Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Let’s think of this all as an adventure!

See, my attitude has improved already.

How many wrong turns can one person make in the New Orleans Central Business District and environs? Well, given all the one-way streets, learning the lay of the land the hard way, and traffic patterns – not to mention a raft of data accumulated since Sunday evening, the number rapidly approaches infinity.

There is a silver lining. There is hardly a downtown street I have not driven multiple times in the past three days. This means that though I may struggle to get from A to B, I know how to do it… eventually. I know where I am.

This is good if, like me, you get navigational anxiety easily. I like to see NOT mapquest directions but a MAP before I go anywhere new.

I want to know where I turn, how far the distances are in between (visually, not numerically), what the major cross-streets are, the names of the two or three streets prior to the one where I turn, etc. One reason, I suppose, is that I am sufficiently nearsighted that I cannot read a street sign until I am at the intersection. That is not a good time to have to suddenly turn, especially if that requires a lane change. A list telling me to go 3.1 miles N, then 0.4 miles E, then 2.7 miles NE is of little use unless I have memorized all that. One wouldn’t want to be near me if I am reading this list while driving, now, would one? I want to visualize my route, and the relationships among the streets. I want to know which ones run N/S and which E/W and which ones curve.

And for heaven’s sake, put the map on the table with north aligned toward the north. Do not mess with my sense of orientation to the earth. OK?

Traveling with me at the wheel can be pleasant if I know where am going. Of late, it has not been unpleasant but it HAS been an adventure. Remember, I arrived in NOLA to spend the first night at a hotel and with only a vague idea of where my destined apartment was. Now I can get from the apartment to work and back, and am thus much more relaxed.

That’s the navigational adventure.

Then there’s the internet adventure. You may recall that I arrived here without the power cord and mouse that I am certain I packed (and so is Kathy, who watched me packing). Either they fell on the floor and under the bed while packing – a possibility – or something happened in transit – my suspicion. In any case, as Kirstin e-mailed me there is no Apple Store in NOLA. I did come across a Best Buy this afternoon after work and now have a new power cord and mouse (I hate touchpads). So I no longer fear using up my battery before I can connect with y’all.

Even as I type this, the DSL line at the apartment has not been activated, as they promised me it would be. This is related to my ability to file a timesheet by tomorrow evening and that, in turn, is related to my being paid. Grrrr. I am about to head over to a co-worker’s apartment so I can plug in there and communicate.

Finally, for now, there is the basic-items adventure. We are in furnished apartments. I can eat out, which will more than usurp my per diem, or I can fix breakfast and supper myself (which, as an experienced cook I can do) and eat lunch downtown, thus breaking even or, more probably, coming out ahead. So you know that if you are setting up from scratch you need really basic things like salt and pepper and oil and vinegar and various staples – in addition to such ingredients as one wishes to cook. I bought salt and pepper and canola oil (forget EVOO, we need all-purpose here) and balsamic vinegar tonight, plus other stuff.

May we discuss the Wal-Mart-ization of America? When you ask the locals where the nearest grocery store is, they all point to Wal-Mart. I have driven quite a few miles in this city now and been to two Wal-Marts already. But I have not seen a single grocery store, whether mom-and-pop or supermarket chain. There is a Wal-Mart supercenter two miles from my house in ABQ. I do not go there on economic and political principles. I am eager to find an alternative here and, let me tell you, this is depressing.

That notwithstanding I am in excellent spirits right now. After the rain when I arrived it has cleared up and the weather has been beautiful. Walks after lunch are nice.

As for “seeing the city,” as soon as we are trained enough to get to work for real we will be leaving for work at 6:00 a.m. and leaving work at 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. I don’t anticipate having energy or inclination to get out and about on any evening whatsoever (I am not attracted to night life, noise, crowds, or public attractions on the best of days). I do hope for some pleasant sightseeing on free (non-traveling) Sundays.

The folks I work with, bank employees and consultants, all seem very pleasant and good-natured. The job is one block off Canal Street (and three blocks from Bourbon Street), right next to the Tulane Medical Center. Each day we commute past heaps of bulldozed project housing and I was wondering this evening how many perished there. I also got caught in traffic headed for an event at the Superdome tonight. The building we work in had 4 feet of water and they spent 17 months repairing the first floor. The Vietnamese Restaurant that was across the street is still boarded up. There are reminders everywhere.

I hope that I can post this at my buddy’s apartment. I miss you all and look forward to catching up when I have access in my own apartment.

Update (now that I can post this):
For whatever reason, tonight I can read mail but my mail is not sending. I am connected at Gregory's apartment. He is a very nice Trinidadian, currently living in No. Virginia and one of the consultants on this job.

So I give up on mail for the moment. This is the update and individual cyber-hugs-and-kisses will have to wait.

Please keep Kirstin in your prayers!

A co-worker's friend's brother, Stanley, some years following bypass surgery, now has a blockage and goes in for surgery tomorrow (Wednesday).
--the BB


Jane R said...

Thanks for the update. :-)


Jane R and Miss Maya Pavlova

FranIAm said...

Yay - you are alive and well.

Hugs from here too!!

Kirstin said...

He lives!

Lots of love. :-)

Kirstin said...

He lives!

Lots of love. :-)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, I've been looking for you and you're finally on the 'net. I empathize with your getting lost. It happens to me all the time.

There is a Winn-Dixie on Jefferson Highway heading toward the city if you want to avoid Walmart.

It's late. I'll be in touch tomorrow.

ginny s. said...

Since the hurricane, grocery stores are more scarce. It'll be busy this week with Jazz Fest visitors, but you could buy fresh produce at the outdoor French Market (Decatur at Esplanade) and deli items at Central Grocery (923 Decatur). There's a small grocery, Matassa's Market, at 1001 Dauphine St.

If you have time for a ride on a streetcar or Magazine bus, you could shop uptown at Langenstein's (1330 Arabella) or Whole Foods (5600 Magazine, at Arabella). There are 2 mega-stores on Tchoupitoulas, but those are also crowded.

On Sunday, there's Trinity Episcopal on Jackson Avenue, 4 blocks on the river side of St. Charles Ave. And the rest of the streetcar ride uptown is relaxing, as far as it extends these days--probably as far as Audubon Park anyway.

Paul said...

Ginny S., a thousand blessings upon you. I still do not have the internet functioning in my apartment and am borrowing a co-worker's computer for a few minutes. You are a truly wonderful and sweet person, taking pity on me. Will report back soon!

FranIAm said...

Glad to hear you are there and finding your way.

You are sent many prayers!

BooCat said...

Dear Paul, Grocery-wise, what ginny s. said. Also, if you can make it out to Metairie, not too far from St. Augustine's, a beautiful little gem of a church full of magnificent icons and very much worth a look (located off of Veterans' Boulevard behind McDonald's) there is Rouse's Market. This was one of the first supermarkets that opened up after Katrina. It carries many local items, such as products from Sal and Judy's, a great eating establishment from Lacombe, on the North Shore, as well as the usual nationally marketed items.

Paul said...

Thanks, Boocat.

Although in the future we will be working weekends, I have Saturday and Sunday off this time around, so I may be able to check out some of these spots. Y'all are godsends, thanks!

Grandmère Mimi said...

All the places mentioned are good, especially Langenstein's. If you want something near your apartment, there's a Winn-Dixie on Jefferson. At least, it's not Walmart.

And will I ever get to meet you with those working hours?

Paul said...

Mimi, I was despairing.

However, though notice is short, I am off this weekend. I have to stay in tomorrow morning (Saturday) so a techie from Cox Communications can try to hook up my laptop. We have gone all the way to semi-emergency weekend house call from the "geek squad" to resolve this.

Using buddy's laptop right now.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Grandpère et fils, are planning to go fishing tomorrow, if it doesn't rain. Perhaps, Saturday night or Sunday? I have the knee thing, but I got a steroid shot today, and it's beginning to feel better. I don't know if I'll be up to driving tomorrow or Sunday, so, for the moment, I'm dependent on someone else to drive me.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, I'm getting a revelation. We could talk on the phone tomorrow.