My apologies for being silent on the blog for the past couple of weeks. I have been uber busy organizing retreats and teaching at my new job. I'm sure things will lighten up (meaning I won't have to be at work for 12 hours a day) as soon as I finish retreat assignments for the 1,300 students that must go on a yearly retreat, day of recollection, or evening of reflection. I have no secretary to assist me with this process. Next year I'm going to get a senior lackey to help me with this time consuming task.
Also, South Louisiana just experienced Hurricane Gustav. Though the damage was not as extensive in LA as it was with Katrina and Rita, Gustave managed to do serious damage to the power infrastructure in South LA. I was without power for about 5 days and there are sections of the state (Baton Rouge Area and the southern parishes) that might be without power for over a month. Being without power for 5 days wasn't too bad, if you don't mind 80% humidity combined with 85+ degree heat without any air conditioning, as it gave me time to do some reading and rethink how I am going to teach my sacraments class at school. Plus it gave me time to bond with the family.
I learned that my 7 year old cousin is my favorite family member because the deepest and most serious conversation we had the whole week revolved around Pok-e-mon and whether or not Pikachu is better than Riachu. The argument usually ended in the typical manner that all arguments between 7 year olds end, with an endless repetition of him negating my near perfect argument supported from multiple points by the almost indistinguishable, sing-songy, grunt "na-uhu" and me being only able to counter, even with all my education, by replying "yeah hu".
I refused to let him have the final "na-uhu", for the loser was determined by the one who gave up first. Also, I wanted to remember what it is like to have the appetite of infancy and to further develop the strength to endure monotony, after all it is God who says "do it again" to every daisy he makes. We often drove the parents and grandparents crazy with this kind of arguing.
On a more serious note. There is something strange and surreal when one hears from every branch of government and all levels of weather forecasting that come Tuesday morning the part of the city in which you live, the part of the city that Katrina did not impact will be flooded by a 25 foot flood surge. Like the second act of a bad play, Gustav will finish the job that Katrina didn’t and on almost the same date as Katrina and just off the heals of the Decadence Festival. Luckily this did not happen, but what was I to think? The government said it was going to happen this say. So, with my mother and grand mother we evacuated to Hammond, LA.
So what exactly do you take with you when the city council, mayor, parish president, governor and the news casters say you will be flooded and all your stuff will be lost if it is not taken with you? I have a space in my small SUV that is about 4’ x 4’ x 6’. This is my box and this is most likely what I would have owned for some time after the storm if the speculations proved true. It is an easy decision at first, you take your important documents (diplomas, car slips, death certificates, wills, passports, birth certificates, loan information, etc.), but after this the choices get more complicated. Clothes is a given . . . but how much and which ones: suit, sports coats, work clothes, and some shorts and tshirts. I have hundreds of books, which ones do I take? Argh, good bye Kreeft, Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton. In my limited space I decided to take only those few books that I knew were out of print: Meditation on the Passion, The Life of Christ, and a pre-Thurston edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints, and I also took my school books from work. I also grabbed the photo albums that my mom forgot to pack in her car as well as my father's guns -- he collected guns and had several nice pieces in addition to his hunting weaponry.
But the questions always kept coming back, "How much of this stuff do I take, and what is the essential stuff that I must take?" I didn't really like that trip to the Grand Canyon my family took when I was a kid (I'd probably like it more now if I made the same journey today), but my mom has a whole album of the trip chronializing our expedition from the front door in New Orelans to the canyon and back again, and it is a good collection of picture of my dad (who passes away about one year ago): nuf said, it goes. I had to plan for the worse, as that is what the Media was saying would happen, so "are two pair of dress shoes essential or just one?" If I only pack one, I might be able to squeeze in something else that might be deemed more important.
When it really came down to it, evacuating and being forced to select the 'important' things from your belongings really allowed me to see how much stuff and junk I really have that isn't all that important in the long run. Naturally, I would have been upset if I had lost all my stuff and if my Butler's Lives of the Saints slept with the fishies, but most of it really is just replaceable stuff.