Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things these days seem to be lurching toward some form of on-the-edge normality.

I kind of shudder when I look at what I've just written, because normality here is insanity anywhere else. But I'm not sure how else to put it.

Let's get to the normal stuff first, because that's what everyone can relate to: Normal is dropping off and picking up my son from school each day. Walking the dog twice a day is normal. Cooking, cleaning, working on my cross stitch, blogging, checking email, calling our families regularly to check in, hanging with our friends - all normal. Preparing for my religious school class on the weekends is normal. Dan driving off to work and returning each day, even carpooling his way to and from Baton Rouge falls under normal. Volunteering at the local library counts as pretty normal. Getting the little guy fed, bathed and off to bed for the night is normal. In most places in this country, the stuff I just described is blissfully, or boringly normal, depending on how you look at it.

Heck, even the smell of fermenting banana wine that is permeating our whole place falls under the normal category only because my husband's fetish for making stuff out of mass quantities of produce that is homegrown (or tossed off floats) is something I've just learned to live with. Note to readers: If you plant any fruit or vegetable-producing plants, or inherit them, beware of the impulse to let nothing go to waste. We are truly up to our armpits in bananas right now. And I don't even like bananas.

Okay, here's the stuff that tips the scales:

Bars in the Bywater, Marigny, and the French Quarter are getting robbed left and right, it seems. The robbers are slowly moving their way uptown, making it so that a poor, rebuilding resident can't even catch a break and a drink in their favorite neighborhood watering hole. Bar owners are banding together to get something done about it. Yes, in any other corner of the world, having bars knocked over from time to time might be a normal occurrence, but in this town, it is a New Orleanian's God-given right to head out and drink, and to be able to take it with them in a go-cup. Plus, it puts a major crimp in everyone's ongoing campaign to get people to come back here to visit, to live, or to at least spend money here.

Watching the weather reports around here is a trip. Local weather reports treat everything developing into a potential hurricane way out in the Atlantic as major news. So far, most of the projected tracks on these things have been fairly accurate, and, more importantly, have put them out of the Gulf. Nobody can do a damn thing about a storm when it forms that early, so it seems to me to be an exercise in futility and a true expression of the hurricane season paranoia that has gripped everyone here in varying degrees. A holistic approach to meteorology and weather control will most likely be the next fad on the streets here. Maybe if we all just think en masse, at the exact same time, that the storm will be much happier out in the ocean, away from the big bad land that will slowly sap it of its power, then it will leave us alone, sensing our mass hysteria and fatigue. Uh-huh.

Finally, our contractor neighbor will have a film crew and the host of "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel tagging along with him as he guts a house and/or carts away debris. Hey, someone's got to do it...and if someone's going to film it, so much the better. Anything that will give the outside world a glimpse of how much further this place has to go in terms of recovery is generally good, despite the short attention span encouraged by our information age. If our attention spans were truly that short, we'd all be dead before 30. As it is, everyone has their little battles here in one form or another to ensure that something of substantial and lasting importance will still be here in 30 years. Don't forget about us, big ol' world, please.

Oh, and on top of it all, the Saints (the football team, y'all) are 2 and 0 and their first home game in the cleaned and repaired Superdome is this coming weekend. It's a venue that is not without its controversial aspects - the big protest in particular is how anyone can possibly hold something like a football game ever again in a place that saw so much sorrow and suffering. Some might argue that with the Saints having been "Ain'ts" for so long, and the NBA Jazz being driven to Utah due to their struggles with playing home games during Mardi Gras season (among other things), the Dome saw loads of tragedy in its environs way before Katrina. All I can say to that is that the city needs some heroes right now. Having the football team kick some Green Bay butt on the road has given this town a boost. A majority of the players have a stake in the rebuilding of this city, and have donated loads of time and money to the rebuilding effort. New Orleans has become newcomer Reggie Bush's charity priority. More power to 'em all, and good luck to the team.

Besides which, they've drawn U2 and Green Day as performers for the home opener. Woo-hoo!

So here I am, still walking that fine line of sanity. Along with everyone else here. The struggle towards normalization is far from over, but there is a tad bit of progress, believe it or not. I still have trouble believing it myself, but hey. Schools have begun here, people are working away, and the weather is actually cooling off some. Now if we could just keep stray nails from deflating the tires on our cars...

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