Friday, February 8, 2013

Norm in The Wave: Trying to Get Sandy Out of My Shoes (and not succeeding)

By Norm Scott
(published in print and at

Since Howie Schwach turned this column over to me when he became editor of The Wave a long, long, time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I’ve attempted to stick to the subject. This column is called “School Scope.” I guess that means I should be writing about schools. Or education. Or mouthwash.

I started off the school year in September after a summer off as I usually do, catching up on the summer ed news you all were hungering for. I wrote about the Chicago teachers strike followed by a slam against Chicago Mayor Rahmbo. Then a piece of satire on Teach for America and the NFL replacement refs (if you don’t get this it’s a teacher thing). Then we took a river cruise in Portugal during the first 2 weeks of October where we discovered the wonders of Port wine before resuming the column with a piece on the upcoming Presidential elections (remember those?) where I announced I was voting green. That was October 26, or what is now known as -3 BS (Before Sandy), Rockaway’s new dating system. The column didn’t resume until +53 PS (Post Sandy) with three columns covering an hour by hour account of weathering Sandy on October 29.

Well, two weeks ago I figured it was time to go back to the school stuff or change the name of the column. So I wrote about the big brouhaha about the teacher evaluation system. But when I opened up The Wave on January 25 (my wife’s birthday) my pathetic little column about education was lost in a sea of Sandy. Yes, we all can’t get Sandy off our minds. It comes up in almost every conversation amongst friends and strangers.

Two weeks ago we were at the Howard Beach Animal clinic which had just reopened that morning, recovering from the Sandy devastation. We had dropped off Penny the Runt, the feral kitten our good “friend” had convinced us to rescue from her backyard, who seemed to have reached spaying age. It was early in the day and the place was packed, with people coming from as far away as Staten Island. It was so good to see Dr. Weinstein who had gotten ill during the post-Sandy interregnum. I’m sure the stress of almost losing a business he loved so much played no little role – as it did with our alarm guy who also became ill from being so run-down due to the enormous work load. The doc, still recovering, was beaming with pleasure at being back. “I’m so glad everyone showed up,” he said. It dawned on me that he really didn’t know if he still had a viable business until that morning. The serious long-term impact on isolated Rockaway, which was in the midst of a revival, will be told by the businesses that can come back.

The impact of Sandy seems to go way beyond the loss of material goods. Naturally, the topic of conversation with Dr. Weinstein was mostly storm-related while Penny was very understanding and waited her turn. Hey, she has stories too. Her mom and brothers, still outside, survived the storm, most likely by climbing trees, and she was very happy. We left her for the day and went across the street to Dunkin’ Donuts and there were a bunch of guys there telling stories, naturally, about Sandy. We joined in. Entire neighborhoods of strangers are still sharing stories today, +102 PS.

Everyone in the world has heard of Rockaway. I am taking a course in storytelling in Manhattan. Other than me, the other 6 people plus the instructor are not native New Yorkers but all knew where Belle Harbor was when I told my Sandy story. Most of the stories we tell in class have humor in them as we prepare for a performance. I tried, I really tried. No dice. While we tell our Sandy stories to each other with animation, it just didn’t feel right to try to “craft” a story and I let it all hang out. We’re just not ready to stop talking about Sandy.

Norm still blogs about educrap (and Sandy) on his blog:

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