So I'm here. In an average American city. On a college campus, in dorms that, if I had attended this college ten-plus years ago, would have made me want to buy the room I'm in and become a perpetual student. There's even free Net access 24/7!...something I know Sheckrastos wishes he had right now. The only real downside is the freaking hotter 'n hell weather, which makes it torturous to get to the various seminar buildings for all the education sessions I've gotta attend. Big whoop-de-doo. I come from one of the heat Meccas of the United States. I need to arm myself with bottles of water and bandannas full of ice for my neck and simply deal.
Life's normal here. Too normal.
"There's a class on disaster preparedness in school situations tomorrow," Edie said to me. She's here, too. "I overheard some of the presenters planning it. They have no clue!"
"I would have said to them, if I'd been there, 'Ooookay, pop quiz! A hurricane is bearing down on your area. What do you do?' " I said. (Well, for starters, you don't leave these behind...)
Edie and I talked it over some more. Since this is a Jewish educator's conference we're attending, chances are that the presenters are gonna think in terms of terrorist attacks on Jewish organizations, which is, sadly, a serious consideration for any Jewish-run building such as a synagogue or a JCC. The place that instantly came to mind for both Edie and I that badly needs to beef up security measures is right in our area. But hey, we are a tad preoccupied, what with having to rebuild the city and all.
Yeah, so, I talked some people's ears off about New Orleans, most interestingly over dinner with a lady from Baltimore whose best friend is in New Orleans. "Soooo, there are some problems," I said, outlining the recent property assessments debacle, the idiots we have at all levels of government, the diaster that is the Orleans D.A.'s office, talking over the recent National Geographic article on NOLA, what the Minneapolis bridge collapse says about all the crumbling and poorly maintained infrastructure all over the country (not to mention what it says about how New Orleans is being left in the dust).
"Still, you sound so optimistic!" Ms Baltimore said.
Didn't think I was communicating that all too well when I was talking about insurance companies refusing to pay folks trying to rebuild, or formaldehyde-leeching FEMA trailers, or rising energy and water bill costs. But I guess somehow, I did.
I still feel that, deep down, living in New Orleans is giving one massive middle finger to the forces that would have us all leave for their own powerful gains. I even told Ms Baltimore so.
And, taking trips outta the NOLA morass on occasion is a great re-energizer. I'm looking at every educational session here through the prism of "How can I bring this back to the religious school kids in New Orleans?" No place else, y'all. New Orleans, dammit.
Edie's in that frame of mind as well, but in a different way. She's cussing out the forces that be that won't hook up a big screen TV in the common room here so that we can watch the Saints-Steelers preseason Hall of Fame game.
Life IS way too normal out here.