Man, I’ve been out of touch for a while. I’d meant to post a New Year’s message but after LSU’s last second lost to Iowa in the Capitol One bowl that all just kind of fell apart then I was sick for the first of the week.
So where to start? I guess with a ‘Happy 2005 Everybody’! I celebrated New Years at Jay’s and Jen’s party at the Red Room here in Jackson. It was a blast and easily my favorite New Year spent in the Bold New City. I’m pretty excited at the prospect of another new year in Jackson. Recalling where the city/town and I were last year and where we stand now, I think we’ve both done pretty well for ourselves. There are all sorts of pleasant rumblings of plans being made to the benefit of the city and I’m excited to see where it all will go.
And now, my Ashes & Water New Year’s resolution:
For 2005 I will do my damnedest to pay more attention to the web site. I’ve been so busy the last couple of months that I haven’t been putting as much into as I did the first year. A redesign, which includes porting to PHP/mySQL and a standards-based div/css layout, is almost complete and should be up within the month. I’m also going to try to be a lot better about taking pictures and posting them online. And finally, I’m resolved to use regular punctuation from here on out (so no more ‘…’ posts). While it’s definitely quicker and I like its stream of consciousness feel, you can’t really advocate standards for web design if within that design you don’t advocate the standards of grammar and punctuation. Hell, I’ve got a degree in English, I might as well put the thing to some good use.
So all in all it was a good holiday season. Despite working at the bookstore for 23 days of December I got to see some friends and hang out with the family. Football wise my teams could have faired better. As mentioned above the LSU loss was tough, as was losing Nick Saban. Plus the Saints missed the playoffs by the thinnest of margins yet again, done in by a missed field goal by an ex-Saint on the St. Louis Rams. With college football finishing last night (man that game blew) and the NFL only around for another month, I’m faced with my annual drought between football and baseball. Maybe since I’m living with Graham his interest in college basketball will rub off on me. We’ll see.
I’m going to leave you with a letter my friend Susannah forwarded me from a friend of hers who survived the tsunami in Thailand. Pretty powerful stuff and it ends with as good a lesson as any to begin the New Year with.
I am currently in Bangkok waiting for a flight I have cajoled my way onto. I am one of the survivors. With only scratches, bruises and infections I am fine.
Everything I own (almost – a small plastic Jesus doll made it through!) is gone. My house was wiped out, as were 3000 hotel rooms, around 600 other resident/vacation homes and almost all the business’ in the area.
Our house was 150 feet from the beach, that is THE hardest hit beach in Thailand. As water rushed into our house and then ripped open the second story wall, I leapt off our second story roof and swam and swam and swam, riding the wave deep into the jungle, as it destroyed building after building, ripping up trees and spinning diesel trucks into the air. All this with me in the center of it clinging to anything that floats and swimming to avoid the standing buildings or trees that crushed and impaled many others.
The wave deposited me, and a small Swedish girl and a 60 foot police cruiser (medium sized steel patrol boat – around 20 tons) 1 kilometer from the beach – in the jungle.
For the next 5 hours I set up a triage center and cared for dead and dying foreigners. Finally we got helicopters in, and I made my way back towards the main town. I found Karin (my girlfriend) and collapsed. We had both assumed each other dead as the destruction was so massive. She had climbed a coconut tree, wrapped her arms and legs and held on. The water kept pulling the tree and her under, but it and she survived.
That day I saw around 100 bodies. The next day, another 200, and the day we left there were cattle trucks full of rotting corpses being taken to Phuket.
After days of no news, dwindling food and water – a group of divers virtually kidnapped a driver to take us away. Every few hours someone had created a rumor that another wave was coming, or there was a gas explosion, or the Muslim rebels were attacking. None were true, but it caused massive panic and killed many more people. We were already under massive psychological strain, and this just made it insane. We ran.
My town is gone. There are probably 2% of the original buildings in a recognizable form. I am very lucky to even be making my way home. The U.S. government offered me a phone call, a toothbrush, a paperback book and a temporary passport. No hotel, no food, no flight home. I was told that I could take out a loan if I could list three people who would vouch for me at home. The process would only take a few days. I was alone, injured (superficially – but I sure did look bad), no possessions, no money and my government offered me a book.
I don’t know who or what to acknowledge for my presence. That will take a lot of soul-searching. I am certainly among the luckiest people in Thailand right now. According to local news it looks like my town had a SURVIVAL rate of 60%.
The support and questions about my well-being are appreciated and I will reply…eventually.
Please think of what you value. Look around, have you given a hug to someone recently? Anyone? If everything you had were taken away, who would you turn too? In the end it is each other, not the things, that make the world spin. I won’t ever forget that.