Monday, December 19, 2005

Back in NOLA: 1

I'm here in NOLA and am still gathering my thoughts. One thing that has caught my eye is the difference in the teeshirts. There are some that read: "Make levees, not war," some that read "New Orleans rules" and feature a Rex crown, there are some that say, "I looted NOLA and all I got was this lousy teeshirt."

You can guess which one I would and do wear (just a hint, the one 'bout the levees). But it's really upsetting to see people buying the "New Orleans rules" teeshirts and then notice that these are the same folks who complain about the FEMA trailers, when some of my neighbors are waiting for their FEMA trailers... And who make utterly inappropriate comments about "rebuilding the ghetto exactly how it was."

Way to go. New Orleans definitely does not rule if you are the kind of people leading the way in rebuilding efforts.

Some moron tried to praise George W. Bush to my mother and me while doing laundry at the laundrymat next to Babylon on Maple Street. You can imagine how captive my mom and I were. Her comment: "Do you have someone else to quote, because we don't like or trust George Bush."

This man didn't know what hit him. I could say this is the post-K coming out in my mom, but she has always been outspoken.

I also went back to my house on Saturday and walked around. My mom and I drove around the old neighborhood on Friday as a first taste for what I will remember as the place I grew up. It does look like Hiroshima. Let no one tell you otherwise. And no one should forget what happened to New Orleans. As much as folks like Rush Limbaugh might like to say everything is getting "back to normal," I can personally say that in many areas, it doesn't look like a damn thing has changed since August. That is a tragedy.

It really hit me when I realized that the London Avenue Canal break (and the word "break" is such an understatement), was about 4 houses down from the home where I spent most weekends in high school, babysitting. I remember countless nights reading books, drawing sidewalk chalk, playing dress up and cutting and pasting cards with these girls. They haven't lived there in about 5 years, but that memory is enough to remind you that actual lives will never be the same again... and how safe are any of us? This is hardly an abstract incident that occured in an area with low-population. And entire neighborhoods are still vacant. Where are these people now? How can you tell your kids they will ever be safe again if you take them to see what happened to the dolls they left behind, or the bed where they felt so safe? The dolls are covered in muck and the bed is overturned and looks ravaged.

I know because I got to see my own childhood room while wearing a respirator mask, boots, and gloves.

It begs repeating: how could this happen in an American city?

However, I have to admit that wading through what is left of my house helped me unclinch that part of my heart and mind that has been in constant pain since August. I am ready to let go of the things I lost, even though it can't help but cause you to weep, silently and ceaselessly. I am just so grateful that my parents and neighbors were not there to wait for help as their homes filled with over ten feet of water and subsequently marinated for two plus weeks following the flooding.

Who said "let the healing begin?" Probably some moron I can't stand. But there is a part of me that is healing... and a part of me that really wonders how things will change. I hate to be a cynic, but with this president? How can anything be done? Here is where the grassroots change comes in... I just hope that it isn't just those folks with the Rex krewe accessories.


Blogger R J Keefe said...

Thanks for this entry. I've been waiting for it for quite a while, knowing that it would come when it could, and now it has.

Bravo to Mme NOLA for her blunt riposte to the talking head!

Mon Dec 19, 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

G-d, I love your mom. Please tell your folks I'm thinking of them.

Jed said the Lakefront area was horrifying. Just, piles of trash and detritus and awful.

I just gave a bundle of money from my computer sale to ACORN, and it still feels like nothing.

Mon Dec 19, 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Lit/chick said...

hey, i'm on my way home tonight. can i call you on your cell tomorrow (Tues.) night? let me know. i can feel your strength in this entry but i certainly feel your grief. it hurts me that i can't be near you. so i'll call. if you want to rant, cry, or just sit silently knowing i'm at the other end, i'll be there.

with love.

Mon Dec 19, 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ms. NOLA said...

I'm doing alright, y'all. Thank you for all your support and love. My parents and I took an exciting walk around the Quarter tonight. A new Walgreens! What progress! Oh and the titty bars are empty. I think the BMC rugby team should come down to town!! Just kidding, but I think the new New Orleans should be as diverse as it can be. I would love for there to be a lesbian bar on Bourbon. Progress, people!!

I will try to write as much as I can. I'm sorry that I left the cord for my digital camera in Brooklyn.

Tomorrow, I am meeting up with a bunch of Sacred Heart women for lunch and talk about our upcoming high school reunion. Where to hold it? I am looking forward to a mindless conversation about our former classmates.

Mon Dec 19, 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Nerb said...

Glad to read your post and hear your thoughts. Sending you all warm thoughts.


Tue Dec 20, 11:35:00 AM  

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