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Greetings from New Orleans!

sent: 5/30/2005

Greetings family, from New Orleans! Perhaps you already know, but my Lockheed email address [removed] has (finally) gone out of service. For now, the best email to use for me is [removed].

Macy & I arrived safely Thursday night. Other than a 1.5 hour delay in Phoenix, we traveled with no incident. In fact, transporting Macy couldn’t have been any easier. I walked through the security checkpoint with her perched on my shoulder, and held her discretely in my lap while waiting in the terminals. Of course I put her away in her travel cage during boarding and flight, and no one ever asked any questions. I retrieved her full-size cage from the trunk of my car, which I picked up from the shipping terminal the next day, and now Macy’s back to living the good life to which she’s accustomed. Okay, I’ll refrain from going on and on about my sweet little baby…

Nat & Joan were waiting for me at the airport, and they immediately made me feel right at home, just as they did during my February visit. It’s hard for me to imagine any better hosts to help me get adjusted to my new home city. Their guest room is quite small, but the hospitality in this house is huge. We’ve had some good conversations on a variety of topics, and yesterday Joan showed me how to strap Nat’s wheelchair into the van and drive it. At Nat’s suggestion, he & I then spent part of the afternoon at the movies. It was a good opportunity for “male bonding” with Nat, and a chance to give Joan some time to herself. They’ll definitely be a comforting and uplifting couple for me to consult if the stresses of my new life start weighing me down.

My summer training at University of New Orleans starts a week from today, on June 6. I had originally planned to find housing before then, but at Nat & Joan’s invitation, I’ve decided to stay with them until I know where I’ll be teaching. While I probably won’t want to live in the same neighborhood as my school, I’ll at least want to be on the same side of the Mississippi river. Job fairs and interviews will start late next week, so I’m eager to start finding out just what I’ve gotten myself into. The general consensus I’ve been hearing is that I should steer clear of teaching in the dismal Orleans parish, and try to find a position in the slightly-better neighboring Jefferson parish.

So, I have another week to continue familiarizing myself with the area. I’ve gotten a little taste of the Southern hospitality, and customs such as greeting strangers on the street. I look forward to experiencing more of that part of the culture. I’m also easing into the heat & humidity thing. Apparently I just missed an August-like heat spell, so the sticky sweating I’ve felt so far is just a mild primer for what I’ll encounter in coming months. I just bought my first package of undershirts, even though I’m still trying to figure out the theory of wearing double-layers in this kind of climate. For this week, we’re dealing with thunderstorm warnings and a flash flood watch. In my 31 years, I never realized that summertime was anything other than sunny in other parts of the country. Oh, and the mosquitoes have welcomed me to the area too! I’m trying to resist scratching the puffy red welts on my arms and legs. Even my bald head is fair game to the little buggers.

Heat, humidity, storms, mosquitoes… that may sound like complaining, but I’m actually enjoying myself so far. A complete change in location and lifestyle is exactly what I was seeking. I do wonder, when the newness wears off, will the harsh realities down here knock the enthusiasm and idealism right out of me? I’m sure the answer will depend largely on my attitude and expectations. If nothing else, I’ll gain a greater appreciation for the Bay Area and the good fortunes I’ve had so far in life.

Best wishes to all back in your respective homes. (I just realized that this family has pretty respectable coverage along the U.S. border states!)