When I first became a dog owner, going on walks was the best part. Sam Pickles and I would go for a stroll every day after work (me home from the office, him from the factory). We had a routine. He’d tug towards the little nuggets of cat poop in the gutter, and growl at any passerby who was worried he might growl at them. I’d bark, “Don’t pull” to varying degrees of success. It’s not that Sam P. has ever been well-behaved, but his antics were generally in the realm of things I could handle.
Every day, we’d get to the neutral ground and I’d let him off-leash. This is where Sam Pickles would shine. He was amazing — never stepping into the street, coming when called, and waiting in that wonderful, anticipatory “SIT” at the end of the block. He’d wait and wait, and I’d wait and wait, and then call out “OK!” and he’d tear across the street to the next patch of grass. That always made me feel like I was the best dog mom ever. Look at my well-trained pup! So, so proud.
This all changed when we adopted Janice. My first solo attempts to take the both of them on an evening walk did not, to say the least, go well. (It bears mentioning that these dogs both clock in at around 50 pounds.) Sam Pickles pulled and yanked to the cat poop on the right while Janice leaped in circles at the kitty cat on the left, with me getting yanked around in the middle like a scarecrow. Ever seen Chevy Chase fall down stairs? Like that, except not on purpose. Like that, except not fun.
So, I confess. A was gone for whole month, and every day, twice a day, I loaded them into the car and drove them to the dog park. One Saturday I wrangled them into their harnesses, hooked up the double-leash, but I turned my head for ONE SECOND, and Janice had bitten clear through her harness. (Sort of impressive.) So much for that.
Now that A has returned, we are trying to ween them back onto the walk. But Janice has forgotten her once-decent leash manners, thinking the whole world is her dog park. A came home from a particularly rough outing two days ago, and announced that it might be time to break down and get choke chains. (We’re not. I mean, we might. But so far, we’re not.)
And so? Well, I love my dogs. I try really hard to be a good dog mom, though in reality I have no idea what I am doing. In that month without A, Sam Pickles and Janice got in five fights, something that had never been a problem before. Blame it on a lack of exercise? Or was it the missing alpha person? (This is a strange way of thinking that doesn’t really apply until you get dogs. I certainly don’t think of A as MY alpha person.)
I don’t really know, but I want our walks back. For that? I think we’re all going to need a little bit of training.
I made the mistake recently of telling my mom that, despite the fact that early voting is available in Louisiana, I really wanted to vote on November 4th. Perhaps I am being a little silly, but I know I am not alone in the ranks of people who are freak-out excited to cast their vote for Obama. I’ve been looking forward to it for what, like, four years? (Seriously. That convention speech.) And I like a little pomp with my circumstance, so I want it all to go down on election day. Then I want to glue myself to the TV all night with A and a couple of friends (but seriously, only ones who are as excited as we are) and cry my eyes out when the routing I’ve been predicting for MONTHS actually takes place.
But my dad is convinced that my vote is at risk. He wondered, first, if I had voted in New Orleans before. I have lived here for five years, and have voted several times. (Not that it’s done me much good, Mayor Nagin.) And then he pointed out that I live in a different precinct now, which is true, and I haven’t actually voted at my new polling place yet. And he went on that my neighborhood could easily be a target for some of the voter-supression tactics we’ve been hearing about.
Relationships with parents are funny, because if he were talking about this outside of the context of telling me what to do, I would be in wholehearted agreement. No part of me doubts that these things happen — indeed it is a very real, and very scary problem that has been going ever since the government first started pretending to let black people vote. And I think we’re right to be especially worried about it this year. But because his advice is totally unsolicited, I am all, please shut up, you cranky old man.
True? Yes. Stupid? Even more so. But there you have it.
In general, I am not a fan of attacking Sarah Palin for the little stuff. Nailing her for the preacher who visited her church and mentioned witches seems weak to me, when we have so much else to work with that is of real substance. Let’s talk about the Bush Doctrine. Let’s talk about the complexities of the economy. Let’s talk about vicitims of rape and incest. Let’s talk about Afganistan. But first! We MUST talk about the flute.
This is not a reason she can’t be our vice-president. But it is definitely a reason we can point and laugh.
Bongo Java is the coffee shop where A and I basically lived during our time in Nashville after Katrina. Sitting here today, it is a painfully familiar spot.
All A and I can talk about this week is how to be better evacuators. Because this time around has been, I’m going to go ahead and say it, was totally fucking miserable. There are several layers to why this has been true.
1. Automotive ridiculousness. Look, cars are fickle things. But, especially when they have over 200,000 miles on them. We spent the week leading up to the evacuation in various states of distress over this, especially since our “nice” car (read: AC) had a battery/alternator problem suddenly cropping up. And the thing is? We’re not stupid. We’ve been worrying about this eventuality all summer. We’ve been arguing over Hondas and Scions for months. In the end, we basically just decided to close our eyes and cross and fingers that please, please, pretty please, we could make it through one more hurricane season on the junkers.
This didn’t turn out so well for us. We decided to try to beat the odds by evacuating in both cars, which meant we braved the drive solo. I spent all 12 hours on the edge of total panic. It was a large and unwieldy kind of panic, but, in short, I was scared of having another seizure. Every time we stopped, I’d realize that my hands were shaking and my knees were noodles. It was dark and rainy and ridiculously long, so it was no picnic for A, either — or anyone who shared the road with us, I’m sure. Topping all of this off a constant, and quite legitimate (we did spring a major coolant leak on day 2, but A caught it in time and was able to make the repair, because he’s a hero), fear of one of the cars breaking down was too much.
2. Animals. The biggest problem with animals is that not everyone likes them. We have decided it would be much easier to evacuate with a baby, because everyone wants to see your baby, while nobody wants to see your stinky cats and dogs. My dad is allergic to dander, and my brother and his family are allergic to barking, so we’ve spent the last few days drifting from pet-friendly hotels to neighbors houses to, finally, now that it is neither Sunday nor Labor Day, to the kennel. In the process, we have spent roughly nine million dollars.
3. Evacuating just plain old sucks balls. Even though sometimes I think the world would be a easy place for us if we just had a brand new car, this is not actually true. We accept that this is part of the New Orleans package, inasmuch as we don’t think anyone needs to feel particularly sorry for us. (I feel PLENTY sorry for myself.) Our list of ways to make things better has some great ideas that will definitely help, but also, it is just a pain in the ass period. You make the best of it that you can, and then you take a deep breath and power through the rest.
And, now. Here’s a pic of the welcome wagon our niece laid out for us, which made both of us cry. The moment I saw this was the first (and only, so far) moment that I felt what all New Orleanians are hoping to feel these days: relieved.
2. Lolis Eric Elie read my mind this morning. A and I had some fairly thorough plans to make hurricane plans.
3. Thanks to Obama for making me feel better last night, for a while.
4. These are the names of the GOP’s potential veep’s children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.
5. Love to New Orleans, hold tight.
I am not the hurricane worry-wart in the family. That is A’s job, and he’s quite good at it. This is what marriage is all about — dividing the work load and hoping it doesn’t fall too rigidly along gender lines. I do the laundry; he does the yardwork. He cooks the daily meals; I eat them. He worries about hurricanes; I provide the Obamian voice of hope. It is a system. We live a reasonably happy existance following it.
But right now? I’m dropping the ball, and totally freaking out. I do not like staring down the barrel of a cone of uncertainty one bit. I do not like getting emails from my boss telling me to prepare my office by the end of the week. I do not like that the governor is already making statements about a potential Lousiana landfall. And I really, really don’t like everyone running in to tell me their evacuation plans — that this time, they’re packing sweaters.
Also. The check battery light came on in my car today. Three years ago TO THE DAY I was dropping my transmission-sick Honda at the shop — where it would spend its final days. If I believed in signs — which I totally do not — this car trouble to hurricane relationship would be all I’d need to spend the next five days in a state of total panic.
Instead, I’m going to unclench my jaw, consider a glass of wine, and make sure I get all my work done this week. That way, I am guaranteed to not spend the next 5 months feeling bad that I didn’t finish typing up the board minutes. Because that really sucked last time.
Me: I hate that I can’t take songs OFF of my iPod.
Brother: How do you have music on your iPod that you don’t have on your computer?…Oh right, your computer was stolen.
Brother: And then a year later your car got stolen with all of your CD’s in it?
Me: Uh huh.
Brother: So. How’s living in New Orleans going for you?
Right about now, lapsed Gulf-Coast bloggers everywhere are finally getting around to posting.
It’s the 28th of August, of course, the day before what we’ve come to call “The Anniversary”.
Last year at this time, I was recounting my evacuation story on this very blog. Two years ago at this time, I was stuck in a seriously gnarly traffic jam. And today, I’m sitting at my desk reading about innovative architectural plans for the city, wondering what I’ll feel like doing tomorrow.
And I was thinking it might be good to go ahead and admit that I don’t stay in New Orleans just because I love it here, even though I do. I stay in New Orleans in part because I don’t think I could live with myself if I left.
It is a fairly silly feeling, but I can’t imagine I’m alone with it. Chris Rose first said it back in the Fall of ‘05, and repeated it on NPR yesterday morning: “The only thing worse than being in New Orleans…is not being in New Orleans.”
My Mr. and spent the first year and a half after the storm pretending to wring our hands over the New Orleans question. What we were really doing was waiting for someone to tell us we weren’t crazy to live here.
Part of that is because we can hardly believe we’re grown ups, and we are always waiting for people to tell us what to do. And part of it had to do with guilt over all the help we got from family and friends in 2005, and sort of a fool-me-twice-shame-on-me attitude about what we’d do if another storm came.
Eventually we realized we had to set all that aside, and make a call one way or another. And in the face of overwhelming evidence pointing in the opposite direction — bright, flashing arrows crying “GO THE OTHER WAY!” — it was completely obvious what we were going to do.