me, slightly irritated and asked, "What are *you* doing?" I knew immediately what he meant. After Hurricane Sandy and then an early season Nor'Easter snowstorm, I had spent the majority of that week and the one prior cooped up in our apartment. I had so badly wanted to get out, and now that I was, I was busy reading various blogs as if I had never left.

I realize I have a problem. I find myself doing a check-in on Facebook as I'm taking my seat in a pew at church on Sundays. While reading a good article online, I immediately tweet it's link. I "watch" TV while scanning various websites or checking my email. I pin and like and "+1" with abandon. Heck, I'm composing this post on my iPad Blogger app while a documentary is playing barely watched.

I've noticed what my e-addiction is doing to me. While conversing with some friends, I've had to bite my tongue to not cut them off, speed them along or change the subject. Even still, I admit I've still done it. Silence is discomforting (despite just a few months ago, my desperate search for it). Pandora is a useful cover, as is my latest musical obsession, the soundtrack for the first season of "Treme". Worse, I feel like I'm wasting time somehow if I'm not linked to the web.

But perhaps it's not an all out *addiction* yet:


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm not actually addicted.

The season of Advent is upon us, but I'm already thinking of Lent. I guess I know what I'm giving up.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Crisis of Blue



Poor Beth Cox. She's suffering a severe crisis of sorts, and it began on Election Night. Like so many other vehement Romney supporters, she cannot fathom what went wrong. From The Washington Post:

Here in the heart of Red America, Cox and many others spent last week grieving not only for themselves and their candidate but also for a country they now believe has gone wildly off track. The days after Barack Obama’s reelection gave birth to a saying in Central Tennessee: Once was a slip, but twice is a sign....

Among so many Romney voters, perhaps none had been as devoted to the cause — as indefatigable, as confident, as prayerful — as 44-year-old Beth Cox, a member of the school board and a volunteer who had committed to Romney early in the Republican primaries. She had run the small GOP campaign headquarters in Sumner County by herself for six days a week during the last four months. She had been the first in line to vote on the first day of early voting.

Now it was left to her to clean up the aftermath. She stood next to a space heater in a small building in the exurbs of Nashville, taking inventory of what supplies they had left and packing up boxes of red-white-and-blue streamers. She put away the pink Romney shirts, the white Romney-Ryan hats and the GOP bumper stickers with the Tennessee logo. Down came the sign that read: “We Built It!” Down came the elephant flag and the George W. Bush commemorative emblem. Down came the signed picture of Romney, with a typed inscription that read: “This is a great time to be a Republican.”

But now Cox was wondering: Was it?

She had devoted her life to causes she believed were at the heart of her faith and at the core of her Republican Party. She counseled young married families at church, spoke about right to life in area schools and became a stay-at-home mom with two daughters.
Now, in a single election night, parts of her country had legalized marijuana, approved gay marriage and resoundingly reelected a president who she worried would “accelerate our decline.”

When I say poor Beth Cox, I'm not being facetious. I honestly feel sorry for her. The article describes a woman who loves her country, her pastor hubby and their two beautiful girls. She leads a women's prayer group. She scrapbooks. She sounds like a nice woman. She also sounds a lot like many of the women I use to worship with at my former church. Unfortunately, she seems to be living in somewhat of a bubble.

I've read numerous autopsies over the past week about what went wrong- or for many of my Dem family and friends, what went right. Romney lost the Asian vote. And Latinos, although there is much contention why. And of course, many ladies.

So how could Republicans not see it? How could people like Cox not have an inkling Romney wasn't a shew-in?

Far be it from me to add to the cacophony of posts trying to dig in to the raison d'etre. I know living in an urban city in Jersey, my experiences of politics are a far cry from Cox's, so I wasn't really surprised that Obama won re-election.

But I'd love to hear from you, Dear Reader. I purposely stayed out of the fray for the most part because I'm pretty disgusted with American politics. But with the election blessedly over, I'm opening up the discussion. What do you think the GOP needs to do to win back the White House? Go left? Go farther right? Embrace minorities (in a more genuine fashion)? Retreat from the same sex marriage battle? Weigh-in, but NO DISRESPECT. Seriously. I will not post any comments that are nasty. Don't like it? Go write at your own blog.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda




I read through this article at The Daily Mail by Claudia Connell, and I sighed. Very hard.

There is much, much sadness, and too much regret. I admire her honesty, but seriously question why she'd serve up herself as a cautionary tale to partying, sex-sans-strings singletons in the way she does.

She repeatedly references "Sex & The City", and as a big fan, I immediately thought of Carrie's questioning exclamation, "Am I a masochist or something?"

Connell is in her forties, never married and childless. She writes of being:

Materially well-off but emotionally bereft, we represent the loneliest generation ever known — and as a member of this fast-growing club, I have to say, it’s not a membership I look forward to renewing annually. 
For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.
I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.
When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.

In the midst of writing this post, I turned away from my PC and dusted off my "Sex & The City" DVDs. Call it research, or just a break from my latest David Simon obsession, "Treme", or both. I put in nearly all the seasons, disc after disc, until I found the episode that popped in my head as I read Connell's ode to growing old alone: "They Shoot Single People Don't They?" If you've never seen it, the plot is Carrie, after partying all night with the girls, arrives to a photoshoot for New York magazine late and disheveled. She winds up on the cover looking a hot dang mess with the tagline, "Single and Fabulous?" emblazoned over her exhausted mug. The piece uses her as an example of what remaining a single, career-first, sexually-free woman can lead to.


That fictional godawful cover looks disturbingly like the giant picture of Connell that accompanies her mea culpa of selfishness. She looks tired and worn out while she sips that fruity cocktail. Why, I ask, why that picture? Heh, pictures speak louder than words, I guess. 

But her words atill scream. She continues:
What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.
When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us. 
Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.
Choking on freedom. My Lord, the problems we first-worlders do have. 

Perhaps, as a married mother of a toddler, it would be assumed I'd cheer Connell's conclusions. And there is a part I do, wholeheartedly. But it's not that the answer to all of one's relational problems can be found with a couple of rings and a marriage license. I reject that line of thought wholeheartedly. In fact, I've repeatedly told my single friends, whatever emotional baggage you've got before walking down the aisle will not be miraculously absolved once you stroll back up as a missus. Nope, you'll now have an eyewitness to all of it.

The lesson to be heeded is to abhor selfishness. Treating men as accessories? Wanting to use them for a night but cringing at their very presence during the day? Selfish, selfish, selfish. There's no wonder Connell is feeling so lonely now. She carved out her very own fortress of solitude.

“As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.” ~Carrie Bradshaw


Here's to hoping Connell will let go of what she could have and embrace all that she has.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Clark Kent, Blogger

 (Mashable)


I suppose it was bound to happen. Clark Kent, AKA Superman, has left his long time job as a Daily Planet reporter. From Mashable:

According to USA Today, he doesn’t go quietly. In fact, Kent resigns in a “Jerry Maguire-type moment,” loudly in front of the entire staff. The beat reporter emphatically emphasizes his unhappiness with how journalism has given way to entertainment.

“Go easy on us,” another journalist tells Kent. “Times are changing, and print is a dying medium.”

According to the comic’s author, Scott Lobdell, Kent will likely start a blog. “I don’t think he’s going to be filling out an application anywhere,” Lobdell says. “He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from.”

 Very interesting. I wonder if he'd hire me. ;-)

Hurricane Sandy & Election Day

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Christ-Centered Proposal

 Picture, my own.


Awww! Congrats to the happy couple! May God bless! H/T: April at Breath of Life Daily.


A Christ-Centered Surprise Proposal That You Will Absolutely Love! from ourprecioussavior on GodTube.

All Souls & Sandy

Today is All Soul's Day and according to the Anglican Communion, "is a twin feast of All Saints's Day. It has been observed in the Eastern Church from very early times and was introduced into Western Europe in the tenth century. The sixteenth-century English Reformers cut this festival out of the church year because they did not like to distinguish between "all saints" and "all souls." The New Testament makes no such distinction but, rather, refers to all Christians as saints, stressing the fact that salvation is a gift from God and that none of us earns a special place in his kingdom by our good deeds. This is a good time to remember the unspectacular children of God: those whose Christian witness may have been weak or faltering, but who are still very dear and important to God and to us."

 At my church, The Church of The Good Shepherd.


In complete honesty, I knew nothing of this feast day until maybe two years ago, but have found it quite fascinating.

Despite, or maybe because of the hurricane, I've found it floating in and out of my thoughts since I climbed out of bed this morning. With the death toll rising, this year's All Soul's Day is sadly timely.

Today's devotional at Forward Day by Day is fitting:

When we spend too much time worrying, Jesus reminds us, we make ourselves bigger than we are and succumb to the illusion that we can control much of anything. We can lie awake at night wondering what tomorrow will bring, and watch our hair turn gray and bags form under our eyes, or we can rest in the knowledge that our hearts are out of our hands. 

As the storm proves, we cannot control everything. In fact, we can't control a whole lot. We think we can, especially we Northeasterners. But along comes a storm and our lives, along with the trees, are standing on end.


Here is where faith enters. It is faith that sustains us, giving us strength as we pick up the mess. Faith pushes us on, reminding us of those souls who have gone on before. Today, I stop to remember them and their witness. Imperfect, but by faith, used by God. They surround us, along with so many others, those without "saint" in front of their names and a day put aside on the Liturgical Calendar. 

May they rest in peace as we run with perseverance.  

Surviving Sandy- Pictures from the Home Front

The following are a few pictures I took following the hurricane.


Outside a home in Roselle, NJ.


Trepidation, but no tears. 

Thank you, David. There's nothing like paper and ink with no electricity.

Bathing by candlelight...

... Ave Regina.

Our place... at five PM on Wednesday. 

Our shining light.

Surviving Sandy


Hi! We're okay! Yay! Thanks to those who were concerned and prayed. We really appreciate it. Here's a rundown of how this week went:

Sunday:

While the sky remained ominous all day, things were quiet. We chose not to flock to ShopRite because the crowds were ridiculous. Instead, we felt okay to ride things out with what we had: bottled water, a couple of flashlights, candles, and canned stuff.

Still, I felt uneasy. I wasn't sure why. To lift my mood, I watched the best "bad movies" we have. "Snakes On A Plane" and "Pineapple Express" were two of them. I also exercised, something I've found helps channel my nervous energy into productive activity. K showed me some exercises, and let's put it this way: my legs are just finally returning to a (relatively) pain-free state.

Monday:

The rain came. The winds were frightening. I went from nervous to scared. It quickly became obvious this was far worse than Irene. I felt like the windows were going to break.

More exercising, but far less as I felt my shoulders, knees and butt were going to quit my body, jump off, and leave me strangely disfigured.

More movies. Harold and Kumar drove across the Garden State to White Castle, and I pondered why they didn't just stop in Elizabeth or Linden instead of going all the way to Cherry Hill (hey, I am a Jersey Girl, through and through). I was laughing hard at "Napoleon Dynamite"... okay, let me pause here. If you're wondering why I'm just now watching movies from forever-a-go, it's because I was too busy working multiple jobs and being too broke, okay?... as I was saying, I was laughing at Pedro in that ridiculous wig when, quicker than you can say "R.I.P. Amy Winehouse", everything went back to black.

I had preemptively lit a candle, so we weren't in total darkness. But Lord, it was dark...

One of the things I deal with in having CIDP is loss of balance. Before I had this, I would connect balance problems with my head. You know, like if you go on a "Tilt A Whirl" and step off spinning, or if you drink too much and wind up tipsy. Well, my balance issues from CIDP is nothing like that. It comes from the damaged nerves in my feet and legs, so I cannot feel the floor beneath the way I should. With IVIG treatment, some feeling has returned, so I can feel cold/hot, the difference between carpet and linoleum. But I still rely on my vision to get around. So yeah, hopefully you can now understand, at least a bit, why no electricity= no bueno.

While I adjusted to even more limitations, poor Zoe freaked out. Suddenly Mama and Dada had disappeared, along with everything. She wound up sleeping on top of me.

Tuesday:

While it drizzled sporadically, we ventured out with seemingly 95% of our neighbors. We all kind of wandered aimlessly down the block, surveying the damage. And oh, sweet Baby Jesus, there was damage. For the first time in my life, I saw, in person, the havoc of a hurricane. No one had power. Lines were down, sirens wailed and trees older than this country lay like twigs across streets, cars, yards and homes.On the eve of Halloween, many of us walked the streets like aimless zombies.

My legs still sore from Sunday's workout, K loaded us in the car and we drove though a number of towns seeing the destruction. Very few street lights were operational, and the cops were obviously busy dealing with top level emergencies, so driving was... free range. Best to go slow, stay alert, go straight and make right turns. Many streets were closed off, and I saw more yellow tape than an episode of "The Wire."

The two gas stations we saw open had lines several blocks long, and the lone CVS open was packed.  A young dude hustled hot coffee on the side of the road and was turning a pretty profit, too. With no way to run on Dunkin' or get caffeinated at Starbucks, quite a few were pulling over.

Neighbors worked together to clean up yards. Kids raked leaves and picked up branches along with parents.

We drove by my family's various homes and felt relief that things were okay. I couldn't feel happy, though. Lives were lost, and so much lay in ruins.

Wednesday: 

With no heat or hot water in our apartment, bathing was miserable. We boiled water in a giant pot to warm our baths. Zoe was chilled but unphased. I was not.

We all dressed in layers with the inside temperature hovering in the sixties. I read a few short stories by Khalil Gibran and John Steinbech; K played chess in intervals on his still-charged iPad.

It was still Halloween, so I dressed Z in her cheap-y drugstore costume, and then slid my kitty ears and tail on. I drew whiskers on my face with black eyeliner. K slept.



The diet of healthy foods was thrown out along with our fish and skinless chicken when the fridge stopped blowing cold air. We ate cookies chips and M7Ms with abandon, and had Chinese from the one joint in miles that was open. K and I sipped red wine. I shared the Steinbech story I had read. The main character wound up shot. Scary enough for Halloween.

Thursday:

Around three thirty, I awoke with a start by the sound of beeps and the whir of the fridge. K popped up a few seconds later. Electricity!

We laughed. K jumped up to charge his long dead tech-sessories. We could hear our neighbors doing the same. I laughed hysterically as I flipped on the TV.

I think we were more excited about power than Edison was in Menlo Park back in the day.

Later, I spoke with my dad. Still no power there. In fact, there was no power right across the street. We knew we were lucky.

Today:

Most places are still closed. A number of my friends have gone to shelters to help out, donating water, baby stuff and canned goods.

For the first time in nearly nine months, I haven't had my weekly IVIG infusion. My nurse Melissa is okay, although her yard is a mess. We're trying to play today by ear. If not, next week I suppose.

It's okay. We're okay. Things are good.

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K and Z enjoying the Christmas tree.

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