Sunday, August 31, 2008

sadly, i'm still sober

I'd kill for a fucking drink right now, but we're staying with a recovering alcoholic and, while he's been clean and sober for a few years now, I'd be blatantly using alcohol to cope with stress and that would be awkward.
I've been watching CNN and The Weather Channel pretty much nonstop, which sucks. I remember before and after Katrina how infinitely more informed the local news stations were, and I wish that I could stream them online or something, but I can't. I've heard a lot of talk about how I should turn off the TV or watch something else because it's just stressing me out, but I've been trying to find a way to justify watching anyway. My friend Laura pointed out that at times like this, you really just want to be connected to what's going on. It seems odd to me to pretend like it's not happening. It is. I'll worry about coping in a healthy manner once the dust has settled. Right now, I could use about four beers.

Geaux to Hell, Gustav, Geaux to Hell

See that's funny because it's a taunt usually reserved for Ole Miss. I'll even say it now. Geaux to hell Ole Miss, Geaux to hell!
Last night I did one of the scariest things of my life. Nick and I packed up ourselves, our pets, and some important papers, and left, hoping for the best. Baton Rouge was not under a mandatory evacuation, but our house is like eighty years old and I feel like it's built out of sticks. Every single room has a window, even the bathrooms, so there's nowhere to hide, and a heavy rain earlier this summer had water pouring through our living room ceiling, so we weren't taking any chances on Gustav.
We parked Nick's car somewhere we thought would be safe and took my car, the one with only liability insurance, up to Jackson, MS. On the way up we kept hearing over and over again on the radio how this is worse than Katrina.
What's making me nervous about this is that the east side of the storm is roughest, and the center of Katrina passed right around the LA-MS state line, so my parents, myself, and New Orleans were all on the west side. Gustave is expected to make landfall just southeast of New Orleans, meaning that we are all on track to get the brunt of the storm.
This is new and scary to me. Neither my parents nore I have ever evacuated before. My parents didn't even leave for Katrina, and they regretted it. They're headed to Georgia today, and I'm sure they're scared too. Packing up the car made me realize how few of the items in my home are actually important to me. I took my computer, my iPod, and a little knick knack of a lady with flowers in her hat that was my Grandma's. I didn't even take my favorite clothes. I grabbed a bunch of t-shirts. I've got my birth certificate, my car title, and my AmeriCorps education award voucher. A couple of recent utility bills with my name on it because after Katrina I saw people in my parents' town having to prove residency to get in. What's most important is that we have ourselves and our pets.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And it's official. I packed up my car and I am on my way to Jackson MS. I'll post again later.

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What's more stressful than six people coming to your house to get away from a hurricane?
All of them changing their mind and heading the other direction because they think you're gonna get hit worse than they will.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gustav, Gustav, Go Away

I wanted so badly to throw myself into it all tonight, to lose myself in pride in my country, my party, and my candidate, and to some extent, I did. I DVR'd Obama's speech and even shed a few tears into my beer while watching. But the reality is that I missed it live because I was at the grocery store stocking up on bread and peanut butter, gallons of water, and toilet paper in preparation for the six people and six dogs who will be evacuating to my house this weekend, and I found my mind drifitng from Obama's powerful message of change for the American people to worries of what my life, or my parents' lives, may be like a week from now. Tomorrow's the third anniversary of Katrina, and I'm preparing myself emotionally for it to happen all over again.
In 2005, Best Friend Roommate and I had five extra people in our two bedroom apartment, staying various lengths of time ranging from two weeks to several months. If my family or Nick's can go home after a few days this time, it'll be a pleasant surprise. This time I'm ready for my life to be turned upside down, and if it doesn't that'll be gravy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vacation Pics

I posted my pictures from our trip in a public album on facebook. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Over and Out

And just like that, it's back to life sans vacation. I'm a few pounds
fatter and pretty worn out, so I guess it's about time for the party
to end anyway. As a side note, we flew in and out of White Plains, New
York and took these tiny little planes back and forth from our
connecting flight in Atlanta. We actually had to walk outside to
board, which I've always thought looks quite glamouros in the movies,
but turns out not so much in person. Maybe if I had been wearing a hat
and pearls.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day Ten

It's day ten of vacation and my pants are starting to get tight from
all this eating! Starting Tuesday it's back to mostly healthy food and
regular workouts. We drove back to Connecticut today for Abuela's
actual birthday dinner, and spent most of the afternoon playing Dr
Mario (at which Abuela is actually really awesome). Nick is starting
to realize that his return to work is only 36 hours away, so he's
pretty sad. I think he's going to start seriously looking for a new
job when we get back. I have MSW student assembly on Tuesday, and
although that means classes and thesis work are right around the
corner, I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends from school who
have been out of town or out of touch over the summer. Tomorrow's the
last day, then back to the real world we go! I wish we could just
vacay all the time.

Day Nine

Four hours, three aspirin, and six tums later, we went to the beach.
The weather was perfect and the beach was beautiful, and although the
water was frigid people were swimming anyway so Nick and I got brave
and gave it a shot. It wasn't so bad. We couldn't stay long because we
had made plans to meet yet another one of his aunts for dinner and
were driving to meet her halfway between here and Boston, where she
lives. When we got back we hung out at the restaurant for a while and
then everyone started talking about going out. They said the bars
close at 1am here and it would be an early night, but I was exhausted
and didn't believe that Ed would actually come home that early, so I
stayed home and Nick went out. I was right. They took the ten minute
drive to Connecticut where the bars stay open another hour. Quick
backstory, that when Ed last visited us he and Nick got drunk and
almost bought that bar they love so much, a place called Fred's, a
Baton Rouge institution. When Nick finally came to bed at 4 am, I
asked where he'd been. "Talking to Ed," he said, "he's still talking
about buying Fred's."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day Eight

I woke up at 5 this morning with Hey Jude stuck in my head and an
intense urge to vomit. Yesterday, after partaking in the breakfast
buffet, then gambling away 80 more bucks between the two of us, we
picked up the rental car and drove to Rhode Island to visit Nick's old
roommates, Ed and Jen, who now own two restaurants near the RI coast.
Although they're a bit odd, I pretty much like them, but there's
something about Ed that makes people lose all sense of moderation in
alcohol consumption. Last time this guy came to visit us, Nick avoided
his favorite bar for over a month afterwards out of embarrassment for
all the things he'd been told he'd done when Ed was in town. So
yesterday, when we arrived in the Ocean State, we met Ed at his
restaurant on the beach, and the first thing he did was offer us beer
on the house. Eight hours later, after several hours of playing
quarters with the waitstaff after closing time, we were exhausted and
getting sloppy and it was time to go. We got a ride home with Jen
while Ed stayed behind, insisting the night was still young. I realize
this post is probably disorganized and lacking elaboration, but I'm
too hung over to edit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day Seven

After a wonderful stay in bustling New work. we hopped a train to
Queens and hitched a ride to Connecticut with Nick's cousin Vinnie
where we met Kathy and Abuela at The Mohegan Sun, which is apparently
the second largest casino in the world. After waking around till my
feet fell off in the city, it was really nice to ride the penny plots
of drink for free all night. We even got free chocolate cake because
we were there for Abuela's 88th birthday (more free food and drinks!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day Six

We got up and took the subway down to the southern tip of the island,
where we took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We
didn't get off at the Statue, since there's not really much to see on
the island itself, but we spent a good amount of time at the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum, which we both loved. I actually teared up a
bit when reading about the impact social workers had on the immigrant
experience. When we got back to Battery Park, we had an hour before
our next activity and didn't want to eat got dogs or anything from a
street vendor. so we waked back into the city and found a pub that
served lunch. I got a roast beef sandwich with gravy and, guess what,
we got free dessert once again. What is it about this town and giving
us free stuff? We took another boat. this time to see the waterfalls
built around the city as an art display, then took the subway back to
our hotel to get ready for Chicago. The waterfalls cruise was nice
because we also got to see a lot of the beatiful bridges surrounding
the city, and Chicago was impossibly fabulous. Overall, it was a
pretty great day to end our stay in Manhattan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day Five

I feel like we're getting the best of both worlds on this trip. By day
we're typical tourists, by night we get hooked up like locals. We got
up yesterday and, after making some subway errors, found our way to
the Museum of Natural History. After perusing their impressive
assortment of animal remains and human artifacts, we met Holly in the
park and she showed us around. I even got Nick to ride the carousel
with me! Last night we went to eat with Nick's cousin and his
girlfriend at the brazilian steakhouse where she works. They give you
these discs that you flip to the green side when you want to be served
more meat, and back to red when you need a break. We ate a LOT of
meat--sirloin, bacon wrapped turkey, various sausages and steaks, and,
believe it or not, chicken heart. We had fried bananas, plantains with
cinnamon, and creme brulee. Since Paula works there, they charged us
for lunch instead of dinner, and comped our drinks and desserts. We
went home stuffed, drunk, and happy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day Four

Eventually the rain died down, and we had lunch at shake shack despite
the downpour. It was every bit as delicious and fattening as we'd
heard. After lunch, we headed to Madame Tussaud's, the wax museum, it
was a lot of fun. The best part of the day was dinner. G'd researched
restaurants before we came and made reservations for us at Becco, an
Italian place with great reviews. Nick's Aunt Holly, on his mother's
side (all the greeks and puerto ricans are on his father)s side) lives
in Manhattan. Her husband, a frenchman, is the chief concierge at the
Plaza hotel. We invited them to come to Becco with us, and I'm so glad
that we did. The maitre'd, or however you spell that, was all over us
trying to impress Rafael. We got so much free wine it was ridiculous,
and the food was phenomenal. I was pretty giddy by the time we got to
the empire state building.

Monday, August 11, 2008

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Apparently the city that never sleeps is not immune to rain. So much for our plans to lunch at Shake Shack.

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On the express train! Kind of early in the morning for me!

Day Three

Yesterday was a lazy day. I took another walk around a residential
area with Kathy (gotta get my exercise in), layed out by the pool in
her complex for a little while, then went to Stew Leonard's, an
apparently famous grocery store that felt like Ikea and Whole Foods
had a lovechild. At the pool I happened to meet some people who build
houses for Habitat in Slidell, my hometown. They were nice, but it was
odd to talk to people who think of the town you grew up in as a
pitiful place in desperate need of their help. They were talking about
how bad the public schools are there--the schools that I attended from
kindergarten through graduation. It was a good lesson for me to learn
as a social worker, though--when you're trying to help a community,
try not to insult its residents in the process. Anyway, I'm on the
train riding in for my first day in the city. I'm very excited!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

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Day Two

I've been feeling pretty euphoric about the weather ever since we
arrived. It's something like 70 degrees here, and even when it rained
the humidity was nothing like Louisiana's. I am, however much less
impressed with the food thus far. Aside from Abuela's beans and rice,
it's been mediocre at best. I haven't been into the city yet though,
I'm sure it's much better there. This morning I took a long walk
around the BEAUTIFUL Connecticut coast, then we drove down to the
outer boroughs with Nick's Aunt Kathy. We went to the block in the
Bronx where she and Nick's dad grew up, and we visited some relatives
from the Greek side of the family in Queens. After that, we took the
train to Shea Stadium for the Mets game. Nick's a huge Mets fan, and
as I, oddly, have dated several men obsessed with the Mets, I've
gotten to be a bit of a fan myself. We had a really good time. I'm
blogging from my phone on the ride back to CT, but I'll try to post a
picture. It may not work. Then again, it may.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Day One

The day started out with a bang when the cat got out five minutes
before we were planning to leave. We spent thirty minutes trying to
cajole him out from under the house with no success. We finally gave
up based on the logic that he's a cat, he'll be fine. We went inside
to gather our luggage and when we went back out there he was. Sitting
by the front door waiting to come in. Little bastard. The rest of the
day went fairly smoothly. We made our flight from new orleans to
atlanta on time then scurried all over the atlanta airport trying to
grab lunch and get to our gate with only an hour layover. The flight
got delayed anyway. I'm taxiing to the gate at white plains now.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Month in a Post

I had an engagement party, chose a cake baker, and cheated on my caterer by meeting with another. Best Friend Roommate and My Other Friend From High School For Whom I Have No Nickname came to visit from Atlanta. Let's just get it out there: I'm going to call her Laura, because that's her name. Laura broke her foot while she was sleeping shortly before coming to visit, so she hobbled around on crutches the entire time. We called her Hop-Along.

I got in a huge fight with my sister and we almost never spoke again, but it's all been resolved now. I made some extra cash by tutoring LSU football players. It's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. I took engagement pictures, which are now posted on my cousin/photographer's Flikr.

And, starting tomorrow, I'll be on the best vacation I've had in years. Over a ten day span we'll be visiting Connecticut, New York City, and Rhode Island. I plan to do all kinds of obnoxious touristy things in the city, see a Backstreet Boys concert in Connecticut, and do absolutely nothing in Rhode Island.

I distinctly remember, ten years ago, camping out all night at the local mall for Backstreet Boys tickets, only to get to the front of line and be told that the New Orleans Superdome had sold out. My parents loved their two little teeny boppers so much that they actually bought us tickets for Memphis, and the whole family drove all the way to Tennessee to watch the Backstreet Boys from nosebleed seats. We also visited Graceland, home of Elvis, while in town. It's funny to me that, at 23, I got free tickets to see them at the Mohegan Sun Resort. It seems they've fallen a notch or two.