Not only have I been physically distanced from everything that has happened on the Gulf coast, but I am, as embarrassing as it is to admit it, mentally and emotionally detached from it. Being here in la la land where it's sunny and warm and gorgeous, where I wake up late, enjoy a cup of steaming hot coffee while checking my email, eat three meals a day, talk to and see my family and friends, sleep in my own comfortable bed every night, I have absolutely no sense of the horrible reality that is happening on the Gulf coast. I don't watch much tv, I only listen to the radio in the car on a very short commute to/from work, so I only get bits and pieces of what is going on from my sisters, Figi, and maybe catching a glimpse of a news clip from cnn.com, which is the homepage that automatically loads when I open my Internet browser. But again, that’s as long as it takes for me to type in w-w-w-dot-gmail-dot-com.
But finally, finally, finally I allowed myself to read a complete article, not just the headline, and not just the first paragraph, but the whole thing, about what happened, and it made me feel sick. After that first article, I clicked furiously from article to blog entry to article all morning with my hand over my mouth that was gaping open in disbelief, reading it all as fast as I could through my tears. I was sick. There is no other way to describe it. I knew there was flooding. I knew it was horrible and that people have died and are still dying, but I didn't know it was like this. Before, I had no concept of the tragedy because I chose to be blind and ignorant, but now, reading more and more, I realize that I will never have a concept of the tragedy because...I just never will. I am not there. My head hurts trying, but failing, to understand what it’s like. My heart hurts for the people who unfortunately, do understand it all too well.
Certainly, the web does not need another word nor image of what has already happened, so I don't know why I posted those first two paragraphs. Perhaps because I feel guilty that this whole time, I've been living my life in a happy little bubble, completely unaware of the destruction that happened last week and the horror that will continue to unfold for a long time. And I need to confess that even now, it still hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel so unaffected.
And yet, I am tormented.
Because living here in LA, so removed from it all physically and mentally, I could not find a way to help out other than sending money. I donated my pathetic little paycheck, as paltry as it is, then worried that I wouldn’t be able to make my rent next month. When I realized my thought process, I broke down. It’s too easy to just send money – just cut a tiny little little sliver in the bubble that protects me, to pass a check to the world outside, then seal it back up again and continue living in my safe, happy world. And then to be so uncaring, ignorant, hypocritical, I can’t even think of the right word - fretting that I may not be able to pay rent when there are ten thousand people who don’t even have a house. I was in shock and awe of my own horrible attitude.
But doing something, no matter how teeny tiny of a water droplet it may feel like in a humungous hurricane, it is better than nothing, because to be quite honest, it will never be enough. So though I am still at a loss and feel almost helpless, I will be dining out on Wednesday, October 5, 2005, which has been set aside for Dine for America, a one-day event in which participating restaurants and diners will raise funds in support of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
One hundred percent of the funds raised through Dine For America will go directly to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to help the victims, their families and the other needs arising out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Participating restaurants will choose how they will contribute, whether it be a portion of their total sales that day, a percentage of profits, a dollar amount for every meal served, or other ways. The list of participating restaurants indicates how the restaurant plans to contribute. You can search for a restaurant by name or browse by city/state. The actual set-up of California is a little messy, with too many breakdowns by individual cities, but I forgive them – they put their site up in a matter of days. ;) I’m impressed so far by the number of restaurants who are participating, and many of them will be donating 100% of their profits that day to the Red Cross.
I wish Dine for America were longer than a day, but then again, nothing is stopping me from making a direct donation to the Red Cross every day before and after, right?