Is anyone else as freaking exhausted as I am from thinking about Katrina too much of the time? Is it normal for me to need to take a couple of over-the-counter sleeping pills every night if I want to even think about closing my eyes, 18 months later? Is anyone else still pissed off about the whole "Katrina fatigue" thing from people who live in effing Iowa, or Texas, or name any other state?
Sometimes, it hits me and the frustration just fills me up inside. Really, who do these people think they are, to question our intelligence for living here, to say we're too lazy to do the job of rebuilding for ourselves and are just sitting around waiting for someone to hand us a check? To say that Katrina cottages are just too darn nice and we shouldn't install them (not that that's a problem in Louisiana, where they've yet to issue cottage #1) because then people would never move out of them? Jesus, we wouldn't want to reward people for having the audacity to survive a major disaster with a somewhat comfortable place to live, would we? Stick them all in trailers--that'll show 'em.
Why does the media keep referring to what happened in New Orleans as the biggest natural disaster in history, when it wasn't a freaking natural disaster? Nature didn't cause the levees to break.
And why, when our disaster was brought to us courtesy of the Corps of Engineers, are we written off, scorned, looked down upon, etc., while the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are portrayed as hard-working citizens who are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps? Don't get me wrong, I bear no ill will toward the people of Mississippi--my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandmother-in-law and closest friend went through the natural disaster part of Katrina and lost everything in the surge. In some ways, they resent New Orleans, rightfully so, because we got the bulk of the news coverage immediately after the disaster--although a fat lot of good it did us.
And in some ways, I resent Mississippi, because, as I said, they get portrayed as good, honest, God-fearing people who deserve sympathy, respect, and even empathy--you know, that emotion where you put yourselves in other people's places and, dare I say, put aside your judgments and think about how you would feel if it were happening to you? But really, that's not Mississippi's fault, any more than the fact that the increased coverage we got was our fault because dead bodies floating in the streets made for more compelling news.
In New Orleans, we get scorn, stupid conservatives talking about what a waste of tax-payer dollars it would be to rebuild here, derogatory comments about welfare queens, etc. Well, to quote a much better blogger than I, FYYFF.
Do you know what my first reaction is now when I see on the news that some town in Oklahoma got blown away by a tornado? "Well, that's what you get for living there." Do I really mean that? Of course not. But after being looked down on and having the same asinine phrase said to us, it starts to get to you after a while. What is my real reaction? Empathy. Concern. Prayers offered up on their behalf. But it's tempered by the anger and hurt of knowing that many people in this country don't feel that my city and its residents deserve that same acknowledgement.
We are a country, are we not? The United States of America? And trust me, there's lots of you people that I'd rather not claim. (28%-ers, I'm talking to you.) But you know what? I do--because you are my fellow Americans, whether you like it or not. God didn't send a plague down upon New Orleans in the form of Katrina to punish us for our heathen lifestyles, assholes. And Chicago Bears fans, an especially big screw you to you for telling Saints fans at the NFC championship game that you wished they'd drowned, or that you were finishing what Katrina started.
And New Orleanians? Sinn Fein.