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Life After Katrina
December 1st, 2005 under Holidaze, Howie Jr, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Shirley, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus, Xavier. [ Comments: 1 ]

TurboDogSometimes I think I’m bipolar. My trip to New Orleans for Thanksgiving was wonderful, but also a bit bittersweet. I got to take both of my girls to the Quarter and listen to live Jazz while I sipped on a Turbodog. The zoo reopened so we also got to go there. The weather was perfect! I also was able to finish the front bathroom. I installed the shower surround kit and finished the plumbing. (Got to use my torch twice!) Fixing the roof was a major pain, but hopefully Howie Jr won’t get wet next time it rains.

Turducken was great. I was also able to spend time with son #1. He’s such a great guy. I miss him so much. Shirley had the week off so we got to stay up late every night! Shirley Jr was as fun as ever and Howie Jr was very busy as usual.

Driving past Xavier was very difficult. Even if I were to be asked back, it wouldn’t be the same. So in the middle of this wonderful week with my family, I was often gripped with sadness. Life will never be the same. Spending time in New Orleans itself is depressing. All you see on the news and read about in the paper is about the hurricane. I actually looked forward to getting back to Music City.

But, when I got here I realized how much I miss my family. Life will never be the same. I’ll never get this time back. But I must make the most of it. I’ll tell you the good things I’ve learned from this mess.

I believe now more than ever in Grace. My lowest points seem to always be met by Grace. Yesterday, the maintenance man came to fix my sink. He told me about how he used his vacation time to set up showers in a shelter for victims of Katrina. He told me about Paw Paw in Crowley La and his struggles. He shook my hand and said he’d pray for me. He said that if he could help me in any way to let him know. And he meant it.
Jason is giving me his bike today. I advertised on Craig’s List that I needed a bike and Jason is bringing it to me today. These acts of kindness may not seem like much, but to me they are huge.

I didn’t think I could love my wife more than I did, but I do. She is more beautiful and full of wisdom and strength than ever. I am so blessed I can’t describe it. I also appreciate how good my kids are. Shirley Jr really doesn’t like her school at all. But she looks to the time when she will be back at her old school and she continues to be as positive and sweet as ever. Howie Jr made the honor roll! Damn, I’m proud of him! Son #1 is growing and learning and was so sweet to his little sister!

Life will never be the same. Fortunately, my outlook on life will never be the same either!

November 25th, 2005 under Friends, Holidaze, Howie Jr, Katrina, New Orleans, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus, Xavier. [ Comments: 3 ]

PickleThanks to Joe Kennedy for reminding me I’ve been too negative lately. Returning to New Orleans for the week has done that to me. It’s true that in many cases New Orleanians love to b*tch and are often not thankful when they should be. So here goes—

I’d like to thank the nice ladies in Clarkesville Tn at the Red Cross center for providing me with a listening ear, a possible place to stay in Nashville, and a white credit card! Y’all were so wonderful. I’d like to thank the folks in Houston Co. TN for being so nice to my family. Both my kids (the oldest was at the University of Florida) were welcomed with open arms to their schools. Howie Jr got to play on the football team. #71 rules! Shirley Jr was invited to a sleep-over and my family there was great! The ladies at the library were also very helpful to me as I tried to continue my research. There was even a man at church that slipped Howie Jr a $20 bill. Everyone wanted to help so bad!

I’d like to thank the Baptists folks from Missouri that are STILL feeding folks every day at the church down the street! Thanks for the National Guard guys and gals that stayed in the school across the street from me. Thanks for protecting the neighborhood from looters. Thanks for cleaning up my yard and the school yard. Sorry that the soldier in your company spent 14 months in Iraq only to come to New Orleans and lose his leg. (Got infected while rescuing folks.) Sorry y’all couldn’t drink the beer I offered you! BTW thanks to the guys from Germany that camped out a block away from my house so that the pumping station would continue to run! (They didn’t turn down the beer! Sorry guys, Bud was all I could find!)

Thanks for the MREs, the water, and the ice. Thanks for the free meals, free beer, free prayers. Thanks to all those in Nashville who have made me feel loved and cared for. Thanks to all my friends who have called, emailed, and offered me everything from jobs to places to stay.

I’m thankful for my brother and his wife, My wife and kids, and my former colleagues at Xavier. I’m most of all thankful to my God for providing for me and demonstrating to me that I am loved.

Blubbering Idiot
November 3rd, 2005 under Friends, Howie Jr, Katrina, Shirley, Shirley Jr, Vanderbilt, Xavier. [ Comments: 5 ]

FemaToday has been very difficult. It’s my first day back in Nashville. My time in New Orleans had its ups and downs. I arrived in NO Thursday and had a great time with Shirley! However, I received a call from the chair of my department that was very disturbing. (I don’t feel comfortable sharing info about work so call me if you have any questions-504-460-1354)
Shirley took Friday off and we went driving around NO. It was terrible. The east bank is still pretty much empty. Our trip down Carrollton was traumatic. Only a Subway Sandwich Shop was open. We saw very few people. We tried to go to my friend Gerald’s home but his street was blocked by Entergy workers. I wish that I’d been able to stop in because he had just learned that he had lost his job.
Saturday–Shirley, Shirley Jr, and I went to a cornfield maze outside of Slidell, LA. It was lots of fun. Shirley Jr got her face painted, painted a pumpkin, shot a corn cannon, went through the maze (with Shirley) and went on a hayride. It was so much fun being with them again! Unfortunately, while the girls were in the maze, I got a phone-call from another of my colleagues who had lost her job.
Sunday–we went to church. It was great to see our friends again. However, there were many who we didn’t see. We might not see many of them again. Even though our neighborhood did not sustain a lot of damage, many lost their jobs or left and won’t be back for other reasons. Churches in NO are in really bad shape. Some pastors are homeless. Some have literally no congregations.
Monday–sent a few resumes out. That’s so hard to do. Ate lunch with my pastor and listened to some really awful stories. Picked up Howie Jr from rugby practice and got to hear all about his latest athletic adventures. Hope he doesn’t get hurt. He seems to think it might be cool to tell people he broke his arm playing rugby. I don’t. That evening, we had a Halloween block party. With all the debris and empty houses it’s still dangerous to walk around at night. Shirley Jr had a wonderful time getting to know new people. I was jealous of the two ladies who work at Loyola and did not lose their jobs. They were getting pretty drunk and having a great time. I didn’t let it bother me too much because my girls were having a great time. The picture to the left was the best costume there.
Tuesday–headed back to Nashville. Got an encouraging call from my brother. Had a few beers at the Crescent Café, finished up some cover letters, watched NCIS and went to bed.
Today–hard to get up and get going. Went to Brueggers for breakfast. Started reading friends blogs and was overcome with emotion. One friend had decided to have children before Katrina and is now putting it off. Another friend feels guilty because he was not fired, but those who had been there before him were. I had emails from friends asking how I’m doing. I couldn’t get up the nerve to write them. Another friend emailed me and invited me to join them on Saturday. I wanted to go to the office, but I was afraid when the wonderful, caring receptionist asked me how my trip was I would start to cry. Oh hell, why wait? I started to cry right there. I’m sitting in Brueggers with my head down and tears streaming onto my laptop. I soon ran out of those sand-papery recycled napkins and started to use my sleeves. The assistant manager, who knows me pretty well, noticed me and shot me a look of concern. They were extremely busy. I rushed out and cried all the way to my room. I prayed for about 20 minutes and gathered my senses. I headed to the office with a present for my friend Lyn and her family. I received a call from my friend Michael on the way there. He’s such a great guy. I miss him so much. Maybe some day we’ll get together and spend $350 not catching fish again.
The receptionist was not at her desk when I came in. Thank God! I’m back to work and ok now. I appreciate the emails and call from my friends. They mean more to me than you can know. My family and I will be fine. It’s just not that easy some days.

You can view pictures of my trip here.

Reflections on Katrina: On Being Disempowered
October 18th, 2005 under Howie Jr, Katrina, poor, Xavier. [ Comments: none ]

“Katrina” I want to first make clear that my family and I have been very blessed throughout the Katrina ordeal. We have not suffered the loss that many of my friends have experienced. We have not had to face all of the uncertainties that others have faced, but we have suffered nonetheless. As I’m researching theological aspects of Bioethics, I am becoming aware of why I’m having difficult days. I apologize beforehand if my complaining offends those who have it worse than me. Your pain does impact me more than you can know.

I think that the most difficult aspect of being impacted by Katrina is the sense of disempowerment I feel. Prior to the storm, my life was pretty well mapped out. My third year review at work had gone well so I had confidence that I would continue to work there as long as I wished. As of today, my pay status for October is uncertain. When classes begin in January, I’m unsure as to the number of students that will return. That figure will have an impact on my employment status I’m sure. I’m also concerned about how my teenaged son will handle another change in schools if I need to relocate. During this academic year, he has experienced three first days of school at three completely different kinds of schools.

Not only is my employment future uncertain, I am also miles away from my family and friends. I can’t begin to describe how painful this separation has been for me. I will move on to less difficult matters.

How else do I feel disempowered? Since I was 15 years old, I’ve had my own car and could go anywhere I wanted to go. I don’t even have a bike now. Can’t even get one! My world has been reduced to a few square miles. I tried the bus on Friday. It was a most frightening experience for me, but not in ways you might expect. When I was in the second grade, I got on the wrong school bus going home. I’m dyslexic so bus 54 looked a lot like bus 45. I was terrified! Not knowing where I was going or how to get to a safe place is excruciating for me. I have no idea how bus systems work. I tried to read all of the brochures, but I still didn’t understand. I hopped a bus headed for a mall and took my chances. The freedom was exhilarating but I was still afraid I would have to contact a cab to get back “home.” After catching a movie, I sat by myself at the bus stop watching cars go by. I had no idea if a bus would pick me up. After 30 minutes a bus pulled up and the same driver from my first trip was driving! He said that the bus would take me back to Vandy!

The list of things I can’t do now is huge. At one point in this ordeal, I joked with my older brother that I would be much more comfortable if he would just tell me what I needed to do. He’s a wonderful guy who loves me very much. He’d probably do a much better job of managing my life right now than me. He wouldn’t go for it though. I can now better identify with those who sat on I-10 waiting for someone to help them. I feel so helpless and alone. But for now I must trust that still small voice that says “Get back to work.”

Supersize Me!
October 6th, 2005 under Food, Howie Jr, Humor. [ Comments: 1 ]

superI had no choice but to eat at McDonald’s yesterday. Even on the Westbank there are limited choices. I watched Super Size Me last week with Howie Jr. so I wasn’t able to finish my Big N’ Tasty (ever notice that if you drop the T the name is more fitting?). I’ve never been a McDonald’s fan, but after seeing the movie I will avoid them totally if at all possible. The mom and pop places are usually better for you even if they are a bit more expensive.

Anyhow…..I saw two guys who looked really rough, and hot, and stinky that walked up to the door at McDonalds. They asked if they could go inside to order their “meals.” The nice lady smiled and said, “Sorry, only the drive through is open.” They explained that they didn’t have a car! “Sorry!”

My window was down in my van and I have no sense of smell so I invited them in. I told them that if McDonalds was taking credit cards that I would be glad to buy their lunch.

They said no thanks, they had money but were very hungry. It was about 1:30. Everything takes longer in New Orleans because of the scarcity of open stores. We placed three separate orders and after we got our “food” we said goodby. They were very greatful and I was afraid Shirley might be bothered by the funk when I picked her up. She wasn’t.

It seems this Katrina thing might be making some of us more kind, more trusting, more willing to give and receive help from our neighbors. I thought I’d make a positive post for a change!


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