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Randomness from a 2005 graduate of The Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Recently, my life has devolved into pretty much just work, drinking with friends once or twice a week, and pretending that I can create a love life from thin air. Okay, aside from replacing law school with work, maybe none of that is really new. I feel more boring. But anyway, the point is, that’s my first excuse for not writing much lately. My second excuse is Hurricane Katrina. (Is that supposed to be capitalized? Just Katrina?)

So, here’s why I haven’t written. I can’t. I can’t watch television. I can’t read the newspaper. I can’t talk to people. I can’t even view the MSN homepage peripherally. Of course, I still do these things to a limited extent, but I can’t handle it. Actually, I do these things enough that I probably haven’t missed any real news that has been reported. I hope that I have missed a few recycled video montages and overly dramatic reports by reporters who don’t even realized that they can’t possibly over dramatize this. I hope that I have missed a few stories about Bush’s idiocy, just to keep my anger level at a manageable level. But, the point is, I do know what has happened to the people of the Gulf Coast and to America, and I can’t handle it.

It started slowly. The days leading up to the hurricane hitting, I was worried. A good friend of mine who is from New Orleans (home visiting at the time) reported that everyone was evacuating and she wasn’t sure when she would be back in Columbus. Once it hit, it was time to start waiting for information. It was immediately clear how horrible the devastation was. (Maybe I should work for FEMA?) There was that sense of helplessness and sadness that accompanies disasters of this magnitude. As more news and photographs were released, the despair grew, I’m certain for those living it, and also for those of us watching and caring from afar. The news just got worse and worse as the days went on. By the weekend, I was starting to cry every time I read another news story, whether it was about children reaching safety, the federal government’s atrocious response, or details of the destruction. At church, I had to tune out when they started talking about the flood and medical kits we were sending to the South, or else I would have interrupted the announcement with my crying. All this crying has me kind of confused, but the past month or so has been very emotionally charged for me, and Hurricane Katrina certainly warrants tears if anything does, I suppose.

On Labor Day, I watched A Love Song for Bobby Long. I loved the movie. I had rented it not knowing it was about New Orleans. It was a beautiful movie with beautiful acting. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to watch the special features. After watching the deleted scenes, I started to watch some sort of commentary. The writer started talking about how Bobby Long represents New Orleans, and then she started to talk about the “beauty of decay.” It was just too much for me. I ended up hysterical. Every movie I’ve seen that was set in New Orleans became some sort of grotesque montage in my mind. I was overwhelmed by images from the pictures and stories shared with me by my parents who have been going to the Jazz Fest for nearly 20 years. I couldn’t handle it, so I tried to block it all out.

But, that evening, I had dinner at a friend’s house with her parents, another couple, and with the friend from New Orleans, who had made it safely back to Columbus. The conversation revolved around nothing but the hurricane. Everyone was angry, talking about taking in anyone who needed a place to stay, thinking about what should have been handled differently. No one seemed to consider that maybe my friend didn’t want to listen to people rant like it was solely a political issue, when everything she had known as a child was gone. Her close family is okay, but their homes are gone and her father is despondent, suddenly being unemployed. The generations of her family have countless people who they know and care about who are unaccounted for and will probably never be heard from again even if they are okay. I looked at her sitting there, engaged in conversation, but seeming removed and hauntingly sad, and the reality is that it will never be okay. Getting through this healthy and eventually finding a new job and a new home is the best case scenario. But that still leaves hundreds of thousands of people forever without the context of friends, extended family, history, culture, neighborhoods, familiarity, and relationships built over many generations. A headline online today read “Should New Orleans Be Rebuilt?” I guess I think that as a nationwide community, we should do whatever we can to rebuild people’s lives. |
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