Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thinking about Katrina

I have some things to talk about here, and this is delving into things that I do not always bring up on this blog...but the ongoing news coverage of the five year anniversary of Katrina has really got this spark going. Somehow, these images are bringing up things for me that I had not thought about in so long. The same video tape of stormy images is sometimes rolling through my mind, but the reality really sets in when it is plastered everywhere you look.
Tears welling up in my eyes as I am watching this coverage. I am always amazed how very few of these images I have seen in the news. This is one thing the general population does not understand about actually being only saw a tiny slice of it. We are used to this information age where everyhting is instant and immediate and vast. I mean look at these videos of the miners trapped in is unreal.
But during the storm, we had no television. We did not have a radio, and no one's cell phone worked. Our only source of information was our own two eyes and word of mouth. I really did not realize how much damage there was because I had no access to all this. All these heartbreaking stories in the media...these people we follow throughout the whole really is a great avenue for storytelling. It always amazes me to see this Katrina footage. It is overwhelming. It is unbelievable. And I was there.
I saw a lot of shit myself. There are so many images from those days that I will never forget. It is weird sometimes how these images are jarred in my memory. A voice. A smell. Sounds...and sometimes they are more free form, just flowing on their own course through my brain, my soul. Things I touched, and that image will stay with me forever. And as time wanes on I look deeper and deeper into some of these pieces of the puzzle.
I think of the families of those who were lost and never found. You hear from them before the storm, and then you never hear their voice again. No body recovered, or identified. I think of the parents who never found their children who might have been long lost in New Orleans. I think of the children who never heard their parents again...this is a common story from the storm. You know now, five years later that they are gone, but I think about the process.
When do you start to worry? And when do you start to give up? Those first days after the storm everyone who had a loved one in the city was panic stricken. I know my parents were. My friends were. And I never even thought about that.
I had no idea how bad things really were. I had no idea how widespread the damage was, and how horrible some places were. I had heard rumors of people shooting guns from the Superdome, and I knew there was water everywhere because I could see that with my own two eyes. I never even thought my parents would be terrified for my life. I really had no idea how bad this was at first. It did not seem that bad to me. It was crazy, and it was mayhem in ways...but I really had no idea it was flooded everywhere. It took a couple of days for things to escalate. Still, I had no idea how bad the storm really was until I watched the news on September 12, the first morning I woke up in Rhode Island. Then, I stared at the television with disbelief.
The events following the storm are really strange in my memory. They are fuzzy sometimes, and take on this choppy dreamlike quality. The images seem jumbled sometimes, like bits and pieces of real life are just spliced and taped back together more haphazardly. Sometimes, it is like I am right back there.
The other day, images flash like they do...and suddenly I am right back in Larry's foyer. The water is sloshing in my shoes. I can feel my jeans wet and clinging onto my legs. I could see the grain in the old wood, and I could feel the linoleum under my feet was caked with dirt from all the water we were dragging in and out. I could feel the door knob in my hand, with its resistance in the way it turned. The light, barely peeking into the hall from the front door of the house as I walked down that hall to my apartment in the back.
I see that bedroom, and I can still smell it. Smells a little like medicine in there, cigarettes and stale. There is old funk, dirt, sweat, and weed. She sits on that couch all day, too fat and poor health to move around much. Her raspy red neck voice reeks of despair and rot. The comforter felling like grime would come off in cakey little balls all over your hands, your skin...leaving a little film of dirt and animal hair. That bathroom, tiny and porcelain. God, I spent a lot of days in the bathroom back then.
A junky spends a lot of time in the bathroom, especially after their habit escalates, and their demand increases while the accessibility of their veins decreases. I am looking at all the bathrooms in my old junky mind. Looking at the bathroom in almost everyplace I went. I have shot up in so many fucking bathrooms it is crazy. The bathroom upstairs at Temptations. The bathroom at The John where I once forbidden to go into after breaking a toilet. The bathroom of a nice restaurant I later worked for after I got clean. Every bar bathroom, and fast food joint in the Quarter, it seems. I could tell you what every bathroom of my friend's looks like...even if I only went there once. And yet, I cannot really remember all the details of my ex husbands face...but yet I can look back in my mind and see every bathroom so clearly, like I was still there. Strange, strange, strange...
Speaking of the ex husband. (Another topic I do not often discuss...) I wonder if his thoughts have wandered to me as he sees these images flashing across every television in America this weekend. His mind must think of me sometimes. He must be reminded of me with all this coverage of the storm. But, then maybe he does not. Maybe I never cross his mind, like I have vanished from his life's map. Sometimes, I just wonder about it all. Still reeling in disbelief at how my life turned out sometimes. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
But, it has all been worth it, I think, sometimes when these stories keep pouring out of me more rushing than the flood waters, more powerful than those forces of nature at times. It has all been worth it, I think as I am finally getting it right. Not without heartache and sorrow. It is no secret, though, that a writer needs something to write about. A writer needs those stories to tell, and now I am armed with a plethora.
The Hurricane saved me in so many ways. I sometimes wonder where I would be if not for Katrina. And I think I would not want to be anywhere different than here. I am happy here. I am creative and smiling. The road is rocky sometimes, especially as of lately. But, it seems like when things get a little out of whack these days something always happens to put perspective back in balance. I just left an abusive relationship, and I am frustrated about all the chaos...but then I get a email praising my writing...and i realize it is always worth it. Everything does happen for a reason, and it time those reasons will be revealed. Until then, I just keep writing.

Stormy Hero

Let's just start tonight's writing session with a little poem to get warmed up. I have a lot brewing in my head right now, and I need to collect my thoughts and find my groove. What better way than poetry to start my flow...

Flashing back and forth
On the god damned television
Its bad enough
That those same images
Altered a little
Only because the images
Are looking out of my own eyes
Are constantly flashing
Back and forth
In my fucking head
But, it is Maddening
To also have them flashing
Back and forth
On the god damned television.
Like it isn't
Real enough.
Like I don't see that shit
Every fucking day
In my mind
At least one time.
Thoughts jarred
Memories awaken again
And I think of all the people
That I had not remembered
Seems like
It is finally real
This year.
This time
I think about the families
Of those who...
They never found again.
His parents
Always wondering
What became of him.
They must know
By now
That he is dead.
They are all dead.
Would they still have
A glimmer of hope?
Do we still have
A glimmer of hope?
I look back
Into my darkest days
And I begin to explore them
Walking through the water
Like navigating a cave,
As I look back through
The darkness in my memory.
Dig fucking deep.
Relive it all.
Each painstaking minute.
Trying to remember
That are lost
In a drug induced
State of being
Still I try to recover
Those holes.
With no help
From that god damned tv
Filling in the images
Where the time and space
Keep coming up blank.
That fucking television
Sends a shiver up my spine
I look hard
These fucking images
Somehow seem more real
When I see them on the news
Like it is not really real
In solely my memory
Like sometimes
I am tricked
Into believing
It was all a dream.
Fucking tricked.
Fucking tricking
On Bourbon
For the next fucking fix.
Trading my body
And trading my soul
For a lifetime of damnation
But it was all fucking worth it
When I took that fucking needle
To my swollen fucking vein
And bam...
"Make it all go away..."
Make the fucking sickness go away
End all this pain and suffering
Vile bile
Yellow diarrhea
Burning my throat
My ass
My veins on fucking fire
Screaming at me
To just take it all away...
Make it all go away,
In the words of my hero
My once hero
That is.

Because now, my hero is me.
Stand tall
And face yet another fucking demon.
Just when I think
I am in the fucking clear...
Delve into this deluge.
Hold that blue hand once more
Cold and dead
So fucking hard, unbending
And heavy as hell.
I will never forget
The sound
Of a canoe
Dragging across linoleum
Heavy with sorrow.
Delve into the deluge
Examine those images
All over again
Really look at it,
Write it down,
And then discard that shit.
Throw it in the fucking trash.
I am gonna be the hero

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting High Again

Just to share this bit of good and encouraging news...I sent an article in to the online news at my University, and not only did they accept it...they said it was really good. I am so giddy I feel like I am high. Life itself has yet again given me a buzz.


Right now...
My heart is jumping
And flopping
Like butterflies flying all around
Inside me.

My story
Has been accepted.
Not only accepted,
I tell you...
But they said


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Remembering Those Abbey Days

I used to spend what now seems like days on end sitting in The Abbey, just drinking and talking. Sometimes discussing politics or the philosophy of the drunk, but most often we would sit around talking shit and forging lifelong bonds of friendship. This piece is dedicated to all those life long friendships that were forged sitting at The Abbey, especially to those dear souls who are no longer with us.

The Abbey will always remain one of my most favorite places in the world. I often think back to what it felt like to sit at that bar. I can still smell that distinct smell of The Abbey sometimes just lingering in my dreams. The smell of old, stale alcohol mixed with cigarettes and sometimes a little three day old funk. It smelled of wood, and wine, and why not. Characters floated in and out of the bar, leaving their impressions on the place sometimes as if they were fossils carved into the ancient wood.
The Abbey was always dark inside and often times night would pass to day, or day would pass to night, without notice from inside...and the door was always open with the refrigerator flaps hanging down in the heat to keep the cold air in. From the bar inside, the sun would shine brightly through the doors in the middle of the day, yet its radiance would not make a dent in the pervasive dark of the interior.
The dark wood all around stood old and ancient. The curved edge of the bar was smooth with the grease from a million fingers, and the wood had become soft to the touch from years of potent liquid and humidity. A stark contrast from the smooth and slick fake wood that created the center of the bar. I sometimes wonder how many Jamesons' sat in front of me, resting on that wood. I would not venture to count all the Jamesons' that were slammed back in that place.
Behind the bar, rested those ancient mirrors that were no longer clear and shiny, but they had faded to smokey and somewhat grey...perfect to see yourself not looking too bad at four in the morning. Bottles and bottles of liquor piled up on the ancient wooden shelves that reminded me more of an alter. Resting in its nooks and crannies were the ashes of those who had passed in our company. When you toast, just spill a tiny bit on the floor for them.
The stained glass windows hung from the ceiling dripping with dust and cobwebs, hauntingly reflecting the image of a church...a monastery, a monk, or something holy. The Abbey was something holy to all of us back in those days. Random little trinkets hid throughout the place that had once been important to a patron or bartender, images of life past and days gone by. Memories of Smitty and Hilda and Razz and Frankie, still peek out to say hello from time to time. They will never be forgotten.
The booths, smooth sanded, appear to be hand crafted with each line of the wood making its presence known. I remember exactly how the wood felt in my hands, organic and a little soft...oops I spilled another beer. A million drinks wiped up from those tables, but not before the potent liquid dripped onto the upholstered benches. What were those dirty old benches covered with anyway? It was so scratchy that it could feel like wool against your leg, especially in the heat, caked with years of dirt and grime and alcohol. Unless you were sitting on the wood in the back, in which case your ass would get hard and stiff after a length of time.
Speaking of a stiff ass, I remember the coveted bar stool with the back on it that would swivel around. A perfect round loop to rest your feet on as you could sway easily back and forth as it would rotate on a loose axis from years of drunks spinning just as I used to do. I am still unsure of how I could sit on that bar stool for hours because now as I get older, my back seems to hurt a few hours into the gig. It must have been the company that made me so comfortable I never noticed.
"Give me a tall blond and a short redhead, please."

Saturdays and Sundays we waited for the hot dogs and hamburgers to finish cooking, hoping to get a piece of chicken as we nursed our hangovers with a little hair of the dog. And holidays were like gathering times with family, as we all would show up to partake in the food and festivities. I even sometimes think I can still smell that crock pot steaming with cheap beer and water laden hot dogs.
The Abbey could claim the best juke box in the French Quarter, as far as I was concerned...but don't you dare play that damn Grateful Dead anytime other than on Saturday mornings when that prick Richard was there. God, I hated that fucking guy. I cannot remember how many times I wanted to kick his ass, but it was a lot. Play some Social Distortion, Johnny Cash, or Nancy Sinatra...but, please don't play the fucking Dead! (We all know if you did, the bartender would just eject the song, anyway...)
Who could mention The Abbey without mentioning Gracie and Genevieve...who will forever be renowned as her queens.... And that is all I need to say about that.
The bathrooms in The Abbey painted crazy to keep the graffiti to a pink and black random sponge designs on the ladies until it was repainted with murals. I spent a lot of time in those bathrooms at various times, and it seemed at night the line was always a mile long as everyone went in two by two. Sniff, sniff, snort, snort...don't forget to pee and wash your hands because you do not want to wait in that line again for those mundane things. Be careful in there in the daytime, though...Michael would kick you out for sharing the bathroom. He was a good man, though...a very good man.
I miss it all sometimes, as I grow up and get older. I miss those who have passed on from this world and those who have moved on from that one. We are all scattered all over the country now, but I still think of you all often. Those truly were some of the best days of my life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That Bitch

Thinking lots about the storm, as her five year anniversary approaches. I have been writing about that bitch alot, and sometimes I can still hear the winds raging in my head. Winds screaming through my head like a freight train from a shot of cocaine. Branches scraping the windows and scraping the inside of my skull as the images are flash, flash, flashing back and forth. Memories buried, resurface from those deep recesses of my mind where I tried to hide them. But, they cannot be hidden forever, I tell myself. You have a story to tell. You have a million stories to tell, so let's get crackin'. Yet, still the flood waters are rising again in my mind as I try to take a deep breath. Anxiety is taking over, and I just try to breathe. The images of yesteryear are flashing like a siren again, quickening my breath and making it obvious to the entire world. Flesh wounds can heal much quicker than the wounds of the soul that don't even bleed. Try to breathe, even though those images keep playing like a broken record. Breathe through the pain, they tell you in labor. Fuck that, give me the epidural. It doesn't work that way with this shit, though. I try to record these images as they keep pop, pop, popping up. Transfer pictures into words and horror into something meaningful. Sometimes, I feel like I am drowning in those flood waters.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Just a little update on my life...I was left to run screaming from an abusive situation, so long in the making that my mind had become, twisted...twisted and turned all around, creating a loop around myself sounding off like a fucking broken record. A mind fuck, for someone who was already fucked enough.

But, do not mess with my fucking kid, I warn you. Or there will be hell to pay. Mess with my kid and it is all over.

I finally had the strength and conviction to walk away from a bad situation that spiraled into something worse. This time it had nothing to do with drugs, as I walked away from the father of my child as he crossed the line. It is harder than I ever imagined to do it on my own. It is hard to take care of such a tiny little soul all by myself. But, it is liberating to be free. And it is heaven to feel safe. It is motivating, and I am determined to be a raving success...for my son. I KNOW I AM DOING THE RIGHT THING...


Once missing,
Now found again
Slowly emerging,
Into the light.

This strength
I have avoided
As all the world seemed
To keep me down
And I just wallowed in it.
Comes bursting through
My seems.

It is like I am being reborn.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Feeling nothing...
And then everything.
All at once.
Heroin was a strange mix of the two.
Both insulated,
And exposed.
Both sweaty,
And cool and clammy.
Both hopeful,
And full of despair.
Exsisting in a fantasy world
That it is so real it hurts.
I always like to call it bittersweet
Heroin is bittersweet
Tasting on our toungue
On the back of the throat
When the shot rocks the veins.
The experience much the same...
Some of it is sweet
And earthy.
And then you have the bitter
That is sure to follow.
(I think I just stole that from Courtney Love...)

A contradiction
Of everything you know.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Anxiety sets in
Not unlike that of before...
I pace...
Back and Forth
Back and Forth
Back and Forth,
And over again.

I am a crazy person.

Deep breaths,
It is like I am smothering
Like I cannot breathe
These thoughts running wild in my head.
These emotions running wild
Deep into my very core.

Stand up
And fight,
It is my only option

As a woman
As a mother.

I never stood up for anything
I never really stood for much
As I wish washed
And wavered back and forth
Teeter totter...
Whichever way the wind blows.

But things are different now.
I have something to stand up for
And I will stand and fight
Thoughts running round and round
In my head.

Racks my mind
Twitching my nerves
And tweeking my brain
Reminds me of
Those old PTSD days

The horror
I cannot
Begin to describe.
The panic
The torture
Ripping and riding like the waves.
Back and Forth
This time I will stand my ground.