50 days of oatmeal and 10 face wipes

Today the AT&T guy asked for my address, and I was totally stumped. I couldn’t remember the address to my dad’s attic.  AT&T had a Fort Wayne address in the system and a New Orleans address in the system, and there I was in Indianapolis trying to suspend my plan while I go to Belize.  He squinted at me with that you’re-an-identity-thief-look, then asked for my license and the last 4 digits of my social security number. I started to explain the situation, but he was bored by the fifth word, so I just sighed and waited while he dialed customer care.  He told customer care I was going to Guatemala.

Some people do displacement well. I do it kind of complainy and neurotic-like.  I feel like my life is totally out of control when I can’t put together a good outfit, and when doing so includes a trip to the attic, a trip to the trunk and rummaging through 4 suitcases. Is it in the Belize bag? Is it in the Thanksgiving bag? Is it in the New Orleans bag? Is it in the Madison bag? Nope. It must be in the trunk. Nope. It’s gotta be in the attic. Oh. There it is. Right there in the 4th box from the back labeled dishes. My black sweater!

Yesterday I purchased 50 days worth of Instant oatmeal and Fiber One bars- both items of comfort and ease that are simple to make, quick to fill and parasite free- and spent 2 hours rearranging and weighing suitcases to get them to fit. Also $80 worth of bug spray, sunscreen, tee trea oil, wet wipes… and a jump rope. For exercise. I remember doing this last year with Steph at the target- should I get washcloths or face wipes? The kind that’s already wet, or the kind where I have to add water? Which takes up less space? Which one is heavier? What I have found is: little luxuries go a long way.  I can’t bring 90 days of face wipes. But I can bring a washcloth and know that 10 Olay face wipes will feel like gold on ten special days when the water is off and I really just want to wash my face.

And you should have seen Elaine helping with my clothes… There were mountains and mountains. Then piles and piles. Then stacks of three.

  • Please can I bring my blue and white striped pants?
  • Will you even wear those pants?
  • I think so. I don’t know. Maybe.
  • But you already have the khaki and white striped ones.
  • I know but I like the blue ones.
  • You can’t have both. You already have 8 other pants. Pick one.

And on and on and on: please can I bring my 10th green tank top… please can I bring my 8th pink Nike shorts… please can I bring my 4th white sweatshirt… It felt like last year’s Gustav evacuation. It was a careful selection process, and in the end, I always wanted the thing I dind’t bring.  Sigh.  As of tonight, my clothes for 3 monts fit into one moderately sized suitcase. My supplies fit into an second, and my sheets/towels/bathroom/bugstuff/meds/snacks/etc. fit into a third. Whew. I’d like to share a picture sequence of my life in relation to this topic.

My apartment at the beginning of the school year:

Apartment 1

My apartment at Finals:

Apartment Finals

My apartment in the middle of selling furniture and hosting guests:

Apartment guests

Apartment during packing phase:

Apartment packing

Post Packing:

Post Packing 1

Post packing 2

All the lipgloss I found while packing up the apartment:

Lipgloss

What happened to SJP- kickball. Home run if you hit her in the face:

SJP kickball

Getting home:

Packed car

My mover: Note the basket he’s holding. It wouldn’t fit into the car, so we dropped it off under the I-10 overpass where the homeless hang…

Jeff

My life now:

suitcases

The end:

Empty apartment

In case you wonder about me, you can find me according to the following itinerary:

  • August 29th Madison
  • September 1st Indianapolis
  • September 5th Belize
  • November 25th Dallas
  • November 29th Madison
  • November 30th Indianapolis
  • December 1st New Orleans
  • December 11th- GRADUATE!

Goodbye. Post you in a couple days.

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2008, we did the best we could.


January
Moved to Belize. *Carry-on bag wouldn’t fit in the overhead compartment. Attendant made me take out bulge on top, which happened to be a Ziploc gallon-sized bag of underwear. Held underwear on lap for duration of the flight.

Lived on an Iguana reserve. Learned how to do laundry with a hose. Experienced Belizean wedding and funeral in the same week. Set out to teach everything I knew about conflict resolution, drugs, and AIDS. Learned everything I know about love. Got accepted into grad school.

February Caught a parasite, hiked to the top of a ruin, swam in a cave, experienced my first Belizean election and confirmation. Fought a piñata. Lost.

March Overcame fear of spiders. Discovered a new love for choco-bananas. Played with a monkey. Met real Guatemalan Indians in Guatemala. Bought skirt from them. Watched the Ruta Maya river race. Said goodbye to the Caribbean. Understood that life would never be the same.

April Got a niece! Heart opened a little wider. Fell in love with her.
Turned 27. Panicked. Cut my own bangs.

May Got another step-family. Danced! Celebrated! Laughed!
First laid eyes on my new city, New Orleans. Stabbed my foot with a parking lot spike.

June Went back to work at Boys and Girls Club. Happy to find that I still loved the kids. Got shingles. Thought I was dying.

July Sold everything I owned on Craigslist. Moved out of Fort Wayne (ten years!) Received Carrie Bradshaw as a parting gift.

August Moved to New Orleans. Found the two-story target, which I had previously thought was an urban legend. Took a family vacation to Destin. Came back. Became acquainted with city life. Loved it. Went to Tulane for student orientation after a month of waiting. Got evacuated for Gustav at lunch.

September Stayed evacuated for two and a half weeks. Went back to school. Dropped ten pounds for lack of friends.

October Made friends! Gained ten pounds. Heard that Taylor Fort Wayne would be closing. Felt orphaned. Dressed up like a ninja and fought pirates on Jackson square.

November Watched history unfold in the TSSW building with snacks and wine. Found out Bry and Jess are pregnant again. Went to Belize. Delivered school supplies. Painted a cafeteria. Provided flood relief with two armed guards on the Guatemalan border. Became acquainted with Big Mac and Quarter Pounder, the tarantulas. Realized I had not overcome fear of spiders. Had the sweetest reunions I could ever imagine at San Marcos School.

Learned that a plan is usually unfolding around me even when I am not still or patient enough to see it. Discovered that if I feel lost even for a second, all I have to do is ask for help. Understood the beauty in a prayer that goes, “Hi God, I’m an idiot and I don’t trust myself. Could you make this one clear for me?” Trusted completely. Found out I am purposed. Convinced Tulane I am purposed. Doing last semester internship in Belize!

December Wrote a thousand papers. Failed a final. Got all A’s!
Watched snow fall in New Orleans. Saw Lily take her first 3 steps.
Went to Chicago. Smile.

And then I woke up in the Cafeteria, naked.

Dearest friends and family.

I know it’s been forever, but besides the fact that I have no more time for writing (which isn’t really true, because I do it anyway) I was paralyzed for a short time by the fact that 58 new people who don’t really know me are all over my internet space.

Don’t worry, I invited them. Then I went and started a giant group on facebook. Then I realized this internet business is a two-way street (which my grandpa always warned me about) and realized they can see all my pages and my pics and my notes, too. That’s why you may have received a little message ex-naying any comments about how many new friends I have. Not cool. Equivalent to waking up in the cafeteria, naked…Anyway, Elaine wants an update.

I currently live in the Public Health building downtown. I am not a Public Health student. I am a Social Work student, uptown. This is how things typically go for me. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ll post some pics of my apartment downtown, but you should know, in two weeks I am moving uptown. It will be fantastic. For starters, I expect less mold. Also, I will not have to park on the 4th floor, take the elevator to the 2nd floor, walk across the skybridge, walk through the hospital, walk across another skybridge, take the elevator the 3rd floor and walk to the end of the hall to get to my apartment. Also, I’ll have a pool. Oh, and complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning. I expect 3-5 more friends after my chocolate party, poolside.

Current apt:

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Yes, SJP is doing just fine. But she’s always staring off into space. I wonder if she’s not adjusting well.

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Here is my home office, which doubles as my bed:

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I searched all my files for a few pics of the campus. Here are two from welcome weekend in August while I was working in the bookstore:

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(As a side note, I emailed Intervarsity last week and found a small group to join on Tuesday nights. They were very welcoming even though I walked into their living room off the street and said: Hi, I’m Brooke. The guy who emailed me about the meeting wasn’t in attendance, so I can imagine it all seemed very street peddler-ish, especially when I started my tap routine and held up a sign asking for 5 dollars. They could have called the police. Instead, they invited me to sit down, thank GOD.)

Next. Sprinky’s sister, Christy—who I partially evacuated to during Gustav—came to visit yesterday. I was totally free to be out and about with no party-of-one situations.

(Like those even scare me.)

In 48 hours, Christy and I have eaten more food than we could handle. Christy weighs about 95 pounds, and had you been following us with a camera, you would have seen her eat 4 bites and slip off to the bathroom or something, and me digging into her plate looking over my shoulder. That’s a lie too. She outright gave me everything—jambalaya, margaritas, fajitas, ice cream, hummus. I had to roll myself home.

While we were out, I tried to snap some pics of the city. I live off of Canal, so anytime I leave my apartment after 9, I run into these guys, on the corner of Canal and Bourbon.

Me, playing the invisible trumpet with the band (one time I peed my pants playing the invisible trombone at Joe’s Crab shack—Engler, Jill, Lainey & Sprink, I’m tagging you on this one):

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And, while I’m at it, me playing the invisible violin with the band in Prague:

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Typical scene. Walking down the sidewalk behind a guy with a Tuba.

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At Sucre (dessert boutique)-

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Me with SJP. I came home and the house was trashed. She pulled this deer-in-the-headlights look on me.

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Thank you and goodnight.
(I miss you guys.)

Home away from Home away from Home

I had to give myself a mandatory 12-hour break from the Weather Channel and CNN so I could sleep last night. According to my dad, those channels play up weather problems to bring in more advertising revenue and it really won’t be all that bad, anyway. I told him he would be that guy standing on top his house waving and yelling out “Rescue Me! Somebody help! I didn’t know! I thought it was an advertising ploy!”

I’m sure he was just trying to make me feel better.

The school texted us last night at 11:30 to tell us to get out if we weren’t already. Today they are having an online news conference at Noon in Nashville and a live chat with school leaders at 3:30. To be sure, I have a list of questions for Mr. Tulane President. Mail? Financial Aid? My first and last check from the ol’ Bookstore? Transfers? Stop-outs? Host schools?

I can’t believe I left all my winter coats and jackets and shoes, and don’t even get me started on the unopened case of Diet Coke in the fridge, DVDs, Journals, socks, hair products, hats, sheets, etc. … but I had to share the bell-cart with a bazillion other people and it was a battle of picking and choosing.

Nagin just said, though, if anyone is caught looting they’ll go straight to jail. At least SJP won’t get kidnapped. She just better not break curfew, is all I have to say.

Contraflow began this morning out of New Orleans, which was so strange. I had received a map about this contraflow business last week and couldn’t figure it out. Basically all the lanes going into the city are reversed and used to evacuate people, which is great considering gas is gone and ATMs are empty.

Here is some other good information from local blogs and papers that are funny and informative:

Saturday

Saturday

Sunday

In the meantime, I have been staying with my grandparents in Destin (on the Florida panhandle just across the Alabama border) learning about everything hurricane. We started getting storm bands from Gustav last night and swells were supposed to start this morning at about 4. We put up hurricane panels over the windows and blocked the front door from the inside—all things I’ve never done before—and then filled up our gas tanks.

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My grandma and I also went to the beach early this morning to scope everything out. It was so hazy and beautify and eerily quiet…

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(Is that a silver lining?)

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I have to say that my grandparents have been the best evacuation hosts a girl could ask for: great food, great company, great little puppy, and a full tank of gas to boot. Thanks for keeping me safe, sheltered, well-fed and gassed up! If it wasn’t on the verge of a panic/breakdown and it wasn’t totally inappropriate to joke about yet, I’d say we should be evacuated more often. It’s that great here.

Alas.

I am trying to act like a reasonable person (vs. my normal neurotic self) and realize that things happen, and we adjust.

This may be an important piece in the empathy puzzle that will help me understand what people are going through in the future. The levels of irony here are too many to list… three years ago my bags were packed and waiting by the door so I could get into the city and help, and today I am shoving everything into my car to get out- on the anniversary of Katrina itself, which is what brought me here in the first place.

“As they experience acculturation and assimilation to the culture here, these students are experiencing their first storm,” notes Johnson. “Many of our students will become leaders in public health — prevention, planning and emergency response — so this puts what they’re learning in the classroom into a real-life setting.”

-Jefferey Johnson, Associate Dean at the School of Public Health.

I’ll try not to be a baby and have the same attitude and optimism as I did before this was MY home, MY stuff, MY school, MY future, etc… it looks a whole lot different from the inside out.

For now, here I am:

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Orienta-uh-Evacuation

Today I had orientation!

I couldn’t decide between a t-shirt that said, “Be my friend” or a cute jersey-knit dress with a sash tie…

I opted for the jersey dress and took a picture of myself on the way to the bus. Yes, I take a bus. Yes, I had to use the self-timer mode. SJP would have offered to take it but she can’t move her elbows or hands, and she can’t move her eyeballs or talk. So she just watched while I positioned the camera on the counter and waited for the ten-second countdown. School, here I come.

Orientation was fantastic, and I met all the MSW/MPH people.

We also met the faculty and campus police, the librarians, the spiritual resource person, the work-study coordinator and a bazillion other campus organizations, then ate a red-beans-and-rice lunch with our orientation groups and adviser. It was all just perfect until we got a collective text in the middle of the afternoon telling us school was canceled and we had to evacuate by noon tomorrow.

Obviously THIS year, school, for me, is like a dangling carrot. Or, more accurately, a dangling slice of chocolate decadence cake from Whole Foods. It’s always one scoop away…

Ironically, the text came as we were discussing emergency preparedness with the campus officer, so we got all the latest information straight from the source. Apparently, Tulane has its own weather team contracted to provided updates in cases like this, and Louisiana has a state-wide plan to begin emergency evacuations 60 hours from predicted landfall. Thanks to Katrina, they said the days of “Well by-golly, I lived through Betsy and Camille, I’m just gonna ride this one out,” are over. The governor has already declared a pre-state of emergency, and 150 of the 700 busses needed to evacuate New Orleans are already here. If nothing else, they sure learned to evacuate.

Tulane has evacuated twice before—once for Ivan, which veered at the last minute, and once for Katrina. The year Katrina hit, 1500 freshman had moved in at 9am, and by 7pm they had all been evacuated—750 students went home, and the other 700 were bussed to Jackson State.

Most people ran out and bought water and non-perishable food items. I ran to the bookstore and bought Tulane clothes, then to the mall for some MAC eye shadow in case I never see either of them again. We all have our priorities.

I spent the rest of the afternoon re-packing the boxes I just unpacked and moving everything else away from windows and up off the floor (just in case this mandatory vacation turns into a four-and-a-half month effort to get back).

SJP agreed to stay and watch for looters while I’m gone. I am sort of devastated about my first day of school being canceled and really worried about things like having to sit the semester out or transfer to another school if we actually get a direct hit, but I’m trying to be an adult about it and keep things in perspective.

School is scheduled to re-open on Thursday, provided we have a school. In the meantime, I’ll be at Grampy’s agonizing over the 10 pairs of shoes and 12 purses that got left behind.

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Oh man.

My dad is learning how to text. He called me tonight and said it took him 25 minutes to text “Are you watching the Olympics?”

I told him I think its hilarious that he had a blackberry before they were cool and didn’t even know what it was, figured out how to “wink” and “poke” and find a wife on the internet, but is just now learning to text. Dads.

Okay. Down to business. Yesterday I got back from Florida. Sometime between last Thursday and now, I forgot that New Orleans was my home- I kept thinking I was going back to Indiana. Even worse, no one here knew I left, and no one knows I am back. I went all day today without talking to a single person except Navigon. To her credit, we had some great conversations about how to get to Target and Wal-Mart and the importance of u-turns. I eventually tabled the issue as she was getting edgy through her passive aggressive use of the words “Please” and “When possible” and “Now” but it was great to hear her voice. At 7:30 I realized Navi wasn’t actually a human and started calling real people. I just felt like someone should know where I was and what I was doing.

Then I came home to the cardboard cutout of SJP. She was glad to see me, I could tell by her stare. Her eyes were saying, “Welcome home. You look fantastic.” I wanted to have some coffee and tell her about Florida, but her legs don’t bend and she can’t handle liquids of any kind. So I settled for Subway and the weather channel meteorologist.

I feel like a stranger in my own life. Especially when I am in Wal-mart or Barnes & Nobles and get caught up in produce or magazines and walk out expecting to see Jefferson Point, but instead see the New Orleans skyline. I typically gulp and wimper and suck it up. But it is an awful 2 seconds during the realization.

Earlier today, I went to the uptown campus to find out about the job (the lady was gone) and must have arrived right at the beginning of welcome weekend or something. There were a million undergrads everywhere all fresh-faced and cute and hopeful. There were parents and little brothers and looks on their faces like, “This is my best friend, Sue. I just met her 5 minutes ago.”

I could have cried remembering that feeling—although my family never actually moved me in, it was the Broadheads—but seeing Elaine and Sprinky on that first day and thinking I was going to die when I got a load of Sprinky’s blues clues bedset. Hello? Blues Clues! Then making instant best friends with everyone, and switching friends, like, every 3 weeks until we found our places. I just loved it. Even things like Cara threatening to rip out people’s ovaries for being too loud in the lounge. Even that. And Jill tearing my shirt, and Sprinky killing Jill’s hermit crab, and Elaine saying inappropriate things to Millenium Bear in her sleep, and all of us making Helen pee her pants in the middle of the night; stealing all the shower curtains, Crazy Lena firing me in my sleep. Honestly, I could go on for 4 years.

This afternoon, already reduced to conversing with my navigation device and a cardboard cut-out of SJP due to lack of readily available friends, I couldn’t help but feel unbelievably jealous and nostalgic for my college friends and the intimacy of life together—literally, next door from each other. Now I am just a way older version. With less fun. And less energy. And less metabolism. And less friends. Boo.

My good friend said I am good at collecting people and that I’ll have plenty soon.
I said I USED to be good at it, but that I didn’t think it was my thing anymore.
She said it’s who I am.
I told her I was too worn out for social awareness. Those types of things take a lot of emotional energy and motivation, which I had in abundance at 19.
At 27, I feel very comfortable settling for 25 Oreos and America’s Next Top Model at home by myself.

Us as freshmen- you guys will love this:

Hausser

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Me, Chuck, Steph, Beth, Trish

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Making Koolaid

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Finding moldy koolaid (we thought we had created a jellyfish)

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Bball- I miss this! Team sports are the best.

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Bethany (the person and the dorm :)

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Valentine’s Day- I actually got called off this shirt

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Millenium bear- the giant stuffed bear my grandma sent me for Christmas. Not quite how she envisioned us using it…

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Family weekend

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Twister in Bethany lounge

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Sprinky and the Bethany lounge mantel

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Miss you guys.
Love you guys.
(This whole college thing just isn’t the same without you.)

Reflexes like a drunk cat

I feel like someone balled me up and tossed me into New Orleans over their shoulder with their eyes closed, and I landed on my feet, but then 10 seconds later fell over and broke both ankles and dislocated my knees and maybe, like, both wrists or something. Then 5 cars ran over me and I fell down a manhole, floated around and flew back to my apartment on a geyser.

The point is, I have an apartment now. Here is the order of events:

1. Arrived at Grad school dorm
2. Tried key to apartment 322A
3. Key didn’t work
4. Moved things into storage closet
5. Manager unlocked door
6. Moved things to 322A
7. Air conditioner froze, then melted, then molded
8. Moved things into temporary apartment 204
9. Waited in temporary apartment for 3 nights
10. Room was ready
11. Room was not ready
12. Went back to temporary apartment for one more night
13. Room was ready
14. Moved into new room
15. Discovered out old room was fine, they had meant to send me to 722A not 322A

Here is my new apartment:

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My original room had a view of the skyline, but that room was accidentally given away when they assigned me to the first wrong room. The new room, and I’m not complaining, I’m just saying, has a view of the hospital. I am not used to being so close to other people who can see me 24/7 and I am constantly forgetting to close the bathroom door. I step out of the shower to see 4 IV drips and a nurse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screamed and slammed the door. Yes, it’s totally embarrassing and totally true.

Along the same lines, I had an entire list of stops to make at the uptown campus today and walked around for like 4 hours from the Accounts Receivable, which is in the middle, to the Uptown parking department, which is at one end, to the Registrars, which is on the opposite end, to Financial Aid, which is back to the middle, to the Bookstore (where I got a job!) to Student Employment to the food court. Here is where it gets great.

I bought a coke and some fruit. Yes, I said fruit. It’s a new thing I’m trying. I took the full cup of coke into the bathroom and set it on the toilet paper dispenser while I hooked my bag to that little hook. Then I turned around and accidentally knocked the coke over. It just seeped out from underneath my stall toward the drain in the middle of the bathroom. People walked in, stopped, looked at the drain, looked at my feet, and walked out. You can be sure I did not make any new friends today.

But I did get a job, which is important, and I did get a refill on my coke. I also discovered an Aveda salon in the main commons area outside the food court and was thrilled. Also there was a Fedex.

My hair stayed straight all day and I have started adjusting to the heat- I have even been wearing jeans and shirts with sleeves on them, if you can imagine. I am finding new ways to get the same places, and I have learned how to drive without getting hit by streetcars. The crazy thing is that you can never turn left. Instead, you have to do all these unnecessary u-turns. Navi would just love it here!

Sprinky and I found two great breakfast nooks with fantastic pecan waffles, a French bakery & Café (that one is for you, Elaine), two dessert places, two pizza places and two Mexican places. We were also driving down Tchoupitoulas minding our own business when Sprinky said, Giraffes. I looked up and out of the blue, across the street from residential houses, was a bunch of giraffes eating off the trees. I guess the zoo keeps them there…

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I also went to get my ID on the downtown campus and made for the skybridge, when, thankfully (although I think I would have figured this out on my own eventually) they told me that the skybridges connecting one of the 5 buildings collapsed during Katrina, and not to use it.

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Well. I guess it had.

SJP is doing fine, thank you. She keeps telling me how fanTAStic everything is. I love that in a cardboard friend.

Sprinky, on the other hand, left today at 7am. When she left, it occurred to me for two panicky hours that I was by myself here. What would do if my car broke down or if a semi ran over me or if I stabbed my toe on a parking lot spike or got shingles or ran into the bleachers during a basketball game? Things like that ALWAYS happen to me, and who would I call? It was a scary, lonely feeling.

(Pam- you are my closest relative. That means you’re on standby!)

I was thinking today- even though it seems a tiny bit backwards- that I feel like Belize prepared me for this. I have already jumped head-first into an entirely new place without a friend in sight, have even caught parasites and been in third world hospitals and came out just fine.

Welp. That’s it. Tomorrow I am driving to Destin to visit the grampies. When I get back, I start working in the bookstore, which means 35% off clothes and books!

Brooke Goes to the City

All right, you guys. After 36 hours in New Orleans, here are the current stats:

Apartment- 1
Brooke- 0

Hair- 1
Brooke- 0

Heat- 1
Brooke- 0

Streetcar- 0
Brooke- 1

Navigating- 0
Brooke- 1

As you can see, the city is winning by about 1.

We arrived yesterday (Saturday) at 10:30 in the morning. When I first saw the skyline from I-10, I went back and forth between hyperventilation and something like optimism, only less optimistic. There might have been just a few seconds of excitement, but I was trying to regulate the breathing.

I checked into the apartment building, got my key, and ran (literally) around the entire third floor until I found my room. I smiled and clapped and jumped and then took a deep breath and tried to turn the key. The key wouldn’t turn.

I tried the next door and the next door, and then I made Sprinky try. We tried about 16 more times before I went back down and told the desk lady. Of course the desk lady had to come up and try herself. She did the same thing I did—put her ear against the surrounding doors and tried them all for good measure. Then she shrugged and said the manager was gone until Monday. She also said the on-call person, who has the master key, was off. I was wondering how an on-call person could be off, since that’s sort of the point of being on-call, but whatev. There was no key. She told me that someone would be back at 4 and could let me into a temporary apartment until they could get a locksmith out on Monday to open the right one.

If you know me, you know this sort of thing is always happening to me. You can be sure it gets worse.

Since my dad had to get back to Indy, we had no choice but to unload the cars—right there in the lobby. I was immediately extra self-conscious of every single personal belonging, like the little miniature lamp that I thought was so cute until I saw my dad carrying it through the reception area, also the magazine rack. And the crate of mismatched pots and pans. I didn’t see anyone else bringing in pots or pans. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see anyone with anything. Everyone I saw showed up with about 4 giant duffle bags. And here I am carrying in photo albums and little square wicker baskets and three tubs of hair products. Don’t even get me started on the 7-foot cardboard cut-out of Sarah Jessica Parker.

The desk lady opened a storage closet for us to “store our luggage”. I think she got mad when I started carrying in things like TVs and clothes. But what could we do? My first home in NOLA was a storage closet.

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Once everything was in, we killed 5 hours in the heat of midday with shrimp that set my mouth on fire and beer. We also saw the giant oil spill, walked up and down the river and Decatur street, went to the uptown campus and garden district. But it was about a thousand degrees by three o’clock and we couldn’t take it anymore. We went back to the dorm to sit against the wall in the reception area are stare at the lady so she wouldn’t forget to call for my temporary room. Our luck, the desk lady said the manager had come back with the real key.

Cleaning up the oil spill

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Firey cajun shrimps

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We brought two loads of stuff up to the 3rd floor. The manager unlocked the apartment, which turned out to be a teeny little studio, and found that the air conditioner had frozen and then melted and then molded all over the floor. She said they would have to clean it over the weekend and I could check back Monday. She said for $50 more I could have a one-bedroom, but she couldn’t guarantee a good view. I asked if I could have it right then. She told me to come to the office on Monday.

Cripes.

The manager eventually let us in to a two-bedroom apartment for the weekend. At this point, my dad was at the bottom floor with everything in the storage closet, Sprinky was on the third floor with the stuff sitting outside the bad apartment, and Kathy was with everything else in the new temporary apartment on the second floor. All of us were running back and forth between the three floors trying to move things and keep an eye on them at the same time.

My second home in NOLA

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In the chaos, my dad and Sprinky met a girl sitting in the lobby waiting for her room, and guess where she was from? No, really, guess. Just try. Okay I’ll tell you. Fort Wayne! When they came upstairs and told me, I went back down to meet her, and from the 30 seconds we talked, I decided she was everything I wanted in a first friend. But I was too shy to ask for her room number. Plus, she didn’t have a room yet. These types of things are so awkward. Next time.

My dad left around dinner time, and Sprinky and I, too tired to find food, shared a bag of kettle corn and granola bars and watched cable until we fell asleep.

Today we woke up early with a list of things to explore and find. On the top of the list was Target, Starbucks and Taco Bell. On the bottom of the list were just boring old things like the Social Work buildings and Finaincial Aid offices.

I also really wanted to figure out streetcars. You’d think it would be easy—just pick what direction you want to go and sit in the little hut till it gets there. But no. Three streetcars passed us by until a lady selling swamp tours across the street finally told me that when you see it coming, you have to go to the other side and stand next to these little white spray painted numbers, and then they’ll stop. What the? I spread the word all day and tourists thanked me like I was a local. I told them I just moved here yesterday. Turns out, streetcars have been declared moving national historic landmarks and have been running along St. Charles Avenue for over 165 years.

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Thank GOD everywhere else I went people were friendly. One lady at a tour guide hut told me everything I needed to know, and you better believe the next time I need to figure anything out I’m going straight back to her little hut.

Once she found out my situation and how city dumb I was, she opened a map with pride and told me where to go, what to see, where not to go, where the projects are, where the good jazz is, where to catch the street cars, where the routes ended, etc.

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She told us that Canal Street is the middle of city and that all the streets change names there because one side used to be a Creole neighborhood, and the other used to be a French neighborhood or something. So the street numbers all start at 0 and fan out on either side.

She also told us not to wait in line at Café du Monde, but to slip around to the other side and seat ourselves. She said most people don’t know there is a second entrance and that tables are first come, first serve. Sprinky and I walked past a line that would have take 30 minutes and sat right down. It was local-riffic.

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After the delicious beignets, we caught the St. Charles car to the uptown campus and found all the Social Work buildings and the bookstore (which is a Barnes and Nobles!) and, most importantly, the food court. We cooled off in the cafeteria louge, which had freestanding water walls and a marble bathroom. It was such a stark difference from Taylor, I took pictures. People laughed at me. And by people, I mean Sprinky.

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We walked forEVER around that campus and toured the rec center, the park and the pool, located a Starbucks, a future Borders and a Whole Foods, and then went up to Metiarie and discovered New Orleans’ little Castelton. There were two malls, bookstores, and all my favorite fast food joints. Plus—here’s the kicker—I did it all without my trusty Navigon. I left poor little Navi in my dad’s car, which, but the time I realized it, was already in Birmingham. This week was the sole reason I purchased Navi—to help navigate my way around the city. I was stuck using old-fashioned maps and internet. Obviously we found our way…

Right to Target! The biggest best Target ever, with 22 rows of clearance racks in the Women’s section alone. Did you hear me? Twenty-TWO clearance racks. Plus, wait for it…wait for it…an escalator with a cart rack in the middle! I felt like I was in my own children’s book called Brooke Goes to the City.

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Tomorrow I should (hopefully) get my real apartment and my ID.
Tuesday, who knows.
Wednesday, Sprinky leaves ☹.

Over and Out (again)

The cars are loaded.

My things and Sarah Jessica are packed.
I have a nice coupon for McDonalds coffee in the morning.
See you in the central time zone.

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Over and Out

I moved out of Fort Wayne today.

By and far the best good-bye gift I received:
A life size 7ft cardboard cutout of Sarah Jessica Parker from Sofia.

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She will be my first and only friend in New Orleans and will hang out with me in my living room at night or while I am brushing my teeth in the morning. We had a long talk on my way to Indy about how much things are about to change for us.

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About New Orleans. I have gotten into this awful habit of checking all the crime alerts on campus by the hour. It has been integrated into my daily routine: check e-mail, check facebook, check crime alerts. Statistically, I’m sure to get shot, mugged, carjacked or burglarized within the first ten minutes.

People have encouraged me to take a self-defense class. The thing is, self-defense classes are in the recreation center, which is far away, which means I’ll have to drive. I am most concerned about getting from cars to buildings and back into cars. I will be doing it as little as possible, and most often with hand-held shrubbery to disguise me as I scurry between buildings. This makes something as dangerous as a self-defense class more risky than helpful since it will involve a parking lot and all. I mean, how would I get from my car to the building, or from the building to my car? Especially if the class is after 6pm or something?

A person has to think about these things.

Also, the fact that there is no Taco Bell in the city. My diet consists of mostly fast food and $3 champagne. While local fried food is available, I am worried about the effect this lack of Taco Bell will have on my body. Don’t even get me started on the prospect of having to introduce fruits and vegetables at some point. I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

Happenings of note.

I had to drink Sprite out of a bowl this week because there were no other dishes.

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Saturday we had birthday mimosas at Spyros—our favorite breakfast joint. BYOCAOJ- Bring your own champagne and orange juice. Classy.

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Favorite goodbye party moments of yore:

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The box of sweaters in the closet that let me know I was definitely home at my dad’s

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