Thursday, October 26, 2006

On the lighter side ...

Some emails from reader's I've received have let me know that this blog is coming across as pretty damn bleak, and going back and reading it in its entirety, I can see that it certainly is. Not my intent, but since I began it in the period shortly before the one-year anniversary of Katrina, it's no wonder.

But let me assure you that all is not doom and gloom, either in my own life, or in New Orleans itself. For example, take a look at this video from YouTube:

I love this video! It cracks me up. I watch it when I am feeling down about the recovery, or my situation. It actually makes me feel better about the recovery. That everything is going to be all right. There is just something so hilarious and beautiful about this pasty, sunburned, fat white man, dancng in the ruins of New Orleans. dancing in front of a house whose door is hanging wide open, because it's so fucking wrecked that it doesn't even matter if anyone breaks in -- there's nothing to steal, and if anyone trashed the place, no matter how hard they tried, they could not measurably impair the state of the house. (My house's door is hanging open right now too.) Dancing in the waist-highh weeds, dancing ... in a neighborhood that could be my own (although I think it's Lakeview) ...

It's hard to describe the rush of incredulous laughter and unexpected, perverse joy I got when I first saw this video. It is so RIDICULOUS, and yet so right. I laughed my head off, and so did my husband.

You see, this is New Orleans! This is what the city is about -- not the houses, not the buildings, the business or the tourist trade, but the people and their spirit. And this is why we will prevail in the end -- white and black, rich and poor, Catholic and Pagan and Voodoo. Because New Orleanians love life! If the storm has wrecked your city and the flood has destroyed your home, what else is there to do but dance, dance! Dancing in the ruins -- in a way, that is what New Orleans has always been about.

There's no drowning the spirit, baby!

The video is by EndlessJoe, the dancer is CaptainPepito, and the music is by DJ Kool. Rock on! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Still Truckin'

I have updated my GA Journal. I am beginning to learn how to give formal instructional sessions, which is a huge part of academic librarianship these days.

In other news, I have been reading a lot lately, and am upset and frightened by the horrendous crime wave that is occurring in New Orleans lately. It is like the bad old days of 1994, when the yearly murder rate stood above 400, and New Orleans was undisputably the "Murder Capital of the United States." But with the population of the city so much less now than it was then -- less than 200,000 people by last count -- I would say it's actually, objectively worse. I am concerned about my parents down there, and my husband, still living in one of the devastated areas. For myself, I'm glad I'm in Baton Rouge right now.

Hopefully the recet dismissal of revolving-door judge Elloie will put some brakes on the crime spree. His was just another example of the lack of leadership that has plagued the city throughout the recovery effort.

I really struggle with the idea of returning to New Orleans after I finish my degree. There are good reasons to return, and just as good ones to "shake the dust of [that] crummy little town off my feet" and never, never return. The good reasons are: my family is there; all my friends are there; making a difference by contributing to the rebuilding, and; it is home after all.

The bad reasons are: why go to all this struggle and sacrifice just to go creeping back to my old life; the recovery is not going well; News Orleans will never be what it was; it is still lacking in economic and professional opportunity, and; it is a crummy little town after all.

I love New Orleans, don't ever say I don't. I love it with all my heart. Seeing the city ruined, the people scattered, has been a nightmare, a kind of living death. I grieve for the dead and for the city ruined. But having lost everything, I want to create a good, new life for myself and my husband now. That is why I am in school after all, trying to better myself, trying to take something positive out of this horiffic catastrophe. And I suspect I can do a better job of that somewhere else, than in ruined, staggering, broken New Orleans.

It kills me to say that. N.O. loyalists would call me a traitor, a weakling, and they might be right. I greatly admire people like Mark Folse -- expatriates who've come home and are struggling to rebuild their hometown. But as heroic as that is -- they didn't live it. They didn't flee with the clothes on their back and live a gypsy's life for months while the city lay submerged and off-limits. They don't wake from dreams of drowning in their own house, struggling to climb the attic ladder as the cold lakewater sucks at their legs and thighs. They don't know who lived in the houses with the numbers in the search tags.

You know, I'm just tired. I want it all to be over. When I graduate, I want to get a good job where I can put to use all the things I'm learning in library school, buy a nice house, and live in a community where I can shop and go to the movies and run errands without it being a major operation. I want a future.

It's almost a year still until I graduate. A year from now, I might find those things in New Orleans. But i don't know, I don't know. A fresh start -- is that so much to ask?