Just Write: Wipeout

September 24, 2013

Just write.


Remember how Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child?”

Of course you do, because wasn’t that both the most brilliant and the most ridiculous thing ever said?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the venerable Mrs. Clinton lately, because I wonder what she’d say about the situation we have in my neck of the woods. If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to “raise up” a village?

So many people in need. So many spirits flattened. So many futures uncertain. So many days, weeks, months…years(?) it’s going to take to repair what it only took hours to destroy. Mother Nature’s a vindictive wench.

I am one of the lucky ones, and still…I’m wiped out. Caring for others will do that to a person. Heck, even caring about others will do that to a person. And there are lots of caring and helping and generous hands out there, doing their part. I’m proud of our community and the way we’re rallying together, but I’ve got to tell you…emotionally? The highs and lows and absolute waves of despair we’re riding out…


But really, how can I complain when I’m the one making meals, not having to receive them? I’m the one donating cleaning supplies, not the one needing them? I’m the one tossing and turning, unable to sleep, but I’m writhing around in my own bed, in my own intact home?

I volunteered in Miss M.’s classroom for a few hours yesterday and was struck by how open the kids are about what’s going on in their lives. Between spelling drills and theme tests, I heard them talking.

“Yeah, our basement flooded. We had to rip out the carpet because it was all gross.”

“I can’t play in the yard because my mom says it’s got toxic stuff in the dirt. Like, poop and stuff.”

“My grandma’s living with us for a while. She might need a new house.”

Yeah. Talk like that.

But what I find most interesting, beyond their sheer candor, is the matter-of-factness of it all. The way they relate details with shrugs and acceptance. This is the way things are. This is the way things are going to be for a while. When is recess?

Childhood is not easy, not by any stretch of imagination, but kids have a resilience that keeps them moving, even in the toughest of times. When do we lose that resilience, that flexibility? Because the adults I’m seeing–well, they’re not doing so hot.

Then again, children don’t have to deal with insurance companies.

It’s probably not surprising to you that a lot of my contribution to the community is coming in edible form. When shit hits the fan, I tie on the apron. I cranked out so much lasagna this weekend that my kitchen smelled like an Italian whorehouse. But hey, I had a kitchen to crank it out of. And running water. And hungry people out there, which I just can’t abide.

My other main contribution has been far less easy, and if you know me at all, this one’s gonna make you laugh. My other job? Calling local businesses asking for donations/assistance with meals/cleanup/supplies. Yeah. Me. On the phone. Talking to strangers. Asking them for favors.

In other words, Hell.

As sucky as this job is, I have been stunned at the outpouring of love and support. We’re busting our butts to get this community back on its feet. It’s not going to be cheap and it sure ain’t easy, but we’re bustin.’*

Little Injection of Humor in a Depressing Line of Posts:

Because let’s face it, it’s been kinda grim over here lately. Humor is good.

All of this community stuff and lack of solid sleep has made me emotionally unstable and highly accident-prone. I’m on wobbly ground, folks. In between teary rages and manic cooking marathons, I’ve managed to injure myself twice.

Debacle #1: During the days of constant downpour, we were confined to the house. All of us. For days and days. This = hellalotta garbage. Our cans were overflowing. One rainy night, I reminded my husband that we needed to put the garbage out for collection. He replied, “Are you mental? All the roads are closed. Do you really think the garbage truck is going to make its way into our cul-de-sac?”

I reacted to this (very rational) statement with reptilian outrage. “This is gar-bage we are talking about!” I hissed. “I am not taking any goddamn risks with gar-bage!” I glared at him, threw on my flip flops, stormed out to the garage, and handled matters myself.

I began wheeling the groaning, gi-normous garbage can down the sidewalk to the curb, slipped on a running slick of water (note to self: do not wear flip-flops in a downpour) and plummeted to the side walk, head-over-garbage can. I skinned both knees and gashed my forehead…all while landing on piles of garbage. Hubs and stepson heard the racket and ran outside. I rewarded them for their concern by shrieking and cursing like a drowned banshee. And yes, I still have the Frankenstein scar on my forehead.


Debacle #2: Stepson has a new job. He works at a gourmet fish market, which is awesome because getting fresh fish around here is almost impossible, and now I have my very own shortcut to the good stuff. One evening, he came home bearing a bag of fresh, beautiful oysters! I love oysters! Oysters are a treat!

Oysters that come to you un-shucked? Not such a treat.

But hey, I watch the Food Network. I have seen this thing called oyster shucking. It can be done. No matter that I, personally, have never shucked an oyster. I watch Chopped! people! I can shuck an oyster. So I did.

Two blood soaked towels, a trip to the Urgent Care and a round of antibiotics later…

I am one good-lookin’ woman right now. I deliver lasagna to trauma-stricken families with a smile and…a Hunchback limp, a Frankenstein forehead and a Mummy hand.



*We’re still bustin’ over here so I’ll be scarce, but that’s okay. You don’t want my emotionally unstable company anyways. But thanks for readin’ anyways.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison September 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

But your heart is beautiful, so that outshines the injuries. Hope you’re feeling better all over. xo


Abby September 24, 2013 at 8:21 am

Yes to what Alison said. You keep making reference to feeling guilty about being “okay” in comparison to everything and everyone else during this awful stretch, but it’s because you realize how lucky you are that is so amazing. You do so much to help others, and trust me, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Hang in there, my friend.

But oysters? Really? ;)


Arnebya September 24, 2013 at 8:44 am

You could look hideous and your help and love would still be accepted and needed. What? Well, yes, OK, yes, I did laugh at you falling in the rain because of gar-bage and yes, I did imagine your husband mumbling dumb ass BUT it doesn’t mean any…where are you going? Don’t go.


Shannon September 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

I will take your company any time, mentally unstable or not. I love that you take to the kitchen in times of crisis. Food is so comforting. You are providing comfort, and that is just wonderful.


Jamie September 24, 2013 at 9:58 am

Still can’t get over the oyster shucking trauma. So much squirm! So much cringe! Hope the hand is ok. ps you are a warrior for your town and it’s so inspiring!


E. September 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

I don’t think you were so crazy. I actually did see garbage trucks wheeling around (at breakneck speed!) in our flooded Aurora ‘hood.


Kim Jorgensen Gane September 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

You ROCK, momma!!! Lasagna makin’, volunteerin’, oyster shuckin’ and all. Sending thoughts and prayers to all the people impacted by the devastation, including you and yours. Just seeing it will change you, I’ve no doubt. What happens to our communities, to the people in them we care about, happens to us, too, by osmosis. It’s inescapable unless you’re a sociopath. A titch clumsy perhaps, but a sociopath, you are not. In the future? Save the shuckin’ for the hubs, eh? Love ya!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I wondered how close you were to all of that rain, flooding, etc. I’m not one bit surprised that you fed everyone. I completely get where you’re coming from, though…when Hurricane Sandy did her business over here last year, I whined about no power for four days and then saw the headlines about people who had lost their homes. What a jerk am I. My kid had to sleep without her nightlight; other mothers’ kids had to sleep in a shelter. That put my butt straight. I am certain, however, that I would’ve screamed like a soggy banshee at my Hub over a garbage issue. In fact, we’re having that “discussion” right now…and it’s not even a deluge, just Tuesday.


jacquie September 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

to just reiterate what others have said you are doing a wonderful job of helping to support your community. it is not as though you are complaining about your situation but rather recognizing it and realizing that it better than others. nothing wrong w/ that and no need to apologize for it. It is the reality for you and stating that is not complaining but saying how things are for you. Also, you are stepping out and helping others in ways that both comfortable and very uncomfortable for you. You are a strong women who clearly loves her community and are supporting it in its time of need. We need more people like you.

And to echo abby – oysters?


Annette September 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm

You are awesome! Hang in there!


Stephane in Alaska September 25, 2013 at 10:33 am

Hey, you really get into the spirit of Halloween early, don’tcha? You’ve pretty much covered all the best costumes with your injuries. ; ) You could regard them (your injuries) as your very subtle yet kind way of leveling the playing field so the people you’re helping aren’t so keenly aware of your “luck” in all of this.

Can I send *you* money for food staples or some kind of supplies you could use to fund some of your good works? I can’t cook or gather for people in need from way up here but I’d really like to (help you) help somehow.


TKW September 26, 2013 at 8:23 am


You are so incredibly kind! Help coming all the way from Alaska–wow. The most in-demand commodity is manual labor, which you can’t help with, obviously, but gift cards are also needed for places like Target, Kroger, Home Depot, (evil) Walmart. I don’t know if you have those big box stores where you live but those are definitely something our families could use.



pamela September 25, 2013 at 4:39 pm

You are a rock star. Sorry about the garbage incident. And the oyster incident. Sounds nasty:(

No more survivors guilt, ok? Give yourself a day off. Although I am sure that people are so grateful for your food and love. xo


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm

You are awesome and a saint for doing what you do to help those people who got the worst deal.
And double awesome for doing it while you resemble Frankenstein AND a mummy.


Mary Lee September 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Flooding leaves behind such a bleak, mildewing mess. Truly awful! It looked horrifying on the news.

The thought of you soliciting on the phone touches me immensely because I know that must be very hard for you. The fact that you’re doling out the ultimate comfort food doesn’t surprise me at all.

We (not me personally, because I don’t like them) shuck a lot of oysters around here. What were you using? The experts have a special tool. . . or a heck of a good pocket knife. As one who can’t open a bottle of wine without drawing blood, I sympathize.

One question–about the Italian whorehouse. Is the smell of lasagna an aphrodisiac or do the ladies simply like to cook when business is slow? The garlic wouldn’t be off-putting? Or, Option 3, is the smell a byproduct of what goes on there in some way that only Italians produce? (By which logic Southern whorehouses might carry the scent of, say, barbecue? I hate it when my education has these gaps. Thank goodness you’re around to fill in the gaps.

Your mom and dad high and dry, too?


TKW September 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

Mary Lee,

The running theory is that the smell of garlic and tomatoes would lure men into the bordello from the streets. Laughing out loud at #3.

Mama and Daddy are a-okay. Thanks for asking.


liz September 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Bet your husband inwardly laughed with the garbage debacle.
Wish I lived nearby…you know I hate cooking, but I’d be boiling some lasagna pasta like a madwoman for you.
Hang in there.


Naptimewriting September 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Disasters are stupid. They make us quietly bite our lip when our gashed heads and slashed hands trickle blood because someone someone’s in worse pain.

I would have wailed, too. Falling sucks.

Damned perspective. Damned nature. Damned water.

Can’t we get one good week where there’s nobody hungry or hurt or abused or traumatized so we can complain our own little stuff?

Stupid storm.

Hope you’re well, the fam is well, the neighbors are well, the state is healing, and…well…that we get a week of calm in which to bemoan little things. Because all these shootings and floods and earthquakes and wars are making me too perspective-y.


TKW September 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm


I know, girl. Love you.


Barbara September 28, 2013 at 4:20 am

Nature plays some really dirty tricks on us. The photos coming out of your area have been horrendous. Knowing you, I knew you’d be first in line helping out. Sure puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? All our petty problems go on hold.
Yes…I learned my lesson years ago about oysters…they are nasty to open, divine to eat.
Take care!


Tiffany September 28, 2013 at 5:23 am

I can’t even imagine all the work that needs to be done. I bet your the cutest Frankenstein-hunchback-gashed hand combo ever!


Contemporary Troubadour September 28, 2013 at 10:28 am

Those kids are amazing, aren’t they? I don’t know where some of us lose that resilience as we leave childhood, but man do I want some of that back some days, for insurance companies or otherwise. I guess believing that our resilience should grow proportionally to the difficulties we have to take on as we become adults unfortunately defies the illogical pattern of the universe.

Thinking of you making all those cold calls and hot lasagnas. Better than making cold lasagnas and hot calls, though, eh? … ;)


Dawn September 29, 2013 at 5:03 am

Seems like just yesterday we were worried about fire for you and now floods. You are one resilient woman…yes you are and don’t you forget it!


Jennifer September 30, 2013 at 10:09 am

I’m going to say it again. It gets better. Faster than you think it will. And damn girl. Be careful.


Velva September 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Kids are indeed tough….no filter, just an honest assessment of the surroundings.

I can’t think of a better way to say that I care than tying on the apron and cranking up the stove.



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: