Not feeling particularly poetic of late. Then this morning I had a moment. My cousin posted the words “Budapest Memorandum.” I thought, gosh, I don’t get such sing-song memos at my job. Then again, I don’t travel for work unless you count the Long Island Children’s Museum.
I said the words over and over, waking up the poetry in me. Budapest Memorandum. Budapest Memorandum. My memos sound like “report cards due” or “submit extra help logs.” Logs? Gross. Budapest: beautiful. Budapest Memorandum: sheer music. Say it again!
For a brief period this morning, I remained unaware of the weighty political import of these words.
But now that I understand, my poetic heart is deflated again. I feel betrayed by the beautiful sound of the phrase.
So in this entry I will not seek to inspire, or evoke. I will merely relay the recent goings-on in the life of a Sandy survivor, minus any romance.
Since last I wrote, our apartment flooded. I am not referring to the house that flooded in the storm—or the basement studio we rented last year that was twice submerged in sewage water backup—but the apartment we moved to in January so we wouldn’t have to smell human waste anymore.
We are paying rent for this apartment, because neither FEMA nor the new state Interim Mortgage Assistance program has come through for us. And New York Rising….
What a beautiful name. It once inspired; it once evoked. Especially when that first inspector came in September and swore, “There’s money. There’s so much money. If you lost your whole house you are getting a lot. My job is to help make you whole.”
Now the only thing “rising” is my anxiety. Last week we sat for nearly three hours with three people trying to unravel the thickening mystery that is our case. All we knew for sure at the end of the meeting was that our twisted corpse of a file was killed by incompetence, and that our award is negative zero dollars. Hopefully it is not possible for the government to make us actually PAY money for still not living in our house.
Oh wait–we already are.
Our disaster loan came due. Of course, it was reasonable that they should expect we’d be finished building after nearly a year. But it is not reasonable that a loan should supplant a grant in the “duplication of benefits” game.
We were, however, granted a deferment on the loan a few weeks ago because we were far from finished and Steve still didn’t have a job. He does now. And it’s a good thing, because we are expected to start paying down the note on the restaurant we bought into but had not yet benefitted from when the storm hit. The one Steve dedicated his entire Long Beach life to. The one that we will never get back. That restaurant.
All the while, we are trying to finish the outside construction in the snowiest January/February in New York history. Now, just into March, we are expecting another storm—on Monday, the day our insulation was scheduled to go in. We waited two weeks for this appointment, and nothing can happen inside the house until it is insulated.
Received in the mail this week:
-A Homeowners Insurance renewal notice for the construction period. If the house is not finished by April 15 we will pay $2750 for six months, again. Even if we move in on April 16, we can be refunded no more than 50%.
-A notice that our mortgage has again been sold. Imagine the paperwork involved in that when our mortgage company is holding $20,000 of our insurance money—and when we are trying to convince IMA to pay the mortgage we must continually prove we have.
Since last I wrote, we’ve also been trying to: reduce the amount of storage space we are paying for; finish report card comments and prepare and carry out a lesson for the principal; compose and compile a cocktail list for a new job at a new restaurant in Manhattan; repair a car twice damaged in snowstorms; collect and copy further paperwork for NY Rising; obtain the proper documentation from the architect, surveyor, and contractor—to give to the insurance company, New York Rising, and the city; pick out light fixtures and determine what changes in bathroom tile are needed; coordinate plumber, electrician, electric inspector, and surveyor, all before the insulation date which has since been postponed; insulate the pipes; file our taxes and apply for refunds for a dozen energy-efficient house features; stay warm and comfortable in a place where the heat goes out every day and there is still no door and I must wear muck boots to get to the closet; and deal with incessant pain in my neck and back.
This morning I caught some pre-Oscar party footage on the news, a clip with an actress talking about her dress. Her exact words were: “I feel comfortable and fun.”
I sat dumb for a minute, trying to compute. For a moment that sentiment, chirped by a glammed-up movie star, felt further from my experience than, say, “I just love slice-and-eat pinkie fingers.”
But then I realized, I have been given more comfort and fun in the past few weeks than even the best vacations of my past. Since last I wrote, we’ve been given an overnight NYC getaway, a wonderful lunch in the city, three dinners out, a master chef’s pasta demo and tasting, nourishing bread and pastry, a meaningful bottle of wine, cash surprises, a mani/pedi, an abundance of birthday meals and gifts, a ticket to a show, delicious take-home lunches and dinners—and another vehicle.
I may not be feeling very poetic, but
I found comfort and I found fun–
and dude, our siding’s almost done!