I have survived Hurricane Rita. Scary-large branch on my car, but no major damage. Spent most of the night on my balcony drinking wine and talking about life with a friend who was sheltering in the place with me.
More updates later.
Friday night was fun. Beer and good music. Fun. Not much else to note. Saturday I had an insane amount of appearance-related maintenance. I felt shallow making hair and nail appointments, spending money on silly things like highlights when people I know don't have houses. I feel guilty spending almost any money right now. Do I need this $3.50 peach tea drink? What about $85 highlights in my hair? Maybe it is a mild case of survivor's guilt. For better or for worse, I got the highlights and the haircut and the brow wax and the nails and the pedicure. I contributed to the economy, I guess. I am a firm believer in not "wasting the pretty," which is pretty much the only phrase from "He's Just Not That Into You" that I use regularly. I was free of about an inch of split ends and excess brows and sporting allover blondish-caramel highlights and rose toes and trimmed bangs and fake nails (because the crazy work hours led to me biting my nails, which can only be cured with pretty fakes). I was feeling pretty polished and I had several verbal commitments from friends who also wanted to go out and be fabulous. Slowly things began to unravel. One friend was too tired to go out after going to a wedding and another wanted to stay in with her boyfriend and watch football games. Though they invited me to join them, I was not interested in being the third wheel, so I passed. I left a few messages that were left unreturned and resigned my fully dressed, newly coifed and made-up self to a night of Saturday Night Live and Woodchuck Dark and Dry. And old friend stopped by and entertained me for a few hours. He drank the Flying Dog "In Heat Wheat" that I wasn't crazy about and we watched Napoleon Dynamite. I finally kicked him out around 2:30 a.m. and passed out. Today I visited my grandparents and my parents and all of the evacuees they have with them. Pretty relaxing weekend all around. P.S. I e-mailed jerkoff from the last post back. I was gracious. I kind of rambled about the hurricane and gave some details about my family's situation. I updated him on my job and wished him luck with the girlfriend. Perhaps I overreacted to the e-mail because I'd been working a lot and was just generally stressed out. It probably wasn't wisest e-mail for him to send, but I think I let my bitterness get the best of me when I assumed ill will on his part. It is oftentimes easier to forgive someone for past wrongs than it is to forget being hurt. He hasn't e-mailed me back. I guess he's engaged now. Odd.
So, I got an e-mail from a guy I was totally taken with several years ago. It was terrible and sad because I was so smitten and I denied it forever. And he was unavailable and he was taken and it would never ever work out, and he knew how I felt and he loved it and got off on it. Jerk. We hadn't spoken or e-mailed in years. Like, at least two. He doesn't live here and he hasn't been on my radar. He wanted to know how I weathered Katrina, so he e-mailed, which was nice of him. He said he'd been thinking about me and my family. All very nice and appropriate. I've been getting similar e-mails from people. It is nice to know that people, even those you aren't close with anymore, do think about you during a rough time. He gave me a short update about his career and his life and then casually mentioned that he was planning on asking his girlfriend to marry him soon. He closed by saying that life was going "fantastic" for him and he hoped it was going to same for me. Look, I know it is rough to send someone an e-mail asking if they're alive or under 15 feet of floodwater. I wouldn't know what to say either. And for all he knew I had moved far far away from the Gulf Coast and was terribly safe and the idle chit-chat about jobs and impending engagements would serve as a nice chance to catch up with an old friend. The converse is also true. For all he knew I had moved into downtown New Orleans and had lost everything. We hadn't talked in two years and he's off of my "new phone number/address" e-mail list. But an e-mail that essentially says, "Hope you didn't die in the storm, I'm getting married!" is a bit of a shock to the system. I'm annoyed and pissed off and the fact that I'm annoyed and pissed off just makes me MORE annoyed and pissed off. So, jury of my peers, am I overreacting? Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit out of line?
When I was in college, I hung out with a large group of girls. For three semesters in a row, we went to the same bar on Thursday and Friday nights. (Consistently. Like, they should have charged us rent.) It's a beautiful night and we were sitting on the outside deck of the bar enjoying our favorite Ladies Night drink -- watered down vodka and cranberry with a generous splash of lime. (Free, of course.) I was feeling a bit tipsy (shocking, I know!) and I spied a cute boy across the deck. Maybe it was the cheap, bottom-shelf vodka that made me feel bold and sexy, but I decided I was going to go hit on him. (Very out of character for me at the time.) The ladies at the table were about to light their cigarettes (because we smoked and drank together like a pack of addicted wolves) and I announced that I was going to go flirt a light off of the cute boy (who was smoking a cigarette) and his friend. "Put your lighters away," I demanded. I walked over, and in my best drunk-drooling-22-year-old-girl voice, I said, "Excuse me, I'm S. My friends and I were wondering if you could spare a light. We're all out." As I said this, I motioned to the table where my friends were sitting. As the cute boys looked over, I felt embarrassment come over me. My damn friends were making a huge show of lighting their cigarettes, with four damn lighters on the table. "It looks like they've got in under control," the cutie said, looking a bit annoyed. I lowered my head in shame and sulked back over to my friends, who were all too pleased with themselves. Bitches.
I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone for stopping by and showing their support for all of us Gulf Coasters during this difficult time. I have all of these things to say, but whenever I sit down to write them, I'm just numb. I was sitting out on my balcony last night, digesting an awesome meal I'd cooked for myself and enjoying a glass of wine and I was struck by how lucky I am. So many people I know have no idea where their future is. People are having to make tough choices that will affect the rest of their lives -- should they move temporarily or just get out of the Southeast for good? Can they physically and emotionally handle a tragedy on the same scale as Katrina again? My town is probably going to double in size. This has aggravated some problems we had before -- most notably our traffic problem. There is very little housing left now and the people who do have housing are having to buy everything again. They're starting over. I was in Linens N Things yesterday and people were buying cartloads of housewares. It looked as if people were shopping to stock their first apartment -- only it was adults with children in tow who were having to replace the most basic things, like towels and sheets and pillows and kitchen supplies. Grocery shopping is depressing. The stores have empty shelves because the evacuees need food and the residents who haven't had power for days are having to replace their food. I may whine about corporations like Wal-Mart, but it is an almost surreal experience to NOT be able to get everything you need at a Wal-Mart store. Yesterday they didn't have the oddest things, like onions or salt or lettuce in a bag. And everyone is just milling around with these empty eyes, trying to get what they can from their shopping lists. It is stressful and people are doing their best not to snap at each other over small inconveniences. In the midst of this stress and sadness, I have seen some of the best of humanity. I worked at a makeshift hospital for a long shift and it was amazing how people have responded with donations of both time and supplies. Working at the shelter was one of the saddest things I've ever done. It is something I'll never forget. These people have nothing but a few possessions they've managed to carry for days. They can get some clean clothes and some food and toiletries at a shelter, and these things become incredibly important to them. For many people, Friday night at the makeshift hospital was their first shower in days. They would get cleaned up, see a doctor or a nurse about their ailments -- commonly heat stroke, sunburn, infections, scrapes, twisted knees or ankles -- have a hot meal and then get moved on. We were sending people to housing shelters wherever we could find them. I ran into a girl who had been bounced around from hospital to hospital for a number of reasons since the hurricane hit. She was 20 and she was just beaten down and depressed. She had no idea how she would get to Texas to be with her family and she had been processed by so many people and put in so many lines that she had this tired, empty stare and her eyes were glazed over. We found out about a bus to Texas and I called her father around 5 a.m. to start to arange for him to meet her in Houston. He was ecstatic. He had no idea how they were going to reunite. We put her on the bus around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and hoped for the best. She could barely walk and we helped her load two garbage bags of her only possessions onto a Greyhound. It was a happy way for me to end 13 hours of stress. I didn't go home after that. Instead I went to my parents' house, ate breakfast, cried and slept for about six hours. I was emotionally drained. Saturday night I got some beers with some indefinately displaced friends. I didn't want to think about the shelter or the storm anymore. I dressed up. I wore a cute black flowy skirt with a shiny lavender top and some Enzo Angiolini shoes with an ankle strap. I put on makeup for the first time in days and topped it all off with a fluffy, wavy hairstyle. I watched Sex and the City while I dressed and drank Blue Moon beer because I lost my corkscrew in the process of moving and have two bottles of Pinot Grigio being held hostage by a stubborn cork. I have been to three stores to get a corkscrew. No luck. It was bittersweet to see so many people at one of my favorite bars Saturday night, seeking solace in good friends, good food and a strong drink. Perhaps drowning your sorrows in a cold beer is not the healthiest way to relieve stress, but six days in, a Hoegaarden never tasted so sweet.