After a Hurricane Comes a…Meh.

We're almost not homeless!

We’re almost not homeless!

I remember this same weekend last year like it was yesterday. I woke up early that Saturday morning with an ungodly hangover and suffered through a bus ride to New Jersey for my 10-year high school reunion. A few girls asked what I thought about the impending storm and I shrugged it off with an “Ehhhhh, Irene wasn’t toooooo bad.” The next day, I checked the MegaBus site compulsively for updates about my scheduled departure since it seemed that every other transit line was canceling trips, even though no rain had fallen yet. I met Lauren at the diner because she happened to be home from New Orleans the same weekend. More hurricane talk, more “I mean, it’ll be fiiiiine?”. She offered some encouraging information about the power of mold bombs immediately after flooding.

Despite secretly wishing for my bus to be canceled (I was hoping for an extra day or two at home), it took off, the last bus to make it out of New Jersey in advance of Sandy. Unbeknownst to me at the time was the fact that, had I not made it to that bus, I would have been stranded for weeks. In the dark, in the cold, with little access to the outside world or any perspective on the carnage up and down my beautiful, beloved Jersey Shore. All the mold bombs in the world couldn’t have helped our charming little bungalow, after the island was off-limits for three weeks.

It seems like this week, every media outlet is offering retrospective stories – about where we are, about what we’ve learned, about what progress there’s been, but mainly about the lack thereof. A majority of our neighborhood’s houses sit vacant and gutted. Whole tracts of land on the Barrier Island where houses once stood have become open space. I hope those cringe-inducing Stronger Than The Storm commercials are played in marketing classes for years to come to highlight glossed-over ineptitude and the woeful decline of jingle writing as an art.

My mom has fought tooth and nail to claw her way through a bureaucratic system whose goal seems to be keeping funding from the people who need it most. A year ago, it warmed your heart to see all the support pouring in as millions of dollars racked up; it seemed implausible that my widowed mother would have to pay out of pocket to fix our only home. In the months that have separated us from the most destructive storm I hope we’ll ever see, she’s gotten a loan and used it to pay for a brand new house, but that’s money that needs to be repaid. The state’s RREM program has yet to disburse any money from what I can tell and they keep moving the goal posts for homeowners who are still waiting a year later. Continue reading

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

When Life Crumbles Your Cookie

I have failed you, green besprinkled friends.

I have failed you, green besprinkled friends.

We all know what to do you when life hands you lemons, just as we all know about cookies and the way they sometimes crumble. On my way back to Boston after a nomadic Memorial Day Weekend, I had in my bag some rather precious cargo – two Ninja Turtle cookies from the greatest business establishment known to man, Colonial Bakery. A series of unfavorable circumstances (crazy early flight, lots of rushing, bag packed with a laptop and other stuff) convened to put me awkwardly juggling bags, shoes, jackets and my boarding pass through security. In the hubbub, my cookies crumbled to the fine pulp at your left. (Don’t worry, I was going to be nice and share with the RyGuy.)

I trudged straight to work upon landing and plopped the cookie dust on my desk, sneaking occasional chunks while pondering what to do with this travesty. I shared this picture on Facebook to garner sympathy for my grave misfortune. Condolences rolled in from my Shore friends and I wondered exactly how I would manage eating these.

Then, genius struck: ice cream topping! Two of my most favorite guys (Ben & Jerry – what, did you think I was going to say Mark & AJ?) have been blending baked goods into ice cream for years. Obviously, these two pulverized Michaelangelos were just waiting for the sundae treatment. I shared my stroke of fat kid genius on Facebook and collected a few “likes” of agreement. See, I always try my best to find the upside of a down situation (or else I surely would have cracked up years ago) and this pickle turned into a win-win-win-win (in Michael Scott parlance). Eventually. Continue reading