And I arrive in New Orleans!!It was amazing flying into the New Orleans airport – you see lots of blue tarps on rooftops still, but the thing that struck me the most was the beautiful blue gray of the Gulf and the verdant green of the wetlands. The whole city looks surrounded by wetlands – I suddenly understand what all the scientists have been talking about in terms of this resource and its ability to protect the city from hurricane damage. The plane flies in very, very low over the Mississippi River (I thought we were going to land on a barge) and then it’s just the concrete shimmer of the hot tarp at the airport. It was easy to find the baggage claim and the airport shuttle was right there. Very organized, very efficient.
So I hop on the bus and chat with my seatmate, who gave me lots of great tips, including the biggie that there are satellite locations for registration today so I don’t have to hoof it 10 blocks in the heat to the convention center. My plane seat buddy George was sitting up front, and suddenly I hear the man next to him say, “Lewis? Courtney Lewis?” and turn around – AND ITS DR. BAUGHMAN, my library science school advisor!! It turns out he is also staying at the Sheraton and we had a nice catch-up talk on the check-in line. It sounds like the Simmons School Library program is thriving and he looks great. I’m thrilled to have been able to see him!
Lots of problems checking into the Sheraton, unfortunately. I didn’t realize that they wanted me to have a signed letter of authorization to use the school credit card because it doesn’t have my name on it. The staff was very polite and apologetic but it took a long time – thank heavens Ethan was able to take a faxed form to an administrator to sign and later find the wonderful business manager, my savior, who said he’d take care of faxing the hotel a letter first thing in the morning.
I was totally exhausted when I finally made it to my room. It’s on the 45th floor so my view is amazing – I can see most of the city and out to the Gulf and all the furnishings are brand, spanking new. The bathroom is really spacious and has a well-lit granite vanity with a magnifying mirror on the wall. Score one for calculated eyebrow plucking! The tub doesn’t have a slanty back for comfort, but everything is marble tile and there is a very big seat that is great for toweling off or storing supplies. Good closet with lots of hangers and a new iron and ironing board. I did my anal retention thing where I put away everything in its place and symmetrical and then I can relax. I hit the club level for hors d’oeurves but realized I needed something a little more substantial – and that I was so tired I better get it fast before I fall asleep. So I headed out onto Canal Street.
Canal Street is a little, well, seedy. There is some damage from the hurricane, spots of sidewalk damage, supported palm trees with suspension wires, etc. The thing that strikes me the most is the people – so many men and women just hanging out on street corners, which isn’t a problem, but they look so unhealthy – really thin and haggard. These look like people who have been through a traumatic disaster. I went across the street to a Wendy’s where it took twenty minutes to get some chicken strips and fries despite there being only one person ahead of me in line.
I went back to the hotel and ate my dinner while watching Law & Order episodes. I took a bath to scrub my legs (my self-tanner was getting a little built up around my ankles and my knees were too white) and then reapplied my tanner. I painted my toenails (fresh sandal feet!) and then collapsed with the lights off at 8pm. Of course, I got sucked into a show – in this case, an Independent Lens documentary on the children of Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Cancer Ward. Cue crying. Yes, I was sitting in a strange city hotel bed, sobbing over these three beautiful children who died of cancer. Lots of nose blowing necessary. It’s my usual problem where I watch 10 minutes, realize that it’s going to be really depressing, change the channel to try and watch something else, and then flip back because I am so super worried about what’s going to happen to the kids.