New Orleans (Also: Jordan’s 21st and days around Valentine’s Day) 2006

New Orleans, LA

February 27th: Surprise, early birthday dinner for Jordan’s 21st.

Dante made the most delicious, vegan birthday cake: Tofutti Cutie layer, Soy Delicious Peanut Butter Zig Zag layer, repeat former, repeat later, then melted chocolate frosting (with egg replacer) mixed with Kahlúa.

Our attempt at a picture together – we both hated it and immediately put the camera away.

Cleaning up after the Chuck Norris MIA party. Ben on Laurie’s shoulders.

Dhanley and I’s afternoon of Pullen and a long bike ride. Charles Aycock has a nice, knit skullcap the same gray as his vogue.

“You act like she is your first child.”

My parents floating through caves and cold water rapids in New Zealand a few weeks ago! Mom emailed these and they’re too hilarious not to include.

Harlem and Andrew playing in the … laundy hamper :)

Look at those tired twins

Dreamscape Vol. 2

The morning I left for New Orleans, I woke up to: pancakes, eggs mixed with rosemary, onion-garlic home fries, coffee, orange juice and strawberry shortcake (!).

New Orleans!

After driving through the night and sleeping at a rest area (though we woke up to free coffee and nice people giving us donuts), we arrive in the upper Ninth Ward at Common Ground (St. Mary’s School of the Angels). Malik Rahim, the founder of Common Ground (and also a former Black Panther and current Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council) and Elena in one of the outdoor sleeping areas.

We drove down to help out with the rescue and repair efforts to follow Hurricane Katrina last fall.

Our 3rd night in New Orleans on Bourbon St., cops are hanging out at a bar with their horses.

On the second floor of St. Mary’s, a description of the soldier has been modified.
The second image is an upstairs chalkboard that a survivor of Hurricane Katrina wrote in thanks to the school for saving her and 200 others, since it was one of the only two-story buildings in the area large enough to shelter a good amount of people. It’s difficult to read, so I can transcribe the chalky blur if anyone is interested.

The second day of house gutting, Melvin, the homeowner, had already cleared out all of the furniture and a work crew had already done a day’s work of gutting. These walls were difficult to tear down because it was a layer of plaster over sheet rock. Everything in the kitchen and bathroom also had to be torn out/down because of the mold.
Gearing up included:
– 1 full, Tyvex suit
– sturdy work boots with boot covers over them or waterproof boots
– 1 respirator with clean filter pads
– goggles
– latex gloves & work gloves

Elena’s favorite houses.

Finally, some relief to the area…!

Dark, night pictures of Jay, Elena, Gene and I hanging out on our bunks.

One of the morning meetings. Wake up call is 6:30 every morning, then breakfast, gearing up, and morning meeting. These houses are costumes, designed to represent the ninth ward this coming Tuesday in Washington.

Now, a sample of the Lower Ninth Ward:

One of Common Ground’s satellite centers in the lower Ninth, just near where the barge broke the levee.

“Eminent Domain for Who?”

So, getting home. Well, to open the explanation of The Problem of How to Get Home, I can give some background. On the second day of our trip, Elena was borrowing Gene’s car to drive to either Baton Rouge, Biloxi, or somewhere, and went through an intersection that once had stop signs (blown over by the hurricane/flood waters) which haven’t been replaced. Both cars (her going 25 mph, the other 35-40 mph) are totaled as defined by the cost of repairs, and though Gene’s car doesn’t look too beat up (and there was no leaking, the engine is intact despite the water hose) it isn’t drivable. So Elena is given a ticket, though the police officer explains that there have been at least 7 accidents in the last two months at this same intersection. It really is an issue with the city; however, the city is bankrupt so suing is out of the question. My whole week was dominated by speculation, legality and other nightmare complications. Insurance is based on the car, not the driver, so the issue of a rise in parent’s premium comes up over and over again. At the moment, we are home and the car is still in New Orleans. Next weekend, some of us (or one of us) will have to drive down with a rented dolly and bring the, still un-drivable, car home. Over the week, we came up with so many hypotheticals, it almost made me want to go into law. Or run far, far from it.

After networking for awhile, we found a charter bus that was 40/54ths full heading to USC in Colombia, SC, so we joined them. Stopped at McDonalds twice, four movies without much discontinuance (Forest Gump, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, and Brave Heart). Head hurts, four + more hours in the car, and then home.

Then I came home to my unimaginable surprise.

Andrew had cleared out all the brush, wood, rocks and brambles from the woods in my backyard and made a fire pit encircled with stones and then extended a pathway under my favorite magnolia tree. I came home a day too early for him, but he’s chainsawing all of the long wood scraps and brush as a I speak to make a wood pile for future fires. Also, a bench, a picnic table, a lantern on a pulley suspended over the picnic table, and a garden along the southern fence in my backyard. He even got yellow and purple pansies and my favorite flower: a hanging pot of snapdragons!

Oh, the head shop! Yes, the heads hop!

Overall, I had a really productive and memorable Spring Break, suited with a headache of real world problems. I’d never been to the Gulf Coast region before, and after this trip, I would be interested in moving there after I’m finished with NC State. With Elena, ideally. (Then to Seattle with Jay.) Two roommates and one ex, all much closer. Also, closure (sort of unnecessary but healthy nonetheless), and much fraternization.

I am now officially nominated by the study abroad office for an exchange slot (read: NCSU tuition) at the University College Cork! I need only one more official confirmation from abroad before I can move to Ireland.


5 thoughts on “New Orleans (Also: Jordan’s 21st and days around Valentine’s Day) 2006

  1. I know, I can not compete with his generosity/attention to detail.
    Twenty-something showed up last night, despite it being so spontaneous. We’ll find excuses to sit around the fire with friends as often as possible and you’ll take part in hobo meals, smores, and your turn at the instrument of choice. OH, what are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day?

  2. my parents are having a st. patrick’s day party, and i might go up there for that.
    but if not, i would love to do something cheesy, like go to a bar downtown and watch irish dancing, listen to irish music – which might be annoying due to all the people there. but, i don’t know. do you have plans?

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