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Sunday, November 18, 2012


It's been a reflective week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012: Speak up!

 A fare hike is in the works, again. The MTA wants public feedback on proposed fare increases on subways and buses. One of the public hearings was held at Baruch College. I attended. Not prepared, I signed up to speak. I also wanted to write about the hearing for I must admit I wasn't feeling my best that day (I haven't been feeling my best for the past three weeks), and had no intention to speak to anyone. Before I knew it, someone took my yellow ticket and my name was called. As I got to the podium, my right hand trembled. Looking at the faces of MTA board reps was intimidating for me. What would they think of my thoughts about the proposed fare hikes? I introduced myself and began talking. I thanked transit workers for their hard work in getting our system back and running after hurricane Sandy. I expressed the hardship it would be for all of us with paying higher fares, especially now with so many people unemployed and homeless due to Sandy. I also expressed concern over the B38 bus and their regular versus limited bus service. I was surprised I had their attention and finished before my three minutes were up.

Moments later as I was jotting down some notes for my story, I hear "Dara K. Fulton." It was none other than my friend and PIX11 news reporter, Greg Mocker. We said our hellos and discussed the hearing. Next minute I know, he was giving me a mic and the camera was one us. "I'm not ready for this" I shyly said to Mocker. He replied, "Oh come on Dara K. Fulton, it's not like you haven't done this before." I laughed and said "Okay, no problem." Here's our discussion which was later aired on PIX 11 news that night:

Here's my story about the hearing:

It was great to see Mocker. He encouraged me to continue to speak up and to stay on the trail. That made my night.

Sunday, November 18, 2012: Post hurricane Sandy-Coney Island

I went to Coney Island today. It's one of the places I go to when I need to reflect. However, this time is different. It's been two weeks since hurricane Sandy hit NYC and her presence is still felt throughout the boroughs. Coney Island is just one of the many badly hit areas. I had to see for myself how it was affected. When I got off the F train at Stillwell Ave, it was quiet. This is a station that's always bustling with people. Very few people were out and about, many speaking quietly. I felt sadness while passing by the now closed stores inside the station, including the Dunkin Donuts I usually go to. I quickly noticed  the line along the "Coney Island" sign on a building's wall. That line is where the water rose to during the hurricane. A reality of how powerful Sandy was, and the amount of flooding Coney Island endured.

I walked along the boardwalk and an eeriness was felt. There were people walking, bike riding, some pushing baby strollers, but quiet. Parts of the boardwalk is broken with small piles of sand, and huge shovels left on the beach. Some people were walking along the shoreline taking pictures, some stood on the boardwalk making "wow" sounds. The sun was beautiful, as always. A sign of hope I guess. I sat by the walkway I usually go to reflect. I can see why it's closed off. I almost cried seeing how much damage was left behind. I thought of the residents who live in the area. I wondered how they are coping with Sandy's aftermath. I hope their power was restored and life goes back to normal for them. Sadly for some that won't be the case. Many lost their homes during this hurricane. I hope to help the victims of Sandy in one way or another.


Besides watching how Sandy left things and lives broken, I've been feeling broken too. My brokenness has nothing to do with the hurricane. It has to do with every aspect of my life as it is. For the first time I am letting go of something that is very important to me. I decided not to attend grad school. This is a difficult decision, because it's something I've wanted for some time. Some may think I'm giving up, be disappointed or even judge me. But I know putting grad school on hold is best for me at this time. There are other factors to why I feel broken. Too many things to get into here. One thing I do know is I'm keeping an open mind and heart. I surrender myself to God. My life is in a transitional phrase. It's an awkward experience one I can't explain. I just have to go with the flow.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3

Here's a video of my reflection at Coney Island:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Letter to my grandma

Dear Ma-Ma,

I took a walk today. It's been a few days since that horrible hurricane named Sandy. The clouds are still thick and the air crisp. We're in November. The buses were running sporadically and fares were waived. The crowds were enormous and people are acting crazy just to get on the bus! I've never seen nothing like it. Traffic was bad too. I went to the nursing home. It looked different inside. It's darker and not as welcoming as it was when you were there. I signed up to volunteer. I had a tour of the facility. I tried to remember what room you were in. I remember when Brother and I would visit you after school and keep you company. I remember you telling Mom how much you loved us because we were your babies. The residents today looked so unhappy. Many are very ill. I remember Mom explaining to us how you didn't feel well. To me you looked the same. Your face a little smaller, but your smile still big and bright.

Walking down the hallways, seeing patients sit in wheelchairs looking uncomfortable bothered me. Watching a nurse attend to a woman, whose hair reminded me of yours, moved me. As I left walking through the double doors, the air was chilly. The clouds were blueish gray and thick. I stood there for a moment looking down the block. I could hear the loud cries from children whose dad told them their grandmother had passed. I remember falling to the ground yelling your name. I had just seen you on a Thursday. Friday you were gone. I should've known something was wrong that late afternoon when Mom didn't pick us up. I remember feeling happy giving Dad a big hug and asking to see you.

As the wind blew, my eyes began to well up. I felt your spirit there with me.

I miss you Ma-ma. I'm about to do something that's emotionally challenging. I don't know if I'll be good at being a volunteer working with seniors. I don't know if I'll be a good social worker. In the wake of this horrific storm, I feel more determined to help people. I'm more stubborn because I'm willing to risk things in order to make a difference. I guess I take after you. You was never one to back down from a challenge. I guess this is mine. I wonder what you would say to me regarding this matter. I wonder what it would be like to sit with you and just talk. At the time I wasn't old enough to drink coffee. How nice if we had a chance to drink coffee together now. I appreciate your presence today. Would you hold my hand? I am not as brave as many think I am. Sometimes I want to go back to being the little girl playing in your backyard, knowing you are there whenever I need you. As an adult Ma-ma, I feel alone. I make decisions that I don't always know if they're right. I get angry when I'm mistreated, I cry when I don't understand it. I wish you could be here to guide me along the way. Things haven't been easy as of late.

There I go with my burdens! I apologize. I'm grateful everyday I had the chance to know you, to bond with you, to love you. I miss you so much and you are always in my heart. I know you are in good hands. Heaven must be a wonderful place.

Love always,