I get a cough every time I go home. It's never going to stop me from going home, and moving home when I can afford to because New Orleans will expand you in a Tennessee Williams way. Except not that much because he was a genius.
Last year when Liverpool musician Joe Topping walked from Chicago to New Orleans in support of the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund, by the time we welcomed him with a second line I was talking in weird little rasps. Then my husband got sick. Then our walkathon guy got sick. We were quite a treat on the radio.
The day we officially welcomed him, Dick Cheney came to town and bisected Canal Street, keeping my sister-in-law (who's still in a FEMA Trailer) from meeting us for a march along the river, but our crowd was small and mighty. The Voodoo Vixens dance troupe was there. The New Wave Brass Band, whose instruments NOMRF replaced for a second line for Barry Cowsill, my husband's old bandmate, were there. Barry was the former child star lost to Katrina. Mid-Evacuation we saw him on Entertainment Tonight and tried to make out the grainy photo from the Convention Center to see if it was Barry. He was found right after Christmas in the Mississippi, 2005.
That year, high levels of arsenic were found in my mother-in-law's attic so we decided not to retrieve holiday decorations. Right about then I realized if that's what they were telling us, it was unimaginable to grasp what they weren't telling us.
A hotel during the first post-K Thanksgiving told us we were mistaken and FEMA could not cover the few days we were spending house hunting north of Chicago. They made us sit in the manager's office for a conference call confirming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would not cover the rooms. I don't cry. Ask Anyone. I didn't even cry after that -- I balled like a kid. It alarmed my husband so much, he called WGN and asked if they wanted a story on a couple collecting toys for musicians' kids kicked out of hotel on Thanksgiving eve.
Man was that staff nice when we got back from collecting toys. They asked us to stay until March but we had enough toys and left the next day. We didn't feel welcome enough to move there.
My friends are getting tougher every day. We're looking at the giant Katrina Anniversary Clock when the populace gets their calendar day to empathize, and our friends back home who call are thinking about how much life will suck between July 20th and August 28th. We don't officially matter yet.
According to the Washington Post, "A FEMA lawyer wrote on June 15: 'Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. ... Once you get results and should they indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them.'"
I have good news for them. Your clock stopped months ago. You people are a regular Charles Manson for the amount of clocks you've stopped.
And we are frozen in time. And in many ways, nobody cares.