November 26, 2012
Seawater and Small Buddhas: 2 Days in the Basements of the Rockaways

On Wednesday, we worked at the home of a woman I’ll call Bettina. I barely met her. But here is a selective inventory of things removed from her basement:
three couches, waterlogged, of different sizes and colors
a small wooden Buddha doll
several telephone books, thoroughly waterlogged
two separate, still sealed, bottles of allspice
a photo album, muddied, containing pictures of a young man growing progressively older
a chamberpot, child-sized, set inside a miniature toilet
pictures of a Catholic saint
two televisions, one flat screen, one monstrously heavy, both enormous
a live turtle (one of a pair, we were told)
an overturned refrigerator, which reeked so strongly when cracked open that we evacuated the basement and called in the fire department for fear of a gas leak
The basement had three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a laundry room, and a kitchenette. Now it has seven ambiguous rooms, each stripped bare of walls and flooring.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Seawater and Small Buddhas: 2 Days in the Basements of the Rockaways

On Wednesday, we worked at the home of a woman I’ll call Bettina. I barely met her. But here is a selective inventory of things removed from her basement:

  • three couches, waterlogged, of different sizes and colors
  • a small wooden Buddha doll
  • several telephone books, thoroughly waterlogged
  • two separate, still sealed, bottles of allspice
  • a photo album, muddied, containing pictures of a young man growing progressively older
  • a chamberpot, child-sized, set inside a miniature toilet
  • pictures of a Catholic saint
  • two televisions, one flat screen, one monstrously heavy, both enormous
  • a live turtle (one of a pair, we were told)
  • an overturned refrigerator, which reeked so strongly when cracked open that we evacuated the basement and called in the fire department for fear of a gas leak

The basement had three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a laundry room, and a kitchenette. Now it has seven ambiguous rooms, each stripped bare of walls and flooring.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

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