Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This breaks my heart, completely. I am in my office, preparing for student conferences, crying. Ouch.

*From The New York Times*

March 22, 2006
Evacuees' Lives Still Upended Seven Months After Hurricane
Nearly seven months after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and forced out hundreds of thousands of residents, most evacuees say they have not found a permanent place to live, have depleted their savings and consider their life worse than before the hurricane, according to interviews with more than 300 evacuees conducted by The New York Times.

The interviews suggested that while blacks and whites suffered similar rates of emotional trauma, blacks bore a heavier economic and social burden. And even as both groups flounder, most said they believed that the rest of the nation, and politicians in Washington, have moved on.

"I don't think anybody cares, really," said Robert Rodrigue, a semiretired computer programmer who has returned to his home in the suburb of Metairie. "New Orleans is kind of like at the bottom of the country, and they just forget about us."

The Times study is the first major effort to examine the lives and attitudes of those displaced by the storm's devastation at the six-month point, a moment when many must decide whether to establish a life in a new place or return home.

Fewer than a quarter of the participants in the study have returned to the same house they were living in before the hurricane, while about two-thirds said their previous home was unlivable. A fifth said their house or apartment had been destroyed. Many have not found work and remain separated from family members.

Still, most of those interviewed favor returning to the city, expressing a sense of optimism about the recovery process or, more often, a fierce yearning for home, as if staying away from New Orleans were like trying to breathe air through gills.

Friday, March 17, 2006

So I don't like to make a habit of laughing at my students' expense, but this is too rich. Plus, it's a Friday: time for a laugh. So here is an interpretation of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" by one of my students in my online Major American Authors class:

"I guess the poem I could relate to is “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. This poem I think relates to life and life’s choices. In everyday life people have to make choices sometimes these are good choices and other times these choices are bad. For example someone decides to rob a bank; this would be a bad choice, because that person would go to jail if caught. Plus they would have a police record for the rest of their lives. On the other hand this same person could make the right choice by going to work and making an honest living. In the poem there were two roads to take one could have led to the right choices in life, and the other one that was not taken could have led down the wrong path; a path of crime and dishonesty."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I wish I were a cat. A domesticated one with indoor/outdoor privileges and no children in the house. I wish I were one of my cats.

I'm pretty sure that cats don't worry about work and the future and one's body suddenly seeming lumpier than usual. A cat might even luxuriate in their body being lumpier. It might strike them as a funny thing to bathe.

Mine, though--my real, live body, is lumpier in a way that I find very much un-luxuriating. (Surely this is not a word, but you know what I mean.) Is it that I am nearing 30? Or is it that I am on the Katrina-diet, which generally means bad food and lots of booze? Will I have to cut out margaritas? (Oh, I do not want to give up margaritas!) Maybe it's that I am partnered with a lean and spry thing (Simon) whose appetite mirrors mine and whose metabolism is an insatiable beast. (Simon is the only person I know who can eat three bowls of cereal at three a.m. and not pay for it.) More importantly, though, why do I CARE?

So a tee-tiny bikini arrived in the mail today to mock me. Not only does it barely cover my nipples, it is also an extra-large. So I gave Gunnar Peterson 20 on my Core Secrets space ball. Soon, though, it became un-fun. And then there was Simon in our back yard, swinging his tennis racket, jumping his rope, and generally being sweaty and active. It broke my will, so I gave up and checked my email. Oh, how I love email.

No--this entry has nothing to do with my post-Katrina New Orleans. There still are all kinds of important things to worry about in my Post-K New Orleans, sure. Like work. And the future. But for one blessed moment I will wallow in vanity and self-pity. I will remember these small concerns that were, once upon a time, a Big Deal to me. Sigh.

Oh, to be a cat!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tell Bennett to EAT A DI*&*@#*K!!!!

Senator Robert Bennet (R, Utah) said in Washington today (as our local politicians were forced once again to beg for the meagerest of handouts for our struggling city that is struggling because of a FEDERALLY-CAUSED FLOOD):
"Building a city 10 feet below sea level doesn't seem to me like an inherently good idea."

Tell him your ideas at:

And in the meantime, add a comment that lists other "inherently good ideas" that our government supports, no questions asked (or public scoldings offered.)

ARGH! I am incensed. Again.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Well, I knew it would happen: Carnival season came along and distracted me from everything I "should" be thinking about--my (inconsistent) writing, my (unstable) future, my (often-interrupted) sleep. Instead, I reveled. Importantly, I reveled. And now I am on the recovery-end of the season, trying to drink more water, take more walks, sleep more soundly, and yes, keep up with my writing. (Oh, and I am also trying to do my Core Secrets exercise video. Rockin.)

I am aware that out there in the "real" (read: functioning) world, a debate was afoot about whether or not we here in New Orleans should have had Mardi Gras. I came down on the yes side. It was an easy thing for me, I suppose, given that I am living back in my (largely undamaged) home, where the worst of my worries is, um, my future. And although my present, and therefore my future, is less awful than that of many New Orleanians, I still needed to let loose. We all needed to let loose.

Here's what we did:

1.) I paraded (in the Muses and Proteus Parades) with the Ninth Ward Marching Band. The Ninth Ward Marching Band is an all-adult marching band that I've been in for five years. The band dates back ten and is the brainchild of Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat--Bywater weirdos and creative geniuses/puppeteers/inventors/musicians. I will write more about the band, as it is so so so important to me, but for now all you need to know is that it is a fun, fun, fun group that marches in uniform and this year played "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and "House of the Rising Sun." I am the captain of the cheerleaders. Again: the most fun.
2.) Watched parades. We actually missed the first day of parades entirely, and it was very, very depressing. Five parades rolled in less than two hours, and there we were, late, expecting another one to pass, eating fried chicken and waiting, expectantly. In other years, the parades would have lasted all day. This year was different. Luckily, the later parades were in "full effect," and the themes were wonderful. The Krewe of Carrolton's was "Blue Roof Blues." Muses was "We Got Game," and each float featured a board game that lampooned local and federal politicians. Krewe D'Etat's theme was "Katrina Olympics," and they, too, lampooned Blanco, Nagin, Bush, Brownie, and Dennis Hastert (the prick who looks at us as a "financial investment," not as a city with real, live people and a rich cultural history that cannot be quantified.)

3.) Costumed. This year I brought out my famous red pant suit and put on my yellow feathered mask and was, once again, "100% Fun." Simon was a big hit in his Super New Orleans Man costume. He worked hard on it, and he posed for many a photo. Blue tarps were featured in many a costume this year, as were Meals Ready to Eat (MREs,) caution tape, and references to Brownie.
4.) Took 900 pictures of Anderson Cooper interviewing a man in a pink tutu and a giant pink afro. Cooper really does take it "360 degrees," dude. Check him out.
Also, check out my friend Jackie, who makes the most amazing tribal costumes.
5.) Laughed at the Jesus Freaks in front of Jackson Square (and then felt bad about it. Damn my religious upbringing!)
Jackie filmed Jesus being put on a cross. He said, "Not too tight." I hope Jackie gets it to the Daily Show for This Week in God.

6.) Ate corn dogs.

7.) Danced alot.

8.) Waited in a lot of lines (albeit much shorter ones, this year) to pee.

9.) Smiled and laughed a lot. Smiled at other people's smiling.
10.) Felt good and whole for a while.

11.) Came home and felt tired and bad for a while.
12.) Woke up sad that it was over.

Mardi Gras is my favorite, favorite day of the year. It is really something everyone has to see. But don't come and watch--come and mask and come in costume. Even the oldest of men (and women) do! YAY!