Friday, October 28, 2005

Forced out to the Infinite Power

Well, there is no point in vilifying the slumlord more than necessary. We have been "housesitting" in her rental property since mid-September. The actual person on the lease is absent and isn't planning on coming back. This is Bryan's aunt, and her plans have been changing again and again, so we never mentioned anything to the landlord.

But lately the landlord has been poking around, gardening in the back yard, asking lots of questions, asking to talk to the intended tennants, etc. I was vague in all my responses to her, because I wasn't sure what was going on, but it became clear to me, as I was pressred into helping her water the stupid plants, that the original renters had not been up front with her. They hadn't given notice, which I thought they had, etc.

Also, this house is in a very wealthy area in Mandeville with 24 hour security and strict rules about how the lawns have to look, etc. The neighborhood is cracking down on dwellings that are hosting multiple families becaue the cars on the lawn are "unsightly." So I guess in this neighborhood no one can use a 3500 square foot house to help out relatives who were heavily impacted by this storm. This all seems like complete bullshit to me. I hate being in the middle of it.

Bryan will get out oven cabinet installed today, and we will get to the floors this weekend. (I hope) So if she tells us we have to be out the week of the first, we'll just return to an unfinished house. Lots of people are doing this. The sheetrock dust is gone, the mold is gone. I'll get an air purifier for the boys' room (they'll be sharing since my brother will be with us) and we'll do baseboards, yard, outside painting, doors, the second half of the carpet, trim, bricks, ect, after we're in the house.

Since all of this has happened, my freak out threshhold has been raised. Now it takes about ten major things gone wrong before I lose it. Maybe that's why I'm not freaked out. I just don't care. I don't like the house, and I want to go home anyway. We were forced out, and now we're going to be forced back in.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


We're getting evicted! I plan on dragging it out for at least a week, but if we can't get the floors down this weekend it's going to be concrete chic over at our place.

We paid the rent . . . I don't get it. Was it the pink flamingo? Beer cans spilling from the trash? Unwatered plants? Cigarette butts on the driveway? The ice chest on the front porch? The unwatered lawn and skeletal crape myrtle?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A View of the Superdome from Lake Pontchartrain

I went home over the weekend.

I crossed over the Causeway (the longest bridge in the world, as my children never fail to point out), and drove through New Orleans, over the Crescent City Connection, and to the Westbank. It was a somber journey. The damage to the roof of the Superdome is visible from the causeway--the torn roof and black matertial underneath is clearly visible. The Doubletree Hotel at the foot of the Causeway is more plywood than anything else. There is trash everywhere.

I did not wander through the neighborhoods of various family members and friends. The reason for this is that I have come to hate gawkers--the ones who tour damage as if on a Sunday drive, slowing down to a crawl before my house, where I am working all weekend, every weekend, to drag things out to the street. I always find myself hoping that they pick up a nail in each tire. What I saw was on the interstate. And it was bad. The two or three places on I-10 where rescue workers were dropping those who had been trapped, where those people waited for days to be assisted and moved to shelters have not been cleared. These places, which many of you probably saw from above, have been cleared of humans, but all of the paper trash and debris remains. It is a very odd tombstone or place marker--like everyone coming back into the city has to reflect upon before being allowed to enter. The trash is most heavily concentrated in the shaded areas--where the interstate loops over itself, or where that remaining crape myrtles lean over and drop a but of shadow. It was profane, like disturbing the dead.

On the road, aside from darkness I would say that fallen furniture--mattresses, wardrobes, bookshelves, sidebars, and the like, were the greatest danger. There were few cars. When I got to the Westbank, it was oddly deserted. The landscape is obscured by piles of house trash both at the curb and on the neutral ground. Trees are bent over or blown over, making it hard to get your bearings. It's hard to recognize anything.

Friday, October 21, 2005

You Can Never Go Home Again

I am in a fog. The whole world is in a fog. All I do is call insurance people, talk on the phone to the carpet place and the bricklayer, look in the bricks of my house for some crack, some flaw I may have missed. It's taking longer and longer, and the house is so different (ok, updated) that it seems strange to me. I can't believe we ever used to live there. And of course everyone is worse off than I am. My brother is demolishing his house. The adjustor isn't even gping to look at it. She called him on the phone and settled with him for the maximum payment on dwelling and contents. That's the case in his whole Lakeview neighborhood. And as bad as that sounds, there are others even worse off. My mother's home is beginning to look more and more unfixable. Every day in the paper they run the life story of some one who died as a result of the storm. The one I read yesterday was about an elderly woman and her brain damaged son in Chalmette. She couldn't lift the man, and was waiting for an ambulance to assist them, as had always been the case in the past. Only the ambulance never came, and they never got out. When the coronoer finally got to them they found motherand son in bed--her arm draped over him.

We'll get back home, that's a fact. But will we ever BE home? My whole city--all of my family and childhood, every landmark I ever smiled in front of, every restaurant, bakery, coffee shop--all of these things are changed. My family is broken up. There is trash everywhere. I just can't believe that it will be decade, or even longer. What am I going to write poems again. When?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Get Squeezed

Hey everybody--

My new chapbook Squeezers is out.
It looks great.
Ten bucks.
Get one.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Backwards from a Hundred

As you may know, I was in a car accident (nothing major, kids not in car) last week. I have a rental now, and because I balked at the idea of putting two carseats in a Corolla the Enterprise people put me in a Nissan Pathfinder, the largest SUV on the lot as I can tell.

My injured car is a Honda CRV, which is, I guess, an SUV of sorts, even though it gets good mileage and is a low emissions vehicle. But I have never considered myself to be one of THOSE people in a Suburban or something like it, blocking the view of all cars, parked or on the road, that happen to be within fifty feet or so.

After this week, I am one of those people. This car is so big that my old car could fit INSIDE of it. I bought and carried home two large kitchen appliances without even having to put the seats down. I transported four hundred pounds of flooring.

I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that I enjoy driving this car. It's a V-6, I'm guessing, which means that I can cut into traffic at high states of speed not possible in my four cylinder front-wheel drive contraption. And I was off of the street before, but now I am riding so high that I can look down on about anybody, into the messy back seats of their cars, and this gives me a feeling of authority. This car has all sorts of gadgets. If I could figure out how to use all of the buttons, I think I could heat the seats. I can control the stereo from the steering wheel (but no tape deck for my I-pod adaptor.) Yesterday, when I nearly ran out of gas, the car started to count the miles of backwards, like time ticking away, so I would know just how long I had on the road before me.

For some reason, this is a constant source of stress to me. It's like knowing the day you are going to die and watching the seconds tick off, bringing you there at high speed whether you walk or run. I put forty dollars of gas in this thing yesterday, and that brought the "miles left " number up from zero to 259. No telling how much time that will buy me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


FYI, I'll be giving a reading at Southeastern Louisiana University on Monday, October 17 at noon in the Vonnie Borden Theater.

The PR people from the school called me and wanted to know the titles of the poems I am planning to read. I thought that was strange. I haven't checked the paper, but I am feeling quite certain they did not use what I tossed out: "Breaking Curfew with the Ancient Chinese Poet," "Don't Worry, Spiders, I Keep House Casually," "Pharaoh Says Phuck You," "To a Lawn Jockey, Lines Written in Spring," & etc.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The other day I was bemoaning my state to a group of colleagues when one of them changed the subject to mutual acquaintance who was in a similar, if not worse state than I am. It was time for me to go anyway, but I sort of made a joke of it and said that I only had time for my own problems. The group cracked up alughing at that, and I made my exit. The only problem is that I was being toally serious. I just have too much going on right now. I have never been so stressed out. Every day something happens that brings me to the brink, and then I just feel the tears welling up. The other day I was sitting at the kitchen design center in Lowes when B called to tell me that his parents, who have been caring for Boh-Me, were bringing him to he kennel because he is too high maintennce and cries at night. Then my mother beeped in to say that the landlord came over and saw Andycat and said he had to go. And then I just started crying, for no reason and for every reason.

SO when I hear people, even my mother, talking about this or that problem with the house or the CBD, or this or that favorite restaurant or whatever, I just shut down. I don't even hear them talking. I guess I am listening, though I would never be able to repeat anything from the converstation.

I don't watch the news anymore. Is New Orleans still in the news? I sure feel all alone down here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bone Tired

All this time, and I thought bone tired was some cliche. After the last few weeks, I know it now to be an actual state of exhaustion. The first wave of exhaustion comes from having no routine, no loose guideline by which to structure the days. This is really hard on the kids, but it's hard on me too. I forget to cook, or to pack lunches, or to put the clothes in the dryer because I've been on the phone with this or that contractor, the adjustor, the agent. And when it's time for bed, we tramp upstairs to our blow up mattresses, which are never right, which are uncomfortable, which are deflated, and I'm too tired to plug in the pump.

The next exhaustion comes from having so many people so close all of the time. Like, my mother nagging full time overe the weekend. And also I'm trying to teach, but even when I do have time to sit in my office all I do is sit, and move papers from one folder to another.

The final exhaustion is the physical one. I thought I was a tough strong lady until this weekend, when I spent both days cleaning debris out of my attic. Everything up there is now on the street. It's an eyesore, and I'm glad that my neighbors have to look at it. I can't believe the things I threw down and hauled to the street. I can't beliebe the tree limbs and pine debris that I thrwew down the stairs and into the street. The insulation. The broken glass. And then we were pulling up floors and dragging wet carpet out to the street. I can't believe I did that. I can't believe how tired I am, I don't even know what's making me tired. My hands are swollen, I can't bend my legs, my back is out, and can't put my purse on my shoulder . . .

On top of it all

The icing on the cake: a Stepford wife wrecked my car. That bitch didn't even look me in the eye or ask if we were ok. She musn't be from around here.