I have limited access to the 'net because the WiFi at the college guest house doesn't work, the internet at my erstwhile house is kaput, and I haven't been in the office until now except for one unfortunate half hour earlier this afternoon.
But here I am. I have had a little walk, my hot flashes and I are in the air conditioned quiet office at work, the computer is humming, and sometime I will have a chance to watch Barack Obama's speech online. Probably not tonight, but soon. I missed the speech because a friend wined and dined me last night (the second glass of wine was his fault, all his fault, so there) to Get Me Away From It All. Yes, the meal involved serious protein. Fish, in fact, and a great cheese course.
Today was, in a word, nuts. The tree people came yesterday and removed the tree (actually one tree and a section of another) and today the professional disaster recovery people came. I keep saying it all could have been much worse, and it is true. I am also getting a small, ever so small glimpse of what people's lives are like when a natural disaster strikes and strikes big. I was almost paralyzed part of the day, emotionally and mentally. Too much hitting at once, too many decisions to make, the shock of seeing my bedroom full of ceiling insulation and tree branches and knowing my grandparents' bed which is probably a hundred years old was underneath there. Last night I remembered that the panda bear my grandfather (from the other side of the family) gave my brother when he was one year old (in 1943!) was in that room and might not in any shape to be recovered -- a family stuffed animal I have dragged around with me to every place I have lived, informing my brother at each step that his panda was still in one piece. Little if any of this has been about money, at least the bedroom part. It has been hugely about family and love and sentiment. I don't care what the jewelery cost or whether it was "real" or costume jewelry (mostly it is the latter). I do care that my mother gave it to me or my aunt willed it to me or my grandmother once wore it or my friends gave it to me for my fortieth birthday.
There is, of course, the money side. The college insurance, thanks be to Jesus and the insurance companies (never though I'd say THAT and must tell the insurance exec ex-boyfriend who will howl with laughter -- he knows my lefty proclivities) will pay for my move. More difficult is the search for an affordable place to rent for me, the cat, my gazillions of books (no, there is no more room at my office, these are the house books), and my stuff. I was renting from the college at below market value, though not too too far below. And of course who wants to move the second week of school, on Labor Day Weekend when we don't get Labor Day off? That's right, we don't get Labor Day off. Don't get me started. I am trying to stay polite and cheery here. I teach at 8:30 Monday morning. So I have a litte window of today, tomorrow, and Sunday to get my life back together and if I find a place, move.
Anyway -- the disaster relief people. I will write more about them later. I just realized I am due at dinner at a neighbor's house, but I must tell you the Don't Ask, Don't Meow story.
I smuggled Her Grace into the college guest house, into the small but nicely appointed room where we have stayed for the last two nights. A few clothes that weren't in the bedroom, toilet articles (no damage to the main bathroom -- really I am very lucky), a small litter box (carefully placed on a large plastic bag), a dresser and big bed, not much floor space, and the cat and I. It was, I admit, a case of Don't Ask, Don't Meow. It was nighttime when the tree hit, the security and facilities staff said not to leave the cat in my house, I had a room to stay at the guest house and the key, so I snuck Maya Pavlova in, reminding her that she was generally an Out and Proud Feline but that this was a brief keep-quiet circumstance. She was mostly fine with it.
So I get into the office a few hours ago to check mail and there is a message on my voice mail from the guest-house manager (who also works for another division of the college) saying "The woman who cleans the house heard a cat in your room. Please remove the cat." She said several other sentences about why, but the gist of it was "remove the cat." No preliminaries, as in "Hello Jane, so sorry to hear a tree fell on your house and you are homeless, I realize you want your cat with you but unfortunately we can't accommodate her," or something of the sort. Just "remove the cat."
So I called a colleague and asked if I could board Her Grace with her (mercifully she lives nearby) and she said yes. I went to the guest house, "removed the cat" (this time Maya Pavlova slid into the cat carrier and didn't scratch me till I bled, which she had the night of the big adventure, but she was traumatized at the time - she did try to hide under the bed this time, but not for long) and moved her and her accoutrements into her new digs, went back to my soon to be ex-house to inhale some more particulate matter (I'm saying this to sound dramatic, actually the nice people gave me a mask which I wear when I need it) and decided that I would remove myself from the guest house as well. So I am sleeping on my colleague's floor tonight. No cat, no Jane. Where the cat goes, Jane goes. Harrumph!
I have a lead on a house which I visited this afternoon. I think it may work out. It is smaller than where I live and less beautiful, but sweet and workable and with a larger kitchen than where I am now. My foodie heart rejoices. It also has a little garden and yard beyind with a grapevine and a fig tree! Can you say "biblical image" ??!! The price is workable. The deposit is quite large, though, but I may be able to swing it.
I am off to dine with colleague and daughters and cat now. MEOW!
More updates when I can. I am really tired and there may be people putting things in boxes in the house tomorrow. Thanks for all your kind notes, prayers, virtual hugs, warm thoughts, and friendship. They mean a lot to me.