Today's my first day back from a trip out west. In spite of record breaking hurricane strikes, heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and earthquakes, Louisiana is home -it's good to be back! Thoughts are I'll start the day off with a few musings on disaster related topics.
First off travelin' just aint what it used to be. Horrific weather in Baton Rouge and Houston cancelled my original flight out last Wednesday. Continental was kind enough to get me on an American flight but the trip through the security checkpoint at our little airport was a nightmare. I didn't put "the liquids" in the correctly sized clear, transparent baggies so I was frisked and my bags scrutinized to the max. My brand new, pricey, face-lift-in-a-bottle was confiscated because it was over 3 oz. Actually I thought I had packed it in the suitcase I checked in but noooo...At any rate, I reached the terminal seconds before airline personnel shut the doors to the aircraft but I did manage to get on the plane.
On to Houston where I ended up in a friendly chat with a Katrina exile who is now living somewhere very far from home, which used to be St. Bernard Parish. Interestingly he started telling me about a boat trip he made this past summer to see some ruins of an old fort. He said it started with an "M" - but other than that he couldn't think of its name. I asked him if it was Martello Castle and he lit up. "Yeah that's it!" he said. Well then I proceeded to tell this exiled gent about Beyond Katrina and the photo-essay on the blog about Martello's castle. He went away pretty ramped up about checking it out, and that made me feel good.
Honestly, I continue to be amazed at the synchronocities that have followed me throughout the evolution of blogging Katrina and its aftermath. As a person focused on large scale transformation, I've learned that nature - or "the force" as Yoda would call it, has a particular way of communicating with each of us if we just pay attention. For me this communication permeates every day life, so when I got to my destination and discovered my luggage didn't make it off the plane I paid attention to the message in that! It came in the form of the polite fellow in baggage claim who informed me that TSA probably opened my luggage - he explained that since the new regulations have been put in place, TSA takes their sweet time searching luggage and they aren't able to care whether the plane the bag is supposed to be on is taking off without it.
Now the ordeal of trying to get my bags found and delivered to me went on until the next day - and my gear was heading back to Baton Rouge instead of to my travel destination at one stage of the game - but here is the point of all this: The air travel experience has become a nightmare and I really don't want to do it anymore, although this is not an option. It also begs the question: How are we to balance quality of life against the need to be safe, especially in the face of very real and potentially devastating threats, both natural and unnatural?
Post 911 and definitely since Katrina life has dramatically changed in very specific and measurable ways. It feels that we've all been cast east of Eden. Now my parents were born east of Eden having come from poor, rural hard working families, and having endured the great depression and a World War. But this baby boomer lived a different kind of life. Even with the cold war on, McCarthy-ism, and the assasinations of two Kennedy's and a King, life was pretty even-keeled. Now it seems as though there is a new normal and admittedly I don't like it.
And speaking of exiled Katrina survivors, these folks are still scattered all over the U.S. Met a friend of a friend when I got to Vegas - another New Orleanian who was exiled first to Dallas and is now in Las Vegas. I wondered how in the heck a Katrina survivor lands in Vegas? I also wondered how this Katrina blogger landed in Vegas for that matter and this a long story that I won't go into here. Suffice to say I am quite a fish out of water in that environment and yet the synchronicities continue to unfold even in the strangest of places. Mr. Katrina-exile-now-in-Vegas went on to explain the similarities between NOLA and his new home town - I sorta saw some of the connections but still - go figure!
Page 2, as Paul Harvey would say...
I saw a USGS (United States Geological Survey) truck pulling something that looked like a coast-guard type boat through suburbia this morning. What's up with that? Seeing trucks pulling boats around Baton Rouge isn't so unusual - but a USGS boat cavorting around a suburban neighborhood in land-locked Baton isn't exactly a common site. But then again, Jude Law was hanging out in my neighborhood not too long ago, and Governor Blanco took a house here when the Governor's Mansion was being remodeled. Then there was that night when the black hawk flew over last month beaming its lights down on the houses here...Our post-Katrina environment is fairly colorful to say the least!
While I was pondering all of this on the drive back home from dropping my little guy off at school this am, the radio blarred out Gimme Shelter by my old buddies the Rolling Stones. Hmmm...another little divine wink, I thought to myself and a fitting song for Katrina survivors, many who still don't have shelters they can really call home. I did read in yesterday's paper that Katrina cottages may be coming soon and I am excited about that. I'll be posting something about that shortly.