(written at 9:30pm CST on Monday 10/17/2005)

People have been asking me a lot lately, "how have you been holding up?"  Well, let’s see.  Day 1 – Overwhelming.  Day 2 – Despair.  Day 3 – Anxiousness.  Day 4 – Anger .  Day 5 – Accomplishment.

This morning, my family from Dallas headed back.  I’m going to put together a photostory of my trip down here, so you’ll get to see the gang that helped out.

After they left, I walked around through the debris in the backyard and found a thank you card.  No idea if it belongs to my family or a family down the street, but despite all the water damage, sun damage, etc, it read, “It’s nice to know that there are still people who take such pleasure in doing special things and making others feel good.”

We drove into Gulfport (about 30 minutes away) and ate at IHOP. There was only a 5 minute wait.  They opened two weeks ago, and the wait for the first week was 40 minutes.  I took a photo of one of their laminated paper menus.  They were running a limited menu.  The drinks and food came in Styrofoam cups and papers.  The food was excellent, and so was the service.  It’s awesome to be in an environment where everyone is in it together, where no social ladders exist.

When we got back, we took the second and third donation loads to St. Clare Church.  We met one of my elementary school teachers there looking for items.  I was like, “take everything, here you go.”  But just like me having been out here for 5 days now, you only take what you really, really need.  It is always good to see people I know down here.

After the St. Clare trip, we started the clothing-sorting chore.  We had at least 5 people working on it for 2 hours.  We sorted all the clothes into infants, boys, girls, juniors, men, and women.  If you ever have a clothing drive, make sure you have these sorts of boxes ready to go so you can sort immediately when you get the clothes.  Finally, we got everything sorted.  We’ve heard that a church in Diamondhead is taking clothes, provided they are 1. lightly-used or new (which everything we sorted was, except for 10 or 15 t-shirts that were stained – I tried to catch all of those at 1am in my garage before the trip) and 2.  sorted by sizes and gender.

Around 5:30, we got to Waveland Café for another meal.  While I’m in line getting food, the pastor running the “free diner” recognized me and chatted briefly.  I left a voicemail with their financial guy back in AL explaining who I was and once I was back at corp (MSFT) I would get back in touch with him about setting up the 5013c w/ the giving campaign.

Then I went to karate practice.  =)  There was a message at my old dojo that they were practicing north of DeLisle (about 25 minutes away) in a gymnasium.  My old dojo is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Shotokan Karate Club.  Kyle took plenty of pictures to prove to the senseis back in Seattle that I had been working out.  After 10 minutes, I thought I was going to die from the humidity.  For some reason, they lined up with highest rank on the left-hand side (from student’s view), instead of the right-hand side.  I’ve never seen a shotokan club do that before, so unfortunately, I lined up as “most senior” when I didn’t have a Gi.  The kid next to me (purple belt) ask me “What rank are you?” in this, “I’m the ranking student” tone.  I just smiled.  Next time I line up any club, I’m going to line up by color, and not by logistics =)

We can get WLOX, which I believe is from New Orleans.  Family said that East New Orleans will break your heart.  Tomorrow I’m going to pick up my childhood family / babysitters.  They haven’t seen the house yet, god bless their hearts.  One side of the Twin Span has finally opened up, the West Bound side, which has one lane for both directions.  That is going to be wild tomorrow, if we go that way.  An uncle who fixes x-ray machines for hospitals goes into New Orleans a lot, and he says the city just reeks, wherever you are.  You know what the smell is.  Just like you can recognize skunk, you can recognize Katrina.

Anyways, WLOX is reporting about Wilma.  My mom said that if anything bigger than a cat 3 comes along, she’s coming to visit me in Seattle.