Sunday, January 17, 2010

Disaster reading

As if you needed to read more about it.

He knew the conditions had begun to take a very real toll on his psyche…he had to watch, helpless, knowing how depraved it was---this was punishment…it diminished the humanity of them all. (Eggers 246)

I recently completed the book, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and have been reading it throughout this week.  The book reads like a work of great fiction, but is a work of non-fiction that tells the story of a Syrian-American who lives in New Orleans through the hurricane.  Although the book is written beautifully and is completely engrossing, its reality was sometimes difficult to swallow, especially with the disaster that struck Haiti this week.  There were far too many parallels, but because of this timing, I think the reality of disaster has been very alive in my thoughts.

In typically brilliant fashion, Dave Eggers brings the story of a Katrina survivor to the general public. He tells the story of a man who tries desperately to deal with the disaster by saving other people’s lives with an aluminum canoe and who is eventually arrested and trapped in the disparaging world of post-9/11 Homeland Security profiling and degeneration because of his background and beliefs. 

Abdulramen Zeitoun, the main character says these simple but profound words about recovery : Every person is stronger now.  Every person who was forgotten by God of country is now louder, more defiant.  They existed before and they exist again. (Eggers 334) truly illuminating thoughts after disaster.

Eggers is careful to tell only this man’s story and clarify that it is only one account from the many and it is not a general history of Katrina.  Although Timothy Egan from The New York Times Book Review said this about the book:

 Fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun.

I highly recommend the book and Eggers’ other narrative non fiction, What is the What.

That brings me to Haiti.  I know that New Orleans was a great debacle in our nations history, and I fear for the recovery from the earthquake in Haiti.  I did not know that so much energy and funding in New Orleans went to the building of temporary prisons and the capture of innocent persons.  After reading this book, I want desperately to help the people of Haiti, but I also want to make sure that my donations go to a place they can help and contribute to aid and not destruction.  I encourage everyone to give what they can.  Here are some reputable sources:

The American Red Cross –a reputable and well established group.  Your money will go to volunteer food and medical support

Doctors Without Borders –an orginization dedicated to giving medical help to people in great need.  They are performing open-air surgeries on card tables and could use all the support they can get.

Yele Haiti –Wyclef Jean’s relief organization.  A general fund with direct impact.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snippets of a restful, rejuvenating holiday

Since I haven't had the opportunity to write in the last month or so I thought I would write a twitter style set of memories and moments that have passed through out the holidays:


  • Christmas brings up such elevated emotions for everyone.  The day school got out I helped navigate a weep-fest of 5th graders who decided that they wanted to talk about people in their lives who had died.
  • A little Somalian boy in one of my classes spent about 5 minutes touching my beard and telling me about his dad who he hadn't seen in years.

I was hired as a ski instructor at mt hood meadows.

California winter days brought some quiet winter sunshine.  It was something that I didn't even realize that I missed until I felt it come through the window.


Christmas was less chaotic than usual, but it still had its scheduling difficulties, it is damn hard to organize 4 different families with ample time. 

After Christmas, we went to Point Reyes and watched the incredibly large waves and elephant seals.  I forget how beautiful that state park is.  It would be such a shame to have to close it.


IMG_7505 Sara and I drove north to Portland together and got to enjoy each others company.

Its really strange to not have a teaching job and listen to my sisters stories as she begins her career. 

I dealt with a little bit of homesickness because I didn't see all of my friends and my family time seemed cut short.

I actually missed Portland!

It snowed a good 3 or 4 inches in the city and it was beautifully quiet, aside from the screeched of cars that couldn't make it up the hill. 

The new years brought funIMG_7582 and mayhem.  We ate a 5 course Moroccan meal at Marrakesh and then went to the Kennedy school for some debauchery. 

On New Years day we all wrote down things that we wanted to leave behind in 2009 and it brought up some pretty intense feelings.

I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a best of the year and decade list for my favorite music, movies and books but its taking longer than I thought.  I plan on revealing it soon.


I hope the new year brings all of us joy, balance, peace, and a whole lot of love!