The Wrath of Mother Nature

I’m writing this sitting in front of my favorite place in the whole house, the living room window. Much of what I’d pulled away, the research folders, the chapters from my next book, the desk, the printer I didn’t want to get wet, are now back in place.

For the past five days, Florida had been in hurricane preparedness mode and I, the veteran rodeo-rider, was as well. Over the years I’d learned to keep my house stocked at all time with plenty of water, canned goods, candles, flashlights and batteries. So when the entire coast went into a tailspin and raided every Publix, Walmart and Home Depot this side of the Mississippi, I simply kicked back on that craziness and just waited.

I think it’s the waiting that kills me the most. Prepared or not. Veteran or not. Time does have a way of wreaking havoc on one’s brain especially if you’re of the same school as me where neurotic habits rule the world. It’s painful. It’s frustrating. It’s sometimes even crippling to not be able to have that type of control, like being on a runaway train with no conductor at the brake.

However, despite my inadequacies, I’m also old enough (sixty-three I believe qualifies me for that perch even though Medicare doesn’t) to know that poop happens. And you better be ready to deal with it.

So after the heartbreaking devastation in Haiti, I sat here expecting a hurricane of dangerous proportion, while wondering where the hell they come up with all these names, Lauren never being one of them? But thankfully, and as luck would have it because that IS the only name of this game—Luck—Matthew passed us by. However, not before leaving us with some signs he’d been here, signs which would remind us fear comes in all sorts of disguises.

Hurricane Matthew

Was I scared silly staring out into the pitch black as rain pelted the glass, and gusts of wind forced the tree in front of my house into a yoga bend even I wouldn’t attempt to do? You bet! I’ve experienced far too many things not to be.

I moved to Mexico just after one of their biggest earthquakes which left parts of Mexico City in ruin. California had Northridge. Another devastating earthquake that I also luckily just missed by the skin of my teeth. But my seven-year stay did provide many instances which left me clinging to the furniture or underneath the furniture. Then there’s Florida. The place where I measure Mother Nature at her best and cruelest, where storms named Bertha, Dennis, Erin and Andrew have stained the terrain, have left me with memories of cars being thrown around like beach balls, glass and trees exploding from their roots, homes destroyed and oh so many lives lost.

Hurricane Andrew

That’s what I think about every year as hurricane season comes into play. Be prepared to hunker down. To batten my hatches, hold my head up high, and brace myself unto myself for I am all that I have as I plow full speed ahead.

But like I said … we were lucky this time around. The sun came out. Little Orphan Annie sang her song. All the old people in my development are now back on their bikes, doing aerobics in the pool, and me?

I’m ready for a nap.




Photo credit: AP

Photo credit: The Associated Press

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9/11. Hope at Ground Zero

Like millions of other people on September 11, 2001, I sat transfixed to the TV screen watching and re-watching images I simply couldn’t believe were real. It all felt so chaotic, so horrific, the truth was I didn’t want them to be real.

But they were. And as the fiery clouds of smoke continued to engulf and consume all in its path, little did I or the millions of other people watching realize to what extent these unfolding events would change us as Americans forever.

Looking back fifteen years ago, we were a different country. We seemed to stand apart from the rest of the world in the fact that we remained untouched by foreign invasion. Suicide bombers, sniper attacks did not encroach upon our day-to-day lives. And because of that we took certain truths for granted. And we shouldn’t have.

It’s a strange seat to suddenly find yourself vulnerable. We were unprepared for what happened that day, and as much as I’d like to think we’re now smarter, more secure, I can’t help but ask: Are we?

Three thousand people perished that day. Three thousand brave men and women who fought to save their lives and the lives of others ended in a wreckage of glass and steel right before our eyes.

As a New Yorker and a fellow participant in this bowl of humanity, I felt what we all feel when something this crazy and senseless happens. It drives us to question, to cry, to lay flowers, to sing mournful songs, to reach out to those bereaving families. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t do those things. I didn’t pay tribute to those fallen angels the way I wished I had. So when I found myself in Manhattan today, I made sure Ground Zero was on my things to do list.

The outside memorial of two enormous waterfalls set within the original footprints of the Twin Towers is a magnificent structure and quite peaceful as you stroll around and gaze at all the names etched in.

The inside museum tells a different story. It offers us something more. A glimpse behind the wall of smiling faces telling us this one loved to play golf. This one coached Little League. This one just got married. This one just had a baby. So many names, so many faces, I kept thinking as I moved from exhibit to exhibit until I finally came to the end. Thoroughly drained and profoundly touched.                                          

History teaches us that the events of the past shape our future. It begs us to not forget. To not wipe clean the memories. It tells us to use all that we know to honor our cultural differences and rectify those injustices in this great story of human existence. It provokes us to think. To act. To develop a better lens in which we see the world and keep us safe. It gives us meaning. It provides opportunity to build character and integrity in the lives of our children. And it teaches us the most important lesson of all … hope. For without that, there’s nothing.

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Confessions of a Moveaholic

As of late, I realize I’ve been terrible at blogging. More than superstar status though with Facebook, Twitter and whatever other silly thing I can think of to distract myself with. It’s what I do best, I suppose. That and moving. Yes, I do that brilliantly. And should since I’ve done it a total of twenty-two times over the course of my adult lifetime. Wow. What an astounding number given I’m not in the military (FEMA doesn’t count), and according to the US Census Bureau the average American only moves twelve times. And for all the normal reasons. New job. Better job. Bigger house. Smaller house. Getting married. Getting divorced. One kid. Ten kids.

However, while some of those reasons were applicable to me, for the most part I believe I get up and go more often than most simply because I can. I don’t feel encumbered to maintain roots in any single place, not with a middle name of “tumbleweed” I don’t. Nor do I stress out so much about money, where it’s coming from, where it’s going to, because I’ve always believed where there’s a will there’s a way.

Perhaps that sounds a bit naive. And maybe it is. But it works for me. And now with my recent move squarely behind me, all the knickknacks and mishegosh of my life acclimating once again to their new environment, I find myself digging a bit deeper into that why factor.

First and foremost, I hate clutter

Moving gives me that excuse to get rid of all the junk hiding under the bed, in the closets and anywhere else one chooses to squirrel things away. It also permits me to shop till I drop. Not that I ever needed an excuse for that, but it certainly sounds good.

I get to wear a badass bandana and have fun

Not everyone can pull this one off. Yet I think it looks good on me. No?

How else do you get to make new friends in such a short amount of time?

I tend to think that while certain relationships are fleeting, it’s all about living in the moment. Especially when those moments are also fleeting.

I love to travel

Some people are content right where they are. I’m not. I get bored easily. Places and faces grow stale after a while and in my mind there’s nothing sexy about knowing what’s around the corner. Whether I move down the block, across the state, across the country, to another country, the experience is always exhilarating. Sure getting on a plane to San Francisco, Italy, Greece, or some other yummy destination for your annual vacation is very nice. But it’s not the same thing as moving there. Nothing touches one more than going out of your comfort zone, way out there, setting up shop where you don’t know anyone and have to start from scratch. It’s tough stuff. It tells you exactly what you’re made of.

It keeps me young

Well it used to. I have to admit this last one was a killer. Since I’d sold off all my furniture traveling from California back to Florida and I have not as yet had the opportunity or the wherewithal to buy anything other than a bed, a desk, a chair and a laptop (all this writer girl actually needs, but that occasional person dropping by might not agree), I believed this would be a slam-dunk of a move. However, even the most diligent of movers could not have anticipated the elevator breaking down. And with a 95-degree sun beating down on our backs, hauling twenty boxes down four flights of steps, needless to say my son was not at all a happy camper. Nor was I.

maudit i love lucy my favorite episode

New doors open that weren’t open before

I have to admit in those early years I had no clue what to expect. Maybe that’s what makes it so grand, the unexpected. I knew I would eventually make new friends, find a new life wherever I went. However, what I came away with was so much than I could ever have imagined. In Forest Hills, NY (my first move), I found my sense of independence. I saw a glimmer of my older self. Who I was to become. In Guadalajara, Mexico, I found love. I lost love. In Florida, I found a family. In California I absorbed quite a few pearls of wisdom. Things I knew, things I’d forgotten along the way. We are who we are. No regrets. Love thyself, all of thyself. Lots of good stuff, without a doubt.

And now that I have come full circle back to Florida, I found the greatest gift of all. A baby named Cupcake. Need I say anything more on that one?

At this stage of the game, I have no idea how many more moves are in the cards for me. Only time will tell on that one, I suppose. That and perhaps a winning Lottery ticket (which I never buy). But in the meantime, here I stay. And with Cupcake’s second birthday coming up in a few days, here I definitely stay. Well, at least for a little while anyway.

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