“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.
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)
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.
Hermosa Beach Sunset, Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Josoroma
“Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.” ~ Bob Dylan
So I’m sitting here at Corey’s computer trying to put together a post. My own computer is still on the fritz. The part has been ordered, but has yet to arrive. I sat here yesterday to try to create a post, but the Internet kept shutting off, which eventually made me give up in my quest.
It’s been over two weeks since my last post, or rather notice about no posts. Thanks to those of you who contacted me to let me know that you were thinking about me and felt my pain. After one of my most prolific months on record (June), I now face July with very little time left and a loss of my rhythm. Posting on other people’s computers is indeed possible, but a bit annoying for several reasons:
All of my image files are on the dead computer
My bookmarks to my quote sites are on the dead computer
I am not used to Corey’s desk set up and find it very uncomfortable; i.e., his screen is far back on the deak and tilted at a strange angle; his chair does not have all of the squishiness of my chair; his keyboard is stiff not supple like mine, and he has no wrist wrest on which to perch my aching mouse wrist.
Yes, these are minor, somewhat silly things, but ask anyone who writes, and I would bet that to a person any of them would say that they have a preferred room in which to write, a preferred position in which to sit, preferred this . . . preferred that . . .
“It’s old light, and there’s not much of it. But it’s enough to see by.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
You may be wondering what’s been happening since I last posted (I know that you’ve probably been stopping by every day just hoping to catch a glimpse of some new insights from my wandering brain . . . or not).
Well, the Germans were here for 10 days, and of course, the time passed much too quickly. This year, my s-i-l Helma decided that they would rent a beach house to stay in so that my m-i-l wouldn’t have her routine disrupted. The house was in West Ocean View, and I have to say that it was really nice. I would live there in a heartbeat.
No Busch Gardens trips this year as there was no time or money, but Corey promised Phillip that they would go next year. Phillip begins university in October. He plans to study to become a teacher.
His sister Hannah was her usual quiet self while here. Apparently she has a boyfriend back in Germany, and this was there first time apart. Ah, young love.
Anyway, we all got together a few times, had the usual family spats (I was not involved in the big one). Found myself not invited to one family part and felt rather foolish for presuming that it was implicit that I was invited. The slight came from my f-i-l’s second wife, the step grandmother to my children. Everyone assumed that Corey and I were invited as ours is a pretty relaxed family, one that does not stand on ceremony. Not-so-much with she-who-will-not-be-named.
Whatever. I’m over it now, but I was mightily put out when it happened. Next time, perhaps, if she wants to be so formal, she should send out engraved invitations . . .
“every day, every day i hear
enough to fill
a year of nights with wondering.” ~ Denise Levertov
Other than that, life has been relatively the same since last I wrote: I’m still having daily headaches, some pretty painful, and sleeping has become an exercise in futility.
Corey is still only working three maybe four shifts a week. He did get a call from a shipping company, but they wanted someone with their license, which Corey does not have because of the paperwork snafu. Because the designated examiners who signed off on his paperwork did not bother to refile their own paperwork, they were not considered designated examiners by the USCG, which means that all of the sign-offs that Corey worked for are void. This is the third time that he has been unable to take a job that he is qualified for but for which he holds no license. So very, very frustrating.
Working on getting the boys ready for school this fall. Almost completed all of the various forms. I still need to get Brett to the eye doctor as he is having trouble seeing. Since everyone else in the family (save Corey) wears glasses/contacts, I thought that it was only a matter of time before Brett had problems. Unfortunately, I was correct. Have to save up money for an examination and the glasses. Hooray. Another debt.
Eamonn is still working at his part-time job at the pool store, and Alexis is still working at the thrift store. More hooray. Brett is looking into trying to find a work study position at ODU for the fall.
Once we get everyone back into school and into some sort of routine, perhaps then we can continue to work on getting the rest of life back to normal. Who knows?
We did spend three days doing intensive cleaning before the Germans arrived. We can actually eat meals at the dining room table, and the living room has been greatly decluttered (for us). I watch that Hoarders show on The Learning Channel, and in the back of my mind I always think, “Am I a hoarder?” Then I look closely at how hoarders live, and I realize that no, I’m not a hoarder, but admittedly am a clutterer. One man’s insanity is another woman’s neurosis.
Just wanted to get something up. I feel as if I’ve been out of it for so long, and it’s really bothering me. Perhaps I can adjust my psyche to work in a foreign zone for just a bit longer.
More later. Peace.
Music byMichael Andrews, “Mad World.” How appropriate . . .
“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.” ~ A. Philip Randolph
Apparently, the protests against Ordinance 64 in Anchorage have gone the way of many American protests in recent years: The reds are bussing people in from churches in nearby cities. By doing this, the antis are creating the appearance that the majority of people in Anchorage are against Ordinance 64.
Just in case you didn’t read my previous post, this ordinance is intended to expand the anti-discrimination law that is currently on the books by adding wording that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Now let me pause here. I am a big believer in free speech and the right to protest, but I am sorely dismayed by two things: Individuals who are not actually living in Anchorage are being allowed to voice their opinions in the open forum. This hardly seems to be fair play. The forum was created as a way to allow those individuals who live in Anchorage to voice their opinion before a vote is taken. The people from outlying areas are forcing an outcome that is not based on real data.
Now you may be thinking, ‘why doesn’t the pro side bus in some people?’ Well, I could respond that such a move is not normally employed by the pros, or if you will, those for the ordinance guaranteeing basic civil rights to all people. But that isn’t entirely true, and we all know it. Which brings me to the second things that dismays and disheartens me: Why do people who feel strongly about passing this ordinance not get out and join the protests?
As Janson commented on my earlier post:
I think the blue-crowd needs to remember that you have to show up and you have to be present to push for change. The reds know this. Every year I see anti-abortion demonstrations on campus. This is fine by me; they have a right and frankly I love to see students taking an active political stand in support of their beliefs (even if I disagree with them or disagree with the Rhetorical strategies they sometimes deploy). But when’s the last time I’ve seen a well-organized, effective Pro-Choice rally? Just for the sake of supporting Pro-Choice rights? How about, um… never? Maybe back at Florida State? Around 1994?
I rarely see proactive liberal demonstrations. A few Bush or Iraq protests are all I’ve seen in recent years. How about instead of arguing against something or someone, we argue for something? More pro-actively, more civically?
He’s right. The left doesn’t just protest for the sake of protest any more, and those of us who call ourselves liberal, pro-choice, pro-human rights need to remember that the opposition shows us time after time just how well organized they are. That type of willingness on their part to rush to the site of any protest is something that we on the other side should take note of.
If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work: “Hello. Can’t work today, still queer.” ~ Robin Tyler
Nevertheless, I still hold that some of the opposition’s signs are more ludicrous than effective. This one strikes me as particularly funny: “I was born Asian. You choose to be Gay,” as the picture on the right shows. My response, as partially posted on Janson’s blog is twofold: “Well, I was born Asian, and I choose not to be stupid, uninformed, closed-minded, and bigoted.”
(And what’s with the peasant hat?)
And let’s not forget our science, people. Homosexuality is not a choice for most people. It is something with which they are born. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how homosexuality tends to run in some families. And I would contend that that is a strong case for nature not nurture, because in some of the families that I know of, those who are gay, hide it out of fear. These people will come out to their friends, but not to their families because they are afraid of becoming outcasts.
We still have so much more to do until more of those people on the anti side of the fence realize that homosexuality is not an abomination before god. If the god of the New Testament is a loving god, how then do these people justify the hatred that they spew in the name of god?
“When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” ~ Marquis de Lafayette
As for protests, the situation in Iran seems to be taking a turn for the worse. Approximately three thousand protesters defied the ban imposed by the Supreme Leader, and took to the streets once again. The police responded with tear gas, water cannons and guns, but no fatalities have been reported. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam said on state television that officials “acted with leniency but I think from today on, we should resume law and confront more seriously . . . The events have become exhausting, bothersome and intolerable.”
An MSNBCreport from around 3:30 EST states that Mousavi has indicated a willingness to become a martyr. Mousavi is still demanding an annulment of the June 12 elections:
In a letter to Iran’s Guardian Council, which investigates voting fraud allegations, Mousavi listed violations that he says are proof that the June 12 vote should be annulled. He said some ballot boxes had been sealed before voting began, thousands of his representatives had been expelled from polling stations and some mobile polling stations had ballot boxes filled with fake ballots.
“The Iranian nation will not believe this unjust and illegal” act, Mousavi said in the letter published on one of his official Web sites.
The Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khameini has ordered the crackdown. Accordin to Britain’s Times Online, Khameini declared that “‘those politicians who somehow have influence on people should be very careful about their behaviour if they act in an extremist manner . . . This extremism will reach a sensitive level which they will not be able to contain. They will be responsible for the blood, violence and chaos.”
As to Khameini’s assertions that the protestors are being motivated by the West, President Obama, in the face of mounting criticism, is still taking a cautious stance, which I believe has allowed the protestors more freedom than if our President had come out in full support of the opposition. According to White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs, the administration’s view is that Iranian leaders would use fiercer U.S. support for the protesters to paint them as puppets of the Americans.
In spite of this, Republicans led a Congressional Resolution that expresses support for “all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law” and affirms “the importance of democratic and fair elections.”
Certainly the U.S. embraces the values of freedom and human rights (sometimes), but coming out in open support of the Green Party will only escalate matters. Hawkish John McCain took the opportunity to slam President Obama on the Today Show and on Fox news, saying that the President isn’t doing enough and the U.S. should be more involved in the crisis. McCain must have a short memory.
The Congress is making statements that the U.S. should speak out because the protestors deserve their democratic rights. Iran is not a democracy. This is one important fact that those in favor of more harsh statements seem to be forgetting.
We must not forget how high tempers run in this country, and that Iran has never forgiven the U.S. for interfering in its politics by helping to establish the Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlavi as leader of the country during the Cold War. The repercussions for U.S. involvement in Iranian politics led to the 1979 Iranian overthrow of the Shah and the subsequent capture of 52 U.S. diplomats who were held for 444 days.
“Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” ~ Alice Walker
On a final note, Corey and I were discussing Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which was written by Bob Dylan in the 60’s. We were talking about possible interpretations of the song, and I suppose since I have protests on the brain, I was telling Corey that I thought the song, as Hendrix sang it, was about alienation. Dylan may have written it as a folksong, but how many people actually listen to the Dylan version?
“Watchtower is a Hendrix song, and it speaks to me of the great disillusionment felt by that generation, an entire group of young people who felt let down by their country, let down by the system, misunderstood by their parents, and greatly alienated from white bread society.
I’ll leave you now with two versions of the song: Jimmi’s, of course, and a pretty cool version by composer and musician Bear McCreary (music for “Battlestar Galactica”).
“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.
Another day has almost come and gone
Can’t imagine what else could wrong
Sometimes I’d like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war (’cause)
The Torch Singer by Connie Chadwell
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m feeling unsettled, music runs through my head constantly, like an internal play list. Songs from the past pop up out of nowhere, more than likely sad songs, melancholy songs, that I haven’t heard in years. And they usually have a sad story behind them.
The only way to get rid of these songs is to turn on one of my play lists on my computer and try to replace the music in my head with music outside my head. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, a song on my play list just bumps one in my head, and I start to dwell on the new song: where did I first hear it? What were the circumstances? Why did I put it on my playlist?
Often, the song is one that I have sung at the old karoake bar that we used to frequent, and it brings back memories of singing, something that I love to do in front of an audience. I think that in one of my past lives I was probably a torch singer in a smoky room in a back alley bar somewhere down by the docks. I don’t think that I was famous, but I think that I was well known for my raspy voice and my cigarette holder.
Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
But songs mean a lot to me. They are poetry (hence the name lyrical poetry), and they are stories. Simon and Garfunkel are definitely the voice of the generation of the 60’s and 70’s. Their songs are anthems for what was going on during those tumultuous times. The same can be said for John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s songs, as well as the songs of Bob Dylan, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
These songwriters were followed by a generation of modern country songwriters such as Garth Brooks, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Chesney, The Dixie Chicks, and crossovers like The Indigo Girls, Jackson Browne, and Sheryl Crow.
And of course, the emergence of Rap music as urban poetry must not be ignored. Rap speaks to the minds and emotions of its listeners. Among the most famous rap artists today are Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg.
It’s almost like the hard times circle ’round
A couple drops and they all start coming down
Yeah, I might feel defeated,
I might hang my head
I might be barely breathing—but I’m not dead
I used to love to listen to Jane Olivor when I was feeling down. She has the voice of a chanteuse, and one of the songs that she sang was called “It’s over. Goodbye.” I must have played that song 50 times in a row after a major breakup with my good Catholic boyfriend. Each time was like a knife in my heart, which was what I felt I deserved for ending a relationship with such a wonderful person. But I never felt good enough, and I knew in my heart that I would never be true to him. So Jane and I spent the night together: she pouring out her heart, and I weeping.
Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
Another thing that I love to do is to make CDs of different playlists (my car is not equipped with an MP3 player, thank you very much). I have a road trip CD, one for rolling down the windows and blowing back your hair. It includes Springsteen, Clapton, The Stones, The Who, among others. I have a boat music compilation—Jimmy Buffet (of course), Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker, Jackson Browne. I have compilations for just about any occasion.
I’m not gonna let it get me down
I’m not gonna cry
And I’m not gonna lose any sleep tonight
But one song that always gets to me when I hear it or when I sing it is Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring On the Rain” because this woman is saying, “yep, just about everything that could go wrong today has gone wrong. So go ahead and just get it over with. I’m down anyway. I can barely hold up my head, but I know that tomorrow is going to come. So open up the sky, and let it pour, because I’m thirsty anyway.
Man, to have that strength. To be able to say to life: Go ahead. Give me your best shot because I know that you are going to whether I’m ready for it or not. This day can only get worse. I’m already pretty close to the ground. Might as well rain all over me. But you know what? I’m feeling down, but I’m not dead, and tomorrow’s another day.
Right now, I’m looking for that strength. I’m not defeated, not even close to it. Just tired and feeling low to the ground . . . but a little rain never hurt anyone. It’s nature’s way of cleansing, of getting rid of the dirt and grime that has built up, allowing for new growth because the soil is refreshed. All of the dead leaves have been washed away. And if it rains hard enough, somewhere the sun will reflect on the raindrops and create a rainbow and verify that life does indeed still exist.
Tomorrow’s another day
And I am not afraid
So bring on the rain
Maybe I am a little afraid, afraid of the unknown because it’s been the unknown for so long now. But I’m reminded of another song about rain: Trisha Yearwood’s Georgia Rain, which is another song that I love to sing. In it, the woman is remembering her long lost love and their night in the Georgia Rain. She says that “Nothin’ here’s the same/Except for the Georgia rain.”
You can’t ever go back really. And it’s sad when you see people try or continue to hope for that “one day” when they can go back; you just want to shake them gently and say, “It’s not there any more. It’s only in your mind. Things change.” You can never go back, and I never want to. I have too much here. Back is gone. Back is yesterday. I only want to make it to tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain