01 September 2005

What I had for dinner and other reflections...

Well, now I just feel silly. And at the moment, pretty angry at our government. Or someone. Whoever is supposed to be in charge down there.

While I understand the media to be somewhat exaggerating at times, you can’t deny the pictures, the interviews with real people who have gone for days without water or food or seemingly any hope of help. It is maddening to me that we live in a country where four days can pass and thousands of people can still be desperate. It baffles me that we can get a man to the moon but can’t manage get a glass of water to people on our own doorsteps, albeit a doorstep in the middle of a lake.

So honestly, tonight I don’t care quite so much about the loss of coffee and jazz and the sudden jump in gas prices. There are people dying on Interstate 10.

In the middle of the night last night, our friends Grant and Christy and their 5-month old puppy, a boxer named Jack with a bad case of cabin-fever, appeared in our living room after making their way north from New Orleans. They left their second floor apartment on Saturday, even before the mandate, casually packing a small suitcase and grabbing their wedding photos as an afterthought. They said they’ve been through the false alarms before, and like many New Orleanians, didn’t think this storm would amount to all the hype.

Three days later in Mississippi they were given peanut butter sandwiches and tuna fish at a school cafeteria. Eventually, they crept their way to Nashville, arriving exhausted, bewildered, eager for a hot shower, and curious to see the news reports since they’d been without TV. After about five minutes, they were ready to turn it off.

They are among the fortunate ones, which sounds dramatic but it’s true. They got out with each other and have the resources to pull themselves back up. Still, in the midst of counting their blessings, we could sense their disbelief and sadness barely beneath the surface. Today they headed north toward family in Pennsylvania. They’ve said they’ll most likely just cut their losses and start over in a new town, but they’re not really sure.

I guess I just feel a little writer’s remorse about my first entry, which is part of why I was hesitant to do this blog-thing in the first place. Once you spill your thoughts, it’s almost inevitable that you later wish you’d written whatever it was with the benefit of foresight. And for the life of me I don’t know why all of my analogies seem to link to Jerry MaGuire, but it’s kind of like when Jerry distributed his grandiose mission statement to his entire office in the middle of the night and then woke up to realize that it was too late to take it back.

As Meg Ryan once noted in When Harry Met Sally, “It’s already out there.”

Then again, my uncle in California, a fellow writer who I’ve always respected, said today that he too was grieving the loss of a city he’s always hoped to visit. So maybe there is something valid about mourning a little over beloved buildings and cafés sinking into oblivion. At the same time, I struggle. I watch the news and realize how much suffering is happening. I do this while sitting on my sofa with a plate full of chicken that my husband grilled for dinner (which by the way, I had no urge whatsoever to supervise---see, I’m growing.)

I feel a mixture of emotions about this whole situation. Frustrated that more isn’t being done and that the government is saying they weren’t prepared. [MSNBC just reported that Condoleezza Rice went to a Broadway play last night---a comedy.] Sad about the loss of actual people I might have once sat next to at Café Du Monde. Anxious about what I might possibly do to help them. And kind of wondering if it’s okay to have a vase of roses on my table just because they’re pretty.

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