Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mardi Gras...or...bust?

Recap: We had gotten through a fairly solemn Christmas, Mark's stomach virus, and a much-needed New Year's Eve...made all the more sweeter by the fact that none of Geoff's neighbors were back home yet, so we could be as loud as necessary outside as we raised our middle fingers in salute to 2005...

This was followed later in the week by me missing my first day of HRA because I had a much less severe form of Mark's bug. And there we were, hoping that this year would be better than last year.

For Mark's birthday, I wanted to replace his Mignon Faget Fleur de Lis tie tack. We'd found his matching cufflinks in the sludge in our bedroom, but the tie tack was gone for good. However, when I went to buy them, there was an 8-week wait because New Orleans-themed EVERYTHING was in such high demand at the time. I decided to wait...possibly until our anniversary.

January passed otherwise uneventfully. Although, MLK weekend brought me a phone call I didn't think I could survive.

I've discussed already how my "teaching partner" and I were horribly mismatched for each other. Well, she called me that Sunday to tell me that, while cooking broccoli, she burned her face. She singed off hair on her arms and face. It's a horrible thing, really. But I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying with laughter. A freak incident, if you will. She missed the next day. And drove up on Tuesday in a brand new car. Purchase date? MLK Day. Hmmm....especially interesting considering you couldn't really see any major damage unless she pointed it out to you.

February crept up. Then roared to let us know she was here.

February 2, 2006. I woke up, dressed for work, carefully walked down the wet sidewalk to my car, and went to work. When I got there, I saw the principal and many faculty members standing in front of the school. That's where we had arrival and dismissal. I panicked and thought, "OH MY GOD, I'M LATE FOR WORK AND EVERYONE KNOWS!!" I parked in the lot, then walked up, where the prinicpal was telling another teacher some news: The bad weather I'd slept through the night before brought horrendous tornadoes to the area, and we had no electricity and some roof damage. School was cancelled for the day, but we had to stay from 7:20 until 9 a.m. to chase off parents who, like me, hadn't watched the news for the school closure.

I called my parents to tell them, and heard some more distressing news: the tornadoes really hit Lakeview. My former neighborhood. The neighborhood where my father was trying to restore his business. A business my uncle checked out, and discovered damage. A window was broken. The hardware store next door lost its roof. The A/C units up top were gone. And the houses across the street were destroyed. A roof beam from one of them impaled an office upstairs. Houses all over the area, already ruined from flooding, had their coffin nails firmly pounded in them...any chance they had of restoration was gone. My dad made out the best of anything in the area. Driving along, it's easy to follow the tornado's path. A huge satellite tower on Veteran's Blvd. blocked the highway. National news crews flooded the area. Hmm..perhaps that's a poor choice of words...

I got off work, went home, napped, then went with Mark to get lunch. We visited my dad in Lakeview, saw all of the damage, and got the last bit of stuff out of our attic. We were done.

I started classes again at UNO. I quickly realized that I'd overloaded my schedule and was in way over my head. Tuesdays were the worst, with me teaching from 7:20 (morning duty) until 3:30, then grabbing a quick coffee, fighting traffic on Veteran's Blvd., getting a coffee when I was lucky, and then being in class from 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. IF my professor remembered that class let out earlier than she kept thinking it did.

It was the first year I've been with a school and been able to celebrate Valentine's Day. Not kosher at the JCC. I was pretty excited and baked some cookies to mark the occasion. I had class that night. That was the big Valentine's Day living with the parents and going to school while Mark worked until midnight. Fun times.

We had spirit week and the Winter Formal. I got into the spirit of Spirit Week, and dressed for all of the special days: from Pajama Day to Dress Like a Rock Star Day. I chaperoned the dance. I got group pictures with my students. I had a blast. It was nice to have some fun things to do in the midst of all of the not-so-fun things.

And we were in Mardi Gras season. We had to attend the Krewe of Hephaestus' ball in Morgan City. Mark's cousin Anne was the returning queen. We had good seats and got to dress in formal-wear. I thought we were in for a night of fun, but it turned out to be a rough night. It all started with a student confessing to me that she had been anorexic for the past 5 years. I knew she was very thin, and I had suspicions, and she decided to let me and another teacher be the first two adults she told. Of course we got the guidance counselor in on it, and we set her up for recovery, but it will be a long and hard journey.

Then, at the ball, all of the Morgan City relatives asked painful question after painful question. The only person who asked questions that didn't sting, and who seemed like he was truly concerned, was Anne's fiancé, Scott. We'd never really had much time to know him. After all, the first time we knew of that they'd gone out was one year earlier, when he was Anne's escort to the ball. I never appreciated him more than that night. His concerns over us and the city seemed truly genuine, and not at all as though he was looking for morbid gossip, or just something to talk about, and he seemed to understand us and the situations.

As the prying questions and the, "Well, gee, why hasn't your father reopened yet and why are you still with her parents?" questions flew at us, I got more and more depressed. The famiy had its own "open bar" setup at the table. I drank a lot of rum and Coke. It only took off some of the edge. I then started drunk texting. It was a not-so-good thing.

That week was a week off at school. On Lundi Gras, I went with Jenifer to the Quarter. We caught a free Better Than Ezra and Bag of Donuts show, walked through the Quarter, and caught some of the Lundi Gras on the River Zulu celebrations. It was amazing. We went to the Orpheus parade and stood in what would normally be a rotten neighborhood. But all of the rotten had evacuated and wasn't quite back yet. There were families...parents with smiling babies. No fear of guns. It was strange, but in a wonderful way.

The next day, we went to Royal Street to Kevin's parents' balcony. We threw beads and befriended an Australian guy, who we dubbed "Rosie Cheeks." We also got hassled by creepy smelly crusty guys. We had a ton of fun. We ended up at Sav-A-Center to buy dinner stuff, then we all hung out at Geoff's. I spent the rest of the week with Mark as much as I could.

It was the first time we'd ever been able to walk down Bourbon Street as a pack, instead of a single-file line that flowed with the crowd, and wherever it spit you out was going to be your destination. It was empty. It was sad. But oh, was it ever wonderful!

And then I started with the sinus infections. The first one, I think, never really went away. Two weeks of antibiotics did nothing. It came back with a vengeance. A woman in one of my classes got up in the middle of the class, walked over to me, and put a cough drop on my desk, casting a sympathetic glance in my direction.

In March, Pam informed me that she would be the camp director of Metairie, and asked if I would be her assistant camp director. Now that I teach, I have every summer off. I am theirs indefinitely. I was supposed to run travel camp again, and we were supposed to go to New York, but they were afraid people couldn't afford it this year. However, ACD was a pretty sweet replacement gig.

The second sinus infection came in March, and then was gone with more antibiotics.

The third one came in April. More antibiotics.

But, April is our next installment. It includes our 4th anniversary, Easter, Sinus infections #3, and an era of panic...

No comments: