a tangential screed

Those of you who follow the blog may remember that I wrote a bit about a freak storm we had in the middle of August. It was one of those rare occasions, when I had gone into Albuquerque to have dinner with friends. When I finally navigated the flooded roads to get to my house through what looked like snow. Later I learned that a bizarre thunderstorm moving over the mountains must have collided with some cold air and the result was an intense hailstorm with 60 mph winds. According to my neighbors it only lasted a short time, sounded horrific, and did thousands of dollars in damage to a narrow swath of east mountain residences.


That was over two months ago. I was fortunate that my insurance company came promptly, gave me the estimate and some recommendations and within a few weeks I had a new roof and new windows. What has lasted much longer is the uneasy feeling I have about the safety of my home. This is the first new house I’ve ever owned. I planned, saved, designed, and built, what I hoped would be my retirement home. (it still is.)

And I’m fortunate that this is the most terrible thing I’ve ever had to endure. I still have trouble finding the words to describe the disbelief I felt standing on the soaked carpeting of my bedroom floor with broken glass everywhere along with mud, sticks, and other debris. I felt violated. I felt unsafe. I felt powerless.

I never lost power. The temperature was normal. My dogs were safe. And yet, it took me weeks to feel normal.

No comparison

Like most people, I watched in horror as the storm of the century decimated parts of the east coast last week, turning thousands of lives upside down. Houses, buildings, trees, cars… No structure was left untouched. The images were on my TV set, the disembodied voices sounded distant. The only way I could relate was to think about the 20 minute unpredictable freak storm that damaged several dozen homes and then dissipated. I had multiply that by hundreds to even begin to understand the devastation I was trying to absorb.It was more than I could assimilate.

I’m still not sure I understand the magnitude of it all, but my heart hurts for the men, women, and children who’ve lost everything. Everything. If I was younger and stronger and not so tired, I would like to be there to help. To distribute some meals or even water bottles. To be able to provide a sleeping bag or a lantern. To put my arm around someone and honestly promise that it would be okay. I can do little but donate money and feel so grateful for the legions of people who’ve left the comfort of their own homes to help our neighbors, our citizens, and Our Family.

In the midst of the hateful, polarizing, political campaign filled with vitriol and lies, we are given a gift. A snapshot of the greatness of the citizens of this young country. In the flooded filthy streets of New Jersey, Long Island, Staten island and all along the coast, Americans—real American patriots—are reaching out and helping one another. Where are the 1% now? Where are the wall street profiteers? Where are the oil company executives who promise a better world? And most importantly where are the damn politicians we elected to take care of us, to be our voices, to stand for what We believe in?

I’m disgusted with the divisiveness, the selfishness, and the greed I read about every single day. This is not the country I grew up in.

I’m proud to be an American and I’m proud of every single human being who has put their life on hold to help their neighbors. You are each in my thoughts and prayers.

14 thoughts on “a tangential screed

  1. Excellent piece, Jeanne! Couldn’t agree more. I keep thinking “We are better than this,” and all those folks, be they volunteers or First Responders or neighbors, remind me we are better than this daily diet of hate, division and lies we are being fed from politicians. Thanks!

    1. I think we need to be reminded that in our people, there is greatness. When we are fed a diet of disabuse–daily, eventually be begin to believe we are the “47%” and we’re NOT. Thanks,Anita.

      1. I have worked so hard to balance the unhealthy diet by limiting the news, recording everything so we can fast forward through the ads, etc. The internet is my downfall in keeping up and even there I am being pretty picky. I refuse to believe that any of us can do without any others of us. I would like to do without some behaviors and the selfishness and greed and racism and homophobia/homo-hating that I see, but not without our people. I am almost reminded that Tip O’Neill regularly sat down with Ronald Reagan for drinks at the end of the day. They debated and opposed one another on political issues, but they didn’t demonize each other. That is the country I want. We don’t all have to agree, but we must recognize each other’s humanity.

          1. It can be hard to remember, when we’re being bombarded with bad news, that there are millions and millions of decent, hard working,helpful, loving people in this world. Sometimes it seems that all we hear about are the troubles in the world but yet, daily, there are as many wonderful things happening….but we rarely hear about those.
            I know that I can’t wait until the election is over, both sides have turned ugly and seem to match each other in their outright lies and distortions. It’s hard to weed out the truth but each person must do their own homework and not just listen to the “news media.” Then exercise your right and VOTE.
            Most of all, in our own lives, we must respect others. We must not fall into the trap of following the crowd and not thinking for ourselves. I firmly believe we are good people that need each other to prosper and grow.

  2. This political cycle has left me bereft, and yet through all of the slinging, truth manipulation and hate that has been spewed, it takes a natural disaster, to remind us and give us a glimpse of honest core American values. The announcement and recognition of people helping people because that is indeed, who we are at the most essential level. Very well stated, Ms. Author Barrett — A wonderful “Fanfare for the Common Man” and, of course Woman!! Thank you!

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