The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Thank you

I am so humbled by the response I have received to yesterday's post. Thank you for your support and love. I felt better after I wrote the post. I think I just needed to vent for a bit. I went to Radnor Lake yesterday afternoon and walked for about an hour. It was a perfect day, and did wonders for my spirit.

Then, last night, I went to hear my favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, speak (see link to her website at left). I started reading her books in college, after Outlander caught my eye while browsing in a Barnes & Noble. I have since gotten several of my friends, as well as my mother, hooked on the series. Last night she was at Davis Kidd to sign the 6th book in the series. My mom and two of my friends and I went. The way they had her facing to speak, we were able to sit in the cafe, by the rail, and enjoy coffee and chocolate cake while listening to her. It really was quite perfect, except for the waiters, who kept banging dishes around much louder than they actually needed to. Oh, well. Then we waited in line to get our books signed and take pictures. Ah, what a night.

And I want to say a public thank-you to Microphyt, who is sending me information on a possible job lead. It's not at all what I expected when I posted yesterday, but I'll take it!

Hope everyone out there has a fantastic weekend, and that you all get to spend some time outside in this gorgeous fall weather!


Forgive me, but today I feel nasty and angry, and this post is going to reflect it. I won't be offended if you skip it.

For two years now I have been struggling with being angry and disappointed with God. It cycles up and down, but I always seem to end up back in this same place. You see, two and a half years ago, as I was finishing up law school, I had a great internship at a company I loved working for, and my boss was assuring me that he was going to make me an offer when I graduated. An offer that, by now, would have me still working for this amazing corporation, doing music law, and moved back to Nashville to work in the company's office here.

Except that, by the time I graduated, the company was about to enter bankruptcy, and everyone in my office, including my boss, was being let go. I spent the last week of my internship helping to pack up the office.

So I decided to come home to work. I know so many people in Nashville, graduated at the top of my class, and have some great experience. Should be pretty easy, right? Well, not so much. I knew I was going to have to work hard to compete with the Vanderbilt and UT grads, but it has been unbelievably hard to even get a foot in the door.

I have interviewed with state and local agencies; I can't get private firms to even interview me. I have not had one job offer in two years, not even a crappy underpaid state position.

I am thousands of dollars in debt and flat broke. I have no other resources or assets, and nowhere to go. The work I'm doing through the juvenile courts is great, and I will get more money from the court, but I don't know when. Whenever they get around to processing my billing forms. Even then, it won't be enough to really help; it will just keep me from getting farther behind.

My grandmother broke her hip last week, and has had to be moved to a nursing home with a rehab clinic. My parents are trying to get a third mortgage on their house to pay for it. I can't ask them for any more help.

I just don't know what else to do.

A lot of people have been where I am, I know. This is what I was thinking about yesterday. I'm at a turning point in my life, and more importantly, in my faith. I can see why someone might choose to walk away from God. It's not that I don't think He's there, I do. But this one area, this thorn in my side, is so painful to me.

I am too blessed in other areas of my life to doubt God's love and care. I have amazing family and friends, I have food to eat and a place to live. I have my own car, even if I don't own it yet. The sky outside today is clear and blue and the day is just perfect. I feel His love everywhere around me. And yet....

My whole life, I was expected to succeed. I was going to be a force to be reckoned with, whatever I ended up doing. I saw my 12th grade English teacher recently, and she was very surprised at how much trouble I'm having; she knew, like we all did, that I was going to make it. I had scholarships to college and to law school. I graduated in the top of my class every time; I was in all of the honors programs. I'm a hard worker, and get along with most everybody. I've even been told by a couple of people that I'm a very good interviewee. So I don't think I'm losing these jobs because of poor personal skills or lack of qualification. I don't think it's all not knowing the right people; the district attorney's good friend wrote me a letter of recommendation when I interviewed with him. I was one of seven people interviewing for four entry-level positions. I didn't get one. I know one of the guys who did; I'm much more qualified than he is. Not to sound arrogant, but it's true. I made better grades and have more experience than he does.

And I really can't explain it. I know there is something larger than me working here. I know God has a reason for it all. But I am hurting and tired and depressed. Counting my other blessings, being grateful for my health and stable family, all of the other platitudes I've tried just aren't helping this anymore. At the end of the day, I am so thankful for what I do have, but that gratitude won't pay my student loans off, or keep Nissan from repossessing my car, should it come to that.

I'm to the point that it's almost unreal. I hear people struggling with looking for a job for a month and want to laugh. I know it's a struggle, no matter how long it takes, but I have reached a point that seems comical. I've looked into getting another job, even a part-time one, but I'm so inexperienced. I keep having daydreams about completely changing my direction - becoming a jewelry designer or writer or psychiatrist - but I have no experience, nor do I have the financial resources to make that sort of switch. I keep thinking about applying at Borders or somewhere just for the piddling money I could make. And because it would keep me busy enough to not think about this other stuff.

In the end, all I have are me and God. I have a law degree, but haven't yet figured out how to make ends meet with it. I am clinging, hanging on to my faith for dear life, but more and more cynical about whether or not He is going to ever open a door for me. I feel like it's up to me, but have no idea what else I can do.

I won't walk away, if you're worrying about it. God has blessed me too much for me to think He isn't there or doesn't care, and He is everything I have now. But just because I am believing in and loving Him doesn't mean I'm not still hurt and angry. Quote Job to me all you want, remind me of the blessings, but you're not going to make me feel better. Feeling great about the rest of my life doesn't make the pain in this part go away. I can focus on the good things a lot, but eventually my bills come and I have to confront it again. The bad days, like today, are often the days I'm at home to work - and realize I don't have much I can bill for. I spend the day catching up on email, cleaning, maybe running errands, and at the end of the day, look back and realize I've wasted a day - I'm no closer to having an income than I was when I got up. I've spent a weekday doing weekend things. It's not a good feeling when it's a regular occurrence.

Sorry again about all of the negativity. I needed to get it out. I'm tired and emotionally drained from getting ready for our England trip; we leave in 15 days. Again, I do have so many great things in my life that most of the time I feel nothing but blessed. But eventually I come back to the fact that no one wants what I have to offer, and that my creditors are getting tired of waiting on me to get my act together. I feel like the ball is going to drop any day, and I'll be looking at legal actions against me. It's not a comforting, God-is-with-me sort of feeling. It's very isolated and scary. Being able to admit this in a quasi-public way is a comfort, and if you're still with me, I thank you for letting me share this with you.

One of the reasons I am as excited about our England trip as I am, besides the work we're going to do and being able to spend some time in one of my favorite places on earth, is the fact that I can put all of this aside for 10 days. Since I won't be able to do anything about it, I won't feel guilty for ignoring it entirely. I crave that sort of peace and relaxation. It's why I spend so much time reading - pure escapism.

And if any of you tell me how worldly and prideful this sounds, I swear I will leap through the Internet and smack you. I've re-read this; I know how it sounds. The fact that this is an earthly concern doesn't make it any less real.

Whew, now that I've gotten all of that out, I'm a little calmer, but not any more optimistic. I don't know what to ask you to do with all of this, other than just keep praying for me. My friend Erin once told me, "You're going to look back on this in 10 years and laugh!" I hope she's right. She probably is, but I still have to get through this.

I got tagged

Reagan tagged me yesterday! I feel so loved. Or molested. I can't decide which. Either way, here are my answers!

7 Answers to 7 Questions

7 things i plan to do before i die:
~Visit all 50 states and the 6 inhabited continents
~Publish a book
~Learn to surf
~Learn to sail
~Own a boat and a beach house
~Have a family
~Get my own DVR, so I will quit filling up my parents'

7 things i can do:
~Practice law in Tennessee
~Find my way around new cities easily
~Play the piano
~Make my friends laugh
~Cook really well
~Devour books like candy
~Parallel Park (one of the best things I learned at Pepperdine)

7 things i cannot do:
~Quit watching the OC. I have a problem.
~Write music
~Draw or paint
~Speak any language other than English
~See the ocean (from here)
~Make myself keep my apartment clean
~Get past my insecurities around certain people

7 things that attract me to another person:
~Humor (if you can make me laugh until I cry, I'm your's!)

7 celebrity crushes
~Pierce Brosnan
~Christopher Plummer (I don't care if he is old - I've loved him my whole life.)
~Matthew McFayden (from MI-5 and the new "Pride and Prejudice")
~Colin Firth
~Christian Bale
~Matthew McConaghey
~Heath Ledger

7 Things I say the most
~Oi, mush! (Well, not really, but I'm trying to work this one in.)
~Move! (to other drivers on the interstate)
~Hello? I'm a car?
~My name is Tiffany, and I've been appointed as your attorney. Can you tell my why you haven't been paying your child support?
~I'm exhausted.

7 bloggers I am tagging:
Chris Hopper
Big Orange Michael

Ha ha ha ha ha! Now it's your turn!

I'm Starting With the (Wo)Man in the Mirror (Oh, Yeah)

The last two Sundays at my church have been powerful and scary and wonderful. Something big is changing in our hearts. God is working.

Last Sunday, our preacher, Tim, spoke on marriage. It seems that there are quite a few marriages in our congregation that are on the verge of divorce, and he felt a public statement was necessary. His point was basically that these marriages are falling apart for selfish reasons, and that since couples get married in a public, church setting, the church as a whole needs to make healthy marriages a priority. Not that we need to gossip and be in each other's business; in fact he was very careful to condemn such behavior. But that we will hold spouses accountable for their actions toward one another, and won't sweep it under the rug and pretend it isn't happening. Not to judge or condemn, but to encourage marriage as a spiritual-growth issue, not just a romantic-love one. Which is pretty convicting in itself.

One statement he made has really stuck with me, though. He talked about how many couples, Christian and otherwise, live in a state of "negotiated estrangement". That phrase won't get out of my head. Here's why.

For a while now, I've been thinking about getting rid of my TV. It's just a thought that was playing in the back of my head. I've lived without one before, and while I always did get to the point of wanting one again, those times were not terrible. In the wake of Katrina, I've hated that I'm somewhat limited in what I can do to help. Some money, some clothes and books, some time after work. What else? I have no savings from which I could make a larger donation. I don't really have any assets. The most valuable thing in my apartment is my TV. I was already thinking about ditching it. Now I'm thinking, specifically, about either donating it to our church's furniture-collecting efforts (if they want it), or selling it and donating the money to the Red Cross.

Then, last Sunday morning in class (before the sermon), our group talked about alone. What the dangers are of cutting ourselves off from others, and on the other end, what are the dangers of filling ourselves so full of others that we don't have an independent existence. I am very jealous of my down time. I try to reserve at least one evening a week (usually Thursday) just for myself. I don't go out, I don't invite anyone over, I usually won't even answer my phone. This time, theoretically, is for me to enjoy my own company, some quiet away from the chaos of my friends. But that morning I realized that those nights are now just an excuse to watch TV or movies. I'm not using the time to pray, meditate, journal, or do any other activity with myself that will advance my spirituality. Not that watching TV is in itself a problem. But it has definitely become a distraction. So, yet another reason to give it up.

And before I sound too self-righteous, I do have two crutches: my computer will play DVD's, so I can veg out from time to time, and my parents have a DVR, which I have already set up to record my favorite shows. So I'm not giving up watching TV entirely, just owning one.

So then during Tim's sermon, I got to thinking about my life as a single woman. I'm not dating anyone, much less married, so the state of my marriage is a moot point. I am, however, a bride of Christ. Whether or not I ever do get married, I have an intimate, personal relationship with God. I realized, as Tim described husbands and wives who live in cold, lifeless homes, that my relationship with Jesus looks a whole lot like those negotiated estrangements.

It's not a passionate hatred of God or faith, but it's not a passionate love of Him, either. I spend more time and energy on the most casual acquaintance than I do in prayer, Scripture, or any spiritual discipline. I take God for granted, like an unappreciative wife. And the worst thing is, I know it's completely one-sided. For, unlike an earthly marriage, I know that He has never tired of me, never ignored me, never taken me for granted, never turned away. I know that any time I turn to Him, He will be waiting with open arms, patient and kind and just as obsessed with me as ever. The "negotiated estrangement" I'm feeling is all my own doing.

Yesterday, Tim picked back up in our study of John, and spoke on John 12 - a chapter that describes why people chose not to follow Jesus. Some, even though they saw His miracles and heard Him speak, just didn't believe it. Some, though, did believe, but were afraid. Not on a deep spiritual level, but on an incredibly shallow, vain, prideful level - they were afraid of what the other people would say about them. They cared more for the praise of man than the praise of God. I can say mean things about them, because I am one of them.

Why do I live my life the way I do? I dress nicely because I'm vain. I spend more money than I should on CD's and books because I'm shallow and selfish. I watch TV all the time because I'm lazy. I buy lots of good food because I'm a glutton. I waste time thinking about boys because I'm lustful. I think mean thoughts because I'm petty and jealous. I don't work as hard as I should because I'm not as compassionate towards my clients as I should be. The list goes on, but you get the picture.

I'm really struggling, this week, with how to make some major changes in my mindset, and then in my life. I think getting rid of the television is a start. As is another go-through of my closet, for more clothes to take to Graceworks. And redoubling my determination on some of these court cases.

And getting back in the word and in prayer. Obviously, you might think, but you'd be wrong. This is an area I struggle with almost more than any other.

I am on a new leg of this journey. I know I'm not the only one. Now try to get that Michael Jackson song out of your head.

More Love for Portland Brew

I ran into an old friend yesterday at Portland on 12th Ave South. Brandon and I met in high school, through our friend Lisa (who, in a very weird coincidence, works at Portland Brew). They both went to Hillsboro High School, and were in the Sophisticats, Hillsboro's show choir. Every fall they would do a lot of fundraising, including working at company picnics around town. I worked at every one of those they did for four years. Brandon and I always ended up working in the same both, and had a blast. I even took him to our junior/senior banquet (prom without the dancing).

Anyway, I hadn't seen him in at least five years. We sat and chatted for a bit about what we are doing now, and what we've been doing for the last several years. He is a Christian songwriter, and has recorded a couple of albums. Right now, he's in negotiations for a recording contract with one of the labels here in town. He gave me a copy of his EP, and it's good.

He was always the one we knew would "make it", though. One year, he entered and won the Grammys in the Schools contest, and sang in a chorus at the Grammy awards that year. I'm so proud of everything he's accomplished.

So this is me spreading the word. His website has a little information, most importantly the link to buy his CD's.

Oh, and he's playing at Pepperdine sometime in the next week or so, for those of you who live out there, apparently in the student center. Sorry I don't know more, but if you get a chance to hear him, you should.


I walked up to the shelter right at 3:00, and checked in with the front desk. The rest of my group was coming later, but they put me right to work in the kitchen. Restaurants are still donating all of the meals, so once we got the hot things in the oven and the cold things in the fridge, there was time to kill before supper officially started. By this time, Steven had shown up, and we headed out of the fellowship hall to find out where else we could help.

As we headed toward the door, I noticed an older woman having trouble with a packet of sour cream. She was in a wheel chair, and had snow white hair and no teeth. She was working on a baked potato left over from lunch, and just couldn't quite get the packaging to tear open. So I walked over to ask her if she needed help. She beat me to the punch, though, and as soon as she noticed me, held the packet out toward me and asked if I could get it open. After a minute's struggle, I did, and she fixed her potato.

I sat down in a chair across the table and began to talk with her. I never did find out her name, though - she had so much else to say! She was funny and fiery and determined. She was diabetic, and had lost one leg to the disease; hence the wheelchair. I asked where she had come from, and she said Louisiana. Her whole town was wiped out, but was too small to show up on the news, she said. I asked about her family, and she said everyone had made it out as far as she knew, except that she hasn't heard from her sister. She doesn't know if something happened to her, or if she's in another shelter somewhere, unable to get in touch with anyone.

At this point, her daughter came in to tell her about a couple of possibilities for housing. The mother told her she didn't really care, as long as it wasn't too noisy. As soon as her house was fixed, she was going back. Even if it took years. Then she added, "And when my husband is well enough to move." I asked where he was; she said he is in Baptist Hospital in Nashville. Apparently, she and her husband and daughter evacuated ahead of the storm. At that point, though, there were no shelters to go to, and so they spent the first two nights where they could. The second night, they found a house with room for her and her daughter, but not her husband, and so he slept in the car. He has a heart condition, and when they got up the next morning, he was very ill. By the time they got to the shelter in Franklin, he was sick enough that he was taken straight to the hospital.

She teared up at this point - not at the loss of house and home, but at the possibility of losing her husband. They've been married 54 years - the only man she's ever known. Well, except for her first marriage, she said, but she forgets about that one. It didn't last long, cause she only married the guy to get out from under her father's thumb. But she didn't regret it, she said, because she never would have met the love of her life. Together they have 7 children, 17 or 18 grandchildren (she quit counting) and 4 great-grandkids. I told her I would pray for her and her husband. She thanked me, and told me again, "I'm gonna go back, no matter how long it takes. Home is home."

The director of the shelter came in at that point, with another job for me to do. The woman's daughter had come back in, so I left her mother in her more than capable hands, and went to work the phones for the next few hours. This wonderful woman was the only evacuee/refugee/displaced person I was able to spend any time with, but I'm glad I got to know her a little bit. I hope they find a place to stay soon, and that her husband can join them. I pray they find her sister, and that something is left of her house. I hope she can go back home, and be surrounded again by her dozens of offspring. God bless all of us as we continue to try to come to terms with the magnitude of what the Gulf Coast is dealing with.

Janus and the Ceiling

FYI, Harding has rescinded its invitation to Ann Coulter, thank goodness. That's all I can say about it.


So - back to the fun London stories.

One afternoon, my roommate Taleen was napping in her room while I read in mine. All of a sudden, she started screaming like I have never heard screaming before. I ran back to her room, sure that the water heater (in her closet) had exploded, or someone had broken in and was murdering her, or something equally horrific.

When I opened her door, I nearly hit her with it. She had jumped from her bed several feet across the room. A large chunk of the ceiling, rotted around the edges, was lying on the foot of her bed. Dust was floating in the air and settling onto everything. We looked up to see a huge hole opening up to the flat above ours, and several Polish construction workers looking down at us. From somewhere beyond them, a disembodied voice said, "Sorry."

It was hilarious, once we had calmed down enough to appreciate the humor. They got the floor/ceiling fixed rapidly, and made a fuller apology in person a little later. But I will never forget Janus and his supervisees peering in, looking just as horrified to see us as we were to see them. Ah, good times.

Sweet Home Alabama

Day One, Friday: We load up and leave Franklin at about 7:30 a.m. We fill up at a Shell station on the way out of town. So far, so good. The drive down is uneventful. For a Labor Day weekend, that's a nice change. During our drive we pass a handful of convoys, presumably headed to the coast to help with cleanup. There are mostly military groups, camouflaged trucks with unknown contents. But there are also convoys of presumably private truckers, carrying construction equipment and building supplies. I am moved to tears to see the way everyone is headed to help. On the way, we stop to get gas every chance we get. We never have to wait in line, although there are some stations with no supply. Prices are still reasonable, about $2.79-2.89 a gallon. By late afternoon we are in Orange Beach. There are two cars besides ours in the condominium parking lot. The beach is practically deserted. We go out for a little while, and come in when it gets dark.

Day Two, Saturday: We sleep in a little, and take our time eating breakfast and getting ready. We finally head out to the water about 11:00. From our eleventh-floor balcony, we can see families trickling out to the shoreline, but so far there aren't very many. We conclude that the crowds must be on the way. The wind and rain from Katrina have cause some problems here, but not as much as in other areas. This area (between Pensacola and Gulf Shores) is still mostly worried about recovering from Hurricane Ivan, last year's big storm. Our unit has hurricane-proof windows that didn't break under Katrina's force, but some water did seep in around the edges, leaving the area rug damp. It had been cleaned by the time we got there, though.

We walk out to the beach, and settle in just in front of the complex's lounge chairs; it costs $20 to rent a set of chairs and an umbrella for the day, and we have our own, so we decline the rental. Katrina has brought to this beach some extra sand: about 10 feet from the water's edge, a sandbar sticks up out of the water. Inland of the sandbar, the water is shallow, with a weak current. Perfect as a play area for the younger kids out there. Small fish swarm through it, looking for food, and running from nets wielded by excited 4-year-olds. Beyond the bar, the water is calm and incredibly clear. Twice we see a small shark (a different one each time) come close to shore, after those same small fish my cousins are chasing. There are also scattered jellyfish and an occasional stingray.

The woman who sets up her beach accoutrements beside us is from just outside of Buloxi. She and her immediate family evacuated here. Her extended family (parents, siblings) stayed home. Some of them were lost in the storm. The ones who survived lost everything. She is lucky, because her house is still standing, albeit with a tree in the roof. Over the next two days, she sits on the beach, watching her kids play in the surf, and making phone calls back to Mississippi, trying to find someone who can help her get her house fixed, so they can return home.

Every morning, a dozen or so military helicopters fly overhead, flying west from Pensacola to help with the rescue efforts. Every afternoon, they fly back. Every time, most of us standing on the beach stop what we're doing to wave at them. It's not much, but we want them to know we see what they're doing, and we are all incredibly proud of what they have accomplished. We know, too, that they will do this for an untold number of days, and want to encourage them.

Very few people arrive during the day. We have the beach mostly to ourselves. It is wonderfully relaxing.

That night, we decide to go out to dinner. Baldwin county is still under a curfew, but we aren't planning to be out too late. We clean up and get dressed, and decide to go to Lulu's in Gulf Shores. Lulu's is run by Jimmy Buffet's sister Lucy; he is her principal investor. Saturday night, Labor Day Weekend, 7:00 p.m., a popular restaurant owned by a celebrity, with live music. And we didn't have to wait for a table. There were only a handful of cars on the roads. My mom and uncle both called it a ghost town at the same time. It was quite eerie.

As I said before, the region is still cleaning up from last year, and Katrina has slowed that effort down. Resources are being sent west, where there are more immediate needs. We drive past rows of dark buildings, where the power hasn't yet been restored. Cranes tower over half-built and half-repaired structures, their crews also sent west. Sand has been blown and washed in for half a mile; in places, you can't tell where driveways and parking lots are. Most of the vegetation is dead. The trees are brown, having drowned in last year's onslaught. The newer, younger plants are yellow, having just perished. The beach houses are beautiful - new, colorful, interesting, and large. In good times, this must be a gorgeous place. But for now, it's just creepy.

We eat a wonderful meal (Jack has the aptly named Cheeseburger in Paradise; Charlie throws up his grilled shrimp, having drunk too much soda with it) and head home.

Day Three, Sunday: We forego church services in favor of one last day on the water. We get a little earlier start today, heading out at 9:30. The beach is still lifeless. There are people out there, to be sure, but not nearly what you would expect on this weekend. This should be the busiest weekend of the year for this town, and it looks like the middle of the week during the school year. The sandbar is still there, but smaller, and the water has become a little more active.

The guy in charge of the lounge chairs and umbrellas walks over to where we're setting up. He begins to install an umbrella, and my aunt tells him we didn't want one. He says it's okay, he's not going to charge us. Apparently, the day before, no one had rented one all day, and he's now bored. We accept the umbrella and give him a good tip.

Charlie and I take a walk down to the seawall by the marina. It is clear that the condominium complex we have rented from has made a real effort to clean up the beach it is adjacent to. Beyond it, the sand is filled with trash, seaweed, driftwood, and general stuff. There are dead fish in the water. It is just gross. It doesn't take us long to decide to go back to "our" beach.

That night, we again head out for a nice meal, deciding on the Crab Trap. My aunt and cousins had eaten there before, and enjoyed it. It's a casual seafood place, right on the beach, with a small playground for the kids to enjoy while we waited for our food. (Again, there was no wait for a table.) The special of the night was all-you-can-eat crab legs for $14.99. The manager told us he was losing a lot of money on the deal, but it was at least getting people in the door, and they were ordering other things as well, so some money was coming in. Again, for Labor Day weekend, a pretty bleak story.

Day Four, Monday: I got up early to spend one last morning on the beach. The waves were much higher, and Charlie and I finally got some use out of the boogie board his dad had bought him. One more wave at the helicopters, one more sting ray chased by a bunch of excited children, one more hour spent lying half in the water, soaking in the sun and salt and wind. Mom and I pack up and head out. I have to be in court this morning (and am about to go back this afternoon), so we come back a day earlier than the rest of them. We stop for food and gas on the way out of town: $2.97 a gallon.

We don't hit any traffic at all until we're past Montgomery, and it never gets too bad. Which is nice for a holiday. We stop for gas a couple of times on the way back. Gas prices never go about $3 for regular until after we cross into Tennessee. We get home in less than 8 hours, unpack and return to reality.

This weekend was so relaxing for me. I needed 4 days on the beach. I didn't see any real devastation, just some minor damage, but it was still easy to understand just how much of an impact Katrina will have on this region for years to come. And so I leave you with a simple request: Beyond whatever help you're giving - donations, packing supplies, whatever - if you are already planning on going to the beach this year, and don't know where you want to go, please consider this area. They are in desperate need of tourist dollars. Labor Day Weekend should have been a huge time for them, with a lot of extra income that most of the businesses depend on to make it through tighter months. They didn't get that this year, and with the effect the storm will have on the economy along the coast, many of these restaurants and stores are probably in real danger of not lasting another year. So, if you can, consider a long weekend down there. It'll do you some good to get away; you know it will. And it will go a long way toward helping the coast recover from this tragedy.

An Adventure

Okay, folks, I'm on my way to Orange Beach. As in, Alabama. As in, got hit by Katrina.

My aunt and uncle and cousins have rented a condo, and invited me and my parents to go with them. So early in the morning, we will load up in an Excursion and a Maxima, and begin our journey. The mayor of Orange Beach has said that they are up and running and ready for Labor Day, and desperate for the dollars we tourists will spend. So I'm going to do my part to help the hurricane victims by lying on a beach for three days.

Seriously, though, this is going to be an adventure on several levels.

The first and obvious one is that we're going to take a road trip with three young boys. A trip that normally would take 8 hours, but will probably be longer because of closed roads. At least we have two cars, and the Excursion has a DVD player.

The actual state of the beach is pretty unknown at this point. Although it supposedly is mostly clean, the city is still warning people to just be careful, and look carefully before settling down on the sand.

I'm taking a camera (a crappy one, though) and plenty of film. Voyeuristically, I'm intrigued by the images on TV, and curious as to what we'll encounter. I'm hoping to capture the contrast between the devastation to the impoverished and the luxuries of the resort/tourist business of the region. There is a real irony there, in my mind. It does feel a little bit self-indulgent to be leaving to vacation in an area so recently torn up, but really, there's no reason for us not to go.

So I'm hoping to have something interesting to report next week. Oh, and I still owe you the story about Taleen's ceiling and the Polish construction workers. Until then, I wish you all cheap gas and a happy Labor Day!

PS - Does it bother anyone else to see all of the reporters and news crews talking to stranded, hungry, and desperate people in New Orleans? I mean, couldn't they just send their news helicopters and boats to help get people off of their roofs and to safety?

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