Most of what I know of New York and New Jersey comes from movies or television. Sure, I know trivia about the place. I can pick out the skyline in a lineup. But everything I know about New York City comes through someone else's lens with other connotations to it.
The Nazis carrying torches and confederate flags don't speak for me. Nor do the politicians crying out for unity when they not only benefited from but directly incited division. We may share skin pigmentation or citizenship, but they do not speak for me. We are none of us equal until we are ALL equal. We are one race: human. Our diversity is a strength, a feature not a bug.
Okay, so I haven't posted here in 7 months. I'm sorry. Bad writer, no biscuit. But! Stuff has been going on in my personal life with health and such that I just have been dealing with. Head down, figuring out a new normal all that stuff. I'm going to try to be better about posting here, on Patreon and being a writer in general. I had a very good weekend at the Cirque Du Livre writers' conference. Got to speak with some great colleagues, and hear some awesome ideas. I will not be at Phoenix Comic Con this year. Sadly that wasn't to be. However, I will be at WesterCon in July. My schedule is still firming up, but I will post it here.
So, what brings me back to the blog after such a long time? Well, this is a happening that is just too long for Facebook or Twitter.
At approximately 3am, your Pajamazon was sleeping soundly when a dull bang roused her from slumber. My husband hurried into the bedroom and I asked, "Are you okay?"
"The house across the street is on fire."
Holy shit! He had parked on the street, so he went to move his car into the driveway so that emergency services (already on site) could have unimpeded access to the blaze. I staggered out into the living room and saw blue and red lights. When I went outside, a fire truck was between me and the house, but I could see flames above the truck. There were other trucks up and down the street, and a few police cars. Sirens signaled more incoming vehicles. Our avenue was blocked off from every direction. Fire fighters silently paced the area, some holding axes, while others prepared the hoses. Emergency workers were making sure the neighbors were safe and surrounding the burning house.
Not long after this, my neighbor came over and told us her account of what she saw and when she saw it. Had the homeowner set it himself? On purpose? Had he fallen asleep smoking? She had seen someone sitting on the curb at the corner and she assumed it was him. Had he been handcuffed? She thought so.
The situation, for all the lights and loud engines, was freakishly calm. These first responders turned what could have been utter chaos into order, and handled it like seasoned professionals should. My daughter woke up, saw the lights and heard voices/radios and got scared. My cat was hiding in the doorway of the closet, ready to dart in should the need to hide arise.
The blaze was contained quickly, and within about 30 minutes the firefighters were shedding their gear on our driveway. They packed up within about an hour of that and I was asleep again by the time they left.
This morning, an officer came knocking before 7:30 asking for witness accounts and cellphone video if we had any. Honestly, I didn't take any. I thought about it, but worried that would be morbid or something. The blue and red lights in the smoky night was lovely even though the situation was serious. But I didn't get my phone. Neither did Sean. But I filled out a report about what I saw. (First time I've ever filled out a police report. So I've done something new today!) I asked the officers if the homeowner was okay. They said he was fine, but in the hospital for minor smoke inhalation.
The house today looks...better than I thought it would? The carport is a charred mess, and the truck inside it is a heap of Chevy-shaped melted glass, plastic and warped metal. As I drove K to school this morning, I saw more damage in the back yard. The house itself appears largely untouched from outside. There's a small portion of blackened roof and a window that's out, but otherwise it looks only a little worse for wear. There's caution tape. There are police cars. There's a pair of glasses on the sidewalk in front of my house, lenses broken, earpieces bent. They look like they belong to the guy who lives in the house across the street. There is ash and char on the sidewalk.
It's a strange scene.
I'm glad he's okay. I hope this was an unfortunate accident and that he can pick up the pieces and rebuild.
I know that police departments get bad reps. I know that some people don't think emergency services are that important. What I saw last night was a dance of cool-headed precision. They kept everyone safe and did the job. Today they're still doing the job to make sure that this was just an accident. Frankly, these responders are fucking badass. Are there problems with individuals? Is there systemic racism? Are certain communities worse off? Yes to all. But these jobs matter. These people matter. And they're doing amazing things that the rest of us can't possibly shoulder.
So yeah. That was some excitement for my day. When I finally got back to sleep at like 5am, my dreams were messed up. Some of them had me standing outside watching the house burn. One of my cats was on a cactus (like a bobcat...even though that cactus was removed last year), and there was a huge raven. In the dream, I got the sense that the raven belonged to the guy across the street, and that it was now homeless. I stretched out my hand and offered it a place to sit. It jumped on my shoulder and made itself comfortable. So the rest of my dreams featured my raven friend.
It's so quiet today. My cat is sitting beside me, almost like she wants the comfort of being nearby. The kiddo is at school. The husband is at work. It's a normal day.
How weird is that?
So, something really awesome happened this week. Part of me wants to keep it close to the chest and privately bask in it. But at the same time....damn, this was a super cool thing, a simple joy. And shared joy is doubled. So I'm going to tell you about it.
But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this one.