Friday, September 09, 2005

Evac 5: Still Moving

Hi everyone,
Sorry it’s been so long since my last email. I had some busy days – first off, driving to Nashville and then on to Virginia, and then slogging through the bureaucracy of everyday life – calling the mortgage company, the insurance company, registering for FEMA, talking to credit card companies. “Putting my life back together,” as we call it, though honestly it seems like so much meaningless nonsense when I consider how many people can’t put their lives back together. Ever. I hate waking up. For a second or two, I don’t remember where I am or why I’m there and then it all comes back. It’s like it happens all over again every day. And then I just have to go on with my day anyway.
Which I do – the good news is Loyola got their website up and running and I found out I still have a job. Classes are cancelled until January, but they intend to reopen then. The campus is relatively unscathed.
Side note – as I write this, U2 just started playing the best song ever on the hurricane relief concert on tv.
So I’ve gotten through the short-term. I’m fed and sheltered, and yeah, it’s surreal that I needed to focus on that for awhile. Now I’m moving on to the middle-term (the long term being rebuilding New Orleans), which is what I’m going to do until January. What I want to do is get somewhere close so I can help. I know this is a longshot, but if anyone knows of an apartment I can rent for three months, maybe starting in October, somewhere nearby (Jackson, Nashville, Memphis, Houston, whatever), please let me know. Anyway, I’m going to be working on that for the next week or so. Gavin and Allison are in Houston or heading there (I haven’t talked to them in a couple of days – connecting isn’t easy). They’ve got an apartment and are going to see what they can do. Speaking of which, how is my cell phone working? I can call out but I don’t really know if calling in works – it’s XXXXX, by the way. Arwen’s in Nashville, and she’s getting in to New Orleans later this month to be a doctor.
Morgan Freeman quoting Faulkner – man will not just endure, but prevail. Very nice. Interesting to write this with the tv on – clearly I need some kind of real-time blog set up or something. “George Bush hates midgets.” Is that funny? I laughed, but I’m not sure. Jack Nicholson singing into a phone – that’s just weird. Hey, there’s the Foo Fighters – thank you, Dave. Ugh – Mariah Carey – where’s the mute?
Of course, what I really want to do is just go home. I found a website with maps and satellite photos and flood information which said my house had 6.3 feet of water – not sure how accurate that is, if it’s peak flooding, or updated information taking the receding into consideration. Here’s the site - That gives hope for my bass guitar – my last gesture at hurricane preparedness was to put the bass on top of the brand-new stove not even out of the box, and then I locked the boarded-up door and left my house. That said, I know my apartment didn’t flood and while I know security was a serious problem, now it seems that’s under control, water is flowing (though undrinkable), and it seems like they could start letting us in sometime soon. Rebuilding is ultimately going to be a matter of all the residents getting back in and tackling their homes one at a time (we certainly don’t want New Orleans to get Wal-Marted and Disneyfied).
That’s something that I haven’t heard on the news, so I’ll mention it – the unbelievable amount of renovation that has been going on in New Orleans over the last seven years or so. The list of friends that have bought houses and renovated them – Gavin and Allison, Jen and Cesar, Janet and Monty, Erica, Gina, Gloria and John, I could keep going - that list is practically as long as my list of friends. The majority of us have done it, and now we have to do it all over again. But that’s what it’s going to take to rebuild New Orleans the way it should be done, with an understanding and love for what makes it special, so let’s get back in as soon as possible.
That said, the list of people that I know that aren’t coming back is also growing, and that makes me sad. Not that I blame them – it makes perfect sense – but I will miss them. Smuteye is a trio now, not a five-piece, but Smuteye still exists, and Darv promises he will keep sending us lyrics from North Carolina.
The strangest things hit me, like when I heard Coolbone’s version of “Keep on Using Me” (is that the right title?) as the background for a commercial and I had to stop what I was doing and just sit for a few minutes. Or today when I wanted to get a haircut. Normally, I’d call Jeni at Aidan Gill, which is this old-fashioned barbershop on Magazine right around the corner from my apartment where they give you Guinness or whisky while you’re waiting and still do hot shaves, which I always meant to do, and Aidan and the other men wear bowties. Plus, he’s Irish and throws a party every St. Patrick’s Day and the parade band makes a point of stopping and saluting him. And now I have no idea what happened to Jeni and her baby boy and so getting a haircut was clearly out of the question.
Meanwhile, Brownie is no longer in charge of the relief effort, which is a relief. They should just fire him, but now he’ll be in charge if Ophelia hits Florida – you have my sympathies, Florida. It’s infuriating to watch all these people (Bush, the Two Stupid Michaels, even Bush the First) saying not to point fingers and then in the next sentence pointing fingers at the state and city government, as if there isn’t plenty of blame to go around. Right, because we have to focus on the now, instead of what somebody did or didn’t do before the hurricane hit, before a disaster was declared and FEMA took charge (also before the hurricane hit, by the way). As if Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama aren’t in a constant struggle to see which is poorest and has the fewest resources. As if Mayor Nagin isn’t the only person, the only person, I’ve seen go on the media and take personal responsibility and admit he should’ve done more. Methinks people don’t want to cast blame because they are to blame.
I guess this is what happens when you put people who don’t believe in government in charge of the government. What was it Norquist said? A federal government so small it could drown in a bathtub. Fairly apt turn of phrase now, isn’t it? Oh, how I long for the days when the worst abuse of power, the thing that brought the government to a screeching halt in scandal, was a blow-job from an intern.
There I go again, ending on a sour note. I’ll try to avoid that next time. When I’m not feeling anger, or depression, or all those other stages of grief, I really do feel hopeful, and determined, and sure that we will get through this, and that maybe, maybe we’ll actually be a better nation and people because of it. But on that last part, probably not.
Anyway, thanks again for all the phone calls, emails, well-wishing and help. My love and appreciation go out to each and every one of you. More later - Dale

No comments: