Nov 5, 2012

A Sandy Sunday: The Saga Continues

"I can't imagine what he's going through."

I wonder how many people in my world have said that about me - aloud or to themselves at least once since Hurricane Olivia Newton-John got physical with my house (apologies, I'm exhausted and I am running out of Sandy puns).

Keytars are apparently not wind, water, or mud proof.
You can't imagine what I'm going through, that's why the phrase was invented.  Some of you can't find gas, or still have intermittent power and heat.  You're not out of the woods yet, but you're getting there.  There is light at the end of your tunnel.

Most of you are getting up to go to work tomorrow.  You may experience some delays, but you'll get there, don't worry.  You watched football today.  Your team lost and you didn't feel too terrible because you know what's going on outside your mostly intact home.  You knew it was Daylight Savings Time, you knew there was some celebrity-laden benefit concert for hurricane relief.  Time still matters to you, as it should.  If it gets dark, you'll turn the lights on.  You watched Louie host SNL (I'm jealous), you played with your kids, you went to the movies, you gave your boyfriend a hand job.  You're electing a president on Tuesday.  You just want things to be back to normal, and that's what you should want.  You are a 21st century American.  This is your birthright.

Americans need to be normal, or the majority of us do, at least.  Especially after a Sandy-magnitude tragedy.  That's why Mayor Mike wanted to hold the NYC Marathon, why we couldn't wait for baseball after 9/11.  That's why we're obsessed with weather and with traffic.  We want it to all be static, ain't nothin' should slow us down.  For humans, dealing with the sort of sadness, guilt, feelings most of us are going through takes its toll, even when you're not the one shoveling debris or burying someone.  Empathy is a powerful thing.

Why am I writing this blog?  I should be fucking asleep.  The physical exhaustion is enough to put a small horse out, never mind that it is cold out there.  And how do you clean up after water has invaded your premises, creating mud and dirt everywhere in a house with no heat or power?  With more water of course.  Cold water.

Then there is the mental trauma.  And I am surely traumatized.  I cried on my mother's shoulder today.  I'll be 38 later this week.  I didn't cry because I had to throw away all my Batman comics, everything on my walls, my photo albums.  Every house on my block was piled high with a lifetime of junk and keepsakes.  I cried because I've been a man digging himself out of a hole who just got hit with a tidal wave.  Mother Nature just hit the 'Pause' button on my life.  This is serious, life-changing shit.

Those of you who have walked the streets of my Staten Island neighbors with shovels, blankets, and food understand.  On 9/11, I was a witness.  For Katrina, I was a spectator.  Now I am a participant.  And I am one of the more fortunate ones, from all estimations.  My house is still standing where it was before Sandy came a-knockin', it's just hollowed out.

So why are you writing about all this, Ron?  Get to the fucking point....

I am not writing this blog for you.  If you are a reader or a follower, I truly thank you.  It is nice to be noticed, to know that people are paying attention to what you have to say, to know that you have a voice.  But whether five of you care or five thousand, I'm doing this for me.  Catharsis.  Sleepless nights and scrambled brains need an exodus.  Pressing 'Publish' is the easy part.  And yes, the responses - from people near and far, from close friends to perfect strangers - have helped ease my burden. 

I've been trying to find my voice for a long while now, maybe it's here.  For years, I've thought my voice was supposed to come from making music - but too many natural disasters, not to mention technological ones, have done well to convince me that music and I are just a folly.  Every Q*Ball, Return To Earth CD, the entire label catalog is in a dumpster.  I threw out all my lyrics books today, all ruined.  Every word I ever wrote, every shitty chorus about every shitty girl who broke my heart is gone.  Good.  Good.  It ain't like I can't make more.  Believe it.

This is not to say that music and I are over.  We are not.  Like most other things in my life, music has found its way towards the bottom of the priority list.  Writing is much less expensive.  The thousands of dollars worth of gear that used to reside in my basement studio are not covered by insurance.
But Ron, isn't blogging a

A girl I used to date blogged daily.  Not about shit like this, of course.  She used to go out with me and then blog about me for all my friends to read.  She blogged about other nonsense, about other men besides me, before and after, I wasn't special or anything.  It's just what she did.  My friends referred to her as "Blog Girl."  This was when, like, nine people on Earth had a blog.  And yes, I thought it was obnoxious.  But that's probably because I was getting dragged thru the virtual fire pit.  But my blog isn't about you.  It's about me.  And don't call me "Blog Boy."

This is my fourth Sandy piece in six days.  Writing about it is a distraction, therapy.  When there is daylight, all I can do is deconstruct the shattered remains of my house and all that was inside it.  There is not much left to salvage besides my sanity.  What is left is sitting in 35 degree temperature filth and mold.  My Yamaha piano clings to life under a blanket in the dark, it's bottom well worn by the ocean waves that dared to enter my home a full mile north of the coastline.  The walls need to come down, the ceiling already has.  It's time to go.

Anyone who has ever moved into a house or out of one, big or small, knows how it sucks up your life like a black hole.  They make moving kits so you can take it step-by-step, in orderly fashion.  There are no hurricane kits.  There is no order, just disorder.

I sat atop a dumpster yesterday as one garbage can full of my house after another came out, was handed to me, and poured inside.  It was an assembly line of misery tempered by the help, humor, and heavy hearts of friends, family, and strangers.  Today, it was just my parents and I, going thru the last remnants of what wasn't thrown away.  I tried to save artwork, each removed frame taking the picture inside with it.  My mother scrubbed and soaked Christmas ornaments for a holiday tree I likely will never buy.  My father insisted upon saving baseball cards that were exposed to salt water.  No one wants Mark McGwire's rookie card, dad, sorry.  He cheated.

This was a Sunday I was supposed to run 26.2 miles, cross a line in Central Park that would symbolize a big finish and a new start.  Now it's all just a big mess.  Not for me, but for everyone like me.

I told a friend tonight that this isn't about being "selected."  It's about geography, about weather patterns.  On blocks and blocks in my neighborhood and others around me, in other parts of the city, everyone has their own Pause button, their own crisis, their own story.  This is just my outlet to tell it.  If I got on the phone with every single person who has reached out, big and small, and really talked about things, about what's happened, I would make no progress.  I can't go back to work, think about TV or the holidays or shaving.  I have an iCal full of stupid tasks and bullshit that I've been trying to follow in my OCD way for the entire year.  It doesn't mean a thing right now.  So I work, I write, I sleep (a little), I go back and work.  If I had a match and could burn it all to the ground, I probably would (don't tell the insurance company).

Things will get back to normal.  For you before me.  And for me before a lot of others.  Until then, your help will always be needed.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Next month.  This is a long haul.  Be a friend, be supportive.  Be charitable.  If you can't donate your time, then donate money, food, blankets.  Everything makes a difference.  Be patient.  Be positive.  You can't understand what I'm going through but you can still be understanding.

Sometimes that's all we can do.


  1. Ron: This is Allan (your father's friend from the 'job'). I've been reading your blog and can relate on several levels with what you write (not so much storm related but in other areas). You write very well and I actually (if it makes sense) enjoy reading what you have to say. As to your [musical] losses, I can definitely relate as I have a fairly extensive collection myself, going back to the 50s, along with expensive equipment, a drum kit, etc. and if it were to experience what you have experienced, I think I would need immediate CPR and other 'treatment.' I, like others, would like to help you out; your father and I worked together for some time back in the day and we always got along famously. He helped me many times when my computer here at work entered the 'Twilight Zone!' He used to call himself the "Master" because no one else could revive a seemingly dead computer except him. His computer prowess kind of led to his demise ultimately, because everytime there was a problem, the standard response was to "see Scalzo." Everyone was happy to feed work to him while they scratched their heads, carefully avoiding getting any splinters in their fingers. LOL! Once you relocate to a more or less permanent location, let me know and I'll see what I can do, based upon your priorities at that time. I can truly understand the frustration you must be feeling with your musical vestige, as I find music to be quite the medium to relax to or dream with, for so many reasons. You can contact me via e-mail if you like, Ron senior can provide you with the pertinent information. I hope in the days ahead you see improvement and of course, over time, you will rebuild and all of this at some point will be a distant memory, although not a good one. Best of luck going forward!

  2. Thank you Allan, for the sympathy and the kind words. I will be in touch soon. Happy Thanksgiving :)