I have been thinking about posting almost every day for more than a week now. I didn’t want to leave things hanging with the bra post. I was ready to move on to a new topic. But I just couldn’t figure out how to post. Or what to post. I had lots of thoughts, I just couldn’t get myself together enough to post them. I am not even sure I can now, but I’m going to try.
The bra meme on Facebook had me quite irrational for days on end. I knew I was irrational about it as it was happening, but I couldn’t step away. Finally, my brain gave up on the whole issue, which is what I wanted to have happen before I ever said one word about it, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
Then, my life, which was teetering on the edge of disaster (and probably a lot to do with why the bra thing got me so damn riled up), completely failed.
And when I say “completely failed,” try to remember I have survived cancer (or, more accurately, I survived chemo), I have survived a divorce which flipped my world upside-down and changed my entire perspective of the past, present and future, and I survived holding my infant daughter in my hands as she had heart failure (and she survived, too). Of course, there are a whole host of smaller things I survived that suck a lot, too. But this last week has been on par with those big suck-sations.
To put it differently, two very large, life-changing events collided to form one freakish life explosion. I can’t find the words to talk about it yet, mainly because I don’t know how it’s going to end (and my inability to predict the future makes me crazy). Hell, I’m not even entirely sure where it’s all heading at the moment. I can’t blog about it. It’s not even remotely funny and I prefer being funny over any other state of being. Ok, that’s only partly true. I actually enjoy writing openly and honestly, which frequently includes making fun of my ridiculous life (to make myself and others laugh). However, these particular problems are causing so much turmoil I can’t find a way to be open, honest or funny about it.
And the thing I’ve learned about people is that as blog readers or even as friends, you are waiting, hoping and praying for the happy ending.
The problem is, I know there isn’t one. We have what we have, for better or worse, and sometimes it is happy and sometimes it is not. And the ending? Sheesh. I won’t be here to report back on that, so one of you will have to write my happy ending. Make it good, will you? And get Cameron Diaz to play me in the movie. Wait. She’s the same age as me. She’ll probably be dead, too. So, that means it’s going to have to be Demi Lovato or iCarly. Will you do me a big favor and get Spencer from iCarly to play my manservant for most of my life, whether I actually had a manservant or not?
So, here I’ve been wallowing in grief and my own personal hell (which includes being subjected to back-to-back episodes of iCarly, so much so that I have developed a crush on Spencer) and I raise my head for a moment this weekend to see what the rest of the world is doing and found out that days before there had been A FUCKING EARTHQUAKE THAT DAMN NEAR DESTROYED HAITI.
I wanted to crawl under the rug for being so self-involved for so long while a whole country was hurting. A country that has a history of hurting. A country that hurts on a daily basis. A country that didn’t really have a lot of room to add more hurt to the agenda.
What is wrong with me?
I could (can) only read headlines and brief synopses of the information. When disasters happen, all I want to do is go there. The more I read or see, the more I feel pulled to do it. I sincerely forget that there are people (particularly someone short and age 8) who need me and all I want to do is go help the people on TV. My brain spins as I try to figure out how to get there.
I have to limit my exposure to the information or I will spend days (or weeks or more) in anguish over the hopelessness of it all. During Hurricane Katrina, after talking myself out of loading my mini-van with bottled water and driving as far south as I could get, I called the Red Cross and said, “I need to do something NOW.” Due to my extensive 9-months working as an operator for Columbia House in the early ’90s (“Columbia House Video. This is is Rochelle speaking. May I have your account number please?”), they determined I would be perfect answering emergency calls from hurricane victims and people trying to find their relatives. They trained me almost immediately as a phone operator for the national call center in Indianapolis. It was hard as hell and I would sit and sob between phone calls. When I was not sobbing, it was the first time in my whole life I felt like I actually was doing what I should be doing in a crisis.
I’m sad to say that in this time of crisis, I am mostly looking away for now and promising myself that someday, when the short one is self-sufficient and I don’t need a job, I’ll devote my life to people who need whatever help I can offer.
On a side note, I think this need to help is hereditary. My dad tells me that my grandma was known in their town for always feeding hobos, which I understand him to mean a Depression-era homeless person who moved around the country by jumping on railroad cars. (In my mind, I always picture Boxcar Willie at the back steps of my grandma’s farmhouse singing the Wabash Cannonball for her after he eats the cheese sandwich she offers him. I bet it was a lot like that.) Dad says Grandma always offered hobos who came to the back door something to eat, even if all my family had was a little bread to share.
So, while I’m dealing with implications of this “need to help gene” I’ve inherited, I’ve apparently passed it on already to my daughter. She has been enamored with the “Text HAITI to 90999 to donated $10 to the American Red Cross” messages that are everywhere (and thankfully have raised millions of dollars for Haiti). She wanted to do it and I kept saying no. She asked (as if she were on cue for a commercial), “but don’t you want to help the little children?” Although I wanted to grab her and say, “let’s go right now. We’ll sell our stuff. We’ll take everything that’s left out of the bank accounts. The airport is closed, so we’ll drive to south Florida, then build a raft. We can do this. We’ll go help those babies!!!” But what I said was, “because I need that money right now (very much so) to take care of my baby.” And she said, “Oh, but I have donut holes. (My big discounted splurge for her for the week, which cost $1.50.) I am happy! I don’t need anything else!”
Give that kid a freaking Nobel Peace Prize right now.
Part of the reason I was able to raise my head to see what the rest of humanity was doing this weekend was because I have fabulous friends who helped me get my mind back on track. They even helped me realize that maybe someday in the future, I’ll look back on this time as being sucktacular, but maybe not quite on par with cancer, divorce and my sick baby. So, for several days now, I’ve been feeling much better, despite my life’s circumstances remaining relatively unchanged. However, today was not great for no reason. Just down. To try to give myself a lift this evening, I turned to some of the blogs I follow.
I keep RSS feeds on several fantastic authors who tend to be hilarious. In fact, my criteria for the blogs I follow boils down to this: the blog must either contain information that I find completely useful at my job or must regularly make me laugh so hard I pee my pants. And while it’s not hard to make me laugh, it is not easy to make me laugh so hard I pee my pants. I do Kegel exercises. Every day.
This has resulted in a collection of blogs that are written by marketing geeks or by women I feel could be my new BFF, if the job should ever open up.
One of those pants-wetting blogs is That’s Church. I discovered it in a news story when the author (Ginny) went from being a hilarious anonymous blogger (known as PittGirl) to an even funnier identified blogger, who subsequently had to leave her job because her running commentary on city government was going to make life difficult for her non-profit employer. (I gathered it was sort of a conflict of interest situation, but I could be wrong.)
I was excessively impressed at the courage it took to come out of the anonymous blogger closet and the risk to herself for doing so.
I have come to know her blog persona as creative and hysterically funny. She also is extremely compassionate, judging from the causes she tosses herself into. She is a rabid Pittsburgh fan. And by “rabid Pittsburgh fan,” I mean all of Pittsburgh: from sports teams I never knew existed to city government to individuals who make her city lovable. She loves all things Pittsburgh, except the pigeons, which she hates with abandon. And after reading her blog, now I know how to spell Pittsburgh without looking it up.
My life sucks. Haiti. PittGirl. I know. You are saying, “WTF, Rosie. Are you having a stroke?” Oh, just you wait. It’s all going to come back around.
So, here I am looking at PittGirl’s blog trying to find a way to laugh. When I catch up on blogs, I read through several weeks at once. And if I’m catching up on That’s Church, I generally get banned from reading it in the living room because I can’t stop laughing out loud and reading passages that make sense to no one else in the room except me.
Except tonight was different. I read a few funny posts, then realized I had caught up to the date of the earthquake. I wasn’t sure if I should keep reading. I wanted funny. I didn’t want Haiti. But I was reading one before I knew it, so I just kept reading.
Ginny posted about some Pittsburgh women who live in Haiti and run an orphanage there — letting people know they were safe. I remember when she posted about meeting these women because one of them has a husband who lives in Pittsburgh and she lives in Haiti. I remember thinking they must have a very special relationship if he would go for that sort of an arrangement and I remember thinking the need in Haiti must be huge, if two women from the U.S. are running an orphanage down there. And I was jealous. I wanted to go visit and rock babies. This was weeks (months?) ago. Long before the earthquake.
Then, when I read the next post, I remembered that some of the headlines I’ve been reading today were about how the U.S. was lifting restrictions to bring in Haitian orphans who had homes waiting for them in the U.S. before the earthquake happened. Despite my personal attempts to only get the basics, I have to read full stories about babies. I had just read a full run-down on the Haiti orphans early this morning. And when I had posted on Facebook today for some happy thoughts from friends, my friend Kat posted a link to a story about Haitian orphans coming in. Something clicked.
I scanned Ginny’s post dates and noticed this frenzy of posting. She’s usually a once- or twice-a-day poster. I got scared. This had to do with the orphanage.
But I don’t jump to the end of books no matter what. I kept reading from oldest to newest.
The posts were frantic. Begging her readers to help. Send money. Send supplies. Orphans are living in the yard. Babies running out of water. Call politicians. Need planes. She was mobilizing her Twitter followers. Stuff was happening. CNN was tracking the story.
I knew this had to be tied to the same stories I’d been reading elsewhere. I kept reading her posts. I was crying my heart out. I needed to know how the story ended. Despite my cynicism, I was hoping for a happy ending.
And the link Kat had posted to cheer me up: 53 Haitian orphans land at Pittsburgh airport
If you want to cry your eyeballs out, watch this video of dozens of people carrying babies off the plane when it landed in Pittsburgh.
Do you understand? This one woman in Pittsburgh couldn’t sit idly by and watch these orphans or the women helping them die. So, she moved heaven and earth to get them to the homes where they were heading before disaster struck. She got immigration restrictions lifted. She got planes into Haiti! She got crucial pieces of the puzzle locked into place and, in doing so, the whole rest of it is coming together. She got help for some innocent babies who really needed the help.
Ginny is a freaking rock star.
My troubles are insignificant.
My life sucks. Haiti. PittGirl. I told you it would come back around.