Hye Thyme Cafe: Finish the Sentence Friday: "I wasn't really myself when I ... "

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Friday, August 23, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday: "I wasn't really myself when I ... "



The only time I can recall when I really wasn't myself was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Even though we weren't trapped like so many, it was such a frightening time, not knowing what was going on or what we would be going back to.

As with every other evacuation, we all planned for maybe three days away from home and had packed accordingly.  Boy, were we wrong!  We never expected what really happened.  Although I certainly got off easy in comparison to others, it was quite a while before I knew that.

The abridged version is that I evacuated with some family members to a cousin's house in TX and then (because of the number of people who turned up) moved on to her beach house in another part of the state, having to follow the news on a tiny battery-operated TV until we could pirate cable from a neighbor to keep us informed until getting cable installed.  With phone lines being tied up and then out of commission, trying to reach family to let them know we were OK was a nightmare, and it was even longer before I could locate and get in touch with my employer.

Those weeks were filled with fear and dread, not knowing what was to come.  Did I have an apartment to go back to?  A car?  Any of my belongings?  An office?  What about my friends and other family members in the area?  Did anyone I know get stuck in the City?  Did they survive?  What about those who sneaked back in to take stock and see what they could salvage – were they OK?  What kind of nightmare were they walking into?

It was the one time in my life when I felt completely out of control.  I was living in someone else's house, driving someone else's car(s), getting shafted by not only FEMA but the Red Cross, couldn't access my own bank account, so I was living off a credit card, had to evacuate yet again because of Hurricane Rita.  You name it – if it could go wrong, it did!

I'm usually a roll with the punches kind of person, but jumping from car to car, state to state, motel to motel, finding out I had to give up my job because it had relocated and I had neither the means to get to it nor a place to live if I did really took a toll.  Then we were finally able to get back into the city and I found I still couldn't access my bank account.  Because of the potential for fraud, you had to go to your home branch so they could physically identify you, but mine was still closed, and I was never actually in the bank for anyone to recognize me; I always used an ATM.  I couldn't even get to my money to move out of state or to buy a new car (having carpooled, mine was left behind on "higher ground" but didn't make it).

I could go on for hours about the whole ordeal, but like I said, it was pretty much a cake walk for me in comparison to what others suffered, so as out of control and "not myself" as I felt, I can't even begin to imagine what they went through!


Then, on the back of all that, I moved to NY and was faced with the reality of my Dad's decline into Alzheimer's, then his death (thankfully not due to the Alzheimer's), and what seemed like an endless parade of deaths that whole next year, followed by the economy tanking, etc.  It was a pretty rough time.  Hopefully I'll never have occasion to feel quite that untethered again.


That's the root end of the big tree that was standing in my front yard when I left.  Behind the chain-link fence is a beautiful, 2-mile around park.  That was my side yard.  Not sure if you can make out that mess in the background, but when I got back to town, I found that they were using the park as a big wood chipper for debris.  That's the beginning of a ginormous wood pile.  It already covered a baseball and soccer field and was more than ten feet high.  I was told at the other end of town were similar piles, but of garbage.  I suppose I lucked out being on this end.

Found a shot of the park from the other side - this might give you a better idea of how massive it was ... and they were just getting started.  I did a hit and run - went back as soon as we were allowed, rented yet another vehicle, packed up what I could salvage, and left. 


The strange thing is that to this day, whenever I got "home" to Massachusetts for a visit, on my way past Albany when leaving New York, there is a trailer lot that makes my skin crawl.  All I can think of is the trailers people were living in after the hurricane, so it brings it up all over again.  It's gotten to where if someone calls me while I'm driving, I'll say "I just passed Katrinaville," or "I haven't hit Katrinaville yet," and they'll know where I am along the way.


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Next week's sentence will be:  "If I had a magic wand, the first thing I'd do is ..."






14 comments:

  1. Having lived through Hurricane Sandy last year and also we weren't nearly as bad as others, still get nervous at the thought of any hurricane talk. So, when I was reading this I truly could relate and totally felt for you Chris. Seriously, never quite realized how bad it really could be until being int he middle of it and sounds like you had a similar experience with Katrina. So sorry and seriously just know I can very much relate. Thank you as always though for linking up and sharing.

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    1. It felt like being in a whole other world when the guys started sneaking back in with rifles to sit watch on roofs to ward off looters, etc. I can see a trailer and be fine, but any lots like that make me cringe thinking about it. It wasn't until we evacuated from TX to FL because of Rita that I realized how many people there were still living in trailers from prior hurricanes. It's crazy!! Then I moved to NY and we had flooding in the area that ran right down the hill behind us into my bedroom LOL. Can't win. ;(

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  2. Oh, "untethered" seems like such a perfect word to describe what you went through. It sounds so disorienting and devastating, Chris! I am so sorry you went through that. It reminds me of living in NYC during 9/11, BUT we still had our homes and jobs. Let me tell you, they were needed to help everyone feel a sense of normal. I am so sorry that it took so long for you to find a new normal. And I'm really angry to hear that BOTH FEMA and the Red Cross did you wrong. That is a shame!

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    1. Grrrr! FEMA was a computer problem. My entire zip code qualified for aid, but I was denied ... because I was a renter, when I got to the question about property loss, I responded no to not screw up my landlord's claim. There was no separate question about personal property. I called and was told it would be corrected and that I definitely qualified ... then I received a note that an inspector had been to the property, but I wasn't there to let them in, so I was denied. Really?!? We weren't even allowed back in the city yet, how was I supposed to be there. Never mind the fact that I wasn't expecting him. As for the Red Cross, they gave us debit cards with $300 on them for necessities, then canceled them. Then the housing authority places us in temporary housing that was to be for a year and cancelled it at 6-months. Can't even imagine going to 9/11! Sadly, after working for law firms for so many years, my first thought was about all of the health issues and lawsuits to come down the road from everything being inhaled! After reading an article about the number of suicides related to the OK City Bombing, I was expecting devastating losses in that regard as well but haven't heard anything. So sorry to hear you were there for that!

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  3. I truly cannot fathom how disorienting and disembodying that kind of experience must be. I think it must be an essential coping mechanism to sort of morph into a "not yourself" state of being. Your stories lately have been blowing my mind, Chris!

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  4. It's funny, because you do tend to grab onto something "normal" just to have something to count on. I noticed that of the people I was with, one had me take her out to "pick up a few things" ever day. I think she just needed the routine of going to the market as something to count on. We did actually manage to squeeze in some laughs through all the stress, but it was pretty crazy for a while there.

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  5. Wow Chris - this fresh account gave me goosebumps. I don't like this time a year. Last week one of my projects was cleaning out the deep freezer. Since we've gone days without electricity and wasted lots of food I get in the frame of mind so that doesn't happen again.

    I can imagine how out of control you felt because of what you didn't know and having to depend on other people. I hope you aren't even untethered again. I word pretty much sums what not being yourself would be like.

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    1. I honestly don't know how people can go through that over and over again. I know people who have been flooded on multiple occasions but just keep re-building. I don't think I could do that.

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  6. Chris, I am beside myself with sympathy for your plight. You are right, others had it much worse, but that does not take away from how disorienting, enraging and frightening this must have been for you! If the NY trailer park is the only trigger for PTSD, then I would say you are doing better than most. I'm so sorry to hear you went through this.

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    1. My office at the time was between the Superdome and the Convention Center, so it was completely surreal watching the news every day and seeing all the National Guard, etc. rolling down Poydras Street. The only time I had seen anything like that was during the parade when they opened the DDay Museum! It's so weird going back to visit now and seeing how many empty lots there still are. The first few times, I was shocked by how many houses still had the markings from being searched for survivors. It's getting scary how many serious hurricanes have been happening in recent years.

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  7. Oh wow. What an awful and uprooting experience. I can imagine that you'll never again feel comfortable driving by one of those trailer lots. I appreciate you sharing your experiences here. While we can see images on TV about what's going on, it's the personal details, like not being able to access your bank account and having to be identified by somebody within the unopened branch to get your money that really bring it home on just how truly lifechanging events like these are. I really really appreciate your story today. So much.

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    1. Uprooting - bah dum bump - see tree above. ;)

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  8. I can't even imagine what you and so many others went through during that time. Unless you experience something like that, you really just have no idea and can't even begin to be compassionate enough. It's a great reminder for me that I am blessed beyond all measure and have nothing to complain or worry about. There are so many who are truly suffering and going through life changing events. Am glad you emerged stronger and able to share your story.

    Kate

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    1. It was definitely the kick I needed to motivate me to head back East. I'll take a good old fashioned snow storm over a hurricane, flood, or tornado any day. I guess it's all what you're used to - no matter where you are, it's something. Wild fires, sink holes ... Mother Nature's got a warped sense of humor!

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