Monday, August 28, 2006

Part 19: The era they call "K+1"

We are, officially, in the era called "K+1." We had a child psychologist speak to us during staff workshop week, and he used this term. It's been popping up everywhere lately. Ad nauseum.

But it's here, and I don't have to like the name any more than I don't have to like those cutesy celebrity coupling names. (Look, I actually have paid attention to some of the rest of the world in the past year...) But it fits what I'm discussing, and so use it I will. Nyah.

Tomorrow is it. 8-29-05. Numbers I will never pick in the lottery. If I ever decide to have a child (and shoot me if I do), and the due date is that date, I will schedule a C-section just to not have it happen. And I'm not a fan of people doing that. But I can never celebrate anything happy on that date whole-heartedly.

I have a friend...a former camper...whose birthday is tomorrow. He said he wasn't even thinking about celebrating this year. He's a senior in high school this year. That made me sad to hear. On the one hand, there's that part of me screaming, "You're young!!! Do something fun!!!" But then there's that other part of me that says, "Hey, I understand." He didn't even lose anything, and his house damage was minimal, and he still feels that way.

What a day to be born.

I have a lot of other friends whose birthdays are this week. Chanukkah and Christmas presents, I guess, haha. Anyway, even they feel down about their birthdays. You have to figure: most lost a fun day. If their birthday was in the week before, they had a fun time. If it was that day, or the couple days before that involved evacuating, that is miserable. And if it was immediately after, then how could you really have fun? Those were horrible days.

One friend is turning 30 this Thursday. She's already not happy because of the Big 3-0. But her birthday also falls on Katrina week. And now, as a weird side effect of this whole Katrina debacle, she is being evicted.

She lives in a studio apartment in Metairie. Not bottom floor. Her patio was damaged heavily, but otherwise, she's fine. In May, they said that they were turning the complex into condominiums. Her 500 square-foot studio is selling for about$87,000. As a single teacher, that is not an option.

She's been searching ever since, but rent is so high, and she needs a roommate but can't find one. She asked us to go in on a house with her, but we cannot do it. We need to be alone again if we are to survive. No roommates for married people who have spent a year living with their parents in a medium-sized one-story house. That can only lead to worse trouble. And for that, I feel awful. But what can you do?

364 days after the storm, and I'm still dealing with Allstate. They gave me money for my poor little car. I signed the check over to the dealership when I bought my new car. I signed all of the Power of Attorney papers involved before my check came. Back in January or so, Allstate called me to say that they didn't have my papers on file, or something, and could I please meet a notary somewhere to resign the papers. At the end of the school year, they called me again, saying that the papers were all so backlogged that they missed sending in the papers by the deadline set for the company, and could I please sing them a third time? I blew up on the phone. I just want to try to move on, but so long as they keep making me sign papers, I can't. I apologized to the lady, letting her know that I know she is the messenger and not the responsible party, but gave her an earful to pass along to whomever. Everytime they called me to do this, it was inconvenient...7/8 class trip...exams...moving schools...starting camp...a Houston trip that ended up not happening....starting school again.... Finally, on my way home from work today, the actual notary called me to say he'd meet me anywhere. I told him I'd be home in an hour, meet me there. Now my car is, hopefully, officially no longer mine and will be crushed and my license will not be flagged.

Again, I'm reliving the loss. I'm not feeling very happy right now.

I haven't been happy in a while again. I'm also taking it out on everyone around me, and I know this. A lot of it has to do with the anniversary. A lot of it has to do with my half hour morning commute that becomes an hour or so afternoon commute, and includes several stops on the misery tour, including City Park, Lakeview, and Mid-City. A lot of it just has to do with our situation in general.

I need a vacation.

We have a prayer service tomorrow at school. (It's a Catholic school, remember.) They are focusing on the religion department's self-imposed theme of gratitude. I know that that is one of the topics for the journal tomorrow. It may be the hardest, yet the easiest one of the three.

I said this wrap-up would be tomorrow. But, as I told my students, I don't give them an assignment until I know I can do it, too. And they gave us a list of suggested journal topics for tomorrow. So tomorrow, I will do the entire list, as opposed to whichever one I assign my students.

Anyway, some of our students will be at a special Mass at St. Louis Cathedral. The rest of us will have a quasi-normal day. I had a few students tell me that they will not be in school tomorrow.

I know it will be hard for me, too. I intend to treat it as a funeral. I will wear a black skirt with a cream and black top and black heels. I will wear my Anniversary Amulet from Mignon Faget. I will shed many a tear. I will try to celebrate the life that we once knew. It will not be to the extreme of my grandmother's Irish wake, but I will try to do as they are instructing us to have the positive come out.

But don't hold me to that.

Some people say, well, it's got to be better, right? Some aspects, yes. Everything west of the 17th St. Canal is coming back. More restaurants are open, and places are starting to extend their hours and menus. Traffic is awful as ever.

But that's all to the west.

To the east, my father is still pretty much the only game in town, which is both good and bad. Good, because he's got a sort of accidental monopoly on Lakeview services. You figure he has $1,300 day sales in soft drinks alone. Each drink is about a dollar apiece, if you average them. Which means he is selling roughly 1,300 soft drinks a DAY. It's a bad thing, though, because of the long hours he's putting in.

It's also a bad thing on a less personal note. Where is everyone? I bought a T-shirt this summer that says, "Lakeview: If you rebuild it, they will come." Well, some of us are trying, and it's just oh-so-slow.

I'm sure by now you've heard the latest Nagin "bon mots." In a national interview, he was being hassled about "why can't we get our acts together and be better recovered?" His reply, and again, I'm paraphrasing, was to the effect of, "Well, in New York, you guys still haven't done anything with just a big hole in the ground, and you've had 5 years."

You know what? I stand behind him on that.

When 911 happened, it was a horrendous national tragedy. I agree there. Many people were affected and killed that day. But it didn't destroy an entire city. People didn't sit there debating the sense of rebuilding New York. It didn't leave people homeless. It rallied a nation around itself and won the Dub some major brownie points.

When Katrina happened, it was a larger surface area. People were killed. People were left homeless AND jobless. It separated families and scattered them across the country. People lost their pets in this storm....and if they survived, they were euthanised in hospitals (as my friend Anne reminded me in an e-mail today), or they were shipped across the country and adopted by other people. People rallied until they lost interest. They said it couldn't be so bad as we made it out to be. They said we shouldn't rebuild. People in high positions lobbied against rebuilding our home, calling us a lost cause. They said it couldn't and shouldn't be done. But most of all, appointing "Brownie" cost the Dub a lot of points.

And we've only had one year, to do it alone. The amount of debris is staggering. I was looking at roadside debris today. Mangled fridges, stained and faded toys, soggy appliance boxes. All still in Lakeview.

Ok, so it cost Dub some brownie points to everyone but this one guy from Chalmette. He made a replica of his FEMA trailor and drove it to DC. People were excited about this. We figured Bush wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole. Then I heard the man was granted his audience with the "president." All RIGHT! I thought. Then I found out why he was allowed in: the man is an ardent fan of Bush, and he went up there to THANK HIM. WHAT?!?!?!?!? Of all of the regions to be from to do that, Chalmette would be one of the last places I would expect that.

I'm moving from melancholy to anger, in case you haven't noticed. I haven't even seen the Spike Lee movie yet.

I want to see it, yet I don't. I hear that one of the main "stars" in it is Garland Robinette. Remember him? He's the talk show host who stayed on the air as the WWL windows were blowing out, and he ran through the building to continue broadcasting, even though the ceiling was sucking up and down due to the pressure changes. Apparently, he has a beautifully, painfully moving portion of the movie. I want to see his version of the events. When you watch the movie and see him, remember what you've read here. His story, essentially, is our story back in the first installments of this portion of my blog.

God, I really can't wait to see the day when I can do a totally random and silly blog again. I hope it happens. I want it to happen soon, but I doubt it will. Someday, as the wounds heal. But that day is not today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For some reason I couldn't access your blog a couple of days ago, but now that I can, I'm catching up on your entries. You and your family (and the others affected by the storm) continue to be in my thoughts. *hugs* ~sea