Monday, March 20, 2006

The Price of Eggs

Late last night I arrived back in New Orleans, and I was very happy to be back. I feel like my time is better spent here, sort of like New Orleans needs me more than other places. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe I need New Orleans, as recently I'm so emotionally invested in this devastated wasteland. I had been in Nebraska for a few days to visit with my family, as my father just learned that he has lung cancer and he's pretty sick. It was good to see him. He seemed scared but strong. I don't think he'll be around a year from now. Only one of his lungs is working and he keeps coughing up blood. Moreover, he has several other health related issues, such as Parkinson's, his memory is slipping, and his balance wasn't very acute. But we spent the few days we had together talking about life, and getting his "house in order" so to speak. We visited his attorney and my siblings and I have power of attorney to pay his bills and make medical decisions if need be. We talked about burial, and though it all sounds pretty morbid, I'm glad we got to talk about these things. They seem important. It was also nice to see my family and catch up with them. Therese, the kids and I will be driving back up to Nebraska just before Easter to spend a few days with my dad and others in our families.

But being in Nebraska bothered me in some ways, as life there continues as if the destruction in the Gulf Coast never happened. People spoke at length about whether the eggs were cheaper at HyVee or at Baker's Grocery. At my home in New Orleans, just last Thursday the Sav-A-Center reopened, the first major grocery store within 15 miles of my house. That seems more important to me. There was also a peace rally in New Orleans that I missed Sunday, but I was happy that Therese and the kids went. People at the demonstration wanted the government to spend money protecting citizens with levees more than they wanted the US to kill people in foreign countries. Therese said at one point our son Gilgamesh was on her shoulders, and an older man approached her with a framed photograph. He explained that the boy in the picture was his son, and he was killed in Iraq. That also seems more important.

Nobody here feels very safe with the 2006 hurricane season on the horizon, and moreover, we feel like many in the Federal Government are working against our efforts to rebuild. Take for example Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who questions the rebuilding of New Orleans because it is "a place that the laws of physics say doesn't make sense for people to live in." He sits on the Appropriations Committee, and to date he still hasn't visited the area. But unlike Senator Bennett, I have seen the destruction, and even before I moved here I knew that New Orleans was a major port city on the mouth of the Mississippi River, and so barring a shift in the river's course, there will always be a major city here. So while we have to keep on arguing for our existence, time and resources are wasted. It seems as if the government can't quite understand the magnitude of destruction--as if they are treating this like a Hurricane Andrew, but it is at least 10 times bigger. And the rest of the country talks about where they can find cheaper eggs.

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