Thursday, August 31, 2006

"I'm so tired I could scream."

Well, I'm off to Italy if we can ever get Grandmother's luggage back from American Airlines. They've apparently sold her bag into slavery and won't give it back until hell freezes over. Jeez!

Hopefully, I'll have some lovely blogs to share when I get back next week. Take care until then!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Guest blogger: Keith from Nola

My friend Keith sent me a response to this morning's blog. I begged him to let me post his e-mail for you guys to read. After some arm-twisting moments, he agreed. - typingelbow


Aw, you’re very sweet. Thanks for the kind words on this strange day.

People often ask what this whole experience has been like. What is it like to live in New Orleans? How do you feel about seeing your house now? It’s all so raw— even a year later — that it’s still difficult to process.

Initially, I used to think that the best way to describe the chaos, turmoil and fear was to say that it felt like someone blindfolding you, spinning you around and asking you to cross an interstate. That is what it was like in those first few weeks. We didn’t know anything. We didn’t know what we had, what we had lost and where we would end up. Remember, we didn’t actually get to go back into the city to see our house until Oct. 3.

Now that we’re a year away from all that, we know the tally of loss but we have to live with the overwhelming weight of the long road we have ahead to rebuild our lives and city. Do you realize that it will take 15 to 20 years to rebuild this city? I will be pushing 50 when we start to realize the fruits of all this hard work. I think few people realize this. That is why this is so different from something like 9/11. When they said 80 percent of the city flooded, they meant it.

The thing that bothers me most in the Katrina coverage is the Katrina cliché that just about every reporter who parachutes in here says: I’m shocked by the lack of progress I see here. Of course, they are usually saying this in a live shot from the lower ninth ward (which was a mess before Katrina).

My answer is — what did you expect? You can’t rebuild an entire city in a year. My parents are very well off and they have yet to move out of their trailer into their almost finished home. And they have tremendous resources. It is taking so long because there aren’t enough workers to rebuild this city fast enough. That is a simple reality. Mix in insurance problems, job setbacks and uncertainty about which neighborhoods will be viable and you’ve got lots more reasons for the delays.

My street, a success story by most accounts, is still dotted with trailers and will be for some time. America has never dealt with anything like this and most people outside of the city will never grasp its magnitude.

Anyway, I appreciate your blog entry and your voicemail. I’m glad you called. (And remember, we couldn’t have spoken to you very long during or after our evacuation because none of our phones worked! I still remember the moment I understood the scope of this disaster. It was when I sent you that text message Monday evening: The levees are breached, it’s all over. We found that out and understood it before the mainstream media caught on. It was during a live phone call with a staffer over at Tulane Hospital who said that water was rising about six inches an hour and that there were whitecaps on Canal Street. Do you remember that text message? I wish I had saved it.)

I’m about to go walk the dog on the levee of all places. They are ringing bells throughout the city at 9:30. I’ll probably go to Jackson Square today And maybe have a po-boy at Mothers.

I’m not sure what to do to commemorate today. But I do know what I’m doing tomorrow. I’m getting together with Chris, Verena, Peter and his wife for wine, cheese and “Project Runway” Wednesdays. I’m bringing a birthday cake. We’re celebrating Aug. 30, the end of Katrina anniversary coverage! And maybe the fact that we’re all still here.



Today is the day the waters rose in New Orleans.

My friends' houses filled with muddy water, some floating off their foundations, others just sagging like a wet paper bag. Very few of my friends stayed to ride out the storm, and all of those who did now have their own Escaping New Orleans tale. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it was a long time before I offered to listen to their escape stories. I was afraid to hear about how badly the city had turned on them. I just blocked them out. If they called, I would e-mail them with my condolences. I offered them my couch in New York, but I didn't offer them my company over the phone. I didn't let them tell me about how my beloved New Orleans, with all its character and charm, had suddenly become a death trap. Or how they were scared when they were trapped in the Superdome and stories of rapes, beatings and starvation kept circulating.

I only wanted to hear about the rebuilding, about the people moving back to the city. I didn't give my friends a chance to share their scariest moments with me, even though they had been there for me when I was afraid.

I spent two years living in the Crescent City, and during my first big storm, I was struck with wonder as the rain fell horizontally in seemingly no breeze. The rain came down sideways like that long before the howling winds started up. At first, the wind sounded like far-away screams, but as they grew louder and closer, I couldn't get used to hearing them all around me. We had a party that lasted long into the night. Eating and drinking by candlelight, we joked through most of the storm. The rain and wind were still blowing when I finally went home, and a friend offered to stay the rest of the night with me. We curled right up on that tiny futon bed and listened to the wind all night.

Only three of my close friends still live in New Orleans today, down from about a dozen before the storm. I've stayed close to the one who is rebuilding his home by hand and mostly lost touch with the ones who moved to Ohio, Colorado, Texas and Florida.

My friend Keith, the one who is rebuilding, says it's too soon for him to commemorate Katrina. He's still living in it every day, and there's been too little progress in the city to celebrate anything. Right now, he's commemorating survival.

I think I'll give him a call.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cowboy Baby

Cowboy Baby
Originally uploaded by typingelbow.
This was the cutest little cowboy at my high school reunion. I promise to tell more of the tale soon. It involves a fireball, a broken windshield, fried pickles and fireants.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Three Princesses

Three Princesses
Originally uploaded by typingelbow.
Happy Birthday, Ru!
Thanks for the cupcakes and champagne. I'm happy to be part of your phone tree!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Winning with a Jack on the river

I've recently been learning how to play poker, Texas Hold'em specifically, and I crossed a weird line today. I read my first poker-related news report and liked it. (Check it out here.)
I don't know how it happened, but I actually enjoyed reading about each big hand that lead up to a former Hollywood agent making $12 million by playing cards.
Part of this is the chef's fault. I watched him play poker online for a while and before long, I was shouting advice to him from the couch. Finally, he showed me how to log in for my own games. We only play for fake money, but it still feels great when I win a hand or knock someone out of the game.
I'm getting the hang of some of the lingo, and my favorite hand is Ace/King suited. The fact that I have a favorite hand is probably enough cause for some intervention.
Speaking of addictions, this is day 11 on the patch with no cigarettes.
See you at the tables.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Reunion countdown: 10 days to go!

Oh. My. God.
75 people, including about 20 kids under the age of 5, are coming to the high school reunion picnic next week. In South Arkansas. In August.
They'll have to invent a new term for heatstroke after we're done.

Bless his heart, the chef has agreed to help me cater this sunny shindig. He's never been to El Dorado, Ark., before, and I'm not sure he knows what he's gotten himself into with all this. It's going to be hot. as. balls. (Sorry, but no other phrase really covers it.)

Ah, well. It'll be good to finally meet all of my high school buddies' sweethearts and babies.

Nine years, 347 days down; 10 days to go.