February 2014 Sampler

by Jim on 2024/02/01

Greetings, and welcome to the February 2014 Sampler essay, like the month of January 2014 prior to it, a time of transition – partly because it was a time of serious injury.

About a week into this month, I had emergency back surgery.  The neurologist said that, had we waited, I could have been permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

It was a huge event in my life; it and the general back problems affected me in profound ways.  It was a huge humbling, and I needed to be humbled such, even though I had already been humbled in so many ways in the preceding four years.

I see now, a decade later as I type this, that I had some internalized ableism, and I am now connecting that to how I judged myself for how the non-autistic society was treating autistic me; I learned more than two years later that I am autistic.

I wanted to write something deeper and more profound here, but I just can’t find the words.  However, the common theme is the excessive pressing of one’s self to fit the expectations that society expects.

I had just started school again, to a community college, and I was loving it, but this joyous feeling wouldn’t carry into the “real world” afterward, something that had a big radicalizing effect on me.

Let’s get to the pictures, all of which were made in southeastern Louisiana.

Sunday, The 2nd

So, of course, I had no idea when I was out taking these pictures on this Sunday morning that, on the following Sunday morning, I’d be in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery.

I did my Sunday Sermon on this morning by going to the tracks at Central Avenue in Jefferson and getting some pictures.

That is a New Orleans Public Belt Railroad job leaving the Canadian National Railway yard in Metairie, Mays Yard, and returning to NOPB Cotton Warehouse Yard with CN interchange traffic.

Wednesday, The 5th

Here is some unknown train – but likely one of two CSX-to-Union-Pacific manifest trains that move here daily (or did so at that time) – moving westbound at East City Junction on the Norfolk Southern Railway “Back Belt” line.

It must have been after class nearby.

I remember the hope that that gave me.  I like that part of New Orleans, but it’s as if it always was shifting beneath my feet.

Wednesday, The 12th

So, I had emergency back surgery on the 8th.

Yeah, so, I was at home, convalescing for awhile.

Friday, The 21st

This was the first time that I got “out” to take pictures after the surgery and may have been the first time that I drove an automobile after the surgery.

We are in Schriever, and the LDRR 1707 is moving to grab two empty centerbeam flatcars from the old Houma Branch lead before spotting the at-least-one load that is sitting on the mainline in the background.

Saturday, The 22nd

This may have been the first time that I climbed atop my truck after the surgery, something that I maybe should not have done.

That is BNSF Railway train M-NWOLAL, the New Orleans To Lafayette Manifest train, moving westbound at Chacahoula.

Wednesday, The 26th

For our final image of this essay, I am back in New Orleans, going to class on a Wednesday, and I make a little stop at Canal Boulevard first.

That is NS’s daily interchange job that it runs to CN Mays Yard to conduct interchange with CN, and it’s returning to NS Oliver Yard in this image.


Time has a weird way of moving in cycles, which may be a fluff thing to say, as what I am about to describe here is just a set of coincidences, but I can still assign meaning to it.  All that I am describing here is what was happening in my life in five-year increments from this month of February 2014.

Ten years before, in February 2004, I had just returned from a life-changing experience with the Close Up program.  Both ironically and coincidentally, just a little bit more than five years later, a little bit less than five years before the images from this photo essay, after three more such trips, my Close Up experience was essentially finished.  That same month, I chased the second-to-last run on the Lockport Branch, my favorite then-active railroad branch in the world.

Five years to the month after I made the images in this essay, I was finally evicted from my home for the most-embarrassing-possible reason, a reason that I have been so morose, reclusive, and cynical ever since.  A year later, I moved out of New Orleans for good.

So, cycles cycle, I guess. 

Stay tuned for the March 2014 Sampler essay.


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