Monday, September 26, 2005

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes. It seemed my funk was beginning to lift somewhat, and then I went online and checked the balance on my American Express account. OUCH! I knew it would be bad, so until tonight I opted for the ignorance is bliss approach. It's been easy under the circumstances. (Needless to say, there's no mail delivery at home, and even though I forwarded my mail to Virginia, I haven't gotten any yet.) Anyway, the bill is over $5000. This covers the regular expenses charged before the hurricane and all the evacuation and relocation expenses.

I am a big believer in living within my means and because I am an admitted "miles whore," I use American Express and a Master Card that earns American Airlines miles for all my purchases- and I put everything on the card that I can. Then I pay in full when I get the bill. But the bill is never this hefty. Last minute airfare to flee the storm was a real bundle. But Disney killed us. Regardless, I still think it was the best approach for the sake of my kids' mental health (and mine, too, except that I fretted about the cost the entire time). I wouldn't do it any differently, but paying for it will be a challenge. I honestly thought we'd be going home in a few days and that my income would improve as soon as the clinical studies initiated. It just drives home the best lesson learned from this storm: take nothing for granted. Nothing. NOTHING.

I'm told that American Express will extend the time for displaced Katrina victims to pay. I have to call during business hours tomorrow (Monday) to make arrangements. I still can't get info on my checking account from my local bank. It's back online, but my log-in and password don't work. I'm not the only one with this problem. The city is still under mandatory evacuation, so I doubt I'll get this resolved any time soon. But I have this feeling of dread that I will find that I have even less in the account than I think. I have several bills that are on automatic bank draft from that account.

The next problem is my car, which has been sitting in the $10/day parking lot at the Jackson, Mississippi airport. A woman there told me that if I came to get it before a month went by, she'd forgive the charges. Well, Hurricane Rita blew that for me. And getting there from here is proving to be quite expensive. In fact, getting back to New Orleans is no longer the easy feat it used to be. It used to be a cinch to get a cheap non-stop flight from Washington, but now no one flies a non-stop and the connecting flights are not cheap. I guess that's the deal when you're no longer a top tourist destination. So, I may have to beg the Jackson Airport lady for an extension and then fly to New Orleans and hitch a ride to Jackson to get the car. I'll drive it back to New Orleans if they're letting us back in, and I'll go home to survey the damage and see what, if anything, I can take back up to Virginia with me. Ideally, I can take the desktop computer and my software, get my remaining instruments and recording gear and get my irreplaceable memories: my journals, photos and videos of the kids. I did my best to protect these from water, but I'm told that just putting them in plastic bags may not have been enough. I just hope they're okay.

Mold is going to be one of the biggest problems. I was told that the house has wind damage, which means, at the very least, broken windows and probably roof damage, which means water in the walls. One of my friends thought his place was okay but he returned to find that the ceiling had collapsed in two rooms of his apartment. Off all the things of which I'm apprehensive, dealing with the mold and the smell of the putrifying food are at the top of the list. I was also told to be prepared to deal with an incomprehensible scourge of flies and their maggot offspring, along with an invasion of ants, roaches and rodents that probably used my house as refuge from the wind and rising waters. Lovely. Just lovely.

The next trick will be getting the damage to the house fixed. This will be probably require more trips between New Orleans and Virginia. I'll have to go down to meet with and let the claims adjustor in. I don't want to even think about the prospect of getting a contractor and having the work done properly in a long distance situation. We won't be able to live in the house while it's being repaired and the kids have to stay in school up here since Orleans Parish schools are unlikely to reopen before the school year ends. This is really more than I can deal with right now. I just have to remind myself to take this in small bites.

Now, on to more interesting and less depressing news. The evening before and day of my birthday, we were featured on every edition of the local news. (The local NBC affiliate.) Alex got a lot of airtime and he was awesome. If I'm able to get my DV bridge from home, I'll copy it and post it here. The station may even send someone down with me to check out the house when I see it for the first time since the storm(s).

Alex's state of mind is improving, thanks to De and Eni, who sent punk CDs and DVDs and to Brandy, (our former babysitter- remember her?) who sent him to the stratosphere of happiness when she parted with her Playstation and games! And by far, the thing that's cheered Alex the most is the attention of a girl who, like him, is bi-racial. She's quite pretty and built like- well, how shall I say it? Just right. But the clincher is this: her name is.... Katrina. And, believe it or not, her sister's name is Rita. I am NOT kidding. I can't help but think that this will have disasterous implications for a displaced New Orleans boy, unless it's Mother Nature's amusing way to make it up to him.

I intend to offer everyone a more proper thank you, but it will be in my own unique manner, and again, it may take me a little time to complete. I need the proper computer resources for one part of this, and the proper state of mind for the other. And speaking of computer resources, Richard, I'll take you up on that software offer. And Pi, thanks for sending the Tech Tool disk. Unfortunately, the TiBook will not boot from this disk either. I will try the only thing that worked for me when the G5 had a similar problem; to boot it as a target disk from another Mac and run the diagnostics on it that way. So, now I have to find another Mac running OS X. I'd just buy a new Powerbook if my funds were not beyond decimated.

There are so many lessons in this whole experience. It's been a great exercise in letting go of attachments. Not only am I living without all the people, places, experiences and things I couldn't imagine living without before, but I am learning the humility of public assistance. Even in my most destitute and impoverished times, I managed without Medicaid and foodstamps, both of which I am now the very grateful recipient. And the silver lining of all this is that Medicaid covers all the dental work I have not been able to afford since Rachel was born. (Rachel's birth was the point at which my finances began their nosedive, but as a single parent, being there for my children has been far more important than bringing in a hefty paycheck. Nothing that I could buy with money is worth what giving my time means to them.)

All that being said, it's time for me to say goodnight, as it's now past 4:oo AM. (As usual). Please note the change in my sidebar as I have added links for the lovely people who have have been so supportive and have commented here who also have blogs. (Not all of them do.) If I missed you, please let me know and I'll gladly remedy that. And if you see a visitor in your stats with a Dallas address that says SprintPCS, that's me and my aircard. It's really slow from here, (slower than dial-up most of the time, but at least I'm mobile and not tying up the phone line), so I might still use AOL every now and then.

Again, thanks so much for all the beautiful birthday wishes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

One More Under My Belt

One more year, that is, as Blogger ticks up my age by another notch. I haven't been posting for more than one reason. The first is the computer issue. The second is the funk hanging over me. I have remedied the first by opening a Sam's Club charge account and buying the cheapest Windows laptop they had. Now I can use the Sprint Aircard for internet access from my country refuge. You can return computers to Sam's for a refund for up to six months and I intendto do just that once I'm Macin' again. I know it's jive to buy something to use with the intention of returning it, but I did honestly contemplate keeping this machine. After using it for a bit, I decided I just don't want it. It came with bad pixels on the screen and I have no programs for it anyway. And Virginia is enough foreign terrain for me. As change goes, I've already had more than enough and I don't need to struggle through a new OS as well. (Besides, I'm not the type to be content with a shallow and superficial relationship with an operating system.)

As reason #2 goes, I think it needs no explaining. I have been missing my home, my family, my friends, my things, my job and my familiar landscape. And today is my birthday. This afternoon I would have taught my music marketing class at UNO. Before this storm came, I had begun to organize a special class outing to the Faubourgh Marigny for this evening, with food and live music at Cafe Brazil as part of the event. This weekend my mother would have cooked the meal of my choice and made a birthday cake and my brother and his family would have come over to enjoy it with us. I miss them. Who knows what Renard and I might have done? Surely something, regardless of the status of our relationship.

So, I moped around today, going through the motions in my daily attempt to forge a *normal life* in this strange new place we inhabit. And then, late this afternoon, a UPS and a DHL truck arrived at the same time and unloaded five boxes. I perked up immediately, just like a little girl on her birthday should. Three boxes were from my friend Bonnie who lives in LA. She went thrift-store shopping and procured all kinds of neat clothing for the three of us, including a very cool black leather jacket for Alex. And one box contained some wonderful teas from De, complete with the necessary storage tins! The last box was from our beloved former babysitter, Ingrid, who sent a Barbie for Rachel, some iTunes gift cards for Alex and an electric kettle for me! Ingrid, how did you know that I've always wanted the kind of kettle that detaches?? If you could have seen how excited we all were, you'd all have been moved. All this made it a happier birthday, no question.

I have so many people to thank for so much (and Muse is at the top of the list), but it's late and I'm so tired now. I think my ceaseless fatigue is some little symptom of depression. Whatever sadness I feel, it's source is buried deep down inside me and is not accessible to the part of my brain that forms words. But my gratitude to all of you who have demonstrated so much generosity and kindness pours forth from the depths of my heart and soul. I want to thank you all by name, individually and collectively, publicly and privately, and in every way, shape and form possible. Give me a little time to regroup and I will.

Thanks again and I love you all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #9 -Proof that God Loves Homosexuals

Some brilliant Mac user from the Apple site known to me only as JD MacMan, took one of my all-time favorite Far Side comics and updated it in a most fitting manner. And I feel it is my duty to point out that we now have a strong argument that God loves homosexuals.

Had the hurricane hit one week later, it would have crashed one of the biggest Gay Bashes (as in parties, that is) in the country, for the extended Labor Day weekend is when Southern Decadence takes place in my once fair city. If God wanted to smite thousands of boys in leather and sequined evening gowns, he would have pressed the button a week later. Some determined revelers even flouted their survival by having a little gay parade in the thick of the trouble.

That's what I love about my city. You can knock us down, but you can't knock us out. We're going to have our fun with or without you. Not that the folks at Repent America didn't try to claim a victory. "Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin."

Well, I hate to break it to Mr. Marcavage, but my Wicked City is not completely destroyed. God spared most of the French Quarter --the *epicenter of sin* --of flooding and other forms of destruction, and he even spared the house where they filmed a season of MTV's Real World. (That's got to make you wonder...), and protected the dozen or so defiant revelers (at least one of whom was dressed as a member of The Village People) from the carnage of the lawless gangstas who terrorized the city in the storm's aftermath.

So, there.

Now- a note to Pi on the Mac Situation. No booting in single user mode. Just the startup sound, then an infinite gray screen. I tried to boot holding the option key so that I could select a startup disc from another partition or from my bootable backup hard drive. NO luck. I'd get the correct screen to select the drive, but no drives appeared for me to select. Funny thing- if I touched the power key, it just shut down. Instantly. A friend had a similar problem recently and the ONLY thing that could fix it was Tech Tool Deluxe. Unfortunately, this and all my disks are at home. I took the laptop and the backup drives and ran for my life. I'm considering an appeal to anyone on the Apple Addict boards to send me a copy of the needed disks. I don't want to buy stuff I already own, like TTP and Disk Warrior. BTW, last time it was definitely a directory problem. Anyway, as it stands, I'm dead in the water. Sorry, that was probably a very inappropriate choice of words, considering that it carries a literal meaning for so many back home.

This post was a nice diversion for me, if you know what I mean.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #8: Despair (but not for the reasons you probably think...unless you know me pretty well...)

The Sprint Aircard is not Mac compatable without some serious geek-tweaking. Verizon has a compatible card, but Charlottesville and it's environs are a black hole, a great void on the Verizon coverage map. And now the Mac is whacked! It won't complete its start-up and I have no diagnostic disks or softfware install/restore disks with me!!! I cannot function when I'm this cut-off from the the Wide World of Web. I cannot function if my Mac is whacked. I can't live in the world of Windows and dial-up. I don't have my house and home, my clothes, my instruments and recording gear, my paints, brushes, fabrics, yarns, needles or any of my other creative accoutrements, not to mention my friends and the rest of my family, and my independence. And now no Mac??????

Pray for me, for the loss of my sane mind is surely at hand.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #7- Green Acres

Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Goodbye city life.

There are many difficult adjustments to be made here in our *now home*. You guys are probably sick of hearing me whine about the dial-up problem. Getting broadband is turning up to be incredibly difficult here. I tried to work out something with an aircard from Sprint, but it won't work with my Mac. There may be a work-around, but I don't know if my Mac-Goddess powers will serve me so far away from my magical torx screwdrivers, which, last I checked, sat in a container on my desk, which is in my house, which is on a flooded street in New Orleans.

In fact, my lack of proximity to any major urban area (Washington DC is approximately 80 miles away, I think) is making me feel like Superman in the presence of kryptonite. It's like Green Acres here. I'm about 8 miles outside of Charlottesville, in the land of rolling hills where deer roam free and frequently cause serious mptpr vehicle accidents. And Charlottesville isn't exactly a bustleing urban Metropolis. The day after we arrived I started sneezing, just like Leeza in the original Green Acres, (but unlike her, I don't really like to shop), and I ended up with a wretched sinus infection that required a doctor's visit, antibiotics, and a shot in the butt full of anti-inflamatory cortico-steroids. (Not the bad-ass anabolic kind, mind you.)

Yes, we are fish out of water here. Our host is a republican (gasp!). But/and he's really a great guy. Truly. His wife, a woman with the same first name as me (which keep things interesting around here) and with whom I have been friends for about 13 years, married him almost 5 years ago and I was the lucky maid of honor for this Hawaiian wedding. The subject of politics has never been part of my discussion repertoire with my friend over the years and I now have to imagine myself inside the cone of silence when provocative remarks emerge from her husband's lips; when they penetrate my protective shield, I must bite my tongue. It's just not worth getting into any debates. He's a good man and he's been VERY good to us poor refugees,

Now, many of you have asked what you could send in a care package. Funny thing- none of us have an answer for this. I asked Rachel is she wanted some Barbies (which loyal readers know I loathe, but she loves) and she declined. Alex can't really come up with anything either. This is amazing to me, given the fact that, aside from a few days worth of clothing, Rachel took one stuffed animal with her, Alex took his iPod Shuffle and a couple of CDs, and I took a guitar. I have a theory or two to explain this: First, perhaps with the exception of young Rachel, we are not the type to ask for things, especially things that cost any more than a few dollars. Alex have always been reluctant to take the cash out of anyone else's pockets. The second reason I propose is that we all don't really believe that we can;t go home for a long time. I was gettig rather furious while at the grocery store as I purchased all of the same food that I already had and/or had recently purchased at home, much of which now sits putrifying in my power-dead refrigerator. I think we all are still registering this experience as some extended vacation that will end soon. I cannot believe we have to go out now and buy things we already have or at least had. I am resistant. It seems rediculous. But it's a reality and it's one that we clearly haven't accepted as such.

So, if I must, here's what I can come up with on the fly. First, Rachel seems to be getting lots of things from my friend, who is just delighted to have an adorable little girl around to spoil with things. Rachel's dad, who, by the way, did seek to find us, (so I take back what I implied about him in an earlier post- I even was told he was crying when he contacted a distant family member in another town when trying to locate us) is supposed to be sending her all kinds of things, so we'll wait and see for her.

That leaves Alex and me. For Alex, I think something like a Blockbuster gift certificate or an iTunes GC would make him quite happy. Or make a mix CD with some old punk rock on it. He's a teenager. He's into video games (but we have no game system here), music and Samuel L. Jackson movies.

That leaves me. There are two or three things that would make this more like home for me, besides a broadband connection and an airport base station. I'm a HUGE consumer of tea and I need three things that I consider to be too much of a luxury to buy for myself in this situation, but that are necessary creature comforts for the proper support of my habit while here:
A large thermal carafe that keeps liquids nice and hot, an electric kettle to boil water anywhere (like in my room and not in the kitchen), and a gigantic mug. I don't know how best to coordinate this so that 3 people don't decide to send me carafes or mugs. etc. Ughhh! I can hardly believe that I'm even requesting anything. It just doesn't seem right. I'm really just so grateful to be safe, the rest doesn't really matter.

Finally, say a little prayer that I can get the web access worked out and the laptop stays healthy. It's suddenly acting all buggy. All my programs keep quitting unexpectedly, like Firefox which will not even boot at all, so I'm posting from Flickr. (I thought it was appropriate to revisit my water droplet photos, given the volume of water in the place I care about, not to mention all if it that's run down my cheeks the last few days.)

Anything you want to send, you can send to me at this address:

Lisa Palumbo
4103 Fairway Drive
Keswick, VA 22947

BTW, You don't have to send anything that costs $$. I'd be so happy with some little piece of creative expression, some little part of yourselves that reminds me of all the love that you are, because you all mean the world to me. And when this is all over and New Orleans is dry and de-funked (but we'll keep the good kind of funk), I want everyone to come down or up or over and celebrate witk me. It will be the best blogger summit ever, I promise. You're all such good people, how could it be anything less?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Watch if You Can- TAKE 2

OK- I was wrong. The Neville Brothers will be on tonight...maybe soon. So tune in to see my ex and my other friends from home playing on MTV (and according to Alex, a couple of other networks, as well) now, and let me know if you catch it.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get my internet situation worked out and if I do, life will be so much more normal for me.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Watch if You Can

Just seeing that every network is running the benefit concert for victims of the storm is almost too much for me. I want this to not really be happening, to not really be this big. I want to wakre up and find that it was just another of my crazy dreams. And speaking of those, my mother just reminded me that I told her of other dreams where there was great destruction to our home, some great catastrophy. I sort of remember telling her about one such dream, but I interpreted it to be something more like a 9-11 thing. Well, this has turned out to be far more destructive.

Anyway, I'm not sure if the Neville Brothers are going to be performing on this special of not, but if they are, you can see my friend and former husband and father of my beloved son Alex on the drums (not percussion). I can also tell you that Cyril and Aaron Neville's houses are flooded, and given where those houses are located, I suspect thay are flooded badly.

I'll be back here later, as my hostess just said she needs to make some calls and I am tying up her phone line. The lack of internet access is proving to be VERY difficult for me.

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #6- Today Was The Day

I wonder how long it will take before I stop referring to myself as a refugee? Perhaps until the day I return home for good. When will that be? Will that ever be?

We are in Keswick, Virginia, just outside Charlottesville and it’s quite a different world here with so many things unlike home. The Blue Ridge Mountains line the horizon when we ride over the hills and into town. Mountains and hills are not something we’re used to seeing and I have to admit, we love the relief this terrain offers. The temperature is mild by day and cool at night and the air is dry, all oddities for us. At night, we can see The Milky Way pour across the sky, surrounded by a zillion stars. The lot upon which our hosts’ house sits covers an area almost the size of my block back home. I can’t see the neighbor’s houses without walking up the street. Deer forage in the area, in plain view of us gawking former city-dwellers. Things like groundhogs, foxes, and skunks make occasional guest appearances in the area- probably other yet-to-be-discovered creatures, too. There is no moss on the trees and all kinds of flowers that struggle at home are blooming everywhere. The streets don’t buckle from the heat and there are no potholes to dodge. I don’t recall having seen a single building that is taller than two stories high.

But there are similarities. The people have been very friendly. And Charlottesville, like New Orleans, was also an island of blue in a sea of red in last year’s election. While in the checkout line at Whole Foods, my hostess/friend told the clerk that we were from New Orleans and his response was that we had chosen a good place to relocate. The guy in line behind me (who looked just like the kind of artsy, intellectual, hippy-type person I’d be friends with) seconded that assertion and actually made that same “blue island in a red sea” comment that I made in my “Sorry Everybody” contribution. I knew C’ville was blue from when I did my cursory correlation study between education levels and voter preference and posted abou it after last year’s election. (There is a strong correlation between anti-Bush votes and a well-educated population.) And speaking of education, both kids have been registered in local schools and will start classes on Monday.

So, today was the day. My friends no longer have to whisper to each other about it not having hit me yet, but that it would and when it did, it would hit hard. It happened today. I went to the Red Cross to file for disaster relief and assistance and as I waited for my caseworker to arrive, an older man came into the room to wait his turn, accompanied by a Louisiana ex-pat living in an adjacent Virginia county. Someone announced that he was also from New Orleans; he’d been rescued by boat and had been in the Reliant Center in Houston before coming to Virginia. So I introduced myself and asked where he lived. It turned out he lived only a couple of miles from me. He knew my neighborhood. I knew his. I felt like someone who’d been wandering lost after having been dropped in the desert and had just found someone else who been dropped there, too and who understood how I felt; a lost brother. I burst into tears -all the tears I’ve stifled and feelings I’ve sublimated. Talking about home with someone who knew what home really means was momentarily sweet, but then intensely painful. All the pain of love lost surfaced in torrents of tears.

Now, I can’t stop thinking about all the things I love about my hometown, about all the things I miss. Unless you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in real-life New Orleans (where tourists seldom tread), you’ll probably never be able to understand these feelings. I've travelled to many places in this country and around the world and I can tell you, there is simply no place on earth like this city. I’ve tried to convey it from time to time in posts on this blog, as in this excerpt from this post:

There's a strange beauty to this city and even to New Orleans' particular brand of dysfunction. Our way of life and our approach to living it is undoubtedly different than anywhere else. We New Orleanians all understand that every aspect of our culture, our society, our local government, our people, be they perceived as good or bad, are all necessary to make New Orleans the odd character that it is. And the people here really do love each other under whatever veneer we place on the outside of ourselves, (and it's not hard at all to tell that we do), because we know that by choosing to live here and to embrace all of New Orleans' pretty and ugly truths, we are united under the skin.

New Orleans was like its own little world with its own beautifully quirky ways and with some of the most interesting and unique human beings to walk this earth. And as I said, there are things to love and things to hate about the city, but oddly, the things you hate are an integral part of why you love it. And if you have that love for New Orleans, that beautiful, unconditional love, it’s the real thing. And when you see something you love so much torn apart, the pain is almost unbearable.
Other Updates From Questions and Comments in the Previous Posts:

Please, everyone, read Ann Rice's opinion piece from the New York Times titled, Do You KNow What It Means To Lose New Orleans.

It's so nice to have our beloved former babysitters here, as Ingrid, now back in the Bay Area, joins Brandy here. Ingrid, Willie is okay, but he was on the road when this hit and I'm not sure where he is now. I spoke to Ivan Neville today and Ivan will get him in touch with us when he sees Willie on Monday. (I assume Willie can't remember my cell number.)

Thanks again to everyone for all the love and support. I really am too overwhelmed to put together a list of things that would make a lovely care package, so please just give me a few days on this. I am working on it. It's just really hard to ask for anything.

Claypot, you are working so hard to help people who live in a chronic state of need. I hate to divert any resources from your end that could be used to help your extended Zambian family. I'll send you the address here, but please keep that in mind.

Much love to you all. I must sleep now...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #5- (Relatively) Good News

There are so many things I want to write, but by the time everyone is asleep and I can use the dial-up line, I'm too tired to write. And I'm getting sick, which isn't helping. So, I'll be (relatively) brief right now and in the meantime, I going to be on the lookout for an internet cafe with WiFi.

I found the site and was able to load the map with water depths, despite there being no satellite images. I understand that the depths given are current, which means the water could have been higher before today (it's dropped by three feet at the house of a friend since she reported the figure to me) and I guess at this depth, any disturbance to the water (boats going by, etc.) could send waves that would hit the house's floorboards from below or could wash under the door...waves of toxic soup, that is. Of course, if it was higher, that hardly matters.

I also found this report from somone on

Yellow house with side lot on the 1800 block of Dublin has a tree fallen into the roof. Otherwise, just some broken windows on the downtown side of Dublin.Very heavy military presence in the area. Saw no civilians (but it was daytime).

I noted the location given in this report on the map above so you can see how close it is to my house. The blocks are very short- no more than six houses to a block with lot widths of about 30-40 feet. It's so strange to read the sentence, "Very heavy military presence in the area." I cannot imagine this. But this gives me hope as far as being a victim of looting ot goes.

I wish I were not so tired. I have many things to report from the goings on in Virginia. I have such gratitude to convey. I want to respond to everyones comments, but I'm just too tired right now. But I will ask Whitney, if he's reading this, to call me on my cell. I seem to be able to receive calls from outside the 504 area code more often than not these days.

Again, I really want to respond to your comments. Please forgive me if I defer this task until later. I'm just so tired.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One Huge Favor and One Small One

I am on dial-up. Sooooooo Slooooooow. And there are many things that I simply cannot access. Google Earth is one of those things. I'm told that one can view "before and after" Hurricane Katrina images from this site. I cannot do it with the connection I have here. Could someone please look up my address and post the result somewhere and leave a comment telling me where I can view it? There is a BIG tree beside my house and it may obstruct the view, but I'd be happy to see anything. The side street is high and I'm hoping it's not flooded, because that will give me some indication of how high the water is in front- and it will be good news if the side is dry. My address is:
8238 Cohn St. New Orleans, LA 70118

A million thanks!

Second request: I need you guys! I know 2 people here, that's it. I have a terrible fear of imposing and becoming a burden to them so I try to stay out of their way and to keep my kids occupied without disturbing them. I have little contact with my family and friends who are spread out all over the country and many of us are still trying to find each other using phone lines that are not completely reliable yet. None of us have money, we've been gobbling up cell minutes like crazy and are reluctant to keep using more without knowing how we will pay for them. (I have not been able to get through to FEMA or Red Cross or my insurance company at all yet) . I have so little contact with my support network and I am feeling lost. I need you guys! I live to log on once a day and find some kind of comments or messages from you all. Please jot something- anything- in the comments section. Ask me questions, tell me a joke, leave me a link, anything. I feel like I'm losing my mind already. I have no books, no entertainment and only this to look forward to late at night when the phone is not likely to ring. I can't really surf because of the time factor and fear of disturbing my hosts. I have to use my hosts' computer in the room next to their bedroom. There are no phone lines whatsoever in the part of the house where we are camped to which I can attach the laptop and the cordless phone lines they do have are in places that are laptop-unfriendly (kitchen) or are in rooms filled with their personal stuff. I'm sure my state of mind will eventually change, (I hope so!) but right now, I'm feeling very isolated and lonely and oh, so sad.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Greetings from Virginia

We are here and slowly getting settled in. This is all so surreal. I can't post the way I'd like because our hosts only have dial-up available and do not have call waiting on their phone, so I have to use AOL and their computer to "hit and split." The unexpected delight on this end is that the weather is actually getting cool. Chilly at night, but we only have clothing for HOT weather.

Thanks so much to those of you who have made PayPal donations, particularlyMuse and Emily, who have been extraordinarily generous. There is about $350 in the PayPal account right now and I have no idea what is left in the account to which it's linked because my bills are automatically drafted and no deposits are being made with no work happening. I hope my automatic drafts have been suspended. Because of the storm, I can't log into my account to find out. My bank is one of the few local banks left after the massive gobbling up of small banking instatutions in New Orleans by larger institutions. So, it looks as if I will have to open a bank in Charlottesville and link it to PayPal in order to withdraw the funds.

I plan on giving you guys full financial disclosure as soon as I can spend a little time online without tying up my hosts' phone line. Maybe late tonight.

Much love to you all!!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #4-Water Everywhere

Wishful thinking doesn't make it so. My house is in the flooded part of the city. How deep? Who knows. My mind is flooded, too.

Too much on my mind right now. Lots I want to write, but no energy to write it. I'm so tired, but I can't turn the television off. I'm so tired.

Latest news... we're going to Charlottesville, Virginia. Technically, Keswick. Good schools, good friends. I'll give more details when I have the energy.

Again, my deepest thanks for all the love and support (of all kinds) coming from you all. I cannot overstate our gratitude. I simply cannot. I am so moved. Beyond words. But (predictably) the words will come anyway, at some point.

I love you all.

Katrina Prediction- Did Anyone Else Notice This?

According to my stats, someone from Apopka, FL (no, I've never heard of it either) went directly to the archived page of the post I wrote back in late June, offering belated birthday wishes to Richard, pi and Kevin. At the end of the post, I wrote about a strange and vivid dream that I had. I quote from that post here:

Kevin, by the way, is the most recent blogger to make a guest appearance in one of my dreams. He was just hanging out and having a cocktails with a few newly acquired friends while sitting up on top of some monkey bars in the French Quarter, (New Orleans -and by bars, I mean the metal kind that you climb, not the kind usual associated with the FQ- this is a dream, remember?), as the river and lake rose, breached their levees and began to flood the city. I saw him as I floated by on what had only moments earlier been my office in the Business Administration Building on UNO's campus, but had now turned into a luxury houseboat.

Dreams can be such fun, but now that hurricane season is here, I hope this is not some portent.

Score one for me, though I truly wish I had been wrong. I can’t explain this, nor prove it, but I knew this was going to happen this year. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but somewhere under the surface, I felt it. And in many ways, I did behave as if I knew it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #3- 21st Century Diaspora

We the people of the Crescent City are being dispersed like the tufted seeds of a dandelion, blown by hurricane-force winds. Families, friends and loved ones are split up and flung hither and yon. We're all trying to figure out where and how to find each other and where to go. My sister can't accommodate everyone. My mother will be moving into a townhouse with my dad's cousin in New Iberia, LA. I'm not sure where my brother and his family will go, but I think they're staying in Lafayette. I have friends who have ended up in Georgia, California, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois and who knows where else. No one knows at this point if they'll be able to stay where they are or if they'll have to move again. I lost communication with Renard on Monday, At that time, he was safe at the hospital where his critically ill father has been for the last few weeks. He had to bring his own food and water and I have no idea how he's holding up or if they've been evacuated. I have no idea where he is now will go for the long haul. When will I see them all again?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Please Forgive Me...

...for item #2 in the last post. I was lost in a fantasy, trying to make more lemonade from all these lemons once again. I have no right to expect some pleasant diversion of life in a lovely place as this tragedy plays itself out. I should not complain about being here, despite how appalled I am about the price-gouging. I admit it- I'm afraid. I am trying to keep it together over here, but I find myself to be a hair's breadth away from tears most of the time. It's easier to find things to be angry about than to ponder the zillion questions I have about how my friends and neighbors who stayed behind are, how our house is, (from the Digital Globe image I pulled off the web, it looks like our street may be flooded after all), what we do next, where we go, and all the other details about how this all plays out. We came here with about 5 days worth of clothing for hot weaher. My car is parked in the $10/day lot at the Jackson, MS airport, a city that also experienced severe damage when Katrina hit it as a category 2 or 3 storm. I'm not sure what the deal is there. I have so many things to figure out.

In an ideal world, I could turn this into something great. I always look at problems as opportunities in disguise and try to extract the best from them, and leave the stuff that doesn't serve my growth behind. When I express a desire for a lovely city with good weather and water nearby, it's just a fantasy and I know it. It's a mental refuge where I can run away from the images of what's going on at home. All that really matters is that we have a roof over our heads in a place that will be kind to my bi-racial son, a wonderful, sensitive boy who has never experienced real, overt racism or thuggery or any other nasty behavior.

Brandy, thanks so much for your offer. We've received a few others as well, one from my ex-husbands ex-girlfriend in Canada, two from friends in south Florida (though I'm a little leary about staying in Hurricane Alley for much longer) and one from a friend in Keswick, Virginia, just outside Charlottesville. The place I choose will be the place that is best for my kids, first and foremost. Hopefully, I'll be able to find some work wherever we go, as well, as money is an issue.

So, again, please forgive me that rediculous foray into the world of best-case fantasy. I was so embarrassed when I read it that I really think I will go back and remove it. Again, sorry. I'm a little out of my mind right now.

I'm So Very Moved. Thank You All So Much

Wow. I read your comments after I posted the last post and now I'm all choked up. Muse, I am exactly like you. It's incredibly difficult for me to ask anyone for help. But the money is running out quickly. I have been underemployed for the last few years waiting for UNO to make good on their expressed intention to employ me full time. I looked at it as a short term sacrifice for a long-term payoff. But the payoff didn't come as planned this year and I was expecting the clinical research work to initiate this month. Everything has changed now and I don't even know if I'll get the child support that I depend on from Rachel's dad, who lives in a million dollar property high on a hill on the Big Island of Hawaii. He hasn't bothered to even inquire as to whether or not she's OK, much less if she needs anything. How sad. But I digress.

You all are so wonderful to make this offer. I humbly accept. Given the circumstances, I will swallow hard and give you my PayPal account info, with my head bowed in deep gratitude.

My e-mail address for PayPal (in case there are problems with this link) is lisa (at) If anyone has the AOL connection mentioned in the last post, you can e-mail me there, too.

I also want to say hello to Thomas, a friend and close neighbor. Tom, I knew you were out of town and glad to know that you're OK. I think we're not really flooded badly, if at all, but I have no idea about looting or wind damage. (The closer to the river, the better, which gives you a few blocks advantage over me.) Who knows...maybe we'll end up in California. I got your post card. Are you back down there yet?

Thanks again to you all. I've got to do something with these kids besides watch disaster coverage and type on this machine.

Hurricane Katrina Refugee Report #3- What Lasciate Did and What You Can Do

It was a first for us both. An in-person blogger meeting. Lasciate came bearing a folder packed with vital information on applying for FEMA assistance. I began perusing it today and it addresses so many of my questions and has so much of importance in it, that I cannot thank him enough! He also treated us to dinner at a restaurtant with *real food* instead of the Disney crap we've been forced to eat as captive serfs in the Magic Kingdom.

The real magic is the dissappearing act my money is experiencing on a daily basis. Who knew it could go so fast on what seems like nothing. The room isn’t terribly expensive. My total cost per night with the AAA discount is $68. And in Disney’s overwhelming gesture of generosity, they will give us refugees the “resident’s discount,” which drops the cost to $65 per night for us. Whooohoooo! We get to save $3 per night. So generous of them. Bastards. Anyway, the room is the smallest expense, but it does add up. However, it’s the food that’s killing us. All we can afford is the wretched fast food, and this is the home of the $6 hot dog. Because we’re captive, we end up spending $100 per day on food. We are so thankful to Lasciate for also taking us to Walmart for some non-perishables to keep in the room. This helps keep us from doing the Disney Dining drain for at least one meal per day.

OK- Here are some things that would be helpful to me right now:

1. I have the limited usage AOL that I keep for circumstances when I need to log on for e-mail in travel situations where unlimited broadband is unavailable. I’m already well over my allotted usage and, given the uncertainty ahead, can’t afford to incur the mounting per-minute charges. So, if anyone has or knows anyone with an unlimited AOL account that would be willing to add me on as a user, it would be a huge help. It wouldn’t cost them anything to do it, but it would help me a lot. I have to dial up from here (with a hotel charge) and am thankful I have AOL on my laptop, but I would be so appreciative to avoid the hefty per-minute charges on my plan. I won't be able to change to an unlimited plan until September 9th.

2. Omitted because it was just too embarrassing. I was wishful-thinking out loud, folks. Sorry.

3. Finally, I’d love it if people would contact the higher-ups at Disney and tell them to cut us a break! Let the people who have suffered severe loss and who have no place to go, stay for free in any resort where there is room. Be nice and compassionate and comp our stays, give us free meal plans and park tickets. Don’t charge us for phone calls or internet access. Every dollar we spend today is one less we have available for the hardships to come. I couldn’t really afford this as a vacation. My family –mom and siblings and their kids -wanted to come here as a family earlier this year and I had to decline because of the cost. But I relented despite the cost on this occasion because I thought it would be better for my kids psychologically, as I explained in an earlier post. I did this, despite the fact that it would cost 2/3 of what I would earn from UNO this semester. (Which I will not earn now.)

So find out who is in charge here at Disney World and contact them. I’ve met other New Orleanians who came here just like me- to get away from the storm – and who have nowhere to go now and need time to figure things out. If you can get them to act, let them know who we are. If you don’t know already, my last name is Palumbo and we’re staying in the cheapo Disney Pop Century Resort. If you can’t get Disney, contact the Orlando news channels. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful for Disney to show so little compassion. I was actually reduced to tears at the concierge desk when they told me all they’d do was give us that whopping $3 discount. They are raking in the tourist dollars by the truckload and this is all they’ll do for us? OK. Fine. We’ll finish our stay and check out, bereft of thousands of dollars and then we’ll set up a tent city outside the gate while we figure out what to do next and wait for FEMA to get to our application out of the 2 million or so they will have to process. I may have some options, but who knows what the others have? This is Disney’s chance to show that they have a heart that pumps something other than cash through their corporate veins. Please go forth and make some noise.

4. My last post was more about my feeling and I will have to reconstruct it at some point. Needless to say, being here makes things much easier, but it's hard to get away from all the questions about what comes next. I can ponder this in luxury compared to the poor souls in New Orleans. I don't know what you can do for them other than pray, if you believe in it, but if there is anything else that makes itself evident, please, please do it. These people are suffering so terribly and my heart aches for them. It's an incredibly difficult situation.

Thanks again for all your love and support.