Thursday, August 04, 2005

Life, The Universe and The Great Generosity of Friends

I've avoided blogging up until now cause I don't even know where to start. Should I talk about Reno? My house burning down? Or the amazing, overwhelming, awe inspiring generosity of my fellow writers who have stepped in to make this horrible experience more bearable?

Well I guess first things first. My Reno adventures can wait til all this is over. (Though I do have great pics of conference chicken I'm dying to share!)

I took a red-eye flight home from Reno and my dad picked me up at the airport. My cell phone has been on the fritz and so I couldn't get it to turn on. No worries though - who would be calling at 7am? The flight was a half hour late, luggage took forever, and we got lost trying to find the car, etc. So we finally pull out of the parking lot. I'm sooo excited to go home. Exhausted after being in San Fran and then Reno. Hadn't been home in a week and a half and just wanted to change into pajamas, curl up on the couch and watch DVDs and be alone for about a year. (Okay I had to work the next day, but still - you know the feeling!)

So then my dad's cell phone rings. It's my stepmom. She says something really bad has happened. My house was hit by lightning and is completely gone. She starts telling me details but I can't really focus. I start to cry. Suddenly I can't go home. There is no home. And everything that was in my home - childhood photos, drawings, journals from high school, writing, etc. etc. is gone. Forever. It feels like my whole past has been wiped away in one swoop.

Plus I am so tired from the red-eye flight and now I have no place to go. No place to curl up and be safe. I have to be around people. Field phone calls. etc. etc.

We go to my dads. My stupid cell phone will STILL not turn on. That gets the brunt of my frustration and anger - I think I had to focus on something tangible to stress over. All my phone numbers of people I need to contact are stored on that stupid phone and I feel helpless without it. I go online and email and IM a few friends. No one can believe it.

I take a nap but can't really sleep. Too wired, too stressed, too upset. My dad talks to the fire marshall and I find out craziest part...If I had been there at the house I would most likely have died! They believe the lightning struck at 4am the back of the house - right where my bed was. And the whole thing went up in 20 minutes. If I'd been asleep there it's doubtful I would have made it out. Or at least not with major major burns and probably the death of my dog.

When I think about that, I realize I can't be too sad about losing my possessions. Sure I am sad - I lost EVERYTHING and I have no insurance. And the things that can't be replaced - I had borrowed my mom's photo albums to scan in some pics and so now I have no childhood photos! And I lost all my stories and drawings and awards and things I had archived from growing up. My journals from high school, my really bad books of poetry. All gone. It's like my past has been wiped clean except what exists in my memory. That's the true tragedy. I don't care too much about the furniture. I do feel terrible that my kick ass computer was burned up. BACK UP YOUR WORK EVERYONE! (I luckily only lost 1 day of work on my book but there were a lot of other things on that hard drive.)

To switch gears a bit - one thing amazing has come out of this tragedy and that is to see a community of people come together and help me. Alesia, Lani and Barb - you guys are my heroes! I mean these women have a lot on their plates - they have books due, Alesia is moving, Barb just sold, etc. etc. and they still are taking sooo much time out of their busy schedules to organize this fundraiser. I am so overwhelmed and just so so so grateful. And I can't believe the list of editors/agents/authors who are donating critiques for the fundraiser. I mean - Jenny Cruisie? Stevel Axelrod? Can I bid on my own fundraiser? :) heh. And my dear, dear wonderful former and current editors - Kate Seaver, Cindy Hwang, and Chris Keeslar - have all volunteered to donate critiques as well!! Do you know how busy these people are? And yet they're willing to do this. I am in awe. I love you guys! And there are lots more people on the list - which I don't have a copy of or I would name them all and thank them individually. But go to the Literary Chicks website and soon you will get a list and be able to bid.

Anyway - I've gotten a million emails from concerned people and in time will try to respond to them all when I get back on track. But I did want to publicly say thank you and that I read every email and each one is so precious to me. It feels so good to know that there are people out there thinking about me and praying for me. I know with this kind of support, I will have no problems getting back on my feet.

Okay this is probably such a babbling, incoherent blog entry so please excuse me. Thank you all again for your support and I promise to keep everyone updated. I'm going to move into my new apartment tomorrow. (Luckily I had been planning to move anyway so I had a new place lined up - and just think - now I don't have to pack!)

I'll write more soon.
PS I took photos of the remains of the house. You can check them out here. As you can see there's not a lot left...


Anonymous said...

Oh honey, I can't believe how close we came to losing you. THank God for RWA and thank GOD you came!

I'm so sorry for this terrible loss. If there is ANYTHING we can do, please let us know. We're in this together and you should know you can count on any of us anytime.
take care, girl.

Shannon McKelden said...

Marianne, I'm sure you know, but we have all cried buckets of tears for you in the last four days. Buckets!! Thank God you are all right. Help is on the way from so many places. Just please know we all feel so blessed to have met you and spent time with you last week and it breaks our hearts that you've had to deal with this.


Anonymous said...

Marianne, I hurt so much for you. I can't even begin to fathom what you've been through...what you're going through, but please know that we are all here for you and willing to help you however we can. Even in light of such a tragedy, it's so heartwarming to see how much everyone...your friends--old and new, co-workers and even strangers...have banded together to help. Nothing will ever be able to replace your memories, but hopefully all of the donations here and there will help ease the burden a bit. You're in our thoughts and prayers. And remember, you're not alone. :-) I'm so glad I had the opportunity to finally meet you in Reno, and SO sorry for your loss.

Warm thoughts and hugs,
Christina Arbini

Shalanna Collins said...

*boggle* I am SO happy that your dog was with your mom and wasn't hurt. The worst part is your photos and journals, as you already know. *mourn* My mother's house (our family home) burned down about six months after I married and moved out . . . all she could say the next morning after the firemen walked us through (and only the kitchen/TV room end actually burned, though all her stuff was ruined with that smoke damage and water damage in the other part of the house) was "I want to go home. I just want to go home." Of course there wasn't any home. She couldn't sleep for days after that and just paced back and forth in our little house. One of her cats (her favorite, my grandmother's cat whom she'd "inherited") hid under this crappy old sofa she had that had sort of a "wire cage" bottom (it was a Mediterranean horror from the 1970s) and was suffocated, but her other two cats were outdoors at the time and came to our house with her. It is a miracle that she just "woke up" and was awake when the wall burst into flames--she had aluminum wiring and it was a smoldering fire. ANYway, same kind of thing happened to photos and mementos. Years later she would still catch herself looking for some item and realize it burned in the fire. This is one of the most mindblowing experiences ever, and you are not alone--we feel for you all the more knowing how it is. ((hug))

SO my whole POINT in coming here was to ask, which books would you like to have sent to you? They gave me an address. But NO one has yet told me what you like to read. Do you need a dictionary/thesaurus or what? Saw a World of Warcraft fragment had survived in your photos. Please let me know what you need...go leave a comment in my LiveJournal or whatever...

Amie Stuart said...

Honey I dont know what else to say that anyone hasnt said but you're in my thoughts and prayers.

Rhonda said...

Oh Marianne - I just came by this blog because I'm a member of the chick lit chapter. I'm so, so terribly sorry to hear about your tragedy. I'm so glad you and your dog are ok.

Hang in there. We're all gonna do what we can to help you as best as possible.

Shanna Swendson said...

Oh, I'm so glad you weren't at home! RWA really did save your life. I can't begin to imagine what you're going through, but you're living my worst nightmare.

Joy said...

I'm so sorry. There's not much to say in a situation like this--except that lots of people care about you.


moonhart said...


Support is one of the reasons that this community of writers is the best in the world. I weep over your loss, but I thank God that you were not in that house at the time. From viewing the pictures, I agree that you were very lucky NOT to be there when it happened.


Things can be replaced. Well, not everything, but YOU with your wonderful stories can not be replaced.

Terri Prizzi

SavvyChick said...

I am trying to find a silver lining in all of this. I am so thankful you are safe. Things are replacable, you are not.

We are here for you! Am sending you support, love and a gift certificate for some serious shopping!

-Serena Robar

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

All I can say is thank god you weren't in that house. You must have a guardian angel out there. Just know that you have so many people who have either just met you or have known you a long time who are thinking about you.

Lynn Daniels said...

I'm so glad neither you nor your dog were in the house at the time of the lightning strike, yet I still hurt deeply for your loss.

In the midst of the recent controversy, I've been so heartened to read of all the support, and donations on your behalf, and I'm literally floored by the generosity of the writing community. We really are among a wonderful bunch of people.

Sending you hugs, good thoughts, and prayers...

mhgibson said...

I'm nauseated looking at your house...especially since I've been there and still picture everything. You know we're all here for you!

Marley = )

Courtney said...


My thoughts are with you. I know this is a really tough thing that you're going through and I only wish that we could bring your poor house back.

You sound amazingly upbeat, all things considered. Keep it up.

Anything else I can do... just say the word.

Jana J. Hanson said...

You are in my prayers, Marianne.

Crimson Ink said...

I'm so sorry for all that you've lost but so very thankful that you and your dog are unhurt.

Sending prayers...

Robin Bayne said...

Also glad you and your dog are safe.