I own a mirror, I have eyes, I know I've put on a few pounds.
I like my Ben and Jerry's, there's a perfect ass shaped bare spot on my couch, and I recently quit smoking (pretty much).
I didn't think I was in denial.
I realize my pants are fitting a bit tighter, my inseam has gotten considerably shorter, and lately when I'm sitting down my gut nestles warmly in my lap like a small child.
I've noticed that when I mention I think I'm getting a bit fat, my GF no longer tells me that I'm being silly and instead mentions the Gym down the street and tries to wrestle the Rice Crispy Treat out of my hand.
Basically, I thought I knew the score.
I'd decided that I had obviously reached a new waist size plateau and it was time to just give up and buy some pants that I could breathe in, so Sunday I headed for Lexington avenue to hit all the chain stores and hopefully find a sale or two on pants for work.
The first stop was Express Men. They're usually having a sale and have plenty of clothes I can get by with at work.
I should have suspected something was up when the salesperson kept trying to avoid me. I finally pinned him against the wall and told him I was looking for some pants, cotten, semi-dressy, 36Wx34L. He pulled me a couple pairs from the rack and I slipped into the dressing room.
I squeezed into the first pair, sucked in my gut and managed to get them buttoned. They were so freaking tight I was afraid they'd burst and send a button rocketing across the dressing room. I swear I could hear them crying. I probably left stress fractures in the waist band.
Maybe he heard me wimpering or something, but the salesguy asked me if everything was okay. I told him that I thought the pants might be a bit tight. I expected him to offer to get me a larger size, but he had strangely disappeared. I hobbled out into the store to look for a 38 waist myself.
After checking out two different racks of pants, I realized that 36's are as big as it gets at Express Men.
No wonder they salesguy ran away. He probably has two or three fat bastards coming in every day looking for 38 pants. Half of them probably break down sobbing in the store when they realize that they're now stuck shopping at Al's Big and Tall. Nothing worse for sales than a fat man curled into the fetal position on the floor of a store, crying to himself and showing his hairy buttcrack through the huge rip in the ass of his unbought pants.
I, of course, am made of stearner stuff and barely even sniffled as I peeled off the new pants and changed back into my baggiest jeans.
My drive to shop was finished at that point, but my GF convinced me to go to Banana Republic. I managed to find a size 38Wx32L which fit much better than I would have liked. I wasn't too happy about it. I looked around for a 38Wx34L, but apparently they don't carry that size. I also noticed that there are no 40's on the racks.
Apparently, I've outgrown one store and am at the extreme limit of another. Things are not looking good. Maybe Al's Big and Tall has a sale going on. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
But that's not what I came here to talk to you about.
A week ago, one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit this country more or less wiped out a major US city. It sucks in a way words cannot even begin to express. An awful lot of people were left stranded, hungry, desperate and scared for much longer than they should have been.
Something obviously went wrong.
I'm sure we'll rebuild New Orleans, and I'm glad because I love the city. It truly was one of this country's great cities.
Sure it was a corrupt poverty ridden cesspool, but it also had more culture and personality than any ten sprawling suburbanized mega-cities. As places become more and more homogenized, more strip malled, "Chili's"ized, and Starbucks laden, a place that truly is it's own like New Orleans becomes even more important.
We'll rebuild it even though it makes no sense to rebuild a costal city 10 feet below sea level surrounded by water, and still sinking. It is an enigma, a city that has no place in the natural world. A city aware of the threat and more alive because of it. A city that knew it was living on borrowed time and compensated by the unbridled celebration of life.
We need places like New Orleans.
No one is surprised it was destroyed. No one will be surprised when it is wiped out again in 50 or 100 years.
What is surprising and frightening is how fucked up the rescue efforts were.
I don't want to discount the enormity of the task. Rescuing a couple of hundred thousand people from a devastated area roughly the size of Great Britain, an area with no power, no gas, too many flooded roads and people with guns taking shots at rescue workers is no mean task. Despite all the knowing looks and smug commentary coming out of Europe these days I doubt any other country on Earth could have mobilized the kind of support, both physical and financial, in twice the time that the US has.
That said, I expected more and better from this country. Something obviously went wrong.
A lot of it was probably the fault of the mayor of New Orleans who didn't send out a couple of thousand buses to evacuate residents without cars, a lot of it is probably the fault of the governor of Louisiana who didn't call in the National Guard in a timely manner (yes, it is the job of Governors to call up the national guard during a natural disaster), some of the blame probably rests with FEMA who seemed much more lost in an emergency than you would expect an agency, specializing in just that, would be, and yes, perhaps some of the blame rests with George Bush's administration and especially it's appointment of the head of FEMA.
Yes, people fucked up and we need to fix it. There will be more natural disasters, and even New Orleans will probably be flooded again some day. I want a better response next time.
But I'm am pissed as hell at all the left wing freaks, pundits, and news people trying to blame this whole cock up on George Bush. It is most certainly not all his fault. There were failures in the system from top to bottom and I want them all fixed, but a lot of people are playing politics with the dead and suffering left behind by this hurricane. People want to kick George Bush and spin this as his big mistake.
This must stop.
We all need to take a deep breath and realize there is more at stake here than the next election.
We need to understand that people have died, and we need to understand that focusing all our attention on one part of the problem (and probably not even the biggest part) at the exclusion of other issues is no way to make things work better.
Every left wing democratic partisan out there frothing at the mouth and babbling ridiculous statements about the President hating black people, about GWB not mobilizing the national guard (which is not even his jurisdiction), about GWB being on vacation (where he is still working, just not in DC) is making it harder to see the true picture of what happened in New Orleans.
Any one of us could be caught in the next unfortunate disaster this nation faces, and I for one want this country better prepared.
Pointing your finger at the president just because you don't like him isn't going to make that happen. Not pointing your finger at the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governer of Lousiana just because they are democrats is most certainly not going to help.
God help and watch over all the people who have suffered as a result of this tragedy, and God Bless all the brave men and women who have risked life and limb, both in uniform and out, to help their fellow man in need.
We are a strong and generous country, but lets make sure we don't need to be so strong and generous next time.