back spasm #2

Haven’t been blogging because I shouldn’t be on the computer. Sitting is agony and guess I deserve it after a weekend of high-heel wearing for nearly 23 hours. The Rising Tide conference was awesome and I have a lot to post, perhaps later when I am sneaking in some laptop time from my bed and in between icepacks. At least this time the back spasm hasn’t affected my walking ability; however, it’s a drag to not be able to workout or do the work necessary for the first week of the Fall semester!

Til later, here are some links I wanted to share that cross many categories:

New Orleans jazzes anew by Poppy Z Brite in the Boston Globe

How life has changed since I left library school

Facebook – The Complete Biography

And no I didn’t miss the irony of having a painful back spasm yesterday, the anniversary of Katrina. 🙁


where the streets have no bodies

Dave Winer has a poignant post about the Spike Lee documentary. I haven’t seen it yet either but am having my friends with cable taping it for me. I am sure I will see snippits this weekend when I am in NOLA and near a satellite dish with HBO.

Like Dave, I have not been able to comprehend the amount of water that was there, in my own home, and on the streets I’ve driven countless times. Reading Douglas Brinkley’s book has given me more of an idea, via his interviews with people, of what the neighborhoods looked like and I blogged recently about a picture that horrified me–still, I am sort of detached from it all. Not sure how it all happened, but aware that it did and that it’s going to take a long time before everyone gets their insurance and FEMA money.


Behind the failure to rebuild

Found this New Yorker article on New Orleans’ “Lost Year” [which is quite comprehensive!] from Ernie the Attorney’s post. I doubt I will blog much more before leaving for NOLA tomorrow. I’ll be in Mississippi for some of the time with my parents, then meeting the Rising Tide folks!

Being the academic I am, I’ve been anxiously trying to figure out how to prepare to be on a panel that discusses blogs and journalists and features‘s creator Jon Donley, because I think a lot of us want to hear what he’s observed in the past year rather than my analyzing blogs of grassroots organizations and proselytizing on the healing power of writing…but you never know.

Anyway, another plus of going home this weekend is seeing friends, particularly one whose play opens on Saturday! I also plan to go to the gospel mass at St. Peter Claver again because I find it so energizing and real, rather than so many antiseptic Catholic masses.

OK enough for today. I need to run errands, write a little more, work on a syllabus and pack!


elsewhere in the blogosphere

Way back when I didn’t have this USF blog, I created one on MSN Spaces to supplement the now defunct 🙁

I don’t really visit MSN often, but thought of something I might have linked there and until I find it, I’ve decided to now link to my “Blogging” category there. None of the linked pics seem to be working, but I have a lot of stuff that may be useful once again.

FOUND IT: Considering the trauma work I’ve been doing, I remembered the humorous “Blog Depression” pamphlet available here

heehee–I think I even blogged about it when I first started this blog, but why not repeat an image?

blog depression


night owl in need of a library

This just sucks! Ever since I started at this school I’ve wondered how on earth a Research-1 institution could have such awful library hours. There are over 40,000 students at this school and it opens at 1pm on a Sunday? It really doesn’t matter I guess; half the time I do go, gangs of undergrads are there with their loud cell phones and bags of fastfood, NOT even doing any work! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Pardon the grumpiness, I’m just getting anxious about the semester starting, teaching a new class, and trying to study for exams and write about stuff I’m basically teaching myself. All will be better when I’m in NOLA eating an Eggs Benedict po’boy at Stanley!


Salon on Spike & TV listings

I’ve only the energy to put the link up, but here is’s review of When the Levees Broke. At 4 hours long, it’s the longest original film produced by HBO, and something tells me I might not make it through all 4 hours in one sitting. Reading all of this trauma stuff and applying it to Katrina is taking its toll. While I just worked on my Expository Writing syllabus for a couple hours, I have to confess to sleeping very late today and reading 300+ pages of plagiarized fluff just to have a day off from Katrina. But here I am reading about it and Brinkley before bed again, so who knows what dreams I may have… 🙁

P.S. Here is a Katrina TV schedule for those of us who can’t afford to miss anything since the dissertation depends on it…

Sorry–really tired


Mind the Blog

Maitri has a wonderful post up in preparation for the Rising Tide conference next week. I especially like this remark:

New Orleans is not my domain, anyone on this planet can write about it, but I would encourage those who know it the most and can offer original perspective and news that really helps, whether it makes them money or not.

In the revisions I’ve been making to the still-not-done trauma theory lit review, I’ve been trying to articulate the connection I am making between bloggers and trauma victims. I think I’m trying to say that those who went online and wrote are better off mentally for doing so. When evacuated and in a place not home, what else was there to do but go online and look for information that made more sense than the television coverage? Now, when rebuilding and frustrated as hell with insurance companies, what better than to tell those stories so the world-wide audience can realize that things aren’t back to normal in NOLA even though we still celebrated Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest? It may sound like a far-fetched connection, but the mind and body are linked and we need to release that frustration every now and then.

Memory-making and opinion-sharing via blogging sounds like the way to do it.

P.S. In a completely unrelated note, sort of, here a Rocketboom post that discusses a fictional blog and the stir it caused across the country.

These things have power, people!!!!



I don’t know how many of you readers know that I was a folk dancer until I traded in my boots for this academic game, but the only thing that still keeps me sane is dancing. Problem is, there is only so much dancing one can do in her living room. 😉

I’ve been taking Group Fitness classes at USF since I started there in 2003, but nothing really worked to keep weight off (and we all know that we like to snack when writing a paper or avoiding writing a paper). But this summer I have found the class of all classes: ZUMBA! It’s “a fusion of Latin and International music – dance themes creating a dynamic, exciting, effective fitness system” and I love it!!! This Fall more classes will be added to the schedule and I am so excited. Apparently it is a craze all over gyms in America, so check out to find a class near you. I hate to sound so giddy and commercial about it, but it’s so much fun! See for yourself!

EDITED to include link to


the 12 days of things to do

I thought I had been keeping up a good reading and writing pace, but having just graded 20+ papers I realize that still I have a lot to accomplish this month:

  • trauma lit review draft
    abstracts for journal articles
    revising New Orleans dialect papers [I’m thinking linguistics journals may be interested
    now post-K]
    presentation on blogging for TA training
    comments on the impact of blogs during/after the storm for the Rising Tide conference
    any and all things related to teaching ENC 1101 Online and Expository Writing
  • Sheesh…

    Now I feel guilty for having watched 2 movies and countless Sex and the City episodes this week so I am going to go bury my head in the books. And speaking of books, it seems everyone I mention Douglas Brinkley to these days says his book ain’t all that. Here are some other Katrina texts I’ll have to look at, eventually.


    trauma heightening

    Recently reported, in “Stress building in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina anniversary could spark more problems,” was the story of a Times-Picayune photographer who “was seen driving wildly through the city Tuesday, attracting the attention of police. He eventually was arrested, but not before he was subdued with a Taser and an officer fired twice at his vehicle. During the melee, he begged police to kill him.” According to a friend of the photographer and NOLA Metroblogger, “Police quoted the photographer during the first attempt to stop him as saying ‘Just kill me, get it over with, kill me.’ John’s home in Lakeview was destroyed and he was under-insured. He is one of the thousands of people in New Orleans who’s financial life has been flipped and flopped to where he saw no way out.”

    As the numbers suggested in “Blues are rampant; too few helping,” the number of therapists in NOLA is scant; however, this man had gone to therapy sessions three times a week. What else could he have done to recover from the horror of Katrina? Was talking not enough?

    Leader in the field of psychological trauma, Bessel Van der Kolk, would say “yes.” The traditional “talking cure” of Freud’s time is not enough; the body is connected to the mind. In brief, Van der Kolk reasons the connection here [PDF] as follows:

    When people get close to reexperiencing their trauma, they get so upset that they can no longer speak. It seemed to me that then we needed to find some way to access their trauma, but help them stay physiologically quiet enough to tolerate it; so they didn’t freak out or shut down in treatment. It was pretty obvious that as long as people just sat and moved their tongues around, there wasn’t enough real change.

    That’s a snippit from my lit review…here is the link to Trauma Pages, a recent find I’ll have to explore later…


    newsworthy rant

    OK I know that the Today Show is hardly the place to turn for hard news, but I’ve often listened to the first 15 minutes or so to get the headlines since I don’t have cable. Sometimes when I sleep late, I turn it on only to find that last hour of fluff (concerts, cookouts, etc) and no news at all. So imagine my surprise this morning when I saw in the first fifteen minutes of “top stories” a report on Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn being engaged. And the key source of this news: an editor or reporter from US Weekly. What the hell?????? Sure, I can see why some might find that story to be vital to the start of one’s day, and I love me some Vince, but since when are gossip rags called in as credible sources? I even read something the other day on MSNBC that referenced another gossip site Sad sad sad…

    I’m going back to my academic reading and pretend none of this happened…


    Blogathon 2006 UPDATE

    Blogathon for Pearlington was successful and I really recommend checking out the posts they made every half hour for 24 hours. They plan to maintain the blog even now. Two of their posts stick out to me: the one promoting The Katrina Collection, in which the artist “used fragments of old paintings, keys to my home, clocks which stopped when the storm reached Clermont Harbor, and many other pieces of rubble to represent this journey.” The other post is on Katrina and the media. In it they write:

    The media used the graphic nature of tragedies in New Orleans to run its own self-serving campaign against the government. They did this at the expense of the storm victims. That’s not to say the government didn’t make its share of mistakes. It is only to say that the media was so focused on sensationalizing government culpability that it failed to tell the whole story.

    I couldn’t have said it better, and again I have to tell you that Douglas Brinkley’s book The Great Deluge is amazing on this front of being a factual representation of what went on [on so many levels] that week of the storm. I’m learning so much even about how much damage the actual storm/Mother Nature did. I think I’d been forgetting how much wind damage was done to certain neighborhoods in the area even before the levees broke. Guess that proves we all need to learn more and keep the story alive rather than let it be brushed under the rug.



    In addition to Rudy telling his tale in “Fleeing Katrina,” numerous film documentaries have been/are being made in NOLA, which I find extremely important. Two are discussed in the Times Picayune here.
    I’ll have to find someone with HBO to tape the Spike Lee one for me.


    I haven’t returned to the difficult book I mentioned 2 posts ago, but instead returned to Trauma and the Teaching of Writing where I found Peter N. Goggin and Maureen Daly Goggin’s essay, “Presence in Absence: Discourses (In, On, and About) Trauma” to be helpful, straightforward and quite applicable to my work, especially in how I think about and define my role as a first and second-degree witness to Katrina.

    With that said, these documentaries are another venue for all such witnesses to tell their stories and share their “infinitely diverse reactions–grief, anger, ambivalence, hatred, silence” (Goggin & Goggin 38).



    Photographer: Charlie Riedel/AP

    When I was reading Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge last night, I decided to check out the photo section in the back. While I felt numb when I read about people tying bodies to trees in Anderson Cooper’s book, when I saw this photo and realized that something like this happened with my neighborhood church and elementary school, St. Raphael the Archangel on Elysian Fields Avenue, in the background, I freaked out. It all came back…walking the 3 blocks between my house and that school with my friend Adrianna, attending midnight masses at Christmas, singing in the choir during our weekly school masses on Thursdays, and all of my teachers. As much as I try to think about the future and try to feel optimistic about the New Orleans spirit, here I am traumatized all over again. I am reminded that “it” happened…the storm we all knew would come one day but brushed it off saying, “Those hurricanes always turn and head to Alabama or Florida or Texas. I’m not going to evacuate this time.” Death was everywhere, water was everywhere, and we’re a long way from feeling normal again.

    To be able to apply theory to what I feel when moments like this happen, I’m also pushing myself through the book Trauma: A Genealogy, but it’s been difficult. So far, the first chapter on Freud summarizes his work and what is often not grasped in his work, namely that “anxiety is both cure and cause of psychic trauma” (28); however, once all the psychoanalytic talk of ego, libido, mimetic and antimimetic identification comes in, I’m lost. I think too that my frustration stems from many of the examples in this chapter referring to traumatized soldiers of war and not victims of natural/man-made disasters. I can see how “The response of the traumatized solider thus at one and the same time represents the achievement of defense and the failure of defense, the success of protection and the breaching of the protective shield…” (35), but how can that detachment and impressionability apply to victims of Katrina where there was nothing but failure?

    Typically, if I am reading a difficult text and cannot see a way of applying the work to my topic of interest, then I skim or close the book. With my comprehensive exams coming up, though, I’m plugging along through this one until something makes sense or becomes applicable!


    Rudy, you're a star…


    Performing in this year’s Midtown International Theatre Festival is my favorite fabulous friend Rudy. The show is Fleeing Katrina, “A collection of monologues which tracks astounding journeys spawned by America’s most epic natural/manmade disaster.” And if you recall, I blogged about his evacuation story a lot last year.

    It opened this week and the reviews are out! Here is one from but the one from is more in depth (and a rave!) 😉

    I don’t know if their links die or not, so I am gonna go ahead and paste in the 3 paragraphs devoted to Rudy:

    The portraits the actors paint, if never riveting, are all at least sensitively detailed. But only Rudy Rasmussen transcends the ordinary to achieve something more: He’s telling his own story, of all but forcibly evacuating his parents from their home, of experiencing firsthand the unnecessary anarchy that erupted in public places and hospitals alike, of the ineffectuality of public figures such as Geraldo Rivera, Al Gore, and even President Bush.

    While Rasmussen’s program bio cites acting credits, his work is the evening’s most casual and least polished, suggesting – can it be? – that his words are being delivered extemporaneously. That kind of informality in a piece as delicate as this one – which already struggles under the weight of Kellerman’s awkward staging – could prove highly volatile. But Rasmussen’s corny jokes, silly digressions, and wide-eyed disbelief at the occurrences he describes make even the better of the other monologues seem overly mannered and actory.

    It’s possible they might better capture their subjects’ inner spirits, but only Rasmussen achieves the true goal of Fleeing Katrina: finding reason in escalating randomness. However ragged his delivery, he’s the shot of adrenaline capable of making the pedestrian profound. Without it, the show is merely a theatrical exercise that tries too hard to approximate the heart and soul of the city and people it claims to be celebrating.


    procrastinating trauma & poppy's temper

    I finished an annotated bibliography today and have one more to go. This second one is the more serious of the 2 and will be the heart of my trauma theory lit review. All summer I’ve been jazzed about reading the stuff, then kept letting myself be distracted by examples [most recently the Douglas Brinkley book I bought months ago] to apply the theory to, even though I haven’t read the cold, hard theory yet! Talk about belated immediacy…

    In other news about texts and what people need to understand about NOLA, here is an excerpt from Poppy Z Brite’s post:

    Something you need to understand, if you’re not in New Orleans or in unwilling exile from here: This is probably the worst, scariest, most unstable time for us since the immediate aftermath of the storm. It feels like we’ve reached an unsatisfactory plateau of progress, especially with Nagin back in office and not talking to us, and many of us are still waiting on insurance/FEMA/LRA while our homes sit and rot, and the one-year anniversary is coming up and we’ve all got to argue about how it should be observed the same way we had to argue about whether or not we should have Mardi Gras. Things are just going to get rawer and rawer and crazier and crazier in this town until August 29. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that, but until then, we don’t need people who don’t know what it’s like to be here SAYING SHIT TO US.

    I haven’t read anyone as feisty, and legitimately so, since BitchPhD, and do I love it! I also cannot wait to read Brite’s new book, the third in the Rickey and G-man series,
    soul kitchen.