Friday, July 17, 2009

Only in New Orleans

When I marched in the MJ second line, I took a picture. A man, assuming I was a tourist shouted, “Only in New Orleans, darlin!” Next to me a woman gushed, “Oh my God, I love it here. I’m moving here. This place is so much better than New Jersey!” She had the Nola fever.

True, amazing events like an MJ second line are only in New Orleans. It’s a crazy, wonderful place. Sometimes though, it’s just crazy.

The weather forecast this week is thunderstorms. A break from the heat is nice, but while New Orleans might be celebrated for its food, music, and diverse culture, the drainage system is lousy. My car flooded this spring because of a rainstorm (Not hurricane. Not tropical storm. Just heavy rain.) A thousand dollars later my Camry was bleached for mold and the wiring under the carpet painted gold to prevent rust. My neighbor’s car was RIP. I was lucky that the engine and transmission did take in water.

I confess when my mother first said she would give me her Camry I was grateful but not excited. A silver VW Golf hatchback would have excited me. Or a Prius. Camrys don’t handle exactly, nor are they sexy. But after driving one for three years, can I just say:

Camry you have taken me out West. You have retraced the journey of Laura Ingalls Wilder. You have spun out on an icy mountain overpass and kept me safe. You have towed a U Haul trailer across the country with a 4 cylnider engine. You did not run out of gas nor falter when I evacuated for Gustav.

Mucho respecto, Camry.

I need my car to move in two weeks. I need my car to get me through grad school. And this poor, much abused, lion-hearted Camry deserves better than a watery death.

My street floods. My surrounding streets flood. Unless you have elevated parking, your car will flood. People tow from their elevated parking spots or keep them gated. Their water gushes down on my street. My landlord offered elevated parking a mile away. But it’s really no fun to walk a mile in torrential downpour.

My courtyard also floods. I arrived sopping at my house, to find six inches of water. To get to my apartment, I took off my shoes and waded through what looked like a cholera pool. I prayed I would not step on a drowned rat. I believe I already mentioned the torrential downpour. Right before I get to my door, a banana bunch cracks off a neighbor’s tree and drops on my head.


That night, after a long day of writing and grading papers, I’m ready to relax with a glass of wine and Season Four Weeds. But my landlord sprayed the courtyard that morning, before the rain. Going to open the wine, I heard clicky-clacky scuttling noises. Bad feeling followed. I flipped on the light. My kitchen looked as though it had been redecorated in cockroach wallpaper.

Yeah, I freaking freaked out. I hate nasty chemicals but I busted out the Raid in one hand and wielded my roach shoe (the one I keep handy for murder) in the other. I had this bizarre personality takeover. As if I were in The Matrix and just downloaded “Roach Ninja.” It was like watching this other person at work. I’m pretty sure there was a great deal of screaming and yelling involved. And then a roll of paper towels and Clorox.

Thus concludes my bad day story. Thank you.

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