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Month: January 2013

My New Definition of Worthwhile

Last night, we stood in line with hordes of  parade goers, waiting for the ‘’Tit R~x Parade to get underway. In my hand I held a hastily-constructed stand of tiny spectators, proportionately appropriate for the tiny floats making up the parade that parodies the grandaddy of all Mardi Gras parades, the Krewe of Rex. I’d read that the creator of the ‘Tit R~x Micro-Krewe was overjoyed by parade participants who created tiny dolls to view his petite parade. I wanted him to know I loved his parade, so I brought the Bywater Bystanders with their homemade sign: “Throw me something, Mister!”

After a long wait, finally, down the street trundled the shoe-box sized floats. Fully lit, mechanized, replete with elaborate detail—the floats mesmerized. I held out my offering. “Tiny spectators for the tiny floats,” I repeated, and was rewarded with throws so small the marchers had to carefully place them in my hand. Kneeling, I let the Bywater Bystanders view the rolling floats. Beside me, a guy vroomed! his toy cars. “Me, me, me!” he beeped. “Parade traffic,” he explained.

Inspired by the parade and our visit the day before to the Backstreet Museum to view the elaborate Mardi Gras Indian costumes, I’ve decided my new, highest standard of life will be that no effort counts unless just about everyone in the world will think it counts for nothing.

From now on, my only legitimate aspiration will be to expend untold amounts of my limited self on a project, a task, an undertaking, a something incredibly important to me and probably no one else. I will strive to get it exactly right, to care about the minute details, to lose myself in something I cannot count on one person validating along the way. I will act knowing from the outset that the world won’t care, won’t understand, or—like the other tourists at the Backstreet Museum gazing at the colorful, intricately hand-sewn costumes that take up to a year to create only to be worn for one season, then set aside—will repeat in a voice that clearly objects: “worn only once?”

This is my new definition of worthwhile. To wit: nothing is really worthwhile unless it is a totally extravagant, unjustifiable expression of the spirit that no one will understand except your tribe.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

When My Foot was Wet

The Mississippi River seeps through the concrete, the grass is smushy when you step.

“Oh, drat.” I lift my leg. “My foot is wet.”

Well, no wonder. The sole has separated from the body.

My foot is having an out-of-body experience.

I’m having fun, running the dog through the parking lot. She tears in circles, herding imaginary sheep.

*

Sarcophagus Macabre scared me as a child,

his dropping vulture’s head,

his thickly drawn lines.

I study the Pogo pages. Ol’ Sarky is hanging out with Wiley Catt, scheming to cook Churchy turtle for dinner.

Mr. Macabre doesn’t do much more for me as an adult, either.

*

I wave my face over the steaming tea kettle,

encouraging healing into my sinus.

When I lift my head, something obstructs my vision.

I look in the mirror. I may not have cured the sinuses, but I’ve developed curls.

*

When NOCCA lets out, I plug in the Sacred Palm.

It stands 7 feet tall in glowing yellow and green.

I want the students to see it in my window.

I want it to give them hope.

I want them to say,

when I grow up, I’m gonna have a palm tree in MY living room.

*

In New Orleans,

the most eclectic city on earth,

we walk the mall.

Smoothie King, Sears, the Dollar Tree.

We’re exploring the ‘burbs.

We buy tennis shoes from Sears, a glow-in-the-dark trident from the Dollar Tree.

We sit on the bench, eyeing the mall shoppers, and sip our smoothies.

*

By day’s end, I’m

richer by tennis shoes,

healthier by steam,

basking in the palm’s sacred glow,

ready to take on Macabre.

 

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

It’s Just a Tornado

Our apartment in New Orleans overlooks the Mississippi River. At least that’s the way I remember it. For the last two days, the fog has been so heavy we might as well have been in 19th century London. That’s been fun, the rolling patches of fog, the slightly eerie sensation of driving through a deserted Quarter, a lone tourist hurrying across the street. Today, I learned the fog is a harbinger. We don’t have fog in Memphis, but I’m familiar with the situation: the weather turns warm, the dreaded cold front blows in, tornado warnings issue.

Last August, when we “sheltered in place” for Hurricane Isaac, I decided a hurricane wasn’t as bad as a tornado. With a hurricane, you get a lengthy warning. For those with the ability to leave, a choice to stay—we had children and grandchildren in the city who weren’t leaving—is just that: a choice. A tornado runs up on you before you know it.

My tornado warning arrived this morning courtesy of NOLA.com. They send emails when the weather sours. Now, as the view from my window worsens, I’m here alone. I watch out the window.

The rain arrives so thickly it’s as if someone erected a white screen—no sense of something falling at all. After a bit, it occurs to me that I might have to evacuate. I rise from the sofa to find some shoes. The dog follows me everywhere I go. I don’t know if New Orleans has tornado sirens, or if I could hear them from inside this ancient rice mill that houses our apartment. With the windows shut against the rain, it is very quiet.

When I return to the living room, the white screen has lifted. I can see the river. The rain has diminished to a sprinkle. Lightening strikes repeatedly. In Memphis, the end of rain is good, but lightening erupts before the rain. I don’t know anything about this weather pattern. I research online for the national weather channel. The Southeastern Louisiana tornado warning is in place for another hour and a half, but students are walking in and out of NOCCA, the creative arts high school across the parking lot. Surely if danger existed they’d be hunkered beneath their desks, protective arms wrapped around their heads.

I’ve lived through three hurricanes. I’ve never seen a tornado. I don’t want to see a tornado. Soon, the tornado warning will lift, hopefully with my non-tornado-sighting record intact.

here’s to creative synthesis  . . .

Time for New Odd Facts

I attract spiders.

I haven’t put up a Christmas tree—other than Tom’s little Target tree, which we never take down, it stays up year-round—in 10 years.

I want an El Camino.

I am afraid of ocean liners.

I can’t spell, I have no sense of direction, I am a hyperventilating cook, yet I have lived for over fifty years.

All my life, I’ve preferred professional football to college ball.

I don’t like chestnuts, open fire or not.

I fell so in love with the bug child in Pogo that, in the fifth grade, I cut out a pattern and sewed that little bug into life, a little stuffed bug child I made myself. Then I taught the bug child in school using chalk and a chalkboard. I don’t remember our course of study.

I have 41 (or maybe 44, Mother’s not sure) second cousins, not a one of whom I know.

I went to England on a quest for King Arthur: Tintagel, Camelot, Glastonbury Tor, the field where Mordred was killed. I have been to King Arthur sites no one in England has ever heard of.

I have an uncanny ability to recognize faces.

I have an inherited ability to recall things orally recited. By which I mean, like my blind relative who would listen to an associate read a draft letter and say, “Go back seven sentences and read that paragraph that begins with ‘Pursuant to your request’,” I can remember exactly what was said at any given time. Except I’m not blind.

I’m not telling you any more of my uncanny abilities.

I learned to water ski at 6 years of age. This is a personal embarrassment to me. I was supposed to learn at age 5, but I had my tonsils out and had to wait a year. Just embarrassing.

I have lived through 3 hurricanes, in place, with the walls rattling.

I have lived in every Deep South state except South Carolina. I do not like South Carolina. I like Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida (kind of), Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Not South Carolina.

I am a cradle Episcopalian. My daddy was an Episcopalian. His daddy was an Episcopalian. Before that, they didn’t have religion.

I was once the adoptive mother of a hedgehog. Reggie. Reggie the hedgehog. He died during my adoptive period. He was 13, he was REALLY old. But still it upsets me.

In honor of Reggie, I’m signing off.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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