Writing Portfolio, Travel Stories & Other Diversions

Tag: family

Falling down in NOLA

September 9, 2016:

 On a sweltering Friday, a year ago today, I briskly packed boxes — alongside Larry and the guys from Precision Moving — to get stuff out of a crumbling house in New Orleans. 

Fortunately, it wasn’t a natural disaster like a flood or hurricane, but it was our family disaster that could have been a tragedy. On August 28, 2015, a 22-year-old drunk hit our house while driving 80 miles per hour, knocking it off a brick-pier foundation (that had survived major hurricanes) and cracking the house in two.

School in New Orleans starts in August and my teacher daughter and her teacher friend/roommate had to be back at work in their classrooms after a few days off; they needed me to move their stuff out of a dangerously precarious home.

Each of them was suffering PTSD from the crash, as well as other whip-lash related injuries, caused by the truck ramming into the living room wall and throwing them four feet off the couch that fateful night.

Fortunately, no one in the house was maimed or killed, but the ramifications of that drunk driver’s mayhem were felt across the entire neighborhood: debris from the crash injured bystanders on the sidewalk, electric poles cracked in half causing power outages for thousands, and several parked cars were totaled.

August 28, 2015

Our little family house near the muddy Mississippi, bought just six months earlier, was in shambles.

Not surprisingly (when you see this photo) it was a year-long struggle to heal from the horrors of that night.

My musingly blog, my New Orleans travel writing, my creative expressions have all been sorely neglected since the accident. (My brilliant cousin suggested that I keep a journal about this incident, and its implications, but I was too distracted with insurance firms, attorneys and builders to keep that commitment.)

So, dear musingly readers, I hope you stay with me for a series of much-needed musings on the year-long saga of healing and rebuilding.

The Muddy Mississippi: My Journey to New Orleans


karenhathappyGrowing up in a spacious home amidst the woodsy hillsides of Marin County, I had no true understanding of this corner of our country. Sure, I was aware of heated politics and civil unrest that were occurring in ‘The South’ because our family watched the images marches and riots on Walter Cronkite’s evening broadcasts.

As the daughter of a staunch Republican attorney, I nevertheless developed a liberal outlook that embraced pacifism, feminism and equal rights; yet, social justice issues were somewhat hypothetical from my Bay Area baby hippie perspective. However, with my expansive worldview and better than average vocabulary, I was the darling of my high school philosophy and social studies teachers: erudite Jewish educators who loved to quote Eric Fromm and Rollo May. In 1972, these wonderful high school teachers at the new alternative school, Nexus, encouraged me to think big, to write poetry, to take hikes in Point Reyes, to attend a liberal arts college, and even to see the glorious cathedrals in France. But they never even suggested I visit New Orleans.


Forty-three years later, I buy a residence not far from the Mississippi: the home is in the southernmost part of Uptown New Orleans very near a wide curve of the River’s crescent – and so the nickname Crescent City. From our front porch, if you just wander across the Rouse’s Market parking lot, hop over a few railroad tracks, cross Clarence Henry Parkway, mosey through a cluster of container yards, you’ll find a bunch of behemoth cranes loading up the freighter ships that travel to the Gulf.


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My Top Seven Writing Distractions


I’ve neglected my musingly writing for months, and the reasons at first seem infuriatingly bland — the mechanics of my suburban life. So, this fall, I am making a public commitment to write more regularly — beginning with this cafeteria-style confessional of my top seven writing distractions*:

1) Thinking about food. I spend a lot of time ruminating about food (and drink). ­I particularly get focused on these two favorite hobbies just as I am about embark for — or am returning from —­­ New Orleans. Whole red fish drizzled in fresh herbs from Peche, fried oysters at Clancy’s, fresh oysters at Casamento’s, pretty much anything at Restaurant August. I continue to obsess about the New Orleans’ dining scene, and plan my restaurant runs months in advance. Closer to home, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting Bay Area dining spots. Suggestions, anyone?

 2) Online shopping. Admit it: the ubiquitous Amazon ‘prime’ shopping is a great distraction for folks who work from home on a computer and like to pretend they are getting a good deal. I can find nearly instant gratification on prime, congratulate myself for saving money, and avoid traffic and fuel costs, all with just a few button clicks. Did I really need double-sided indoor carpet tape delivered in two days?

3) Family. Acute family problems derailed my writing earlier this year (see the Pins and Needles post) but I have only myself to blame. I continue to overthink family issues, get too emotionally involved, and become diverted away from more important matters such as my own creativity. I have an odd itch for an unattainable “normalcy” —and my family will never be normal. Thankfully, my family is an eccentric troupe that could inspire my writing, including: sassy urban teachers, aspiring artists, musicians, someone who has been mistaken for Martha Stewart, a couple of famous British authors, and a former Reagan appointee. My people are characters.

4) Pilates. I recently re-discovered my love for this rather rigorous form of body toning; Pilates is a particularly rewarding exercise for those of us who spend many hours hunched in front of a computer keyboard. This healthy distraction helped to inspire my summer blog post: Five Reasons Why I Love Being Curvy. 

ATT Park, San Francisco, California

ATT Park, San Francisco, California

5) Baseball. Although we are heading into December, it seems only yesterday that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. Since it is the third time in six years, it should be par for the course around here; nevertheless, during Orange October, I was constantly interrupting my writing flow by jumping up to turn on the TV, or tuning into the pre-game warm-up show on the radio, or ordering the essential World Series pizza. Those magical men from the City by the Bay did it again this year, and I have no regrets for their joyous (and sometimes hunky) distractions.

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