Thank You, I Love You, I’m Sorry, Goodbye: When Hurricane Sandy Makes You Demolish Your Home

My little house in the snow.

My little house in the snow.

I knew it was coming, knew it had to happen and know that its occurrence is simply the first step in a string of good things to come. Recently, I found myself growing annoyed that it hadn’t happened yet. But once I found out it was scheduled, once it became real, it punched me in the gut and all but knocked the wind out of me.

Our lovely little house at 202 Joseph St. meets its demise Wednesday after sitting uninhabitable all winter and spring, gutted to its studs and stripped bare of all the wonders inside that made it our home. Like I said, I knew this was coming for months, but wasn’t anywhere near prepared to hear the news. I’ve powered through this whole process knowing that the demolition of the house would usher in a new house, a bigger, more storm-proof one with swankier amenities and enough space for everyone to get their own bedroom. A house just like that had been the plan for my parents’ retirement, except they were going to give our current structure a makeover because it was so important to keep the original structure, which my grandfather and great uncle built with their own hands.

I’m trying to think positive thoughts here, but it’s hard. I knew I’d be sad when it was finally time to tear the old girl down – I just didn’t think I’d be this sad. Continue reading

Sandy, the 900-mile-wide Chip on my Shoulder

Looks like Sandy threw a pretty wild party. Unfortunately, that bitch didn’t invite us and isn’t planning on helping us clean up.

So, two weeks ago, we had a little weather event here on the East Coast. Maybe you’ve heard of it – Hurricane /Superstorm/ Frankenstorm Sandy? This beast pretty much took over my life, stole my attention span and routinely woke me up in the middle of the night.

My family’s dear, little lagoon-side (and only) home was battened down and evacuated to ride out the worst storm it’s ever faced alone. The day before the mandatory barrier island evac order, Mark taped up the windows, put a few valuables on top of beds and off the floor, and put some towels in the doorways. Last summer, Irene coaxed the rising bay water just two feet from our back door and no one thought we’d be as lucky this time.

But I never thought it would be as bad as it was. Our little house took on more than three feet of water, most likely courtesy of a storm surge rising from the end of the lagoon that normally brings us mallards to feed.

I only know the extent of the damage because last Friday, 12 whole days after Sandy absolutely ravaged the Jersey Shore, my mom and AJ were bused over to our island from the mainland and given an hour to collect our most important belongings. This trip only included primary residents of the island, i.e. people with no other home to speak of. (Most dwellings on this strip of sand are summer homes and it’s pretty lonely in the off-season. I don’t know how I survived three long winters, but sometimes, when the clatter outside my Boston apartment get so loud I can hear conversations and car horns from three blocks away, I really miss it.) Continue reading

When You Become a Sad Kid, You Will Develop a Highly Inappropriate Sense of Humor

This picture will all make sense when you get toward the bottom, I promise. Also, it’s just hilarious. Can you imagine Mitt Romney trying to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day? Nope, neither can I. Vote Democrat.

I stay sane by finding comedy in everyday life. If I didn’t, I would be hugely bored all the time and that’s not really how you want to go through life. This strategy usually results in me cracking inappropriate jokes, saying all the wrong things and frequently alienating people. I don’t make a lot of friends easily this way, but, hey, at least I’m not bored. My father’s sudden, tragic death has only heightened this quirk. I’ve noticed, though, that fellow Sad Kids have developed this freakish trait as well.

Recently, I came across this McSweeney’s post, Six Pieces of Highly Autobiographical Bereavement Advice and nearly lost it trying not to laugh at my desk on my lunch break. Now, someone not accustomed to loss – say, someone who sadly had to bury their great-grandmother when they were 7 and then never dealt with death again – would read this and probably think to themselves rationally, “Oh dear me, this is not funny. No, no, this is horrible. What is wrong with this monstrous person laughing at the death of her mother like this?” I read this  and was like “OH MY GOD THIS IS SOME FUNNY SHIT.” I shared it with my brother, who agreed.  Continue reading

When Your Little Brother Graduates From College, You Will Feel Old

What about these strange hats conveys academic achievements?

Graduations are weird. The pomp, the circumstance, the ridiculous get-ups, the trite advice. I’ve had three of my own (eighth grade, high school, college), attended the same for my brothers, and covered a few for my old newspaper. I get why people find them exciting, but at the same time, I find them a bit over-inflated.

So that’s why I didn’t feel bad about skipping my own graduation for my master’s from Emerson College. Sure, I toiled over school work for five semesters and learned a discipline previously wholly unfamiliar to me. Balancing academics, internships and a job wasn’t easy and I’d be within my rights to feel proud of myself. But I don’t. Right now, I just feel under-employed.  Continue reading

Sea Glass and Other Metaphors

Some of my personal collection

In 1998, my eighth-grade classmates deemed me “Most Creative” in our yearbook superlatives. To a 13-year-old, this held little meaning. I had never really thought about it until this summer when I took a creative thinking class as an elective in my graduate Integrated Marketing Communication program.

While a few assignments brought me back to my sorority crafting days (which my little will tell you were not very successful), I learned a great deal about the creative side of marketing and where I might fit in within the industry. Continue reading

Maybe Zach Braff was Right (but I still think Garden State sucks)

For the record, I still dislike this movie.

Way back when, a friend dragged me along to see ‘Garden State.’ As a happy, well-adjusted college student in 2004, it really rubbed me the wrong way. I had never grappled with struggle or sadness and had nothing but pride for my home state. Even now, I still don’t really understand what Zach Braff’s character’s upbringing had been like.  He hosted Saturday Night and, in his monologue, called Garden State his “love letter to New Jersey,” which I still don’t understand. Had such a love letter come to me in the mail, I’d return to sender. What I found so offensive about it was that he used the state’s official nickname as the title, as if to speak for all New Jersey’s residents. Little did I know what name-usurping, stereotyping train wreck was coming next. But I digress.

For a while, Garden State became one of those “statement” movies – you know, people would casually toss it into their list of favorites to show how deep, intellectual and edgy they were. For months after its debut, people plastered quotes from it all over their (about to seriously date myself here) AIM profiles and away messages. However, one stuck out at me as being profoundly sad. A grammar school friend whose parents had divorced when we were in college used it and even though we weren’t close anymore, it made me so sad that this snippet of dialogue spoke to her so much when we had shared such happy childhoods. I never really understood the concept of it until recently, faced with the loss of a parent and the prospect of our home being up for sale. Continue reading

When Did I Become a Cranky Old Lady? Unfortunate Signs of Growing Up

Is this a commencement or a concert?

Last Thursday, my younger brother Mark graduated from Monmouth University. This was enough to make me feel ancient, particularly because it serves to remind me that I’m now three years removed from my own graduation. But there was something else irking me that made me step back for a moment and think, “When did I get so damn old?” Continue reading

on siblings

We know one another’s faults, virtues, catastrophes, mortifications, triumphs, rivalries, desires, and how long we can each hang by our hands to a bar. We have been banded together under pack codes and tribal laws.
— Rose Macaulay (via great-inspirational-quotes.com – come on, I can’t recall things like this off the top of my head, nor do I even know who Rose is)

No matter how cool you think you are, your younger brother will always jump at the chance to remind you that somewhere inside you, there lives a dorky, spazzy, awkward, brace-faced girl. This is perfectly acceptable, because many times, we could all use such a reminder.  Continue reading