Friday, July 11, 2008

Colton Academy work crew!

Our first workday!

We headed to our school, Colton Academy, that we are converting to an arts cooperative type place that will offer classes for local students. It is an amazing building! It suffered water damage, then was mistreated and neglected by the contractors, and was eaten by termites. Needless to say, it needs some attention.

I worked on painting with Rebecca, Eleni, Tara, and Stephanie. Now this was no ordinary painting job. We were painting the tops of the walls in the auditorium that has walls that are about 25 feet tall. Managing those rollers was interesting! It certainly gave me a workout!

We called it a day early today because we went on a bayou swamp tour. That was very cool! I haven’t been to the south before (except Florida to visit my Nana) so I didn’t realize that as an Oregonian I am a yankee! The boat captain was certainly a southern good ol’ boy and spoke often of us silly yankees. I loved the beauty and tranquility of the swamp, as strange as that may sound.

We got to see many alligators, and I got some fantastic video of them jumping for a treat. A marshmallow, none the less! As Rebecca and Rian pointed out, how healthy is that for alligators. Maybe they would have preferred a dog!

For dinner I went with Rian, Rebecca, and Eleni to a bar near us, Markey’s Bar. We were walking towards the French Quarter, but came to this place first. I thought it might be more interesting to hit a local spot, plus it was close! So we had some beers, po-boy (or tacos in Rian’s and my case…) and some catfish strips. Very yummy!

After dinner, we walked back to home base and decided to head out again. Eleni stayed back, but I went to Ray’s Boom Boom Room on Frenchmen St. for jazz with Rian and Rebecca. When we walked in the jazz band was playing Summertime. I was happy! They were good and I was just happy to be in New Orleans listening to great jazz!


After a long time of sitting around waiting for people we thought were coming to get us… we finally decided to head to the coffee shop for internet. Of course, as soon as we got close to the coffee shop, Ray came to pick us up. He took us to a coffee shop in the French Quarter, which is where I posted the last couple of entries from. Then we hit up a Super Walmart. (I know, it is evil and not very New Orleans… but we needed somethings. Don’t hate me!) I forgot my camera battery charger and spare battery at home, so I knew I needed to find a solution. Unfortunately, the only solution I could come up with was to buy my camera over again to use the charger for the week. Next week, I’ll return the camera and get my money back. Smart thinking, I know!

After that we went back to the French Quarter and met up with the rest of our group. We wandered around the French Quarter, had hurricanes from Pat O’Briens, visited the voodoo store, and found an amazing photographer’s gallery. Then we found some fantastic Zydeco music. I danced my little heart out! This is exactly what I have dreamt about for so long!

After that we met up with Ray and the new Katrina Corps volunteer, Alli. We headed to have some dinner and I had a fabulous Po Boy. Yummy! After that it was time for orientation. We moved outside, close to the banks of the Mississippi. A few of us had $3 daquiris, so that made the orientation go a bit faster… Of course it was good information Ray was giving us, so we wanted to pay attention, but the New Orleans way is to do everything with a drink in your hand!

It was an early night and we headed back to home base after orientation. Tomorrow is our first work day after all!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Down on Bourbon Street

I can’t believe I am finally in New Orleans. I have been dreaming about this day for so long, and it has finally come.

We flew in with no more mishaps, besides an overpriced, not so good lunch at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Marshall in the gold van picked us up and we were on our way. In the van we met up with our final group member, Sarah, and then there were nine. Marshall drove us to the Bywater Church of Christ, where we will be staying. It is in the 9th ward, but not the lower 9th. On the way we saw houses with the tagging from the searches post-Katrina, and it was powerful. I don’t really know how to process that right now.

Our accommodations are good. We aren’t where we expected to be, where others that have volunteered with Katrina Corp have stayed before. But this place is nice and the room where our bunks are is cool. As in cold. It is a nice retreat from the heat of New Orleans. In here, it feels a little like we are at summer camp.

After getting settled in we left to go get some essentials at Walgreen’s before getting food and drinks out on the town. We debated where to go and ultimately decided Frenchmen Street. Our walk to Walgreen’s felt never-ending. As we walked a couple on their porch threw some beads at us. While I’m not into the whole bead thing of New Orleans, this felt different and more special and I gladly wore my beads. When we finally arrived at Walgreen’s we all loaded up on bug spray, sunscreen and water. Then it was on to find food and drinks.

We finally hit Frenchmen Street and I felt like I finally arrived. The buildings, the music, the culture… this is what I have loved about New Orleans for as long as I can remember. If I hadn’t been so hot I would have had goose bumps!

We found a place to eat and Rian ordered a round of waters and hurricanes. It almost sounds like a bad joke in a place that was so battered by those two things. We got right into the southern, Louisiana spirit and ordered hush puppies, gumbo and jambalaya. I had Cajun jambalaya, yummy! From there we hit a bar that had happy hour from 5-9… there should be more places like that! While there wasn’t any music, it had the New Orleans feel and I was content to be there!

Next it was time for Bourbon Street. The end we started at was mellower and there was more jazz. We stopped in a little place where there was a jazz band playing. I was in heaven! My favorite was a hauntingly beautiful version of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

While I was in my element and could have stayed forever, Rebecca mentioned karaoke… so of course we moved on! On a quest to find the karaoke bar on Bourbon Street… The farther we walked on Bourbon Street, the less I liked it. Ok, that may be an overstatement, but it wasn’t my scene. It was fun for a night, but I’m just not a dance club kinda girl. To me the DJs, hip hop and rap are not New Orleans. The jazz, zydeco, Creole, and Cajun… Now that’s New Orleans! Anyway, I experienced it once, and that may be enough. Although, there are talks of going back to the karaoke place because of course it becomes a dance club on Saturday nights.

By the time I was ready to leave the dance club it was nearly 2am. I’m not sure when the bars in New Orleans stay open until, but for this girl who got about 2 hours sleep on Friday night, it was my bed time. Lee and Stephanie were ready to leave as well, so we walked to catch a cab. I called a cab and we were waiting when Rebecca and Rian joined us to head home as well. We waited a while, but no cab. A local told us we should walk to another street to catch a cab. He walked us right across from Café Du Monde and tried to hail us a cab. Then Lee called a cab. We waited and waited. Finally we got one, but we didn’t have Rian. Lee and I got out to get him, and Rebecca and Stephanie went home (we thought). Lee and I couldn’t find Rian, and then Rebecca called to say they were picking up Rian then coming for us. Apparently, Rian was busy pitching the joys of voting and Obama to some young kids. I love democracy (and the Democratic Party and Obama) as much as the next person, but it is almost 3am, and I want to go to sleep. Finally, we were all in the cab headed back to our home base. (only an hour after we first left the club…)

All in all, it was an adventurous first night in NOLA. I’m so thrilled to be here and I can’t wait to see what else is in store!

Leaving on a jet plane...Maybe!

It is 8:10am in Seattle and I’ve already had an adventure on my journey. Let’s just say, I’m not a fan of early mornings, especially after late nights! I had a wonderful 4th yesterday hanging out with Carla and my sister’s family. Carla and I watched the fireworks near Gasworks Park then hit the Pac Inn on our walk back to my place to get out of the crowds and have a drink. I had one of the strongest greyhounds ever, then had a second. After some drinking, we needed food, so we headed to Fremont for a dog. We got home to my apartment about 1am. I finished last minute packing and things I needed to do, and before I knew it, it was almost 3am. I decided it was time for sleep.

I woke up late and was in a rush to get to the airport. On the drive I realized I didn’t have Rebecca’s, our group leader, phone number. I didn’t know if I was supposed to print flight info. I had nothing and was growing more and more stressed out by the time. I arrived at the airport around 6:25 for my 7:10 departure. I didn’t see anyone from our group, so I got in line to check in.

I got in the line that said it was for 35 minutes or less to departure. It didn’t say anything about self-service. Apparently I missed something. It was self-service so I was directed to the end of another line. Damn. I just wasted 15 minutes in this line! Grr! No one cared. In fact, when I said I had a 7:10 flight I was told I was already too late. I refused to believe that. In the second line, two very nice gentlemen let me go first. The ticket lady at the counter had to call to see if they would even let me on the flight. She said ok, but no guarantees.

I ran to security and begged my way to the front of the line. I told the people my flight was leaving and I had to laugh at one guys response, “I hope all our flights are leaving.” Yes, well, mine is leaving in minutes! Right as I got to the front of the security line, the guy checking had to walk away for some reason. COME ON! Luckily he came back quickly and let me go through. Next it was the scanner. I threw my things on, grabbed my laptop out as fast as I could and walked through. For some reason, they were fascinated with my carry-on bag and kept it under the scanner for a long time. Then they searched it. Um yeah, the contents of the suspicious bag? A blanket and two books. That’s it.

Finally I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, invisioning missing my opportunity to go to New Orleans. Thinking I would have to wait another 20 years to fulfill this dream… Every time I thought I was almost at my gate, there was a turn and I had to run more. Finally the gate was in sight and there was still a line of people boarding. Completely out of breath, I boarded my first flight in the journey.

So here I sit, finally on my way to New Orleans. I’m overwhelmed with excitement, anticipation, and nervousness. I know this will be a profound, life changing experience. And I don’t really know what to expect. I guess I will just go with the flow and enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When the Levees Broke

I wish I knew how to fully express how I am feeling right now. I guess... depressed, frustrated, angry, sad, impassioned, motivated, and overwhelmed might begin to cover it. Tonight I met with some of the folks I'm going to New Orleans with to watch "When the Levees Broke" by Spike Lee. I know some of the people that will read this have seen this film and will understand why I am so moved. If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest you do. I also suggest you maybe don't watch it all at once like we did tonight, it was a bit much.

I fully expected to cry my way through the film, but I actually didn't. I don't know if it was because it was all so horrible and gut-wrenching that you just couldn't feel it all- as some sort of self-preservation. Or maybe seeing all the images and hearing all the stories, I just started to get desensitized. Don't get me wrong, I certainly felt it, but I'm someone that can cry for a sappy commercial, so I expected to be a mess watching this film. I did get teary eyed a few times, but I remained more composed that I expected.

Maybe I didn't cry because I got so pissed. What the hell are we doing spending billions in Iraq and not helping our own citizens? My god, what is wrong with our government?! Why didn't Bush go down there immediately? Why didn't FEMA and others get aid (water, food, etc) to the survivors immediately? Why mark a house saying it has been checked, when clearly it hadn't? Why build levees that don't work? Then when they break, do a crappy job fixing them so we could be facing this same disaster in a few years.... What the f*&k???

I was glued to the TV when everything started with Katrina because I have always, and will always, loved New Orleans. I cried for the city, the culture, and all of the citizens. But it wasn't until tonight that I knew the extent of how much the area was abandoned and ignored after tragedy struck. It makes me so angry and sad.

I guess the best I can do is take comfort in those of us that are doing something to help. I feel more inspired than ever before to go down and give my time and energy to the cause. To all those that are going with me, and those that have gone down before, bless you for doing your part to help! And to those that can't make the trip, but give financially to people like me so we can make the trip, bless you also for doing your part! What we are all doing will make a difference!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

43 days to go...

"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that’s where you left your heart?..."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama in NOLA

From my friend, Noelle

I am proud to be a delegate for Obama!