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Thursday, September 01, 2005

My Way of Dealing

There is so much going on around me, and I feel like nothing. Here is a document of the last four days:

This past weekend I drove to Monroe to hang out with my couisin, Bas. She is one cool cat:

After the above chocolate milk party we hung out with some of her friends, had a Buffy marathon, and saw The Brothers Grimm with her friend Justin. Saturday night, after a little party where Bas cooked the meal, we got back to her apartment and saw the news. The storm we thought had died in Florida was coming to Louisiana. The next afternoon, I reluctantly headed back South to Pointe Coupee.

The road looked bad. Above is a shot of the crossroads along the levee, left leading North to Vicksburg, MS, right leading home. I headed South. The weather became increasingly bad. Eventually, caravans of vehicles filled the the other lane going in the opposite direction. Somewhere along this time, I began to feel as if I was going to die. My head started to pound, I felt nauseous, and my body hurt. It was almost unbearable. I felt like I would never get home. Finally, I did, and the moment I got out of my car, I put my finger in my throat, but I could only dry heave. I left most of my stuff in my car, told my family hello, showered, and passed out. Sometime before I reached my room, I heard that a good friend of ours, Rick, a schoolteacher from St. Bernard Parish (next to New Orleans) and his 90-year old father were on their way to our house.
Then next morning, I felt better. I turned on the TV, and looked at the news. The storm was in New Orleans. Less than two minutes later, our power went out. Honestly, I was furious. We had basically been told we would barely feel the storm, if we felt it at all. The wind began to blow. It was incredibly loud. My cat ran into my room, and crouched next to me. I felt sick again. I rolled over, and for lack of a better term, passed out. I woke up at about four hours later. This sight greeted me:

The hall was full of insulation. It may not look like much in this photo, but there wasn't much light further down where most of the insulation was. Thankfully, no other damage that I know of was done to our house. My family, sans my brother, and Rick and his father sat in the living room. I ventured outside to take a look at things. The wind still blew quite hard. During Hurricane Andrew (1992), we lost most of the trees in our yard, but thankfully this time we lost mainly branches. Further down the street, things weren't so good. First off, I found out what happened to the electricity:

And next door:

The fence was smashed. Thankfully, no houses were too badly damaged in my neighborhood. I went a few hundred yards down the street to find my younger brother (who sells wood) making the best of the situation:

This is in the yard of my family's ancestral home, an old plantation my great x3 grandfather bought from deposed plantation owners after the Civil War. The other side of the family owns it, but they all live(d) in New Orleans, so we watch after it for them. They are actually staying at the old plantation, right now. I do not know if they still have homes.

After surveying more damage, I went back inside. We decided to drive North to Morganza to my Uncle's grocery store to attempt to buy ice. He had plenty, and we racked up on that, and food. We have a gas oven, so we cooked some food before it went bad, and sat around Rick's small battery operated television. Things South of us did not look good. The footage was chaos. No one knew what was going on anywhere. That was a long night. Finally, I went back to my room. Without AC, South Louisiana is hot. I stripped down to basically nothing, and decided to make the best of things. I listened to some music with headphones, and then did some heavy revisions to a story I wrote in college under candlelight. All I needed was a glass of whiskey, and the night would have been perfect. I guess you can't have it all.

The next morning, more mini-TV chaos. It had been a day, and still no word. We finally found out what had happened to some friends of ours in Gulfport, Mississippi. Their church (the parents are pastors), restaraunt, and home were all destroyed. Somehow, they survived.
Then, something pleasant happened. My father arrived from Lafayette with this:

We plugged in our freezers. My mother is a baker, and thankfully, her kitchen freezers were salvaged in time. We plugged in the TV, but could only catch one channel, which carried nothing but footage of the carnage. Still chaos, and still no one knew anything about what was going on. Surprisingly, our Internet worked, which is how I got the last two messages out. Rick finally got in touch with some friends from his hometown. It is destroyed, they said. Under twelve feet of water. Many of his friends were, and still are missing. I left him alone. He came back, quite broken down, and still sobbing a little bit. We went online and found aerial photos of the area, one of which I posted, Tuesday. I was very depressed. I decided to go play with the kitten Rick had brought from home:

I guess now he is a refugee, too. I let Menu play with the beads. He was enjoying himself. I realized where the beads came from, and it made me sad.
Finally, the worst thing about being in our situation sank in.
Hopeless boredom. That night was warm and sad. We picked up some pizzas from New Roads, and I ate way too much. I payed for it later. Some time around then, I decided that having all the time in the world meant that I should take weird pictures of myself:

For some reason, the lighting in the bathroom reminded me of the Augstiner Pub in Munich, and my travels in Germany with my friend Robker and his sister, Stephanie. This made me happy.
Wednesday morning, I decided I had to get out. The roads were now safe for travel, so I decided to go to Baton Rouge. I was supposed to have an interview Monday, which should now be rescheduled soon, so I decided to get a haircut. The fro from earlier this year was coming back, and I hear employers aren't into that sort of thing this decade. After the haircut, I visited my cousin Rhett, his wife Mel, and their new baby boy Leighton. Leighton was born while I was in Monroe. I was going to see him Monday after the interview, but we all know how that day went. After the excellent visit with them, I drove to my friend Frank's house to do some video-editing on a project I am working on (for pay) for someone.
Baton Rouge was chaos. Cars were lined up on the side of the road for miles at gas stations. Restaurants were virtually inaccessible. I had to go to Walgreen's to get something to eat. Combos and sherbert. This made my stomach hurt. It sure was delicious, though. I tried to turn some DVDs back to the library, but it was closed, so I went to church.
The preacher was very excited. I do not enjoy my church. It is very conservative and evangelical. I am not very conservative and evangelical. The church is where most of my family attends, (the pastor is my uncle, and I have been there since it started 15 years ago), and I feel like leaving is murder because I have guilt issues, so I still go there. The church was very excited. Lately, membership has been under eighty, but we are taking in 150 refugees. The church attitude made me numb. You know, the whole Thank the Lord for this Storm and the way our church will benefit sort of attitude-actually, maybe this wasn't the attitude at all. The church and I are very different, afterall, and there is much I don't understand. I didn't stick around for long. The atmosphere was choking me.
Driving home, I was shocked to see how much of Baton Rouge was without electricity. The population of Baton Rouge is more than doubling this week because of the refugees, and the word on the street is that it will soon become "Baton Orleans." Preacher says there is no more New Orleans. New Orleans is in Baton Rouge, now. This was all too much. Everyone was really excited. I felt like absolute shit. Finally, I got home. The power was back. I couldn't believe how lucky we were. I ate some leftover pizza, and sat down at my computer.

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