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Acts of God

Sunday Sundries … Windows of Opportunity

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Courtesy: The Worlds Havoc

The weather has been on our side as of late. It has been just beautiful here on our side of the country. However not so much out West. From Ice Bergs on the East Coast to Sun in the Center and finally rain and floods out West, it hasn’t been a cake walk for so many. We are keeping many in our thoughts and prayers.

I’ve had a jumble of thoughts running through my head as I work on my fourth step work, and as that work coincides with readings from literature, my brain has been on overdrive for a few days. And rather than sit here and drop verbal diarrhea, I have spent the past few days sitting on my thoughts, allowing them space, and trying to find the balance of feeling what is there on the surface, and then being cool with letting them go, and not hanging on to shit that has nothing to do with today.

It is one thing to speak to my guys and then my friends and giving them sound advice, it is quite another thing to listen and take my own advice on board. I am a work in progress.

My fears, guilt, and resentment lists are short, but what is on the lists is strong and potent. The past is just that, the past. It has no bearing on the present, or on the day.

Estrangement is a funny beast.

I have problems coping, as an Adult, with how another human being can just shut off one’s light off and plunge them into darkness as a punishment for sin or non-compliance.

How does one live with themselves when you intentionally place another human being in the DARK?

You silence their voice and kill their spirit.

How does one go on with life, knowing that your voice is not important, and that your life is not important in the grand scheme of things?

When we are born, we have family. Whether good or bad, it is out of our control.

We grow up and find our way into the world, on whatever path we take. I certainly went through my fuck up phase. I did my own damage. But in the same breath, damage was done to me as well.

Post fuck up phase, we move into our age of enlightenment. I got it once, and I got it a second time. I made my series of life decisions that were meant to keep me alive, fed and a roof over my head.

Family is supposed to be thicker than blood. Family is the most important part of our lives, either the one we came from, or the one we create on our own. I did not choose my family of origin. They are the ones who shut my light off.

Today, I have my family of choice. And that has worked for me.

The time had come for me to sever the connection with family of origin. Because that was a toxic situation. Today, I am guilty of many things. I made self serving choices. Self centered choices, that were necessary for my life to move forwards.

But that light switch is still off. And it will never get turned back on.

OMENS

Some time ago, an omen came to me. It appeared and it happened more than once.

This omen has presented itself to me before. And always took place after a death. And I respect this omen as truth. But this time there was not one but two omens to appear. They came as a pair.

I blew it off as coincidence.

But the more I ponder them, the more it has become clear to me that it wasn’t just coincidence. They were sent. I had no part in the sending. But I was part to the appearance. I know what the omen means.

So that is a thing.

I know I can’t change what’s done. And I am coming to accept that I won’t ever get to speak my mind, as I think I need to. Because at this point, what is it going to matter? What good could come of it?

I made the shift. I had to make it. That was what had to happen, to guarantee my survival. People got bent. We are all adults. It is sad that as an adult, my decisions were seen as a slight and irreconcilable. How does that work?

Do you parents punish your kids when they make adult decisions? We all make decisions in life. And most likely, not everyone may be happy with the decisions we make, but I would have thought, maybe stupidly, that people would grow to respect and acknowledge our truth.

That did not happen.

And that is a thing.

One day, thanks to social media, and the progress of communication, the people who need to find me, when they get to make that decision, will. I am hoping that one day we will all find the pieces.

Because like Troy Dunn says, “You can’t find peace, until you find all the pieces.”

My puzzle is in pieces.

So that is a thing.

There is a storm blowing about, and I am in the eye of the storm, so to speak. As long as I stay in the center, eventually it will all work out.

You can either get stuck in the storm or you can navigate around it. I hope with my time (in) that I have learned how to navigate.

So that is a thing.

More to come, stay tuned …


Spiritual Experience

John Paul in Chapel

If you know anything about the Late Pontiff John Paul II, then you would know that this is the place he spent a great deal of his time – the apostolic Chapel in the pope’s private residence in the papal apartments.

I bring this up because we read from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, “Spiritual Experience.”

I’ve been in a “right state” these past few days. And my friends have been on top of things making sure I don’t crack up. That’s why I am friends with certain people, because they invest in my life. And there are times, when we talk, that I am sure that God is present amongst us.

As Spiritual Experiences go, I have had a few in  my life, and the most important ones came well before I ever hit the room of A.A.

My presentation to God by my Grandmother comes to mind when I was a child.

The two appearances of my friend David after his death when I was in seminary.

Going to Rome, getting to see John Paul II in person twice in a years time.

Visiting the Vatican, touring the catacombs, and climbing the staircase to the top of the cupola of the Vatican looking down over St. Peter’s Square and the Papal Gardens. And attending mass IN the Vatican, how many people can claim a visit like this to the Vatican?

As I drank my way across Europe as a young man, I had this sober experience of God, in one of the most hallowed locations in Christendom.

For the whole of my young life I knew God. And He knew who I was. We were close for a very long time, and I believe now that it was God and faith that contributed to my surviving my life as it was lived.

After my expulsion from Seminary, I turned on God, thinking that He had turned on me. But now I know that the men who spoke for God, were egos and attitudes and men who, later on, fell from grace, in their own time.

God cleared the score, so to speak.

I can’t tell you that I was steeped in the Book the first time I got sober, but I did read at meetings and with my sponsor, but like I have said before, there were other matters on the table that took precedence over life, like survival…

When I came in the second time, the book was presented to us, as were the steps, prior to my coming to Montreal. And at the end of my first year of sobriety I worked my steps in a Step group the First time.

That is when I read “There is a solution” and in that chapter we are introduced to Appendix II and Spiritual Experience.

The book actually refers you to this reading, AS you read the book. It appears in the first few chapters almost inviting you to partake. But how many people, at that point in early sobriety, are ready to take that leap of faith and understand and accept a religious axiom or religious concept.

The out there is Genius. Bill W gives us his explanation.

“GOD as WE understood Him.”

Have I experienced Spiritual Experiences in Sobriety? Yes.

It took some time, going to the same meetings, in the same space, for a period of time that I grew able to recognize them in others, and not necessarily in myself.

My sober theorem states:

In life, where ever we are, we carry, above our heads, a blinking sign. That sign flashes what is going on in our hearts and heads.

We cannot see the sign, but others can.

I have proved this theorem at my home group, the space called St. Leon’s Church.

You come to the doors outside. And you come down 12 steps. How providential.

I grew able to see the signs of all the folks who came to our meeting, and later ALL the meetings that I attend in that room, over the past twelve years. Newly sober people have varied signs. Saying many things.

And as you return, over and over, those signs change. As people get sober and change, so does the sign.

Today, I go to meetings with my friends. I admit that I pick and chose who I choose to spend my time with. Since the Round Up, I have grown picky in my choice of those I share my life with. My friends are intuitive. They are smart, and they invest in our lives of each other. And I appreciate this so much, because I know my friends have my back.

You can’t go to a meeting and not invest. I mean you can, it’s been done. Folks who come to a meeting and warm a chair, but do not engage or invest. And that is a terrible things. But it is to be expected in early sobriety. Newly sober people cannot invest in others, until they stop existing in their heads making everything about themselves. While the ego is in motion, folks are unapproachable.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego…

For me, every meeting has the potential to be a spiritual experience. Because you never know what someone else is going to say on varied topics we speak about at meetings, be it from the book, a topic or an open discussion.

Over the past twelve years, almost, I have seen countless people come to their first spiritual experience. Sitting in a group in St. Leon’s hall, someone realizes something BIG, when the elevator rises to the top of the tower and the light goes on, and the experience takes place.

I can tell you that God favors that hall. Because I have seen Him move amongst the people many times. And to be blessed to be able to see with those eyes, God move in a room, is a blessing. And that doesn’t come over night, it comes over years.

I am eternally grateful for my friends in the rooms tonight. A few in particular who went out of their way to be with me over the past few days. To be in places that I might travel in hopes of speaking to me in private – outside the room.

We hosted a small group, but we went the entire hour.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Indulgences

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tumblr_mq45jul6dU1qzgghfo1_1280This topic is moving around social media tonight. You can follow Pope Francis @Pontifex

I wonder if indulgences are conditional on sexual orientation???


Pope Francis clears John Paul II for sainthood, decides to canonize John XXIII without miracle

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By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Friday cleared two of the 20th century’s most influential popes to become saints, approving a miracle needed to canonize Pope John Paul II and waiving Vatican rules to honour Pope John XXIII.

It was a remarkable show of papal authority and confirmed Francis’ willingness to bend church tradition when it comes to things he cares deeply about. Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council’s role in shaping the church today.

Francis approved a decree that a Costa Rican woman’s inexplicable cure from a deadly brain aneurism was the “miracle” needed to canonize John Paul. More significantly, he decided that John XXIII, who convened Vatican II, could be declared a saint even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and could proceed with only one confirmed miracle to John’s name.

The ceremony is expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as likely, given it’s the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church that honours Mary, to whom both saintly popes were particularly devoted. Polish prelates continue to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Polish-born John Paul’s election, but Vatican officials have suggested that’s too soon to organize such a massive event.

The announcement came on a remarkable day melding papacies past and present: It opened with Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attending their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens. It continued with the publication of Francis’ first encyclical, a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired but was signed by Francis. And it climaxed with Francis’ decision to canonize two other predecessors.

Each event, historic on its own, would have captured headlines. But the canonization announcement capped them all, reflecting the priorities of this unique pontificate that has already broken so many rules and traditions, from Francis’ decision to shun papal vestments to his housing arrangements, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the stuffy Apostolic Palace.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican analyst, said the decision to canonize both popes was a “brilliant move to unify the church,” given that each pope has his own admirers and critics.

“With the joint announcement, Pope Francis is saying we do not have to choose between popes, we can honour and revere both as holy men who served the church well in their times,” he wrote on his blog for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

Vatican II, which John XXIII opened a year before his 1963 death, opened the church to people of other faiths and allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the faithful, rather than Latin. In the years since it closed in 1965, though, it has become a source of division in the church, with critics blaming a faulty interpretation of Vatican II’s true meaning on the fall in priestly vocations and the “crisis” in the church today.

To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis’ decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul, who attended Vatican II, and is very much a priest of John’s legacy.

On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both John Paul and John XXIII — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

“Two different popes, very important to the church, will be announced saint together – it’s a beautiful gesture,” said the Rev. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Poland’s Catholic bishops, who like most Poles was overjoyed by the news of John Paul’s impending canonization but impatient to know the date.

Francis will set the date at an upcoming meeting of cardinals.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the miracle that brought John Paul to the ranks of saints concerned a Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora, who on Friday broke months of silence to tell her story in public, surrounded by her family, doctors and church officials at a news conference in the archbishop’s residence in San Jose, Costa Rica.

A tearful Mora described how she awoke at her home in Dulce Nombre de Tres Rios, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital, on April 8, 2011 with a debilitating headache that sent her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral aneurism in the right side of her brain.

Doctors decided they couldn’t operate because the area was inaccessible.

“With an open operation or an endovascular intervention, the risk to Floribeth would have been to die or be left with a significant neurological deficit,” her doctor, Dr. Alejandro Vargas, told reporters.

She was sent home with painkillers.

“I returned home with the fear that I was going to die,” Mora said.

Nevertheless, a few days later, she insisted on participating in a religious procession during which she said she received a sign that she would be healed. The family decided to build a shrine to John Paul outside their home: a colorful altar with a photo of the late pope next to a statue of the Madonna and surrounded by flowers, candles and Christmas lights.

On the day John Paul was beatified, May 1, 2011, Mora said she insisted on watching the Mass, which drew some 1.5 million people to St. Peter’s Square and the streets around it.

“I contemplated the photo of the Holy Father with his arms extended and I fixed my eyes on him,” she said. “In this moment, I heard a voice tell me ‘get up, don’t be afraid,’ and I could only say ‘Yes, I’m going to get up.'”

She said her family was shocked to see her get out of bed. “I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was going to think I was crazy or on drugs. But I got up from bed, and I am here before you, healthy,” she said.

Medical tests confirmed that the aneurism had disappeared, Vargas said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it,” he said, showing the before and after images of the hemorrhage.

John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005, revolutionized the papacy, travelling the world and inspiring a generation of young Catholics to be excited about their faith. He was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years — a legacy that continued with the German-born Benedict XVI and Argentine Francis.

John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope” for his affable nature, is best known for having convened Vatican II, sensing that the time was ripe for a renewal of the church. But he has fallen from favour among conservatives who blame Vatican II for the church’s problems today.

Benedict spent much of his pontificate trying to correct what he considered wrong interpretations of Vatican II, insisting it wasn’t the break from the past that liberals believed.

While not disagreeing outright with Benedict, Francis seems to take a more progressive read of Vatican II and its call to go out into the world and spread the faith — a priority he has shown in the first months of his pontificate.

The two living popes, however, clearly get along.

“Your holiness, good day and thank you!” Francis beamed on Friday as he greeted Benedict in the Vatican gardens for the unveiling of the statue. Benedict, 86, appeared in good form, walking slowly but on his own and greeting well-wishers.

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a “miracle” was performed through the intercession of the candidate — a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his John Paul’s death. Benedict was responding to chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Immediately” which erupted during John Paul’s funeral.

There has been some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See’s deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Thus the decision to canonize John Paul along with John XXIII can be seen as trying to balance those concerns, as well as the shortcomings of each pope.

Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope,” alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

As soon as the announcement was made, John Paul’s critics came out: Juan Vaca, one of the victims of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, said the decision to canonize John Paul was “appalling and shocking” given the thousands of victims of sex abuse who were ignored under his 27-year pontificate.

The Vatican has argued that sainthood cases are based on the record of the person, not the pontificate.

Asked how John XXIII, elected in 1958, could be canonized without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believe that a second miracle isn’t required. He said Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican’s saint-making office.

“Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened,” Lombardi said.

He stressed that this decision didn’t represent any relaxing of the Vatican’s overall standards for canonization, but represented a unique situation, given that the church this year is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

“John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we’re in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don’t think any of us have any doubts about his virtues,” Lombardi said.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul’s longtime secretary, was clearly pleased that his pope would finally be made a saint.

“John Paul II’s holiness was simple, humble, of service,” Dziwisz wrote in Friday’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. “He lived for God and brought others to God.”

___

Javier Cordoba in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.


Ode to Armageddon …

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Sinai photographed from STS 109 – Shuttle Columbia March 1,2002 …

I’d imagine that if Armageddon was going to take place, this is the place we would imagine the first strike to take place, or the first event. It is 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning. Nothing happened, or should I say, nothing has happened

YET !!!

If you are a listener of Late Night Radio, ala Coast to Coast for any length of time you would know that all the crazies in the world listen to this show night after night. And we have been all through the list of crazies over the last year.

We have the ads for end of days Armageddon style food sales, you know, just for those moments when a disaster takes place and you need those ready to eat meals, They aren’t just for earthquakes and hurricanes Yall !!! If you have a spare couple of hundred dollars that you can plunk down for mass storage food stuffs, and you gotta have a place to put it all, and who has a spare bomb shelter in their property portfolio ???

I hear in UTAH that there are bunkers that have been prepared for today’s calamity to take place. I have also heard that the cleansing of the righteous from the non-righteous will take place today. That God is going to cleanse the earth of the sinful and errant peoples. That only the righteous will be saved from God’s judgment.

There is a town in Southern France that is supposed to be a vortex location and that when the earth meets its end, that the aliens are going to appear there and take away all those who fled to the safety of this mountain perch.

All over the tv tonight have been every kind of end of days programming. People trying to divine what the Mayans were trying to say and what that damned calendar and glyphs really have to say, since they are woefully incomplete, and the end story is all up to conjecture.

We’ve heard over the last year all those good preacher men who have foretold of the coming Apocalypse and twice they were wrong and God did not come screaming out of his heaven to take us all to heaven and send all the sinners to hell.

That would mean all of us LGBTQ folks. Because homosexuality is all so sinful and errant of God’s ways … Oh, I kid …

Did you partake in the hysteria of the end of days? Did you buy into the end of the world? Are you hoarding food, guns, ammunition and all kinds of food stuffs? Because you know, when the end comes later today it is going to be utter anarchy in the streets. People clawing and fighting for food and guns.

And those who are prepared for the end will be hunkered down in their bunkers and nuclear safe type hovels defending themselves from the marauding hordes of people who did not listen to the council of the folks who have spent the better part of the last year telling us all this it is coming and you’d better be prepared.

All this talk of financial ruin coming to the U.S. The wars over seas and the Arab spring running into Arab Winter. You never know if the Anti-Christ is going to rise from the desert sand of the Middle East somewhere like Iran or some other backwater Middle Eastern country. Because like I said above, if Armageddon was going to take place, you’d probably be looking over there for him.

I have read that the sun isn’t going to erupt in some hellish solar flare that is going to knock out the electrical and communications grids all over the world. And at this hour, I haven’t read of any earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions taking place anywhere in the world.

And when you wake and come upon this entry – having said your prayers to whatever God you pray to the night before, you will rise and the sunrise will be glorious – just like the day before.

And I am sure on Friday night on Coast to Coast they will be hosting a night of checking in with all those folks who have added to the mass hysteria that today is supposed to unleash on humankind.

Did the ancients get it right? Will we come to rise above ourselves and grow in spiritual awakening? Will we rise to the next level of humanity overnight? And what have we learn in this exercise of preparing ourselves for the end of the world. And what will we say to all those folks who are hiding in their bomb shelters as I write this.

Will we see a nuclear Armageddon from the East? Because if we do, for those of us who could not afford a bomb shelter – we are all goners … So I guess before I go to bed I should say my final prayers – kiss my ass goodbye and hope to wake up tomorrow morning.

Today my husband is traveling to Ottawa to see his family, and it may be his last meeting with them if we are to believe that something BIG will take place tomorrow some time. Who knows.

It’s the end of the world as we know it. And when you wake tomorrow – what kind of world will it be? And what will we say to all those crazies out there sitting in their bomb shelters and on mountain tops and those fleeing the big cities into the interior of the United States and Europe because the oceans are going to swell and swallow up all the coastal land. God forbid you know that volcano on the Canary Islands that is supposed to blow its peak and send a tsunami across the Atlantic and submerge the entire East Coast of the United States.

You are all FUCKED !!!

Shall we make a prediction of what all will happen the day after tomorrow?

Sit tight. I will report more as the day progresses.

More to come, stay tuned …


Spirits About …

It is probably not unthinkable that spirits inhabit the churches in Montreal. Many of them have been built long ago. Many religious properties in our city housed nuns and priests and monks. Where the religious have gone, sacred spaces have been re-appropriated by the city as historical buildings and cannot be torn down, but can be updated to meet new specifications.

In the basement of the Grey Nun’s Mother house, just up the block from us, houses the remains of past grey nuns who lived and died in the house, buried in the crypt beneath the building. Once the remaining nuns vacate the property the crypt will be cemented over forever. Down in that crypt were the resting places of Mere D’Youville before she was declared a saint.

My Aunt Georgette used to take me down there to pray and to see the relics and rooms that were preserved in her memory. Mere D’Youville was moved to a crypt beneath the main altar in the church above, until the building was sold to Concordia University. Mere D’Youville was moved from her resting place at the Mother House to another Mother House on the South Shore of Montreal, where the nuns will live. Which is where my aunt Georgette is buried.

I say all these things as a preface of what I am going to write about now…

God has been known to make appearances at St. Leon’s Church hall, during really good meetings. The light comes down from the church and alights on the folks in the room. I have seen this happen over the years at certain points in my journey, and those of the others.

Recently, as I come into the darkened hall on some afternoons, the air is cool and I am alone in the space for 2 hours prior to anyone coming in to read. I like that alone time. I enjoy it. I put on some tunes and I set up. When that is finished I go outside to people watch. Then I come back downstairs to read.

And that is when it happens. And it happened again today. I am sitting at the head of the table where I always sit, Barbra Streisand was singing Christmas Carols in my ear and I was thumbing through a Grapevine.

Several times while I was sitting there, just above my field of vision, I saw shadows move across the doorway from the entrance hall into the room itself. And it didn’t happen once, it happened several times. Almost like it wanted me to see it pass through. I was looking down, but to an extent I could just turn my gaze upwards towards the doors looking up from my book and see it.

I caught myself looking up several times as I was sitting there. Whatever it was, it moved soundlessly. And it almost hung in the doorway. This isn’t the first time that I have seen this shadow move into the room. And it is always when I am alone in the space.

I don’t know the exact history of the building save for the bronze plaque that sits outside the church and denotes its building history. The hall is a multi-use space. Several meetings use the hall, kids day programs and church functions take place there as well. And sometimes wakes and viewings happen in the hall, but it is quite a task carrying a coffin down those stairs into the hall and then back up again.

You never know who is visiting on any given day. Thousands of sober people have graced that hall over the past 75 years.

It is heart warming to be able to share the space with the spirits. I am not immune to this kind of phenomena. I’ve been visited before by departed family members over the years, so when I see it manifest I welcome it.

That space is blessed and God visits us on occasion … it is quite an awe inspiring vision of the holy.

That is all.

More tomorrow. Time for bed …


August 24 1992 … 20 years later … Hurricane Andrew

You can see in this photo SW 152 nd street shown on the map. This is the epicenter of the following story. There weren’t cell phones and round the clock live tv coverage. That would come later. But for Miami, Homestead and all points in between, this was a life changing storm that came and wrecked and also ended the lives of many people.

Let’s get started, shall we…

My parents were on vacation in Connecticut at this time, then. I went down to fortify the house not far from Cutler Ridge (Coral Reef Drive) 152nd street, and then retreated to Ft. Lauderdale to ride out the storm with friends.

After the storm passed, my boyfriend and I started the drive south. Where a 30 minute drive turned into 3 hours to get from where I was to where the house was.

After the storm and surveying the destruction, I had to call my parents and tell them not to come home because there was no home to come home to.

The further south one drove, the destruction got worse. I cut through coconut grove and up the southerly route off the highway, and there were boats in the middle of the streets.

BIG HUGE BOATS…

We finally reached the house. There were no trees standing. A 50 foot tree that grew outside my bedroom window was dropped on the house next door. The roof was peeled off from the front to the back of the house and into the pool along with the screen over the pool itself.

Trees all over the place, Big Huge Banyan Trees that must have been more than 50 years old were all upended and torn from the ground as far as the eye could see. It was all a big mess.

There was a 2 story apartment building directly behind our house and it looked as if someone took a saw and sawed off the 2nd floor into rubble. People who lived there were combing through concrete and shit to try and find what ever was left of their lives.

There were no electrical lines hanging, they were all down. There was no water. We were 7/10ths of a mile from the water. Those houses closest to the water were severely demolished.

Further south in Homestead looked like an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Everything was match sticks. Countless people out in the sticks west of the city disappeared into the swamps.

Thousands of people went unaccounted for and were missing, and it seemed nobody went looking for them.

After the fact, many years later,  I took a class on natural disasters here in Canada at Concordia University. One night my professor started lecturing on this topic using slides and book statistics, and I read along and found that the book we used gave statistics of deaths and losses. They got it all very wrong. I was like, these numbers are wrong. You can’t use these tables and charts. So I interrupted her lecture and gave my own impromptu lecture on the storm to the entire class sitting there in the lecture hall.

I guess nobody came into the area to talk to those of us who were there right after the storm and could attest to thousands of people disappeared off the face of the earth never to be found.

All those people who worked in the fields and those who lived so far out on the other side of Krome avenue were never heard from again. How many of these people were there illegally and had no warning or got evacuated out? We will never know, but the fact is that many people were lost and never reported as such in statistics.

The state called in the troops to set up soup kitchens and do security. We were issued special I.D.’s to get into devastated areas inside the inclusion zones all points south of the airport where things were demolished. It took weeks to clean up the fallen trees. I was moving between three houses to take care of the people under my care in my neighborhood.

There were so many downed trees in the streets that driving was difficult. I watched people looting stores and robbing houses that had been destroyed. Nights afterwards we slept at the top of the streets in our cars with shotguns loaded to keep out looters.

We lived in a middle class white neighborhood. On the West side of the highway US1 was mostly a black neighborhood. And there were great racial tension between the two worlds.My father being the racist bigot he was slept with his gun in his arms every night just wanting someone to come and fuck with him.

Everybody had lost a home, but it was the white folks who got looted from the other side of the highway. It was dangerous.

People were lined up for bags of ice fighting with one another it was terrible. People became the hunted and going from a human being to an animal trying to survive for a day was really hard. We had to fend for ourselves because help did not come for almost a week. And by then, in the streets, it was anarchy and violent.

They looted Cutler ridge mall. All the stores were fair game when it came to theft and dishonesty and the cops were at a real loss to control the people who had lost every ounce of civility and responsibility.

There were no grocery stores, no electricity and no water and no money. The banks had been blown away, and with no electricity, how do you work an ATM machine??? Everything was destroyed so my parents brought cash home with them so I could go buy supplies so far North …

It took some time before any semblance of reality was rebuilt. Stores slowly came back online after a time. But still we had to travel great distances to get things we needed because let’s face it everyone else was doing that as well. Too much demand and not enough supplies.

When there is no electricity and night falls, it is very dark. And very bleak. It was totally unnerving night after night, not knowing who was out there and if you were going to get hit during the night. People were on guard for a long time until the troops came in to set up checkpoints and secure what they could.

Finally the government sent the people trailers, at that time my parents were still living in the ruined state of the house sheltered in one of the rooms that still had some semblance of a roof overhead but my parents moved into that little travel trailer to live in.

Having no water, toilets and electricity was not fun. It was a very long time until they began to restring the electrical wires and re-attach the homes back onto the electrical grid.

I was working at RCI at the time. And daily orders for food, ice and sundries were made and delivered to us to bring into the city. I did not last long at this job. But they did provide for their employees for a good period of time. A lot was going on in my life at this time, I was doing what I could and help out, even if my father did not really want my help, because my brother was the “straight capable son who would save them, not the gay son.” But if it weren’t for me, they would never have made it one day without the help I gave them. I was there on day one, even if my parents recollection may differ from my own.

Meanwhile we were cleaning up debris, my parents were shopping and collecting goods to bring home by plane. It took them a week to get it all done. Who knew how hard it was to procure gas generators and get them shipped by plane and then cart all that shit home with luggage.

A week later after the storm, my parents flew into Miami with generators, canned food and supplies bought 1500 miles away. I could not convey the destruction that they were about to see because it didn’t seem that bad at the airport. I remember my father falling to his knees upon arriving at the destroyed house. It was one of the saddest moments in my life.

Every day I would go to work at the port, and after work take orders from all my neighbors and drive to points North and shop for sundries and supplies and deliver them before work the next day. This went on for months on end.

It took months to find a contractor that was reputable, because we got ripped off a shit ton of money by a crook. But eventually the house was rebuilt. Most of our neighbors moved out of that neighborhood after the fact. My parents moved to Sarasota.

It was the worst destruction I had ever seen in my life – and I lived in Miami for 30 years. Andrew destroyed Billions of dollars worth of homes. We lived on Coral Reef Drive on the East side of US1.

The Metro Zoo was destroyed and many animals were running loose in the neighborhood after the storm. All those houses out West of the Zoo were demolished.

Driving south from the airport down the Palmetto Highway the gradient of destruction grew worse the further south you got. Homestead was at Ground Zero. It took more than 10 years for them to rebuild the city.

That event is seared into my memory like a bad nightmare. And very cathartic to write about it once again.