Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Falcon Ridge storm

So the reason for me not posting for a while has been the fact that I've been bouncing around festival to festival. My most recent festival was Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale, NY. It was a total blast, especially the dance party to Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams!

So on Sunday, it was not looking so good, weather wise, but I was sitting outside of our vending tent, my friends runs a kick ass jewelry business called SOASA designs, check it out at, but any way, I'm sitting outside reading The Great Deluge, and all of a sudden, the skies open up ( of course someone had to make a comment about me bringing the book to the festival and then storm... ) We ran into our small easy up, and held on for dear life. There was like 15 minutes of heavy rain, big hail, and high winds. In the end, the water was up to our knees, but overall, we were ok. We were safe, but a little scared. After we opened up the tent after the storm, we discovered that some of our neighbor's were completely destroyed. There tents had not survived the storm and were twisted up like pipe cleaners. There were also two big white circus tents that had collapsed.

The festival was cancelled, and we all got home some how, but it was definitely an adventure.

So this is my apology for not writing for so long, but hopefully I will pick it up again now that the festivals are over and there are
11 days left until I leave for NOLA! I can't wait!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Newly Found Momentum

So I've been feeling a little weird about NOLA. I'm totally excited but I guess it's all hitting me at once, and I've been feeling a little weird about it. However, today, I received newly found momentum.

Today, July 13, will mark one year since my grandfather "Vati's" passing. This may seem like a random spot to write about this topic, however, I assure you it is totally appropriate and relevant, as well as it being all I can think about now.

Last summer, I went to Hungary with my uncle and a few others to work with Habitat for Humanity. It was an amazing experience, however, a few days into the trip, I found out my grandpa was not doing so well. I knew he had cancer, but it was sort of under control. He had a previous operation to take care of some of it, but chose not to go through chemo, a decision I both respected and selfishly hated. I knew he would soon die, which of course frightened me, however, I knew he would die on his terms in his comfort zone, and his wishes were well respected. When I came home from Hungary, my parents met me at the airport. We went to my house quickly and grabbed a bite to eat, and then my mom and I drove upstate to my grandpa's house. I lugged all my dirty stuff from my trip to my room, and then immediately went to my grandpa's room.

I wasn't sure what to expect. My parents hadn't told me much about his state, I think they didn't want to upset me on my trip. I walked into the room and saw my grandpa, my Vati, helpless in his bed. He was still very confused because he had just been on morphine which did not agree with him, but as soon as I walked in the room, his eyes became bright. We had explained to him that I had just come back from Hungary and he began to sing a little song about the Danube river. It amazed me that he was able to recall such facts, and we stayed up for a little while talking about my trip. After that I went to my room, began to unpack some of my stuff, and broke down. It hit me that my grandpa, my love, was not going to be around for much longer. I got it together and decided that I was there for him till the end, and would be as strong as I could for Vati. With that, I went to sleep for the night and then some because I was completely jet lagged.

The next month would be the biggest adventure I've ever been apart of. I was by my grandpa's side everyday, for exactly a month (June 13-July 13) and I wouldn't have it any other way. I begged to hear every story he could think of, every recipe he could come up with, I took in all his smells, how his face looked, and of course those beautiful blue eyes. I wanted to remember every last thing I could.

That month was no picnic, Vati had his good days and his bad. There were some day where he would go into the living room with us and watch The Deadliest Catch on tv with us and tell us stories of how to measure a crab and what the best ways to cook it were, but then there were other days when he wouldn't recognize where he was. My strong grandpa sometimes broke down and those were the worst times. He would look at me with his beautiful eyes and ask me, "why can't I just die" or "when am I going to die." He also admitted to me that he was scared to die. That was the hardest thing I had to deal with. I was never sure how to answer those questions because if it were up to me, we would both live together forever, but I did recognize that this was his journey, and I was truely blessed to have been able to be apart of it.

I learned so much in that month that I have never thought I'd learn. I learned what was important, and how much my grandpa meant to me. This is where this idea connects to New Orleans. My grandpa would sometimes talk to me as he was going to sleep. He sometimes said things about how I was so good to him, but sometimes he would give me advice or talk about the future. He told me I was going to be a good mom some day, and he told me to go out and see the world. My grandpa has been all around to world, and has told me of beautiful places. I always told him about my Habitat for Humanity trips and he was always so excited when I would show him all of the pictures. He would tell me how proud he was of me, and that positive reinforcement especially from a man as accomplished as him, meant the world to me. I really took it to heart and have decided to go after what I want in life, and live to my fullest extent. Going to NOLA next year may not be the best plan, but it's my plan to be happy and enjoy doing what I want to do.

When my grandpa died, I was heartbroken. He will forever be the strongest, most loving, most amazing person I have ever known. However, when he died, I didn't really cry. Yes he was gone, however, I had just spent his last month with him and I will never forget it. So this post is for you Vati, you will forever be my inspiration, my mentor, my favorite story teller, my favorite chef, my friend, my grandpa, and most importantly, my hero.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Feeling Guilty...

So one of the hardest parts I've found about doing volunteer work, is returning to everyday life. On my first big Habitat for Humanity trip to Guatemala, I met a woman named Colleen. She was amazingly bright and funny and she worked in Afghanistan with women and also worked for Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. She was telling me about how it would be hard for me to go back home and adjust especially since I would return right before Christmas time, but she looked me straight in the eye and told me, "As cold as it may sound, when you live in the "real world" or when you go back home, you have to switch the channel in your head. You cannot live in one world feeling sorry for the other because you'll drive yourself nuts!" As cold as it sounds, it was so true, and this is how I've mentally handled the devastation I've seen. Although it changes you and although you constantly think about it, I've learned how to not feel guilty for doing things like buying a new digital camera, or so I've thought.

I've spent two weeks in New Orleans within the past few months, both times I worked with Habitat for Humanity in the rebuilding process. Both times were amazing, and I will never forget any part of it. And for the first time, however, the transition back into everyday life has been tough. I mean it always takes some getting used to, but it's been real tough. Well now I thought I had gotten back into the swing of things, not that I don't constantly think about how many days I have left until I go back there, but I had stopped thinking about what I could be doing now, and started thinking about what I did and what I will be doing in the near future. Then out of nowhere, comes this surprise attack.

Last Friday was July 4th. My whole family headed for the Jersey Shore like we always do, and we all went to my Uncle's house the night before because there was a big fireworks display at the Harrahs casino. He lives right on the bay so it was a perfect view. So I was standing alone on the dock watching the fireworks which were awesome in every sense of the word, and all of a sudden I felt so incredibly guilty. All of a sudden I felt so emotionally guilty for not being in New Orleans and simply stand there enjoying this horrendous display of obsene wealth. I tried to talk myself out of it, but I was just so overcome. I have never felt that guilty for doing something in my life. I just couldn't stop thinking about all the people I had met in New Orleans, and how many more there are and how much help they need. I think it was also the fact that July 4th is a celebration of America, a country which I don't believe deserves a lot of pomp and cercumstance especially after we are forgetting about the Gulf Coast. Also, I looked around at my family who was so joyous and so unaware of the situation in New Orleans, and I was mad, irrationally mad at them.

I finally got a grip on myself, and realized that it was silly for me to get this upset over fireworks, but it just made me think about New Orleans even more. I don't know what came over me but it was irrational and upsetting. This city has simply changed me, and wrapped it's hands around my heart. I have never had a place effect me like this before, and I am curious how spending a year there will effect me. As cold as it sounds, I will continue to try and not feel guilty when living my life in NY, and so far it's been good, although I do not forget about New Orleans for a second, and I am counting the days (currently 33) until I will once again return to this city.