Wednesday, October 31, 2012

chaos with catastrophic flair


Build fire and read
the future in smoke

Carry out ash and
scatter over head

Be sure
not to look back

Try out
the art of metamorphosis

Paint face
with cinnabar

As a sign
of grief

—W. G. Sebald
translated from the German by Ian Galbraith
published in The Atlantic, November 2012 

*     *     *     *     *

We've got chaos with a catastrophic flair this week. It started with a deranged nanny who killed two children in her care. Stabbed them in a bathtub, or something like that. No clear motive. Not so far away from us. Yikes! I have nannies, and I have nanny problems; my current nanny (who is truly lovely) is also from the Dominican Republic. It never occurs to me that one of my nannies could purposely kill my children. I just hadn't thought of that, yet. Then there was the cop who was (perhaps? can we be sure?) planning to abduct women, cook, and eat them. This would-be serial killer is a friend of my husband's co-worker—went to school with him, attended his wedding, plays ball with him. Hmmpf. Then along comes Sandy, an eddying white whirl on the meterological maps. One straight-faced newscaster repeated, We are not hyping this storm. It is dangerous. It will hit the NY coastline at high-tide, with a full moon, in about three hours. I think of the story of the boy who cried wolf; it's hard to believe the media when they are always blowing storms out of proportion. And then here this poor newscaster was just trying to get his message across. Honestly, he looked a little scared.

And it then Sandy rolled in. I'd never seen whitecaps on the Hudson River like those out my windows Monday. But to set the record straight, I am looking down on them from the highest point in Manhattan. I did not fear flooding for myself. At worst, I thought the electricity might go out. Monday evening, as I put Isaiah to bed, I noticed bright flashes of lightening in the sky. Bursts of green and blue across the New Jersey skyline. It went on for a few hours. Only the next morning, after talking to my neighbors, did I realize what I had seen: it wasn't lightening. It was transformers blowing up.

I can't really complain: we've never lost electricity, no trees near us were downed. I had plenty of time to finish Halloween costumes without resorting to hand stitching by candlelight. And although the annual Halloween parade that proceeds down our street and into the park was cancelled (all NYC parks remained closed due to danger from downed trees and broken branches), we organized old-fashioned trick-or-treating in our building this evening with great success (if success is measured in bags of candy). This followed by wine and chili with the neighbors.

School has been closed, yes, and that has been extremely trying. It seems like the weekend never ended. Today is Wednesday? I have completely lost track.

However, buses ran fairly normally today for the first time since Sunday, which for me meant my new housekeeper was able to come and clean. Whew, I almost had to clean a bathroom there! Supposedly limited subway service will be resume tomorrow in areas where the tunnels aren't flooded. Since Charles' subway route is high and dry he may be able to take the train tomorrow instead of leaving the house before dawn in an attempt to beat the traffic. Finally, while our little school is going to be closed the rest of the week, it should be back in session next week.

The only truly sad thing we are facing is that, once again, Charles and I are not going to be able to get away for the weekend. We've delayed this trip twice, but now we're booked at a bed and breakfast in Spring Lake, on the Jersey shore for this weekend. However, Spring Lake isn't looking too hospitable: no electricity, no running water, the sewers are flooded. The boardwalk is washed out, and Ocean avenue is covered in sand. The inn could be flooded for all we know, no one is answering the phone.

Things are as they are, and we continue one step at a time.

p o e t r y   w e d n e s d a y  }

No comments: