Yes, Virginia, There is a Shockey

Lately, Emmeline has been asking me quite frequently if Santa is real. This took me by huge surprise, considering she's only five years old. I believed in Santa at least until I was around eight years old. And then I discovered the truth, which was helped along by the fact that Santa used to leave my sister and I notes on Christmas morning--notes that would thank us for the milk and cookies and tell us that he hoped that we liked our presents, etc. When I was about eight, I noticed that Santa's handwriting looked, remarkably, exactly like my mother's handwriting.

Anyway--I thought I had a few more years with Emmeline. I know that everyone has different opinions on whether you should encourage a belief in Santa Claus or not, seeing as how it pretty much amounts to completely and bald-facedly lying to your child, glorifying a religious holiday that you don't particularly believe in if you're not religious, or taking away from the importance of the real meaning of the holiday, if you're a certain type of Christian. I get all of that--but for me, I loved the experience of not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve out of sheer excitement in anticipation of Santa's visit. I remember vividly the torture of not being able to go downstairs to see what Santa had left until the entire family was ready to go downstairs--I recall that the time it took my mother to get her robe on and wash her face seemed like an eternity plus a few extra years. And I don't recall being that upset when my suspicions that Santa wasn't real were confirmed.

I don't know. Am I setting my child up for crushing disappointment when she finds out the truth? I don't think so, as I most definitely lean on the side of children needing to believe in magic as long as possible. Which is why I bought a "reindeer harness" at K-Mart last year, complete with jingle bells on it, and left it on our porch on Christmas morning. The look on Emmeline's face, when she went out onto the porch and found some jingle bells that had "fallen off" of one of Santa's reindeer, is one of the happiest memories of my life. The look on her face was one of sheer awe. She still talks about it and is planning to leave the harness out for Santa with a note this year, telling him that she's taken good care of it all year and and that she wants Vixen, or Comet, or whichever reindeer it belonged to, to have it back because they've probably been sad, thinking they lost it.

So, my heart hurts a little bit that my daughter is already asking me if Santa is real, thanks to kindergarten (I don't know why it didn't come up in pre-K). I've been unsure of how to respond and have pretty much just gone with, "Well, what do you think?"

Her answer is always that of course she believes in Santa, so I've got at least one more year. I'm guessing it may be the last one, though.

Nevertheless, it's resulted in some highly entertaining comments from Emmeline. First, she told me a that little boy in her class that we'll call Anton had told her that Santa isn't real. She went on to tell me that Anton said that if you believe in God, then you can't believe in Santa. And if you believe in Santa, then you don't believe in God. (Thanks, Anton's mom, for opening up that hornets' nest.) But then she went on to tell me that Anton said that the Easter Bunny is totally real.

About a week later, while leaving a friend's house after the Saints game, she asked me if Jeremy Shockey is real. It cracked me up that she even knew who Jeremy Shockey is--guess I'm rubbing off on her. And who told her that Jeremy Shockey wasn't real? Why, Anton, of course. Now I'm trying to figure out what Anton's mom has against Santa and Shockey.

Murder, Crow-Style

Like a certain other New Orleans blogger, I've always had a fascination with crows. I don't know what it is about them--I guess I just think they're incredibly cool birds, with their jet black feathers and eyes that, to me at least, have always seemed to emanate intelligence.

As mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I work on the roof of the Tidewater building, now the Tulane SPHTM. Next time you're driving into the city on I-10 and get close to Canal Street, look for the Tidewater/Tulane building--the relatively tall building right next to the now-defunct Radisson (which is right next door to the now-defunct UNO Technology Building, which is right next door to the now-defunct Days Inn--thanks, Katrina!) that has the big red and white antenna on top.* See that trailer attached to the roof up there? The one with the Tulane logo on it? That's my office. Sometimes it scares the hell out of me that my office is a trailer on the roof, which makes up the 25th and 26th floors of the Tidewater Building, but it survived the Cat 3 winds of Katrina, so I figure I'm okay. (And the view is amazing--I can see the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, depending on which window I'm looking out of.)


Horror Movie Setting, Anyone?

About 12 years ago, I guess, the City of New Orleans got its very own amusement park. At first, it was called Jazz Land--it was a pretty dismal failure, with pretty lame rides. Still, it was an amusement park, so we went to it a lot. It had one truly good rollercoaster, a wooden one named the Mega Zeph and modeled after the Zephyr of bygone days at Pontchartrain Beach.

Around 2003, Six Flags bought the amusement park, made a few minor improvements, and added a couple of new rollercoasters. The park was still pretty much a dismal failure. Six Flags New Orleans was about the last place that the tourists wanted to visit when there are so many other options here, and the park was built in the middle of a piece of swampland, basically. It was a horrible place to be in the summertime, with very little shade coverage. But still, I have some fond memories of goofing around there with friends--this was long before parenthood came into the picture for me.

The park closed on August 27, 2005, in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. It has never reopened. I'm sure it was a relief to Six Flags to have the park flooded during Katrina so that they could claim their losses with their insurance company and move on. But it has always shocked me that they were allowed to just completely walk away from it and leave their mess behind. (Other than when they dismantled and moved the Batman rollercoaster to another Six Flags park somewhere else.)

Here's how Six Flags New Orleans has remained for almost 5 1/2 years. According to this video, it's finally going to be demolished in January (H/T, Jeffrey).


Parlez-vous Francais?

Tonight, Emmeline and I were reading a book, and I was asking her to count the different items she saw on the page. And for the first time since starting at her new French immersion school, she automatically began counting in French rather than in English. What a wonderful new world we live in, where my little girl, who's only five years old, is already well on her way to becoming bilingual. I wish someone had thought of that 40 years ago, but I'm afraid there's not much hope for me now. (Although, thanks to Emmeline, I now know and can correctly pronounce about 10 colors in French. Next up, she's going to teach me how to count to 20.)

My favorite "immersion" story so far is when, a few weeks in, I asked Emmeline if she could understand what her teacher was saying. Her response? "I can't understand what her mouth is saying, but I can usually understand her hands."

It was a bit of a rough go for E at first--she cried for the first three weeks every morning when I dropped her off at school. And I felt so bad, knowing how frustrated and scared she was that she couldn't understand what her teacher was saying to her. But her teacher is wonderful, one of those people who was just born to work with children, and she reassured Emmeline that all would be well and that she could always come to her and express her feelings in English and that she would always repond--in English--if Emmeline was upset. That seemed to very much put Emmeline's mind at ease, and now she's thriving.

It will be fascinating to watch as she progresses. Although I'm already dreading the day that Emmeline is a teenager and makes plans with her friends to do something she knows she should not be doing--all in front of me, and all in French....Mon dieu!



I'm back, finally, after a looooong month of the federal grant application from hell and a myriad of problems in my personal life.

So, I'd like to say that I'm surprised and disappointed by the outcome of yesterday's elections, but we all saw that coming, didn't we? Sadly, I'm used to the fact that all of my votes are pretty much cast in vain--a blue woman in a very red state. Hopefully, we'll bounce back in 2012.

I found out today via Facebook about a post written by a friend of a friend, and it put it all in perspective for me.

An Open Letter to the White Right, On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum

You, who could not survive the thought of minimal health care reform, or financial regulation, or a marginal tax rate equal to that which you paid just 10 years earlier, perhaps are under the illusion that everyone is as weak as you, as soft as you, as akin to petulant children as you are, as unable to cope with the smallest setback, the slightest challenge to the way you think your country should look and feel, and operate.

But, surprise…they are not.


Halloween 2010

I guess it's time to accept the fact that I am raising a native New Orleanian. Case in point, I give you the Who Dat Cat (her idea).