Friday, August 25, 2006

We've made it into the cone .

My mother called today and said she'd been reading somewhere about the importance of green space to one's mental health. She hoped we could come up to Atlanta and to the north Georgia mountains again soon, she said. "We may be there next week," I told her. And with this Ernesto being who he is, we just may.

In other news, the UNO English Department faculty meeting was today--an event full of introductions, figures, and finger sandwiches. The enrollment numbers sound encouraging so far--12,000 students are enrolled as of today. That's down from 17,000, Pre-K, and our budget is based on a projection of 14,000, but we were told that the English Department is structured for just 12,000, so none of us should fear losing our jobs. Other numbers were less encouraging. New freshmen are down by 50%. Out-of-state student enrollment is at just 60% of Pre-K numbers. What one could say is that these numbers are good, all things considered. And so this is what we say. But this all depends on one crucial thing: that we avoid a storm this summer.

In fact, I remember back when our mantra was "January." Back then, we all felt like there would be some sort of Real Renewal we might see with the New Year--or maybe we just felt like, "If we can make it until then in the midst of this crap, then we can make it, period." I don't know. But our new mantra is "If there's no hurricane this year." If, if, if. If is hard to live with. And what is perhaps harder to live with is knowing that If really means When.

Over the past week, the Corps of Engineers has been running tests of the new pumps and locks. Imaginary Hurricane Butch is the menace they have been fighting, and with each of the runs-through, the pumps have failed. I don't know what this means for us, and what it means for our Ifs and our Whens. Simon and I feel reassured that our home will be okay, standing (or sinking) on relative high ground as it is. But I remember pictures Jackie sent me of the days immediately after the storm--the days when water stood on our street, too. When we returned, we found objects from the back yard had been deposited in the front yard. I can only imagine where the items from Tom and Brandi's Gentilly back yard may have ended up.

And so we watch this Ernesto, who has now been named. We are In The Cone, now, and it is a terrible place to be. I feel weepy from it. Scared. Tired. Worried. It really isn't a way to live, I guess. What is this f-ing love that keeps me here? How strong can it be? Stronger than Ernesto, I hope, I hope.

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