Friday, August 27, 2010

The Big Uneasy and Five Years Later

Tonight we were treated to reserved tickets to the world premiere of Harry Schearer's "The Big Uneasy."  I have been a fan of Harry for a long time, loving Le Show and trying to read his Huff Po blog as much as possible.  Although suffering from massive Katrina Media Fatigue, Beau and I were honored to be invited and gratefully accepted the invite.  (I am glad we did because we got to sit right behind Wendell Pierce, Brian Williams, Dr. John, and lots of other interesting New Orleans notables!) 

No need for my detailed commentary or review of the documentary.  Let's just say that I enjoyed it as an educational experience, realizing that I was blindingly ignorant about which levees broke, where various flood waters came from, how they broke, what the MRGO really is....etc.   Harry said that he wrote the movie not for us New Orleanians, but for the "rest of the world."  Well, even as a native, I needed to see it so I could better understand some of the mechanics behind the flooding. 

I was prepared for what the majority of the documentary is: an indictment of our federal government's epic failure to create and maintain infrastructure to protect us.  I was careful to take parts of the film with a grain of salt as most documentaries in this vein are not the most objective depictions of reality.  The reason I personally think people should watch is not to "hate on the Corps," but to actually understand the myths versus reality about "the event" as well as life in New Orleans post-Katrina. 

Some myths and respective clarifications:

1.   Katrina was not "the mother of all storms."  In fact, it barely pushed Cat 2 status when it was miles off the coast.
2.   New Orleans is not a big "soup bowl" sitting below sea level.  In fact, a majority of our city is above sea level.
3.   Don't call the flooding of New Orleans "the greatest natural disaster of all time."  It was man made.
4.   There is no standing water in certain parts of the city these days.  (I had no idea that people actually thought that still!)

If you want to check out the documentary, it is premiering on Monday night at theaters across the country.  In New Orleans, you can catch it at Canal Place (and have a martini!) or Prytania. 

Editor's Note: I promise that you will not be nauseated from the usual barrage of "Katrina images."  In fact, it is pretty "dry" and scientific.  In a good way. 

Now.  Next things next.  I thought long and hard about what I was going to write about Katrina, if anything, on its fifth anniversary.  The weirdest part is that once the initial flood waters receded, all we kept saying was, " is going to take at least five years for any of this to be cleaned up..."  Here were are, five years later.  Lots of it has been cleaned up (literally and figuratively) and lots of it hasn't. 

My conclusion about what to post was that everyone has a Katrina story (EVERYONE) and some of us need to share them and some of us need to keep them private...all as part of the continued individual healing process.  At this point, five years out, there is still so much I could probably say, but my well is all dried up.  There is a permanent hole in my heart for about 1,000 reasons and talking-talking-talking about it isn't personally helpful to me anymore.  However, if telling your story is what you need to do to get through the still-raw heartbreak, do it!  (And, please, I beg of you, if you are in a position to listen to someone who needs to talk, lend your ear....)

So, onto what we have learned to do best around here these days, which is continue to move forward (in very small, sometimes seemingly inconsequential ways), despite the hardships that are ever present:
  • The Saints are rockin' the Dome tonight and, in honor, it is Saints Day at the office.  Can I just say that a wise person once told me that it makes her 23.4789878978% happier to wear jeans to work on Fridays?  Truest statement I ever heard. 
  • Dare I say that it is getting "cooler?"  The humidity seems to be less oppressive and, for the past three mornings, the air has felt different.  Hope springs eternal that Fall could be coming in about two months instead of three....
  • This is personal to me, but we will have a tiny arrival in February!  I vividly remember telling Beau that  Mardi Gras was something that we would never ever again get to experience ourselves much less with a child because "how could it ever happen again...there is no way."   Joke's on me because I already bought two teensie "costumes" that will be worn by the tiniest reveler on March 8, 2011. 
No wreckage shots for this blog today. 

Where we are now, down here in the big uneasy.



P.S.  If you ever recover from Katrina fatigue (yep, people in New Orleans have it too, don't worry....), I have compiled a reading/watching list of books, docs, shows, etc. that I think are seminal in understanding what really happened and what life was like, before, during and after K.  If you are ever interested, please email me and I will pass my two cents along to you. 


  1. Your post takes the words out of mouth. Everything is different and yet the same all at once. There is so much that I want to remember but have already forgotten and so much that I wish I could forget.
    P.S. I type this as I sit at my desk in my jeans, truly 23% happier because I'm wearing them.

  2. Glad to hear that someone else feels the same way. It is still hard sometimes, feeling isolated in your thoughts and experiences about Katrina, despite the fact that it was a universal experience.

  3. This is the most insightful analysis of the places where people are about pre-K, K, and post-K. Always a part of us, some of it scarred over (remembering that scar tissue is numb with no feeling) and hopefully transcending and transforming having gone through the experience both individually and collectively. If that didn't make sense, it makes my case for a permanent loss of some neural pathways and synapse short-outs as a result of the trauma. Embrace the crazy is my motto. Love you.

  4. To all my incredible friends and family who have stayed and rebuilt New Orleans, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The fact that I can still spend $100 to watch Dr. John scat from a mud pit in the rain with my friends at Jazz Fest is something we thought may never be possible again, but here we be! I love that crazy Swamp-gri-la and I love you all even more.

  5. thanks for sharing. I've heard similar things from my besties down there. One of them actually moved there AFTER the storm to be weather woman :)

  6. Oh boy sister sister, you said it all and you said it so well.
    The media circus is enough to trigger the tender post K depression that hovers under the surface of all of our hearts, minds, and souls.
    I cannot watch it. Tears and heart ache and stress are still to close for comfort. And all the hurricanes brewing out there this time of year make you tender to the touch too.
    Five years is nothing and everything, depending on where you are.
    But darling congratulations on that teensy costume awaiting the young reveler in the making!!!!
    Sending you fierce love!
    xo xo

  7. Great post! I didn't go through Katrina personally but watched as my family went through it. I've been trying to think of a perfect post to do today and you nailed it!