I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans

I am left without really knowing what to say here. I have family in New Orleans, who fortunately, all got out before the storm...of course we have no idea what, if anything, they have to go back to. And I guess personally the best word I can find is that I am unsettled--though somehow that word isn't strong enough. It is not like 9/11, where my world changed in a flash, but it is such a close to home reminder of our fragility. Not to downplay in any way last year's tsunami or the recent monsoon flooding in Mumbai, but yes the mental impact of a disaster in a place I know and on people I know is greater...distance does matter I guess.

As I watch the news come in, it is also just such a stark example of the best and worst. My sister lives in Houston (and once lived in New Orleans) and is one of the thousands of people there volunteering to get things set up and comfortable for refugees. And I have no idea how the Texas schools will in fact accomodate all the children, but it is something that they will find a way to do, because it has to be done...but at the same time I look at New Orleans itself and shots are being fired at rescue workers. Is it inevitable that we degenerate under such circumstances? I am fortunate in that I am not there experiencing that mental stress to find out, and I want all the best for the people who are there, though I know things will not be Ok for them for quite some time.

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