Saturday, September 03, 2005

Saturday, September 3, 2005
New Moon
Chiron Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

The UN called Bush yesterday, reiterating their wish to help in the Katrina crisis. No response. Why????? Why is Bush denying the area aid that could save lives?

More and more people are calling for Rudy Guiliani to go down there and take charge. He’d do a great job and he’d kick some majorly incompetent ass. Guiliani does not suffer fools gladly. He’s difficult to deal with on a random Tuesday in July; but in a bad situation – he knows how to get things done. He’d also bring a team of his own people in to help coordinate – not only is he very organized and resourceful himself, he knows how to put together a tough, intelligent, and efficient group of people. They can be irritable and irritating, but, in life or death situations, I’d want a Guiliani team in charge.

I was too to exhausted, overwhelmed, and behind on deadlines to blog yesterday. I just couldn’t.

I had to go into the city for a few hours. I met an interesting family on the train in. There was a father – probably about five or six years older than I am. He had with him an eleven-year old boy, sandy-haired, round glasses, very serious, like the weight of the world was on his shoulders, and a little girl of about six or seven, with dark, curly hair and a sunny disposition. The brother felt very responsible for his sister – making sure she didn’t get to close to the edge of the platform, etc.

At one point, the little girl looked up at her father and said, “Daddy? Can we stop at Toys R Us and buy teddy bears for all the kids who lost theirs in Katrina?”

I just about started crying again. He explained gently that there was no place to send them yet, but yes, once there was a place, they could buy toys to send to the kids.

That fuelled an idea I got the previous night. I’ve emailed someone with more experience in this arena than I have; hopefully, I’ll be able to share it with you soon.

On the train, I had a three-seater to myself, and I was sitting there, trying to read the paper. I looked up when the boy came to sit next to me. “Can I ask you a question?” he said.


“’Cause your necklace and your rings and everything?”


“Why did the magic fail?”

“That’s a question many people will ask for a long, long time.”

“I think I’d rather be somewhere else, where you could fight actual monsters.”

“We have plenty of monsters here. Only they’re in the shape of humans.”

He sighed. “I know. But it seems like it’s easier to find the other kind of monster.”

“Maybe that’s why we’ve been given these monsters to fight.”

Those two kids just about broke my heart, but they also gave me hope. If there are actually kids out there who care so much, maybe we do have a future after all. And they must have pretty wonderful parents.

I went through the park as I raced around doing errands. I came across a group of people planning a benefit for the victims of Katrina. It was interesting, because passers-by would catch a word here and there and stop and offer to help. There was also a homeless man rooting through the garbage. Finally, he stood up and came over. “Can I sing at the night?” he asked.

Everyone kind of stared at him.

“Oh, yeah, you gotta hear it first so’s you know if you like it.” And he sang a few bars, with a deep, beautiful voice. The jaws just about dropped to the floor. “I ain’t gots no money to give,” he said, “but I gots my voice. And I know what it is to be homeless.”

With all the horrors happening, the flickers of good appear in the most amazing places.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS gave an immediate donation of $100,000 from the Broadway Community to start, and individual shows are working with the Red Cross. One of our show’s cleaning ladies has family that lost everything; they’ve found one member, and she’s been relocated to one of the shelters in Texas. We are gathering clothing, etc. for her to take down next month.

The previous night, my SO turned up. He’d taken a leave from his job in Canada, knowing they might fire him, because he was worried about me. Considering that Thursday was my day of complete rage and meltdown, his timing (as usual) was excellent. By mid-afternoon on Thursday, I could not stop crying. He finally removed me from the television and, after a certain point, shut off the computer.

“You’re working yourself into Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.”

“I have no right to be stressed. I’m not the one who lost everything.”

“You’re watching the destruction of a city you love heart and soul. And people dying when we all know it could have been avoided. But it hasn’t, and we have to move forward and work on the future. You worked with Vietnam Vets for years. You worked with the Red Cross for Desert Storm. You write to soldiers in Iraq. You know the symptoms. You’ve got them. All.”

“It’s not about me. I don’t have the right –“

“You’re not allowed to watch the news.”

“I’m over 21. I’m allowed to do whatever I want.”

“No. We’re going to sit down and sort this out. No TV. I’ll disconnect the cable in a way you can’t put it back.”

I started sulking.

“What’re you good at?”


“Stop fishing for compliments. What are you good at?”

“Writing, research, organizing . . .”

“What else?”


“No way are you going down there and cook in the shelters. The minute they handed you the frozen lima beans, you’d have a diva fit.”

“Not true.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Okay, so it is. But they’d eat well.”

“Come on, now. What else?”

“Figuring stuff out. Sometimes.”

“And you know how to build things.”

“Sets and stuff.”

“Hammer, nails, screw gun. I’ve watched you put together furniture. You swear a lot, but you get it done. And then you write a letter of complaint about bad directions to the company.”


“So, it’s no use you going out on some street corner, buying a gun and going down there like an Avenger. You’re here. You’re collecting information. How many people would have called the UN? And never doubted that they’d talk to you?”

“Any writer.”

“But any writer didn’t. You did.”

“Other writers called. They must have.”

“Don’t split hairs. You know what I mean.. You’re checking information, you’re posting what’s true and pointing out what’ still rumour and speculation. That’s useful.”

“It’s not saving anybody’s life.”

“You don’t know that.”

“If my mom and I had been caught down there, we’d both be dead.”

“But you’re not. You’re here. You’re as safe as anyone can be at any given moment, for the moment. And you’re grateful. So you’re going to help people now. Because if you don’t, it’ll fester and eat you up. You’re a writer. You’re writing. You’re gathering information and passing it on. You’re pointing out how the mistakes made by voters in the last election brought serious consequences. I tried to get you to leave the country last November. You didn’t. You already said you want to collect toys for the kids around Christmas because you said ‘every kid who lost everything should have a stuffed animal to hold’ and then, in the spring, you want to go down with Habitat for Humanity and do physical work. Not everyone can be on the Search-and-Rescue crew. Somebody’s got to be there for them when they get home. You always tell people that they have to figure out what they need to do and what they’re good at, and to find a way to make their corner of the world a better place, so it can have a ripple effect. Sometimes it IS doing it from here, not going there. At least right away. You’re doing what you can do. If you were a billionaire, you’d have hired private planes and rescue crews and done it yourself and not been a billionaire anymore, which would be fine with you. But you’re not. You’re YOU, you’re here, you’re now. You are doing what you’re good at to make a difference.”

“I guess.”

“Your limitations in this situation are both physical and financial, and you’re just going to have to deal. You’re the one that usually not only has Plan B, and C, but D, E, and F. It would be great if you were in a position to do something down there, but you’re not Dictator of the Universe. Yet. Now, no news tonight. Okay?”

Mumble, mumble.

“We’ll watch a Harry Potter movie instead. You need to rest up so you can collect more information.”

{I checked this with him to make sure I recorded it correctly. He doesn’t think I was this petulant. I think I was worse}.

So we watched The Prisoner of Azkaban on video. Then I started to re-read The Goblet of Fire while he read The Half-Blood Prince. Even though I took something to help me sleep, I kept waking up in tears during the night. When I left the next day to go into the city, he was asleep, and I left him a note, so he wouldn’t think I’d gone off and done something dumb.

On the writing front, I polished the two articles for Llewellyn and got them in to my editor late in the afternoon. I have another article due on the 9th, two more on the 15th, one on the 23rd, and 25 page-a-day pieces due on the 30th. So I need to get moving.

The story I meant to write as the Christmas story has taken on a whole new shape, in light of Katrina. I think the Christmas story will have to be something different, and this one will have to be what it is. These characters are very vehement that Katrina needs to be part of their story.

I have a raging headache and didn’t want to eat yesterday. I have to get back to The Widow’s Chamber – writing about New Orleans. It’s very, very difficult.

I am so grateful for everything I have – my home, my family, my friends. My memories. My photos of New Orleans – because it will never be the same again. In addition to mourning the human loss, I also mourn the deep sense of history and tradition and beauty. If you’ve never set foot in New Orleans, you can’t understand how simply placing your feet on the ground there changes you – there’s a sense of deep meaning.

Some of the disgusting scum who think that those who couldn’t get out were stupid or lazy and brought this upon themselves also say that they “should have known better” than to live there.

I bet most of them never were in the city. It’s hard to describe how the land grabs you and enchants you as soon as you’re there. The easy answer as to why build a city in that sort of bowl is, “commerce.” It’s a major port. But it’s more than that, and if you’ve never been there, you wouldn’t understand.

And now, you might never get the chance.



At 11:53 AM, Blogger Eileen said...

Children and youth are often times pure and clear in their perception of the world. The comments that you share here are so dear.

My son, while he is financially challenged, bought water at a local collection spot, as well as spearheading fundraising efforts at the corporation he works with, as well as giving up some comfort of his own to donate cash.

I'm still in a state of shock today, but struggling to press forward. As you talk about, my son told me that in that researching and publishing the truth about what is happening, as well as writing to elected officials that we are contributing indeed.

I'm so very glad to hear that your S.O was there for you during this time.

I too am deeply concerned by FEMA's assertion that victims were responsible for their own plight. What a total lack of capability and responsibility they have demonstrated, and the spin doctors are working feverishly to cover up the ineptitude.

I have never been to New Orleans, but I have been an avid reader of Anne Rice's novels for many years. I'm also a long time listener of jazz music. I have a tremendous respect for the history and the culture of this incredibly town that is now lost.

WHY does Bush continue to deny aid? Why did he not take immediate action to help survivors? Why did so many people die and continue to die. This man and all those responsible for the untold suffering must be brought to justice.

It is with a heavy heart I greet this new day, determined to make the best of it. I wish for you a peaceful day.


At 2:38 PM, Blogger B. K. Birch said...

You have a big heart . . . and I can see it breaking. Take care of yourself - please!

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Angela said...

Thinking of you!

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Lara said...

I've never had a blog truly move me, until I read yours today.

My kids pray every night for the people in New Orleans. We're doing everything we can here with money and food donations. If everyone had your zeal, this problem would have been taken care of more efficiently, no doubt.
I've never been to New Orleans, but your post helped me understand.

You're in my thoughts--hope you feel better soon!

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I am from New Orleans and I am not a writer. Thank you for expressing it when I could not find the words. You and people that are from there and that have visited understand. Thank you so much...


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