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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Post Traumatic Stupid Syndrome

Even though the girls' school was undamaged in the storm and never lost electricity, the rest of the county didn't fare as well and they were ordered by the school board to stay home for the rest of the week anyway. Bureaucracy. Liability. Sheesh. I didn't mind however, that I had to take the rest of the week off work to watch the kids because Jorge was back east, I had big plans. There would be furniture removal! And cleaning! And painting! The DSL would be hooked up!

My productive week was pretty much a bust. The old furniture is out, bare necessities are in, I narrowed down the paint chips, but that's it. It also looks like I will be on dial-up for a few weeks.

Jorge and Sarabelle rescued his mom from her sky-high Ft. Lauderdale condo Wednesday. Because there was no electricity and her building's elevator's emergency generator is a piece of junk, it was necessary for them to climb eighteen flights of stairs. She made it over to our new house -- I won't be referring to it as our "Forever Home" for reasons that will be clear to you shortly -- and immediately fell very ill. She has been in the hospital here with what may be pneumonia. If they discharge her this afternoon, Jorge will take her back to Lauderdale later today. She has been threatening to leave the hospital on her own and take a bus home. My mother-in-law is fiercely independent, can you tell?

Friday night the girls and I went to a spectacular Halloween party at a Gulf-front Mediterranean Revival estate. Jorge joked that we got to see how the other half, no, the other 10 percent live. If I had not met this very down-to-earth woman prior to this event, we went mini golfing with her and her son, the other fifth grader in the school, who brought his own putter, I would have been thoroughly intimidated. I would estimate the expense of this annual blowout to be the equivalent of a small wedding. While everyone was very pleasant and we had a great time, I was very aware of, and slightly uneasy with, all the posturing and judging going on. Sarabelle was invited to attend the youth group gatherings at one of the island's churches. The girls at the party who are members were lauded as "very good girls" and are all Sarabelle's age. These are the highly mature and responsible girls tapped for local babysitting services. The ones I saw may indeed be very good girls, but they all appeared and acted more like sixteen or seventeen year olds, and less like the twelve or thirteen year olds they purportedly are. Yikes.

Between what Jorge has been personally experiencing back in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Palm Beach area and what I have been seeing on the internet and hearing on the radio, we are disgusted. The whining began just one day after Wilma. "Where's my water?" "How come we don't have electric?" "Why can't they do something about these gas lines?" Stories of stupidity, entitlement, and pathetic dependency abound. "I stood in line for four hours and all I got was one bag of ice and six bottles of water?!" "FEMA should be here for us! We depend on them to take care of us when something like this happens." And though the damage there wasn't even that bad, life has come to a screeching halt. Imagine if, or when, a real catastrophe strikes... My brother told me his neighbor has a huge natural gas generator permanently installed at his house and is operating both airconditioning systems, all appliances including his pool pump, and outdoor landscape lighting for his six bedroom home. He said there were about forty people over the other night using his kitchen to cook in. Hmmmm. Did it not occur to any of them that it is wonderfully cool outside, that no one needs the air on, that they only had to open their windows? That if they needed to cook they could use matches and all the tree debris in their yards? Maybe use that barbecue grill on their porch or that pretty little terracotta firepit on their patio? That the gas shortage would be more quickly resolved if they would all stay home for a little while instead of driving all over town looking for gas? My mother said her neighbor's teenaged sons were so grateful for the food another neighbor brought over because they were "starving." Two days after the storm. I can't believe there were no boxes of cereal or snacks or even a single loaf of bread in the house. How many days did they have to prepare for this storm? Spare me the excuses and the drama.

Jorge has finally decided he wants a place where, in his own words, "I can pump my own water and slaughter a hog if I need to." [Said while using his imaginary pitcher pump.] Since he has now taken possession of this bright idea as his own, instead of (not) listening to me for the past twenty years, maybe we will finally move in that direction.

Thanks, everybody, for keeping us in your thoughts!

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