“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds—the cemeteries—and they’re a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here . . . Greek, Roman, sepulchres—palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay—ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who’ve died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn’t pass away so quickly here.” ~ Bob Dylan

New Orleand by Beadmobile FCC
New Orleans by beadmobile (FCC)

                   

“It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words, and to try is to roll down a road of clichés, bouncing over beignets and beads and brass bands” ~ Chris Rose, from 1 Dead in Attic

Road trip to New Orleans, LA. I’ll be doing lots of singing to tunes on my special playlist all the way, much to Corey’s consternation. Going for job purposes, so we won’t be here nearly long enough to do the real tourist thing, but I’m hoping to run across some interesting finds (again, much to Corey’s consternation). I sorely need an infusion of color in my life, but to be honest, I’m mostly looking forward to the food. I’ll let you know how things turn out.

In the meantime, I found this lovely little bit about what Mardi Gras and New Orleans are really about:

To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid.

New Orleans 45 by paparutzi fcc
Image by paparutzi (FCC)

Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge.

Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CD’s in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner, year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year–people whose names you may or may not even know but you’ve watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they’re not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year?

It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to.

Now that part, more than ever.

It’s mad piano professors converging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88’s until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don’t and promising yourself you will next year.

It’s wearing frightful color combination in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who–like clockwork, year after year–denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one.

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.

~ Chris Rose, from 1 Dead in Attic

Music by Buckwheat Zydeco, “Buck’s Nouvelle Jole Blon” (this version of Jolie Blonde appeared in the credits of The Big Easy)

                   

Harmony

You know the Beatles could have
afforded another microphone,

but George would always stand
in the middle and step up to

Paul’s when it was time to
join in. Because that’s the way

harmony is, you need to share the
electricity, the voice, the words.

Just the way we do when we drive
in our cars with the radio on,

the windows rolled down with fall in the
air, dead leaves swirling in the wake,

or in the spring, the earth damp and soft,
the air hazy with pollen. We hear

the song that moves us, crank the
radio and sing along, at the top of

our lungs, as if we just joined
the group. In tune out of tune,

country western, rock and roll, we want
to harmonize. A whole country of

would-be stars losing love, finding love
with the radio in different

cars, on different paths, the dark
road rumbling beneath.

~ Stuart Kestenbaum

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“If I am not better, at least I am different.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

                   

“The sound of winter is the hum of wind through bare trees and the creaking of those wise branches, so like these brittle mortal bones save in their innocence. On frigid mornings I hear my humanity coming in from the cold.” ~ Christopher Troise, from See Troise Write

Friday afternoon. Rainy and unseasonably warm, 57 degrees.

There is no snow here. No cold. No flakes falling and collecting, amassing into unknown structures, waiting to be unburied with the sun’s warmth. I know that I should be happy that we don’t have a lot of cold and snow here as neither are good for my bones or my back, but I long for snow, wet flakes on my face, the chance to photograph the vast whiteness, the trees cloaked in inches of froth, the dog carefully stepping so as not to sink.

Snow would be nice, would be lovely and white and banking. Instead, we have rain and mud puddles and lethargy, so I will write about nothing and nothingness and nothings.

Random thoughts:

  • Post-rock is an actual category in music, but I find the term to be grossly uninventive. Is not everything after the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin post-rock?
  • I have deliberately not learned how to make GIFs as I know that I would spend a disproportionate amount of time playing.
  • Who are these people who can watch a show and do screen captures while watching and post them immediately?
  • Am I being left behind technologically?
  • For someone who lives in the past so much, someone who loves ancient ways, I love technology.
  • I am using quotes in this post by two people I found on tumblr.
  • We have raccoons living in our attic, and Corey thinks they are cute, she said, apropos of nothing.

“Time takes life away
and gives us memory, gold with flame,
black with embers.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “Shell”

Odd memories out of nowhere:

  • Two scents I used to wear along with my power suits (neither of which exist in the original formulation any more): Lauren and Dioressence. Everyone else wore the first, so I switched to the second, and people either loved it or hated it.
  • Power suits with shoulder pads and pumps. What were we thinking?
  • I miss dressing for work, the whole thing—hair, makeup, jewelry, but I don’t miss pantyhose at all.
  • Does anyone still wear pantyhose?
  • I remember years ago when I worked at the newspaper there was a woman who wrote about fashion, and she always complained that the women in this area were so unimaginative because they only wore suntan-colored pantyhose. Funny the things you remember.
  • Another odd memory from the newsroom days: There was this reporter who had a terrible crush, bordering on stalkworthy on a male reporter who I happened to be dating casually. She would come into the newsroom and stand and stare at his empty chair. Sometimes she would stare at me. Very, very creepy.
  • During that same period in my life I kept a journal called “Dear God.” In a word, embarrassing.

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

List of minutiae:

  • I wonder if I still believe in angels.
  • If I wonder, that is probably indicative of a negative, isn’t it?
  • Whenever I dream of my friend Mari, I awaken with a hard spot in my chest, as if the dream has carved a scoop of flesh from me and left a hollow impression.
  • I always feel strangely accomplished once I have calendars throughout the house, but I have to wonder about this obsession with time. Does recording it slow it?
  • I discovered Adam Zagajewski quite by accident when I unearthed a book of his poems in the ratty old bookstore that used to occupy the corner of the local shopping center. The store is long gone, which is sad as they had the most amazing undiscovered poetry section living on the bottom two shelves in the far left corner. I think that’s where I found my first Rilke book.
  • Oh how I long for the day when all of my books of poetry can reside on shelves again and not in storage tubs.
  • I am still thinking about the concept of holding sadness in my spine.

“I love the dark hours of my being
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich liebe meines Wesens Dunkelstunden” from Book of Hours (trans. Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy)

Did you know?

  • Brett has synaesthesia. He once told me that a cologne that I like smelled too green.
  • Apparently, synaesthesia is fairly common in newborns, which makes sense when you think about it. Newborns have so many capabilities, but they cannot tell us, so they get no positive reinforcement, which helps to explain why these capabilities might fade.
  • I remember an episode of “Criminal Minds” (of course, I do) in which the killer saw people’s names in color, and if the name was red, the killer knew that the person was bad.
  • Having a killer with synaesthesia would be a pretty cool plot device, don’t you think?
  • My preoccupation with killers has nothing to do with my childhood, which was the epitome of normal, except for the travel.
  • I really wish that I had come of age in a time in which it was quite possible, normal even, for women to become criminal profilers.
  • Did I ever mention that I once applied to the FBI? It was for a marketing position, and I really didn’t want it. Who wants to say that they do marketing for the FBI. Not at all cool.

“People often ask me questions that I cannot very well answer in words, and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.” ~ Inayat Khan

And then there is this:

  • I’ve been so poor that I combed the house for change to buy gas for the car.
  • I once claimed that I was sick at work so that I could leave and go for a drive. I got in the car and drove for two hours.
  • While I was an undergraduate, I routinely ate Nacho Cheese Doritos and hot pepper rings for dinner.
  • When I was sixteen, I picked out the names of the six children that I was going to have with the boy who was the love of my life. Nothing about that was correct—the boy, the names, or the number of children.
  • When my contemporaries were listening to Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, I was listening to Broadway soundtracks and singing to myself in my bedroom.
  • I think that people find it easy to lie to me.
  • I do not miss the 80’s like some people do.
  • I fear that I’ve already had the life-defining moment, and I didn’t realize it.

More later. Peace.
*All snow GIFs taken from a tumblr post; sorry, don’t have better source than that.

Music by The Smiths, “Asleep”

                   

Strange Little Prophets

When is the smell of a blackberry tree
a harbinger of  violent movement
rather than simply the recollection of
a childhood Sunday dress hem-dipped
in mud, handprinted with juice and seeds?
Hard to say. A mind, when playing tricks
is at its most sincere — at home raking
through the body’s history, repeating
the strange and nostalgic. The taste of
dirty copper, the imagined cockroach
in the corner, the sluggish slow of  the clock
— doctors call these strange little prophets
warning signs of a seizure, synaptic misfires
looming like a song discordant, until the body
— an unplucked string — is finally strummed.

~ Barbara Perez

“Take Care of All Your Memories For You Cannot Relive Them” ~ Bob Dylan

summer-08-cousin-shot

Summer 08 Sutcliffe Cousins: Phillip, Eamonn, Brett, Hannah, Alexis, Rebecca, Mallory

“Memory is the primary and fundamental power, without which there could be no other intellectual operation” ~ Samuel Johnson

I cannot write tonight. There is just too much pressing on my mind. I am waiting to hear about my brother-in-law in Germany. He is in the hospital with pneumonia and is on a respirator.

Maybe if I tell you about him that will help. Patrick is my ex’s older brother. He has always been the serious, intellectual one. Patrick was in the R.O.T.C. in college, and then he went into the army after graduation. Patrick was stationed in Germany where he met Helma, the woman he married. After a couple of years, they were transferred back to the states, somewhere in Tennessee.

In the meantime, Paul’s younger sister Ann was engaged to be married in the spring. Patrick and Helma were going to drive to Virginia on President’s Day weekend for a visit and for a fitting of brides maids dresses as Helma and I were both going to be in the wedding. Then the unthinkable happened. Helma fell asleep at the wheel, and Patrick, who had been asleep in the back seat was wedged in the seat when the car stopped. Helma had a broken nose and lost some teeth. Patrick had been deprived of oxygen and had spinal cord damage.

After all of the operations, Patrick was left a paraplegic, but he still retained his mind, his long-term memory, his wit. The army retired Patrick as a full Captain. He was unable to speak, but they worked out a communication system using arm movements and eye blinks and mouth openings and closings. Patrick was quick-tempered and impatient before the accident, and he was just the same after the accident, but never with me.

Whenever I tried to spell with him (which is what we call talking), I would tell him quite plainly that if he started to get all mean with me, I would stop and walk away, which would usually make him laugh, and then he would be patient with me as I tried my best to get things right the first time.

Just to show you how smart he remained, while they still lived here, we used to play games, like Trivial Pursuit, usually men against the women, and it would usually come down to Patrick against me. He loved to kick my ass with history questions, but I could usually get him on literature.

Eventually, he and Helma were able to have two children of their own: Phillip and Hannah. Helma’s sister Kerstin lived here in the states for a while, and she was married, and members of her family would visit, but Helma was always lonely for home, and it was very hard for her. Patrick had a physical therapist who came to the home, and Helma took really good care of him. But finally, they made the decision to move to Germany so that Helma could be closer to her family.

It was hard on everyone, especially on Paul’s mom, but Helma promised to come over every year for a visit, and for a while it was every year, but then the dollar dropped, and then after 9/11, everyone was afraid to fly for a while. They had just started coming back over a few years ago. Patrick had a big 50th birthday party in Germany, and several of his best friends with whom he has stayed in contact flew to Germany to celebrate with him, as did his mother, who hadn’t been to Germany since right after Patrick and Helma were first married.

That he has stayed so healthy for so long is directly tied to Helma’s dedication to keeping him that way. He has had two major health scares. And we have spent our time making visits to VA hospitals, which are incredibly depressing places. But overall, he has been incredibly lucky. They have made trips all over Europe, and when they have been here, Helma has taken Patrick to just about every Revolutionary battleground in the area.

With Helma’s assistance, Patrick has kept up his massive stamp collection, his alphabetized CD and LP collection, including anything ever put out by the Beatles. He reads constantly (books on tape have been a wonderful development for him because before that, it was books by whoever was designated reader). In other words, Because of Helma, Patrick’s hobbies have all been attended to, and his life, although far from normal, has been turned into the closest semblance of normal that it could be.

He has a computer that he can control to write letters to his friends. His children may have had times that they were embarassed by their father, but I think not any more than any teenager is embarassed by a parent. Just ask my sons.

The last time they were here, I noticed how tired Helma looked, and I was actually surprised, because she really takes care of herself. She is a championship swimmer. She coaches swimming. That is her time for herself. She is in very good physical shape, but she really looked thin this time. Not thin as in skinny, but thin as in worn thin. I wrote her an e-mail about it, but she never really responded, which I did not expect that she would. She is just not that way.

She had told me before coming that this time she was not running around to see everyone the way that they usually do. She was just going to take it easy. Normally when they visit, they are on the go from the moment they arrive until the moment that they leave. But this time, she really didn’t go very many places. Even when she went to Busch Gardens, she didn’t close the place the way that she usually did.

I’m waiting until it’s 2 a.m. here so that it will be 8 a.m. there so that I can call. I always forget about the six hour time difference. I’m hoping that the news is good, that they have turned down the ventilator and that the pneumonia is clearing. That’s the news that I am hoping for. After all, Patrick’s grandmother just died last week. I’m not sure how he took the news I don’t know the last time that he saw her. But he does get very emotional.

His mother, my other mother-in-law, is noticeably worsening with her own health problem. Parkinson’s does not respond well to stress. So I’m just hoping that she holds up well for the next few days.

I suppose for someone who said that she didn’t have anything to say tonight, I managed to run on in my usual way.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.