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March 10, 2006

glorious stoplights

At my aunt's funeral last week there were quite a lot of nuns,
my cousin--her only surviving daughter--is one of the Sisters
of Mount Carmel. Some of them knew my aunt, and some were there
to support my cousin. My aunt lived in Lakeview, a few blocks
from their school, that's where she raised her children. All
of the conversation at the funeral that wasn't about my aunt was
about The Thing: the hurricane, the levees breaking, the feet of
water for three weeks. I went into the break room at the funeral
home during the wake and ended up in a fifteen minute conversation
of "how did you do," as we all say here now, with three nuns.
(As an aside, as a lot of you know I have a bit of an aversion to
religion. My cousin has never given me an ounce of trouble over
that, for which her and her fellow sisters have my utmost respect.)

It's the icebreaker with people you are just meeting in New Orleans
these days: you ask how they made out, where they evacuated to,
when you got back, did you sneak in early, just as a matter of
course. I've told my story hundreds of times by now, and I'm still
trying to collect the stories of the people I know, some of whom
I still haven't seen since "before." "I'm still here, I'm okay,
I lost some things but not everything and I didn't get stuck in
Houston or on a rooftop, it's fine, really, I'm still here." I went
away for a week or so, back in October when the whole area was
still quite severely broken, out of a dire need to see what normal
looked like.

Little things are improving here and there. I never would have
imagined being so happy to see functioning stoplights appear at
the West End/Ponchartrain Expressway interstate interchange.
Those I found existing again on Mardi Gras. We have a 24-hour
Wal-mart up on the northshore now. A couple of late night donut
shops. The malls are starting to get back to regular hours, as
opposed to closing at 6 or 7pm. On Ash Wednesday I was driving
to class and there were a TON of people fishing and crabbing on
Lakeshore Drive, it looked like a Saturday in the summertime out
there.

There is still so much to do. So many people are overwhelmed
trying to get their lives together, trying to fight with insurance
companies and adjusters and fema and roofers and disappearing
contractors. My english class is almost entirely made up of
"non-traditional students", and our professor tells us that we
inspire her for coming back to school on our own after all of
this and driving through the bombed out shells of Lakeview and
Gentilly to get to school all the time. Just today I got a new
windshield for my car; it was pretty well cracked on the drivers'
side from that oak tree that landed on my car while the eye was
passing. Six months to get around to fixing a windshield because
there is so much else to be done.

music: The Darkness: I believe in a thing called love

candice at March 10, 2006 02:51 AM

Comments

Great post, Candice! Well written and an exacting summary of life here in Now Orleans.

See you soon!

Posted by: Dave at March 13, 2006 11:49 AM

Thanks. One thing I actually forgot to add here, is that the same suv's that have W'04 campaign stickers are occasionally showing up with "Make Levees Not War" stickers on them. It's great.

Posted by: candice at March 13, 2006 11:53 PM

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