Monday, September 05, 2005

At a loss for words

I've been struggling to figure out what to write this last week, largely because I feel I have nothing to add on the topic of Katrina and the outrageous events that followed. I've been sputtering with outrage after every single news story I read on the topic -- I have yet to watch any TV coverage -- and am pondering what, if anything, I can to do make even the slightest difference. One of my tasks this morning is to pay bills and update the checking account ledger, at which time I'm going to figure out how much money we're going to donate and to whom. We never made donations after Sept. 11 or the tsunami; for all my rambling beliefs about the power of individual action, I've been paralyzed by the insignificance of what I can offer in response to such enormous tragedy. I'm determined to let go of that bizarre and useless mindset and write a check.

For the last couple weeks, we've been having our bathroom renovated. That's meant three weeks without a working shower, three weeks with strangers and dust in our house, three weeks of trudging down to the hideous toilet in the basement during the middle of the night. I've blamed these minor inconveniences for everything from the complete cessation of any exercise on my part to the increasing number of takout dinners we eat to my constant, low-level irritability. And that's the result of an inconvience I brought on myself, with the end result a shiny new (and, let's be honest, expensive) bathroom that will increase the value of my house.

I keep wanting to write that I cannot imagine, by comparison, what the complete upheaval and uncertainty Katrina victims are experiencing is doing to them mentally and emotionally, if the privilege of having my bathroom remodeled turns me into such a spoiled whiner. But then I think of Cancer, Baby's post about the use of the phrase "I cannot imagine." Her point is that calling something unimaginable "casts it into the realm of the extraordinary" and makes it other. And, I think, she's right. I can imagine what the hurricane victims are experiencing; I can't know it, but I can imagine. And it is horrifying.