no words

Today I felt thrown back on the smallness of my life in a way similar to how I felt on 9/11. The nightmare of Katrina — the damage, grief, loss, misery. The sheer incomprehensible horror of it. A city in ruins. A major American city shut down.

Shut down.

My friend John asked, “What kind of people build a city below sea level?”

Which of course is amazingly ironic, given that we are living in Los Angeles. What kind of people flock here — flock here, stay here, when an earthquake could destroy everything with far less warning than anyone in New Orleans ever got? People like me, apparently. If New Orleans was living in some kind of denial, then God knows so is the entire damn state of California.

I made a donation this morning and, like many, worried over Poppy Z Brite and her animals. And I felt incredibly privileged just to go about my stupid little day, getting my mother to her appointment in Beverly Hills, making a ton of chili and chicken-black bean burrito filling to take to Burning Man, all the while feeling I should be writing, why the hell am I not writing? I need to savor every second of this time in my life when the thing I’m stressing over most is a novel that needs to get finished. (And now I worry that just by writing that, posting that, I’ve completely jynxed myself.)

Earlier this evening, as my toddlers explored their new toddler-sized sofas (that fold out to toddler-sized beds), my parents, who are visiting from Canada, and I watched CNN. My father kept tapping his cane against the floor as the newscaster said all the expected things. “Talk about why this happened.” Tap tap tap. “Let’s talk about why this happened.”

This should not have happened in this country. I think we all know that, even if we’re not yet willing to talk about it.


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