Location: Utica, NY

I AM the stein that's half empty, half full; I AM the white veins in the sky of a storm; I AM the ivory tusk on the wall; I AM the ants in your pants; I AM burning France; I AM a brooding coffee cup island; I AM fitter, happier, more productive; I AM the sun burning holes; I AM the wraith of long gone; I AM the artist in the television; I AM throwing down; I AM picking up; I AM iambic pentameter; I AM 100 IM; I AM the pox on your socks; I have chicken pox.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Not so safe from my secret location somewhere in the northeastern United States, I can report to those who live elsewhere that we have been hit by a lot of heavy rain recently that blew up from the south. Tomorrow, they are predicting more rain from the west. Fortunately there was no serious flooding near me--a damp spot in the hallway leading to my secret bunker was about the extent of it, which is a miracle considering that my bunker is (literally) halfway below ground. There was more serious flooding in Washington D.C. and residents had to be evacuated from a town in Pennsylvania, but a damp carpet in a hallway is the worst I witnessed. I did, however, hopelessly gaze in horror as people stepped on the wet spot unaware that it was there only to be plagued with a wet shoe bottom. If I had had my video camera on me I might have surreptitiously recorded the plight of these hapless people and sold it to some voyeuristic website for lots of money.

But seriously. Even before it rained it has been hot and muggy and damp where I live and the rain actually brought relief even though it was from the south where all that dampness and moisture and heat originates from. Yesterday evening, as torrents of rain pelted the college campus where I spent the day sleeping and studying, I almost wished I had on a pair of jeans instead of the burmuda shorts I so carelessly chose to wear that morning. Not since two weeks ago have we had weather here that could aptly be called "good sleeping weather" and boy did it feel good, despite the fact that people not too far away were being drenched by the deluge.

As the hot and humid days drag on, my secret bunker hideout gets progressively more and more hot and stuffy inside. I have a fan that blows a powerful current of air through the room where I spend most of my time hatching my plots and schemes that will enable me to one day rule the world. But after a while it gets hard to think with the loud sound of the whirring fan blades and blast of air drowning out all my evil thoughts. It is not only downright hard to think with the noisy racket, but it is hard to sleep as well. The night before last I only slept three hours, and as the rain was claiming poor peoples' homes and dry shoe bottoms I was only half conscious of the mayhem. I was so sleep deprived that the whole thing felt like a long, realistic dream--except it wasn't.

When yesterday finally ended and I slept off my exhaustion, I woke clearheaded and was able to make sense of the previous day's madness. The wet carpet in my hallway actually extended into a corner of my apartment (I mean hideout) and made for a very soggy-feeling day. My uncle called me this evening and told me that he saw my hometown on the national news. When I went online to view the earlier news broadcast, sure enough there was a video of a restaurant being washed away by an angry, flooded river. And this was only a few miles from where I live. It seems damp carpets and wet shoe bottoms, which I previously suspected was the major extent of the damage close to me, were actually minor incidents in this natural mess. Pennsylvania towns got flooded and a college in my state (not mine thankfully) became a temporary shelter for evacuees. Tomorrow, state politicians are supposed to be visiting my town and other towns around to assess the damage and console the citizens.

Flooding happened close to me in 1995 when Sacramento was flooded by heavy rains. I was a senior in high school at that time, and I remember my political science professor turning on the TV in class and saying, "God, I hope my home's not flooded" as helicopter shots showed suburban homes submerged in more than ten feet of water. Devastating as this disaster was (Bill Clinton visited the destruction days later) I was removed from it all by a naive notion that terrible things only happened to other people. Even this time, as news footage showed a reporter standing in what should have been a parking lot in Pennsylvania that resembled a river, I was still numbed by a lack of actual experience with personal tragedy. After being tangentially affected by 9/11 I don't think I'll ever consider myself safe and untouchable again. The water that soaked a corner of my apartment shows that I was wise to think this. In a lot of ways I was lucky. Things could have been much worse. I could have arrived home last night and found my apartment filled with two feet of water and had half of the collected momentos of what has been a good life destroyed.

It is foolish to laugh at other people when disaster happens to them because eventually disaster happens to all of us. It is at these time that we ask ourselves questions like "is God humbling me?" or "am I suffering so other people can have faith?" I felt like I almost could have been in that predicament this time around, and I found myself praying to God to spare me, that the threat of being humbled was punishment enough for any sins I might have committed. All this rain and flooding made me realize how much I take for granted. I am fortunate to have a place to call home with a computer and a television and a constantly stocked refridgerator. If all that were to be washed away, I would be reduced to a vagrant or a refugee for whom survival is an hourly struggle. It is a position that no human being deserves to be in and I am glad that I didn't end up there this time. But it only makes me think--if not this time, then perhaps next time, or the time after that. I just wonder how many more catastrophies this nation can suffer before we all have been touched by a devastating disaster that we previously thought only happened to "other people."


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