Please Don't Leave Me - Pink

I don't know if I can yell any louder
How many times have I kicked you out of here?
Or said something insulting.
I can be so mean when I wanna be.
I am capable of really anything.
I can cut you into pieces.
But my heart is broken.

Please don't leave me.
Please don't leave me.
I always say how I don't need you,
but it's always gonna come right back to this.
Please don't leave me.


Go Saints

This article is making the rounds, both on the blogs and by email. I admit it, I teared up a few times when I read it.

Saints the Soul of America's City

Go Saints!


Conversations With A Four-Year-Old, Volume Seven

E: Look, Mommy--I made you a snowman at school today!

Me: Wow! That's really nice! Can I keep it forever and ever?

E: Why do you want to keep it forever and ever?

Me: So that someday, when you're all grown up, I can look at it and think about when you were a little girl.

E: Oh. So you want to keep it until you're really, really old?

Me: Uh, yes.

E. Okay. But I want it back when you die.


Who Dat?

I became a Saints fan in 2001, in the unlikeliest of places--my hometown of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Kenny and I were living there, during the brief experiment in which he tried life outside of New Orleans. As anyone who is or loves a native New Orleanian knows, they can't stay away too long--they always come back, eventually.

Kenny and I didn't last very long in Georgia. Kenny tried to like it, and we had a lot of fun along the way. We spent a lot of time at the beach, which I had missed desperately. We made several good friends--people that I hadn't known growing up there and that I'm still friends with today. We got married in the chapel I'd always hoped to marry in.

But there were just too many things that were foreign to him, like getting off of work at midnight and being unable to buy beer. Or last call. Or not being able to buy vodka at the drugstore. No Mardi Gras, no Jazzfest, no crawfish, no where y'at?

Why I Should Buy Stock in Fire Extinguishers

Tonight, my husband decided that our toaster oven is disgusting and in need of a good cleaning. I think that's an excellent idea, and I'm all for someone else cleaning something in this house. But I'm a little bit worried about his technique, which consisted of thoroughly spraying the entire inside of the toaster with oven cleaner and then hosing down the entire thing, including the heating elements, the electrical cord, etc. I think I'll go make some toast now.

To those of you who aren't regular readers, this is the same man who set himself on fire last year by deciding that pouring gasoline on top of the lit fire inside of the chiminea that Santa brought him was a good idea. That didn't go so well, either. Think lots of flames and a midnight trip to the drug store for burn cream.

P.S. If you ever come to my house, you might need to know that the fire extinguisher is under the kitchen sink.

A Question for the Ages

Along the lines of the old "If a tree falls in the woods" question: if New Orleans City Hall is only open four days a week rather than five, would anyone really notice? And would it really make a difference? Would it be possible for the majority of the staff at City Hall to be even more inefficient and incompetent than they already are? I, for one, don't think it will make much of a difference.

And also? C. Ray? Screw you and your race baiting. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way to Dallas.


The Little Cheerleader

A cheer, made up by Emmeline:

We are the dolphins.
We're going to beat you.
No, you're not.
Go Saints!


30 Minutes with a Four-Year-Old, or Short Attention Span Theater

Last night, during a viewing of Merry Madagascar, I decided to record everything Emmeline said in the 20-or-so minutes it takes to watch a pre-recorded, 30-minute show. This is for those of you who think I'm exaggerating when I say that if Emmeline's awake, she's talking.

8:00 p.m.
E: Mommy, why do they have bananas?
Me: I guess so they can eat them, sweetie.

8:01 p.m.
E: Mommy, how did they make that balloon?
Me: You'll learn that in chemistry class, dear.
E: Look, Mommy! Melman's head is on fire!


Conversations With a Four-Year-Old, Volume Six

E: Mommy, where do you think unicorns come from? Because I think they come from Texas!

Me: Really? How come?

E: Well, I've never seen any unicorns in New Orleans or in Georgia, so they must all be in Texas.

Me: Hmm. Maybe so.


Dear Charles

You've been gone for 8 1/2 years now. How is that possible? And is it really quite possible that I think about you at least once, still, every day? It seems that way, but sometimes, I'm not sure--it's like when you try to check to see if you've fallen asleep, but then realize that in order to do so, you have to actually be awake. Or when you realize you really are doing two things at once, like reading and singing the lyrics to a song at the same time. Am I the only one who does that?

Anyway....I can't be 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure that I still think about you at least once every day. For some reason, it's usually in the morning, on my way to work. It's become almost a habit, even, to have some random thought of you right around 8:15 a.m., right around the time that I've turned onto Jena Street--the part that's so potholed that you have to smile each morning, as you pass the "Go Slow or You Will Kill Your Car" sign that someone affixed to a telephone pole.

So, what do I think, when I think about you each morning?


Do you ever have one of those nights where you question what you were thinking when you agreed to get married and have children? I'm having one of those nights.

I'm not real worried about it--I've been in this relationship for 15 years (how is it possible that I'm old enough to have been in a relationship for 15 years?). I'm not real concerned that this is going to be the big one that does us in.

But still, sometimes, I just want to bitch and kvetch on this blog. I started this blog as an online journal, after I lost all of my journals in Katrina. And I stayed under the radar for the first 2-3 years, with no one reading this blog but me. But now, knowing that there are at least a few people who read this blog regularly and a few more who stop by every now and again, I feel more of a need to censor myself.

I tell y'all about the good stuff, the mundane stuff, and the bad stuff, especially when it comes to certain parts of motherhood, Katrina, and life in the City of New Orleans. But I don't talk about the days when I'm ready to strangle my husband. And I won't talk about it now, other than to say, once again, I'm having one of those nights.

We've been together 15 years, and I'm fully committed to us being together until death do us part. But that doesn't mean it's always easy, right? I love him, but good God, does he irritate me sometimes.


Proud Moments in Motherhood

I swear, she's not really flipping the bird in this picture, even though she is. If it helps, she didn't know she was doing it. (Or so I keep telling myself.) I think it was a redirected nose-pick attempt, once she realized the camera was on her. Anyway, look--a fire truck!

How to Irritate the Piss Out of Me*

Be a pedestrian in New Orleans. Walk up to the light and see that you have the "don't walk" signal flashing at you. Look at me in my car and see that I have a green light. Proceed to walk into the crosswalk anyway, and then walk as slowly as possible, making me miss the entire green light waiting for you to cross the street illegally.

Alternately, look at my car, traveling down the street at 40 miles per hour, and decide that right then would be a great time to walk directly in front of my car, causing me to slam on brakes and scare the hell out of myself, while alternately fantasizing about running your ass over.

Repeat, 3-5 times per day

What is it with the pedestrians in this town? I really wish I could explain to everyone that the old adage, "the pedestrian always has the right of way," does not apply when you're disobeying traffic signals and/or walking directly into oncoming traffic. And don't even get me started on tourists in the French Quarter who think we're Disney World and not an actual functioning city.

Deep, cleansing breath.

*I would've preferred to call this post "How to Annoy Me," but Dooce already claimed it.

Google Search of the Month

I'm sorry, y'all, I know I'm obsessed with the people who end up at this blog via a google search. But I just can't help myself. It's a sickness, I think. I'll try to restrain myself to only posting about this once a month, starting...now....

Funniest search this month? "Do old grits turn into bugs?" Um, no, but if you leave them exposed long enough, the weevils will get into them, along with your flour.

Weirdest search of the month? "Free XXX gris porn." Not weird in and of itself, now that we've established that people are typing "gris" instead of "girls." But whoever did that search ended up spending 21 minutes on this site. What in God's name could they have found that interested them? My mom blogging? My witty banter? I guess I'll never know....


Happy Halloween

Is my daughter cute or what?


I Heart SupaSaint

Miami Vice. Although, as a child of the 80's, the SupaLoose video is still my all-time fave.

Signs That I'm A Better Parent Than the Guy Who Made the Cover of Today's Metro Section

Really? Really? You tried to shoplift DVDs by putting them in your two-year-old's diaper bag and then you ran away and left him at Walmart when you got busted? Wow. Just. Wow. And also--point, Louisiana!

Other signs that I'm not that bad of a parent--I have yet to leave Emmeline in the car in August so I can play video poker. And if I did, I'd leave the windows cracked. And maybe throw the dog in there to keep her company.


City Living

K and I had a long talk over the weekend about where we'd like to be in five years. In sum, it all comes down to wishing for a slightly larger house--what we call a "grown up house," which in our minds equals a house with more than one bathroom and less scary neighbors. We would also really, really, really like to find a place to live where we could get cheaper (read, free) school tuition for our child. As Kelly commented, I'd love to be able to put some of the $800/month we're spending on tuition toward a larger mortgage instead.

As I've mentioned before, we briefly toyed with the idea of moving to Slidell about a year ago, namely due to the fact that we could buy a "grown up house" there and E could actually get a decent education at one of the public schools. Kenny brought up this idea again over the weekend--but I have to say, it really turns me off. Not because I have anything against Slidell--I just don't necessarily want to live there. If we could get a really nice house, right on the water, and have a boat and several hundred more dollars a month in disposable income? Sure--I'd be game for that. But otherwise, I'm not really interested in moving across the lake to trade free tuition for more commuting time, hassle, and gas money, wiht the only possible payoff being the chance for a slightly larger fixer-upper house.


Okay, Who Forgot to Tell Me That Hell Froze Over?

New Orleans Crime Camera Leads to First Conviction

Well then, we should definitely continue to spend millions and millions of dollars a year on them. And while we're at it, are there any more coastal Communist countries we can send C. Ray to so that he can study their disaster management techniques?

Point, Louisiana

Kenny and I have a game we like to play called "Whose Native State is More Embarrassing?" Each time your native state does something incredibly stupid, it gets a point. Bonus points if whatever your state does is so bad it makes the national news.

It all started one night when we were watching a History Channel special on the Klan. Early on in the show, they mentioned that the Klan had originally started in Louisiana; needless to say, I was all over Kenny about his racist, backward-ass state. About 20 minutes later, they mentioned that the Klan had all but died out at one point but then gained a resurgence during the Civil Rights movement.....in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

True Confessions

Tonight is the first time I've posted anything interesting (which I know is debatable) in several weeks, so I'm getting it all out of my system tonight, while the husband's at work. You're thrilled, I know.

True Confessions

I'm 40 years old, about as white bread as they come, and yet still I love "Forget about Dre" by Eminem and Dr. Dre.

I also write sentences that include "and yet still...."

True Confessions

I'm 40 years old, write and edit for a portion of my living, and I STILL cannot spell "occasionally" without having to spell check it--two c's? Two n's? Who knows?

Further Signs That I'm a Bad Parent

Emmeline's school has this thing called "happy grams." You're supposed to send notes to school occasionally, talking about something great your child did at home, which the teacher then reads aloud and posts on the blackboard. I think it's a great idea, and E really loves it when I send her to school with a happy gram--it's the least I can do, seeing as how I can't afford the tuition to send her to a school where she would by now be fluent in Mandarin or something.

Anyway--this week, I sent a happy gram to school, praising Emmeline for the fact that she had set the table all by herself one night this week. She was thrilled. Then, yesterday, when I went to pick her up from school, I stopped off at the bulletin board to peruse the happy grams. And there was E's note, praising her for setting the table, right next to the note that one her friend's mother wrote. It said something along the lines of "Sally is doing very well in the extra coursework we assign her at home. She can now count to 223, and, when using the abacus she got for Christmas, she can add sums up to 30." Our children are four. Am I supposed to be doing calculus with her at home now? How inadequate am I?

To further add to the mix, we got a notice in the mail today saying that the magnet schools in Jefferson Parish are accepting applications for next year. Kenny and I go back and forth on this idea--we're happy with her current school (my misgivings about Catholic education aside) and we don't necessarily want to move her. But, at the same time, $800/month for where she is now versus ZERO/month for a magnet school certainly makes it worth thinking about.

We applied last year, trying to get E in there this year for pre-K. We took her in for their required testing, and they said she did well. When the test scores came back, we were hopeful--she scored in the 96th percentile. Still, we knew that there were only 40 available slots for 400 children, so we weren't counting on her getting in and weren't surprised when we got the your-child-has-been-wait-listed letter.

Long story short, I called them today to see if we should even bother re-applying. I wasn't certain as to how the selection process went, as you have to score in the 75th percentile to be considered. My thinking was that if they put all of the kids' names who scored 75th percentile and above into a hat and just pulled names out until they'd reached their quota, it was pretty much impossible that she'd ever get in. But--but--if they were selecting kids based on their scores, maybe we had a chance. So, I called. Turns out, they do select kids based on their scores. But the woman said they didn't go any lower in scores than the 99.7th percentile, because the kids in the applicant pool were Just. That. Smart. So if E scored 96th percentile and they had at least 40 kids who were in the 99.7th percentile or above...yikes! Apparently, everyone but Emmeline got an abacus for Christmas last year. I don't know what we were thinking buying her that Sleeping Beauty outfit and Santa coloring book instead....


Wisdom of the Ancients

Tonight, I got to attempt to explain to Emmeline what a record player is. Needless to say, I was met with utter confusion. I can't wait until she's a teenager and I get to tell her about how I was 12 when we first got a microwave and a VCR and that I was in my mid-20's when the internet became accessible to the average person. (Of course, then I'll have to explain to her what a VCR is.) Now I know how my parents felt when they explained to me that they didn't have television until they were about eight or nine and that it was in black and white. The horror! This could be fun....


Signs That I'm a Bad Parent

Emmeline now has her very own library card. She's very excited about it, and it kept me from having to fork over the $45 in late fees that have accumulated on my card due to the Dora book that went missing in Emmeline's room for about six weeks. But kids can't rent movies with their cards, so I had to lie to E and tell her that the Muppet movie was rented out. Life's going to get a lot harder once she learns how to read and can tell when I'm lying.

I heard a news brief on the radio today that said that 75% of parents think it's important to teach their children not to lie but also admit to frequently lying to their children. I most definitely fall into this category. I will lie my ass off to E with a straight face, if it's in her (or my) best interest. Case in point? The day that Halloween costumes appeared in T.J. Maxx. There was no way in hell we were getting the sequined, bedazzled, hooker-looking cheerleading costume that she fell in love with. "Oh, I'm so sorry, honey, but they don't have that costume in your size. How about this adorable ladybug costume instead?" I'm sure you can guess what E will be for Halloween this year.


I love my dog, but some days, he drives me crazy. Am I the only one who has a dog that literally follows me everywhere I go? I'm serious. If I get up to go into the kitchen, he's right there with me. A side trip to the bedroom? There he is. And then he stands there and stares at me, making sure that I'm getting settled into whatever room I'm in before he'll lie down. Sometimes, just to screw with him, I'll walk into the living room, sit down, wait for him to sit down, and then walk into the kitchen, wait for him to sit down, then move on to the next room. If I'm really, really bored, this can go on for a good 10-15 minutes before he gives up. (Note to self: get a life.)

And then when he's not following me physically, he's following me with his eyes. Right now, as I type this, he's staring at me fixedly, waiting and watching. It can get kind of creepy after a while. It's like he thinks that if he just stares at me hard enough, I'll put him in the car for a three-hour ride and then stop off for a couple of T-bone steaks and an ice cream sundae for him. Either that or he's waiting for monkeys to fly out of my butt. Or maybe he's trying to figure out if there's a way that he can kill me in my sleep?

Does anyone want a dog?


The Google, Redux

Y'all know how much I love my google searches--especially since I finally connected the dots that 92.3% of the searches for "gris" that turn up are mispelled versions of "girls," aka porn.

So, here's today's search of the month: "gris naket." Not "naked girls," mind you. Not even "girls, naked." But "gris naket." Gris. Naket. I love it. Is our children learning? Is our adults stupid?


E's Adventures in Catholic School

Request to dress up as the Virgin Mary for Halloween? Check.

Question about whether the dinosaurs are all in Heaven now? Check.

Request to pray before dinner and then beginning prayer with "God is grape, God is good?" Check.

Announcement about and subsequent performance of "Jesus dance" she made up? Check. (Complete with jazz hands and prayer hands, I might add.)

Catholic school for four-year-olds is fun.


Observations of a Four-Year-Old

I often think some of the most rewarding parts of parenthood are the times when I get to observe Emmeline in her, umm, natural habitat, shall we say? You know, like when I go to pick her up at school and she hasn't yet noticed that I'm there, so I get to watch her play. Or when I get to eavesdrop on her from time to time, listening in on those rare occasions when she'll play by herself with her dolls for a little while.

Last night, though, was a real doozy; I got to listen to my daughter compose and perform a patriotic song, complete with plastic flute accompaniment, all while she sat on the toilet. It was all I could do to not roll on the floor laughing--especially when she got to the part where she sang about this great country of ours, the Nighted Stick of America.


Financial Aid

Number of weeks that E has been in her new school so far: 3

Number of times that we've been hit up to give additional money and/or time so far: 12

Ah, the joys of private school.....


A Letter to My Daughter, 09/09

Dear Emmeline:

You're four-and-a-half now, and jeez, how the time has flown. You've become the model four-year-old that everyone talks about, the one that makes you laugh out loud at least 2-3 times a day with your antics.

Let's see, where to begin? You finish your third week at "big school" tomorrow and are doing wonderfully there. I think it's been more of an adjustment for me than you--you're attending a Catholic school, as public schools are out of the question. Nothing against Catholics, but I'm not one, so it's been a bit odd for me, and I've been concerned that you might feel left out at times, if you're considered different from the other kids because you don't share their faith. So far, though, you're taking it in stride. You've really warmed to the whole Jesus and Mary thing, including making me play songs about them on the way to school each day. Thank God (no pun intended) for my ipod with the Christmas song playlist on it, or you'd pretty much be out of luck. Last week, you informed me that instead of being Jasmine for Halloween, you want to be the Virgin Mary. I tried to keep a straight face for that one, while also thinking about what a ridiculously cheap Halloween costume that would be (blue sheet? check).


Four Years On

So, long story. When we moved back to New Orleans after Katrina, I didn't really know what to do with myself. I was despondent, I was depressed, I was angry, I was antsy. To sum it all up, I was feeling a bit crazy. I had a nine-month old baby, a husband who worked non-stop, and a lot of time on my hands. I didn't know how to process what had happened to me, to my mother and stepfather, to absolutely everyone in my husband's family, to my friends, to my co-workers, to the people I knew in passing--to everyone on this whole damn coast.

I drove around--a lot--and I pulled my camera out--a lot--and I took a lot of pictures. Four months after the storm, eight months after the storm, one year after the storm....Last weekend, I drove around Lakeview and the Lower 9th for the first time in about a year. Some houses have been repaired by now; about the same amount haven't. I heard on the news today that there are some 40,000 houses abandoned to Katrina still standing in the greater New Orleans area. Forty. Thousand. Abandoned. Houses. Can you even wrap your head around that? I can't, and I've driven past the majority of them.


This is What is What Like

Thanks to my friend Kelly, I've discovered a new blog that I absolutely love. I haven't had time to obsessively read every page yet (I do have a little bit of a life, I'll have you know--just not much of one), but I came across this post in his archives that just sums it up perfectly.

This is what is was like, in the days immediately following Katrina, when we had no news and everyone was telling us that it might be best to just cut our losses and move. This is what is was like when people were debating on CNN and Fox whether New Orleans should be rebuilt. This is what is was like. We weren't listening to anything anyone had to say. We were thinking about everyone we knew in New Orleans and the people whose names we didn't know but who were still a part of our lives. This is what is was like. I hope sturtle won't mind if I quote him in full:


Pre-K in a Good Way

Where did the time go? How is it that I already have a pre-kindergartener?

All dressed up in her uniform.

The school is having half-days all this week, so Emmeline is getting to spend some time at work with me in the afternoons. Who knew that underneath the desk is the best place to hang out? I think I might try this the next time my boss comes looking for me.

Need office help? E can type 1.5 words per minute.


Going Mental

It’s nice to see that some things never change and that there’s still plenty of scorn to go around four years later. Earlier this month, an article appeared in The Washington Times (H/T, Charlotte) entitled “Mental Illness Tidal Wave Swamps New Orleans.” An excerpt:

That shortage of facilities is felt most strongly by residents like Byron Turner, who four years after Katrina still is haunted by visions that eventually drove him to seek professional help.

"Life was real good for me before Katrina," he said. "I had no mental health issues ever in my life. I was never homeless. I had jobs. I had two automobiles before the storm."

Today, he is homeless and taking medication to reduce his bouts of anger. Sometimes he's angry about his situation, sometimes he just gets frustrated with himself. Sometimes, he's still angry over the hurricane.

"I still see the bodies. I still see the dead children. I still see the elderly people floatin' in the water. I still see the water," Mr. Turner said.

Overwhelmed public health agencies in New Orleans can only guess how many of the city's residents are, like Mr. Turner, still struggling to cope with the mental and emotional consequences of a maelstrom that swept away whole neighborhoods and stole away friends, relatives, homes and social networks - the glue that holds people's psyches together. 


Old Wounds

I can feel it starting to set in on me. When I'm sitting, relatively relaxed, as I am now, I can feel the tenseness start to creep into my shoulders. I swear, for the first two years, I couldn't sit completely relaxed. When I was sitting, it was hunched over, with my shoulders rolled forward and tensed for flight, my hands constantly fidgeting or making that weird washing movement like Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons."

For the most part, these days, I put it aside. I live with the daily frustration of life in NOLA and remember all of the reasons that I still choose to live here. But when the height of hurricane season rolls around, sometimes it's still hard.

Sometimes, I hate to admit, I wait for the next big one--the one that will deal the finishing blow and allow us all to move on. To where? I don't know. But if there's one thing the Gustav scare taught me, it's that no matter how much I try to pretend that I'm inured to it now--that I can handle it again, if worse comes to worse, because I've been through it before--I'm lying to myself.

I'm tense. Four years later. And Jeanne Meserve echoes in my head.

CNN Transcript - August 29, 2005

MESERVE: It's been horrible. As I left tonight, darkness, of course, had fallen. And you can hear people yelling for help. You can hear the dogs yelping, all of them stranded, all of them hoping someone will come. But for tonight, they've had to suspend the rescue efforts. It's just too hazardous for them to be out on the boats. There are electrical lines that are still alive. There are gas lines that are still spewing gas. There are cars that are submerged. There are other large objects. The boats can't operate. So they had to suspend operations and leave those people in the homes. As we were driving back, we passed scores of boats, Fish and Wildlife boats that they brought in. They're flat bottomed. They've obviously going to put them in the water just as soon as they possibly can and go out and reach the people who are out there who desperately need help.We watched them, some of them, come in. They were in horrible shape, some of them. We watched one woman whose leg had been severed. Mark Biello, one of our cameramen, went out in one of the boats to help shoot. He ended up being out for hours and told horrific tales. He saw bodies. He saw where -- he saw other, just unfathomable things. Dogs wrapped in electrical -- electrical lines who were still alive that were being electrocuted.The police are having radio problems. At least they were earlier this evening. They didn't have enough boats. They put out an appeal to various police who had personal boats to bring them to the scene. But the problem was the people who had the boats couldn't get to the boats to bring them to the scene to go out and rescue the people.People are out there tonight. One of the EMS workers told us that the water is rising, and I can tell you that when we came back into the city tonight, it certainly was higher here. Whether it's rising in that neighborhood as much as it has here, I don't know.


I'm slowly but surely coming to the realization that my one child is probably my only child. Acceptance of that, however, is another matter.

I guess the best way to describe it would be completely conflicted. I had a dream last week in which I realized I was pregnant. And it wasn't a "happy-family-Oh-my-God-I'm-pregnant!" dream. It was an "Oh-my-God-I'm-pregnant" dream and all of the resultant panic. One of those wake up with a pit in your stomach dreams.

So, since then, I've been trying to figure out what the fact that I'm having non-happy dreams about pregnancy means. Needless to say, procreation has been on my mind a lot lately, especially now that I'm 40 and the window for actually being able to have another child is rapidly closing.

The Google Revisited

Today's top search on the google? "Nasty gris porn." Of course.

Today's weirdest search? "Big ass flying bug with two stripes on its butt." I haven't seen that bug yet, but I can assure you, if it exists, it will make an appearance on my porch soon.

Speaking of which, one of my neighbors is chainsawing something right now. At 9:50 p.m. WTF? Oh well--I guess that's a step up from crack dealing.

Keeping the Brand Out There, "No, Really" Edition

A favorable article from the New York Times.

H/T, Latin Teacher

Hurt - Johnny Cash via Trent Reznor

I hurt myself today to see if I still feel.
I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.
The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting.*
Try to kill it all away, but I remember everything.

What have I become, my sweetest friend?
Everyone I know goes away in the end.
And you could have it all, my empire of dirt
I will let you down. I will make you hurt.

I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar’s chair,
Full of broken thoughts I cannot repair.
Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear.
You are someone else and I am still right here.

What have I become, my sweetest friend?
Everyone I know goes away in the end.
And you could have it all, my empire of dirt.
I will let you down. I will make you hurt.

If I could start again, a million miles away--
I would keep myself. I would find a way.

*Just in case any of y’all are scared, this blogger has never tried, and never plans to try, any drugs that require needles. I just like really, really sad songs. Especially if they’re sung by Johnny. Or Willie. Or Patsy.


Conversations With a Four-Year-Old, Volume Five

I think it's only fair that E should need therapy, at some point, due to my parenting skills. Because she sure throws some zingers out at me occasionally. For example:

E: Mommy, can we have some quiet time now?

Me: Sure. Are you tired of talking?

E: Yes. Sometimes, when you talk, it makes my ears hurt.


Dear New Orleans Gods...

I'm leaving in the morning to go to Puerto Vallarta for a week.

Since someone is indicted every single time I go out of town, it would be really great if it could be Ray Nagin this time. If you can't swing that, I'd settle for Greg Meffert. Or Veronica White. Or if there can't be an indictment, a resignation from Warren Riley would be super, too.

In exchange, I'm willing to bring you back a bottle of tequila. And I promise that if I run into Captain Stubing, Julie, Isaac, Gopher, or any of the rest of the Love Boat gang, I'll tell them you said hi.


P.S. Anthony Jones' firing doesn't count--that happened before I left.



I went to renew our Louisiana Citizens FAIR (hah!) Plan today for wind and hail coverage. The woman at the insurance office and I got to talking, and she asked how many feet of water we'd had during Katrina. When I answered 3 1/2 feet, she got a little pissy with me. "Hmph. I wish that's all the water we'd had in our house." Turns out, she lived in Chalmette and had water to her rooftop.

Really? Is there an "I got more water than you did during Katrina" competition that no one told me about? Because, for the record, 3 1/2 feet of water did a hell of a lot of damage. And for that matter, 6 inches of water, if it sat inside of your house for two weeks, did a hell of a lot of damage. And even if you got no water during Katrina, I'm sure you felt (and possibly still feel) a little pyschologically damaged.

Let's not fight amongst ourselves, m'kay? Three-and-a-half feet of water sucked. As did 20 feet of water. As did 6 inches of water. We all had to replace a hell of a lot. And recover from a hell of a lot.

I don't know why that set me off. Is therapy calling my name?



So, I'm 40 years old now--is it time for me to have my mid-life crisis? Personally, 40 seems a little late to have a mid-life crisis. I think my chances of making it to 80 are fair to middling.

Do people in New Orleans say "fair to middling? Or is that just another Southernism that y'all have never heard of? Like "full as a tick on a hound dog?" That's my personal favorite. I'm going to go out on a limb and venture that people from, say, Vermont have definitely never heard of the hound dog simile. Prove me wrong.

So anyway, I'm 40 now. What do you, my faithful two readers, think I should do to celebrate? Right now, there are about 4 votes that I should go get a tattoo and a nose ring (kidding). Although I have thought about getting another tattoo. Yes, I have one--it's personal. But not in an "I got drunk and got some guy's name tattooed on my butt and then we broke up" kinda way. Just in an "It's personal, it meant something to me, and I did it only for me and very few people know about it" kinda way.

Thank you, dear husband, for a wonderful surprise 40th birthday party, complete with getting old friends into town and a very hungover brunch at Commander's the next day. Pictures to follow at some point, once I find the time to edit them.


Conversations With A Four-Year-Old, Volume Four

So, with all of the celebrity deaths lately (I mean, c'mon--Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson AND Billy Mays? Oh, the humanity!), the subject of death was bound to hit Emmeline's radar eventually. Somehow, Michael Jackson's death made it into her frame of consciousness this week.--I think it has to do with the fact that she absolutely loves Thriller. (I blame her father. And Vincent Price.) So, we got to have the following conversation on the way home from daycare today.

E: Mommy, why did Michael Jackson die?

Me: (Me, thinking to myself, "Oh lord, the death conversation. I'm so not ready for the death conversation. Shouldn't she be having this conversation with a trained professional?") Oh, he was sick honey. Sometimes people get sick and die.


So, what do you do when you can't sleep and end up staying up all night? Me? I could've taken advantage of catching up on my blog last night, when I was up roaming around the house between the hours of 12:00 and 5:030 a.m., unable to sleep. But that would've been too productive. Instead, I finished my book, hoping I'd get sleepy, and started a new one. No luck. So, I turned to my fail-safe insomnia method--surfing channels and watching infomercials until I was sure I'd get so bored that I'd be able to get to sleep. Again, no such luck. And I must say, when you can't sleep at 5:00 a.m., those infomercials start to look pretty tempting. I consider myself lucky that I made it back to bed around 5:30 without giving into temptation and becoming the proud owner of some Bare Minerals makeup (with a FREE compact!), a Shark vacuum cleaner (as good as the Dyson! And it comes with a FREE steam mop!) and a body shaper (drop two dress sizes INSTANTLY!). But I must confess, it's just not the same without Billy Mays shouting at me. And how big of a bummer is that, to have the Oxi-Clean guy die on your birthday?

I have lots to blog about--my trip to Peru, my insane four-year-old, my upcoming trip to Mexico, turning 40 and having my husband actually throw me a surprise birthday party. But I'm feeling sleepy. Guess it will all have to wait while I go in search of an infomercial for the Magic Bullet....


A Google Epiphany

I just figured it out--all of this time, I've been wondering if there's some weird definition of "gris" that I don't know about, other than when it's used in the context of "gris-gris." You see, people keep ending up at this blog via the google, where, as I believe I've mentioned, they type in weird-ass things like "big ass gris," "gris porn," and "gris on my body."

They're not trying to type gris. They're trying to type girls and are just terrible typists. (They probably don't blog much.)

Maybe this occurred to everyone else a long time ago, but I just got that. Duh.


Up on the Roof

Did I mention that I moved into my office? (Why yes, you've mentioned that several times now.) How about pluses and minuses to my new office? Have I mentioned those? No? Okay, here we go.

Fill In the Blank....

Way back in the dark ages, when I was pregnant with Emmeline, I signed up for one of those sites where you get a weekly email telling you what to expect during that week of your pregnancy, what to expect now that your child is XX weeks, months old, etc.

Now that Emmeline is officially a pre-schooler, the emails have narrowed down to one maybe every couple of months. Usually, they languish away in my inbox, with me always meaning to open them and read what words of wisdom they may have but never finding the time to do so.

I had to laugh this afternoon when one appeared in my inbox. The title, which was too long to show up fully, was abbreviated to "Your 4-Year-Old: Your Little...."

My little what? Oh, the words I could use to finish that sentence....The correct answer is "Your Little Reporter," but I prefer some of the answers I came up with, which I won't repeat here.


Dear Crawfish Gods:

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for letting this story happen in Lafayette rather than in New Orleans. After the whole teenager stabbing a bus driver story, we could use a little break. What kind of idiot tries to force their child to eat an entire crawfish, shell and all?

On the plus side, I think I just got a point in the game my husband and I like to play, "Whose Native State Contains More Jackasses?"


Random Musings #7

I haven't had a chance in the past couple of days to do my usual perusal of pretty much every NOLA blog known to man, but in light of the news that's come out over the past few days, I'm willing to make a wager right now that the phrase "Shanghai surprise" is making the circuit. Time will tell when I have a chance to surf. I'm also willing to go out on a big limb here and predict that people in New Orleans are not exactly broken up over the fact that our mayor is being quarantined in China. How could our city government get any worse? I, for one, will not be pining for C. Ray's return.

As I said in a FB posting, I am so officially old now. Yes, I will be FORTY in 20 days (technically, 19 days and two hours, but who's counting?). For the most part, I feel okay about this whole aging thing. Would I like to go back and be 17 for a couple of days? God, yes. But it's okay--I've had 15 years to get used to gray hair (thank you, Ms. Clairol) and all of the other joys that go along with aging. But the thing that still kinda disturbs me and makes me realize that I really am officially middle-aged now (other than the screaming at children to get off my lawn) is the fact that I'm so out of the Top 40, Entertainment Tonight loop that it's not even funny. Who in the hell is Shia LaBouef? I see his name all over the place now. I have no idea of who he is, and I don't care--I'm not even willing to google it and find out who this guy that all of the teeny-boppers are swooning over is. Did I mention that everyone should get off my lawn?


Thank God I'm Normal, aka Conversations With a Four-Year-Old, Volume Three

I have discovered a post that, in my humble opinion, is the funniest damn mom-blogging post ever. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Watch Your Mouth. Go read it. It's well worth it.

And now, in the spirit of that honesty, I'll share my own watch your mouth moment, otherwise known as Conversations With a Four-Year-Old....

E: *#$%^&*!

Me: What did you just say?

E: Sorry, Mommy. I said f*ck. But it's okay, because I was just talking to my Barbie because she won't let me put her damn clothes on. I wasn't talking to you.

I really honestly can't imagine where she's heard such language....

The People on the Bus are Carrying Knives

Sometimes, when the crime in New Orleans seems particularly out of control, like, oh, every day, I wonder why there are so many people in the world who seem to have no sense of responsibility and absolutely no moral compass. I wonder why people are so willing to solve their disputes with violence and why they don't know any better.

And then, when something particularly disturbing happens, it makes me remember how many people there are in this world who don't have responsible parents or authority figures in their lives and don't have anyone to teach them the difference between right and wrong.

Like this story--"RTA Bus Driver Stabbed by Young Woman in Stroller Dispute." How screwed up do you have to be to get on a bus with your two-and-a-half-year-old, get offended when the bus driver tells you to fold up your stroller, and decide that the appropriate response is to throw milk in the bus driver's face and then stab her with a steak knife?

The perpetrator is a 17-year-old girl, which means that she got pregnant at 13 or 14. I have no idea of whether her parents are in the picture, but you do have to wonder what, if anything, she's been taught if she thinks it's appropriate to stab someone over a minor dispute. Another child having children. I hope like hell she gets some help, for her sake and for her child's.



Really, Riley?

This is enough to scare the hell out of me. Please, dear God, let us be smart enough not to elect Warren Riley as mayor. I think that could just be the final nail in New Orleans' coffin.

And speaking of that jackass, why is it still considered news when the FBI ranks us as the murder capital of the U.S. and then Riley comes out to dispute the FBI's designation by spouting off something similar to "Blah, blah, blah, the census figures are wrong. Blah, blah, blah, crime rates are down." Great. Crime rates are down. We're still watching people around here get killed on an almost-daily basis.

My favorite part of the Times-Pic story on the population dispute is this: "Using the highest of [the] population estimates, the city last year recorded 55 murders per 100,000 residents. The number used by the FBI notches that up to 64 murders per 100,000 people. St. Louis has the nation's second-highest rate, about 47 murders per 100,000 people."

So, even if we do have 45,000 more people than the U.S. Census Bureau originally gave us credit for, as Riley insists, we're still killing people at a higher rate than anyone else. I don't know of anyone who thinks that the responsibility for the astronomical murder rate in this city rests solely with the NOPD. But coming out and denying that murder rate by saying that the FBI's numbers are wrong is NOT making anyone feel better--especially when this is about the fourth year in a row that Riley's trotted out that tired excuse.

I think that's one of the things that drives me up the wall the most about the Nagin administration. Not a single damn one of them will ever just be honest and admit that there's a problem--they're always trying to spin, spin, spin.

God, how I can't wait for these idiots to be gone. Surely we can't do any worse, right?

A Four-Year-Old First

This morning around 6:30 a.m., I was sitting on the back porch having my usual breakfast of champions of a Coke and a cigarette. Then, all of a sudden, the clouds parted, angels with harps appeared, and the Hallalujah chorus began playing around me.

In other words, today was the first morning EVER (or since she learned how to talk, at least) that my daughter woke up, came out and found me on the porch, and didn't start immediately demanding that I turn on the bathroom light, turn on some cartoons, get her some cereal, get her some juice, cover her with a blanket, etc., all of which should be done RIGHT. THIS. VERY. MINUTE.

Instead, we sat on the porch together for about 10 minutes and had a conversation about dogs and squirrels. And then we calmly walked into the house together and I got her some breakfast and turned on the Disney Channel. And THEN, she got dressed. By herself.

If this is what people have been talking about in regards to how delightful it is to have a four-year-old, sign me up for more, please!


The Google, Again

Dear Google Users:

You're really starting to creep me out a bit. All because of this post, you people keep ending up at my site, with your weird-ass questions, like, "Is it okay to give my two-year-old Xanax?" and "Xanax for a four-year-old."

The answer, in case you were really wondering, is NO. No, you cannot give your child prescription drugs. Okay? Does that make it clear? Now go google something about "funky grits" or "grits porn" or something else weird and let me be, okay? Maybe I should change the name of this blog to "No, you cannot give your child Xanax, even if you really wish they'd be quiet, just for a little while." Sheesh.

Now, just for the fun of it, let's type "hallucinogenics and toddlers" and see who ends up here....


I Want to Play, Too!

Following the lead of Jeffrey and Kelly, here’s what I was up to 81 days after Katrina—trying to explain to the insurance company that I had no idea of where my car ended up after it went under a 30+ foot storm surge in Bay St. Louis. Ah, good times.

Other misty-water colored memories of that time include getting into serious discussions with my husband (some including yelling, crying, and screaming) as to whether we should move back to New Orleans or not, while we lived in an unfurnished house in Atlanta that someone had been kind enough to loan to us until we figured out where in the hell to go. And then there's the laugh-a-minute memories from around Day 81 like fighting with Allstate about whether or not our house would be declared a total loss, fighting with Allstate about why they kept reassigning us to a different adjustor, and coming to terms with the fact that everything we owned at the time fit into a couple of Rubbermaid plastic containers, thanks to Katrina. I think I would’ve preferred a first-class, all-expenses paid trip to Jamaica, too, mon.

To see what we’re talking about, go here—81 Days Later, Life Was a Beach

Oh, happy days.


Ah, Spring - Part Two

Have I mentioned how much I really dislike the wide world of insects found in New Orleans in springtime? At least I'm used to palmetto bugs (aka, big-ass flying cockroaches)--they're gross, but they're familiar. But stinging hairy caterpillars? Those huge gigantic mosquitos that are about 20 times the size of a normal mosquito? And what in God's name are those weird-ass bugs that look like beetles wearing a shell and then spin around on the ground making horrible noises? Really, what in God's name are those?

Yesterday evening, K, Emmeline, and I were sitting on the porch, hanging out, when all of sudden, this bug cruised up and over the chair Emmeline was sitting in. I guess it was a beetle of some sort, but it was black with white stripes. It looked like a zebra. With a horn. I've never before in my life seen one of those.

But anyway--the point of this story. Tonight, I tried to tough it out and sit on the porch, Formosan termite swarms be damned. And I did just fine there, for a while, killing them as they landed on my arms and legs. But then one landed on my head and tried to burrow into my scalp. My porch-sitting time for this evening is officially over. I'll be picking termite bits out of my hair for the rest of the night.

Ah, spring in New Orleans. I'm off now to turn off all the lights in the house in a futile effort to keep the termites out.

Edit: A big-ass flying cockroach just swooped down on me. He was probably trying to get the termite in my hair. I am so moving to Alaska.


Conversations With A Four-Year-Old, Volume Two

A conversation that took place at 3:00 a.m.

E: Mommy, wake up. Mommy?

Me: Uhnnnnnn.

E: Mommy, wake up. I don't feel good.

Me: What's wrong, sweetie?

E. My tummy hurts. I think I have the swan flu.


Progress, Part Two

The "recovery" is moving along at a rapid-fire, lightning-quick pace now. Only 44 months later, the flooded-out, abandoned house that sat a block down on our street since Katrina, complete with moldy furniture, was finally demolished. Progress, people! Next up, cranes on the skyline....

Four-Year-Old Blues

Lately, I feel like I can't do anything right when it comes to mothering. Everyone has told me how wonderful four-year-olds are, that they're finally in a sweet, agreeable, tantrum-free phase, and some of the time, I agree with them. Emmeline is funny, and smart, and sweet. But she's also incredibly defiant, and I'm incredibly tired.

It seems like lately that everything is a battle. And I mean everything. It starts off in the morning with her arguing about what I'm fixing her for breakfast, we then move into an argument over whether or not she can have candy after breakfast, and then transition into the battle over what clothes, shoes, and underwear to wear to school. Believe me, I let her pick whenever possible--even when that means she goes off to school in a dress that's too short and is wrinkled beyond belief and is accessorized with a pair of scuffed-up old shoes that are worn on the wrong feet (for some strange reason, she prefers them to be on the wrong feet).


A Question?

Has anyone ever noticed? That Travers Mackel? Can't report the news? Without sounding like? A teenaged girl? Who makes every sentence? Sound like a question? Am I the only one? Who finds this? Really irritating? And thinks that he needs? Some coaching? And that WDSU? Is quite possibly? The cheesiest local television? News channel?

Just wondering. I don't know why I even watch their evening newscast, as none of the reporters really do it for me. And their constant patting of themselves on the back has me rolling my eyes constantly. I guess I watch it out of habit, because I like ol' Roop in the morning, and I prefer NBC nightly news at night.

But still? Travers Mackel is really irritating. As is Fletcher. And don't even get me started on how happy I am that the stupid DARN scale retired with Dan. And get off my lawn.


Conversations With a Four-Year-Old, Volume One

E: Mommy, Ryan was talking about his tee-tee at school today. He has a tee-tee because he's a boy.

Me: Yes, that's right. Ryan's a boy.

E: Yeah, he's a boy, but I told him I didn't want to hear about his tee-tee. I told him that's biscusting.

Me: Biscusting?

E: Yeah. Biscusting. That's when something's really gross.

A Quiz

If you woke up at 4:00 a.m., realized that your husband had never made it home from work, then called his cell phone and discovered it was either turned off or the battery was dead, what would you do?

A. Call his cell phone obsessively every 5-8 minutes in the hopes that he'd eventually turn it on and answer it.

B. Start calling hospitals to see if he'd been in an accident.

C. Start calling police departments to see if he'd been arrested.

D. All of the above.

I went with option D and didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I've never been so happy in my life to see him as when he finally showed up around 7:00 a.m. Of course, I was extremely irritated with him as well. Turns out his boss asked him to stay at the restaurant all night and re-inventory the food, as they discovered last week that there was some sort of error that was resulting in their food costs being off by about $150K. He just forgot to mention that to me. And forgot to charge his cell phone.

Husbands. Will they never get the whole "call me if you're going to be late" thing?

What I Learned Today

Whew--it's over. The grand opening of our new office and all of the minutiae that were involved in pulling it off are done. Now, for the things I learned today:
  1. If you send out 1,200 invitations to an event, consider yourself fortunate if 50 people reply to the requested RSVP.
  2. It's hard to plan how much food to have for an event when no one RSVPs.
  3. When people who didn't RSVP show up at the event, expect some of them to complain about the fact that there isn't enough food to go around.
  4. It seems that some people live for showing up at an event so that they can complain about the logistics of it.
  5. If you feed them, they will come.
  6. Portabello mushroom tarts taste a lot better than they look. They kinda look like something you'd scrape off of your shoe in horror.
  7. Some adults get waaaayyyy more excited about free pens than they should.
  8. My new office is pretty.
  9. Some people get really pissy when they don't have a pre-printed name tag because they didn't RSVP. My advice? Get over it.
  10. I now remember why I got out of the PR/special events business.
  11. All in all, it went really well.
 I can haz my raise now, please?


Note to Self

Try to be a lighter sleeper the next time Emmeline sneaks into your room at 5:00 a.m., finds the nail polish in your bedside table, and proceeds to paint her toenails and fingernails. And her toes. And her ankles. And her calves. And her fingers. And her wrists. And her forearms. And the sofa. And the coffee table. And the rug. And the floor. And the Elmo chair.

P.S. Find a new hiding place for the fingernail polish. And buy more nail polish remover.



Dear Charles:

I love you. I miss you. I remember you. I wish you were still here. It seems wrong that you're not. You should be 30 years old. You should be married. You should have kids, or at least one on the way. You should be here. You should be playing with Emmeline and be her favorite uncle. We should be sitting on Mom and Nick's porch, catching up on what's going on in each other's lives. You should have a good job that you love. You should be making Mom and Nick and Patty and Paul proud of the man you've turned out to be. You should be the brother that I love to hang out with during the holidays. You should be the person who's found himself. You should be here.

You should be here. I try to tell myself that you moved on because you were ready to do so--because you had one of the kindest, wisest souls that I've ever known. And it's true. But you should still be here. We weren't ready for you to go.

Eight years. I love you. I miss you. I remember you.

Charles Eric Johnson. 1978-2001.


I Think I Would've Gone With Mary Jane

My favorite part of the story appearing in the Times-Pic this morning entitled "NO Man Convicted of Attack on Tourist" would have to be this:

Rayfield, who was acquitted of an armed robbery charge in 2003, took the witness stand in his own defense, saying that after a night out with a friend on Bourbon Street he was walking up to his sister's apartment in the Iberville when police grabbed him and slammed his head into the wall.
His sister, Marijuana Rayfield, also testified for the defense that her brother couldn't have been involved in the crime that morning.
The jury deliberated for 1 1/2 hours before finding Rayfield guilty as charged.

Can someone please explain to me why you'd even consider naming your child Marijuana?


Us Versus Them

I don't know why this stuff still gets to me. Almost four years later, you'd think I'd be over it. That I would have long since grown accustomed to the callousness, insensitivity, and downright meanness of some of my fellow Americans. But after seeing the ridiculous mid-west flooding versus Katrina comparisons begin anew, it still brings out the same reaction in me that it would have in 2005. It makes my head start buzzing and my heart start pounding. It makes me want to cry and punch something at the same time.

If you haven't already, please go read Scout Prime's excellent post on the false comparisons that are being drawn between the recent flooding in North Dakota and the flooding in New Orleans after Katrina. She says it much better than I can.

I talked with an old boyfriend on Facebook recently, for the first time in oh, about 20 years. After telling him that I'd lived in New Orleans for the past 10+ years, had gone through Katrina, etc., his response was interesting. He said he'd been one of those people that sat around in their living rooms, watching the coverage of Katrina, and commenting on what idiots we all were for living there in the first place, etc. He said that I was the first person he knew of that actually lived in the area and was affected by Katrina and that, to be quite honest, he felt like a bit of an asshole for his earlier analysis. His comments didn't offend me--at least he was honest about it.


The Google

Today's odd Google search that led someone here: "Can chihuahuas have grits?"

I'm seriously concerned about some of the weirdos out there on the internets, a large portion of whom seem to end up at my blog. I'm also concerned about the fact that this blog seems to come up as the likeliest place to look for answers to some of y'all's very weird questions.


A Question

If you live next to railroad tracks that are pretty much in regular use by freight trains, and the weather is bad enough that all of the meteorologists are saying that tornadoes are a possibility and to listen for the tell-tale sound of a freight train, what do you do when you actually hear a freight train? Snatch up your daughter and immediately run and hide in the bathtub, since your house isn't large enough to have an interior room? Or hope it really is just a freight train and ignore it?

This is what I was thinking last night around midnight. Luckily for me, there were no sounds of approaching freight trains, either caused by actual freight trains or by tornadoes. Man, that was quite a thunderstorm, though--it sounded like bombs going off.

I think Kelly had a good point--maybe this weather will keep a few more people off of the streets who might ordinarily be out and about looking for someone to shoot. Come to think of it, I didn't hear about any overnight murders on the news this morning. Maybe we're on to something here....


Laying Odds

So, should we start placing bets now on when the inevitable comparisons will begin anew, contrasting those hard-working, earnest mid-westerners in Fargo, as they battle to keep their town from flooding, with New Orleanians, those shiftless, lazy, morons who just sat around whining and asking for hand-outs after Katrina?


Random Musings #6

The Directv receiver/DVR that's attached to the ridiculously large (by my standards) television in our living room broke about a week ago. Did you know that if you have service through Directv, even though you pay them a subscription fee of $75 a month, you're on your own if any of the equipment breaks, unless you've opted to pay them a $7/month maintenance fee? So now, in order to have television in our living room again, I have to pay $100 for a new receiver AND agree to a new 24-month contract for services. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I had a receiver through Cox and it broke, wouldn't they give me a new one for free? Isn't that part of the whole service contract? We give you equipment to use our service, and if it breaks, we'll replace it? Yes, I looked into just telling Directv to go screw themselves and going with Cox, but the price that they want to come out and install cable at our house is even more than it'll cost to replace the damn receiver.

I hate cable companies and electric companies--can someone explain to me again why monopoly laws don't apply to them? Note to self--tag this post with "Directv Sucks" and "Entergy Sucks." Might as well not let Allstate have all of the fun, as someone from that fine company ends up at this blog at least once a month after doing an internet search for "Allstate Sucks." Which it does. Big time.


The Princess Turns Four

Emmeline and her princess-licious cake.

Ah, Spring

Oh, how I love spring in New Orleans. The weather is lovely, daylight savings time goes into effect, and it's nice enough to sit outside on the porch in the evenings.

How can I tell spring has arrived in New Orleans? Why, by the big-ass flying cockroach that scuttled across my floor this morning. I was still groggy and not quick enough to stomp him with my shoe, so I'm sure he's lying in wait for me now. He's probably in our bedroom, cruising in and out of the closet, and perhaps taking little rest breaks on my pillow as I type this.

We'll know that spring has fully sprung once the buckmoth caterpillars take over the trees, streets, and sidewalks and start stinging us. As Emmeline says, "Don't touch the hairy caterpillars!" My four-year-old is a smart girl.

Ah, spring.


A Letter to My Daughter, 03/09

Dear Emmeline:

Four years have passed since you were born, and, as mentioned earlier, all of my well-intentioned plans to keep a journal of your babyhood and toddler years haven’t panned out. I really meant to do it, I promise, but like most parents, overcome with the task of the actual parenting, I haven’t often taken the time to put my thoughts into words. And now, in the blink of an eye, my baby girl is four.

You were such a beautiful, easy baby. I rarely remember you crying after the first few weeks-- once I learned what you needed from me, which was not much, other than love, you were about as happy as a baby can be.

There were many, many times when I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and was convinced I was going to be a failure as a mother, like on our first night together, in the hospital. Kenny and I had no earthly idea of why you were crying and tried everything to get you to stop--feeding you, changing you, rocking you, singing to you, putting you in your bassinet, all to no avail. When we finally called the nursery to ask the nurse on duty if she had any advice, her answer was simple. “Do you have a pacifier? If so, then give it to her.” And we gave you the pacifier, and you stopped crying--as simple as that. We had several more sleepless nights those first few weeks after you were born, while we were still muddling our way through this new relationship—I remember one night in particular, when I couldn't get you to sleep, no matter what I did. I finally gave up, and the two of us watched Purple Rain together--it's amazing what you can find on television at 3:00 a.m. (You seemed to prefer the scenes with Morris Day and the Time as opposed to Prince, but you were an infant, so I'll forgive you.)


Random Musings #5

Does every large office building have a crazy person who insists on talking to anyone and everyone in the elevator? You know the one--the person who asks about your weekend and you say it was fine. Then, because it's the polite thing to do, you ask how her weekend was. And then you get to listen to a monologue that lasts all the way to the 18th floor, with multiple stops on the way up to let other people onto the elevator. And all the way up, you have to nod politely while the crazy person tells you about her trip to the gynecologist, and then somehow that segues into her telling you all about the terrible fight that her husband and her daughter had over the weekend. And all of the other people in the elevator are looking at you with sympathy, because you're the one that got stuck talking to crazy lady today. Or even worse, they don't realize that you're not friends with crazy lady and they think you're crazy by association, because why in the world are the two of you (even though crazy lady is the one doing all of the talking) having this wildly inappropriate conversation in front of 10 other people in the elevator? We have one of those. Today was my day to be her elevator friend. Have I mentioned that we don't work together and don't know each other outside of the confines of the elevator? Crazy. Lady.

If I ever win the lottery, my dream is to immediately run out and buy the biggest, heaviest, tank-like old car I can find. Perhaps an old Cadillac or something. And then, when I'm out driving in my very large, very heavy car, I will simply stop avoiding wrecks. That jerk who gets in the left-turn only lane and then forces me to slam on my brakes in order to avoid him when he goes straight and cuts me off? No more braking for you, buddy. Ditto to the people who run traffic lights, slam on their brakes for no apparent reason, swerve into my lane while reading the paper or talking on the phone, or try to get around me in a traffic jam by taking the emergency lane. I won't go out and purposely seek out ways to get into accidents, mind you. I'll just stop avoiding accidents because of the stupidity of other people. After I've had my fill of not avoiding accidents, next up on the list is traveling around the country to ride all of the biggest, tallest roller coasters I can find. And then perhaps a nice relaxing vacation in Italy.

If Mardi Gras krewes don't have a code of conduct for their float riders, they should. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, but I think it's incredibly tasteless when a rider starts making the universal sign for "show me your tits" at a girl along the parade route and thinks that's a fair trade for a string of plastic beads. Despite what you see on television, the majority of Mardi Gras really is attended by families--save that stuff for the drunk tourists in the Quarter. I once had a rider request that I "hop like a bunny" in exchange for a string of beads. I'm sure you can imagine the universal sign I gave him. Don't be an ass just because you're on a float. Thankfully, most of the float riders are great and want nothing more than eye contact and an enthusiastic "Hey!" for their beads.

I'm swamped at work, again. I think it's highly inconsiderate that NIH set a due date of the Friday before Mardi Gras for grant progress reports. I'm kidding, mostly. But they do seem to have a knack for setting their deadlines around holiday weekends. If I ever get to take off for Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Memorial Day, etc. without having to kill myself to meet their deadlines, I'll be a happy camper.

The move to my new office is coming along and should happen right on schedule, around April. I'm trying not to think too much about the fact that one of my co-workers told me that the fire alarm doesn't work up on the 25th and 26th floors and that I should probably make sure I have a buddy on a lower floor who'll be kind enough to call and let me know if the need to evacuate the building ever comes up. That's slightly disturbing, considering I've already been abandoned at work once before. I used to be the public relations person for a government agency and was responsible for not only taking pictures for use in publications but also developing said pictures. One Christmas Eve day, I was holed up in the darkroom for several hours. When I came out, the entire building was dark and locked up. The boss had uncharacteristically let everyone go home early for Christmas and no one had thought to come to the darkroom and tell me that. Good times.

On a related note, at that same job, I once wrote a long email to my mother, describing in great detail what an absolute jerk my boss was. Everyone--and I mean everyone--who worked for him hated his guts because he was such an egomaniacal tyrant. Anyway--I accidentally sent that email, meant for my mother, to a gentleman who worked for the state agency that was in charge of regulating our local agency. I have never in my life been so mortified as when he called to let me know he'd gotten the email. Thankfully, he thought my boss was a jerk as well and didn't forward the email on to him. The friends that I keep in touch with from that job still like to bring that story up. Needless to say, they thought it was much more entertaining than I did.

That's life on this end. See y'all after Mardi Gras.

Conversations With a Three-Year-Old, Volume 9

E: You're my bestest mommy. I like being around you all the time.

Me: Aw, thanks.

E: Except for when I don't like being around you.


Requiem – Eliza Gilkyson

Mother Mary, full of grace, awaken.
All our homes are gone, our loved ones taken.
Taken by the sea.

Mother Mary, calm our fears, have mercy.
Drowning in a sea of tears, have mercy.
Hear our mournful plea.

Our world has been shaken.
We wander, our homelands forsaken.
In the dark night of the soul, bring some comfort to us all.
Oh, Mother Mary, come and carry us in your embrace.
That our sorrows may be faced.

Mary, fill the glass to overflowing.
Illuminate the path where we are going.
Have mercy on us all.

In funeral fires burning,
each flame to your mystery returning.
In the dark night of the soul,
your shattered dreamers, make them whole.
Oh Mother Mary, find us where we’ve
fallen out of grace. Lead us to a higher place.

In the dark night of the soul, our broken hearts you can make whole.
Oh Mother Mary, come and carry us in your embrace.
Let us see your gentle face, Mary.


The City That Can't Forget Crime

New Orleans crime. It's on everyone's minds. At least, everyone in the New Orleans blogosphere. Clay. Eli. Maitri. Liprap. Amy. And too many others to count.

I picked up the Times-Pic yesterday and opened it to the metro section first, as I always do. I was immediately struck by the headlines. Of the 12 headlines, 8 of them referred to violent crimes committed in the city and surrounding parishes. "Juvenile court judge says 14-year-old Kenner boy can be held in killing of French Quarter bartender. "Son accused of killing father, beating mother." "5 wounded in shootings at Iberville." "Trial delayed for mother accused of arming son." Eight out of 12 of those articles. And if that wasn't bad enough, one of the articles of the remaining four was a report of a man being arrested for sexually molesting an eight-year-old girl. All of the letters to the editor were from people voicing their anger, their fear, and their disgust at the sad state we're in.


Conversations With a Three-Year-Old, Volume 8

E: Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be a doctor.

Me: Okay, that sounds great.

E: And a sea lion!


Whew! And Geese!

Well, that was a rough couple of weeks. I guess I had it coming, since work was incredibly slow during the entire month of December. I think I may have just made up for it, though, after the time I've had at work since getting back--V, a friend and co-worker, informed me on January 5th that she'd decided to go ahead and submit that research grant application after all. It normally takes about 4-6 weeks to prepare a federal grant application--we did this one in 9 days, with 7 whole minutes to spare before the FedEx guy showed up for the last pick-up of the night. I may or may have not cried a couple of times before it was all over. But thank god--it's DONE! And now I can do all of the other work that I've been neglecting for two weeks and that people are on my ass about! Yay, work!

And Emmeline has another infectious ailment and can't go back to school until some time next week. Ah, motherhood.

There were some positives over the past couple of weeks, too. First, K and I hosted a baby shower, along with some other friends, for a couple of our dearest and closest friends. A good time was had by all, I think, especially at the after-party. Who knew conversations involving Suze Orman and Fred Flintstone could be so entertaining?

The other plus is that I'm getting a raise! And a promotion! To management! And a new office! With a window! And a door! That's not a cubicle! Can you tell how excited I am?!? And, in the typical lightning-quick speed that accompanies all staff decisions at my job, all of this should go into effect by April! Or May! Not as excited now! Oh well.

And finally, is it just me? Because I think all of the people at 20/20, Dateline, the local news, etc. are just a wee bit disappointed with having to report the whole story of "A bunch of people were on a plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River! And they're just fine! And did we mention there were geese?!?" Right now, 20/20 is running a special on how the crash could have been much worse!!!!! They could have died, people! And there were geese! GEESE, I tell you! Be afraid!*

And that concludes yet another exciting Friday evening in my world. Watch out for geese.

*Sorry for all of the exclamation points!!!


Why I Fear Winning the Lottery

Yes, my husband loves Christmas lights. He thinks that everyone's house should look like Al Copeland's at Christmas. For the first, oh, ten or so years of our relationship, I fought this love K has of the "more is more" school of Christmas decorating. Then, I let him do it and got mildly embarrassed when people would come by the house.

This year, I just accepted that my yard was going to look like this. It's even my fault, a little, as when K first got started decorating, all he had up was the Abominable Snowman, the icicle lights, and one Santa. My response was, "If you're going to go tacky, go tacky all the way--this is half-assed."

Two days later, I came home to the above Christmas wonderland, complete with lights on the roof, two penguins (because nothing says Christmas in New Orleans like penguins), an inflatable Rudolph, complete with flashing nose, and the piece de resistance, the Snoopy Christmas countdown display.

If we ever win the lottery and K has an even larger house, a larger yard, and a larger budget, I am so screwed.


Random Musings #4

Well, thank God--Christmas is behind us. Don't get me wrong--I absolutely adore Christmas. As I type this, I'm sitting next to our Christmas tree--which is about as dead as a Christmas tree can get--and am delaying taking the lights down for another day or two. I love me some Christmas lights. And they have to be colored ones. Yes, yes, I know that some people think that colored Christmas lights are tacky, but so be it--to me they say Christmas. I would prefer colored blinking lights, but K absolutely draws the line at that one. He comes from the white Christmas lights school. Blech. Sorry, but BOR-ing. I'm sure I've now offended all three of the people who read this blog.

Anyway--it seemed like this Christmas went by way too quickly, but at the same time, I'm glad it's over. I guess that's what happens when you host both your and your husband's families at some point during the week of Christmas. (Hi, Mandy!) We had a very good time, but I was exhausted by the time it was all over, with five separate Christmas gatherings, all but one of which were at our house. One on Christmas Eve, one on Christmas day, one on the Saturday following Christmas at my mother's house, one on Monday night, and one on the Tuesday following Christmas.

So, I wanted it all to be a Martha Stewart Christmas--it was the first time that I've seen my mother AND my father AND my sister--all in the same room--on Christmas day--since 1981. And it all went pretty well, I think. Other than the fact that we didn't finally eat until 6:30, because we (or should I say I) decided to cook too many dishes. And then my husband set himself on fire. Not too badly, but nonetheless--having to find a Walgreen's that's open at 11:00 at night on Christmas so that you can go buy burn cream kinda puts a damper on the evening. Note to self--in the future, don't let the husband play with the new chimenea after he's had a few drinks.

Anyway--a Christmas summary:
  • Number of eggnog daiquiris drank: 0 (I think that's why it just didn't feel like Christmas this year)
  • Number of times I was irritated by extremely warm and humid weather: About 112
  • Number of times I made warm apple cider: 0 (see, extremely warm and humid weather)
  • Number of times I sadly threw one of my pretty new sweaters in the closet and pulled out some summer clothes: 3
  • Number of times I visited Al Copeland's house: 2
  • Number of times K and E visited Al Copeland's house: 4
  • Number of times K got sad that this is really (no, REALLY!) the last year that Al Copeland's house will be decorated: I'd say about 6
  • Number of times I apprehensively thought about the fact that if we ever win the lottery, my house will be the next Al Copeland's house: Approximately 4
  • Number of times my husband caught himself on fire: 1
  • Number of times I cried: 2 (see: husband, fire)
  • Most expensive present purchased for E: A large, stuffed tiger for $30 (no, it is NOT an LSU tiger)
  • Gift E found most exciting: A tube full of miniature plastic animals purchased for $3.
  • Number of Christmas decorations that K put up in our yard: Hmmmm--15? 20? In between all of the inflatable snowmen, inflatable Rudolphs, Santas, and penguins, I lost count.
  • Number of times E shoved her cousin Graham: At least 4, that we saw.
  • Number of times that K and/or Sean played "Oh, Metairie" by the 12 Yats of Christmas: 432
  • Number of times I wanted to shoot myself: 432

Let's see--what else. I realized on New Year's Eve that this is only my second NYE in New Orleans since I moved here in 1998. People, can y'all let the fireworks go just a little bit? Or go down to the river and watch the professional show? The fireworks started around my house at about 5:30 and kept on going until well after 1:00 a.m. As someone who was born and raised in a state where private fireworks are illegal, it got a little old after a while. Of course, I'm usually in Atlanta on NYE, hanging out with my sister and various friends, drinking too much and seeing who can make the most creative hat out of tin foil, so what do I know? I guess I should just be thankful that I didn't end up on the news, a fatality of a stray bullet.

Emmeline got a beautiful baby doll from her Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Sean, her godparents, for Christmas. In keeping with the "what's the weirdest name I can give one of my dolls or stuffed animals?" theme, she named it Hooga. Apparently, Hooga is Myga's sister.

My blog was visited by someone from Wasilla, Alaska. You don't think it could really be HER, do you? (Hi, Sarah!)

Speaking of which, where is Sterling? And hi to whomever is from there that's stopped by here.

I couldn't care less who wins the Sugar Bowl tonight.

Okay, 2009--this is it. I will be 40 this year. FORTY. Geez, I'm disturbed. Let's make it a good year, shall we?