Thursday, December 29, 2005

St. Nicholas Meets Liberace

Another Outspoken Female posted this picture on her blog and gave it the caption used in this post's title. I couldn't have said it better and thought this picture of the pontiff deserved a spot here as well.

I see great potential for a comedy sketch, a biography-type documentary on the Vatican's fashion designer/image consultant.

My House & Neighborhood During the Flood

As you may know, I had lots of problems with internet access in the first couple of months after the storm, so I am still catching up on Katrina-related stuff that I'm sure the rest of you are bored to death with by now.

I was quite happy to finally find a website with images of the flooded city where clouds did not obscure the view of my house or the area immediately surrounding it. I did tweak the image for contrast and color balance, since the image the site provided was quite flat and had a blue hue. The color of the rooftops is much more accurate, at least on my monitor. If you click the photo, you can see the few notes I added on Flickr.com , or you can see a larger version. Info on the web source is also in the photo comments on Flickr.

My friend Jeffrey has come up from North Carolina for a brief visit. It's been great to get to visit with an old friend after so long (at least 8 years.)

Hope everyone is having a relaxing holiday break...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This Year's Christmas Card (if I actually sent them, which I never do...)


This Year's Christmas Card
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Orange Xs (and sometimes other colors...see additional pic below) were painted on all the houses in the flooded areas of New Orleans after they'd been checked for victims. Sometimes the Xs had other information in the quadrants, noting the rescuers' particular findings. (See card #2 below for an example.) My neighborhood was one of the last to be searched, probably because we were near the outer edge of the flooding. By the time search and rescue teams got there, the flood waters had receded and my neighbor, who had stayed behind, informed the nice volunteers canvassing our block of who stayed and who was gone. He kindly requested that if it was necessary to mark our houses with an X, (orange spray paint) that it be done on the sidewalks in front of the houses or on the telephone poles rather than on the houses themselves. They complied. I appreciate that. Now I'll only have to figure out how to remove it from concrete.

(That's the shadow of the wrought iron gate in front of my house, and the rear, upper floor of the house in the lower left-hand corner. )

Remember, you can always click on the Pictures loaded from Flickr (orange X) to see a larger version.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Crappy Holidays

Deck the halls with depressed funk,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Can't get rid of mental junk,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Please lobotomize my head.
Fa.la.la....la.la.la....la....la....la..
Or just let me stay in bed.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.

Sadly I can't join the chorus,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Can't see the trees for the forest,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Too much pathos in my mind,
Fa.la.la....la.la.la....la....la....la..
Why is it so hard this time?
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.

If it seems like constant whining.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
And your interest is delclining,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la
I don't blame you, not at all,
Fa.la.la....la.la.la....la....la....la..
Reading my posts is no ball.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.

Deck the halls with feelings crappy,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Where's the girl who once was happy?,
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
Well, okay. So times are tough.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.
But I feel I've had enough.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la.

Sorry I can't find a reason.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la
To be gleeful in this season.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la
Yes I know, this too shall pass,
Fa.la.la....la.la.la....la....la....la..
But for now it's kickin' my ass.
Fa.la.la.la,la.....la.la.la.la
_______

Okay. That's out of my system.

Why?


My Studio-in-the-Closet
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
I know I have lots of reasons to be thankful. I am thankful. And a Christmas tree with decorations and armloads of presents wouldn't make a bit of difference. I just can't seem to shake these blues. Christmas is 5 days away. Honestly, it's a holiday that I could do without, but I have kids. And Rachel has been playing in the bathtub gleefully singing Christmas songs over and over for the last hour. Normally, a happy, singing child brings me great joy, and indeed, I'm happy to hear her singing like that. But it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me and I just don't feel like I have anything to look forward to up here with no family and only a handful of friends, all of whom are all busy with their own lives. (That's fine with me, though, because I just don't feel very sociable right now and have been fighting a cold anyway.)

I spoke to Renard a little while ago and he summed it up by noting that I just don't have anything to look forward to...at least not anything pleasant. And there's really nothing for me to do here either, now that I've exhausted myself analyzing the feasibility of staying through the school year and working here. If I could get out of this funk, I could work more on my music. A couple of months ago, I went and sat in at a jazz jam here and met a guy who plays guitar and bass and is a great songwriter. I heard a few of his songs and they suit my preferred singing style very well. But he recently admitted having a crush on me and this makes me a little uncomfortable. But it would be nice to play around with some of his songs in my studio-in-the-closet. (I have this wonderful enormous walk-in closet in my room in this apartment, big enough for my stuff, a table and one or two chairs, the computer and all my equipment -mic/microphone stand, mini-monitors,mic pre-amp, control surface/interface, mini-mixer, keyboard, electric, acoustic and 12-string guitars, effects pedal-board, and my bass- all brought up here when I went home to get my car and check on the house in October. And this closet may be the thing I miss most about being here, as my wonderful old house in New Orleans has two tiny ones in my room and one even smaller one under the stairs...and that's it!) Oh, how I will miss this wonderful closet!

Oh well. I'm a full-blown insomniac now. It's 5:30 AM and I'm wide awake. But I'm changing the date and time on this post so that it will follow my Christmas carol, as it should.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Post-Katrina Lesson #1- Adventures In The Psychic Psychotic Friends Network- Part 3

Okay- lets see if I can wrap this thing up at long last. (And long is the word, as this post goes.) It may take two posts, to finish this whole thing up, though.

I've already filled you in on a lot of things about life with the Xs in Parts 1 & 2. I alluded to the trouble starting when I was "allowed" to start driving around town by myself, which afforded me my much valued independence. I also mentioned that I felt like a teenaged kid who had to worry about getting in trouble with mom and dad. Really, XX was more responsible for creating this feeling than XY was.

The first major incident came about 2 weeks after we arrived. I had cooked dinner for us all (Xs included) the night before and Rachel wanted to help me by peeling garlic, which I said would be fine, but she had to make sure she cleaned any mess up from the floor and counter when she finished. I thought she did, but apparently she missed two little pieces of the papery skin from the garlic cloves. They'd fallen behind the garbage can and I hadn't seen them either. The following morning, I got Rachel off to school around 7:30 AM and returned to my room in the wing. XX got up a while later and apparently moved the garbage can and saw the two little pieces of peeling. Rather than just picking them up and throwing them away, she left a post-it note on the counter instructing me to do so. Right after XX did this, one of XY's friends, Debbie, came over to drop off some donated clothes for me and saw the note. Debbie must have thought this was a rather petty request because she threw them and the note away.

I saw XX in the kitchen later that afternoon and was shocked when she approached me in a confrontational matter and recounted to me the story of Debbie seeing the note and
"having to throw the peelings away" for me, like it was my fault that Debbie had to do this. I apologized and told her that I'd asked Rachel to make sure that she'd picked up her mess and that I thought she had. I was sorry that I missed it and if I had seen the peelings or the note, surely I would have taken care of it. But she was not content to accept that. She harped on and on about it in this harsh maternal tone and told me that I didn't have my priorities straight. I was confused about what she meant and asked her to clarify. She just went on saying the same sort of things like, "you're not focused." but nothing specific. I was getting very frustrated with no clarity on what she meant, and I didn't understand why she was speaking to me with such a harsh tone, especially over 2 little pieces of garlic peeling. It was just too much. I was already feeling stressed out and frustrated by the lack of access to communication media (...my dead computer, difficult and scarce internet access and the inability to watch cable news to see what was going on at home while XY watched sports and soap operas all day TV), and I was stressed by this constant parental thing I had been experiencing. It was just too much. I burst into tears, apologized again for whatever it was I had or hadn't done, and left the room. Rachel was present for this whole episode and came to console me. I asked her to get Alex and the three of us went for a walk to have a family meeting. Alex's had a lot to say about what he felt was their attitude toward him and said he felt a lot of the kind of vibe I did. As a grown woman and parent of two, I wasn't willing to play the child role to this childless woman. I thought perhaps we needed to look for another place to live.

Now, one thing that I have not told you is that I come from the poster family for ADHD. My parents, me, my siblings and all the grandchildren but one has it. I'd talked about this to XX a long time ago and she knew I took meds for it. But I'd been off the meds since the storm, since I didn't need them under the circumstances and they are more effective if you take a break from them for a while. She knew this. It should be noted that my priorities were to take care of the things I needed to attend to in the aftermath of the storm, as they related to me and my children and my extended family. And I was taking care of these things. This had nothing to do with picking up after ourselves and helping out around the house, which we routinely did anyway. But it did require me to make and take phone calls, visit social services offices and my kids' new schools, and things like that. And I didn't need ADHD meds to do these things. I only need them if I have to do things like sit and deal with paperwork or planning classes, grading papers, and other tasks that require me to sit still and focus on one thing for a long time.

The next day, XX dropped another one on me. She informed me that she'd made an emergency appointment for me to see a therapist at noon that day. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I asked why? She said I needed to take my ADD meds and she made the appointment so that the therapist could tell me that I had to take them. I asked what she knew about the meds and about ADD in general. She admitted that she knew basically nothing, but she knew I needed to take them so I could get my priorities straight. Again. In the absence of any reasonable and concrete thing to hang on me as a grievance, she was using the knowledge of my ADHD and " medication holiday" as a basis for a non-specific grievance. I informed her that she wouldn't be able to tell the difference between me on the meds or off, as they affect nothing but my ability to sit still and focus on tasks that require my attention for long periods of time. And currently, there were no such tasks in my life that required this. Other than that, I feel no different on or off them on any given day. By the way, I've been on Adderral for many years and long before the diagnosis of adult ADD became so fashionable.

When I tell this story to others, they are generally appalled by the idea of XX "sending me to see a therapist." Again, this is what a parent would do with a child, but not an adult with another independent adult. I was shocked as well, but I figured I'd humor her and go, for two reasons. First, I knew that no self-respecting therapist would tell me I had to take my meds just because another one of their patients asked him to, particularly in the absence of any evidence in support of it. Second, I had become so uncomfortable with the whole parental thing going on with XX that I said, what the hell. It might be helpful to hear what the therapist has to say about dealing with this. Turns out the therapist was just as shocked as everyone else. After I told him about what transpired, he agreed that, perhaps, we should find another place to live. But in any event, he said he thought XX needed to come in and the three of us should talk.

That was on a Friday. I immediately got to work making calls and that same day was offered a place to stay with 6 months of free rent from a local hurricane relief agency sponsored by the United Way. I signed the rental agreement and had keys in hand, but told the representative that the decision wouldn't be final until I could take the kids to see the place and get their input. I didn't tell XX, but I took the kids to see it that evening and they were fine with the move. Because it was Friday evening, I wouldn't be able to let the rep know of our final decision until Monday.

On Monday, three days later, she and I returned to the therapist's office together. I'd did very little talking during this visit. Immediately, XX started harping about priorities again. I asked her to please be specific. This time, she was armed with a list of grievances:

Grievance #1: The garlic peelings. She said I should have picked them up that morning and not Debbie. I asked her how I could have when I didn't know they were there that morning? I should have read the note, she said. I asked how I could have if Debbie threw it and the peels away before I ever saw it? Silence.

Grievance #2: As relates to #1: She and XY didn't think I should make Rachel responsible for things like that. Before I could open my mouth, the therapist explained that one of my duties as a parent was to teach Rachel to be responsible. I nodded and silently thanked him.

Grievance #3: Rachel left the lights on upstairs in the wing one night and XX thinks that this is evidence that we won't take care of the house when she and XY are in Florida for the winter. True. Rachel did do that, but only once. And I noted that after XX told me about it, I made sure to check them every night and it never happened again. The therapist asked if this was true and XX confirmed it. I didn't understand why that would even be on the list. Do we get credit for correcting mistakes that happen only once, I asked? The therapist questioned why it was being brought up and XX couldn't really answer. Again, I silently thanked him.

Grievance #4: I'm on the phone all the time. Therapist asks if I'm tying up their phone line with my calls. XX answers, in the tone of an angry spoiled child, "No, she's on her cellphone!" as of this is even worse. Therapist asks why this matters to her? How does this adversely affect her? XX has no answer. Therapist notes that one would expect me to be on the phone a lot, given the circumstances.

Grievance #5: XX said that I had to keep the same hours as she did. I had to be up when she was up and go to sleep when she did. I've been a chronic night-owl since graduate school and have managed to live my life just fine as such, since my UNO classes were in the afternoons and evenings. Therapist asks if my staying up late at night disturbs them, and XX says no, we're in a separate part of the house from them. He asks why it matters and again, XX can't offer any reasonable explanation for this grievance.

Feeling shot down, I guess, XX pulls out the big guns.

Grievance #6: "We feel that they're exploiting us." I'm shocked by this. I asked how so? We're buying our own food and whatever else we need, (in fact, the children were instructed not to eat or drink any of the Xs stuff, despite having been told to help ourselves to anything they had, because I didn't want the Xs to ever go looking for something they wanted to eat or drink and find that it was not there because we'd consumed it), I'm cooking our own meals and cooking meals for them whenever XX agrees to it, we're doing our own laundry and cleaning up after ourselves (I even declined to have the housekeeper clean the wing when offered and I did it myself), I'm taking care of the garden and we're helping with any and everything else we can think of, and asking constantly what else we can help with. We're not asking them for ANYTHING. They offered us a place to stay and said we could use XY's minivan. We accepted. XY gave me some cash for my wallet when we first arrived and I bought 12" TVs (about $100 each) for the kids' rooms, which XY subsequently insisted on paying for as an early Christmas gift for them. (TV alone was of little use to them with only local broadcasts and no cable/satellite, but they had built in CD/DVD players, which were much valued.) Never, ever, did we ask for anything or take anything we weren't offered. When this was pointed out, she had no argument.

The therapist asked XX if he could be direct with her, and she agreed. He pointed out that I was going through an unprecedented kind of life-upheaval and was doing what I needed to do to take care of my and my children's needs. Maybe things like me having to be on the phone or keeping my own hours were aggravating to her (since they didn't disrupt her lifestyle in any way), but they were just things that I needed to do to take care of us and to have familiar and comforting things in the midst of the upheaval. He pointed out to her that she had me backed into a damned-if-you-do, damed-if-you-don't corner and that she was treating me in all the ways she complained that her mother treated her. (She had few kind things to say about her mother.) He said he thought that she would want to preserve the friendship and that maybe us moving out would be the best thing toward that end.

I guess XX wasn't feeling too happy and maybe she even felt pretty foolish at that point. I would have felt that way. But rather than concede that she was off base, she stood up, walked over to where I was sitting, literally got into my face and started shrieking- and I mean shrieking, "XY MIGHT DIE!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT???? XY MIGHT DIE!!!!!! AND ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS WHAT'S GOING ON WITH YOU AND YOUR LIFE!!!!!!"

She stormed out of the office and slammed every door from there to the parking lot. The therapist and I just sat there, looking at each other, dumbfounded. All I could manage to say was, "what do I do with that???"

Finally, he spoke. He said he knew XY had been hospitalized and was home recovering from a bruised kidney. He asked if there had been some new development with that, and I told him there hadn't. XY was home and recovering well, according to the doctors. XX had shared all of the info on XY's condition with me, and also expressed concern that it was really more than what it seemed to be and that maybe XY really had cancer. I tried to console her about that because, although he didn't remember at first, XY knew exactly when and what he'd done to bruise the kidney. Initially, the cause was a mystery, leaving room for speculation on why he had the bleeding, but that had been resolved. I also let the therapist know that all three of us had been very attentive to XY in his convalescence. We always asked how he was feeling and if we could get him anything or do anything for him, and we did whatever he needed.

The therapist looked at me and said, "you guys need to get out of there."

I had a place and told him about it and mentioned that I may also need a ride back to the house, since XX's exit made it probable that she took off after leaving the building. But when I went outside, she was still there.

Silently, we went to the car and got in. And as soon as we did, she burst into tears and sobbed heavily while apologizing profusely through her tears. I leaned over and hugged her and she cried and cried, and repeated over and over, "I'm so, so sorry." Then, as she continued to sob, she began repeating, "I'm scared. I'm so scared XY might die," over and over through the tears. (Maybe there's a an unkind pre-nup?) I tried to remind her that he was recovering well and that there was no reason for her to worry about that any more. She cried for a long time and I just held her until she began to regain her composure. Sheasked me repeatedly if I forgave her. Of course I did, I said. She said she was all jumbled up in her head and that she had been repressing her fears about XY's health and they came out all jumbled and confused and directed towards me. She repeatedly apologized and then asked that I please not tell XY about what happened that day. She said she was just going to tell him that everything had been worked out.

I still had a few nagging questions, particularly about #6 and the fact that she attributed the feelings to not just herself, but to XY as well. But I thought it would be best not to bring this or the fact that I'd found another place for us to live up at this time, since she was just regaining her composure. So I waited until later that evening and told her I was a little unsettled by the exploitation comment and the fact that she said that XY felt the same as she did.

First, she assured me that she really didn't feel that they were being exploited and repeated the thing about being all jumbled up inside. She said that none of the feelings she attributed to XY were his, and that he just went along with whatever she said. It became clear later on that he does whatever necessary to keep her happy when she's undone about something that's unrelated to himself. According to her, that's not the case when she has a grievance with him, though. But to his credit, I saw that situation, too, and I think he showed tremendous restraint. Maybe that's because we were there.

Next, I told her that we had another place to live. She said that she understood it if we wanted to move out, but she really wished we wouldn't and she would feel so, so sad if we did. So, so sad. Now she's looking dejected, as if she's losing her only friend, so I explained to her that I would still be in town and offered the possibility that Rachel could still ride the bus to her house every day and I'd pick her up from there, so she'd still see us regularly. Oh, but she was still so glum.

Oh boy. Now guilt is circling overhead, threatening to land. If we move, I will have rejected my friends generosity and caused her great sadness. I told her I'd reconsider it.

Later that evening, the decision was made for me when the agency rep called for our final decision. She said that she had a Katrina couple who were expecting a baby soon and they needed the place if we weren't taking it. I didn't feel right taking housing away from someone else who needed it when we had a place to stay. XX had repeatedly assured me that everything was fine. And then XX wouldn't have to be so, so sad. I tore up the agreement and returned the keys the next day.

Pay attention to grievance #4 and #5, because these are clues to what I think the real issue was with XX.

The real craziness comes next. Sorry for the eye-strain, but Thanks for sticking with this long narrative!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blah, Blah, Blah. (Stuck Inside of C'Ville with the NOLA Blues Again)

That's the description of how I've been feeling. Otherwise known as deepression. This is not the norm for me, not at all. I think I've learned to deal with my negative feelings pretty well but, apparently, I am pretty good at sublimating them at times, without realizing it. However, it's managed to find a way out through my hair- literally. My hair has been falling out at an alarming rate since about our second or third week in Keswick. I keep what's left of it (thankfully, I had lots to begin with) tucked into any of a variety of heavy scarves tied headband-style around my head most of the time. It's become my new look. My hair is wretched ugly after having been neglected by professionals and cut by yours truly since we've been here. And I'm overdue for my store-bought-box-color-over-gray treatment, which has been very unkind to my hair. But I digress... I was talking about being blah and depressed. (As if the hair thing isn't depressing enough!) The story of the Xs is emotionally taxing to tell. For one thing, XX was my friend and I will always love her unconditionally, despite her wretched and incomprehensible behavior. (And yes, I've not detailed all that yet.) The fact that I experienced a side of her that I'd never seen (well, I'd seen evidence that it was there, but never seen it acted out), makes me sad. Sad for her, sad that that side is there, sad for the pain I think she must live with, and sad that she's thrown away a friendship, which is something she should treasure, given the scarcity of them in her life.

However, the whole X thing is not really what has rendered me undone lately. It's this whole post-Katrina life in general, and all the uncertainty and upheaval it's brought. The whole struggle with what to do next, with what's best, and what comes next- that's been a source of tremendous angst for me. And it's paralyzed me. There are still so many problems to deal with, dilemmas to solve. And it's just me. No one else to take any of this load. Single parenting is a tough job, but I'm happy with it, despite getting no help whatsoever with the job from the dads. But now, taking care of this little family has gotten much harder in the aftermath of the storm.

I'm skipping a lot of details that I wanted share, but for now, here's the situation. We're still here in Charlottesville, VA. We've been living in an apartment with free rent until January. It goes up to $1300 a month after that. The cost of living here is astronomical. We're getting Medicaid and food stamps. (Never in my life would I have imagined this! But everyone from Katrina was eligible. And thank God for that!) The schools here are great. But, jobs that pay a decent living wage are scarce. University of Virginia doesn't seem interested in any of us academics from New Orleans. (I've met three other professors who are up here, one from UNO, but he's a Department Chair and still has his job, one from Xavier, one from Southern University of N.O.). I thought we'd stay here for the school year- that was the plan before we were cast out of Keswick. There are many reasons why staying would be best for the kids. And I thought it might still be possible even after the uncertainty of our living arrangements, as one of my contractor friends from Florida wanted to rent my house in N.O. so he could work contractor jobs there and help get my house back together during his stay. That would help with the expenses of living here. But he's been kind of flaky about it and can't seem to get it together.

So, the plan for now is to return to New Orleans in January. We won't be able to live in the house right away. The hot water heater and the central heat/ac units were underwater and will have to be replaced before we can move in. I'm not even sure that we have gas service yet. Just about every wall in the house has water damage caused by the damage to the roof and there was mold growing in several places. Because FEMA doesn't put blue roof tarps on tile, asbestos or slate roofs, mine continues to sit exposed to the elements- along with most of the other New Orleans residents living in older homes. (Mine is just over 100 years old.) I may return to find that more plaster has collapsed since October. There were heavy rains last night and Willie (my friend and former spouse) called today telling me that water poured into his apartment last night even after the landlord (thought he) had the roof repaired.

Everyone I know that's gone home seems to be quite glum. Maybe things are more "normal" (whatever that means for New Orleans, which, normally, is anything but a normal city,) in the downtown/French Quarter area, but if you look at the state of the most of the remaining residential areas of the city, it's anything but that. Willie still doesn't have phone service- a personal tragedy for him. I'm not sure if my house has it either, but my last call to Bell South indicated that I may not. There are still few places to buy groceries and gasoline. I'm told that restaurants have insane lines (not that we can afford to eat out anyway.) Everyone has to go to the suburbs to get things they need, and as a result, traffic is ridiculous. Many of the grocery stores continue to have limited hours of operation. (When I say everyone, by the way, I'm referring to all the people from other cities who are working in N.O. plus the mere 20% of residents who have returned.) There is competition for everything, especially honest contractors.

Life when we return will not be easy, by any stretch. I will have no job, as adjunct instructors were the first to go at UNO. I'm told that a lot of the full-time faculty have been laid off as well. And not just at UNO, but at all of the 7 universities in town. There are rumors that one of these may close down altogether. The clinical research business that we started looks like it will not survive either. My doc/partner saw virtually no patients for the first three months after the storm and has seen very few in the last few weeks. We were dependent on New Orleans for our patient population in the HIV neuropathy study and there is no population to speak of at this point. He's looking at bankruptcy. I have no idea how I will earn a living when I return.

Charlottesville is really a neat little town and I could see living here for a while. It would certainly be easier in some ways, but to stay would be burying my head in the sand and pretending that the problems at home don't exist. But I can't just ignore the fact that I have a house there and that whatever net worth I have (a term that sounds utterly silly to me when used in self-reference) is in that house. I still have to meet with the insurance adjuster. (It seems I get a call every week from someone who says the file was just given to them. I'm on adjuster #4 right now. I wonder if he'll still be the guy when I get home.) I have an enormous clean-up job to do. I have to get the house repaired and in habitable condition. I have to do these things and have to figure out how I will pay the bills at the same time. And I have to pray that I will be able to find a way to earn a living that will not be the death of my soul.

This whole ordeal has, however, offered me many opportunities to learn. And one thing that I've learned is that I can actually live somewhere else other than New Orleans after a period of adjustment. For many years, all I could think of was living somewhere else, but the more I traveled, the more I came to appreciate my city for it's unique personality and soulfulness. I've never found anyplace quite like it, with the quirky creativity and wonderful sense of humor of its people. We New Orleanians eventually find a way to laugh at everything that life throws us, even those things that bring us misery. All you had to do to see that was drive around the city once people started returning and see the funny things people wrote on their funky refrigerators when they put them on the curb (someone is publishing a book of pictures of these) or the "public art installations" made from the flood-damaged articles in their houses. All funny. That's just how we are. Traveling helped me to not take it all for granted. And in realizing how lucky I am to have been born and raised in such a wonderful place, I've not been able to imagine myself living anywhere else. But now I know that we are an adaptable little family, though maybe we've been okay about it only because we've never considered it to be a permanent move. But it does show me that if I have to move away to complete a PhD, I can make it work. After all, that kind of move is not a permanent thing, either.

One of the things that has been troubling me, though, has been the threat of more such storms in the future. The coastal erosion caused by Katrina has made New Orleans far more vulnerable. And all I have is in that sweet little old house of mine. And the city has suffered such a tremendous blow, who knows what the future will hold. I, personally, think that the future New Orleans will be a much better place if a good bit of the population returns and the economy rebounds. But right now, most of it looks like some fictional post-apocalyptic city and not my beloved home. It's particularly strange to see it so empty. Hopefully, there will be lots of people coming home in January, though I know that may be pie in the sky. At least there will be a little surge as some of us with kids in the few newly chartered magnet schools are coming home.

Well, we're in the throes of an ice storm and I just heard a transformer blow somewhere out there...at least I hope that's what it was. Most of the power lines are below ground around here but I know that there may be lines that are lost that affect us, so I'd better post while I have power. Thank God we have a fireplace. Ohhh...lights flickering! I'll try to be better about posting. It's just been hard for me to do most everything these days.

I'll respond to comments in the previous post next and maybe post some pictures as well. And I will finish up the story I started, I promise!