drop

As in, I “dropped” the blog posting for last week. As in, the post “dropped” out of my head, “dropped” off my to-do list, “dropped” outside my priorities.

Last week was my first week of teaching and school so even though I picked a word, I didn’t get to posting it or to writing about it (part of this might have to do with the fact that that the word “drop” has 15 definitions). But here it is, the word of last week:

drop (drop), n. [ME, droupen; ON, dropa; akin to G, tropfin toften; for the base, see DRIP], 1. a small quantity of liquid that is somewhat spherical or pear-shaped, as when falling. 2. a very small quantity of liquid. 3. pl. liquid medicine taken in drops. 4. a very small quantity of anything. 5. a thing like a drop in shape, size, etc. as a pendant earring or a small piece of candy. 6. a dropping; sudden fall, descent, slump, or decrease: as, a drop in prices. 7. anything that drops or is used for dropping or covering something, as a drop cutrian, a drop hammer, a trap door, or a slot for depositing letters. 8. the distance between a higher and lower level; depth to which or distance through which anything falls or sinks. 9. in football, a drop kick. v.i. [DROPPED or, occas., DROPT (dropt), DROPPING], 1. to fall in drops. 2. to fall; come down. 3. to sink to the ground exhausted, wounded, or dead. 4. to fall into a specified state; pass into a less active or less desirable condition: as, she dropped off to sleep. 5. to come to an end or to nothing: as, let the matter drop. 6. to slump; become lower or less, as temperatures, prices, etc. 7. to move down with a current of water or air. 8. to be born: said of animals. v.t. 1. to let fall in drops. 2. to sprinkle with drops. 3. to let fall; release hold of. 4. to give birth to: said of animals. 5. to utter (a suggestion, hint, etc.) casually. 6. to send (a letter). 7. to cause to fall, as by wounding or killing. 8. to dismiss; have done with. 9. to lower. 10. to omit ( aletter or letters) in a word. 11. to poach (an egg) 12. [Colloq.] to leave (a personal or thing) at a specified place. 13. [Slang], to lose (money). 14. in football, a) to drop-kick (a ball). b) to make (a goal) in this way. 15. in nautical usage, to outdistance.

at the drop of a hat, 1. at a signal. 2. immediately. at once; without hesitation or reluctance.

drop behind, to be outdistanced; fall behind.

drop in, to pay a casual or unexpected visit.

drop off, 1. to go away or out of sight. 2. [Colloq.], to fall asleep.

drop out, to stop being a member or participant.

get (or have) the drop on, [Slang], 1. to draw and aim one’s gun at (another) more quickly than he can draw and aim at one; hence, 2. to get (or have) any advantage over.

I remember learning about onomatopoeia, a fancy word for something I think we all inherently feel and understand, in elementary school. I liked these words, known to me but suddenly imbued with importance because of a new concept that went along with them. Crash. Bang. Thud. The words whose consonant and vowel construction made them sound like the definition that went with them.

Drop. It is a word that feels this way. A word that—to me, at least—implies a fall into an unknown and sometimes scary destination. Last week was the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that was only a Category 1 when it hit, and the breaking of levees in New Orleans. And the word of the week, and its many meanings, feels oddly appropriate to me. Millions of raindrops. The dropping of plans, of events, of schoolbooks to get out of town. Drops of hurricanes poured into glasses by those who decided to wait this one out at hurricane parties with friends. The word from a neighbor to my parents and then to me that there wasn’t a drop of water on our street. Followed by the drop of the news that the city was now flooded. People floating in the water. People dropping dead from exhaustion, from dehydration, from heart attacks, from shock and loss. President Bush dropping out of the public eye and our government dropping responsibility for its citizens. Local, state, and federal officials dropping the ball as the citizens of my hometown struggled to stay alive with no food and water and in the face of tremendous loss. Coast guard trying its best but dropping behind in reaching every person in his home, atop his roof. A good five days after the storm, the first supplies dropped down to the people at the Convention Center. Drops followed by drops followed by drops. Dropped calls as I tried to reach friends and family, to see where they were if they were okay. Dropping out of work as I spent all my time in the office trying to find out the latest information. Drops of tears heard over the phone on multiple calls a day to my parents. My stomach dropping when I heard that my cousin and state trooper Ivy had finally been able to see our house two weeks after the storm saw the waterline five feet up. He couldn’t open the kitchen door because the water had picked up the kitchen table and dropped it in front of it. The drop of my parents’ plan to retire in the next year. The drop of their security, having paid off the house. Not a drop of hope. Not a drop of peace. Not a drop of poise. People picked up at the Superdome and the Convention Center and then dropped onto buses, dropped at the airport, dropped on bridges. New Orleanians dropped in the Kentucky, in Arizona, in New York, in places where they knew no one and nothing. Children separated from their mothers and dropped thousands of miles away. Pets dropped off at kennels, at foster homes, with people who weren’t their owners. Refrigerators, kitchen tables, photo albums, clothes, mattresses dropped in the street in front of houses. Roofs dropped into living rooms from felled trees. My parents and I dropped all we could save of our house in the back of a van and drove away. People dropping their expectations of returning to the city they love because they have no money to return, no home to return to. The Road Home dropped their promises to Hurricane Katrina victims. Insurance agencies refusing to pay what’s due and dropping their policyholders. People seeing the racism and classism witnessed in the footage of Katrina and then, quickly, dropping the issue. Newsmedia finding new stories and dropping New Orleans out of the headlines. Volunteer groups dropping into the city and rebuilding. People from elsewhere dropping their judgment that New Orleans should not be rebuilt. That citizens should have left. That people of New Orleans were ignorant or stupid for not leaving, that they were dumb to live there in the first place. A dropped sense of security in the levee system and in the government’s concern for New Orleans. Me dropping the information to friends from other places that a year, two years, after the storm, the city looked the same as it did a month after. The drop of letters and photos in my mailbox from college friends, showing their support and trying to replace some of the memories I lost. Dropping into my old haunts now four years later and seeing them full of people. Dropping through neighborhoods where houses and businesses are still abandoned. Dropping down to the ground to dance to Rebirth Brass Band at Jazz Fest. A dropping of heads at the funeral of another friend who has died since the storm. Bulldozers dropping concrete and bricks that, just minutes before, were the public housing apartments for New Orleans residents. Homeless citizens going to drop in shelters that may or may not have room for them. Friends and family unable to drop in for a visit because they now live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Tourists dropping their original vacation plans and heading to New Orleans to spend their money there. Businesses dropping out of conventions in New Orleans either because it looks bad after bailouts to be in a “party city” or because they are worried the storm has left the city devastated, still. Drop-kicks scoring goals for the Saints as Saints fans drop their banners to throw up their arms in joy. A drop followed by a drop followed by a drop. Definition #7:  to move down with a current of water or air.

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2 Comments

Filed under weekly words

2 responses to “drop

  1. Vera

    Lisa, thanks for sharing your blog…some drops were vague but most were Oh SO familiar, touching, and I found tears dropping and my heart heavy. You have such a gift of language and a gift of communication through word that makes one want to drop all and just read on and on.

    Merci and j’et am, Mom

  2. Dad

    Your story beginning with a drop of water quickly developed into one of our intense thunderstorms as each drop pounded and filled the city like the flooding grief that followed. Once your drops began to flow they could not be stopped nor could I stop reading until all the drops had fallen. Thanks for sharing your story, our story and our grief . Embedded in that story are the seeds of the new life emerging as we call have faced these losses with courage, resiliency and love, most of all with love.
    Love you,
    Dad

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