Sunday, November 30, 2014

An ode to my Dee-dee

Growing up, I felt robbed. I didn't have a grandmother.

Oh, by the pure definition, I had two. My mother's mother, Granny, was old, had 12 grandchildren, and preferred the company of her fox terrier and her stories to that of her rambunctious brood. Did she love us? Yes. But she wasn't cuddly.

My father's mother refused to believe that she was old enough to be a grandmother. I was born 20 days before her 50th birthday. Rather than have a name like most grandmothers, she declared that she would be called "Dee-dee." Her name was Diane. Scratch that. Diana. She changed it.

When we were sick, we usually went to Granny. Granny let us rest. Once in a while, we went to Dee-dee. Rest was not in her vocabulary. If she had errands to run, so did you. Fever and all.

You'd think that we would hate that. I'm sure there were some days where we preferred to curl up on the couch with a "sleeping buddy." But if you weren't extremely sick, or if you just had the day off of school, spending the day with Dee-dee was a guaranteed adventure. You might go to the cleaner's. You could maybe run through the car wash. Best case scenario, you got candy.

Vivid memory:

Running errands with Dee-dee one day, she told us "We're going to Kay Bee's. If you're good, you can pick something out." We assumed Kaybee Toys. We were so excited. Dee-dee and Paw-paw were NOT the toy grandparents. They were the clothes grandparents. (Something I didn't really appreciate at 5 years old, but grew to appreciate later.) We were wrong. Kay Bee's was KB's. Or K&B, as the rest of New Orleans knew it. The drug store. And since her favorite candy was Hershey's, that meant plopping us in front of the Hershey's section. Forget the other brands.

Her favorite candy was Hershey's Kisses. Or, as she called them, Silver Bells. She had a glass candy jar shaped like one. I broke it on accident while carrying my bags after spending the night at their house. I thought was going to be disowned. A few years later, we went to Hershey Park and bought her a new one.

That was really the only time I felt anger from her. She was the type of grandmother who wouldn't let you splash her in the pool because "I'm getting my hair done tomorrow." So if you splashed close to her in the pool, you would get snapped at. But never anger.

Growing up, I was more my Paw-paw's grandchild. When he died at the end of my junior year of high school, it was absolutely devastating. I felt that I wouldn't have a grandparent on that side. My cousin was "her" grandchild. Or so I thought.

She wasn't the type for mushiness. She was famous for flipping off my grandfather. She laughed when people got hurt. I inherited both her middle finger and her funny bone. This is why "Jackass" will always make me laugh. When I picture her, I picture her laughing.

Because she wasn't mushy, I don't know how often I heard her say "I love you." But when I got older, I heard her say something that I still think of and smile about to this day:

I'm proud of you.

I would trade a million "I love yous" for the chance to hear her say that again.

As a quiet, well-behaved, shy child, I shocked the hell out of everyone by doing school plays. My grandmother was always there to see my shows.

"I'm proud of you," she'd say.

She fostered my interest in theater. My first "Broadway in New Orleans" experience was with her. My aunt and uncle gave her two tickets to see "South Pacific." She decided, out of all of our family, out of all of her friends, to bring me. We went to the Saenger to see it. It was a magical experience for me, and I don't even like musicals. When I went to New York from the College Media Advisers/Associated Collegiate Press conference in college, she gave me money to be spent only on tickets to see a Broadway play. Not food. Not other entertainment. Not souvenirs. I saw "Jane Eyre," which was short-lived, but the most amazing play I've ever seen to this day. Because my Dee-dee wanted me to experience it. It is my only on-Broadway show to this day. I've seen "Wicked" in London. I've seen other "Broadway in New Orleans" shows over the years. But it was Dee-dee who gave me the gift of theater magic. Every year, as I direct my students in their production, I think of her. It kills me that she was never able to see them perform.

When they do perform, I always tell them what she told me:

I'm proud of you.

She was simultaneously the classiest lady in the room and the brassiest lady in the room.

She could burp with the best of them, flip you off, throw some serious side-eye at you, give you a threatening-looking up-down, crunch on ice, stick her fingers in whatever you were cooking and lick them, run her fingers around the icing on the platter where a cake was (we called this "Dee-dee fingers"), invent her own vocabulary, and suck the marrow out of a bone she grabbed off your plate. She literally sucked the marrow out of life.

But then her hair was perfectly coiffed, her clothes were pristine, her make-up was impeccable (she even had her eyeliner tattooed on, later). Her cars were immaculate but smelled like her perfume. She wore the best brand names. She was old New Orleans (5th generation Irish Channel) and wanted everything the family did to match her high standards. When I got married, my cake HAD to be from Swiss, for example. She had the best of everything and always looked like a million bucks.

She was no pampered princess, though. She worked in English Turn's real estate offices until she turned sick. She was well into her 70's. She drove for a while after that. She lived her life and lived it well.

Alzheimer's robbed her of many things. But it couldn't take the love of her family and friends.

Dee-dee, I'm proud of you for being you and for setting in motion the events that brought me to this earth. I love you dearly and will never forget you, my molette.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

8

Am I over it? That's debatable.

In many ways, yes. I have a home. A car. I still have Lily. I've only lost one family member while Mark lost two. We've gained some in-laws on both sides, as well as watched the third/fourth generations begin. The Saints won a Superbowl, I'm still working my same job. Mark has a job.

But I still take my meds. I still am dealing with the worst year of my life, redux.

I should have been not at work and doing something drastically different today. It didn't happen.

I had to drive down Claiborne to catch the Interstate. Didn't really think about it until I could see Benson Tower, formerly the Dominion Tower. That was my front row seat to the roof blowing off of the Superdome. I still can't handle a certain entrance to Champions Square, which is by the door where we watched the water rise while we had our sanctioned looting of the downstairs convenience store.

I drove past our former lot. Apparently, our landlord sold it. There is a fence around our neighbor's lot and giant pilings in the air and the ground on our lot. Someone is building a home. I wish them more luck than we had.

I'm dealing with all of this alone tonight while Mark works the Saints broadcast.

I think I'll go to bed early.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

I just couldn't bear that.

I know it has been almost a year since I last published here. But 33 was the worst year of my life, other than 26.

26 was Katrina.

33 was secret pains and public aggravations.

This blog started as ridiculousness. It became a tragic outlet. I didn't want it to always be that.

As I was turning 33 last year, an erstwhile relative-in-law told me, and I quote, "33 is your best year. It was my best year. It's everyone's best year. You're going to have the best year of your life."

What I forgot is that this person is essentially evil incarnate, and that her words were a curse, not a blessing.

33 was horrendous. I won't go into details, because then this blog slips back into tragedy, and there's no need for that. But here's a timeline:

August 9: Got great, surprising news. September rolled around, and by the 9th, that was no more.

Nov. 26: An idiotic neighbor caused a major problem to some property.

Nov. 30: Devastating news out of left field.

Dec. 22: Hooray! Redo of the August thing!

Jan. 3: Something could be awry, but probably all is well.

Jan. 17: Got my car back.

Jan. 31: Nothing is well.

Feb. 1: One-day surgical procedure.

Feb. 9: Another idiot neighbor caused worse damage, in several different ways.

March: Got my car back again.

June 19: Hooray! Another redo!

June 30: Hmm. That can't be good.

July 4: Not again.


And so, in all of the vagueness, I have had a horrendous life this past year. Very few people know what some of those things are. I'll keep it that way.

But that's why, for the past year, I've said nothing. I need something really good and positive to happen in order to overshadow how awful 33 was. 34 happened June 10, but the bad which followed all happened because everything was set in motion while still 33. I can only hope that the curse is finally over. I can't handle much more. I'll be back as things are good.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great big fat never mind

You know how sometimes, life treats you like crap, but then it backs off and allows you to relax and enjoy the ride? But then the second you let your guard down because something really positive is happening in your life, you just get bitch-smacked and knocked back down to crap status?

Why does that keep happening to us?

I'd had plans to blog again in about a week about this thing that was happening that was going to make August 29 finally have a positive experience. But then with Isaac, that got rescheduled for a week later. Fine, whatever. (Hey, Isaac, nice of you to drop in on Katrina's anniversary, by the way. Way to have me celebrate by spending a week at my parents' house because a tree knocked the power and cable lines off of my house. Way to keep my dad's business shuttered again. Way to keep my phone, cable, and Internet down for two weeks and my electricity down for one. We didn't need that stuff in the freezer anyway. And so what that my online classes started, so now I'm playing catch-up in a totally overwhelming state of existence.)

But before this could happen, it was taken away. It has left in its wake despair and rage. So much pain. And there was nothing to do about it. There will be no happy posting.

I have been stuck inside for three weeks now: one week for Isaac, two weeks for what happened. To say the words, even to type them, is too difficult right now. You can probably figure it out, anyway. At some point, I may talk more. Right now, I just needed to put this down.

There is no justice in life. You work hard for other people, never saying no to anyone, toiling away and being there for other people, furthering your education, working in a career that is rewarding, frustrating, and thankless all at once, and something good should happen, right? You get drunk on trailer trash reality shows, cartwheel without panties, and end up in rehab, with no job, no purpose on this Earth other than taking up oxygen and space, and the class and intelligence of a grain of sand, you should get nothing. But that's not how it works. Oh, no. Those people get everything. They can keep what you cannot.

There. I got that out. But I still don't feel any better. Maybe the "Daria" marathon we've had this week has affected me. As if I wasn't cynical enough...

I need to go back to work. Work makes me think of work. I can block out reality that way. In fact, if it wasn't for my friends at work, the past two weeks would have been even more unbearable. I am lucky enough to work with and for some beautiful people. Monday can't get here fast enough. Somehow, though, as much as I look forward to it and need it, I am dreading it all the same. I don't want to put on the strong and happy face. They're just going to have to deal with me. My poor students. How many times will I be able to handle the "Where were you?!?!"s that get lobbed in my direction before I snap at some undeserving person? It's going to take every last ounce of self-control that I have left, every bit of my acting training, and every bit of my friends' assistance, which I have to take. I don't like having help. It's my best and most frustrating quality, if you ask poor Mark. Poor Mark. So good, so strong, so kind. Stuck with me and my negativity. I don't understand his strength and patience. I'm jealous, and I told him so tonight.

I just need the constant reminders to stop. The whole thing needs to be over. I can't move forward until the last bit is done. So here I sit, in neutral, spinning my gears with no results.

Maybe Life will get her shit together and stop pulling the metaphorical football out from underneath us for once. Life. She's truly a bitch sometimes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eyebrows raised

I'm on the couch, soaking up a/c while the wind starts periodically gusting outside. I'm not necessarily concerned, per se, about Isaac. He has no eye. He sped up his travel speed, so he isn't even due to hit on August 29. I'm not comfortable with the timing, to be honest. Moreso due to him canceling something I had planned on Wednesday, but it is creepy. I guess I'm just annoyed. Mark has to work. He's bringing a sleeping bag and should be staying for two days. I'll laterally evacuate with Lily to my parents' house. I'm going to bring the important stuff just in case, of course, but I'm mostly going there to avoid being home alone. We had three days of school plus book day, and now we're closed for three days. How irritating. I really miss the days where so long as it was "Just a cat 3," I would stay home and not even flinch. I'd read or play on the Internet so long as we had electricity. Now, I'm taking important things and the cat to my parents' house for a tropical storm, maybe cat 1, maybe cat 2. I'm gun shy. I had something else on my mind which was preventing me for really thinking too long or too hard about the situation, but now I'm starting to think about it. Storm prep did that to me. I'll have a better 7-year post in a few weeks, but I really don't want to jinx something. So, until then, I'm just raising my eyebrows at everything and considering grabbing a string cheese before the fridge goes out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stand by your men

I will begin by saying that I love my hometown and things associated with it with a passion. Even if those things play a game I don't care for.

Growing up, my dad would play his "Who Dat" single on game days. I have at least one distinct memory of being forced awake by it. I remember my dad reclining on his bedroom floor in front of the little TV, yelling, hitting the floor in frustration, and teaching me a lot of words I had never heard before in the process. Words that he only said on game days. I remember having to go to my friend's house to play...or if she came over, playing in the backyard due to his reactions. This was the '80s, of course.

In fact, my very pregnant mother and I got in an accident during a game one time. Dad was so frustrated, he threw the phone. And broke it.

Please note that my father is not a violent man by any means. We were not spanked. I got hit once for something, but I had it coming, for sure.

He realized that nothing was worth that sort of reaction and backed off of his team. He had been there for Dempsey's kick. I'm sure it was hard. He didn't quite kick cold turkey; instead, he would relapse from time to time. I'm sure the "Unbelievable" season was hard to stay away from. He followed them, of course, but he would pretend that he wasn't interested.

Eventually, I met and married a superfan. He's not one of those costumer people, but he is the most optimistic Saints fan I've ever met. They can be down 30 points with 2 minutes to go, and he'll say, "They can still pull it off. Watch." I'll be damned if his faith doesn't pull through way more often than it should.

Through his extreme support, I got suckered in. I don't quite remember when exactly I became a fan. I mean, while dad was there for Dempsey, we were there for the Colts beat down. You know the one.

Honestly, let's go to Katrina. Longtime readers will remember my rant that taking the Saints out of New Orleans and moving them to San Antonio was a bad, bad idea. That the city needed something to hope for. You may also recall that when my school was going to close, Reggie Bush stepped up and donated the money we still needed to stay open. You may also remember impassioned commentary on Steve Gleason's block, the reopening of the Dome, the road to the Super Bowl, and my hatred for Brett Fav-ruh. Hmmm. I think being in the Dome for the 2006 homecoming made me a fan. We went to many games that season and later seasons as well. In fact, our presence in the Dome, minus that Colts beat-down, almost guaranteed a win.

And so, while I still am not a football fan, I AM a Saints fan. I AM a New Orleans fan. If you weren't downtown when they won the Super Bowl, or one of the nearly one million people lining the victory parade route, then you just don't know what it did for this city.

For one thing, crime dipped while they were winning games that season.

Thanks, Gregg Williams. I'm holding you personally accountable for the murder rate right now.

When they announced the bounty scandal, I was hurt. But then I was confused. First, I thought they all did that. Mostly because the definition of paying a salary to a defensive player, then giving him signing bonuses and raises and renegotiated contracts is, essentially, giving bonuses for hits. They don't dock salaries if a hit takes someone out. If the hit is illegal, he will be fined.

Look at that Suh guy who essentially attempted murder in front of a national audience. Suspended for two games without pay. TWO GAMES. TWO!!! Indisputable proof in the form of the millions of witnesses who saw him stomp a dude. And that was his punishment.

Look at golden boy Belichick, who had his people SPY on opponents...a VERY illegal action. Fined. FINED!!! That was it!!!

And then here comes the team that no one thought should do anything. A team they wrote off. One of the worst in the league for most of its existence. Under Haslett, they won a playoff game. We get to Payton and Brees, and we go to the NFC championship game, only to have classy Bears fans throw snowballs with batteries at Saints fans, all while holding signs and yelling at their team to "finish what Katrina started." CLASSY.

And then they went 13-3, going undefeated until the very end. And won. And won. And went to the Super Bowl. No one thought they'd win. And then they did. Spectacularly.

While they didn't return, but they came pretty close until choking. But it's okay. "There's always next year" was the only Saints phrase uttered more often than "Who dat."

We were hoping to see them be the first home team to play in the Super Bowl.

And our coach has been suspended for an ENTIRE YEAR. Thankfully, the ringmaster, who ran bounty pools at every team he'd been with, is suspended indefinitely. I feel for the Rams. We took a coach they fired, and they got a guy who can't work in the NFL for a very, very long time. Sucks to be them.

But here's the thing. They should have all been punished for their actions. If it's not something the league allows, and is against the rules, then, yes, they needed to be punished for breaking them. If, as the new argument goes, the punishment is actually for the lies and not the bounties, then why is lying so much worse than illegal spying and malicious and blatant televised injuries? I mean, honestly. Who gets a stronger sentence? A perjurer or an attempted murderer? Apparently, the perjurer.

People are pointing fingers at former Saint Jeremy Shockey as "the snitch." Let's be honest. First of all: What does that teach anyone? It's like a gang....and a gang member just went and cut a deal with the cops and ratted out his boss for murdering someone. And now all of the gang members are up in arms, berating, threatening, burning his jersey, calling for snitches to get stitches.... DISGUSTING. The team was breaking some rules, and he reported it. If it was done in a malicious sense, as revenge, then I could see being upset. That's low to do that after leaving. Have they even confirmed it was him? A commentator says he "heard" it was him, and the whole state began crucifying him. Someone even changed his Wikipedia page to call him an "American football snitch for the Carolina Panthers." Sick. Whether he did it or not, that is sick.

Another big uproar is everyone screaming about how this is the NFL trying to keep us from winning the Super Bowl at home. Seriously? That's putting the cart before the horse, amongst other things. If we had won the NFC Championship already, then, yeah, maybe. But it's not even the 2012 season yet. Does this mean I didn't think they could do it? No. I know they could. I'm just cautiously optimistic.

And now, everyone apparently believes that now, they have no way to win. I was not aware that a football game is won only on the part of one coach. Yeah. It sucks. But I'm taking a page from my overly optimistic husband's book and saying that they can still do it. One day at a time, people.

I know it will get worse as players get their punishments. But it can't get any worse than these fair weather fans taking the Dad of the '80s approach.

Oh ye of little faith, look at this real-life scenario I'm facing: my girls' team will be in the playoffs on Tuesday, and one of the girls can't play. We will have 5 instead of 6 against the one team we can beat so far. I tried to get a replacement, and one girl strung us along for two weeks and told me that she can't do it when it was too late for me to get someone else. I felt so down. They worked so hard, and last year, my girls became the first (and still only) team in the school's history to ever win a post-season game. I wanted them to do it again.

But I realized that they can still do it. If 4 or 5 of them beat their opponents in each match (difficult, but not impossible), it won't matter if the other team's pin count is higher than ours due to having one more person than we do. They just have to bowl their hearts out. They aren't skilled enough to win a game in the next round, especially if they are short one person. One day, they will, but we're still a young team. I'm looking at it in baby steps. They will be good. Right now, they're okay.

And so my mission these past few days has been to convince the girls of this. Because if I rally behind them and reassure them and pump them up, then they will go in confident and may surpass everyone's expectations.

We've done that to the Saints for years. Why quit now? Stand by your men.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Putting the past behind us and our behinds in gear for the future

Haven't thought of that quote in years. One of the plays we did in high school required my friend Tree to say this. She said it with such zeal. And while considering a title, it popped into my head.

Rather fitting, because lately, I've been confronted with things long gone.

First, I have set my DVR to record all of these amazing new episodes of Pop Up Video. Holy cow. I loved half days in high school, because I'd come home, fix a PB&J sandwich or biscuit pizzas or a Lean Cuisine, plop down in my dad's blue recliner, pull up a nesting table, and watch. Also, sometimes, because I got out of school at 2:20, I'd catch it when I got home.

In college, my roommate Lisa and I would race back to the dorm from the cafeteria in order to watch it. Sometimes, we cut it close. Always, it was a bad idea to do so. However, it was always worth it.

When I met Mark, I quickly learned that his musical trivia knowledge knows no bounds. He would always get so mad because he would tell me facts, and I would frequently respond with, "Yeah, I saw that on Pop Up Video once." He hates the show because it allows people to know obscure music trivia that generally only he knows. When it went away, he was happy. He's not so glad to have it back.

In my journalism class, one of my seniors is going to do a new feature called "That '90s Column." In it, he is going to pick apart '90s culture. I guess that the '90s for him are the '80s for me. He did an article on older generations' opinion of Gen-Y. I was his Gen X-er source. First, older generation? Mannnnn. But seriously, he is apparently a fan of everything I find amusing. He wanted to know what some of my earliest memories are and what things I liked. Most of it didn't make it into the article, but it was still fun to talk about. I guess I gave him too much information, haha.

He interviewed me about "Ren and Stimpy" the other day. Another kid did an article on the return of "Beavis and Butt-Head." I then watched that last night with Kurt, Alicia, and Joe. Kurt and I were way into it. Joe watched some through his bottle. Alicia tolerated us fools. Mark didn't get to watch it, but I DVRed it, and we're going to watch it when he gets home.

Both returning TV shows are just as good as they were back then, and have lost none of their appeal. Makes me so happy.

Last week, I once again brought my seniors to my collegiate alma mater. We had a journalism workshop, toured the campus, saw the Dyslexia Center, and visited Student Publications and Printing. Met up with Mark's cousins, Drew and Alison, and my brother-in-law from another mother-in-law, Clyde. He looks like Jones on "Reno 911." I look decidedly nothing like that. For fun, I introduced him as my brother-in-law. The kids' faces were priceless.

It was so much fun going back and showing them every part of the campus I loved so much. Thankfully, I worked so much and spent so many hours in the theater, so there weren't too many stories I had to censor myself on. I guess playing it so safe in college was a bit of a waste, but it was also a good thing. Several of my seniors are interested in going there next year, as opposed to the group I brought last year, so they were very interested in everything I showed them and everything I told them.

Two things that you would have died over.

One. My adviser, who is kind of an ass, but also one of the greatest teachers ever, Dr. C, was handing out some papers. M made a comment about how freezing it was in there, and Dr. C said that it had to be that cold because of all of the equipment in the room. He then added, "So, this is the Iceland of classrooms." He hands B a paper, and B goes, "You mean Greenland. Iceland isn't the one covered in snow. That's Greenland." Dr. C looks at him and goes, "O.....kayyyyy...." and all of us lost it.

Two. My b-i-l Phil's BFF Clyde works for the sports information office. He's a big goofy light-skinned black guy. I used a picture from Phil's wedding as one of my FB profile pictures. It has my m-i-l, s-i-l, b-i-l, f-i-l, Mark, Clyde, and his gf. I introduced him to the kids as being my bil. Their faces were priceless. Clyde explained to them what I meant.

The other teacher, also an alum, who came with us had C and D. C wanted info on remedial courses and math and stuff, so Mr. W brought her to a math dept friend of his. He brought D to visit the basketball team.

They came in after this while Clyde was talking with the kids. Clyde asked if they had any questions, and D goes, "Yeah, I got one. Who are you?" I said, "He is my brother-in-law." Well, the reaction was as awesome as you could expect. The kids played along. I pulled up the profile pic. Now, the gf, Stephanie, is white, so I guess he thinks Clyde married either my sister or Mark's hahahha, because he said, "Ohhhhhhhhh. I see."

So we let him think whatever it is he thinks. In following days, several kids asked me to ask my brother-in-law some stuff about athletics and the school. Heehee.

On the way home, a different female C was behind me and she leaned forward and said, "I never knew people could have black in-laws." This from a white girl dating a black guy. What happened that some level of disconnect exists?? At least Clyde brought some multiculturalism to her life.

Then, on Saturday, we drove to the M.C. to take a photo of three generations of alumni with Mark's family. His grandpa, aunt, uncle, mom, two cousins, brother, sister-in-law, and the two of us all graduated from there, and his two youngest cousins are there now, as I mentioned earlier. Stephanie is actually writing an article for the university about the family's three generations of grads. She and a university photographer took the photo.

After that, we had to go back to Thibodaux to pick up some costumes from my friend Wade, who is also a drama teacher. He did "The Wizard of Oz" a year or so ago, and that's what I'm doing this year. He offered to lend us his costumes, and we detoured to get them. Then, we went to Houma and ate at Outback with Mark's parents and made a detour to the mall for a minute. When we were in college, that was one of the few restaurants there. Good times.

On Saturday, I heard from Wade again, but it was not for good news. Marie, a girl I'd hired based on the fact that, as a freshman, she reminded me of me as a freshman, died. She climbed the ranks and eventually edited the paper. She worked in the same school system I work in, and we would run into each other at workshops and things. We kept in touch via Facebook, but were not close any more. She was an amazing person, and I am very sad about this. She was only 29. Everyone began posting photos from Student Publications. I did, too. It was fun looking through my photos and reminiscing. And it's been fun to see people comment on the pictures, too.

In addition to this revisiting my past stuff, I have listened predominantly to the Gen-X radio stations we have now. Fantastic stuff.

Tomorrow (today?) We are attending a college radio reunion for Mark. It just keeps going!

But then, there's so much progression. It's my 7th year of teaching. I took the GRE last week and have applied for grad school to get a master's in journalism education. I spent the evening with new mommy Alicia.

In fact, babies are stealing my friends, haha. There's lingo I don't speak, there's trick-or-treating plans, there's no one to do things with after work, events end earlier, one moved back to California...glad I have other friends who are childless by choice out there. Otherwise, the world would be so lonely.

Things are changing. When did we get old?