What a long (and yes, strange) week it has been. I have fallen into a major spell of lethargy, which does not go well with anxiety. What I've done with it is a whole lot of nothing but worry about our future, lie around on the couch, eat far too much fried chicken in one sitting (okay--so that was while watching the very exciting Saints-Eagles game and therefore excusable), and sleep badly. None of this is new, but the unstructured time that comes with the big, fat breaks that we college instructors are afforded does not help. I have never had a handle on self-discipline, and so my long list of projects I meant to get to over the break has only added to my anxiety and guilt. The things I could be doing... the things I should be doing...
I did make something of myself over the past week. For one, I attended the crime march. It was just this past Thursday, but as with the week before, it feels like ages ago. I parked my car at Canal Place, walked to the meeting spot--the foot of the World Trade Center--and wandered around, reading signs, observing my neighbors, wondering where the minorities were. Later, we were in fact joined by members of the mostly-black Central City neighborhood, but it was once again a mostly-white protest. Many of the posters on the Bywater-Marigny nola.com forum derided folks for discussing the racial makeup of the march. Still, I wish the black community weren't so disenfranchised--and that our organizers (and yes, people like me) had done a better job of rallying minority residents. When I read (or hear) others saying that the issue isn't about race, I can't help but ask how it couldn't be.
But I am not feeling articulate enough to put this together.
At the march, I did see Marna David, a realtor we've met with about a few properties in Holy Cross. She was kind enough to give me a "HOLY CROSS, WE ARE REBUILDING" T-shirt, which I wore happily.
I felt a bit like an imposter, though, and I realized as I wore that shirt that I have very mixed emotions about our future (potential) move to HC. I can understand why the black community would want badly to protect HC and the lower ninth from gentrification by white folks like Simon and me. I am also a little afraid... not of the general criminal-element boogy-man, but of targeted attacks against us (whities) for moving to an area that black New Orleanians would understandably feel fiercely possessive of.
And then I was reading this evening about Holy Cross the school. I don't know what misguided notion I'd had before--somehow I thought it was a historically black boys' school--but that school is whitey-white-white. Evidently, the school's decision to move was not impacted solely by the damage brought by the storm, but instead by the neighborhood's shift in demographics--from middle-class immigrant (white) families (German and Italian) to lower and lower-middle-class black families. Apparently, many of the families whose boys attended the school lived in St. Bernard, a neighborhood whose reputation for white-flight is notorious. (Recently they even instituted an ordinance to force St. Bernard residents to rent only to family or other St. Bernard residents. At least this is what I'd heard. One doesn't need an imagination to realize that this ordinance would prevent the largely-black population from New Orleans that is desperate to return to affordable rentals from moving to St. Bernard.) Still: I am hoping, oh I am hoping that Holy Cross was moving for less dubious reasons. And I hope, too, that all that I heard about St. Bernard is not true.
I just feel so conflicted about our move there. Guilty for gentrifying. Guilty for being afraid. Guilty for threatening the fragile makeup of a neighborhood that is already broken.
Speaking of broken... we drove down to the house last night, and oh, was it dark. Simon was worried about just how poorly lit the street was, but I pointed out to him that it was primarily dark because there are no other occupied homes on the block. Sure enough, when we returned to our 'hood, we noted that the streetlights give off the same, dim and inadequate glow. And because there are three unoccupied homes on our block now, the street is still quite dark.
So we plan to light that house of ours up. And all week I have been browsing designs on HGTV.com and marthastewart.com and lowes.com and whatnot, looking at dream kitchens and dream living rooms--looking for paint colors and at cabinet-stains and lighting fixtures because we got the revised designs for our home... and we are now about to sign a purchase order! (If anyone knows how to attach a pdf. to this post, tell me and I will attach the plans.) I'll write more about this soon (I hope).
I realize that I have not described a strange week, at all. I guess it's just that when I look back these memories come to mind, and they feel weird, all together:
1) driving to the house at night
2) watching the Saints game
3) having a hard time sleeping
4) attending a family-literacy training workshop
5) complaining to my colleagues at happy hour on Friday about my lousy schedule and being perpetually on the bottom of the totem pole at my job
6) drinking margaritas at the Dragon's Den
7) scanning Katrina refrigerator magnets
8) reading Madame Bovary
9) attending a crime march
11) doing laundry
12) watching the season premiere of Rome
13) presenting a humanities-based discussion of Jane Goodall's book, "The Eagle and the Wren"
14) looking for the perfect boots
15) deciding on novels for my fiction course
16) watching the Golden Globes
17) going to choir practice
17) reading other blogs and feeling a) immature and b) unread.
I need to go to bed if I am going to start getting up--as I will have to--at 6:15.