28 August 2009


Today's adventure started last night.

My housemate called early in the evening from his office. A young mother of two was in trouble and needed shelter. He met her through his work with New Orleans Outreach. She'd returned to New Orleans a month ago to live with the father of her children (at his mother's house) but after a domestic dispute the previous evening and a trip to the emergency room, she was homeless.

I agreed to provide shelter here in our big half-double for her, her 4-year-old son and 10-year-old autistic daughter, for one night. We all retired for the evening without a plan for the next day. My practical brain was screaming; my improviser's brain was giggling.

It is the next morning and there is still no plan. The kids are sweet but periodically rambunctious. The young woman is on the phone (my housemate left his for her) with her mother. My practical brain is fretting, They're off task! She needs to be calling social service agencies this morning. But mostly I am calmly watching this situation unfold: I made coffee for us, laid out newsprint and markers for the kids, showed her how to work the washer/dryer and retired to my computer to write these lines.

Isn't it curious: if we were in a disaster/crisis situation, my practical brain would have no complaint. But because this is just another day, I'm somewhat annoyed that my agenda for today has been preempted.

Life is a trip. And I am a sojourner...


  1. I dig the part about practical brain screaming, improvisor giggling... how well I know the feeling!
    I too think it's curious how common disaster brings us together, when a personal emergency can be so tedious. I've thought about it a lot, in fact- with no answer. BUT have noticed that I really dislike someone else's emergency becoming MY emergency, as if receiving kindness and help is an entitlement, as if personal emergency means the person can just crumble and rely on other's strength because they're in trouble and the other's not. Doesn't happen often- most people I've known, even in crisis, don't usurp or demand my freely offered time or care, as if it were limitless. BUT when it does happen.... well, all my brains start screaming!

  2. By the way, what's a half double? Why isn't it a single?

  3. A half double (shotgun) is one side of a two-unit structure. A single shotgun is a stand-alone, single family dwelling. Shotgun is the prevalent basic design here with some variations like half, single, camelback (has a partial upstairs), etc.


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