The Broad is Back!

October 31, 2012


I am a New Yorker. And Sandy came and said hello. The bitch.

I can’t even really be glib about it. My hometown has suffered terribly.  Not as badly as New Jersey. Not as badly as NOLA during Katrina. but things are pretty bad.

Lots of “unprecedenteds” in the news this week.

My heart cracks a little when I see the pictures. I haven’t taught all week–school is cancelled–so I can’t check on my students.  Many have checked in with me, but so many haven’t. Are they safe? Have they lost their homes?  Too many questions.

A good thing is that I’m here, not far away. If I were in Europe for this, the worrying would be much worse. I know this from experience.

I was as prepared as I could be–water, food, candles, batteries, first aid supplies. Luckily, I barely needed any of it.  I spent much of the actual storm tweeting and on Facebook, trying to disseminate information.  I have friends who have children here, so they were worried.  It wasn’t much, but I felt like I was helping. It kept me calm and focused.  I am the type who has to do something during a problem, even if it’s just give news.

I’m still calm and back to work grading and preparing, even if I’m not in the classroom.  But the stress is taking its toll.  I’m tired, fighting a cold, achy.  I blame Sandy for it all. I suspect New York is going to be plagued with Sandy-related problems for quite a while.

The tone of this is somber. Disjointed, even.  But it’s a blog, so I’m not too worried about essay form.  And I think it’s rather a good snapshot of my current emotional state.

It could have been so much worse, I know. But it was bad.

Prayers and love to all those in Sandy’s path, from the Bahamas through Maine. I think that’s where she fizzled out.

Now to the work of cleaning up.

One final note. The Red Cross needs your money and your blood.  You can find ways to help at their website here. I don’t have money, and they won’t take my European-tainted blood (I was there the Mad Cow years), but there are other ways to help.  There are several choices listed on this page.



December 18, 2007

Bag lady

Filed under: consumerism,nature,New Broads — by maggiec @ 6:55 pm

I refer to myself here.  I’m not talking about a homeless person!  My house is being taken over by plastic shopping bags. 

One thing that strikes me since I’ve been back is the number of plastic bags Americans use.  The packers at my local grocery store double bag almost everything and will put one item in a bag.  I can come home from the shop with 25 grocery items and 16 bags!  Sometimes I get paper to pack my newspapers in for recycling, but I still get too many bags.

In Taiwan I had a grocery cart, as I did in Switzerland, and in Sweden I had a collection of canvas bags (which are still in storage, waiting to come here).  In Europe, we paid for each bag we used.  Believe me, that cuts down on bag usage.

I try to reuse them as trash bag liners at home, and they do come in handy when scooping the cat litter daily, but it’s still overwhelming.  I’ve started buying some canvas bags, and I try to bring empty plastic bags with me when I go to the store.  It sometimes confuses the packers.  These young kids don’t seem to know the meaning of the word “reuse”.  It’s sad.

And then today, I read the following. It comes from the website, and it is so scary I had to put it here so it would get more coverage!

Bring Your Own Bag

What’s your answer to “paper or plastic?” How about, “No thanks!”

If every American consumer brought their own reusable bags when shopping, we’ll cut more than a billion pounds of CO2 this month – that’s the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road!

When you bring you own reusable bag to the store, you’ll save wildlife, reduce waste and pollution, and reduce our dependence on oil. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, birds, whales, and other marine mammals die every year from eating plastic bags mistaken for food. And an estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to make the 100 billion plastic shopping bags used in the U.S. alone each year.

For today’s daily action, pledge to “Bring Your Own Bag” this month when you shop and make a big impact with a simple action

Carbon Conscious Consumer Logo

November 15, 2007

Visceral beauty

Filed under: fatherland,nature,New Broads — by maggiec @ 7:26 pm

I was driving through the back roads of Massachusetts a while ago thinking how lucky I was to be in New England in the autumn.  I have lived in and visited many of the world’s most beautiful places–walked in the Alps, seen the green fields of Ireland, eyed the terrible beauty of the North Atlantic in England and the still calm of the Pacific beaches in Asia.  But none of it stirs me like the red and gold beauty of the Northeast in autumn.

 I felt a tug in my guts–a physical manifestation of a love that I don’t feel for anywhere else.  And it got me to thinking.  Is there really something to this “fatherland” thing?  Are there really roots or ties I have to here that I don’t have for anywhere else?  Why do I love this place as I love no other?

These thoughts scare me.  I like to think of my self as a citizen of the world.  I like to think that I haven’t harmed my child by giving him an international existence and a physically rootless sense of “home”.  But then I think, perhaps I’m wrong.

I remember the first time I came back for autumn in New York.  I had been away for five years at that point, but my cousin was getting married in October, so I came home.  She had her reception at Bear Mountain State Park, in the mountains on the banks of the Hudson.  I remember walking through the woods thinking that the air itself was infused with color, heavier than normal air as it had different properties.  I could breathe the oranges, reds and golds and they filled my body with their power and warmth.  A mystical moment I remember to this day.  When I left, I was full of longing and homesickness for a place for the first time ever.Bear Mountain

And from that time on, I remembered what I was missing.  One of the joys for me this year is being in a place where it all looks so familiar.  Yes, New York and New England are different places, but Nature knows no boundaries.  The Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley aren’t that different from other river valleys in New England, and here I live around the Nashua River. 

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but I can unabashedly say I love this place.  It is in my being and in my fiber, and this is the earth from which I come.  This is a source of my strength. 

And this is a type of homesickness that books and people don’t often talk about.  People can understand us missing people, food, festivals, even shops, but the Earth?  The mountains?  The rivers?  I had beautiful mountains in Taiwan.  In Switzerland I had the Alps for goodness sake! 

I have indelible memories of drinking in the peace and beauty of mountains around the world.  The New Year’s eve spent with a dear friend, sitting on the side of Yamingshan, gaining strength for the coming year. 


The feeling of insignificance and transience I felt walking through glacial ice to the top of Jungfrau filled me with a sense of awe of God that I hold in me still.


But none of these beauties compare with the sense of belonging and calm I gain while gazing at New York’s Adirondacks.

I have no answer.  I have very little of a point.  I think the only point I have is that this feeling of physically being a part of the land bothers me.  I don’t know that this is a good thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about loving my country lately.  I do love it.  Now, what do I do with that love?  How is this love going to manifest itself?  What does it mean if everyone feels this as well?

All questions for another day.

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