Storm, drawing

Storm, drawing


Dear Friends,

Thanks for your concern about us. Still dealing with the aftermath of the tornado. Jenna and I are fine, but minor damage to our house, and we lost our cat. We were here in the closet when the tornado blew overhead. We're shaken. The yard is trashed. My neighborhood looks like a war zone, as the path the twister took is less than a block away. My next door neighbor lost her front porch, and next to her the roof lifted off the house and set back down again. Many of my friends lost everything.

Sometimes I get real weepy, other times I just sob. Mostly I say prayers of gratitude - like when I made coffee this morning in my own kitchen, and when I got dressed in my own warm, dry clothes. I feel blessed, so very blessed to have survived when there is so much devastation around me. I've lived on this street almost 20 years and am still in shock with the wreckage I witness now.

The community effort to clean up is phenomenal. The cops are guarding the entrance to our neighborhood night and day. The insurance people, Red Cross, federal emergency relief folks, and city-contracted clean up crews are all incredibly helpful. I have checked on my friends down here but have not been able to face just "sightseeing" the aftermath. My heart hurts with how deeply the people, their lives and the environment in this beautiful area have been violated.

Thank you all for the calls, the concern and caring. It has meant a lot to both Jenna and me.


My dear family,
We're piecing our lives back together. The tornado blasted us through to a cellular level. Actually it was Jenna who got us all into the closet with flashlight, radio, pillows, blankets, and water. We asked each other what is the one thing we would like to save if the house goes? We grabbed pictures of family.

It seemed like we were in that closet for hours. It rained hard and we heard hail on the roof. The winds blew strong. The lights went out. Then it was dead silent. Jen and I held each other's hands. A roar louder than thunder, louder than a hundred trains vibrated through everything around us. We heard an explosion and then stuff banging around. Our ears popped. Then it was dead silent. Then the rain came HARD. Jenna's eyes were like saucers as she said, "Was that the tornado?" I nodded. She squeezed my hand tighter. We waited.

The announcer on the Walkman radio said the tornado had ripped apart the grocery store 3 blocks southwest of us at 17th and Main, and then flattened the Waffle House 2 blocks northeast of us by the freeway. I dreaded seeing what had happened outside our door.

Arms Around, drawing

Arms Around, drawing

I was safe there with Jenna and the dogs in the closet after the tornado blew over; everything I knew and loved and could ever want in the whole world was right there with me. It all came down to a very simple moment of being safe with those I love. Whatever was outside that door didn't matter. But wait, what about my Master's Thesis project - all my art and writings out there--hopefully still inside the house? Does that matter? Does art and writing matter? I had already had the experience of making those works. Was having the experience what really mattered?

Jenna wanted to go out and get her guitar. Playing guitar was her means to create her beauty and joy, to work through her life processes, to make experiences more meaningful. Is making meaning what matters too? There are more guitars, more brushes, and crayons, and so much more music and art to make.

At that very moment, we were there together - with every cell and corner of our souls, all of our visions, talents, ways to make beauty, give grace, and make meaning - all perfectly safe. THAT is what matters.

It is being together with those you cherish. It is the spark of vitality, the possibility, the intention, the motivation for choosing what you value and taking the action to express that.

What matters is being totally and wholly human.

After several more minutes, the phone started ringing.

Aside from the porch having been lifted and moved about 6" to the north, the house frame was twisted, and cracks have appeared in all the inside corners throughout the house. The center wall of the house has tilted to the north at the top. Roof joists under the mansard roof (which was the original roof) have sagged. The foundation has cracked at all four corners and in the middle on both the north and south sides. Our insurance will cover this damage. The adjuster has been by still waiting on the final estimate of damages to the house - probably somewhere around $20,000. There are so many who have lost so much more.

Next door in the little white house to the right, MarySue's porch was completely blown off her house. It took part of the living room roof and a back bedroom roof too. Across the street, Mr Hanggi's beautiful yard was uprooted in a mound of upheaval with one of his beautiful old hackberry trees hanging almost at horizontal over the street. Talk about a Southern tree canopy!

We look outside less than a block south to see our beautiful neighborhood blown to smithereens. It looks like a war zone. Trees are down everywhere. Houses are missing roofs, walls, windows, with pieces scattered everywhere. Some houses are completely flattened. Crews are working dawn to dusk to clean up the debris. Everyone is kind and helpful.

The tornado happened Thursday, Jan 21st. We stayed with friends over the weekend. I tried to work at home last week, but just couldn't concentrate. So I cleaned, organized, tried to get control over some little corner of my life. I wrote, talked and cried a lot.

Jen went to school Friday and Monday. Finally Tuesday afternoon she came home to rest a bit (she has her heavy subjects in the a.m.). I kept her home on Friday too. Sometimes we just cuddled in each other's arms. We've talked about it over and over.

This week its better. The neighborhood is still wracked. Crews are still working daily clearing debris. I've heard that many people will rebuild. This may take a while to work through. Our friend and therapist Georgann Renaud said that we're going through post traumatic shock.

Everyday I feel so blessed. I am grateful to hold a cup of coffee in my hand. Dust balls are a wonder to me. Hearing and watching my child play the guitar is pure miracle.

One day at a time, one instant at a time.

Love you guys. Aimee


GibAnn Tam wrote:
I'd be interested to have some of you respond to this question: "Do not all personal belief require "a leap of faith" ? And if so, what is the point of finding "Truth" ?

Aimee wrote:
GibAnn, I wonder how personal beliefs and Truth, as in Universal Truth, are related? In reading Sophie's World and searching my own soul about my beliefs (especially after a close scrape with death during the tornado), I believe it takes a certain amount of risk to explore, define and clarify one's own personal beliefs. Risk, because one may not take on the beliefs of the established norm, i.e., mainstream religious beliefs, family's or friend's beliefs, and one may risk being ostracized.

Envision, drawing

Envision, drawing

Also, because a person has to decide what is important to his or her own way of being in the world. This takes a great deal of effort - especially if a person was raised to always be thinking and doing for others - when the focus has been on what others want or need. This has been a battle for me, and has required redefining many ingrained beliefs, and working hard to practice this new way of being.

So before any leap of faith is possible, I feel I have to envision what I believe. Then I can act on my beliefs. Is that possibly where the leap of faith comes in? Taking the action requires believing in something invisible, abstract, but something that I feel strongly about and am willing to follow the guidelines of a way to live that my own personal beliefs offer me.

For me finding Truth is the journey, not the destination. This is such a profound question, GibAnn. Thanks for asking it.



Dr. Barry Maid wrote:

You've been noticeably scarce around here. Some of us are wondering if you're ok. Anyway, when you're not here, no one guards the entrance to Chuck's office.

Fluid Clarity, drawing

Fluid Clarity, drawing

...just wondering how you were doing.


Aimee wrote:


There is a magnificence in the clarity this week after being atomized by the tornado. I can "see" better. The moments of lucidity are deeply insightful. I have reflected on the experience and the tsunami-type after effects by reasoning things out with someone else, and by writing. The pure visual art expression is about to bubble out. I'm amazed at the comfort I've found in writing.

It was tremendous energy. Right now I'm it awe of the power, the force, the mercilessness of the great fist of unrelenting air. It gave in for nothing. It's decadent splay of fervency was fickle and sticky where it touched. It left delicate china standing untouched while blasting out walls inches away. And to think it was only moving air.

My house is a bit twisted. Jenna and I are okay. Repairs will begin shortly.

I hope to be coming in a couple of days a week, at least to check in, may work some and guard Chuck's door. (At least I don't require a leash!) But it's been easier to work out of my studio and be available to deal with the insurance adjusters and contractors.

I met with Michael today, about my thesis direction from here. The storm had such impact on my world, the context of my work and my perspective that I may have to at least begin writing about it. He asked me what question would I ask myself. I answered "What difference does art and writing make?"


Thanks for your concern, Barry. It means a lot.




digging with many hands ruckus, oh my! muckity between the toes


Mud Soup an atelier of art and writing
Back Home


This work is © Copyright 1999-2011 by Aimee Colmery of MudSoup Studio, Santa Fe, NM, USA
It may not be reproduced in total or in part without the author's express written permission.

All trade marks, brand names, and works cited are acknowledged as belonging to their respective owners.