Thursday, December 29, 2016

What's Your New Year's Resolution?

Do you even recall what last year's New Year's Resolution was? I do. Mine was to complete my autobiography and get it published on Amazon. I did that and I published 3 other novels as well.

It's usually pretty hard to keep those resolutions we make in January each year. I think we get all enthused at the prospect of a clean slate and start thinking anything is possible:

  • Maybe I'll get married this year!
  • Maybe I'll get rich and famous
  • Maybe I'll win the lottery
  • Well, at least I could lose 10 lbs

So this year is coming up fast. It's time to make some decisions about what you'd like to see change in your life. I'd like to publish a few more novels. One thing I don't do enough of is write poetry. I've always enjoyed that so much. To me, its the funnest kind of writing. The last few years, I just haven't had the time, energy or inspiration. But below are a couple of really short poems to get started.


I GO FREELY
Not bound and gagged,
Nor kicking and screaming,
But freely, my heart begins
Its new journey.


GREENER PASTURES
Strong coffee,
A dollar in your pocket,
A journey begins,
North by northwest,
Heading to greener pastures.


TRY TO STAY AWAKE
Life—
A game
Best played
Awake.

Copyright 2005 - Carolyn Sorrell - All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Humans

The Humans-
What can you say about the humans that has not already been spoken and said so loudly and so many times that it forever echoes across the dark of eternity.


The Humans came here eons ago as an experiment. Some of us thought it would be entertaining. Some swore it would develop into a legitimate laboratory trial, where we would reap much priceless data.

I, personally, felt that although it would be fun, in the end, we probably would learn a lot of information that could never have otherwise been obtained.

So the ‘Joke’, as we called it, was on. Where to begin? Of course a lovely planet was chosen. After that, it was only a matter of coming up with things these humans might need in the course of their existence. Food, water, shelter, even coverings for the bodies.

In the realm of food, we came up with some clever ideas from the boys over at Team Support. They’re the ones who first had the idea to create secondary forms of life that could serve as helpers and companions to the Humans, but also be used for clothing and food. Those boys in Team Support are ever working on trimming the fat and getting every penny’s worth. Everyone applauded the day cows were created.

We had a planet that could sustain life then. And we had a huge variety of life to place there, so without further adieu (committee meetings, studies, etc), we simply put the humans in the midst of it and turned them loose.

We dropped them off in the exact geographical center of the planet. There were a couple of reasons why this was done. We knew it would be an easy place to go back to for ourselves or any friends that might want to visit the place. Besides, I thought it was clever. And we had to drop them somewhere. The North Pole seemed appropriate but turned out to be too cold for normal life.

And so began the longest, most complicated experiment of the ages. Rules were changed in mid-stream, odd complications arose almost at once. Daily, there were the most peculiar fiascos to deal with. We had gotten our wish. An experiment that at once, took on a life of its own.

The Human Project was off at a leopard’s sprint. It was learning, growing, evolving.—all we could do was sit back and watch! It was dazzling…amazing! A phenomenal adventure. Who could have imagined?


Well, I could write volumes from many angles/levels/aspects on how the humans are doing. But this tidbit is enough for today. Till next time, remember to look yourself square in the mirror tonight and brag, “Hey Dude, you’re an integral part of the most extraordinary experiment ever attempted in this part of the Cosmos.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is This America's Future?

I heard that Trump is insisting on Top Security clearance for his grown children and communist wife so now they will all be briefed on America’s top secrets, like the location of missile silos and names of our agents abroad. As a writer, I’ve already got this story written in my mind. Here’s how it goes:

One night his children get drunk at a party and give away vital US govt info to Chinese spies and then the Chinese get the upper hand, disable our nuclear weapons and we’re at their mercy. The Secret Service will manufacture evidence and blame the whole thing on some poor slob who works in accounting and even history will record that he gave away the information. The truth will be hidden.


All the while Trump tells everyone that this is actually a good thing because now we’ll have much better trade relations with China and they’re economy is much stronger than ours anyway. So this is a win-win for everyone. Most of you will believe him.

In the meantime, our civil liberties are being gradually taken away and our govt is being more and more influenced by communism. It happens gradually so we don’t realize it until it’s too late. Then in 20 years when historians are writing about what happened, they’ll say that America had it coming anyway. It was time for America to be punished for their gross sins and evil deeds.

We originally STOLE ALL our land from Native Americans and Mexicans. We had murdered over 60 million innocent babies because they were “inconvenient” and the Christians never did or said anything at all about it. Our govt was full of corruption. It was a miracle that it didn’t happen sooner.

Trump was actually God’s Tool of Punishment upon America for years and years of terrible sins … too many to mention.

Me? I’ll be dead and gone by then. So will every one of my generation who recalls what it was like before … before communism came and took away all our liberties … before Trump. For most, living under a communist regime will be normal.


Generations will be born that never remember what life was like in 1990 or 2010 when we were a FREE nation. It will be something taught in a history class and kids will shrug and say that we’re better off now anyway because the Chinese take such good care of us and make sure everyone has at least one meal per day. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Choosing Your Poisons Wisely

I’ve been thinking about my choices of stories and my writing style. I saw Beth Moore talking about a new fiction novel she has just written. I know it will be amazing but often Christian novels are very predictable. The families are sweet Christian people but one of them has a bad temper or a roving eye and this creates a problem. But the whole family comes together in the end and they solve these problems and get closer than ever.


HOGWASH!! If you think life is really like that and every story has a happy ending, then you need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid they’ve been passing around wherever you hang out.

I did not grow up in a world like that and I was really angry with God for some years on account of this. I thought, “Why couldn’t you have given ME a warm Christian home to grow up in with parents who would have encouraged and inspired me?”

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the population has that experience. The rest of us grew us in homes with varying degrees of dysfunctionality, all the way from horrific to bearable. Mine was pretty bad but could have been much worse. That, I’m thankful for.

I write stories for those people. My stories are sometimes a bit too gritty but that’s the way my life has been. I was thrown out of the car going 60mph and left in a ditch to die (figuratively). I never made sense of it but God somehow found me and repaired the broken stuff. I know I don’t look like it, but I’m a Survivor. Every possible thing has come at me during my lifetime and tried to kill me or drive me crazy but I always ran to Jesus for help and he was always faithful.


I wish I was one of those decent respectable Christians who never drank, gambled or had sex outside of marriage, but God did not give me that life. You get what you get. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll do with your time here on earth. It’s shorter than you think it’s going to be and it goes by much faster than you think it will.

I could be addicted to drugs and alcohol. I should have died at a dozen different points in my past. There for a few years, I purposely put myself in harm’s way hoping to die before sunset but I’m still here. That part is a miracle that continues to startle and amaze me every morning with each new sunrise.

My stories are for real people, who for some reason, did not get the proverbial “Happy Ending” that everyone is so eager for. Their family reunions turned into drunken fights. Their great job ended with no warning and their lights were eventually turned off.

When they finally find their long-lost half-sister, the girl is so angry that she doesn’t want any type of relationship with her blood family. In my story, the beloved friend dies at 28 with cancer and the charming brother becomes a homeless man. When the heroine finally finds her soul-mate, the guy is so damaged by a previous relationship, that he can’t make any commitments to her.

All those things happened to me during my lifetime and I had no choice but to get over it and move on with my life. It sucks …. I absolutely agree that it sucks. But that’s the life God gave me and I’ve tried to live it the best I could.

My stories are about that struggle to understand, to believe in a good God while also recognizing the evil all around us. They’re about out-smarting the devil with a simple thing like “Faith”. They’re about surviving when no one really cares whether you do or not.

I know many of my Christian friends will not want to read my books but perhaps there are some folks out there who have had a life similar to mine and these stories will ring true to them.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Monday Evening: Gangsters and Rapists

I went to meet my niece at Chili’s on Northwest Hwy for dinner. I bought her some mascara on Amazon. Apparently there’s only one brand on the entire planet that she’s not allergic to so I bought 2 tubes for her and have been wanting to meet up with her.


Mona is really bad about saying she’ll meet you at 8pm and then not showing up until after 10pm-But she promised me that she had changed & mended her ways. I am soooo freakin’ na├»ve!!! So I got there at Chili’s and waited. This is a very scary neighborhood that has signs warning car thieves that there are bait cars everywhere so if you steal a car, the cops WILL catch you! I was nervous right away! There were drunk guys staggering down the street with brown paper bags & rough-looking gangster types everywhere.


 I kept texting Mona and saying, “Where are you?” So finally I went inside the Chilis, sat down and ordered. Mona kept saying she was just pulling in the parking lot…what a load of crap!! Finally, she arrives and texts me to come outside. So I said, “NO! You come inside” and she said, “NO! I stumped my toe and it’s bleeding”. So finally I had to go outside. They made me pay my bill before they’d let me leave, but I told them NOT to throw my food away!


Mona opened the door of her truck and I said “Hi” and she said “Look what I did to my toe” and I said, “Gross! I’m eating dinner!” So she laughed and then this crazy man staggered over from the highway and said, “Can I ask you ladies something?” And I yelled, “Nope! You can’t. I’m going back in the restaurant (there were cops in there eating). I said, “You get away from us! You are NOT raping and killing us tonight!” So Mona says, “Don’t worry, Aunt Ren. I’ve got a gun in my purse.”

 

So the drunkard heard that and hurried away in fear. So I said, “Mona, I did NOT come out on this lovely Monday evening to be involved in a gun fight in the Chili’s parking lot! I thought instead, we would have a nice dinner together.” 


So she laughed, I hugged her and she drove away. I went back inside and ate alone. Somehow miraculously, I got home without being raped or murdered. How was your Monday evening?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Look Pale and Sickly

Many years ago, my husband and I belonged to a small startup church in Garland. The pastor and his wife were friends and so we kind of served as asst pastors. I ran the Sunday school and Randy helped the pastor with his stuff. So we rented a space in a retail strip mall and furnished it and got some pictures on the walls and pews in the main auditorium. It was a cute little church and fun project. We had about 6 or 8 faithful families that would come and it was growing – sometimes there might be 50 or 60 people on Sunday morning.


One of the families was a man, his wife and 2 kids around 8 and 10 years old. The thing about this family is that they were strange. Every one of them was tall, thin, pale skin and kind of sickly looking. On the way home from church, we would always talk about them and say things like, “Wonder how they got that way?”


So one Sunday, they invited us to go home with them to eat lunch after service. We followed them in our car and pulled into their driveway. It was a decent looking but somewhat plain house. On the inside, it was sparsely furnished. We settled around the dining table hoping for something delicious like homemade fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet tea. After a few minutes, the lady brought a big clear glass bowl of steamed carrots and set them in the middle of the table.


We muttered, “Mmmm, those look good – wonder what else we’re having? Maybe a steak and potatoes with gravy and some rolls.”

The lady returned with glasses of tea and then with plates and silverware. Her husband says, “All ready to eat, dear?”

And the wife answers, “Yes honey.”

In my mind, I’m saying, “No honey! Get up and go get the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, the rolls and butter. What about the pecan pie?”


So my husband and I smiled back and forth at each other, exchanging uncomfortable stares. Neither one of us knew what was going on. Surely this lady wasn’t going to serve ONLY carrots to their guests.

But the man, his wife and the two kids were called to the table and everyone sat down. The dad gave thanks for the food (if you could call it that.) and we all said Amen! And began to spoon carrots onto our plates, all the while bewildered. Maybe this was just the first course and more food would come once we ate the carrots. There was hope in our hearts. But then, we finished our carrots and looked around. Nothing happened. That was it. The meal was over.

We told them how nice it was for them to invite us over for lunch and how great everything was and then we excused ourselves saying we had to get home and let the dog out. Of course, we left there making a beeline for a good restaurant where we had a delicious lunch. While eating, I said, “What just happened there? Do you think they eat that way all the time?”

He said, “Well, at least we know now why they are all so pale, thin and sickly looking.”

“Yeah, but do you think they brought us there to show us how poor they are so we would offer to buy them some groceries? Or what?”

“Maybe, but they never mentioned anything about that to us. They seemed happy eating their carrots.”

“You know…if that’s all they feed those children, that’s child abuse. Someone should call CPS and report them. Kids can’t develop strong bones and brains eating only carrots. That’s going to cause a whole bunch of health problems down the road.”

“Well, I don’t think we should get involved,” my husband said, frowning. And we never did. But I always wondered how those kids were, if they were able to learn, play, run track, do all the things kids do in school and in life.


I wondered if they grew up with unhealthy relationships to food and maybe developed dangerous eating disorders. I still wonder today about that family.

Friday, September 2, 2016

What's Your Favorite TV Program?

I guess I like the popular programs that most people enjoy. Survivor, Big Bang Theory, Amazing Race, Modern Family … I generally watch Big Brother every summer.

But your viewing favorites can change from time to time, sort of like your food cravings. One day, you’d love a big steak and the next, fried shrimp is what you dream of. TV programs are like that too.


Big Bang Theory is a great show. I’d love to write for that show. That would be my “Dream Job”. But everyone will agree that, it’s easy to get an overdose of “Sheldon Cooper”. I know his character is written to be pedantic, pestering, and even outlandish … but really … he takes “finicky” to a whole new level.

You do really watch the show and just want to shout at his friends: “Oh my gosh! Stop catering to his insanity!”

But that never happens. Occasionally, one of his group tries to call him out but doesn’t do a very effective job of it. So someday, we may all reach our Sheldon Cooper limit and then what?

Well, as most viewers would agree, those folks who are tasked with coming up with original programming to air in prime time are not really going to much trouble to make that happen. Generally, they try to rehash old hits like “The Odd Couple”. Then when that doesn’t work, they try to come up with spin-offs of Modern Family or Friends. Then when that plan fails, they just show us reruns for a few months.


Honestly, if I made the money those guys make, I would work a lot harder to come up with original programming that viewers would enjoy. The best shows now are coming out of cable channels. Eager to beat everyone in the ratings, these guys are actually using their brains to THINK. I know this a peculiar concept for Hollywood.

The best new cable show is “Queen of the South”. It’s about a young Mexican woman who accidentally gets mixed up with the Texas drug cartel. She struggles between her desire to do the right thing and her need to stay alive. I know I’m a little biased because I’m a Texas girl, born and bred, but it is a highly original program.


It’s not a warmed-over “Law and Order” or a 12th generation remake of “Seinfeld” or “60 Minutes”. Some creative people sat down, thought a lot, tossed around some ideas, worked hard on a story line and finally came up with this great new idea for a show. They worked hard at it till they finally got it right.

So here’s an idea for a new show:
The producers and developers at a major network sit around all day and try to come up with great new ideas for shows.

That’s what’s wrong with America. We want everything to be quick and easy. All the song lyrics and tunes sound exactly like a thousand other songs. All the movies look exactly like a thousand other movies. Nothing’s original anymore. When someone does make an original movie or TV show, we freak out. It gets all kinds of awards. Everyone’s talking about how great it is.


I think Americans have let their brains go to mush! Very few people really use their creative genes. It’s rare to meet someone who tries to utilize all of their God-given gifts to do better, be better, create something amazing or become the best version of themselves. Like I said, when we meet someone like that, we immediately make a big deal out of it.


I’m starting on a new story this weekend. It’s about friendly aliens that invade our planet and set up a colony here. It will be full of twists and turns, exciting chases, love scenes, scheming and all that stuff that makes up a good story! All I need is a title!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Have No Pants!

I used to be a really good housekeeper. Everything in my home was clean, dusted and well-organized…even the closets and cupboards. But now that I live alone, it just doesn’t matter anymore if there are cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and dirty clothes in the floors.


The downside of this behavior is that nothing is where it should be. If you want a cup, look in the plate cabinet. If you need tea, look in the sugar jar. If you need pants to wear…it turns into a peculiar Scavenger Hunt. You go around looking on doorknobs, hat racks, clothes trees etc.

Since I do live alone, it is acceptable to go around the house with no pants on, but what if Fed-Ex comes to the door? This has really happened and trust me when I say that the Fed-Ex guy would prefer if I wore pants at all times.


So I’m taking another stab at cleaning and organizing this place. First of all, what are all my blouses doing hanging on doorknobs? What happened to hanging things on a clothes hanger? It’s not rocket science. Secondly, where are all my pants? I used to have quite a nice assortment of summer pajamas, shorts and capri pants, but now, I can’t find anything.


At the moment, I’m wearing a light blue top and the bottoms to an orange pajama set. If I had to go to the door, it would be incredibly embarrassing. If there were a fire and I had to evacuate, imagine my embarrassment when the 5’Oclock news cameras came out to interview me. They would take one look at my blue shirt and orange pajama bottoms and immediately assume I was crazy or on drugs.

This is just wrong! I have shirts and pants that match, but can’t find them in all this mess. So this is a cautionary tale. Even if you live alone, it’s important to clean your house regularly, vacuum the floors, do the dishes and wash your clothes.


Now, I need to go either find shorts that match this blouse or the tops to these orange pjs. I just got a notice that Fed-Ex IS making a delivery today and I promised him I would NOT come to the door again with no pants on!! For your enjoyment, I’ve written this clever limerick on the topic of … you guessed it …PANTS:

There was a young man from Chance
Who could not find his pants
His shirt was all covered
With ketchup and smothered
In onions, tomatoes and Red Ants!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nails

My nails and hair always grow real fast. I've taken calcium and vitamins my whole life so that's probably why. They will finally get so long that it slows down my typing speed. When you read and write thousands of words every week, one thing you gotta have is fast typing skills. But long nails make it really challenging.


So I always have this conflict. Long nails are pretty but do you want to type 50 wpm or 70 wpm? Usually, speed wins out over pretty. It might be different if I had a rich husband or big bank account, but like most Americans, I live just above my means AND from week to week.


If anything weird happens, like you get sick or work is slow, then you start to panic. I think life would be much more fun if I were wealthy. 

Money gives you choices. You can live where and how you want to. You can be eccentric. I have always been just naturally eccentric, but when you’re poor, they call it “difficult” instead. It’s not pretty or cool or anything if you’re poor.




But often wealthy people are self-centered. They’re jerks. They only do things to make themselves feel good and rarely care about others. At least that’s the way rich people are always portrayed on TV. But what if that stereo-type is not true? What if rich people are really nice and thoughtful?

Nah…that’s probably not true. They’re probably selfish jerks, just like we all thought.


Anyway, I’m thinking about cutting my nails. Yeah, that’s all this post is about…whether or not to cut my nails. It’s nothing profound about how poor people are noble, always suffering in silence. It’s not about how the rich get richer, etc. It’s just about nails and whether or not to risk reducing my typing speed simply to have pretty nails. Boring stuff. I apologize for this post. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carrier of the Memories, Keeper of the Secrets

Most of my family is buried near my grandmother’s farm in Kaufman Texas. There are tall oak trees everywhere and rich sandy loam soil. It’s always warm with bees buzzing around your head. That’s the way I remember it anyway. Miles and miles of aromatic pastures with tall weeds growing against a barb wire fence. Cows and horses grazing in the background. Big grasshoppers jumping up from time to time to startle you.



I roamed those woods when I was a kid and dreamed of being a fairy princess with all the animals as my friends. The world was so pure, clean and simple them. Common sense and righteousness always won out over evil. You could leave your doors and your car unlocked and nobody would bother them. Your kids could play ball in the streets and be safe.

The world has changed so much since those days. But maybe it wasn’t the world that changed; maybe it was me. But maybe it was the world. Yes, I’m pretty sure both me and the world changed, but that’s what life is all about. Every day, we move forward. Every day we grow older, we learn something new, we meet new people. Life is sort of an evolution where things are always morphing.



Like wildflowers that come alive in the springtime but then die out by fall, so are the days of our lives. We’re here on the planet for a very brief period of time – about 80 years which is nothing compared to eternity or even the age of our planet. The bible says our lives are like a vapor of smoke. Now you see me, now you don’t.

I’ve watched my own loved ones over the years, observing this to be true. One moment I was laughing and talking on the phone with my precious sister, and the next I was planning her funeral. One moment I was at McDonalds eating breakfast with my mother and the next I was in a hospital holding her hand while she died.



One of my great sorrows is that I am the last surviving member of the family I grew up with. My sister, brothers, parents and grandparents are all dead. I’ve felt the weight of this for some time now. I’ve realized that, once I pass from this earth, there will not be one single person left who remembers my grandmother’s farm. Maybe that’s why I write about it so much…because it was just too beautiful to ever forget.



I write about my sister a lot too and talk about my childhood. Though it wasn’t perfect, I want there to at least be a record of it all. I want someone to remember my mom’s cornbread dressing and giblet gravy. I want someone to read about what a summer day in East Texas feels like. I want you to see those tall oak trees and smell the herbal grasses and feel the grasshoppers jumping on you.

There are so many amazing people and places I’ve visited and gotten to know. I want there to be stories written that tell you what the world was like back then. Once I’ve completed all my stories, perhaps I will be able to go gently into that great good night, as Dylan Thomas says. Though he was an exceptional poet, he only lived to be 39 years old and wasn’t able to get all his stories written, but I’ve been here a bit longer so maybe I will.

Whatever happens, I want to be buried there in that lovely old graveyard where all my people are, under a graceful oak tree, where bees buzz around all day and a cool breeze occasionally blows through the trees, rustling the leaves.



Of course, I’ve asked my daughter to wait till I’m dead to bury me. People are just so crazy nowadays, that I feel it’s necessary to give them thorough instructions about the important stuff. You can’t just take for granted that they’ll wait till I’m dead to bury me…haha. It ain’t like the olden days at all anymore!

I’m about to publish my autobiography. I’ve worked on it for many years but now it’s finally ready and it tells the honest story of my life. I did NOT ice over the dicey parts and make myself sound like Mary Poppins! I told the truth, but even now, I’m apprehensive about releasing it. 

Maybe you’ll love the stories, maybe you’ll gasp and wonder how someone could do such a thing. Maybe you’ll come away thinking poorly of me, but as a wise man once told me, “Sometimes the only way we get to experience something is through someone else.”


So get ready for a wild ride!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Questions of a Child

Where are you today, Father?

Are you riding the wind
Across the Night Sky?
Having tea on clouds
Of blue with Angels?

 

Are you warring against
The Enemies of Heaven?
Making grave decisions
That will affect us all?

Are you rescuing people
From alien worlds
We know not of?
Solving their daily problems?
Barely escaping disaster?

 

Do you take much time off
For Yourself?
Or have a girlfriend?

Do you have
A Favorite Song?
And can You sing it?

 

Could I hear you singing,
As I hear your Voice
Call out to me at times?

How is it you have
Such time to come and listen
As I cry out for your help?

Will You be there always,
For all mankind?


What is ‘Forever’?
And what does ‘Eternal’ mean?

Will I know these things
Once I pass from this life into yours?


Carolyn L. Sorrell – Copyright 2005 – All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On Board a Sinking Vessel: Hurricane Gustav 2008

The 2008 hurricane season began to gear up in late August. A tropical storm formed several hundred miles east of Haiti. After damaging parts of Haiti, it moved on to Jamaica, then Cuba and then into the Gulf of Mexico. Once a tropical storm gets into the Gulf, it has no choice except to make a landfall somewhere, usually along the U.S. coastline. With hundreds of miles of warm Gulf waters to travel over, the experts were predicting that Gustav could eventually make landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.




Imagine everyone’s fear when the hurricane center predicted a landfall near New Orleans. New Orleans and the entire Gulf coast was only three years out from Katrina. Though some rebuilding had been done, it was far from restored to its pre-Katrina state. I was put on standby on August 28th, said good-bye to everyone and started packing my bags.

The Gulf Coast was spared another Katrina-like disaster when wind shear caused Gustav to lose momentum. It finally made landfall on September 1st as a Category 2 hurricane. I’d been wanting to return to New Orleans and see how the rebuilding was going. It felt good to go back there. Though there was quite a bit of flooding, it was nothing like Katrina. There were no cars and boats on people’s roof tops. There was no toxic sludge to wade through.


A bunch of us found a hotel right across the highway from the Superdome. The hotel where we stayed was fairly new and had been built where there were once slums and projects.


As I would drive past boarded up office buildings and hospitals, I wondered what the mayor/governor had done with the billions of dollars the federal government had provided for the rebuilding. They had certainly not spent it wisely but Louisiana was one of those places that was well-known for political corruption.


Most of my inspections were in neighborhoods that backed right up to the Gulf of Mexico. One man had a really beautiful two-story home that he had custom designed. Behind the house, there was sturdy pier and dock for his boat. He was a real estate agent and had put some time and work into getting this amazing house perfect. He showed me the whole house up and down, then took me out back to the pier. We walked way out back till we were 200 feet from the house.


The Gulf of Mexico was beautiful. He had a boat house and dock and all of it had been damaged. I told him I’d do what I could but boat docks, piers and the like are never covered unless you can prove you lived full time in the boat and needed access to it. I didn’t think he could do that since he had a large beautiful home on the same property.

I went on to my next appointment. It was a boat. It’s not uncommon in coastal regions for people to live on boats. I drove out onto a wide dirt parking area with a few large old buildings sprinkled here and there. The owner of the boat I had come to inspect was sitting in an old rusted out pick-up truck.


He got out when he saw me pull up. “Hey, are you the lady from FEMA?”

I got out too, gathering all my equipment. “Yep, I’m her. Where’s your houseboat?”

He put his hand up to shade his face from the steamy Gulf sunlight. “That’s it over there.”

I turned to look where he was pointing and was disappointed to see that it was quite a crappy looking vessel … not a bit seaworthy. I also couldn’t see any type of dock leading out to the boat.


“There’s one small thing I forgot to tell you,” he says.

I sighed. I always hated when people said things like that to me. It always meant something horrible, like, the whole house was full of fleas, sand, sea creatures, toxic mud and the like. 

“Okay, well what is it?” I wearily replied.

“The boat is sinking,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Well, that’s a new one,” I answered back.

He chuckled. “I’m sorry. I was afraid if I told you on the phone, you wouldn’t come. Besides, I’ve got a generator on board pumping the water out of the hull. You can hear it running.”

So I walked over closer to the man. “So … is it safe to go on board?”

He ducked his head, staring at the ground. This was never a good sign. “Well … I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘safe’ but, I mean … you know.”

“Yep, I do know.”

“What I was thinking, is that I could just tell you what all is on board the boat and stuff like that, then you could fill out your paperwork, and FEMA would pay me and then I could just let it sink. It’s got a pretty big hole in the hull.”

The guy had his plan all worked out. “Can you prove to me that you lived on the boat?”

“Well … I get all my mail at a PO Box, but my ex-wife will vouch for me. I do really live on the boat. I’ve got a bed, a TV, a microwave and stuff like that on there. And I’ve got papers that show that I own the boat. Is that good enough?”

I turned around again to stare at the leaky vessel. It was a sunny day in September; a perfect day to go sailing … but not on a sinking boat. “The only way I can approve you for federal assistance is if I go on the boat and see for myself that you really do live there. Now how do you get on board? I don’t see a dock.”

He sighed and scratched his head. “Well … that’s another thing.” I didn’t like the direction any of this was going. “I don’t really have a pier or a dock per se. I made a little plank that leads from the shore to the boat. See? That’s it over there.”

I walked toward the boat and could see a narrow handmade plank or sorts, that led from the ground to the boat but it didn’t look wide or sturdy enough for a human to walk across. It reminded me of that time me and Gomez had to cross that handmade bridge in Ai Bonito, Puerto Rico. It was precarious, but the only way to cross from one steep hill to the other. There was an 80 foot drop-off just below us. I was sure we were going to die that day.









I started laying my computer, phone and other equipment down on the ground. The only thing I would really need is the camera. “Okay, well, let’s do this! The boat is, after all, sinking, so there’s a bit of urgency to get this done.”

“Oh my gosh! Really? Thanks so much! I really appreciate this! I’ll help you cross the plank. It’s not as bad as it looks.”

 

He was lying. All my applicants lied to me. He held my arm as I slowly put one foot in front of the other, trying not to think about falling into the filthy water. Finally, I made it to the other side with a big sigh of relief. He quickly joined me.

“It’s noisy with the generator running,” he yelled to me. “As soon as you inspect the boat though, I’m just gonna let it sink. I’m spending $100 bucks a day on fuel for the generator.”

I nodded, then started looking around. I took a bunch of photos, then went below. Sure enough, the guy had a bed, TV, microwave and a few other personal possessions. You could easily tell that he had indeed been living on the boat. He talked the whole time while I took pictures. Finally, we went back up on deck.


I handed him my camera. “Here, take some pictures of me. I’ve never been on a sinking boat before. Usually, the boat has already sunk by the time I get there.”

He laughed and took the camera, taking a few photos of me in the bright Gulf sunlight with miles and miles of ocean in the background. I said my good-byes and took off to the next appointment.