Monday, August 24, 2009

I am such a slacker.

This is never a good week for me. It's the last week in August, and, well, I have a lot of trouble dealing with this. It gets a little easier as time goes by,'s still too fresh.

Last year, I started writing a 3rd anniversary post during my off-periods at work. Since I'm unable to get on Blogger at school, I typed it in Word and saved it. I never did get to finish it, because Gustav made us evacuate right around this time. I thought about it today, and e-mailed it to myself so I could post it at home.

SO, almost one year late, here's my unfinished 3rd Anniversary post.

Today is a day none of us can ever forget. I fear that a lot of the world...specifically the rest of the country, and even the rest of the state, has moved on and forgotten. Perhaps not today, as we are staring down Gustav in a fierce battle of wits. How much do we want him, and how much are we willing to lose? But what a rollercoaster ride of emotions this is.

All week, I was planning to write about all of the progress we’ve had. The news stories either portray us as a war zone or all better. Quite the contrary on both counts. We’re not all better. But things have been looking up. It may seem insignificant, but we lost Macy’s. They pulled out and have had a vacant section of the Esplanade Mall for these three years. As a result, along with losing Mervyn’s before the storm, the mall has declined. They’ve lost a book store, several clothing stores, and, most recently, the Disney Store. Without anchor stores, the mall is declining in popularity. But after watching the spirit of our people, the determination, the strides we’ve made through the worst adversity imaginable, they have decided to return. Not only are they renovating their former space at the Esplanade Mall, they are building a new wing on Lakeside Mall. Lakeside is doing quite well, actually, in the wake of people avoiding the Esplanade.

This week, instead, my attentions have turned to and as panic spreads. Perhaps some of this is stemming from my work environment. I have several very anxious young students. The youngest were in 4th grade the year of Katrina. I think some of this…their youth during such a confusing time…may contribute to the behavior issues we’ve had all year. All year. Heh. These three weeks.

I have to spend my days as the fearless leader to my students, calming their fears, giving them the science and the facts, remaining calm. But as soon as students are gone, the adults gather. We have many teachers from all over the country this year: the three who moved here from California , the one here via Notre Dame, one from Maryland . The latter was here for college and evacuated for Ivan and Katrina. But all of them are panicking, and rightfully so. We have the group of us who lost everything in Katrina and are extremely gun-shy. We have those who lost nothing, but watched others lose it all and now fear it. And then we have those who seem impervious to it all. But even they falter in their bravado at times. When we are all together, it’s all we can discuss.

I don’t know what we’ll do if IT happens again. I don’t believe we’ll be back. Flood me once, shame on you. Flood me twice, shame on me. Flood me a third time? No thank you. Where will we go if IT happens again? I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t buy into the whole “hundred year storm” thing. I understand that they don’t mean that literally. But I also didn’t bank on this being an “every three years storm.” I’m still attached to my city. I love her almost unconditionally. Sure, she still has a long way to go, but I don’t know where else I could live. It would have to be a major city, one with a lot of culture and history. It would have to have a certain charm to it, a lot of color, and have good food. It couldn’t be a little white bread town….that’s for sure. What if we end up with children? I want them exposed to life beyond what we can provide. I want them to know that there are other people out there with different traditions and cultures. I love my exposures here. I look at my students, and I see many colors and faiths. There’s black students, Hispanic students, some Indian students, white students, boys, girls, Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Episcopalians, and who knows what else. I love that we are not predominantly white. That’s where I went to school. We had one black family in my grammar school. Everyone else was white. We were all from the same basic neighborhoods. And that means similar income levels. Bor-ing. It wasn’t until I went to high school that I was truly exposed to people who were different. Then there’s my immersion into Jewish culture at the J. And when I moved to the Bayou Region for college…well…my world was certainly expanded. Not only did I meet people from other parts of the state, I met people from all over the world. And when I did all of these things, I learned so much more and became the adult that I am today. I would want that for my children.

I honestly DON’T know what we’ll do if we lose it all again. Shoot, even if we don’t lose things but the city floods again, I think we’ll be done. We’re supposed to be going to Indiana if we evacuate, so maybe some exposure to the Central Plains will help. Neither of us has ever been to that region before. Maybe we’ll like it. Who knows. (Edited to add: not so much. While we had a nice visit with Devon, Indianapolis would not be a place to go.)

What worries me most about this is not the moving and relocating. Yeah, that’s a major concern, but I worry more about my parents. I can’t bear to imagine what will happen to my dad if this happens again. His whole life is his business (after family, of course). What will he do? I don’t want to watch him suffer again. I don’t think I can handle that.

But back to my Katrina musings. Enough of Gustav. I can’t think of him any more.

We’ve seen so much happen in three years. We bought our home last year, and we’ve done a lot to it. We’ve pretty much replaced anything important for a home. We’ve upgraded a few things, eliminated a few things, added a few more…and it really feels like a home now. I even put in a garden a few weeks ago. I did some hibiscus and some dust roses. My mom called them primroses, but I’m going by what was on the stick.

We’ve seen some new businesses crop up. In addition to Macy’s returning to the city, we’ve seen a lot of people join us. It may not seem like much, but IHOP, Sephora, and many more stores and restaurants have put their faith in us and finally joined our area. Now, if we can just get an IKEA… I try to give business to as many of these people as I can to thank them for believing in our efforts.

We’ve had a lot of remodeling to existing businesses. Many local places have opened, like NOLA Beans in Lakeview. They’re a bit pricey, but the food is good. It’s as if people took stock of their lives and realized, “HEY! I want more than my current lot in life! I’m going to take a risk!!!”

We’ve had people come and go, through choice, through relocation, and through death. A lot of our local characters are gone now, which is sad. But Frankie or Johnny, whichever one has the bad rug, is still here with a new Special Man. Al Copeland died, which means there will be quite the void at Christmas. Luckily, we’ll still be able to see Ben’s house if we want to see extravagant holiday decorating… I saw that Ruthie the Duck Girl just died, too. It’s still sad to see places that have been replaced by new ventures, like Charlie’s Deli. But at least the building isn’t vacant. Thank goodness for that. Charlie’s has new life (Even if that life has been vandalized…the new place is Touché Café, and someone spray painted a “D” over the “T.”)

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