Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Finding My Niche

Late evenings seem to be my specialty if I am neither dead tired nor deadly sick. Since I am neither, here I am to post another reflective rambling of sorts. It’s a blessing to have these respites ripe for reflection littered amid the quickly passing months of my collegiate career. These days in New Orleans have stirred in me a renewal of past promises to myself. It's amazing, again, to have the ability to stare into one's past and look at the immediate future in the same glimpse.

It has not been without reservations though. So many things have changed. There's a definite "Ain't There No More" syndrome going on (anyone from New Orleans should get the reference and anyone else reading this blog should at least attempt to look that up and understand where I'm coming from). Okay, so back from my sidebar. Things have changed immeasurably. Between my yearly cold I have right now and other trepidations, I've cancelled my trip to Waveland to see where my dad and stepmom's house once stood. I've buried that loss of a past reality well beneath the surface of my psyche for when I am ready to battle that drastic change another day. The bigger fish to fry is specifically where to categorize my place both here in Louisiana and in Texas.

I am neither completely a New Orleanian nor completely a Texan. All of my family is from Texas, but I have grown up entirely in Louisiana. I may not speak the same way many in New Orleans do or have the same family experiences as those here in the city (I’ve spent many holidays with family in Texas), but I am through and through a New Orleanian. The city is first in my heart. Why? It has been there for me, a crutch during a childhood that I cherish. Why should I leave it decrepit in its ailing old age?

All the while, I cannot find my place in it. It is not a frontier town in the sense of those of olden days, but the city is not a place for the faint of heart. There are huge tracts of houses left to be gutted. They are, without a doubt, an eyesore and, in a few months time, will be demolished to the ground. This surely will leave a hole in the housing stock for the rebuilding of the city. Yes, I said the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Why rebuild New Orleans? Why throw money into a so-called "slushy money pit?" Because the city matters. Period. No matter what the romantics might say (including myself) of the intrinsic charm of the city that once was and will be again, the city is a living and breathing asset to the United States of America. This is part of the reason the Federal government had thrown money back to the city for levees, for pumps, for the necessities of trying to keep a city safe from natural disaster.

New Orleans is home to the Port of New Orleans, the fifth largest port in the United States based on volume of cargo handled (84 million short tons), and when combined with the Port of South Louisiana in LaPlace some thirty miles west of New Orleans, the two make up the largest port complex in the world by tonnage (199 million short tons).[1] Both ports rely heavily on the Mississippi levees, Lake Pontchartrain floodwalls, and the spillway system cut between the two ports (the Bonne Carré Spillway located in St. Charles Parish, my home parish).

Additionally, the city is at the heart of a refining and chemical plants that process in the area. The state of Louisiana itself has 17 petroleum refineries with a combined crude oil distillation capacity of nearly 2.8 million barrels per calendar day, the second highest in the nation after Texas.[2] I could go on further of the agriculture significance of the area to the immediate southwest of the city. With our dependence on foreign oil, the city is of national importance and therefore national security. Why has it not been treated as such by the designs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? The reason is distraction with other matters or just general indifference by those in power both nationally and locally.

So in short, the city must and will be rebuilt, in spite of all the hurdles the locals must face (both from near and far). The question I've been asking myself is where do I see myself? Surely this involves more than New Orleans. It involves whether or not I want to go straight into business, continue with graduate work, or other things. I have been unable to find a "soft" landing back in New Orleans. Everything is wracked with uncertainty, with questions, and with instability. It's not much of a hope for someone wanting to get those college loans paid off in a timely manner. Really what, at the heart of the entire matter, I've been considering is this: where can I do the most good? Where and—more importantly—can I be the biggest impact and for the longest period of time?

The answer has not come to me, but I hope that in the next year I can achieve some conclusion, with God's help, of where I am to be and who will be at my side to achieve that greatest good.

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