Thursday, February 09, 2006

Katrina Fatigue

I know, I know – so what if the terror of Mr. Tumnus ranks higher on Bush’s to-do list than New Orleans? I understand – you all have Katrina fatigue. You’re tired of hearing about it and you want to move on.

You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of waking up somewhere that isn’t my house everyday. I’m tired of waiting forever for insurance money and spending all my time sitting on hold trying to talk to FEMA, the SBA, mortgage companies, and banks. I’m tired of driving across town and standing in line for half an hour to get my mail. I’m tired of paying “estimated” electricity bills for a house that hasn’t had electricity since Aug. 29th out of fear that if I don’t pay, then when I get the wiring replaced they won’t flip the switch for me.

I’m also tired of non-working stoplights, like the one on St. Charles that constantly showed green while blinking yellow – what does that even mean? We all took it to mean we could go through the intersection, just really, really slowly. But hey, at least it’s one of the 5% of stoplights in the city that work at all. I’m tired of downed power lines and dirty water lines. They’re on everything – houses, streetlights, cars, trees. I’m tired of trash piled high on every curb and I’m tired of everyone having Katrina Kough.

The smell. Jesus, I’m sick to death of the smell.

I’m tired of bouncing between relief I have a job now and worry that next fall Loyola will have a freshman class of 5 and I’ll be out of a job. Again. With a mortgage.

I heard another grocery store was opening up, and I was so excited I dreamed about it, literally dreamed of wandering down aisles of fully stocked shelves, kicking my heels up as I rounded a corner heading from orange juice to whole wheat bread. I woke up joyous, and the truly pathetic thing is that was one of the Absolute Happiest Dreams I Have Ever Had in My Entire Life Ever.

I’m kinda fatigued over things like that.

Here’s what else I’m tired of – using September 11th to justify everything. Bush didn’t get around to mentioning the Gulf Coast until an hour into the address, but he got 9-11 in there in three minutes and then went on to brag about Iraq for an hour, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11th, had no ties to al Qaeda, and no weapons of mass destruction to sell to them even if he did. And yes, I’m tired of pointing that out over and over again, too. I have September 11th fatigue. Or, I’m sorry, is that in bad taste?

I’m tired of it still looking like September around here.

Everyone I know has had the conversation with some well-meaning friend from some other place who says something along the lines of “Well, sounds like everything’s pretty much back to normal.” No, it’s not back to normal. It’s so far from normal we’ll never be normal again. It’s not that the work isn’t done yet – it won’t be done for several years. It’s that the work hasn’t even really started. Despite what Bush claimed a while back, New Orleans is not a “nice place to bring your family.” There are plenty of New Orleanians who don’t want to move their families back because they’re worried their children will get sick, and I don’t blame them.

I’m tired of everything, from the beer I drink (Abita Restoration Ale – a buck from every six pack goes to the recovery effort) to the classes I teach to the small talk with strangers, absolutely everything being about the recovery. I long for the day when every conversation doesn’t start with, “So, how’d you make out?” And I’m tired of the fact that there’s no need whatsoever to explain what that question refers to.

So don’t mention Katrina fatigue to me, not unless you enjoy the feeling of my boot up your ass. I don’t have Katrina fatigue – I have Katrina complete and total fucking exhaustion. I would give anything for the luxury of having Katrina fatigue.

3 comments:

doctorj2u said...

Dale,
Very good post. It is sad but true. I can't believe the city is left to rot. I always knew our city and state politicians were worthless, but now I think the federal government has shown that the locals are just rank amateurs. It is time to see some progress. I am at a loss as to what else I can do to help.

Kate said...

I didn't bother to watch the State of the Union address this year. It's like what comes out of that administration's mouth has no real bearings on reality, on what is really happening in our country.

I enjoyed hearing your radio clip, by the way, Dale.

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