Merry Christmas from the Family

I'm extremely proud of this shot, even though it might not be the best photography in the world. I consider getting a picture of Emmeline wearing reindeer antlers, our cat Beignet wearing a Santa hat, and our dog Tchoupitoulas, also wearing reindeer antlers, all in the same picture, to be a major coup. (No, the cat doesn't look particularly happy--one almost might say slightly peeved and trying to escape--but that's beside the point.)

Merry Christmas from my (somewhat warped, strange, and possibly dysfunctional) family to yours.



This is why I'm happy to be an Episcopalian. It's a church that actually cares about actual Christian ideals, like social and economic justice, rather than just spending all of its time spouting Old Testament verses and worrying about who's allowed to marry whom, who's going to burn in hell, etc.

"As the OWS protestors point out, wealth in our country is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, the real income of the broad middle class has not increased in more than a generation, and the ranks of the poorest among us each year become ever more solidified. These are the facts – and the reality behind them is, quite simply, morally wrong. Ultimately, left unchecked, that reality is deeply dangerous. It is at odds with our vision of ourselves, and as Americans we ignore it at the peril of our most cherished national ideals. As Christians, we ignore it at the peril of our souls."

What a novel idea.

P.S. God hates shrimp.


Little Who Dat

I love it that my daughter continues to be quite the Saints fan. While I was in Ohio, Kenny and Emmeline went to see the unveiling of the new lights for the Super Dome, and she cried because she was sad that I wasn't there to see it with them.

Then, some friends gave Kenny their tickets to the Saints-Colts game and since I was still in Ohio (getting stuck on roller coasters and such), he decided to take E with him. It turned out to be the perfect game to take her to, as it was a complete blow-out with the Saints beating the Colts, 62-7. (Ouch.)

And, of course, she had a fabulous time and is already asking when she can go again.  My only regret is that, just as I expected, she was completely enamored with the Saintsations and now wants to know how you go about becoming one. (Shudder.)


Baby Mine

I recently discovered some old videos I'd taken of Emmeline as a baby that I thought I'd lost. I can't tell you how happy I am to see them again.

I love my six-year-old with all of my heart, but sometimes, I sure do miss my baby.


Bucket List

So, there's a national conference I go to every year for NIH grant administrators--normally, it's held in really fun locales like San Francisco and NYC (neither of which I got to attend). This spring, I was anxiously waiting to hear where this year's conference would be...and then the word came that it would be in Cleveland.

Sorry, Ohioans, but even though my brother-in-law is from Cincinatti and I had a wonderful time visiting there, I wasn't real excited about Cleveland. But then after doing a little research, I discovered that Cleveland is only an hour away from Cedar Point, the second-largest roller coaster park in the U.S., and all of the sudden, I was very excited.

You see, I love roller coasters. I ride them every chance I get, which isn't very often, seeing as how I live in New Orleans and our pathetic little Six Flags (formerly Jazz Land) was: a) pathetic; and b) promptly shut down after it flooded during Katrina. So, I hadn't been on a real roller coaster in almost 10 years, when my husband and I spent the first five days of our honeymoon on the beach in Sarasota, Florida and the last day at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

Dear Mississippi:

I just wanted to let you know that I'm proud of you for doing the right thing and voting down that idiotic personhood law.

To be honest, after living within your borders for four years, I wasn't sure you had it in you. Maybe there's hope for you after all.

Sincerely, A


Conversations With a Six-Year-Old, Volume 2*

E: Mommy, what's a penis?

Me: I'm sorry, what? Did you just ask me what a penis is?

E: Yeah.


Just Call Me Hitler

If this post also addressed the need for free quality education for everyone, not just those who can afford it, it would be damn near perfect. At any rate, it perfectly sums up why I'm a bleeding heart/communist/socialist/fascist/liberal.

I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you. For instance, I want everybody to have healthcare. I want lazy people to have healthcare. I want stupid people to have healthcare. I want drug addicts to have healthcare. I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare. I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it. And not just by crowding up an emergency room that should be dedicated exclusively to helping people in emergencies.


Ways in Which I Am Becoming My Grandmother*

Today, while trying to yell at the cat about the fact that she almost made me kill myself by running around directly under my feet while I was walking, I had to go through three former cats' names before getting to the correct one.

*If you were fifth out of 15 granchildren and had to listen to your grandmother do the "roll call" while trying to scold you, you'll understand this reference. (I just feel really sorry for my younger cousins, who had to sit through 12-13 names until Lucy finally got to the right one.) And of course, the roll call was always prefaced by "dang nabbit" or "golsh darnit," as was my cat's roll call this morning--although maybe not as nicely.

Motherless Child

Emmeline is on "fall break" this week--I guess all of the elementary schoolers needed a break, after having gone through six whole weeks of school--and I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying the silence.

Yes, silence--because I met my mother in Slidell yesterday morning before heading back to the city to work, and tonight is my second full night of childlessness. I'll be getting E back tomorrow afternoon and she'll be spending the day with me at work on Thursday before heading off on round two of the great grandparents tour of 2011, when I'll drop her off at my mother-in-law's house on Friday for two more child-free nights at home. But those two child-free nights will involve a birthday party, a wedding, and a dinner at my husband's Mardi Gras club, so time will fly by like nothing.


Hugh Knew?

I'm not an avid fan of the television show House. I don't dislike it--I've watched it a few times and have been entertained. But I'm too busy to commit to more than a couple of weekly television shows (hello, Survivor and Top Chef) and my schedule was full when House came out. Still, I think Hugh Laurie is a great actor and is pretty easy on the eyes, as well.

So imagine my surprise when I came across Hugh's Great Performances show on PBS recently, which was his tribute to New Orleans and its musicians. Who freaking knew Hugh Laurie could sing like that? I certainly didn't? I may just have to start watching House now.

If you haven't seen it, you should watch it here. And then, if you don't live here, you should plan to come and visit me in New Orleans.

Dull, Dull, Dull

I'm still alive, to the three of you who may have been worried about me. I just learned through first-hand knowledge that applying for two massive NIH training grants within a six-week time frame is a really, really, really bad idea. (Now if someone could just tell my boss....) Anyway, it's (mostly) done now, and I'm heaving a massive sigh of relief--but it meant a rather long period of working nights, Saturdays, and toting my laptop to Destin for a four-day weekend to get to this point. Am I exhausted? Yes. Am I also extremely grateful that I have such a great job and a great boss? Yes and yes.

In related news, I am now officially the director of global health research at the Tulane SPHTM. I was really surprised by the title my boss came up with, I can assure you, as the only thing I really wanted (and got) was the raise. But he decided that's what my new title should be, and because I'm no dummy, I went with it. I got to take the job title for a spin at a cocktail party a few weeks ago, and it was extremely difficult to reel it off with a straight face when someone asked me what I did for a living. And of course the guy who asked me turned out to be an MD and then wanted to discuss medical protocols with me, not knowing that I somehow ended up in the global health field with a journalism degree. Kenny found it all quite entertaining. I'm just glad that I've been in this line of work long enough to know what I was talking about.

So now it's Friday night and I have zero plans for the weekend, other than possibly attending a cook-out tomorrow night and hopefully watching the Saints kick the Panthers' butts on Sunday (3-1, baby). And that sounds really, really, good.


Quotes of the Week

If you came up with a bumper sticker that pulls together the platform of this year’s crop of Republican presidential candidates, it would have to be: "Repeal the 20th century. Vote GOP."
--Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post

Listening to Perry try to a put a complicated policy sentence together is like watching a chimp play with a locked suitcase.
--Mike Murphy, Republican strategist

Google Search of the Month

The incredibly bad spelling google pervs are back. Today's search? "How dow gris have six with gris?" I think that means "how do girls have sex with girls," but I'm not absolutely positive.

On the plus side, "boob in a vacuum cleaner" hasn't been back in awhile. I guess he/she finally figured out how to get his/her boob into or out of the vacuum.

Dear New Orleans Saints

I get to go to my first game in the Dome since December 2007. That game kind of sucked, because, as usual, you lost that game to Tampa. (Why do you guys always lose the December game against Tampa? This year will be different, right?) To top that off, I got home to a call that my grandmother had died. All in all, not a good day.

So, if you could, I'd really appreciate it if you could kick the Bears' collective asses on Sunday. It would be a nice little payback for the time we played them (and lost) in that NFC championship game way back in 2007.

And I promise, I will be extra super nice to any Bears fans I meet. Unless I meet this guy, and then I'm going to punch him in the face.

Love, A


One Love

A good song for a tropical stormy kind of night in New Orleans. If you haven't bought the Playing for Change CD yet, you really should. In my opinion, this version would make the beautiful and amazing Bob Marley proud.

One love, one heart
Let's get together and feel all right
Let's get together and feel all right


Six Years

I'm not sure I have anything left to say about Katrina that hasn't already been said.

When I turned on WWL radio this morning on my way to work, they were giving the results of one of their usual online polls and today's question was whether people felt they were better off since Katrina. I'm happy to say that about 65% of the respondents were saying they were better off, which, to me, seemed like a good way to start the day.

In all honesty, I'm better off. I'm happily married and have a six-year-old daughter who is my world. I have a great job and great friends (although I still really miss the ones who moved away). My house was a major fixer-upper pre-storm, and now, thanks to our flood insurance policy, we were able to re-do it the way we had always planned to do, just on a quicker timeline. We now have wood floors throughout, replacing the worn carpet that was here when we bought the house. We have really, really nice kitchen cabinets, a far cry from the crappy, lower end stock cabinets with particle board shelves that were here when we bought the place. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family members (and contents insurance), I have nicer furniture.

This anniversary has been blissfully silent. It's the first year that we haven't been absolutely inundated with anniversary coverage, which is a good thing. It's the first year that it's really felt as if enough time has passed to be able to truthfully say that I'm over it (mostly), that I'm ready to move on. And I think most people in this area feel the same way. We're all ready to move on. We're (mostly) tired of talking about it.



I guess I should have known this morning when I heard the CNN newscasters say that the Northeast had "dodged a bullet" that Irene wasn't over yet. That phrase, in my opinion, is the kiss of death. My heart is with the people in that part of the country.

And I forgive the friend of a friend in Boston who made some smartass comment on Facebook about how they'd all be fine because they weren't stupid enough to live below sea level....


This City

This city won’t wash away
This city won’t ever drown
Blood in the water and hell to pay
Sky tear open and pain rain down.


Conversations With A Six-Year-Old, Volume 1

This conversation took place at my office, during my own version of "take your daughter to work day."

Me: Okay, Emmeline, it's 1:00. You've done a great job of entertaining yourself while I worked, so let's go have some lunch.

E: Great, Mommy! Did you bring a lunchbox?

Me: Um, no--I thought we could go out to lunch. To a restaurant.

E: To a restaurant? What about your boss?

Me: What do you mean, what about my boss?

E: You mean, he just lets you leave? To go eat? And he doesn't get mad?

Me: Err, yes--he just lets me go eat lunch.

E: Without asking?

Me: Yes.

E: Wow! I would so be in trouble if I tried that at school!


PTSD and Joy

Because I'm a masochist, I watched a National Geographic Channel special on Katrina earlier this evening. Not really surprisingly, I started shaking incontrollably while watching it.

To make myself feel better, I just watched the youtube video of Jim Henderson calling Garrett Hartley's NFC championship field goal against the Vikings. And then I got goosebumps. It's goooooooooood. Pigs have flown. Hell has frozen over. The Saints are going to the Super Bowl.

Pleasure and pain. PTSD and joy. That pretty much sums up life in New Orleans, doesn't it?



Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means "Glory to the Lord." The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say, all the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.--Leonard Cohen

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah



I had MSNBC on tonight in the background (Hi, I'm Andy, and I'm a liberal) while I was unloading the dishwasher, making dinner for E, etc., and I eventually got to the point where I had to turn it off after about the fourth reference to Rick Perry and his ridiculous comments because it was just so. Damn. Depressing.

Really? This is what we're back to? Questioning Obama's patriotism? Sending out dog whistles that he's not like us and that we need a Commander in Chief that our military can be proud of? Dear Rick Perry: if you want to run against Obama, I think you've got just about all of the ammunition you need with "It's the economy, stupid," without having to drag in all of that tired old crap again about how our military is run by some socialist, un-American-type (black) guy.

First Grade


World's Shortest Poll

Caller: Good afternoon. I'm calling from Governor Bobby Jindal's re-election campaign. Do you plan to support our governor in his bid for re-election?

Me: Absolutely not.

Caller: Um, okay, then. Uh, er, goodbye.

I'm assuming I'm one of the few "no" votes she'd gotten.


Pride and Joy

Pretty soon, I'm going to have to start a heading called "Songs I'm Obsessed With." Here's my latest fixation, "Pride and Joy" by Brandi Carlile. It started the usual way--I heard the song a few times in passing and liked it. Then, someone burned a CD for me with the song on it, and I really listened to it. And it has those two magical qualities that suck me in every time--a singer whose voice fascinates me and lyrics that reel me in.

True confession time--if I could be anything in the world, I would be a singer. Not a big-time singer who can't walk down the street without being mobbed by adoring crowds. No Lady Gaga-type life for me (although I adore "Bad Romance," much to Kenny's dismay). No, I'd want to be someone like Alison Kraus--someone who has an absolutely amazing voice but who isn't that well known outside of certain circles and can probably walk down any street without being recognized and harrassed.

Sadly, I will never be a famous singer, because I really don't sing all that well--smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20+ years will do that to you--ironically, I still have the lung capacity to hold most long notes--my voice just cracks all over the place. But that doesn't stop me from singing up a storm in my car. If you're sitting next to me at a stoplight, you'll most likely get a show, if you happen to look over at that crazy girl in the black SUV next to you.

Anyway, because I'm officially now obsessed with this song, I've read what little analysis there is of the lyrics online. It seems that most people think that it's a song about a lost love, but I tend to differ. But that's the wonderful thing about music, isn't it? It can have different meanings for each of us.



Emmeline is six now, so I decided it was finally time to get rid of about six bags worth of clothes she's outgrown, her baby stroller, and the pack-n-play. At the same time, when I dropped them off at the Salvation Army, it was all I could do to force myself to hand the items over to the attendant, when what I really wanted to do was just take it all back home again. Why is it so difficult to let go of baby items, long after the baby has grown up?

If I had room to store them, I probably would have just done so indefinitely. Fortunately, though (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don't think we could squeeze another thing in our attic. See here for an explanation as to why.

Posted Without Comment*

*Because I think you probably know how I feel about this.

From a survey of 574 GOP primary voters nationwide:

H/T, First Draft.


Strange Moments in Weight Loss History

As of today, I have now lost enough weight* that my office chair no longer slides under my desk without the arm rests banging into the desk. Definitely a weird and new experience to have to adjust the arm rests on your chair.

*That's 17 pounds, for those of you playing at home.


The Equivalent of Eating What?

Wow. This is the fine quality programming that Fox has come up with to replace Glen Beck? And, as has been asked on the internets, why is it equivalent to eating a live raccoon? WTF is that about? Because our first lady is African American and therefore must eat live critters? So first your argument is that she would eat a live raccoon and then your argument is that she's elitist because she got her hamburger from some fancy-shmancy place with hand-blended shakes rather than McDonald's? And then you take offense to the fact that oh my God, the First Lady's platform is trying to reduce childhood obesity and she had the gall to eat a cheeseburger?

Oh, Fox News. "The Five" are quite the brain trust, aren't they?

H/T, Balloon Juice


End of an Era

Well, it's official. As of June 28th (which is also my birthday), my husband will no longer be a restaurant manager and I will no longer be a restaurant widow. I find this news both exciting and terrifying.

Exciting because for the first time in our almost 17 years together, my husband will have a somewhat normal 9 to 5 job and weekends off. Which means that we might can do things together like normal couples. Like go out of town for a 3-day weekend. Or have dinner together at night. Or, I don't know, him stay home on a Thursday night while I go out or something.

Terrifying because for the first time in our almost 17 years together, my husband will have a somewhat normal 9 to 5 job and weekends off. Which means that we'll be spending lots of time together. And that he'll spend more time complaining about my choice in television shows (goodbye, Game of Thrones; hello, Antiques Roadshow). Also terrifying because of the quite substantial paycut he's agreed to until the commissions start coming in.

Terrifying in general. And exciting. Who's up for drinks on

*You may have to buy.


Trailer Hell

I can't decide whether this article posted on The Lens today regarding the re-emergence of Katrina FEMA trailers in the areas affected by the recent tornadoes makes me more angry or sad. I hate it that people are having to resort to living in those death-traps again, and it brings back unpleasant memories of 2006.

My sister-in-law and her two sons lived in a FEMA trailer for about 18 months after Katrina, while they waited for the insurance settlement on their totaled home to finally come through. Her boys had never had any health problems before, but once they moved into the trailer, they were each taken to the hospital at least 5 or 6 times with bloody noses, coughs, and bronchitis. You can't tell me those problems weren't caused by formaldehyde. Fortunately, the've been fine since they moved out of the trailer.

And now, a whole new set of people is getting ready to experience the joys of living in a tin can. God forbid we give them some decent, safe temporary housing.


The D-Word

So, I've officially been on a diet for 30 days now. Coca-cola (aka, nectar of the gods), in all of its pure, sugary deliciousness, has not crossed my lips since April, except in its highly inferior diet form. (And no, Coca-cola Zero does not taste like real coke, no matter what any of you say.)

I've learned to live within my Weight Watchers points and, to some extent, I've learned to live with being constantly hungry. I've never really been about the food anyway--don't get me wrong, I love good food. I love potatoes. And red meat. And good seafood. A medium-rare filet mignon? Nom, nom, nom. But I've never really cared about desserts or snacking. Give me lunch, dinner, and a few drinks and I'm good. I'm having to relearn how to live, as Oprah-ish as that sounds. When I have a stressful day at work now, I don't immediately go for beer or wine (although I really, really want to). I've learned to let alcohol go during the week, for the most part. I won't lie--I know exactly how many points there are in one can of Miller Lite or one glass of red wine. And there have been a couple of nights (including tonight) where I've foregone dinner so I can have some beer instead.


Left Behind

I called my friend Dorothy tonight, who just had her second child about two months ago. We hadn't spoken since Mardi Gras when she was last in New Orleans, hugely pregnant and ready to get the whole damn thing over with.

We've played phone tag for the past couple of months and I haven't tried too hard to follow up, to be quite honest. I've told myself that I've stayed away and haven't tried to track her down because I can only imagine how busy she is, mothering both a newborn and a two-year-old. And that's the truth. But there has been a deeper truth to it, an uglier truth, to be quite honest, in that I've been somewhat reticent to call her for fear of finding that my old friend has changed and moved on into a world I will most likely never inhabit. And she has moved on into the world of two children, but I'm greatly relieved to find that our rapport seems unchanged.

It's stupid, I know, but a part of me looks at it as a loss. A friend has moved on to something I probably won't experience, and my mind and heart prepare for the distance that comes from it. Like when I was still single and childless and all of my friends were getting married and having babies. They had moved on into the world of motherhood while I was left behind. They knew things I didn't, had feelings I had never felt. And then we all joined this club together, the one where you know what two-year-olds are really like (and the one where, once you have a three-year-old, you long to have the two-year-old back).


Keeping Up With the Joneses

This article from the Financial Times has apparently been around for a few months, but I just came across it recently. Do I even need to detail how ridiculous I find it to be, an impassioned plea that we should see how difficult a fictional family of four named the Joneses have it because they only make $250K a year?

Okay, fine—I’ll even agree that judging by today’s standards, the Joneses are not technically rich. But I think they can probably afford to pay their fair share of taxes without whining about how hard their life is. I think, judging by some of their expenses, they can even afford to pay an increase in taxes, which is the whole point of this stupid article--a false argument against increased taxes for the Joneses, because they are just barely getting by.

Just barely getting by, mind you, even though they live “reasonably well—but not extravagantly—in a three- or four-bedroom home valued around $750,000.” The author would also like you to know that the Joneses don’t take lavish vacations, that they don’t belong to a country club, and they don’t own a second home. They don’t even get to grocery shop at high-end markets, the poor dears, but I guess are stuck shopping at Costco or something. As the author points out, “even if they’re in the top 5 percent of earners,” they are NOT wealthy.


Ten Years

For Charles
August 29, 1978 - April 11, 2001


One of the Many Reasons Why I Don't Eat at Applebee's

Does it make me a bad person that I found this story mildly amusing, considering that the kid was okay and everything?

Applebee's sorry after tot served booze in sippy cup

The only thing I'm really confused about is how anyone could mistake pre-made margaritas for apple juice, even if the container was mislabelled as such. I mean, last time I checked, apple juice and margaritas look (and smell) nothing alike



Dear K:

Happy ninth anniversary. It's not one of the big, monumental number anniversaries, and it falls on a Thursday, so there will be no celebration, as you're working while I'm home with Emmeline. But still, it's our anniversary, and I love you.

I don't know about you, but it's sometimes very hard for me to believe that we've been together for over 16 years now. Oftentimes, it doesn't seem like we're old enough to have been together that long. (I try not to think about the fact that I'm almost 42, and usually can, except for when I count the number of years we've been together.) I think we both know that we've had our challenges in the past and will continue to have them in the future. But at the same time, at the end of the day, I know we've both shown our commitment to this relationship and to each other, and I take a lot of comfort in that.


A Letter to My Daughter, 04.11

Dear Emmeline:

Okay, six-year-old, this is it. You're officially not a baby anymore at all. Except for when you still are. Except for the words that you still mix up on a consistent basis, which never cease to crack me up. "Sanimitizer" for sanitizer. "Coffee" for copy. (As in, "Mommy, don't coffee my paper!") "Andylance" for ambulance. (I like to think that you named that one after me.)

You're all grown up. Except for when you try your hardest not to suck your thumb but can't quite succeed. The dentist told you that if you stopped sucking your thumb right now, you probably won't need braces. So you're trying. Really hard. But it's still difficult for you. I keep telling you stories about how I sucked my thumb until I was seven and then had to wear braces for almost five years. I tell you in great detail about braces, trying to scare the hell out of you--but in a good way. (I don't tell you this part, because I don't want to scare the hell out of you, but I'll never forget the thing they called "the whacker," which the orthodontist used to put metal bands all the way around my teeth. It felt about as good as it sounds. You're fortunate in that now they just glue the braces to the front of your teeth. Orthodontia has, apparently, come a long way in the last 30 years.)

You're almost grown up. I taught you how to tie your shoes recently (which, I have to add, was a challenge, since I'm left-handed and you're not), and you've been practicing diligently ever since.

Rolling in the Deep

Every once in awhile, a song comes along that I just fall in love with immediately and have to listen to over and over again. Last time it happened was about four years ago, when "Hate Me" by Blue October came out. It was right around the time that we were making preparations to move back into our house, after we rebuilt after Katrina. I listened to that song over and over again while I packed, blasting it from the headphones of my i-pod until I knew every word of it by heart.

My latest obsession is "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele. Good God, what a voice that girl has on her. I don't know all of the words yet, but I'm working on it. And yes, all of the songs that I latch onto like this have to do with broken hearts, self loathing, pain, etc. Go figure.

 There's a fire starting in my heart,
reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark.

Finally, I can see you crystal clear.
Go ahead and sell me out and I'll lay your shit bare.

See how I'll leave with every piece of you.
Don't underestimate the things that I will do.

There's a fire starting in my heart,
reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark.

The scars of your love remind me of us.
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all.
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless.
I can't help feeling we could have had it all, rolling in the deep.
You had my heart inside of your hands, and you played it to the beat.

Baby, I have no story to be told.
But I've heard one on you and I'm gonna make your head burn.
Think of me in the depths of your despair.
Make a home down there, as mine sure won't be shared.

The scars of your love remind me of us.
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all.
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless.
I can't help feeling we could have had it all, rolling in the deep.
You had my heart inside of your hands and you played it to the beat.

Could have had it all, rolling in the deep.
You had my heart inside of your hands, but you played it with a beating.

Throw your soul through every open door.
Count your blessings to find what you look for.
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold.
You'll pay me back in kind and reap just what you've sown.

We could have had it all, rolling in the deep.
You had my heart inside of your hands and you played it to the beat.


Indian Red

For the first time since moving to New Orleans, I went to "chase Indians" with a group of friends last Saturday night for St. Joseph's Day.

There wasn't much chasing involved, as it turned out. We didn't have to do much other than stand around near the corner of Dryades and Third Streets, with tons of other people, and wait for the Indians to come to us.

And come to us, they did. Tribe after tribe, each Big Chief's costume as elaborate and beautiful as the one before it. It's amazing to me that we have people in this city so willing to dedicate as much time, effort, and money as it takes to make one of these gorgeous, awe-inspiring costumes. It was definitely one of those "only in New Orleans" kind of nights. Pretty, pretty.



Dear Members of the Press:

Since we've decided to bomb Libya and all, do you think maybe we could all agree on how to spell Khadafi? I swear, in one news program this morning, I saw it spelled at least three different ways. Is it Khadafi or Gaddafi? Or Qaddafi? Moammar or Momar? It's like the whole Osama/Usama thing all over again.

Maybe we could, I don't know, ask him how he'd like his name spelled? Or check his driver's license or something?

I don't recall anyone having this problem with Hitler.

Sincerely, A


All on a Mardi Gras Day

It's over. Again. Thank God. Every year, I'm so excited about Mardi Gras arriving that I can't stand it. And every year, by Ash Wednesday, I'm incredibly relieved that it's all over. And exhausted. And tired of purple, green, and gold. This year was no exception, and I think I lost even more brain cells this year than usual. I blame it on being middle-aged. (In dog years, I'm 287.) But it might have had something to do with the fact that I went to every single parade, with the exception of Bacchus & Endymion, which just seemed like too much of a good thing (i.e., an insane amount of people fighting over beads and the neutral ground). And I missed one day parade on the first Saturday. But other than that, I was at Every. Single. Parade.

And now it's over, and I'm glad. And I will start being ready for more parades in about 9 months....

Highlights of this year's season, I think, included running into some acquaintances in the Quarter who invited us to watch Krewe du Vieux from the balcony of a friend of a friend. No one mentioned that said friend's friend owned 18 cats, all of whom were housed inside of her 300 square-foot apartment and apparently used the entire apartment as one giant litter box. I've just about gotten the smell out of my nose. But watching K du V from a balcony (with lots of fresh air) was definitely a new experience. Not quite the same as watching it from the street, but fun anyway. And then afterwards, cat lady pulled out several bead bags overflowing with old beads, so we had fun chucking those to people on the street. At least, it was fun as long as you didn't put the beads too close to your face while throwing (see cat pee, above). I threw to middle-aged men and women and had great fun ignoring the usual 20-somethings who love to lift up their shirts in between bouts of throwing up in the street.

As usual, by Mardi Gras morning, when I was getting up at 6:30 a.m. to get out to St. Charles Avenue, I was pretty much done and questioning my sanity. But after a couple of milk punches, everything seemed much better. And then the Buzzards came by, and I got to say hello to my husband. And then Rex rolled by, and I caught one of the stuffed masked captain throws they gave out this year, and Emmeline was thrilled. And then Kenny got back from marching with the Buzzards and we watched the noisy, excessive, but-the-kids-absolutely-love-them truck parades. And then, on the way to our friends' house for dinner, we ran into some Mardi Gras Indians. And it was, as usual, a perfect Mardi Gras day.


Bieber Fever

My favorite costumed group from Mardi Gras needs no explanation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Bieber patrol.



It's official. Emmeline is no longer--in any way, shape, or form--a baby. She is a "big girl" of six years old. And has already begun informing me of all of the things she can do now that she's six, repeatedly.

And because I endured 41 weeks of being pregnant during Mardi Gras 2005, she got to reap the rewards this year by having a birthday during Mardi Gras weekend. (The big year will be 2014, when she turns nine on Mardi Gras day.)I'm definitely not complaining, as this made party planning this year a cinch. No horrors of the hidden costs involved in hosting a birthday party at City Park. (Last year, I forgot about the part where we'd have to buy ride bands for the parents, too, as their children weren't old enough to ride anything by themselves. Shudder.) Nope. This year, our party preparation list was considerably shorter. Birthday cake? Check. Beverages, both adult and non-adult? Check. Camera? Check. Parade? Check, check, check.

Not surprisingly, not many of her friends came. I'm guessing it had something to do with the fact that a) the forecast started calling for rain on that day about a week beforehand; b) due to that forecast, Iris and Tucks ended up shuffling around and moving up their parade times; c) it did rain; and d) you couldn't really call it a rain--more of a torrential downpour.

The good news was that the rain held off until about 30 minutes before Iris rolled by us, and it didn't get really, really bad until about 15 minutes before the end of the parade. And then it rained so hard that all of us stood around in it, laughing at how wet we were, and trying to salvage what was left of the cake. And Emmeline had the time of her life.

All in all, it was a birthday to remember. Happy Birthday, pretty girl.


Mardi Gras Through the Years

Okay, I need my daughter to stop growing now. She'll be six on Friday and is very excited that the City is throwing parades in her honor.




Of Mice and Men

Since becoming a homeowner, I've become much more intimately acquainted with various household tasks than I ever would've wanted to. For example, five years ago, I would have willingly wagered with you that I would go to my grave without ever having snaked out a drain line. Now, I'm such a pro that I can give other people pointers on how to do it.

Drain snaking? Check. Ice maker fixing? Check. Washing machine hose cleaning, vermin relocation and extermination, dishwasher de-hard water scaling, check, check, check.

But every once in awhile, I make Kenny do something. And always with mixed results. Which is why, I think, we now have the current mouse we have for our computer. I have yet to figure out why anyone might need to be able to control the mouse for their computer while standing six feet away. But if you ever do, then just send my husband to Office Depot.

On the plus side, once I get a computer screen that's 60 inches wide, I'll be able to surf the net in the dining room and cook dinner in the kitchen at the same time.


Suck It, Bears

The Packers, finishing what the Bears started.


I Can Haz Refund Now?

For the first time in my tax-filing history, my itemized deductions FINALLY count for more than the standard deduction. I feel like such a grown-up! I had no idea it was so worthwhile to actually itemize all of the donations I've made to the Salvation Army--who knew that 10 garbage bags full of men's, women's and children's clothing is worth over $3,000?

Perhaps this year, I'll finally get up the courage to donate the other 10 garbage bags full of old baby clothes, Emmeline's stroller, pack-n-play, etc. (I just can't 100% fully commit to the idea of not having another baby long enough to get rid of them. I think I need to go be around a two-year-old for awhile--that usually does the trick.)

Anyway, I wonder what useless item my husband will want to spend our refund on this year?


Conversations with A Five-Year Old, Volume Two

Emmeline: I've been very gassy all day today.

Me: Maybe it was something you ate.

Emmeline: No, I think my butt was just excited and wanted to chat.



On the night of Monday, December 27th, I did what a lot of people in this town did. I went to a bar with my husband to watch the Saints kick the Falcons' collective butts. It was a night like any other Saints night in New Orleans--we met up with some friends, did some drinking, and watched the game.

One of the women who met us there was Rebecca, a friend of a friend. Rebecca and I don't necessarily know each other well enough to be called friends. We have mutual friends and like each other enough to have some pretty decent conversations when we happen to be in the same social situations.

That night, while we all watched the game at a bar together, Rebecca's daughter, Melissa, was with her own friends, some new, some old. As it turns out, she made the decision to spend the night with some of her friends in an abandoned house on St. Roch Avenue. As you probably know, the house burned down, with eight teenagers/young adults inside. Melissa was one of the people who perished. She was 17 years old.