Yesterday was the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I didn't do a post.
This is the post I told myself I wasn’t going to write. The post about The Hurricane. I told myself I had no right to post, no right to be upset. When I came home I had a house, clean (relatively anyway, there had been a myriad of people living in it during the almost 3 months I’d been gone) and dry, electricity, and all my possessions were intact.
But when I think about Hurricane Katrina, I do get upset. It was a horrible experience. There’s a lot of “if you weren’t here you don’t understand” sentiment, even today - 5 years later. It took me 5 years to figure out I have survivor’s guilt: Guilt that my home didn’t flood, that my family got out and no one died, that I didn’t sit for days in that murky, dirty water, that I wasn’t out in the sweltering heat of the Superdome or Convention Center, praying for food and water.
I was one of the lucky ones. I took the kids and left for Orlando on Saturday night. I figured a 3-4 day weekend at my aunt’s house would be a fun way to ride out the storm. My husband had to stay in New Orleans as he is in law enforcement.
Fast forward 2 days and turn on the television to see the devastation that was New Orleans. To slowly realize that no, we’re not going home tomorrow, I don’t know if there is a home to go home to. For the next 5 days, we watched TV. Watched the pictures, desperately trying to figure out if our neighborhood was one of the ones they kept showing on TV. I watched TV because it kept me from wondering where my husband was – if he was alive or dead. All I knew is that the jail had flooded badly. They were trying to get people out, but he wasn’t in any of the groups they showed on TV that were safe on the bridge. Every rumor of prison riots made it worse. Here’s the thing – no one with a 504 area code could make calls, not even on your cell phone. Imagine not being able to get calls or call anyone in your area code. Someone finally figured out we could text. Even though I didn’t have texting as part of my plan, I texted my heart out, hoping to reach my husband. I never got a reply. I found out later he couldn’t recharge his cell phone (duh!).
Once I figured out we weren’t going home, my aunt helped me get on the stick and by Labor Day I had the kids enrolled in their local Catholic school and I found a little part-time job next door to the school. One of the families from school offered us their “mother-in-law” apartment rent-free. I knew I had to get things to “normal” for the kids. They were worried about their dad and worried about their house and their friends.
This should be great right? I should be happy and have fond memories, right? Wrong. It’s very stressful to depend on the kindness of strangers. It’s very difficult to live a “normal” life knowing people at home are suffering:
• My husband was in New Orleans and had to drive 1 ½ hours to the nearest grocery and I felt guilty because I had air conditioning, fast food, and Target.
• This wonderful family put us up in their home and I felt guilty – I felt like I was taking advantage of their kindness because I already have a home.
• The Catholic school took my kids in for free and helped us with uniforms and supplies and I felt guilty. It didn’t matter that we had already paid our tuition for both kids in full at the New Orleans Catholic school, that we had already bought our uniforms and books and school supplies (all of which we left in New Orleans) and had no money to buy more.
• I took the FEMA money and I felt guilty – this is not for people like me, this is for people who can’t provide for themselves. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t getting paid from my job in New Orleans (I eventually lost this job while we were in Orlando, but a week after coming back home they re-hired me), and my husband’s paychecks were sporadic at best. When the kids got sick it took me two days to find someone who would see them without paying for the visit up front – my insurance was a local New Orleans company and wasn’t honored in Orlando.
• Our hosts threw a party and asked people to bring donations. I felt like a panhandler, but I took everything they offered – drugstore giftcards, restaurant cards, cash. Just because I wasn’t being paid didn’t mean I didn’t have to pay my mortgage, car note, insurance, or other bills, and Jerrod’s paycheck situation was unreliable –he was working, and they promised the money was coming, but until it actually got there he had to eat and so did we.
The kids and I stayed in Orlando for almost 3 months, we came home when our school opened. At the time I didn’t have a job and didn’t know what I was going to do since there were no jobs to be had, except at Lowe’s and Home Depot. The grocery stores (I think 2 were open in my area) were only open until 7pm, and garbage pickup was nonexistent and worked it's way up to "every now and then", but at least I was home. And I was thankful to be there. Soon after I got home, my old job called and asked me to come back to work, of course I jumped right on it!
My father-in-law briefly lived with us, then we had a dear friend move in for a few months, and I was thankful I was able to “pay it forward” in some small way.
When you tell anyone from out of town that you’re from New Orleans, the first questions is “did you lose your house in Katrina?” and if the answer is no, you’re dismissed as not being affected and your experience is considered inconsequential. Here is where I say – not everyone lost their homes, or loved ones, but EVERYONE was affected. Everyone.
I may not have a sensational Katrina story, but I carry my own scars. I carry guilt.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Yesterday was the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I didn't do a post.
As promised, here's Molly on her first day of Pre-K 4. Granted, she's not 4 until next month, but still. She's been so excited all summer to start "Big Girl School":
And here she is with Big Sister - finally one drop off for the girls - yay me!!! Molly saw big sister at school twice last week and was so excited :)
*sigh* Yes, that jaded look is already permanently on Bridget's face. Big Brother Ian was sick the day I took the pics so I don't have a picture of him (yet...bwahahaha!).
Monday, August 23, 2010
It was a good weekend:
Saturday I stayed in my pajamas until 5:30.
Sunday I stayed in my pajamas until 3:30.
Saturday night Mom/Dad and Dean/Brenda came over for dinner that Ian and Jerrod cooked.
Sunday night Dean/Brenda came over and we ordered Sushi while we watched True Blood.
Saturday I got all kinds of stuff around the house done (in my pj's!).
Sunday my Dad figured out what was causing problems on my book blog.
Saturday I didn't leave the house at all.
Sunday we went out with DJ to teach Ian to drive.
And today is Molly's first day of school.
Friday, August 20, 2010
So the other day at work, I'm bitching about my sunburn itching, and Hannah sends me this:
OMG I love that girl so much! Well, of course I want it, so I start searching the interwebz, and I find this:
Which leads me to this:
Monday, August 16, 2010
Although I grew up in the 70s and 80s, I was never a KISS fan. I know, I know, I'm probably the only person in my age group that wasn't. (I was pretty sure they were the debbil reincarnated and if I listened to their music my ears would bleed and I'd be damned to an eternity of drinking goat blood and combing Satan's ass hair.)
Fast forward 20 years and Jerrod has gotten me addicted to Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. This show is hysterical. There's no way it can all be real, it has to be made up. Gene and his girlfriend, Shannon Tweed, have two teenage kids and as a family they are a surprisingly loving bunch.
Here's how evenings go in my house: I always start off in the living room with my book, and while Jerrod and Ian watch the show I find myself looking up from the book more and more, until finally the book is sitting in my lap and I am laughing at the antics on the television.
For someone who's only other television habit is True Blood, that's a pretty bold statement.
In other news, tonight I listened to Jerrod giving Ian jailhouse fighting advice. As I sat there watching father and son discuss the various cues and fighting styles that you find in the jail, and how to end up on the winning side of the ass-kicking, I thought to myself, You know, that's a father/son bonding moment I never in my wildest dreams imagined. Bonding over fishing? Yup. Playboy? *sigh* Probably. A love of cooking? Yup. Video games? Of course! Jailhouse fighting techniques? Not exactly.
I guess that's why he's the dad :)
Saturday, August 14, 2010
One of my vacation posts was featured on a travel blog (here). I'm not sure why but there it is...
I posted a story here about how my book addition broke my bed. It could happen to anyone, right?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
When we went to Del Rio last month, I didn't pack bathing suits because I figured we'd be too busy to swim. Well, I was wrong, and the 2nd night we were at the walmart (I refuse to use a capital W in protest - take that walmart!!!) near the hotel buying suits for me and the girls. As it turned out, my aunt took the girls swimming and I never took my suit out of the bag.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, I finally got off my ass and took the suit (still in the bag) to my local walmart to return it. I walk in early Saturday, fresh off my stint at the post office and the employee from hell (full disclosure, she was the only employee there and they were busy, but still, I was polite and she was a bitch and I'm pretty sure she overcharged me). I go into customer service and there's no one in line - SCORE!!! I'm all happy and hand her the bag and receipt and she looks at the suit and says - (paraphrasing) "I can't take this, there's no tape in the crotch" So I tell her the tags are on it and it was sold to me like that, it hasn't come out of the bag...her reply (NOT paraphrasing) "People can take the tags off and put them back on." Seriously? Then she proceeds to tell me I should go back to the store in Del Rio where I bought it and return it there. Yes, she told me to take a 12-hour drive each way to return a $20 bathing suit. Needless to say I wasn't happy. I'd even venture to say I was pissed. It was a cheap, generic bathing suit; it's not the $20, it's the princial of the matter - I should have been able to return an obviously unused suit with no bullshit involved.
I'm not sure what the big deal is with those stickers. Seriously, do they honestly believe a good case of crabs will read the sticker and decide not to hop off? If it protects against VD shouldn't they be passing them out at bars? You know what that sticker does? Absolutey nothing. Oh, except maybe provide a job for the poor soul who has to stick it in the crotch of every swimsuit sold in America.
So, anyway, the proof that God hates walmart: Last night I'm putting Mollyy-Moo to bed and I keep stepping on something - I pick it up to throw away and guess what it is?!? It's an old, dirty crumpled up and stuck together "crotch tag". I have no idea how it could have possibly gotten into Molly's room and under her bed, but there you have it. I gently pulled it apart, pulled the hair and dirt off as best I could (I'm telling you, it looked like it had been there forever), and stuck that sucker to the inside of that bathing suit!!!! And today, I took that damn suit (still in the bag!) (with crotch control) to the walmart near my job and returned it - no questions asked.
Kiss my ass, walmart.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Monday has officially kicked my ass. Here's why:
1. Ian went for his TENS eval today to see if they could take off his foot/ankle brace and use these bands that send electronic pulses through the nerves so he would be able to walk without the brace. It didn't work. At all. He's stuck with the brace, apparently for good. As his orthopedist said "It is what it is. If it gets better - great, but I think this is what you've got."
2. We went to a kids' health fair this weekend and while we were there they noticed Ian's blood pressure was pretty high. We had them check it today while he was at the eval and it's still high. Time for a doctor appointment to see if we can figure out why.
3. After blowing $600 on school uniforms for the kids over the weekend, our air conditioner died today. Seriously. It's hit almost 100 degrees every day for the last forever, this is no bueno.
You know, I think I'm a pretty nice person, although yesterday I did flip off the guy in the car ahead of me because he threw his trash out of his car and onto the median. But still, I thought my karma was pretty good - WTF?!?
Friday, August 6, 2010
I work a lot with numbers. Not in the add/subtract sense but using numbers as identifiers. I've noticed that when I'm dealing with numbers, my mind sees patterns such as:
21477 - that makes an L on the number pad on the right side of the keyboard
25122 - makes a triangle
36963 - all divisible by 3
17327 - all prime numbers
Does anyone else do this or is it just me?
I can tell you that in my previous job I used to type a large amount of dictation. I'd catch myself thinking in letters instead of works (instead of "that's cool" I'd think "t-h-a-t-'-s-space-c-o-o-l") Thankfully I rarely do that anymore, it was annoying, even inside my own head!
Please tell me I'm not a freak, even if it's not true...
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Okay, so this was technically the last day of vacation. I get up at 6:30 to be at the nail salon by 7 for a mani/pedi and makeup application. All goes well, I get a break in between to rush back to the hotel and check on things. I'd never had my makeup done like this for an event and it was fun - Hannah, Mom, and Aunt Sara were there so I was entertained.
Once that's taken care of, I rush back to the hotel to get myself and the girls dressed as suddenly time is running short! We rush out the door (looking pretty good if I do say so myself) and get to the church, where there's a slight problem...The bride's mother, sister (maid of honor) and the wedding flowers are stuck in Mexico. Yup, I guess there were very long lines to come back into the US and they were stuck. The wedding actually started almost an hour late! So, while we waited we hung out and took pictures!
Here's my mother, me, and my daughters:
The bride getting ready to (finally) enter the church:
My immediate family (maiden family? childhood family?) My parents, myself, my three brothers, and my newest sister-in-law (if that makes any sense):
After the wedding we had about 3 hours to kill before the reception, so we went to a local winery, which I'd never done before. It was fun!
Jerrod and I after a few "sips", lol:
Then, we leave the winery and head back to the hotel, where no one knows how to get to the reception hall in Mexico. After some back-and-forth, we finally caravan into Mexico and follow the directions on the admit card, which had the final turn as a left instead of a right. Yup, we got lost in Mexico! We ended up driving right out of Acuna and into the next town! It was a bit frustrating, but we did get to see a bullfighting ring and hung out in front of a Mexican whorehouse for a bit!
Once someone came out to lead us back, the night was amazing. When I say this is the funnest wedding I've ever been to I am not exaggerating! True story! Here we lined up to be announced to the guests at the reception:
A photo of the bride dancing with Molly:
The happy couple (yes, he is that much taller than she is!):
OMG the dancing at this reception was crazy! Balloons, crazy hats, noisemakers, masks:
There was some game they played where the women and then the men made a chain and ran underneath the bride and groom (like fast-action limbo):
The garter was funny - when Dean went to get Brenda's garter, all her male family members surrounded her so no one could get in to see what was happening...off camera is a group of guys climbing on top of each other trying to see inside!
Needless to say there was a lot of food, drinking, and dancing! Luckily for us, at the end of the night they had a security guard lead us back to the border or Lord knows where we would have ended up!
And after it was all said and done, here's Molly the next morning as we prepare for our journey home:
By leaving Sunday instead of Monday we missed a trip to Lake Amistad and a dinner at the mother-of-the-bride's house, but I'm glad we did it the way we did as I got sick on Sunday evening. As I've learned over the last week or so, I'm not the only one who got sick: The bride and groom, the bride's grandfather, two of the bride's brothers, my sister-in-law, my husband, and both daughters got sick too.
There are more stories to be told, but for now, that's a wrap. Hope you enjoyed my vacation stories!
Vacation Stories Part Uno, Part Dos, Part Tres, Part Quatro, and Part Cinco
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Okay, 2nd day in Mexico:
More friends and family had come in since the previous day, and my aunt graciously offered to keep the girls at the hotel and take them swimming (score!) so day two was a bit less stressful for me as I wasn't constantly asking, "Where's Molly? Where's Bridget?" and worrying about the rows of breakable merchandise in each store.
This time we all drove our own cars into Mexico instead of relying on the border taxis, as it had been a pain in the ass to get everyone into a cab to go home the day before.
(The US side going into Mexico)
(The Mexican side going into Mexico)
Right after we parked and started walking down the street, a man approached my sister-in-law and started telling her we had stolen his juice the day before. After a while, we figured out he was one of the cab drivers that had taken us home, but he kept going on and on about how we took his juice. I mean, hey - it was hot, but it wasn't that hot - eventually we left him with assurances that he was mistaken and we most certainly did not steal his juice..... (Remember this when you get to the end of the post)
We went about our business of shopping, more stores were open than the previous day, and we even ventured out into the less "touristy" spots in the area:
I love the street name! We stopped at a liquor store and the guys loaded up on their tequila and stuff...We bought chorros from a street vendor...
I'm a bit concerned about my son's schooling, however. One of the things they tell you is that you can buy the Cuban cigars here but you cannot bring them back across the border into the US (most of the guys bought them right at the beginning and smoked them while we did touristy stuff.) These two goofballs are all like, "Why, what did Cuba ever do to us?" OMG - WHAT??!!?? Um, they only threatened to nuke us to death - American History 101 kid!
After Mexico, we went to a local restaurant on the US side, then to the Church for the rehearsal. Molly slept through the rehearsal but woke up for a sweet picture with her daddy:
After the rehearsal, most of the participants stayed at the venue to have drinks, but I took the kids back to the hotel. Since it was already day 4 of our vacation, and we had been changing clothes twice a day, so I decided to do laundry. I couldn't find any mention of a guest laundry, so I decided to do it at the other hotel where family was staying. I drag the HUGE bag of dirty clothes over to the hotel only to find out their power is out! I drag the bag back to my hotel and talk to the clerk who says, yes, they do have a guest laundry and it's right downstairs from my room (grrrr!!!). So, while Molly sleeps in the room, I run down to the next floor, throw in a load, and run back - I'm paranoid she's going to burst into flames or wake up in the 5 minutes it takes me to hit the laundromat and get back.
I worried about those shoes all night - the next day is the wedding and then we're going home - we're not going back to Mexico! How am I going to get them back to him? I worried through my mani/pedi/makeup the next morning and we talked about it at the reception that night. In the end, we left the shoes with no way to get them back. Do I feel guilty? Yes. Was there anything I could do? Not that I could figure out. *sigh*
Next: The wedding that almost wasn't, winos, and getting lost in Mexico....
Vacation Stories Part Uno, Part Dos, Part Tres, Part Quatro, and Part Cinco