I have been "gainfully employed" (as my Dad calls it) for a week. Well, I've been working for a week. It seems like I've actually had the job for a month now. It's going pretty good. If you don't remember, I'm one-on-one in a exceptional education class with a guy who is non-communicative, has Cerebral Palsy and displays Autistic characteristics. Certainly it is frustrating to hang out with someone for six point five hours a day who cannot talk. But I enjoy it, I think. I've only been hit a couple of times and bit once. Not too shabby. It's a lot better than Laurel Oaks, but probably equal with daycamp. You know how those New Orleans city kids are.
So as the story goes, today I was in the teacher's lounge during lunch. This was a crazy-earth-stilling moment for me in itself. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought I would be sitting in the teacher's lounge at Eau Gallie High School. Even as a teen, I would see myself in a band or a millionaire before a teacher's assistant. Anyway, I'm sitting there eating my lunch and a younger-looking guy comes in and starts talking to me. After a few minutes of banter, I gather my belongings and throw my trash away. My intent was to inquire his position within the school, but I asked him his name first. He told me his name was Mr. S and that he was a substitute. Cool. I introduced myself and said I had to get back to class. He then asked what class I have. I informed him that I'm a teacher assistant in an ESE class. Mr. S chuckled for a second and then told me he thought I was a student. I looked dumbfounded for sure. All I said was, "Nope" (I actually said more but that isn't really here nor there). He told me to take it as a compliment. I told him I would when I was fifty. The other day the cafeteria lady thought I was one of the special ed. kids. She asked the teacher, "Does the new student want breakfast?" Now I ask you, how should I take that?
As I sit here, Wilma is slowly coming our way. And yes, I know I don't live on the west coast of Florida. However, we're under a hurricane watch, followed by warning later on tonight. I don't have to work tomorrow too, which means this is a bigger deal than it might seem. Anyway, here are some photos from my trip to New Orleans.
The fourteen foot Budget truck that I had to help drive for nearly six of our fourteen hour drive back.
As we were leaving Florida and entering Alabama on I-10 west, you could see the trees starting to shift and lean. The closer we got to the city, the more damage there was.
This was on I-10 West going over Lake Pontchartrain. Those are some of the oil refineries that paint the Gulf Coast.
This is also from The Causeway over the lake. Those trees were big and leafy once.
In New Orleans, near Gentilly Street. This is the Louisa Street North exit off of Interstate 10. You can still see water on the ground a month after the storm.
A local business (I think it was a Goodyear Tire place). It fell victim to both, wind, water, and looters.
As you enter the gates of the New Orleans Seminary, this was a long patch of very green grass and some more big Oak Trees. Now it looks like mulch. And you were never ever allowed to drive or park your four-wheeler on it.
These are some cars that remained on campus during the storm. They were moved and covered by the waters of the canals and lakes that flooded the city.
In the playground of the preschool, these utility workers try to restore power to our fallen campus.
This is a shot of the parking lot against the train tracks, which are known as Gentilly Ridge. Theoretically, this is the highest point in the city. Those trees used to line up perfectly with the tracks.
Another shot further down of the downed trees on the west side of campus.
My dorm. If you look closely, you can see where the water got to. The first floor was covered by two or three feet of water. I wish I had a picture of the inside. It was dark and covered with mold.
This is the gym I spent everyday in this past summer. Water still remains on the ruined hardwood floor.
Sunshine Park, another spot where we took the kids much of the summer and where I spent some of my own personal time at. The pavilions were demolished and a very large tree almost landed on Michael and Leah's apartment.
I feel better. Thanks for your prayers. I have a lot to do before Thursday afternoon. I am fixing to get McDonald's breakfast. That always makes things better. Then I will sleep, only to get up five hours later, to complete more tasks.
I got most of my stuff from New Orleans. Now, let's see if I can keep my stuff, again, and outlast this Category 5 that looks to be heading my way after it makes landfall on the southwest side of Florida.
It's so weird, but I am hurting. Hurting in itself isn't strange; it's happened before. But right now, I am so overwhelmed with life, I just can't stand it. I feel like I have no time, but all I have is time. I finally printed and looked at my syllabus for classes online the other day, only to realize I had stuff due by midnight. Now, I'm way behind, with the only hope of getting a C on a few assignments because they are late. I'm going to try to drop the class, or maybe withdrawal tomorrow. I can't get it together and I don't know when it will happen. I want to cry, but I can force it. I feel like I have no one to talk to, even though I know I do. When I try, I can't get it out. I'm pretty sure God is getting tired of me (although I know he's not). I just am at a spot where there is hope, but I just don't know how to go about getting it. It's so weird. I've even contemplated going to a counselor. I've never wanted to do that. Anyway, just pray for me. Please don't comment. I wouldn't respond anyway.
Life is a funny thing. Well, not haha funny, but more of an ironic funny, or something. And what's a "thing" anyway? Is it more than just 33.33333 percent of a noun? My life is also funny (still not laugher-inducing). I watched a movie tonight. It was a film recommended to me that I sort of half scoffed, half considered to view, at the time. I just never got around to watching it really. But for whatever reason, I decided to rent it the other day and I sat down to watch it tonight. Perhaps out of nostalgia, respect, or maybe even honor. Again, I don't know. After I watched it, I pondered the idea that my life is now better having seen this flick. But, what if I had watched it when it was recommended to me? Would it have the same effect on me as it did tonight? I might not have been able to place myself within the lives of the characters then, as I did tonight. I'm glad I watched the movie now and not then. It's just weird how something like this will make you feel differently at different times. My elitist tendencies aren't always bad (like in this case). But, it's like I said earlier, life is a funny thing.
maybe there is a time and place for everything but some things deserve the most delicacy even when caution is practiced words will hurt pain will sting and the cause of tears shed will be a cruel reminder that everything isn't always better done now
but how am i supposed to know these things at 25, not much more dead than alive, having given in to all the cliches and lies though the lackluster of a dream is now gone patience and experience have taught me so much as they have probably taught you, too
i am the bad guy in this there is now way out of it or an excuse for the mess i've made of us but i told you before i'd always be there wherever you are whether you want me to be or not i can't give you anything but i can tell you i care
when words escape, or fail, or linger you will know me by my trail of actions or victims i hope i can show you all the cheap talk that i have dispensed isn't anything more than prior mistakes revealing that i am just a boy and have no idea about any of this
Maybe One Day, We'll Both Realize That This Is A Dream
The weirdest feeling came over me while in New Orleans. Having just seen my friend's apartments blackened by mold from contaminated water, I got the sudden urge to keep all of my possessions still salvageable. Luckily or providentially, (however you see it) I was able to keep most of my things. I suppose this is a natural instinct, regardless of your geographical position or income status. When the possibility of losing everything one owns happens, one tends to want to start keeping everything his or her hands come into contact with. But while I was sorting through my possessions, I was easily able to part with some stuff. Out of concern for my own health, I decided upon throwing my sheets, egg crate and blanket away. Before I left for the city, I had already made up my mind about throwing these things away. Included in that list of perishable items was my pillow. As one of the last tasks to tackle in the dreaded moving out process, I striped my bed bare. As I was about to leave the city for nearly a year, I grabbed the last few small items that remained in my room. At that point, I stared at my pillow. This is when the weird feeling occurred. I couldn't part with it. Something, whether it be security or nostalgia, compelled me to keep the old worn out thing. I couldn't let go. I told myself that I should throw it away, but I couldn't. I didn't want to leave it. I knew that it wasn't conducive to my health to keep it, but I didn't care. I had to take that pillow with me. I think it's the same response those people who lost everything had. Desperately seeking to save anything that reminded them of the days gone by. The good times. The bad times. The times that made memories. Although this pillow doesn't really give my life the same summation a photo album would, something about it--that day and time--really stirred past feelings toward affection. I had to keep it, and I did. I even slept on it that night. Since I've come back to Melbourne, I've bought a new pillow and case. But I won't forget just how much I had to keep that pillow. It was a unique experience. I guess I understand a little more what the people of my city must have felt like that lonely and scary first week of September, when they were all alone and had nothing left, but what was in their hands.
This weekend was long, draining, and tiring. But, it was good too. Mike and Leah and I got just about all of our stuff from our apartments in New Orleans. It was crazy to see the city up close. The Gentilly neighborhood, where my school is, was hammered, as evidenced by the ruins the lay after standing water and looters took control. The campus looked just the same. I took some pictures, so I will try to get those on here soon. The first floor of my building was covered in black mold. Dark and eerie, it was hard emotionally to look at. Please remember the victims of this storm still. Also, pray for the people who were victims of the huge earthquake in Pakistan that killed way more people than Katrina.
Okay, here is a verbal schematic of my upcoming trip. I am heading to 3939 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70126 to recover what is left of my possessions. I am hitching a ride with Michael and Leah Miller. We will be helping each other pack, move, load, and unload our stuff. Please pray for us. If you like interessory prayer, read two posts previously for particulars to pray for and pray for me, please. Details:
1. Thursday night, stay at Michael and Leah's apartment (to leave early). 2. Friday early morning, leave Cape Canaveral for New Orleans. 3. Friday afternoon, get moving truck in Mobile, Alabama. 4. Friday late night, arrive in Gonzales, Louisiana at relatives home. 5. Saturday morning, drive into NO and move out Michael and Leah. 6. Saturday evening, get cleaned up and return to Gonzales. 7. Sunday morning, drive back into the city and move me out. 8. Sunday afternoon, get cleaned up, and start driving back to Florida. 9. Sunday late evening/early Monday morning, get back to Florida. Unpack?
President's Office 3939 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70126-4858
To: NOBTS Family From: Dr. Chuck Kelley Subject: Going Home for our Belongings Date: September 29, 2005
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students, The final piece of the puzzle has now fallen into place and I am happy to announce a date when those who wish to take the risks still involved, will be allowed to return to the campus to get their belongings. Mayor Ray Nagin will open the city for a brief return by residents on Wednesday, October 5. Thus we are able to allow the seminary family to return to the campus from Wednesday, October 5 - Sunday, October 9, according to the schedule posted below. Because of the risks faced by those who come back this soon, you and anyone who accompanies you will have to sign a waiver of responsibility before entering the campus.
Please note these important details!
1. The campus and New Orleans are still not safe environments. You will be coming at your own risk. Absolutely no children will be allowed on the campus. 2. To control traffic on our campus, a schedule of when to return is posted below. You will not be allowed on the campus before your housing area is scheduled. 3. Important suggestions on how to prepare for a visit to the campus are posted on our website. Read them carefully! 4. Expect extremely heavy traffic on Wednesday. 5. A curfew for the city is in effect! The campus will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the days noted. No unauthorized person will be allowed on the campus before those dates. 6. After Sunday, October 9, the campus will be closed for restoration. No unauthorized persons will be allowed on the campus until work is finished. We hope to have the front block back on line by January 2006, and the full campus ready by August 2006. 7. Begin immediately finding five prayer partners who will pray for you during this time, and who will call you after you return from the campus. This will be one of the most difficult spiritual and emotional experiences of your life. God will see us through, but not without tears. 8. Bring your own water, food, flashlight, boxes, etc. The city of New Orleans is empty and completely without services. 9. What you do not take off the campus is subject to disposal by clean-up crews. Leave only what you are willing to lose. 10. Remember our God is a redeemer who always works things for the good of those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28)
One month ago today on August 29 Hurricane Katrina struck and changed our lives forever. The five days our seminary family returns to campus will be the five worst days in our school's history. I have driven through the city. I have walked the campus. It is heartbreaking beyond description. Jesus has taught us, however, that after death comes the resurrection. Next week we will grieve, but after Sunday, October 9, we start focusing on what lies ahead.
It's been official for a few days now, although I'm not exactly sure when I started keeping track, so I just figured the first of the month was a good indicator to go with. I have been free from the bondage of something for a whole month now. Something that very much had a stronghold on my life. It has literally been ten years or more since I have gone a month without this substance. What is this precarious, idolatrous item? Soda. A soft drink, really? Yes! I have gone a whole month without the sweet and seductive tastes of a soda. The effervescent effect that comes from mixing carbonated water with syrup, sugar, and caffeine is still a very tempting notion, but I haven't given in. It is hard though. I still get the shakes, sweats, and impulses for the sip. I've replaced the drinking of pop with sweet tea, lemonade, and juice, but even then, the bubbly blinding taste still smiles it's pretty little face at me. But I will fight to stay strong. I will not give in. I just figured you should know, since we're friends.