Haven’t had much chance to read blogs lately, but I went over to Cliff’s Crib Saturday night and what I read there about his weekends post-Katrina really knocked me for a loop.
I can identify with so many things Cliff writes about:
- “May is the best month to live in New Orleans.” Roger that. I used to think June was the best month in Indiana, but June in Indiana = May in New Orleans.
- Cliff’s smoking a cigar in honor of Ashley Morris. I’m not much of a cigar aficionado myself but my friend James has been trying to school me. And of course Ashley rocks. I’m itching to get myself a memorial FYYFF shirt from Dirty Coast.
- Cliff’s playing music from a large digital collection on his computer. A shared obsession. I posted up about my problem last week. Cliff doesn’t know it but he’s turned me on to some good music, in particular Stetsasonic.
- “I’m also enjoying a glass or three of St. Remy brandy. Say what you will about the French but they make good liquor.” Yes indeed. Brandy has been my most reliable drink of choice for the last couple years. I’m not inclined to badmouth the French anyway. For my 40th birthday I popped for a bottle of Hennessy Privilege. Money well spent. But a nice brandy will do for regular drinking.
So I’m just saying, I think I would have had a good time hanging with Cliff Saturday night.
Only here’s the catch. Seems like there’s always a catch. A dark twist. And that’s just this: Cliff’s in that people-hating mood I know so well. I’m a lifelong misanthrope, unfortunately for my friends. More on that soon.
But Cliff’s self-imposed solitude is specifically related to Katrina and the Federal Flood. He’s holding on, staying angry. He’s “the only person in [his] inner circle still this bothered,” and he says he’s cool with that, but he also seems to be recognizing that this may not be the healthiest pattern. He says he could use “some analyzing from a pro.”
I’m far from Cliff’s inner circle, but his words make me realize how very different my experience has been lately. Oh sure, I’m still angry, but then I’ve always been angry. My anger has subsided back to its pre-Katrina level.
In other words, and this amazes me to realize: I’m pretty much over it. We don’t have deep roots here, having only moved to New Orleans in 1999. We didn’t lose any friends or family in the flood. Our house was only half-trashed, and we didn’t get screwed by our insurance company, and it’s taken two and a half years but we’re finally getting the house back in pre-Katrina order.
Plus, since the flood, we lost a close friend to a senseless act of violence and we also had a baby. Those two events still have more emotional force in my life than Katrina, and in fact, in a bizarre way, they’ve forced me to move on.
None of which is to say I can’t identify with Cliff’s mindset, because I can, even though I’m not feeling it the same. Nor am I saying he or anyone should “get over it” or “move on.” Those kind of prescriptive statements aren’t my style and aren’t very helpful anyway.
And Cliff, if you’re reading this, I might add that when I’ve felt stuck in a particular state for whatever reason, what I’ve found helpful a few times in the past is not analysis per se but counseling. You can often find amazing results by just talking through the issues. Blogging can be kind of like that, but sometimes you need a real person sitting there. It also helps if that person isn’t a friend or relative with all the baggage that implies. I highly recommend it.
PS: I also like to play my music so loud it annoys my neighbors. Or I did, back when we had neighbors. We’ll have neighbors next door on one side again soon, I expect, but in the meantime I’ll have to settle for annoying my long-suffering co-workers when I return to work in a couple days. I can’t wait.
PPS: Just so it’s clear, although we personally seem to be making our way to a full recovery, I also recognize how limited that personal scenario is. I don’t wish to suggest that the city of New Orleans as a whole has recovered or even that we are headed in the right direction. Obviously if the city spirals downward or floods again, our recovery won’t mean much. That’s why civic involvement cannot just be a luxury for the idle. It’s a matter of survival for all of us.
I can relate to Cliff’s anger, it took me quite a while to stop being the angry man. I can to the conclusion that I had to get over the anger, it was injecting too much negative energy into my life, and it was starting to affect my health. Good luck to Cliff being able to move forward, most of us who experienced K-storm and the F.F. understand.
Hey, I was living in New Orleans at the time of Katrina. Went through a lot of heartache and grief afterwards that I later found out was classic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I got a lot of great help from the Access to Care program offered through the Red Cross. It’s a FREE program offering $2000 worth of FREE MENTAL HEALTH counseling to anyone who experienced Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, or Wilma.
Hurry up and apply, because the application deadline is May 31st, 2008. It’s already been extended once, probably won’t be extended again.
Best of luck and health to everyone!
Thanks SW. My friend David told me about that program. I registered and months later got a call back on my voicemail about the time our daughter was born. Never returned the call, so I guess I need to follow up on that. Thanks for the reminder.
Thank you very much sir…
What’s up with Dirty Coast being sold out of the XXXL Ashley Shirts? Don’t they know this is New Orleans and we have pot bellies? Well, you don’t B. but most of us do.