Katrina

I wrote this post on August 29, 2006

So, last year, on August 28 – it was a Sunday evening I believe – I was watching the news and heard about this storm that was supposed to hit the Gulf Coast on the 29th. Katrina.

Well, I didn’t pay much attention until the newscaster said that perhaps we in the Jackson metro area would lose power for a couple of hours (we’re about 3.5 hours north of the coast). I’d just put Lovegirl in the bed and I decided to run to the store (W_l*Mart) to get Lovegirl some formula. She was 11 months old and I’d just weaned her and was new to keeping the right amount of formula in the house. Anyhoo, all we had was the liquid stuff (has to be refrigerated) and I decided I’d get some powder so that if the power went out my child would have something to drink.

So I went downstairs and mentioned to Smoochy that I was going to run to the store – did he need anything? He didn’t, so off I went. Well, to my surprise, there was no freaking formula on the shelves. I (stupidly) thought it was just because it was a weekend night and the stockers hadn’t re-stocked the shelves. So I bought a few more bottles of the liquid stuff, figuring at least she’d have something for the few hours we might be powerless. I also decided to pick up some more water, a few snacks and a couple of flashlights. I noticed – but somehow still kind of ignored – that there were a lot of folks in the store picking up the same type items.

I finally got checked out and decided to buy gas – I was on a 1/2 tank, and I generally fill up when I get to that point. Gas station #1 – no gas. Gas station #2 – no gas. Gas station #3 – we have a winner. I filled up and headed home. I had no idea what we were in for – as a family, as a state, as a nation.

Monday morning, I got up and went to work. Of course, no one was working. Everyone had a television or radio on and was monitoring the storm. I called my Mom in California and my brother in Houston and told them some kind of big storm was coming, and that I would be in touch. That I’d decided to go home at 11:30 regardless of whether or not we were “officially” released from work. At around 11:15, they told us all to go home and to check the internet in the morning to determine whether or not we needed to report to work. School was canceled Sunday night, so Smoochy and Lovegirl were already home chilling. I stopped by a restaurant and picked up something to eat because I’d finally (kind of) figured out that something was going on and it might be our last hot meal for a while. As soon as I got home, the skies opened up.

It rained. And rained. And rained. And the wind blew. And the tree limbs swayed. And I, who grew up in California and have always been fascinated by storms, stayed up very late watching the amazing storm that Katrina was. It was hypnotically beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much water come out of the sky in such a period of time. I prayed that the trees would stand the storm and that we wouldn’t end up with a hole in our roof. I think the lights had gone out at around 5 that evening. We decided to camp downstairs. It was August in Mississippi after all, and we had no power – no air.

When we got up on Tuesday morning, we surveyed the damage and were happy to discover that we really didn’t have any. There were a few trees down in the neighborhood, but on our little circle, everyone had fared relatively well. We could hear the chainsaws and smell the gasoline but that was it. Smoochy remarked that he was surprised that we still didn’t have any power.

Around noon I finally decided to sit in the car and listen to the radio. Most stations were off the air, but our NPR affiliate somehow had power and was broadcasting. We wouldn’t have power for days. Emergency workers were tapped. The storm had been devastating on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans. People were being urged to take care of their neighbors, to pool resources. Keep in mind, we had no power. While the rest of the country was watching the devastation occurring in New Orleans, we just knew that we were without electricity. We had no idea the scope of things.

I’d been trying to call my family in California and Texas all day, but no phone lines were working, and I couldn’t get a line out. I finally got through late that night using Smoochy’s phone and my Mom’s voice was cracking and she said she was just glad to hear from me. I told her that we were fine. She said she thought she’d call some family friends in Lake Village, AR to see if we could stay with them if we needed to. I was like, whatever, we’ll be fine. Smoochy decided later on that evening that Lovegirl and I would indeed drive to AR and stay there in comfort until the power came back on. He didn’t want us there. Among rumors of looting, lawlessness, and extended power outages.

We left our home – very much against my will – on Wednesday morning and got to Lake Village 3 hours later. When I turned on the television, I was sick.

Mothers, babies, grown men. Begging, crying, pleading. Bodies floating. I really couldn’t watch it. I just held Lovegirl and cried. Cried to God, thanking him that it wasn’t us. That we’d just been a little inconvenienced. Cried to God for those who it was. I could not imagine being stranded – in a house, on a rooftop, on a freeway overpass – with my child, my baby. I thought my heart would break in two. After the first few hours in AR, I didn’t turn the TV on again until Saturday when Smoochy called and told us we could come back home – we had electricity again.

We were – and are – blessed. All we lost were a few days together. A couple hundred dollars worth of groceries. A few hours out of our lives because of the gasoline shortage.

As the day of Katrina’s anniversary neared and every news program began to air their specials, I started thinking about Katrina’s profound effect on people’s lives. I cried again. It still hurts. And we didn’t lose anything really. Some people’s lives will never resemble what they were 366 days ago. Never. And in a country this wealth, this resourceful, this great – politics aside – that is a damn shame.

I remember. I remember the panic I felt when I couldn’t get a phone line out to talk to my loved ones. I remember Lovegirl’s innocence and the innocence so many children lost that day. I remember worshiping in the “white” church around the corner for the first time (and being nervous about it) because I was scared to drive across town to the church I usually attend because I didn’t know when we’d have gasoline again. I remember this metro area coming together to help people who had nothing. I remember kindness. I remember smiles. I remember thinking that God is always, always in control, no matter how bad things are. I remember an evacuee in church in clothes that clearly were not his own smiling and being thankful that he had his life and his family had theirs. I remember GB telling Brownie that he was doing a great job. I remember the joy I felt when a former coworker finally responded to my email and let me know that she and her husband and two babies were okay – they’d just relocated to NO.

So today, if only for a moment or two, remember the devastation that occurred. The people’s whose lives were changed forever. The people who lost their lives. Take a look around you. Be thankful for what you have. For who you love. Remember and help take care of those who cannot, for whatever reason, take care of themselves.

Peace.

Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed. Ask For What You Need. You Have Not Because You Ask Not.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t like to ask for help. From anyone. I will run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out how to do something on my own before I’ll ask for help. I don’t know why I’m this way, but I am.

I will offer to help someone in a heartbeat. Well, generally. And if someone offers to help me, I will surely accept. But it is rare that I open my mouth and say “will you please help me?”

Y’all know I’m starting school on Monday right? Right. I’ll be in class two nights a week from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Let’s not even talk about how I like to go to bed at 8:00. Anyhoo. I’d decided I was going to pick LG up from school at 2:00 on those days, take her home, get her homework done, get her fed, run her to the sitter, sit in class for 3 hours, pick her up from the sitter, run home, get her showered and in the bed, study my notes, and fall asleep.

Then I had this genius-level epiphany: tell Smoochy you need help.

Now. I love my husband, and he’s an all around good fella. But I have to tell him what I need. He’s not all that intuitive, and really, he shouldn’t have to read my mind.

So I tell Smoochy “look. I know you love driving that truck. You enjoy not having a “boss.” You like your schedule, and I get that. But I’m getting ready to go back to school and I cannot do this I do not want to do this by myself. I’m going to need your help.”

And do you know what he said? “Okay.”

He has started filling out applications for trucking companies that advertise as having their drivers home each night. He told his current supervisor that he needs a change in his schedule and that if they couldn’t work something out there, he was going to have to move on. That he wants to stay with them, but he needs to be more involved at home.

Y’all.

Y’all.

I am feeling so relieved right about now. It may take a minute for Smoochy’s schedule to be the way that’ll work out best for us, but I am so thankful that he listened to what I was saying, agreed, and is making some moves. I am so glad I didn’t try to be Superwoman this go ’round.

I am definitely going to be less hesitant about asking for help when I need it from here out.

Now. Who wants to do my Biostatistics work for me? Anyone? Anyone?

Ramblings

  • Ferguson, MO. My heart hurts that we are STILL fighting this battle. That we are STILL being killed like dogs in the streets by police officers and then blamed for our own deaths. I am filled with rage. Yep, rage. And I’m tired of folks and their “respectability politics.” Wearing a suit, getting one degree or five of them does not, in a racist’s mind, mean one damn thing. They will gun your degree holding, suit wearing self down in a heartbeat. Ask Dr. King. Or Malcolm X.
  • Okay, woosah, what else…
  • LG started school a few weeks ago. My goals for her this year: establish a schedule/routine for her and stick to it. I am the worst with follow through, but am working hard on resolving this. So far, so good. Come home, do your homework, eat dinner, sweep, tidy up and then, if there’s time, you can chill/watch TV until bed time. She doesn’t like it, but oh well. Mama’s gotta do what Mama’s gotta do!
  • I start school next week. My nerves are somewhat settled and I’m just praying for a great semester in which I do not procrastinate and drive myself crazy. Okay, crazier.
  • I thought I was going to take one class and kind of ease myself back into the whole school thing. Nerp. Apparently receiving financial aid means I’ve got to take a minimum of 6 hours a semester. So much for the whole gentle transition. This semester I’m taking two classes: Disease Pathogenesis & Risk Factors and Environmental & Occupational Health. One lady – with whom I attend church – is taking four classes and working full time. She must be crazy!
  • Speaking of financial aid – those folks offered me a WHOLE lot more money than I will need for the year. I see how this madness works. Not falling for the okey doke. Just loan me enough for tuition. Though we do need some work done around the house…I kid, I kid. Not really. Okay, really.
  • Went to the Jackson R&B Festival this past weekend. Saw Boney James, Estelle and Ziggy Marley on Friday night. Two of them were awesome. Estelle, was not. Saturday I saw Chrissette Michelle, BBD & Fantasia. Two of them were so good and so much fun. I’m still not a Fantasia fan. Oh well. It was supposed to be girl’s night out, but one girl was absolutely terrified to walk through the gates by herself so she brought her husband. Sigh.
  • I also drank some spiked iced tea and fell asleep. Outside. Surrounded by thousands of strangers. While Fantasia was on stage hollering. #ridiculous
  • I ended up sitting next to an older gentleman on Saturday. He kept calling me “young blood” and told me “they” told him to contact me. Uh…

I guess that’s it. I started this on Monday. I feel like I’m leaving a lot of stuff out. Maybe next time. Be well!

Why?

That’s all I’ve got today. A simple question with no simple answers.

Why?

I used to not watch the news. Ever. It was so depressing and weighed too heavily on my spirit. But somehow, the news, particularly in the morning, has crept back into my life.

And every day it’s the same damn thing.

Murders. Drive by shootings. Rapes. Robberies. Neglected children.

And the perpetrators always seem to be one of us. Black.

Now. The black men, the black people, I know are good. We are educated. We are well traveled. We love our lives. We don’t commit crimes. We go to work. We love our mamas and our daddies. We love and raise our children as right as we know how. We tail gate. We hold it down at home. Even the ones who are trife are just trife-light. Late on child support, drink a little too much, can’t keep a job – but still good folks at their core.

But I’ve got to wonder what is going on in our community that we just seem to be wilding out every day, in every way possible.

Why are these kids killing each other? Why are they killing the elderly? There was a woman here – 67 years old – who was found beated, raped, stabbed, strangled AND shot. My God. A woman was held at gunpoint and raped by three men in broad daylight at a gas station. No one responded to her when she cried out for help. No one.

Is it Godlessness? Is it babies having babies? Is it absent fathers? All of this? None of this? Don’t other races experience these situations as well? Why aren’t they acting a fool all over our cities and states?

I’ll give you a small bit of media bias, but that can’t be all of it.

Why? What are the solutions? What are your thoughts on this?

 

 

 

Monday morning randoms

  • How cute is this? Got a text this morning – apparently LG and her camp BFF were thinking along the same lines when they laid out their outfits last night. And this couldn’t have been planned because everything LG is wearing? We bought yesterday. Eager much?
  • MSB
  • Summer is, for all intents and purposes, over. LG goes back to school on August 7!
  • Speaking of August 7…why? This is the last week of summer camp, yet school doesn’t start until the next Thursday. For three days I won’t have child care. Oh, but I will. Someone will be joining her father in his big rig. I wish camps and schools would synchronize their foolishness.
  • School. I start on August 25. I’ve got less than a month to finish cleaning my house up and out and getting everything organized so that home/work/school doesn’t drive me any battier than I already am. Y’all pray for me.
  • I said I wouldn’t complain about this any more. On twitter. But this isn’t twitter, so…my pregnant coworker is driving me crazy. Every day she complains. And complains. And complains some more. Now I’m the first to admit that I had the easiest pregnancy and delivery in the world. And I try to be sympathetic. But it aint working. I know more about her body, symptoms, and issues than I want to. And she’s only about 7 weeks pregnant. I need to figure out a way to remind her that some things only her doctor and husband need to hear about without cussing her out (this is hyperbole – I don’t cuss people out!) and hurting her feelings. Okay, I’m done complaining about it on here as well :)
  • Oh wait. I do have one more complaint about her. She used to have an on campus parking space. Now she doesn’t. So she waits for me in the parking lot so we can walk in together. I realize I sound petty whining about this, but that’s my quiet time and she’s harshing my mellow. Okay, now I’m done for real.
  • I’ve kicked up my working out – I’m trying to work out at least 4 days a week and have done so for the last 3 weeks or so. I take a light weight lifting class, a 30 minute high intensity class, spin, and bootcamp. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost not one single pound -_- I’ve been eating better as well, but I guess I need to make some more adjustments in the kitchen, because I know I should see more change than I do.
  • Have y’all heard of the sandwich method of doing your nails? I tried this last night to see if I could make it through the week AND do a lot of heavy chores and still keep my manicure looking good. Right now, my nails are good for a week, but I don’t do a lot of heavy cleaning during the week. I was too…lazy to do all the steps she calls for. I did a base, gelous, color, gelous, color and topped it off with Seche Vite. 5 coats instead of my usual 4. Hope it works.

I think that’s it. Have a glorious day!

Road Trip!

roadtrip

My cousin – I lived with him and his wife my freshman year of college – died. So, on Monday afternoon, after a few hours of work, LG and I found ourselves in a rental car headed to Pine Bluff for his services.

welp!

It’s a quick drive from here to Pine Bluff. About 4 hours. The speed limit is 65 mph in most places. But there are a few speed traps along the way where the speed limit just drops from 65 to 25 or 30. Lake Providence, LA is one of those places. And I guess they want you to know it!

LCM

“Hey Mom? Can we stop here?”

“Here LG?”

“Yes. Matu and Batu (what the grand kids call my parents) said you should learn something every day. And we don’t have anywhere to be until tomorrow. So I think we should stop.”

And that’s how we ended up taking a quick tour of the Louisiana Cotton Museum. The museum, in Lake Providence, is closed on Mondays, but we walked around, looked at the buildings, read the placards, and took a few pictures.

shack

A sharecropper’s cabin

chapel

A plantation chapel

pose

My precious, precious girl that I am glad will never experience the life that those before her did.

20140716-080907-29347654.jpg

My mom flew in from Cali and we met up in Pine Bluff. We went by the family land. The house where my mother grew up has been torn down, but it was nice to be there with her as she talked about time, perspective, and how things and places change yet remain the same in our memories.

20140716-081020-29420863.jpg

Of course we stopped by campus and LG humored me by taking a picture in front of the lion. All the while talking smack and stating her allegiance to JSU. I’m surprised we weren’t kicked off the yard.

20140716-081020-29420566.jpg

I promise half my face doesn’t live in the sun, the other in the shade. And I have all of my teeth. No matter what it looks like in this picture.

20140716-080909-29349334.jpg

And finally, this is my brother’s birthday present. We do gag gifts every year and I could think of nothing better for him this year than ugly rejects (this photo does not accurately reflect their horribleness!)  from the bookstore clearance bin –  a neon UAPB tshirt and a blue cap with gold lettering. UAPB’s colors are black and gold. This cap looks like the illegitimate child between UAPB and Southern….just fugly!

 

Home Alone

As you know, LG and I were recently on vacation with my parents, niece and nephew. Well. Once we got back to MS, my parents planned to go to AR visit my brother and SIL, then to Houston to drop off the niece and nephew and then head west back to Cali.

The night before they left, my mother, my brilliant, brilliant mother was all “why don’t you let us take LG with us on the rest of this trip and Smoochy can pick her up in Houston sometime next week when he has to run a load to Houston?” Stop. The. Presses.

You mean I am going to have this here house, to myself, for a week? Hammer time! I juked around my kitchen like my life depended on it. And then I juked some more! Then I lifted my hands to the heavens and praised God from whom all blessings truly do flow.

You have never – and I mean never – seen someone kick it into high gear the way I did. I probably had that little girl’s bag packed in less than 6 minutes. Adios homeslice, adios!

I haven’t had time alone like that since before I was pregnant with LG. Yeah, around 2003.

I had all of these grand plans. I was going to the gym every day. I would go to some of my favorite restaurants, call some friends and hang out, catch a movie, date night with Smoochy…the list of possibilities was endless!

Do you know what I ended up doing? A whole lot of nothing. LG left on Wednesday morning. I did go to the gym every day that week. But the rest of the time? I saw not one movie, ate out not one time. I laid around the house, finished OITNB (OMG – how great was this season!!!) and on the one day I was feeling productive I threw away about 75% of my nine year old child’s belongings. I loved every minute of it!

Smoochy and I had a date night planned for Saturday. We cancelled. We stayed home, turned off the lights, opened the windows, turned on the radio (okay, Pandora) and chillaxed. Hard.

I know that some people cannot bear the thought of being away from their child(ren). Apparently I am not one of them. I had the best, most relaxing week I’ve had in a long, long time. I’m already trying to see how LG and her grandparents can spend some quality time together next summer. I love that little brown girl, but just piddling around being Nerd Girl was some kind of awesome. I think I ate PB&J sandwiches and/or salad every day she was gone. I didn’t even use the microwave.

I used to just think I was jealous of my friends who are able to send their children away for a week or three at a time. Now I know I’m jealous of them!

This is a Pandora’s box my parents may regret opening.

My SIL in Houston (niece and nephew’s mom) kept LG Sunday night and into Monday until Smoochy picked her up. We were talking about how nice it was to have kid-free time. I’m thinking she and I need to make a deal of some sort. She teaches and has summers off – I will keep her kids one week during the summer if she’ll agree to do the same for me and keep LG. Everybody wins, yes?

The little girl came home yesterday morning. As happy as I was to see her, I was sad that my week alone had come to an end. And apparently she felt the same way. “You know mom, I just don’t think I was gone long enough to miss you.” Touche LG, touche!