Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking for a Different State of Mind

I remember when 9/11 changed America for about six months. Everybody was holding hands, singing songs, and had three or four American flags on their car. I was even caught up and thinking to myself that maybe things were really about to change and people were going to come together. We all know what happened. After a few election cycles we were back to red, blue, left and right in all out warfare even though their fortunes are all tied together.

The same can be said for New Orleans after Katrina. Recently I have come to realize that I am not an example of post Katrina New Orleans because there is a lot of things about me that are different but since most of the people I know haven’t changed at all (or refuse to admit it) I always seem a little crazy. I’m not crazy at all. It just amazes me at how some people are locked into their mind state. I think we have actually fought against reality and forced ourselves to pretend that nothing has changed at all. There are some folks who accuse me of not having a life or being anti social because I don’t go out to bar rooms and hang out like I used to. I’m not going to sit here and brag but my personal life is actually pretty good. It’s just not exactly like what I used to do so they don’t pay attention. I have a friend that got mad because I didn't come to a party she was having. It's not that I mind a good party. It's just that she was begging people for the money to pay for it and I didn't see the since in everyone struggling to pay bills for the month just to put in for a party with the same people you see all the time. Saturday night I and my cousin went to our old hangout spot. I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in awhile and had a good time. There was a moment that really made me realize how people think. There was about six people at the table we were at. One of them looked at me and asked me “Cliff, what’s happening with that (censored because my family reads this)?” I looked and said “Do you realize that was 12 years ago and we are all men with families?” One day I told someone I know I was on a forum at Xavier University. His response was “Man, I didn’t know you still were girl hunting on those college campuses!” I got in my truck and drove off. I’m just trying to be versatile and do some other things. If it is this frustrating for me, I can imagine what it’s like for these guys coming straight off the streets and want to change their lives around. Those guys catch all kinds of hell from the people around them. That's why when you usually see a converted thug you hardly ever see them with the same group of friends they used to have. The best way to do it is to remove yourself from the environment but that’s hard to do when emotions are involved.

By no means am I saying I am better than my folks or I am so enlightened that I don't make the occasional bad judgment. I’m just saying that when you talk to people around here the condition of the neighborhoods and the way things are make more sense. There are a few too many people that are content with the way things are just because their favorite bar is open. That's why we can have our leaders spend so much time on email, not spend millions of federal dollars on affordable housing and dump raw sewerage in the Lower Ninth Ward. We are still trying to live like it's 1999 and not paying attention. Things have changed too much for that. All you have to do is ride around to see that. I think I need a vacation and more than five hours of sleep.


Anonymous said...

When you know you need a new state of mind, you've almost found it. Keep looking.

Susanna Powers said...

I just recently discovered your blog, through 2 degrees of blogosphere separation. We have all learned from Katrina, gratefulness, compassion, personal lessons, but my feeling is that the stages of grief are not allowed to come full circle for us in New Orleans. I am looking forward to reading more of your writings. If you google the quoted phrase, "rap poetry parades" you'll be led to my story-- most people would probably prefer the more recent photos I post, as about half of them are pretty. Every one of them has some sort of beauty to me or I wouldn't post them. S. Powers, N.O.

Anita said...

Good work. Good luck on getting some sleep, also!

Anonymous said...

"f it is this frustrating for me, I can imagine what it’s like for these guys coming straight off the streets and want to change their lives around. Those guys catch all kinds of hell from the people around them."

DAMN if that aint the truth! I'm currently watching a guy in my neighborhood, well known and liked, struggling with drug addiction. Went thru rehab I don't know how many times. While we were waiting for him to return from the umpteenth visit, one of his relatives was clowning about "the minute 'so and so' gets back, I'm gonna blow a big fat blunt in his face!" I challenged him, you know...if you love this person, why do that? His answer was, "It's just an act. I know he aint doing shit in rehab so I'm gonna clown him."

All i could do was shake my head. how is this guy ever gonna break the spell of addiction when the small fishbowl of N.O is all he has and his own beloved family will taunt him with drugs, with his shortcomings?

human nature is resistant to change, but we seem even more dug in about it here. Ironically, the thing that makes this city beautiful, it's commitment to stay entrenched in the traditions, culture and history, also morphs into commitment to staying entrenched in your old personality and identity even when that identity isn't serving you anymore.

But you still have to keep pushing for change. Cause really, what other option is there?