Saturday, October 29, 2005

Surviving The Trick

My guy and I have been together for over eight some odd years now. Our love of New Orleans (warts and all) has always been an intregal part of our lives together. I can list every milestone of our relationship with the geographical location of where it happened. We keep track of special dates usually by knowing what we had for dinner to celebrate. Living in a city so full of options from music and dining to shopping and socializing was something we never took for granted. Even with the evident flaws (fubar public ed, crime, out of control corruption) we loved it true and defended it to anyone who dared to put our sweet NOLA down. The thought of ever being away permanently never seriously crossed our minds. We've both turned down very lucrative opportunities all because they required moving away from New Orleans. When the topic of ever leaving came up we'd agree that it would take something really major to drive us out. That major event came and here we are. It's taking a little time for us to get used to it all. That's not to say we're completely unhappy because in truth we're not. He and I have always dealt well no matter what mess we've found ourselves immersed in. Trust me - we've been in plenty.

I think if we had ended up someplace where we could hate things it would actually be easier. We could complain about our surroundings and compare it's shortcomings to New Orleans. If it were ugly or unfriendly I wouldn't have to wrestle with the guilt I am now. Everytime I find something here that makes me happy I get a wave of sick dread that reminds me of NOLA's current state of being and the vast loss that has occured. It's throwing my emotions way off balance. Like I've said here before - I feel this bad and I'm one of the very very lucky ones.

Tradgedy and quick life changes is nothing new to me. I roll with the punches pretty well and have been raised with a sense of survival no matter the odds. Bad stuff happens and it is an expected part of life. That is when it happens just to me and I can keep it to myself. However, when something horrible happens on such a large scale that changes not just my way of life but a mass of others - that's a whole new ballgame all together. Grief is hard to move past when it surrounds you and is shared by so many at the same time. It can't be suppressed and remains raw at the surface instead. It makes the journey back to normal a very rough road.

The worst is the never ending feeling of helplessness. I could donate, pack up care packages and help out in all the ways that I have and still feel like I haven't even made a dent. I'm too overwhelmed by it to even be depressed. It's a huge struggle to find any sort of balance. At some point I'm going to have to get back to my usual pace. There's work to be done both client based and my own art designs and I'm not yet tackling any of it. It's just too much to deal with. Yet I could no more ignore what has happened than I could forget my own name. It's woven into me and the only salve I have is the little bits of help I'm able to offer. Like a selfish child I want it all to be better. Now. Instead change and improvement will only come with time and effort. There is no quick fix. That's a harsh realization.

It's the weekend and Hallow's Eve is upon us come Monday. We're going to make a special go at really getting involved with the festivities. I think my mamma is coming to watch the kiddos while ma and pa get out for a few much needed libations together tonight and we have trick or treatin' to prep for. Both girls are cheerleaders this year but the eldest has to go to school monday dressed as "what she want's to be when she grows up". This week it's a librarian so we're going to head by the thrift store and pull together a cute get-up for that. We also have an awesome pumkin to carve and I want to take a stroll through town to shoot good pics of all the pumpkin/scarecrow displays that are on display all over downtown. It might actually turn out to be a nice holiday weekend. A welcome change.

Friday, October 28, 2005

He's Really Gone Pecan

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Slacker Zone

I've been a big snuggle-hermit all dang day. The sudden weather change has been hard for my mind and body accept. One day we're steamy hot and battling mosquitos the next it's all brisk and gray with an icy wind coming off the coast. I've got no desire to do anything but stay inside and be an absolute slacker. It's pretty bad too. Like eating chessy poofs while watching Ferris Bueller type bad.

Since it's about to rain there's not even the motivation to go to the park with the kids. The eldest went to the zoo today on a school field trip and she's pretty worn out anyways. So, I'm just hanging out and avoiding all forms of over due work stuffs. (Another unspoken source of frustration for me at the moment.) Throwing it all off for another day won't hurt much of anything.

Right now I just want to cook a big pot of pasta, watch Anchorman, and add fringe to a new scarf that's almost finished.

Yeah, it's like that.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday's Wash

We're sitting here watching Hurricane Wilma toss Florida while catching up on our daily dose of H. Katrina's aftermath. It feel like all hurricanes all the time these days. I'm over it. Hey - Mamma Nature, enough already. Eh cher?

The sky over our heads is gray and drizzly with an actual chill in the air. The weather is just so wierd lately. Saturday we went to the fall carnival at my eldest's school and it was hot and bright. By sunday the sky had filled with rain. This morning it had cooled of enough for me to need to put a jacket on my daughter before sending her out the door! It's almost starting to feel like Halloween. Too many tricks but not enough treats though.

I've been crocheting a lot lately. (One hat, and four scarves in two days) Working with yarn at times of stress is like a cheap form of xanax for me. I like the control that a skeen of yarn gives me. From rolling it into neat rounds to deciding what I want to create just makes me obscenely happy. I mostly make scarves, hats or blankies and I can usually work on a project while watching t.v. or the kids play at the park. I love any hobby that lets me multi-task.

Since my headcoldslashplauge is finally clearing I can think straight again. I'm grateful for having a guy who knows how and when to pick up the slack. He kept it all together last week while I mostly when into cold medecine induced comas and slept. He's a real trooper and never grumbled once. Even when told numerous times - "That's not how Mamma does it!" Good man.

Still, there's a lot to catch up on. I don't mind one bit. It's the most basic of domesticity that makes me feel good these days. There is so much control and hope to be found in the most mundane of routines. I have had enough adventure for awhile.

Cleaning to do, care packages to pack, calls to make and beans to cook...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sentimental & Sneezing

The cold virus that is cycling through my house is a real hiefer. One moment we're all coughs and sniffles the next we're tricked into thinking it's almost over. Repeat. It's more of an annoyance than anything really. (A really annoying annoyance.) Still, it's temporary and very minor compared to what has occured in my (and everyone else's) life so recently.

I feel extremely fortunate to have so much of my own extended family around me right now. It's what I miss the most about New Orleans. My guy's family was a huge part of our lives there. Even if we didn't have time to see each other all of the time - we'd still run into one another regularly. That connection helped keep our sense of self well rooted. I'm grateful that we have some of the same here. I think it really makes a difference in our ability to heal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Down...Not Out

The kiddos and I finally caught the local chest cold that's been making the rounds. We're pretty miserasble but really thankful that's it's something so minor it will probably pass before Halloween. Thanks to the wonders of OTC medecine we're actually feeling better by the minute. My next few posts will be co-sponsored by Dayquil. Hooyah.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Emotional Trinity

The Good:

I found a nice place here to get my hair done...

We have been walking to and from school. A very pretty walk if you don't mind being a mosquito buffet....

I discovered a used bookstore that is right accross the street from the school. It's ultra cute, has coffee, and is child friendly....

My guy and I found a local bar that is to our liking....

Seafood here is fresh, cheap and everywhere....

The weather is finally turning cooler...

The Bad:

I've had a lot of crying bouts this week...

The problems in NOLA seem to be getting worse....

Every good memory floods in the realization of loss...

My grief has not faded....

The Ugly:

So many faulting others who choose not to return....

A religous leader bringing in 150 carpetbaggers....

A local government that is cracked beyond repair...

A national government with shady intentions and the inability to really understand the scope of what's happened.....

NOPD is worse than ever...

Seeing my city eviscerated....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Like Some Kind Of Horror Movie

Used To The Unusual

My guy left last night for a week in Jeff/NOLA. He'll be commuting like this once a month or more depending on how he's needed. Right now it feels a little wierd but I'm sure we'll fall into a normal routine in no time. It's just another piece of our currrent paradigm shift.

His business surviving is our only chance for being able to again live anywhere near New Orleans. That means (at least for now) he needs to be there for a week or two out of each month. I can handle running the roost on my own though - that's no problem. I just miss the big guy terribly...

I plan to keep the kids and I occupied enough so that the week will seem to go by faster. We'll organize the house and then get out to explore St. Mary's some. I'm trying to have an open mind about living here by seeing the town through my kid's eyes. They see the hundreds of pretty butterflies, fishing boats and tons of kids to play with whenever they wish. I see someplace that is foriegn and unknown to me. It is nothing like when I was a child/teen visiting for a month every summer.

Back then - it was incredibly rural with just about nothing to do but fish and go to church. Now, there are shops everwhere, top of the region schools, a strongly supported artist community, much more diverse in culture and, individuality is no longer a faux pas. It is by all accounts a small version of coastal paradise (if you like mosquitos as big as hang - gliders and lets not forget the dang gnats) but it is not New Orleans. That's a fact that I'm having a hard time coming to terms with. It's just going to take time and effort that's all. Really.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hands Full

My personal world has been quite hectic for the past few days. We're settling in pretty well but I still can't get used to our "so suddenly new" surroundings. It's getting easier though. We have really been welcomed warmly here and have been trying to adapt quickly.

I have been working on organizing the house and our office needs. A job that has kept me blessedly busy. The less time I have to think deep right now the better. I can get a lot more done if not side-tracked by pain and anger.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Pretty For Friday

The following are a few photos taken at the Howard Gillman Mem. Park , which is just a short walk from our house.







Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Daily Cut

Here's a couple more "bird's eye" views of H. Katrina's ongoing aftermath :

At Humid City - Loki has posted some pictures from his friend Ole Anders who also has a blog called Katrina Creatives.

Se7en has had his hands full trying to clean up and salvage what he can and has been sharing it all at It's a Dog's Life.

Do not forget them.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Way Home

Two of my favorite blogging chicas from New Orleans have gone home for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Jen & Vee both give a very intimate glimpse into what an unbelievable number of people in the area are now facing. Listen to Jen's audio-blog and see her pictures at Life In New Orleans and read Vee's vivid description at Say Goodbye To Romance. They, and so many like them, will need real support if any rebuliding is to be accomplished.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lundi Lundi Lundi...

Compare my story with those not so fortunate. You'll get an idea of the enormous and almost overwhelming job facing ALL areas affected by this year's hurricane born devestation.

Remember: My house is in Old Jefferson which is right outside Riverbend between River Road and Jefferson Hyw. Our area took on next to no water. The damage came mostly from wind and looters/arsonists and downed trees. Jefferson has been open a week. So, what I saw was after considerable clean up. Holy crap.

A tree was in the middle of the Jefferson playground, Dot's Diner had a blue roof, the Circle K and St. Vincient Du Paul store on Jefferson had been looted with all windows smashed. The daquiri shop and BJ's Pawn shop had been burned to the ground but the Frost Stop mug and it's building (I forget the biz's name now) were both looking good. Signs were down everywhere. Fridges were taped and set on the curbs one right after the other. With spray painted warnings of DO NOT OPEN and UNTOUCHED LUCKY & BLESSED. Fences and garage roofs smashed in. Plywood and cardboard signs boasted what businesses were open since a lot of their signage was destroyed. The overall diagnosis looks good.

Our neighborhood was in full swing with a lot of activity and the usual "Hi ya'll! How'd you do through the storm?"

Oustisde our house looked normal and yet abandoned with it's still boarded windows. Except for a few lost shingles there was absolutley no damage at all. Even in the overgrown backyard my fruit trees were holding tight to their still green crop. The rosebushes didn't do as well but they are some tough broads and will surely rebound in a season or two. The siding is covered with this weird green-gray silt but all else seemed in good shape.

Inside was beyond strange. When my guy flipped the breakers it burst to life. The cable was even on and the air conditioner started without a hitch. A closer look showed the real mess. Coffee cups left on the table in the rush to get on the road to Lacombe were covered in bugs and there was a wierd slime on the underside of the couch. Flies were buzzing all over. The fridge which had just been filled with a week's worth of groceries was covered in maggot casings. All electronics were fine and so were our books. (I feel way too lucky on both counts.) Everything else was covered in musty mix of dust and mildew. Roaches had moved in quick and were everywhere. There was a thick smell that I can only describe as pure rot. Unreal.

Things took a wierd turn when we went into the girl's room expecting to find "Courtney" the fish belly up. Instead the dang thing is alive! Not just alive but he and his sucker-fish roomie are in a spotless tank and I swear bigger than when we left. How? I have no clue. With no oxygen (his plants are faux) a feeder rock that was only supposed to last for two weeks (we've been gone a month) they've been running on sheer luck. Looking at him swimming around oblivious to his own peril or importance and hearing the t.v. in my room blaring out Dora The Explorer I suddenly felt like a ghost in my own home. Everything seemed so normal and yet decomposed at the same time.

That was when my guy and I took a moment to have a nice freak-out as every emotion ran to the surface sharp and raw. We are both quite objective but this was just too much to take. Our feelings shadowed logic and our sense of reason. He and I are a good team though and we both got the other through. We once again weighed our options and again discussed our decision to relocate.

In the end deciding to stay in Georgia at least for the next year or two won out as our more responsible path. Facts just can't be argued with and for us it all boiled down to where our children will be happiest for the time being. We began the painful motions of packing.

Seeing that much mess in an area considered almost unscathed made me ache to think of what NOLA and the neglected places like Pearlington Mississippi were going through. You may think "it's bad," but you're wrong. Because it's way worse than you know. Help and kindness is going to be needed for a long long time. Support those going back and please try to understand those who choose to leave. It's a hard choice to make either way.

Okay, I have to take a break from thinking about this and clear my head a bit. I've got a conga player to check on , boxes to unpack and, some red beans that need cooking.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Returned & Recovering

We got back this morning before dawn. It was one hell of a trip and I'm glad it's over. I was really unprepared for the whole experience and don't have my thoughts together yet. I'll put my opinions and observations on hold for a few days until I get my perspective straight. Right now I'm just too fatigued. It's time for me to get some rest.