Sep 4, 201210:30 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
Yankee's First Hurricane
This is a hurricane diary. With no power in the Bywater for several days, I was scratching my head as to how to even write this blog. Could I write it with my phone? Probably not. Typing with thumbs interferes with writing mojo. I have a desktop which was out and my husband's laptop only works if it's plugged in since the battery is not doing so well lately, so that was out too.
So I started writing it out in a notebook the old-fashioned way and decided that if I didn't get power, I'd find a coffee shop with wi-fi, type it all out and press the send button. Deadline solved.
So as with several other "firsts" that I've muddled through since moving to New Orleans three years ago, like my first crawfish boil and my first Mardi Gras, I have also now been through a hurricane, which as a friend told me last night, officially makes me a New Orleanian now. Awww.
Sunday, August 26th
I have a few friends over for a "True Blood" season finale viewing. After Bill Compton explodes into a puddle of blood and rises again as "Billith", we turn the channel to see how good ole Tropical Storm Isaac is doing. At this point, we're still under the impression that he's headed toward Pensacola and are joking about the Republican National Convention having to evacuate to another location. But then as we turn the channel we see Bob Breck scratching his head and saying that he's not exactly sure where the storm is headed, but that it's definitely headed much more in our general direction. We wonder if we should trust a guy wearing a t-shirt with a sports jacket, but the Fox 8 anchorman with the strangely groomed eyebrows looks visibly concerned. My friends and I look at each other and start talking about getting the hell outta Dodge. We're all from the midwest and have never ridden out a hurricane. All we know is what Anderson Cooper told us on CNN during Katrina.
After we see Bobby Jindal suggesting that people start "voluntarily" evacuating, I start pacing around my house. I've always thought the governor was a total goofball since that cringe-inducing republican rebuttal speech of Obama's State of the Union Address a few years ago. But this Bobby Jindal is not the same guy. This dude seems polished and concerned. His awkward and creepy smile from the Hornets' "I'm In" campaign is gone. As he speaks he seems to know what he's talking about. Well, at least when it comes to hurricanes. Hurricanes are totally non-partisan.
My husband comes home from getting dinner with a friend to find me frantic. I tell him that my little VW Cabrio is going to float down the Mississippi River if we don't leave NOW. I tell him that a friend of ours has made reservations in two different cities for hotels in case the storm shifts even more and they're all already booked up so we're SCREWED. I tell him we should start packing and make a mental checklist of my most prized possessions. My computer. My ancient photos of my great grandparents. Jewelry. My BluRay copies of both seasons of "Downton Abbey."
My husband, who was born and raised in New Orleans and has been through a hurricane or two, looks at me and starts getting all Samuel. L. Jackson from "Pulp Ficton" on me.
Husband: Nobody's gonna get hurt. We're gonna be like little Fonzies here. And what's Fonzie like? Come on Annie, what's Fonzie like?
Me: He's cool.
Husband: Correctamundo. And that's what we're gonna be. We're gonna be cool.
He tells me that this is not Katrina. He says that we're going stay and ride it out and it's not going to be that bad. We're not going to float away. He says it's just what people do here. If there was a mandatory evacuation then we'd leave, but since there's not, it's going to be okay. We'll park my car on higher ground. We'll go to the store for supplies. I timidly agree.
I go to bed feeling better but I'm just not so sure about my husband sometimes. He's been wrong about things before. I mean, he totally thought that LSU was going to win that national championship against Alabama.
Monday, August 27
My husband wants to go to Baton Rouge to visit his sick grandmother and I'm like, NO WE HAVE TO BUY 1,000 BATTERIES and 100,000 GALLONS OF WATER NOW. He convinces me that the stores in Baton Rouge will be less crowded, so I agree to go along.
This happens to not be true since the people of Baton Rouge are anticipating getting hit by the storm too. I start wondering about my husband's Sam Jackson, "bad mother___" impression. We decide to go back to New Orleans and hit up Walmart in the middle of the night to avoid crowds. As we drive back home, we pass several army trucks heading into the city. My heart starts to race. Traffic is pretty bare heading into The Big Easy and I notice that it's totally congested heading out of it. Like, bumper to bumper. I feel like Jeff Goldblum inIndependence Day when he's the only one driving into Washington DC while everyone else is stuck in a traffic jam trying to get out and away from the giant space ship about to annihilate everything in it's path.
I start thinking too much about aliens. And zombies. I wonder if "The Walking Dead" is still on OnDemand so I can watch a marathon for survival tips.
At around 1 a.m., we go to the Chalmette Walmart and get everything we need, except bread. There is absolutely no bread, so I get these little multi-grain sandwich rounds. There is also no beer except for O'Doul's, a few Coors and the beer you drank in college because you didn't know any better.
I go to sleep with a giant weight off my chest now that I have my gallons of water, but while at the store, the site of cart after cart (or buggy after buggy) of supplies corralled next to customer service unnerves me a bit. Tons of flashlights, food and kid's toys. Its obviously the stuff that people found they couldn't afford while in line.
I'm thankful for the sandwich rounds.
Tuesday, August 28th
The weather is getting bad. My husband wakes up to run some errands on the Westbank. I start freaking out imagining him being swept up by a gust of wind and thrown off the Crescent City Connection. I call him and beg him to come home so that I know he's safe. I know that my paranoia is starting to wear on his patience because he stops at a Daiquiri stand on the way home and buys a gallon of 180.
As the wind picks up and the day goes on, we hear about people losing power. We watch movies and I drink some wine. I make all the meat that I have in the fridge and we feast on stuffed peppers and pork chops. Our neighbors come over to watch the news with us, drink beer and play some games. Apparently this is known as a "hurricane party". I could get used to this. As I check my Facebook page, I notice that more and more of my friends are updating from their phones that their power has gone out.
We go to bed at about 1 a.m. We still have power. We start thinking this whole hurricane thing isn't so bad and that our neighborhood has the best electricity ever. Yay Bywater! We think that maybe we won't lose it at all. We bought all those batteries for nothing.
At 4 a.m. the power goes out.
Sigh ... oh well.
Wednesday, August 29
We try to sleep in as late as possible but it's just so stuffy inside. After I make some sandwiches with our trusty sandwich rounds, we meet our neighbors on our front porch and set up some fold-out chairs. We fill coolers with beer and watch hipster adrenaline junkies ride their bikes down the street in the middle of a hurricane. This is fun for awhile until I'm aware that I'm out of allergy medicine and being without air conditioning is killing me. The boys go to the 24/7/365 cornershop for chips, more beer and headache medicine for inevitable hangovers. I start to develop a pounding headache due to sleep deprivation and caffeine withdrawal. I haven't had my tall glass of ultra-strong ice coffee for the day.
The boys come back with something called "BC Powder". Apparently this is a thing. I've never heard of it, but my husband assures me it's legit. Truckers use it and they know best. I'm still not convinced because it's basically a white powder folded in what looks like a rolling paper. I wonder if this is supposed to come with a straw?
I read the directions on the package and knock it back, almost choking. The taste is so bad.
My headache fades away in about 2 minutes. BC Powder!
Thursday, August 30
We wake up to no electricity but the weather is much better. We get bored really quick, so we take walks to asses the damage. We head to the Mardi Gras Zone for Benedryl and discover that they're giving away all of their perishable food for free because their refrigeration has crapped out. The place is dark and dank. The floor is just one gross giant puddle. People are sloshing around and walking out with stacks of organic burritos and organic pizzas under their chins. I wince a little because I know those things are like, 7 bucks a piece. But then I kind of laugh because I know that those things are like, 7 bucks a piece.
We get in the car and drive around a bit and find that there is no gas. There is nowhere to get food. There is barely anything open, just convenience-type stores that smell really bad. The Quicky on Franklin St. has a line outside just to get in the place. We stop by a cornershop that miraculously has ice and we notice that an employee has a machete strapped to him. The place looks like how a cornershop would look in a zombie apocalypse movie. I go home and start rethinking my stance on gun control.
Some friends drive over and we play a movie trivia game. More beer. More wine. More peanut butter sandwiches. The trivia is a lot of fun but some things start getting a little heated over a question regarding "Citizen Kane." We call it a night and say a prayer that when we wake up in the morning the power will be on.
But this night is THE WORST. It's so hot that I can't sleep a wink. I remember back to when I was in college and had no AC in my dorm. I'd take a cold shower and just get into bed so I could cool down enough to fall asleep. I try this method again. It doesn't work at all.
I start to wonder if I had super powers in college and then lost them along the way. I remember going 36 hours without sleep and living in a non-AC dorm and doing just fine. I decide to put in my ear buds and listen to Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco on my iPod to try and reconnect with my inner college-self.
Doesn't work in the least.
Friday, August 31
This is the day I just FEEL the power is going to come back on. My hopes are thoroughly crushed as time goes on. The thought of doing nothing all day yet again and drinking beer makes me feel ill and I can't get comfortable enough to concentrate on a book. All I want is a hot cooked meal. Something fried. McDonald's french fries. ANYTHING but a peanut butter sandwich. I don't care about those sandwich rounds.
My husband and I walk into the French Quarter to find it's as if no hurricane ever happened. Everyone has electricity. We revel in the AC and hit up Pat O'Brien's for a few drinks. We go to one of those pizza shops on Bourbon St. and eat several slices of hot pizza. It might just be the best pizza I've ever had in my life. We totally seem like tourists.
We walk through the crowds on Bourbon and it does my heart good to see that Southern Decadence is still going strong in spite of the storm. I start yelling at the bible thumpers inevitably parked in the middle of the street with their giant crosses and bullhorns. I get in a dude's face who's wearing a shirt that says something like "fornication sin blah blah hell". I tell him that he better not eat any of our New Orleans shrimp because it clearly says in Leviticus that eating bottom-dwellers is a sin. My husband starts dragging me away before I get into an actual fight.
I guess I drank too many hurricanes at Pat O's.
Saturday, September 1
Still. No. Power.
I wake up and go to the Mid City Yacht Club for the first Ohio State Buckeye game of the season. They've just had their power restored and the AC feels MARVELOUS. The bar is filled with fellow midwestern transplants wearing their scarlett and grey. I'm so sleep deprived that I tear up every time they play one of our fight songs. I tear up because Urban Meyer looks so sharp in his OSU shirt. I tear up when Braxton Miller completes a pass. I tear up when the TV pans to an ariel view of Ohio Stadium (The Horseshoe). I'm basically a mess. I'd give anything to be in Columbus right now.
I need sleep. I need to stop drinking to alleviate boredom. I NEED MY POWER BACK ON. How did folks live here before the advent of climate control? HOW?! I refresh the Entergy outage page on my phone constantly although every time I do it, all I see is red and I just feel worse.
We stay out all day and watch college football because the thought of going back to a hot house makes us extremely depressed. My friend brings us Popeye's and I swear I've never been so in love with a piece of fried chicken before. We watch LSU pummel North Texas. We watch Alabama pummel Michigan and as a Buckeye fan, enjoy a little schadenfreude as I watch the most winningest college team in football made to look like a cupcake.
At night I sleep on my kitchen floor because the tiles are kind of cool.
Sunday, September 2
OMFG STILL NO POWER. Bywater obviously does NOT have the best electricity ever. We're getting paid back 10-fold for having our power go out last. I'm convinced of it.
At this point I'm a zombie. I haven't slept in days. I can't tell if I'm hung over or just losing my mind. I don't even care anymore. My rugs are hideous with bits of leaves and dirt but I can't run the vacuum because it runs on ELECTRICITY. Everything is hilarious. I think back to the Walking Dead episode when the doctor at the Center for Disease Control talks about the idiocy of running everything on fossil fuels. I decide that my new cause will be clean and sustainable energy. OMG SOLAR POWER. I'm obviously losing it.
I look at my Facebook feed on my phone and see that at least some friends have their power back and I'm genuinely happy for them even though I HATE THEM ALL.
Me and my husband take his kids to the Audubon Aquarium. It is utterly tranquil there. I don't even notice kids screaming or running around. Every kid there is a perfect little angel in this divine AC. I sit on a bench to watch penguins and I'm pretty sure that I fall asleep for awhile. I start wondering if I can speak parseltongue to some of the reptiles and help them escape their cages a la Harry Potter.
I think I might be hallucinating because at one point I think I'm actually able to do it.
Need. Sleep. Need so much sleep.
Monday, September 3
I GOT THE POWER.
See ya later, I'm off to sleep right under my AC, snuggled in blankets.
I hope everyone effected by the storm is doing well. I hope that those in need of relief get it soon. God bless us everyone. God bless Louisiana. God bless New Orleans. God bless the Saints. Hell, God bless the potholes and the cockroaches. GOD BLESS THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
I am the happiest girl ever.
It's nap time.
I leave you with my favorite picture from the hurricane. It's of my neighbors flying a kite and playing trombone. ONLY IN NEW ORLEANS Y'ALL. I wouldn't live in any other city.