So I am overjoyed to be back in the classroom--even with my horribly crappy schedule. I took some pictures from my drive to campus and some images from around campus. The one of black Santa and the worker is on Franklin Avenue, the road I drive to work every morning. I found the stranded boat spraypainted with a call for Greek pledges somehow uncanny. Next to the student crosswalk from the parking lot to the campus buildings is a FEMA trailer park that sits, unused. And finally, no UNO party would be complete without money wasted on stupid inflatables. On to my post...
Reading back, I realize that many (okay, most) of my recent entries (all right, all of them) have been, well, depressing. I worry that I'm injuring the reader (my mom,) and that harping on the negative will cause my reader(s) (my mom) to turn away. While I want my readers to empathize, I don't want to injure them.
In a class I once took in graduate school about literature of the Vietnam War, we talked about trauma and recovery. It is impossible, our prof said, to recover from trauma if the listener cannot listen without injury. I thought that was a fluke. How can we truly empathize without feeling injured?
At any rate, today I will share a bit of hope in sharing with you my return to teaching at the University of New Orleans (this in spite of the fact that the President's State of the Union Address was an abomination worth a blog unto itself... our local news has New Orleanians reeling about the mere 36 seconds spent on New Orleans, the lack of any new rebuilding plan or commitment, the absence of appropriate reverence for the 1,000+ dead; Simon reminded me that it was politically relevant for him to eulogize the dead in his speech after 9/11. Ours would be better ignored from a political standpoint.)
Whoops. That was anger.
School has started, and I get goosebumps in the classroom and am nearly brought to tears by the posts of some of my students in my online classes. Here are some excerpts:
"Hi everyone, my name is Kristen Johnson. I’m currently staying in Georgia with my parents, siblings, and boyfriend. Long story short, my house in Louisiana has to be rebuilt so I’m living here for now..."
"My name is B__. I am currently a graduating senior at UNO. My major is Hotel/Restaurant/Tourism Administration in the College of Business. I am fortunate enough to still be living in the metro New Orleans area because my house did not recieve major damage. My heart goes out to the many that did though. I work at the front desk at a hotel downtown which has re-opened, even though we had 5 feet of water in the lobby. (and looking for employees if anyone is interested!)"
"Hi all. My name is M__ and I am a senior majoring in Psychology. I also have a minor in business management. I am originally from the West Bank. I graduated from Brother Martin in 1999 and hope to graduate from UNO this fall. I was currently attending UNO when Katrina hit. I was lucky enough to get into LSU and find a place to stay in Baton Rouge. I just recently came back to the city, and I am in the process of moving into a town home uptown.
I am also a member of the 159th Louisiana Air National Guard Unit. If you guys ever pass through uptown and see the soldiers in the humvees…that’s us. I also bartend at the Venue, so if your ever in the neighborhood come swing by. Finally, and certainly not least, I receive all my joy from my 3 ½ year old son, Tyler. He is a spitting image of me and his favorite books are pretty much anything pop up!
I’ll have to admit I have a terrible time finishing a book front to back in less than a 8-10 month period. But needless to say I really enjoyed Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I even delved into his Silmarillion a bit. It was mostly for the background. I also like Tim O’Brien’s If I Die in a Combat Zone and John Barry’s Rising Tide. Rising Tide was particularly interesting because it was basically a crash course on the Mississippi River, the flood of 1927, and the politics behind it all.
My hobbies include hitting the gym about 5 times a week, spending countless hours on the internet, playing with my son, and enjoying time with my friends. Even though UNO is not the same I am very glad it is back up and running."
And my favorite:
"My name is Yvonne but all of my friends call me Alexis. I was born in New Orleans and my family has always been here but I've lived in different parts of the southeast. I am 19 years old and I have been out of high school for 3 1/2 years and now is my first time in college. I homeschooled myself my junior year, which allowed me to complete two years in one and graduate early. I then left home, started to work full time and joined a band. I love to travel, sing, read, write, play, listen to music, appreciate art and history, work out and hang out with animals. I have two rokken little dogs- Lady Death Dog of Doom, a 3 year old papillion (9 lbs) and Lord Korsan, Champion of Terror, a Parson Jack Russel Terrier who is just a 9 week old puppy coming in at 5.6 lbs! My family's houses were in Lakeview and my apartment was in mid-city so Katrina pretty much ruined my life. Now I live in a FEMA trailer in Metairie and the state of my city makes me sick. Some days I feel like I'm living in the ghost of what my life used to be, especially when I drive to the UNO campus because Lakeview is so dead and it used to be so alive. Anyway, I am just grateful to be in school because education is freedom and freedom is life."