Thankful Thursday: Fighting Racism and Misogyny Requires Gratitude and Forgiveness, Not Hate

So, this happened.

It’s hard for me to figure out what’s more disgusting about this video.

The slurs? The fact that this woman spewed out the foulest language imaginable in front of her two young kids? The ease with which she jumped to racist talk when angry?

As the man in the video says, racism is alive and well.

We hear about it everyday. The recent Don Sterling episode was just one example in a very long history of discrimination and utter disregard for an entire race. As appalled as we all are when the story hits the front page, how often do we encounter this in our own backyards and do nothing?

I hear it at work in the stories my coworkers tell and the words they choose to describe people of other races:

Chinky eyes.

Dirty Mexican.

Speak English, you’re in America.

And it’s not just racism but misogyny as well. The way women are talked about, laughed at, criticized, or just plain condemned by those who work with me or near me is downright nauseating.

It shames me that I don’t stand up to it more. I could be like this guy and pull out my camera, record, and upload on YouTube. That’s what people do these days. And bravo to them for putting it out there. We need more people pushing this conversation into the mainstream.

Because as he said, racism is alive and well.

But is this really helping? We watch these videos, or read the rants on social media and people argue back and forth on message boards. People are outraged and express that anger through all kinds of outlets online or in person. Given how pervasive racism and misogyny are though, how much is any of it actually contributing towards tangible change?

I’m no saint. I judge and stereotype too. It’s easier for me to shut it out and just ignore it when I hear it from others, but I’m also quick to jump to conclusions. My experiences growing up led me to reject anything that pegged me (or anyone) into a racial profile and I stayed away from many aspects of my own cultural background as a result. I’ll admit that stems from my own insecurities which leads to a lack of understanding and unfair bias. Guilty as charged.

I spent most of my life defending the fact that I was Latino because I didn’t follow the preconceived notions of what a Latino looks like or acts like. It got to a point where I was so sick of having the conversation that I learned to tune out the racist talk. I am who I am, an amalgamation of the immigrant experience, New York urban upbringing, with a propensity for nerdy discourse and overthinking things. Take it or leave it.

But I’m beginning to question my ignorance. Not only have I lost out on embracing the beauty of my heritage, I’ve also become afraid to challenge others when I’m offended. By turning off my response to racism, I’ve become an uncomfortable bystander in moments when I really just want to turn to the person and ask them, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

I hate confrontations. I’ve gotten by, by staying out of the fray, observing but not commenting, judging but not acting, feeling guilty but not forgiving; and I realize how horrible that makes me feel.

I don’t know what the right answer is. Battling every single person who says something racist or misogynistic seems impossible. And besides, responding in kind with your own verbal onslaught doesn’t solve anything.

You judge, I judge, we all judge, but no one wins.

Nor am I a naive idealist who believes that one day we’ll live in a world without racism. It’s always been there because it’s bred out of fear. And fear is never going anywhere.

That said, we’ve come a long way this past century in so many incredible ways. We have freedoms in this country that others in the world fight and die for every day, without ever realizing those dreams.

I can send my future daughter to school and not have to worry that masked gunmen will pluck her out of her class and sell her to the highest bidder. #BringBackOurGirls

I can marry and divorce a man without having my family stone me to death. #YesAllWomen

I can go to school or take a job in any industry I want regardless of my gender. #YesAllWomen

Immigrants like my parents can came to this country without speaking the language, and raise five children with the resources and benefits provided by our government. They are then able to gain citizenship and continue to fight for their rights without censorship or reprisal. A huge win for two Latinos who came out of brutal poverty and dictatorship. #Latism

For all of that I am thankful.

It will take more experience and conversation for me to understand my place in the daily battles of us versus them.

I do know that the goal for myself and my loved ones is to change that to we, to embrace everyone without prejudice along any lines; race, gender, physical disability, mental health, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, job title…or any choices made that I just don’t understand because I can’t relate.

My hope is that I can pass this along to my children. That the day they see me angry in a parking lot, that I handle it constructively and mindful that my children are learning how to deal with difficult situations from my example. Nothing like this woman who chose to teach her children the worst, as they too started cursing at the man in the car.

Violence perpetuates violence. Racism perpetuates racism. It’s a cycle.

I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from some of the stickier subjects on this blog for different reasons. I didn’t even have the intention of posting something today, until I saw this video in my news feed. I’m sure I’ll come back to this post thinking I forgot an important point or wishing that I’d said something more eloquent or profound.

But I realize that all of that is besides the point. You can’t force people to change, but you do have a choice in how you react and treat those around you.

I chose to start this day with a reflection on my part in the dialogue around me. It’s a daily struggle for me to internalize all of the misguided ignorance I hear, but I also know that there are many people out there who don’t share those thoughts. I’m relying on my faith that soon I’ll be out of this environment and around like-minded company who can at least participate in a constructive conversation about the topic. For now, I have this blog and all of you.

This was a stream of consciousness meant to unburden some of these pent up feelings, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

What did you think about the video?

How do you choose to deal with hurtful comments that are racist or misogynistic in nature?

Why do we have such a hard time accepting people of other cultures or the opposite sex?

What are you thankful for this week?

Thankful Thursday 6-5-14

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on FB and Twitter.

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3 Health Benefits of Mindful Eating

3 Benefits of Mindful EatingWhen was the last time you sat down to eat without your phone, tablet or television turned on in front of you? Were you mindful about the foods you ate? How did this impact your health?

In our rush to get from one activity to the next, eating often gets pushed back as a task on a to-do list. We race to get something to eat, to then stuff our faces while our minds are concentrating on anything but the foods on our plates and then we hurry back to our desks to finish checking off things from that never-ending list.

Eating becomes a mechanical act. We bite, we chew, we swallow, barely giving thought to what we’re actually doing.

I had this experience recently with a pear. There I was, reading an article about how healthcare technology is putting patients back in the driver’s seat for their health, and inhaling my pear. Literally, gobbling it down without sparing a thought to the flavor or texture or how it was nourishing my body. I just went through the robotic motions of biting, chewing, and swallowing while my eyes were glued to the screen.

About halfway through my pear, I stopped and realized how awful this was. The irony of what I was doing juxtaposed with what I was reading wasn’t lost on me either. It was mid-morning and I was already starving. The pear was meant to get me past that hump until lunch, but I couldn’t muster the energy to pay attention to what I was doing long enough to feel anything. Instead of feeling satiated, I still felt hungry.

I took that moment to stop and refocus my energy on the pear. The shape, the color, the scent, the taste. I turned off my screen so I would have even fewer distractions. The goal was to engage all my senses in the experience of eating that pear. And it was worth that effort. I actually felt satisfied by the end of the process.

We’ve trained ourselves to fill each moment with more than one activity. Our fear of missing out (#FOMO for the cool kids), keeps us locked in a cycle of constant connectivity and anxiety. Taking the time to focus on just eating almost seems like a luxury. That’s what Europeans do, right? Siestas and long dinners where people are doing nothing but eating and drinking? That can’t be healthy.

eating at work
courtesy hkfbapps.com

Is finishing a large club sandwich in under five minutes healthy?

We’ve lost touch with how the act of eating affects our physical, emotional and mental health. It’s so more than just a biological function.

By applying some of the principles behind mindful meditation to eating, we can explore how increasing our attention to the foods we eat and the process of consumption can positively impact our health.

3 (of many) health benefits of mindful eating:

  • Taking the time to eat mindfully engages all of our senses and encourages self-awareness. By experiencing each part of the process in an unhurried fashion, you can evaluate how your food choices make you feel. Consider the choice between a bag of potato chips and a small green salad. How do the different colors appeal to you? What did the chips feel like on your hands? Did the salty chips taste better than the salad by the end? Keep your mind open to all of these observations.
  • Mindful eating awakens a connection to family, culture, and tradition. Sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends or family forges a bond. This creates new, positive experiences around food that can help build healthier habits over time. It nourishes the soul as much as the body.

family mindful eating

  • If soul nourishing isn’t on your agenda today, then consider how mindful eating can help you lose weight. By giving the brain time to process the physical act of eating, your body can properly digest the necessary nutrients from your meal and signal the brain that it’s actually satisfied. This is metabolism folks. The body was built for this. Forget about foods that speed this up for you. Dedicate each meal time to just eating and you’ll find that you have a better idea of what foods will give you energy and make you feel great, decrease the need for snacking, and keep you from overeating.
Eating habits cartoon
courtesy chibird.tumblr. com

The next time you sit down to a meal, forget about your schedule. Turn off all of your electronic devices. Focus all of your energy on the foods in front of you.

What does it look like?

How does it feel in your hands?

Does the aroma remind you of a happy memory?

Relish in that for a minute before you dig in. As you start to eat, take your time. Everything you need to do will keep for twenty minutes.

awareness checklist
courtesy eatingmindfully.com

Will you give this a shot?

How do you feel about mindful meditation?

How much time do you spend eating each meal?

Please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! 🙂

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Reflecting on Sandy, One Year Later

The weekend after Thanksgiving last year, I got on a bus with about fifty other volunteers who met up at JackRabbit running store in Union Square early on a Saturday morning. We were headed for Far Rockaway to lend a helping hand wherever and however we could, after Sandy wrought havoc to the residents of that area at the end of October.

That entire experience changed me irrevocably.

I don’t have pictures. What I do have are the memories of house doors spray painted with orange X’s by FEMA, marking the fate of the residents who would lose whatever was left of their homes in the wake of the storm. I remember walking through the streets lined with insulation torn from the walls of houses, mixed with the scattered memories destroyed by the flooding and high winds that brought so much devastation to this area. I’ll never forget meeting the older gentleman living alone in his house, with mold slowly growing through the walls, and talking to him while he quietly asked for a tuna fish sandwich and water for lunch that day.

The week after Sandy was an eye-opener for me on so many levels. I didn’t take the warnings seriously like many in the city. We’d been through it all, and this seemed like something else that was overblown in the news. I even came here to share a recipe, laughing at what I deemed was an overreaction. Why worry? We quickly learned just how wrong we were.

When my power, water, and heat were finally restored nearly a week after the storm hit, I came here to share my experience. At that time I took part in a weekly blog series titled, “Saturday Upsides” where I shared positive stories to uplift and inspire others to look at the positive side of situations that would otherwise be deemed impossible. The upwelling of emotions and thoughts that arose out of a week living outside of anything resembling normalcy brought me to this story that I told and am reposting below.

This was down the block from my apartment building one year ago.
Photo Courtesy: http://www.thelowdownny.com

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully capture what this meant for me. Much like my memories of 9/11, I mark this as another indelible moment in New York, where my lens refocused and I got to see another side of this city that I love so much, and in turn, see myself from a different angle. It took time for me to adjust which surprised me. I spent a lot of time coping with the impact and this site was vital to my sanity for a while.

I was lucky. My family and I got through the week without any major scars and with our home still intact. There are too many families who cannot say the same.

So much has changed in the past year. Yet, people are still hurting. Some have moved away from their homes because it was unsafe to move back in or there was nothing left to rebuild. Neighborhoods ravaged by Sandy are still in need of support.

Today is a sad day marked by tragedy for so many. But it is also a day of action. Volunteers are mobilizing all over the city to continue in the efforts to help bring these communities back from the brink of total collapse. Whether you’re at Breezy Point, Long Beach, Seaside Heights, or Tottenham, there is room for everyone.

What are you doing to reach out and help?

As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy. 🙂

Saturday Upside: Bright Lights, My City

“If you imagine an ordinary moment at an intersection of New York City, and there’s a pause at a street light and some people are stopped and others are in motion….if you were to put that into film terms and a freeze frame and hold everything for a second you would realize that there’s a universe there of totally disparate intentions. Everybody going about his or her business in the silence of their own minds, with everybody else and the street and the time of day and the architecture and the quality of the light and the nature of the weather as a kind of background or field for the individual consciousness and the drama it is making of itself in that moment. And you think about that, that’s what happens in the city in that somehow the city can embrace and accept and accommodate all that disparate intention at one and the same time, not only on that corner but on thousands of corners.” – EL Doctorow

There are times when I really can’t stand New York. The harshness of the city coupled with the nonstop competition to be first in line for everything- your job, at the ferry, waiting for the doors to open on the subway car, at the bar to order your drinks, crossing the street- leaves me exhausted and irritated most of the time. I was born and raised here but with each passing year I feel a growing detachment and disillusionment with my hometown. Just the other day I told a friend that I was considering leaving the city altogether. “I can’t take this place; it’s making me hard and I don’t want to feel like that anymore,” I said. Then Sandy happened.

To say that New York has had its share of hard knocks is an understatement. In its 400 year history, the city has been a laboratory for American society, testing the limits of what we’re capable of by providing a stage where extraordinary challenges were met and overcome. There have been setbacks and tragedies, and through it all there was a sense that a unique one-of-a-kind character grew out of this chaos. The resilience of a New Yorker has its roots in that history and it’s built into each person that calls this place their home. This gets lost in the daily hustle and bustle and really, it’s not something we stop to think about. The seemingly casual indifference to what makes New Yorkers so different often gets misinterpreted as rudeness. But like everyone else, we’re not one-dimensional and there is no better way for us to demonstrate our grit then when we’re faced with a challenge that shows the world who we are as a city.

I live in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at the heart of the blackout zone in the middle of the most vibrant and energetic city in the world. When Sandy hit, I was shielded from major damage by the height and sturdy structure of my high-rise building. Then I witnessed the explosion of the Con Edison power plant outside of my window and knew that this was something different. My blasé attitude Monday morning while baking brownies shifted. I had an inkling that maybe I was wrong and this could really affect New York much more deeply than I anticipated. Even still, by the time the power went out, I was convinced that this was a one day affair and that it would take even more to stop the city in its tracks. Besides, I’d lived through the massive blackout in 2003 where I’d walked over 20 miles to make it home in scorching summer weather only to face two days without power and water thereafter. This was nothing.

Two days later and still no power or hot water, and dwindling batter power, I had to revisit and revise. This was something. A major something. I looked out my window at night and it was like there was a shroud covering all of lower Manhattan. There was the Empire State building, an imposing lighted figure in the sky, along with the Chrysler and all the rest of midtown and beyond. And here was Chinatown and the Village with its mish mash of recently built luxury rentals pushing into the older tenements that once housed the likes of the great Governor Al Smith and immigrant families a century before, all cast in darkness. No streetlights to illuminate the way. There’s nothing quite like viewing that juxtaposition of uptown and downtown, light and dark all visible in the frame of my window. Each night I stared out towards the lighted half of New York and felt a growing resolve that I needed to see what it was like out there for everyone else. I couldn’t handle the cabin fever any longer and decided to brave the pitch black in my apartment building, walk down nineteen flights of stairs with a flashlight, to stretch my legs, hunt for supplies, and see what was really going on in the streets. What I experienced will stay with me for the rest of my life. That sounds utterly dramatic, I admit, but there are no words to properly describe what I saw or how I felt.

This is an unfiltered account of what went on from the point of view of one downtown girl.

I ventured out through Chinatown and took in the enormous generator parked in front of my building on my way out. Mentally thanked the emergency responders who acted quickly to get the water pumps running so that we could at least get water through the taps which was a welcome sight after two days. I passed the small businesses and their owners checking damage, people young and old roaming the streets, carefully navigating the crosswalks as there were no traffic lights to speak of. I walked through Foley Square and the massive courthouses that saw no midday bustle that you’d expect to find on a Wednesday afternoon at lunchtime. Avoided getting run over by hoards of bike riders making their way off the Brooklyn Bridge, glanced at City Hall to find it empty presumably because the Mayor and city staff have their hands full, and then kept going towards the World Trade Center and my office building. Everything was closed, as expected, but still it was good to get confirmation firsthand.

I decided to shift directions and walk up Vesey Street and straight up towards the Freedom Tower construction site. It was a shock to see its lights go off the night before. After seeing the void left behind by 9/11 outside my bedroom window, it’s been reassuring to see lights in the sky in that part of the horizon again. The building stands solid and firm against the backdrop of eerie silence. There were a few tourists walking around, taking pictures, enjoying themselves. They had all of downtown to themselves, so I guess I could see the appeal. But then again, they’re not New Yorkers. They don’t live here. I see beneath the veneer of the gloss and skyscrapers. And what I’m seeing is loss. A vacuum of sound and life. As I walked through Tribeca, it was this absence that struck me most. Businesses were shuttered, a few people scurried about. There’s usually an energy that’s thrumming beneath the surface. It vibes and shakes to its own crazy rhythm with each person contributing their own beat. This was gone. I felt like I was walking through a cemetery. Pulling out a camera (as I almost did on several occasions) and taking a photo could never capture that feeling. Besides, I’m not a photographer; I’m a writer and what I saw demanded words not images.

I headed north determined to find something on my list, especially batteries, but really I just wanted to see where the life of my city went. Where did this blackout zone end and what would I find on the other side?

I roamed through Soho and watched humvees and Red Cross army trucks roar down Broadway. Walked up through Noho, and then realized that I wasn’t going to make it on foot. I stopped at Astor Place and took whatever bus I could take that would get me north past midtown, which was where I was told the blackout line ended. Once we made it past Union Square I started to see signs of my beloved city coming to life. There were more people on the streets and they seemed to walk with purpose. I can’t tell you what a difference it is to see people moving with a direction in mind, especially when they’ve got that patented New York hurried stride. It was a relief to witness after seeing the dazed wanderings of my neighbors downtown. Then came the emotions. Ah the drama of anger and frustration! I watched groups of people prepare themselves to get on my bus only to shake their hands in exasperation and mouthing expletives when the bus wouldn’t stop because we were too full. The controlled chaos of New York streets began to appear as we made our way uptown and then it was like a switch was pulled. The world tilted on its axis and everything was upside down.

I happened to be on the M1 bus which I’ve never taken before in my life but its route is up Madison Avenue. Not my usual route. I barely make it past 14th street on a normal day and I’m definitely not rubbing elbows with the high rollers on Madison and 5th Avenues. The scenery outside my window on the bus changed from the tenement low-level buildings downtown to the storefronts for Chanel and Christian Louboutin. There were dozens of people running around, sipping Starbucks, out to lunch, shopping, doing whatever it is people do on a normal day, because for them, it was normal. I felt uncomfortable, like I’d stepped through some portal and found myself in a bizzarro world where the hurricane never happened. What were these people doing?? Didn’t they know what was going on downtown? We’re on the same island; how can you be shopping right now?? I was insanely jealous of their ability to carry on and turn on the lights like it was any other day. I am not a part of this uptown crowd and this was a big reminder of why I stay on my part of the island. Sure, it’s irrational but there it is. I wanted to get out of there fast but the bus was inching along and I still needed to get supplies.

After I got off the bus and walked to my destination, I realized that I’d forgotten it was Halloween. The kids with their costumes and baskets tipped me off and then I felt off-kilter again. Kids trick-or-treating with their parents seemed so far off from what I left behind at home. There was no Halloween for the kids in the Lower East Side.

I made it. I found batteries in the fifth store that I checked, some dog food for Gizmo, and I got apples and non-perishables from the grocery store. Then I got a major score by catching my bus back downtown just in the nick of time. It felt amazing to run and even more amazing to know that I was headed home, albeit a home without power, but home nonetheless.

We moved at a snail’s pace. The public transportation system has been completely shut off for days and people clogged the streets with their cars. It made me think of all the cliché New York traffic scenes I see in movies which I always thought were ridiculous because it’s never that bad. Until Sandy anyway. Everyone had someplace to go and cars were the only way to get there. So we crawled downtown. The scenery shifted back to my normal. The bus filled with people weary after days of the same, on a similar hunt for supplies or a free outlet to charge their phones. You could read the exhaustion on their faces.

Tensions run high in these kinds of situations and they can boil over for some people. I saw this firsthand as two men decided it was time to vent out their frustrations by yelling at each other across the crowded bus. Accusations of racism and prejudices against people with disabilities were hurled back and forth as were threats of violence. I shared weighted stares with the other passengers who like me knew better than to intervene and to just wait out the battle of words with patience. Eventually someone gets tired and backs down, which is exactly what happened. I glanced at the older woman standing in front of me and we both just shook our heads. This is that vicious bite of New York that can leave me feeling stung and overly annoyed with the whole lot. This constant display of anger and moodiness casts a shadow over the city on the best of days and here we are trying to get back on our feet and these two jerks decide to duke it out on a bus surrounded by dozens of tired people who’ve been through the ringer. It was like someone snapped their fingers to shake me out of my post-Sandy daze and reminded me that this is what makes me push New York away.

My world flipped again ten minutes later. The bus was filled to capacity. People attempted to make their way on and off and had to shove and adjust themselves to get around. Two Asian women stood in front of my seat on a narrow aisle and another woman tried to make her way through the crowd to an empty seat to my left with her small suitcase. These two Asian women and everyone down the aisle made a passage and helped push and pull this woman along to get her to this seat, even carrying her suitcase and helping her get settled as the bus moved and jostled everyone forcefully forward and back. No one spoke the same language. It was a flurry of what I was assuming was Chinese, Spanish, and English but they all worked together with smiles and gestures to get everyone to their place. The woman kept saying thank you over and over again with genuine gratitude and everyone nodded and just went right back to whatever they were doing beforehand.

Two bus rides brought me uptown and back downtown and I felt like I saw the very essence of New York reflected through both journeys. The harried and tired, the excited and nervous laughter, the silent disinterest, the anger and conflict, the kind and generous, children and seniors, students and workers, Latinos and Chinese, poor and affluent; we all color the city with our diversity, our energy, and our actions. There are always hiccups along the way where people clash and the very thing that makes our city so great can cause strife, but when New York’s back is up against the wall, New Yorkers find a way to make it all work somehow. Harsh words are exchanged but just as quickly people are fast to help those around them, shoot a reassuring smile, or share a thought wordlessly across the aisle. It riled me to see the disparities between life uptown versus the void of life downtown. Downtown, the very birthplace of this incredible city and the site of so many tragedies especially in our recent history, handles these disparities the way it always has; with a profound resilience that each generation inherits even as the communities have changed to accommodate immigrants and emigrants from all over the world. I came back home hours later, no more tired than anyone else, but lost in thought as I tried to process what I saw.

I’ll admit that I belong in the lucky column on this one. My apartment wasn’t destroyed and we were surrounded by supplies thanks to my mother’s lifelong hoarding habit. We received several offers to escape to other parts of the city that had power but we stubbornly refused. As long as we had the essentials, we would see this through. It’s this obstinate steadfastness making us dig our heels in and face night after night of darkness and cold that may be called crazy by some, but I embrace it with pride. This was our town and we had faith that things would work themselves out in time. That said, I have to acknowledge that Staten Islanders, Long Islanders, New Jerseyians and others in our area didn’t have the luxury we had and have been forced to try and find help in desperate circumstances. They’ve lost homes, others have lost loved ones. It makes me feel awkward to sit here and talk about my experience when there are others out there who are going through much worse. I can’t begin to imagine the loss people are coping with as they begin the recovery process.

Throughout it all, I’ve heard the beginnings of a battle cry across the tri-state. Volunteers are out in force and mobilizing though the front lines of disaster to reach out with their concern, and most importantly with supplies and aid. We were visited by two officers who were doing verticals not for the usual purpose of crime watch-dogging but to reach out, hand out water, and just to see if we were alright. New York Cares volunteers followed later that afternoon. There are hundreds of thousands of people in lower Manhattan, most in high-rise buildings reaching twenty-stories and up with no elevator service and to receive this kind of individual attention in the midst of this chaos was astounding. Even now, as I’m typing, City Meals-on-Wheels is handing out blankets and food in my community center to those most in need. I watched the elderly carry their new supplies with smiles on their faces, urging others to go and collect their own before it runs out. As I understand it, the recovery efforts have not been perfect across the city. When are they ever? But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that I’ve seen the work of our government in action on the streets of New York this week, and they’re doing a magnificent job.

We save up our gratitude for November and Thanksgiving, but really there is not enough said for the efforts of first responders, the NYPD, FDNY, city workers, and the volunteers who work tirelessly to both resolve emergency situations and to extend their hands and connect emotionally. Thank you to every single one of these brave men and women. Thank you to my brother, a police officer, who worked hours on end in the evacuation centers on Staten Island in the middle of the storm and is still working throughout the city to reestablish order. Thank you to my friends who reached out to me to keep me sane and check in on our status. Thank you to my family who banded together to share this experience in harmony with laughs and good humor in spite of the challenges. We sat together around our kitchen table, played jigsaw puzzles, and attempted to cook what was left in our fridge in candlelight. Being without power urged us to reconnect without the distractions of the modern world and I have to be grateful for this impossible situation to remind us all of the power of family.

Sandy is another chapter added to the city’s history. Another scar marring the face of New York. In the end, she always picks herself up, lifts her head proudly, showing that face to all who come here, and she smirks defiantly as if saying, “we beat this too, what next?” I look around at my hometown and I see people who won’t stay beaten down for long, who rise to the occasion to help others without a second thought, and who prove time and again that a New Yorker is like no other. Life will eventually resume and I’ll get frustrated with the city again. It always happens. And I may leave one day for a fresh start elsewhere. But I’ll always be home because in my heart I’m a New Yorker through and through. And I’m damn proud of it.

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