I saw this a few months back and meant to post it then but got distracted, so thanks to Leigh C. for reminding me. I can't watch this without wanting to weep--it says a lot about what people in this area lost after Katrina. Not just a house, but a home.



A Letter to My Daughter, 10/08

Dear Emmeline:

You're three-and-a-half now, rapidly going on 30, and I thought that it was about time that I started something that I've meant to do for your three-plus years here, which is to write to you. I started with good intentions--I bought a leather-bound journal when I was pregnant with you, and even recorded a few thoughts in it, starting with the night you were born.

But then, of course, Katrina happened, and all of my good intentions fell by the wayside.

Anyway--you won't see any of this for quite some time to come. Some day, I suppose, I'll decide that the time is right to let you know that your mom is also a person, and I'll clue you in to this blog, if it still exists. I have a feeling, though, that that day is a long way away--I don't think my mother gave me the gift of knowing her as both a person and as a mom until I was around 25.

Tonight, I thought I'd start off by telling you about me.

I'm a sentimental fool, often to my detriment--I almost always look back on my past--and the people who were important to me--with fond memories, regardless of how things may have ended--ex-boyfriends, long-lost friends, all those "I wonder whatever happened to..." people. I have a hard time letting go of people who were once important to me, and I'm a firm believer in letting bygones be bygones.

I'm an ISFJ, which means that I have a hard time expressing my feelings (except semi-anonomously, via this blog) unless I feel extremely comfortable with someone. It also means that I can be too sensitive and too self-conscious. I'm working on it.

When I was pregnant with you, my hormones, like those of most pregnant women, swung wildly. I went from being the even-tempered person that my family and friends know to a crazy person on occasion, most memorably when I yelled at an elderly woman in the grocery store (she started it) and the time I threw the vacuum cleaner across the living room because the hose was clogged. (That one really freaked out your father.)

After you were born, my hormones, like those of most post-partum women, swung wildly. I went from euphoric highs to the lowest of lows. During the first six weeks of your life, I regularly sat in the kitchen each afternoon and cried. When K would ask what was wrong, the only answer I could give--which was completely truthful--was "I don't know."

Stray animals know that I'm a sucker. Just ask Boo-Boo, one of our cats, who came to live with us 11 years ago (bearing that name, I might add), when my friend Curtis, who was an animal control warden, called to tell me that there was the cutest kitten at the shelter who was scheduled to be euthanized that day. Or Betty-Kitty, our other cat (and I have to take full blame for that name), who joined our household 10 years ago, after she finally learned to trust me after she showed up at our house one day and lived under our porch, only coming out for food, for about six months. Or Lola, the stray chihuahua/min-pin/I-don't-really-know-what-in-the-hell-she-was that found us and lived with us for a few months until we found her a home, because I'm a sucker and didn't have it in me to take her to the shelter. Or hell, ask the rats that took up residence in our house after Katrina, that I didn't want your father to poison.

I can be cranky, irrational, bitchy, and/or selfish. I'm working on it.

Some of my favorite movies are the Shawshank Redemption, the Straight Story, and Immortal Beloved. Yes, those movies are, respectively, about a prison breakout, a guy that drives across the mid-west on a lawn mower, and Beethoven. Did I mention that I'm weird? If it makes you feel any better, my favorite books are Where the Redfern Grows, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and To Kill a Mockingbird. And the movie version of Mockingbird was great as well--Gregory Peck will always be Atticus Finch.

Speaking of To Kill a Mockingbird, I asked K when we found out we were having a daughter if he would consider the name Scout. I won't repeat his answer here. I was really surprised when he liked the name Emmeline, as that was another one I threw out there thinking I didn't have a chance in hell of getting agreement on. (See, ferry--or fairy.)

I'm really looking forward to passing my suitcase full of Barbie clothes along to you--one of the few things that survived Katrina. As soon as I find it in the attic and wash all of the dead roaches that you know are hiding in there out of the clothes, it's all yours. I hope that you're a little gentler on them than you've been on the Barbie dolls I handed over to you--so far, you've ripped the heads off of Mrs. Sunshine Family, California Barbie, and Skipper. Mr. Sunshine Family, Ken, and Plain Old Barbie are hanging in there, but their future looks pretty grim.

The sleep-aid commercials with Abraham Lincoln and the talking beaver really crack me up, as do the Filipino prisoners performing Michael Jackson's Thriller. But nothing will ever compare to the dramatic gopher (who's really a prairie dog) for pure comedy gold.

I hate George W. Bush (and will be expecting a visit from the NSA to this blog shortly).

My favorite all-time joke, much to the dismay of everyone I know, is the one about the horse walking into the bar.

I think that just about covers it. You're probably a little bit disturbed now and wishing that you could have a different mother, but I'm afraid you're stuck with me. Sorry.

Love, Mom


Dear Canal Street Panhandler...

I can't speak for the other customers at the Chevron, but repeatedly slapping the hood of my car while screaming "Gimme two dollars!" is a pretty sure-fire way to not only scare the hell out of me but also make me very unlikely to give you any money.

You might want to work on your technique.

Sincerely, A


A Valediction Forbidding Mourning - John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"The breath goes now," and some say, "No."

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of the earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love —
Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.



I really need to get a life. The amount of excitement I feel about the fact that the FEMA trailer that has sat across the street from our house for the past three years (and vacant for two of those three years) is finally gone is a bit disturbing.

Yay! The trailer's gone! The trailer's gone! No more gigantic formaldehyde-ridden projectile across the street during hurricane season! No more above-ground sewage lines made of PVC piping!

Who knew that FEMA could act with such lightening speed to remove a vacant trailer? Only two years? That must be a new record! Progress, people!

Next up, cranes on the skyline....


Conversations With a Three-Year-Old, Volume 4

E: Mommy, guess what?

Me: What, sweetie?

E: I love you. You're the best mommy in the whole wide world.

Me: Aw, thank you.

E: You're welcome. Now leave me alone and go vacuum or something.


Random Musings #2

After getting back from Atlanta last night, I learned that Bill Jefferson made the run-off and that there were several shootings in the city over the weekend. I'm glad to know that we're keeping the brand out there. In other news, water is wet.

A three-year-old that refuses to take a nap, combined with a seven-plus-hour car ride, makes for a very long day. The next time I take a solo road trip with E, I'm going to play a tape of myself saying the following phrases, over, and over, and over again: "Sweetie, I can't pick up your crayons right now, I'm driving." "Sweetie, I can't look at the picture you drew right now, I'm driving." "Yes." "No." "Because I said so." "Sweetie, I can't read the book to you right now, I'm driving." "Emmeline, please stop shrieking--I'm driving." "Uh huh." "Yes, you're right--that was a cow." "No, we're not there yet." "Maybe." "We'll see." "Yes, we're almost there." "I don't know." "Emmeline, please be quiet." "Yes, that car is yellow." "No." "Because I said so." "Sorry, sweetie--I was yelling at that driver--not at you." "Well, why didn't you tell me you needed to go potty?" "Please take that off your head."


There's a cockroach hanging out in my closet. This morning, when I went to get some clothes out for work, he was cruising in and out of my hanging clothes. I knocked him down and then tried to stomp him with a shoe as he scurried into a dark corner, but I missed. When I opened the closet later to get some shoes, he crawled out of one and I started shrieking. I hate freaking cockroaches. Now, every time I go into my closet for the next fews days, I'm going to live in fear that when I pull a sweater over my head, he'll start scurrying around on my back. Does anyone know if roach motels really work? My preferred method of cockroach extermination is the above-mentioned stomp the hell out it with a shoe technique, but I'm 0 for 2 on that one with this particular cockroach.

Did I mention how much I freaking hate flying cockroaches? Growing up on St. Simons, they were called "palmetto bugs" because: A) that's where they live when they're not invading your house; and B) it's a much more genteel term than big-ass flying cockroach. I've had several run-ins with palmetto bugs, the most memorable of which were the one time when one crawled up under my skirt while I was driving on the interstate and I almost wrecked my car as a result, and the time when a friend who had recently moved to NOLA from San Diego saw a palmetto bug for the first time, while it was swooping around in her living room, and called me crying, begging me to come over and kill it for her. Cockroach, 0; me and a broom, 1.

It's a very small world. This weekend, my husband met a guy who was born and raised on St. Simons Island, my hometown. As they talked, they realized that this guy's mother and my father know each other and have business dealings together. Then, as they talked more, they discovered that he was a chef at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception and that he was one of the guys that prepared the food for our reception. And then, K found out that he was currently living in Bay St. Louis, where we lived for four years, and that he's over there helping with Katrina relief and living on the grounds of Christ Church, the church where my stepfather was the priest for almost 20 years. Of course, I've never met the guy. Weird.

One of our new neighbors is very fond of blasting country music on the car stereo from his driveway, which is right next to our living room, while simultaneously scraping a shovel over the driveway, over and over and over again, to get rid of weeds. My other neighbor, Arlene, is about as thrilled with the new neighbors as I am.

I watched several people stalk Jeremy Shockey throughout the Tchoupitoulas Sav-A-Center tonight. I was very proud of myself for actually recognizing him. Apparently, that groin injury isn't interfering with his ability to shop for produce and dairy products.


Dear Neighborhood Gods...

I'd really appreciate it if you could get the new neighbor next door to stop wanting to have 15-minute conversations about what's going on in his life at 6:30 in the morning when I step outside still wearing my pajamas and just want to pick up my newspaper.

Also, if you could maybe convince him and his wife that sticking red and white plastic flowers in the grass isn't really the most tasteful landscaping option, that would be great.