egypturnash: (Drowning City)
Before Hurricane Katrina, I had a lot of books. Several thousand. And I knew all of them. Oh, I couldn't sit down and list off everything in my library - but I could look at a book and instantly tell you if I had a copy of it or not. I had a mental card catalog of the whole thing.

I still do.

I can go into a bookstore and run my gaze over the shelf, and the instant I process a book's title, I know: I have this, I don't have this, I don't have this and I think I might like to have it. Except... now I don't know. The vast majority of the 'I have this' results get a big question mark added to them, after a second. None of the books I lost to the hurricane ever got marked in my head as 'gone'.

My head is full of the ghosts of books. And every ghost lies uneasy: I don't know, with the surety that I know I once had a book, if it was one of the ten percent that were at my mother's place instead of in that ill-fated shipping container. And after I puzzle that out, I have to wrestle with deciding how much it meant to me, and if it meant enough to decide to get it again, instead of picking up something exciting and new.

Every trip to a bookstore brings some of these ghosts back to haunt me. Places that used to be a wonderful mine of potential and possibility have become full of a thousand tiny little aches of loss. The storm flooded my catalog, and every time I open one of its drawers and reach in, I find something dead and rotting.
egypturnash: (change (oCe))
Huh. I just realized, thanks to [ profile] kevinpease making a comment that linked back to the entry about my last normal day in New Orleans. It's a year since Katrina hit the city. Right after I moved there.

My mom and I left the city on the morning of the 27th. On the 29th - a year and a day ago - the storm hit land again, after having ripped through Florida and meandered aimlessly in the Gulf, getting frighteningly large. The eye went right over New Orleans. Enough levees broke that most of the city became part of Lake Ponchatrain for a while.

A year ago today, we were alighting in Lafayette, where I spent a week and a half, and my mother spent two or three weeks.

Sunday after next will be the tenth. The anniversary of when I got to Boston and moved in with Rik, Kin, and Julia. Later Cyn would move in, and then Julia and Cyn would move out, leaving just me and the two people I could definitely call my lovers by then.

It's been a year.

It went as well as I could hope it would. I was lucky; I was about to start doing freelance work for American Greetings when I moved home, and I've been doing that sporadically through the whole year. I could have been luckier - if I and my stuff had all arrived a little earlier, it would've been mostly safe in my mother's second-story apartment, instead of in a shipping container in a flooded warehouse. But nobody I know died in the storm, either.

The city's still a mess, last I was there. There's rebuilding but it's slow. There's still junk everywhere. I heard a second-hand story today that State Farm was discovered to have double books on tons of claims: the hidden ones saying things were ruined by wind damage, and the public ones saying things were lost to the floods - guess which they wouldn't pay out for? International aid was rejected, domestic aid was slow and mostly seems to have gone to graft, from what I hear.

I might still be living with my mother if Katrina hadn't chased me up to Boston. I can't say it was all bad. I've been really happy with how the relationship turned out. But I'd have rather gotten up here in a different way.
egypturnash: (worried)
We went out across the lake today to visit Jennie and Jason. It was a pleasant visit. Jennie finally decided there was no way she's going to return to the waistline she had before having two kids, and offered me what ended up being a large portion of her wardrobe from those days. She's a little taller than I am, so her clothes work on me. The overall feel is a bit more hippie/80s-riffic than I tend to, but I can certainly integrate it into my look - and my wardrobe grew to something like five times its previous size by this!

We chatted about this and that, Jason helped me reformat my mom's new laptop (so as to flush out all the garbage the factory installation of Windows includes), we gave some books I was going to dispose of to their kids. Then we left.

After we stopped for dinner at a very overloaded Applebee's in Covington, we took a wrong turn. Instead of heading across the Causeway, we went around the lake through Slidell, and back through New Orleans.

Or, rather, back through the corpse of New Orleans.

We drove across the entire parish* in near total blackness. There were the streetlights on the freeway, and the occasional line of streetlights visible from there. Now and then the lights on the freeway were out.

I think I saw one lighted sign on a business.

In the night, we might as well have been driving through the swamps as through New Orleans. The I-10 doesn't go through the parts that the flood spared. I could only tell we were in the city by the silhouettes of houses mixed in with scraggly wind-torn trees against the far-off lights of what city remains.

After about a half hour's drive we came into the lights of a city. We were in Metairie. We had gone completely through New Orleans at night without ever feeling like we were in a city. Now and then I'd see a row of apartments, or houses, lit by a few lights, by the lights of a car dealership across the Interstate, or by the reflections of the passing cars. We should have been in the middle of a vast, yellowish glow of artificial light. We were on a road through the darkness.

Every time I go through the desolation, some part of my brain starts trying to rewrite "California Dreamin'" to be about the state of the city. All the leaves are gone/and the ground is grey... I'm not even a fan of the Beach Boys Mamas & The Papas, but these mutated lyrics unwind through my head. Maybe I really, really wish I was still in California, far away from all of this.

Jason had showed us a map he'd printed out at work, on the large-format printers there. It was of New Orleans back in the 1800s or so. Everywhere I've ever lived in the city was in the middle of a vast area labeled "CYPRESS SWAMP".

* "county" to the rest of America. Down in Louisiana, the state's split into parishes, not counties.
egypturnash: (Default)
"the streets are full of dump trucks hauling... New Orleans." - me, not too long before we got to the house I grew up in.
egypturnash: (vanishing)
Today my mother took me for a drive through New Orleans.

Oh, I'd seen photos here and there of how high the water had gotten, and shots of ruins, but I didn't really have a geographic sense. I didn't know how my New Orleans had fared, how much the places I'd known had been smashed.

Not very well. Not very well at all.

Read more... )
egypturnash: (Default)
I'm finally getting down to doing insurance things on my stuff.

A conservative estimate puts the replacement value of my library at about $8400. This is a rough guess; I just counted how many books were on a couple chunks of shelf in one of the few photos I have of my place in Glendale, and multiplied by the number of shelves, plus some other rough calculations for the pricey, sometimes-rare art reference stuff and the coffee-table books scattered throughout the paperbacks.

And my CD library was just as bad. Guessing that I'd pay about twelve bucks apiece used, if I actually tried to get everything again, I ended up with about $4200 just to replace it. I didn't even feel like I had a lot of music.

And my bed, and my computer, and all the other crap we accumulate.

I only had the default insurance, which was capped at $1200 per container. Filling this out in detail seemed like a rather academic exercise, especially when I repeatedly filled out "Katrina. Gone." in the 'description of loss/damage' column.

Hopefully I can get this faxed out this afternoon.

angst about loss )
egypturnash: (heartbreak)
I'd been avoiding it for a month, now. Facing the loss of all my stuff. I went all practical about getting the new computer and setting it up, making a familiar environment there, being glad that I happened to pull my hard drive so I at least had that.

And I was talking with Ashy about some stuff, and she asked if I had a particular drawing still. I wasn't sure. I had a scan of it that I never put online, but ... I don't have the book. It's something still fresh in my mind, something I drew just a little over a year ago. And it's gone.

And realizing that just opened the gates, and I think i was curled up on Kin - and later, Rik as well - weeping, for about an hour or so. I don't like losing my library, but that's replaceable. If I want to. But damnit, that box of sketchbooks is ten years of my fucking life. It was a pretty productive period, in places, even if it was also depressing and involuted. There's stuff in there I could revisit for decades, stuff I didn't scan because I wasn't ready for anyone to see the fragments it represented. A lot of the record of my transition is in there, metaphorically, and not so metaphorically.

You know how much physical history of my adult work I have? One sketchbook. One little half-size book that was almost full of stuff when I left California. One full-size book I'd begun. That's it. And the half-size book I started in Lafayette. I took the last three or four sketchbooks of New Orleans with me to california, when I left for animation school. My whole history of growing from a hopeful beginner to someone who can casually do pro-level work is gone. Sure, I scanned some of it, and I'm glad I did, but there's a hell of a lot of stuff that didn't make the cut. And little things you could never capture in a scan: one book might have battered corners because it travelled in my backpack during a depressed, slow period, where I didn't draw as much; another might be in wonderful shape because I went through it in two months. The ways I experimented with labelling them. The little notes to myself: self critique, fragments of ideas, thoughts. Art openly about my transition that was too much so to ever show to the world. Hell, the second-oldest (or third-oldest?) one I took from New Orleans had a gloomy-looking raccoon girl on the front, who I wasn't admitting to myself was actually a self-portrait through the furry lens of desire.

My fucking history.

I need to deal with insurance crap so I can find out what the hell happened to my trashed stuff. If it didn't get shoved anonymously into a landfill somewhere, I'm going to get that box, one way or another. Whether I get a friend or relation to go, or if I spend too much to fly down there and see for myself. And if the books in it are salvageable, I'll do what I can - scan each page, peeling the battered and stinky paper apart, keeping what I can. If they're not, I'm going to get them anyway, and have a pyre.

Because - look: you know how in some fairy tales, the monster is unkillable because it doesn't keep its soul in its body, but keeps it in a fingerbone in a little chest in a bird's nest in a lightning-ruined tree, or something? For a long time, I said I did that: I kept my soul in my current sketchbook, moving it from one to another as I filled them up. And this is more than ten years of shells for my soul. I can't just abandon them. I have to see them off properly.


Oct. 5th, 2005 11:09 am
egypturnash: ( all her aspects)
Phone call this morning.

From the moving company.

It turns out that my stuff was probably in a warehouse that was completely trashed. There is a small chance, but honestly, if it got wet... it's books. It's books. It's pretty much nothing but books in there. Some furniture, two boxes of CDs that're mostly on my hard drive in my bag anyway (frozen as lossy MP3s and AACs). Clothes I mostly don't wear' cause they're old boy stuff. The bug-girl costume. A few boxes of miscellaneous toys and detritus. My computer. But mostly books.

Mostly mass-market paperback stuff, about 20-30% I was probably going to gleefully dispose of once it got here. But... My shalf-complete run of Post Bros. and Savage Henry*. A hardback copy of the Steadman Alice**. Little Nemo collections - the Fantagraphics tomes with the whole run, the near-tabloid-sized Nostalgia Press volume that introduced me to it. The battered copy of Mice and Magic that was a seed of my fascination with animation. The World of the Dark Crystal. All three Amphigoreys***. Books I haven't thought of yet that I read time and time again because they were just fun.

ten years of sketchbooks. images i wanted to scan and finish someday. stuff i never posted because i liked it but it was too half-baked or a fragment of something i wasn't ready to show, so there isn't even a screen-res scan.

gone to mold after all.

We don't know FOR SURE yet but it sounds like they're pretty sure my stuff is fucked. Minor default insurance: about $1200 per container. I could put that with what I'm not spending on shipping after all and buy a nice new laptop if I want to. I can never replace those sketchbooks.

* $300 direct from Matt for all of PB, haven't counted up SH. Of course the out-of-print issues are ones I had.
** $50-80 on Amazon for used copies of the complete edition. is the recent paperback reprint just Wonderland, or also Looking-glass and Snark?
*** amazon reveals there's a fourth posthumous one on the way


Sep. 27th, 2005 01:00 pm
egypturnash: (happy)
I just checked my balance on a whim, and my application the other day for FEMA money seems to have been accepted - hooray for the miracle of direct deposit!

So now I have no more worries about shipping my stuff up here. And I have spare money for things like ordering some hormones. YAY.
egypturnash: (Default)
New Orleans floodwater depth mapper. I'm not sure if this is estimated current depth, or estimated maximum depth.

If it's the latter, well, my mom's apartment was not flooded. This site estimates about 6.5-7 feet of water around the place. The building will probably be sold off, and who knows what mildew's doing to her clothes and books? And did wind-borne debris break a window open for rain galore?

And when will she be able to get in and find out for herself? Not until the whole place can be pumped out...

What you hope will be helpful data is just one more vague point of mist.

And Tropical Storm Ophelia is sitting off the coast of Florida. A week since Katrina and we're already up to O.

Mom says that if she has to move, or decides to move, out of New Orleans, it's just not gonna be the Gulf Coast. I'm not surprised.
egypturnash: (STOPPEZ LE ZAP!)
“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.” - Army Times, via BoingBoing.

I did not need to hear this.

I have a rant building up about all this shit, about Bush wanting to go off and play war in Iraq. The only fucking solution this administration has for anything at all is to fucking shoot at it. At their own fucking citizens. Yes, the people left in NO are going crazy: they've been left in the middle of a fucking disaster area for a goddamn week while the government sat on its ass and wanked off. They've been WADING AROUND IN A GIANT SEWER THAT USED TO BE THEIR HOME. And now the fucking army is going to have fucking firefights in the city. Well, there goes the parts thatdid survive the goddamn hurricane. Meanwhile, by all reports I've seen, the people who couldn't afford to flee the city under their own power have been dumped in other stadiums, where any and all supplies are completely lacking. But we can send in dozens of goddamn armored vehicles to BLOW SHIT UP.

This fucking administration turned the national disaster relief infrastructure into a joke sub-sector of their bullshit fearmongering "security" agency, they siphoned all the money of the whole country into (a) their pockets and (b) blowing up Iraq; because of this my fucking home town is DROWNED, and now the people left in it are going to be SHOT AT.

Xeni talks about the fact that the article uses the word "insurgency" in her post. Maybe "insurgency" is the right word after all. How far can this shit go? How hard can this country get screwed before things break? How the fuck did it get this far? Yeah, it's a fucking mess there. If I was stuck there and had a fucking gun, I might be using it too. This is bordering on the kind of shit that starts rebellions.

What kind of gross goddamn imcompetence is going on that it takes a week and a half for government involvement in a catastrophe in one of the oldest cities in the fucking country, and when it comes, it's the ARMY. With their GUNS OUT.

I want to scream.

Instead, I will look at a series of Alice in Wonderland fashion shots (link also from BoingBoing) and go to bed. (PS. The start of Looking-glass is particularly hot.)

Article text, because I bet it might be amended soon:

Read more... )
egypturnash: (worried)
Yeah, my stuff is definitely in the Roadways depot in Kenner. I might be stuff-less. I won't know for a couple weeks; my moving company is low priority compared to rescue efforts, as it should be.

Time to seriously price out Mac Mini vs. iBook. Plus an external Firewire box to put my existing HD in to get all my data alive again. I wonder if Apple has profit margins that would let them consider the publicity points of a Major Disaster Refugees Discount.

Things to mourn: Ten years of sketchbooks. My library. Original art friends made for me. The art and my sketchbooks are irreplacable. I can draw new things, but there were a lot of things in those books I'd sort of like to scan and finish.

Not that big a deal: My still-fairly-small female wardrobe. Furniture. Assorted junk.

Kind of annoying: All my CDs. I have them on the HD, though not lossless compression.

I don't know yet; I won't know for a while. I can't really worry about it yet.
egypturnash: (Default)
Quicktime movie of Katrina, from outside Florida up through Mississippi. Pretty. Frightening, but pretty. I'd been wanting to see more than the looping four hours or so that the weather reports would do all this past weekend. Link from the Wikipedia article on the storm.

My stuff may have been in a warehouse in Kenner. I'll hopefully find out later today, and start working on having it go up to Boston. The moving company said the place was relatively unscathed, last they heard. I still have my hard drives on me, and my tablet. I'll miss my library and clothes and originals friends did and other stuff if it's trashed, but I'm alive.

I'll be really glad when my life becomes boring.

Every time someone says "thank God, it's a miracle" upon hearing that someone got out of the storm safely, I have to bite my tongue. Some miracle. You want a miracle? Try a divine finger coming down from the sky last week and stirring the fucking storm clockwise so it dissipated, okay? That's a miracle. Your friend and all their stuff surviving is luck. If your God saved 'em, it's from shit he threw at 'em in the first place.

hi again

Aug. 30th, 2005 09:22 pm
egypturnash: (Default)
We went down to Lafayette; staying with my cousins. I hurt my right hand this morning while venting some of the intense stress, so I won't be netting much yet. (I was being screamy and bashed my fist on a table hard enough to maybe lightly sprain it!)

Looks like the flooding's getting worse in New Orleans. Still no chance of getting in. Still some hope for my mom's apartment. Hope hope. I think the lower part of the place is screwed, from what we heard today. I really don't want to hear much more news right now; the friend of my mother's we fled with is a total junkie for this stuff and I'm overloaded. It's kinda her job, admittedly. But having the news on alll the time, and being on the celphone on top of that, was far more info than I wanted, and there was no way to get out of range. I just want to curl up alone in a dark room and whimper.

I just came out to Carolyn and Keller (the cousins), and they took it alright. Carolyn was supportive, Keller is kinda in denial - I gather this is the usual gender-split pattern. But now I don't have to go around their place pretending to be Paul for who knows how long. Good thing, as I only have one pair of pants.

I need to get in touch with American Greetings about the undercurrent of moving me up there that I felt in my discussion with them last week. I don't think I'm gonna be able to freelance like this.

Oh, I may have to pull out of Cara's raptor folio due to natural disaster, too.

More later, I guess.

(PS. Lafayette is in southwest Louisiana.)
egypturnash: (Default)
This is Peggy again, from a library computer in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I think the hurricane's passing over New Orleans right now - a little earlier, before we left, the news was suggesting it was really starting, that the people in the Dome were starting to see some of the roof peeling off... geeze. I hope I have a city to go back to. I was just starting to like being there!

I'm worried about my friends there and hoping they got out alright. I have some e-mail from [ profile] doctorpinkerton saying he took off, but I don't know what's up with Jennie and Jason, or my various other acquaintances I haven't seen for years. Nothing I can do, now, except... wait.

It'll probably be a few days before I can go back. Maybe longer. Depends on how it hits, how hard, how long power and water take to be restored.

Me, I think Katrina came buzzing up straight for New Orleans 'cause Nash Roberts retired. Nash was the Weather God. Every time a big storm came up, everyone would say it was coming to the city, but you'd turn to channel 4 and there was Nash saying that he thinks it's going to twitch this way and muss the city, and lo and behold it did. He quit his regular weatherman job, still doing consultancy: you knew a hurricane was serious when you'd see Nash and his old dry-erase board up there on 4. And it went the way he said it'd go. A couple years ago he quit doing even that. Weather god retired. And without his protection... one finally came, with nobody there to say "I think it's going to twist on over this way..." and make it stick.

Or at least that's what the myth-making part of my brain wants to believe.

geeze, I need to renew my domain, too. When I get back.

Edit: I think the storm's on it's way out of the city - on its way to beat up Mississippi. Seems a levee broke, with 3-8 feet of water in the Ninth Ward. No specific news about the area my mother lives in, although there was also "significant structural damage" to the city in general. The eyewall passed just east of the city, and I hope "the city" includes the eastern sprawl as well as New Orleans proper.

It'll probably be a couple days before we can even think of going home. I wish I knew anyone to visit in Arkansas while we wait! I want to go back home... but I'm afraid of what I'll find. I don't know when I'll next have net access. I e-mailed the folks at American Greetings a brief note to the effect of 'hi, I would've written earlier, really, but, um, HURRICANE' (but more coherent); now I just need to keep myself sane until we go back.

And thanks for all your well wishes while I was away the past few days, everyone. <3

Maybe I'll get some drawing done. Wasn't I thinking of working up a children's book?


egypturnash: (Default)
Margaret Trauth

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