One side effect of being a storyteller is that by telling a story you disconnect your emotions from reality. A major event becomes just a story. This is a reason I didn’t want to write about Sandy The Storm and later – about Election Day.
The other reason I didn’t want to write about Sandy the Storm – it made a lot of people homeless, some people died, lots of people lost their property in the flood. How can I trivialize this event by writing about me being scared when Sandy the Storm shook my windows? I was lucky to clutch to my sweetheart and to the glass of sherry that we shared around 8 PM.
Maybe more interesting story is how does one continue working on her feature film when there are major physical obstacles (non-working subway, seriously leaking bathroom, threat of breaking windows and drawings getting wet), emotional/mental distress (checking weather reports, Facebook, political news every 5 minutes) and other distractions (unheatable studio, lack of water). But there is not much story to that, except that Rashidah was the first one to arrive to work on Wednesday bravely walking 60 blocks from Atlantic avenue. The trip from home to work took her 4 hours. Lucky Wendy got a car ride (before getting fuel was a problem) and arrived to work on Thursday. We worked through the weekend to make up for the lost time. Mike was stranded in faraway Queens and only made it on Monday.
The major mental problem I encountered was – There is so much misery around, I want to help but what can I do?!
A major decision had to be made – stop all the work on the film and volunteer or keep working.
Many people on Facebook were posting how they were helping the hard hit Far Rockaway community. I think if I had put my mind in it I would have found a ride to get there, but I just couldn’t decide. Do I stay at my studio and work pretending we are back to normal (and thus gently help my young assistants because work means no money for all of us) or let everyone go and volunteer for a week or more?
In the end the Motherly Streak in me won. I care for people, but now I know I care more for people I know.
To care for the people I don’t know on the Election Day I went to Philadelphia to help voters. I grew up in Soviet Union where your vote didn’t matter – 99,98 per cent of USSR population voted for Communist Party no matter what. The one time I had shown up at election polls I discovered there was only one choice on the ballot. For me as a new US citizen to be able to see the power of people / power of voting is amazing. I do know people here complain about having just two parties, or about candidates being bought by Big Money, or having no candidate that represents issues that are close to the complainer. But I have seen three different systems : 1) one party in USSR 2) 27 parties incorporated in one Parliament, in newly independent Latvia 3) two major parties in USA, and it looks to me the two parties system work just fine – no system is perfect and we the people have to make it better with our votes.
Finally, yesterday Athena The Snowstorm hit us again, as if we didn’t have enough.
To sum it up – since we started the work on “Rocks In My Pockets” in January 2010 the project had to suffer through the following hinderances:
– having to move the studio from Manhattan to Brooklyn (the whole summer of 2011)
– earthquake (August 2011)
– hurricane Irene (August 2011)
– hurricane Sandy (October 2012)
Athena doesn’t make the list because it was just an insult to injury.
Each extreme weather event enters my studio through windows or leaking roof and it enters my mind. The mind, when it gets upset, is hard to calm down. It makes my eyes leak.