January 2010

Post-Game in the Quarter

Hello, world. Are you still there? It’s been about 24 hours now and everything is still coming into focus.

It’s sort of like every holiday, event, celebration, party, and tradition all converged on one point.

If you want particulars or specifics or play-by-play or impact, go here. Oyster’s got the line-up well represented.

Us? Well. We went out to watch the game with the intention of leaving “soon.” Several hours later we rolled home, threw the kids through the tub-teeth-bed routine, and then I left. Off to the Quarter to celebrate our Ah-Maze-zing win (!), that Fan-Fricking-Tastic kick, and the joy of Favre’s last pass to… our Porter. E, G & I were out until 3am and are still a little loopy.

In other surprising news, my 16-year vegetarian husband makes pretty darn incredible blueberry barbecue ribs. RIBS.

But back to the Quarter. Here are some highlights:

  • Fireworks, music, dancing, costumes, high fives, kisses, and singing… all before we even got to Canal.
  • It was insane.
  • It was packed. PACKED.
  • We shook hands and thanked every Vikings fan we saw. And you know what? The ones I saw, who were there, I believe they got it. They understood.
  • I was the envy of co-eds for the cool beads I caught (lordy, people, forget the stupid flashing thing — that is what tourists who don’t know any better do for other tourists), though when they asked how I got them when they were stuck with “only shitty beads” I should have responded that clearly my rack was superior.
  • Emmy and Georgia broke a few dozen hearts.
  • Music was everywhere.
  • No one should name a bar “Napoleon’s Itch.”

Photo Highlights below.

Friends
NOLA
Recovery and Rebirth

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Bleeding Black and Gold

It’s playoff day. The entire city is buzzing. Everyone is happy. Even people in work uniforms are wearing black and gold.

Football? What’s that? I’m talking about the Saints!

We go blue in the face talking about this adopted home of ours and in light of the questions — How can you live in New Orleans?  Why do you stay there?  How IS New Orleans these days? — I was hoping to find some words to describe what it’s like to be here right now.  In this season, this day, this moment, where every living thing is thinking and wishing and hoping for the same thing.  This particular marvel of unified thought and energy is actually quite common in New Orleans — we all come together each and every Mardi Gras Day, when we reach up hopeful hands for a Zulu Coconut — but in this instance, in this time and place, we are coming together in a whole different way.  This is something that we can be proud of on a National scale.  In a way and with a spirit that is unique.  The examples are everywhere, but it’s still hard to explain; take this, written last month while we were still undefeated:

… These are strange and beautiful days in New Orleans, and they must be seen to be believed. …  Last week, when I went down to experience the mania over the Saints’ undefeated season firsthand, I found myself not sure whether every street was a dream. Some moments made me laugh, and others were so full of a desperate love that I had tears in my eyes.

Where do you even begin? Maybe you describe the couture shops that have replaced the latest fashions on the storefront mannequins with Saints T-shirts? Maybe you tell how vampire novelist and native New Orleanian Anne Rice, never much of a football fan and now living on the West Coast, recently ordered a Drew Brees jersey with “Anne” on the back. Maybe you use numbers: 84 percent of the televisions in town were tuned to the recent Monday night game against the Patriots. Maybe you use bizarre trends, such as an NOPD cop telling me the 911 calls almost stop when the Saints play …



There are other things, too.  The Cinderella story of our Saints resonates far beyond the football fan base.  Read any article about New Orleans then go to the comments and it all makes sense.  We see the hate: the assertions that the city should be left to rot, the value judgments on our population, the incredible lack of compassion and ignorance of fact.  Yeah, we know it’s some Ditto-head in dark, lonely basement apartment, spewing hate while some porn site loads on another browser window.  But we also know that this loser isn’t spouting off thoughts that haven’t occurred in the minds of more reasonable people.  The fact that our team is composed of players who were similarly doubted, or misjudged, or miscast is simply part of our shared history, where defeat, resurgence, rebuilding, and celebration are all part of the package:

” … They are a motley group, undrafted guys and late-round fliers, players cast off from other teams. Brees landed in town after an injury convinced the Chargers that his best days were behind him. “When we came here,” he has said, “I was in the process of rebuilding, as well.”

Running back Mike Bell was out of football. So was cornerback Mike McKenzie, who watched the games from the stands with a mouthful of food before getting the call a few weeks ago. Darren Sharper arrived unwanted and has resurrected his career. Running back Pierre Thomas wasn’t drafted. Star wide receiver Marques Colston wasn’t drafted until the seventh round of the 2006 draft, and his college football program, Hofstra, just folded.

It goes on and on. This is a team of underdogs. …”



I know that folks love their home teams, their home cities, and all stuff that comes with it.  Every place has something special about it.  But today?  This season?  Well, the professional sport writers put it best:

May I root against the New Orleans Saints?

No, you may not. Rooting against the Saints is like rooting against Elin Nordegren. They’re the Sentimental Team of the Century; if Dick Enberg were calling the NFC championship game, he’d need a trailer truck of Kleenex. Even if you forget everything that New Orleans endured during Hurricane Katrina—and how could you?—they’re the Saints, the former Aints, one of the most hard-luck franchises in the history of hard luck. Not long ago, newborns came into the world in New Orleans hospitals with tiny grocery bags on their heads.

If the Saints win this weekend, we expect the Louisiana Superdome to levitate off the ground, stop at Parkway Bakery & Tavern for a roast beef po’boy and fly straight to Miami for the Super Bowl.



Around here?  We’re preparing for take-off.



Wanna come along?  This will help out.



Or, if you need to ease into it, go with the U.S. Marine Corps Band.

Geaux Saints!

Family Life in NOLA
Mi Familia
NOLA
Recovery and Rebirth

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Possible Blog Posts for Today

– How I came to clean Kate’s pee off of Will’s bedroom floor this morning.
– The many ridiculous hours it takes to prepare for a board meeting, and by extension, the high suck-factor found in Kinko’s website.
– My fantasy workday, complete with regular deliveries of food I do not cook.
– A discussion of when self-help books become lame and indulgent.
– Paul’s sudden decision to empty, clean, purge, and re-organize the entire kitchen.
– A philosophical quandary regarding house-disruptive projects: does timing matter?
– What mattress is best?
– A 6-year old debate on which is stronger: gorillas or boxers?

Blogbits
Mi Familia

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Unpleasant.

I am in a really bad mood.

Yes, I’m upbeat and if you ask I’ll be fine, but the truth is that I’m just really pissed off.

I’m pissed that it’s Mardi Gras. I’m not ready for it and therefore, it’s presence and pressure in my life is totally pissing me off. If you’re preparing for, thinking about, or planning for Mardi Gras, I can guarantee that it’s pissing me off. I’m sorry, really. It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m pissed off that I’m not done, that I’m not asleep, and that my sheets aren’t clean. I’m pissed that I didn’t take my jeans out of the dryer and they’ll be short and I fucking HATE that because nothing is more ridiculous than pants that are too short on someone who is already clearly too short.

I’m pissed over the size of the piles of laundry yet to do. And every damn piece of clothing that is stained, inside out, twisted, or mis-organized (which means every damn article there) is each, individually, a source of pissing-me-off. Really, it’s out of control. If you saw it, I feel certain you’d find it pretty offensive. Chances are, it’d piss you off, too.

Every damn sign I see for Jay Batt pisses me off.

I’m pissed over work stuff for which I have no control and pissed over work stuff for which I do have control. I’m pissed that I’m distracted. I can’t stay on schedule and I can’t clear my schedule and it pisses me off. Every new tidbit of information to process, new detail to remember, new task to incorporate feels oppressive and stifling.

I hate feeling oppressed and stifled.

I’m pissed about people. I’m pissed about places. And I’m pissed that I’m even bothering to be pissed about people and places.

And I’m pissed that I really shouldn’t be pissed because horrible things are happening in the world and we’re okay so I don’t have any right to be pissed in the first place. By all rights, I should be bouncing out of bed every morning, eager to work to enjoy all we have going for us. I try to turn it around, picturing myself greeting the bright day with flowers in my hair and a smile for each moment but that image really gets on my nerves.

Try as I may, in my heart of hearts, I just feel pretty unpleasant.

Am I just a total whiny bitch? It’s okay, please tell the truth. It doesn’t matter because either way, my guess is that it will piss me off.

A good chaser is needed here. Something sickly cute. So cute it might even piss you off. I take no offense if it does. I know it’s not personal.

Family
Issues
Mi Familia

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A Forgotten Hero for Modern Times

“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.”

– Albert Schweitzer

Thursday was Albert Schweitzer’s birthday and chances are, if you’re under age 40, you have absolutely no idea who I’m talking about.

Not too long ago, Schweitzer was a household name.  A globally respected, Nobel-honored physician and humanitarian, Schweitzer was so well-known that even the Jungle Cruise ride in Disney World makes references to him.  (The ride schtick, while passing a waterfall: “… and here we see Schweitzer Falls, named for the famous doctor, Dr. Albert Falls…”)

At the dawn of the 20th century, Schweitzer was a musician and a theologian.  Through his early professional career, he specialized in Bach and wrote about the nature of Jesus Christ, putting emphasis on non-literal interpretations of the New Testament (controversial of that time).  Then, at age 30, much to the disappointment and frustration of his family and friends, he dropped it all to go to medical school.  In 1913, armed with medical degree and every penny he had, he and his wife traveled 200 miles (14 days by raft) upstream from the mouth of the Ogooué River into the French colony of West Africa (in what is now Gabon).  There, in Lambaréné, a spot where several tributaries combined into the river, Schweitzer built a hospital in a old chicken coop.

The rest of his life involved much of the same.  Schweitzer toured Europe playing concerts to raise funds for his hospital and then went back to care for the patients who came to the facility.  He continued to write as well, searching for a philosophy that unified all types of people.   Eventually his personal philosophy (which he considered to be his greatest contribution to humanity) hit upon the idea of “Reverence for Life” (“Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben“).  (“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”)  He felt that modern times, characterized by World Wars and hate and weapons, had lost it’s ethical foundation.  And that the universal principle uniting us was that we simply seek to live.  Because of this universal experience, Schweitzer argued, our respect for life leads us into service for the lives of those around us.  He felt that showing respect for life by serving others to fulfill their own was not only the highest calling for all humanity, but the one true way people could find peace and happiness.  (“One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”)

With colleagues Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russel, Schweitzer was a harsh critic of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons.  In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the speech he gave at that ceremony, “The Problem of Peace” is still considered one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.

What a shame that Schweitzer’s teachings, philosophies, and examples have fallen into pages of history.

The man wasn’t perfect.  And he continually argued that he wasn’t anything special or unique (“a man doesn’t have to be an angel to be a saint”)… just someone who decided to do something and did it.  It’s an example from which I personally draw a lot of inspiration.  (“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”)  And one that I think could do much of the same for others.

“You don’t live in a world all alone.  Your brothers are here, too.”

—-

The hospital built in 1956 in Deschampelles, Haiti, and named after Albert Schweitzer is the one I mentioned in the previous post.  This weekend, it became more clear that this facility appears, in fact, to be the closest facility to Port-au-Prince with surgical capabilities.  You can keep track of how they are handling the deluge of patients at the HAS blog.  The website is equipped to accept donations.

Issues

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Just Posts for a Just World: December 2009

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A note about giving to Haiti…

Many have asked my thoughts on donating to Haiti in the aftermath of yesterday’s terrible earthquake.  My preference is to give to smaller organizations.  In particular, I like to have contacts at the organization whom I trust.  In the Haiti example, we donated to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Deschapelles is located north of Port-au-Prince and is currently treating patients from the suburbs of the capital.  As now homeless residents of Port-au-Prince travel for medical care and shelter, I imagine that this community will grow in size and in medical need, beyond the injured they are currently treating.  I do have a professional relationship with the managing director, and have heard compelling stories of the programs and projects they undertake at this center.  The medical staff at the Hôpital is Haitian.  When you give, you give directly to this center, to this community, to these people, within this country.  For those reasons, I feel, based on my experience, that my donation will go the furthest.  It is my recommendation for giving.

December 2009 Just Posts:

Thank you for reading, nominating, and thinking about Just Posts!

Issues

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Ninja Training, a demonstration.

NINJA TRAINING. (Or so we’re told.) As demonstrated by Will, age 6.

Mi Familia
Videos

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FIRE.

By the time I sat up, Paul was flying into Kate’s room.  He was shouting, but I couldn’t hear.  It was all too loud.  What was he saying?  Something about smoke.  And… fire.  A placid voice was booming that word between the whoops and beeps and wails of the endless alarm.  FIRE FIRE. GET OUT.

I walked out to the doorway just as Will reached his, groggy and looking panicked.  Kate was sitting up in her bed, trying to decide whether to cry in fear or indignation from the rude awakening.  I took both kids back to our bed, showing them with my own hands how they could cover their ears to keep out the sound.  Will looked conflicted.

“Mommy,” he hesitated, “shouldn’t we leave?” His shout comes out as a wail.

“Do you see any smoke, Will?”

“No…. but…”

“We’re probably okay.  Daddy is checking the house.  Let’s stay warm and wait for him, okay?”

Or maybe I just grunted and pointed, I don’t remember.   We shuffle into the bed, where thankfully the cat has had the good sense not to move.  We lift him with the covers and slide under his warm spot.  Kate has both hands over her ears.

In case you haven’t experienced the assault of a full-house fire alarm, let me describe it.  By code they are wired to all go off anytime one senses danger.  Each alarm has a different tone, each delivered at a deafening level.  When combined, it’s oddly melodic, with occasional commentary (FIRE FIRE GET OUT) from a humorless voice.   The sound is instantly overwhelming.  It’s repulsive enough that after a minute, you start to feel sick.  Will has a point; we should leave.  Who cares if the house is on fire or not?

Paul has finished his flying around the house, turned on all lights, and emerges in the doorway with a wild look in his eye.  “THERE’S NO SMOKE.”  He’s shouting at the top of his lungs.  “BUT I CAN’T TELL WHICH OF THEM CAUSED THE ALARM.”  His update comes at us in a rush and he’s off again retrieving a ladder.

Our shotgun house is 23 feet wide, and with the exception of the front room, holds rooms that, at the absolute widest, are 12 feet.  Add in cabinets or furniture, and getting an 8′ foot ladder through the room, set up, used, and then out again is not particularly easy.

Especially at 1:30 in the morning.  On one of the coldest nights on record in the city.

Luckily, our outbuilding is (still) under construction and the back room (still) holds all Paul’s tools.  Yes, technically it means that the kids could potentially decide to play around with a hacksaw, but (upside!) it also means that Paul does not have to go outside to retrieve a ladder.  Score one for slow-moving DIY home renovation.

It takes him just over 20 minutes to disable all of the alarms.  Disable = remove.

Thank goodness that this happened while Paul was home.

Finally, there is sweet, blessed silence.  The drama hasn’t ended, but at least it’s quiet.  You can hear echoes of the sound leave our skin as we start to breathe a little easier.

Paul announces that he’s found the culprit: it was the detector in Kate’s room.

I push out the memory of Jenny, a teaching colleague at Michigan, who lost her entire primary source document collection, the result of more of a year’s dissertation research in Ghana, to a fire that smoldered quietly in the exterior wall of her apartment for more than 24 hours before bursting into flame through her wall.  Surely, I say to myself, Kate’s room is fine.

Right?

I’m probably willing to say it’s fine, just to go back to sleep (big day! tomorrow! must leave house at 7am!)  But I’m married to a responsible sort of guy and he’s not keeping his family in an unsafe house, by golly!   He increases the intensity of the inspection.  He re-checks all rooms.  He conducts a flashlight search in the attic.  He even braves the bitter cold to look around outside.  (In retrospect, this is actually sort of hot, no?)

Meanwhile, he’s clearly irritated that he cannot identify a reason to cause the alarm.  (Scotland Yard would be no help at all, Watson!  We must uncover the true source of the misery!)  The three of us, Will, Kate, and I, lay in bed listening to the bumping, ruffling, shifting sounds of Paul’s thorough inspections.  Ever the helpful boy, Will offers his best hypotheses.

“Mommy, you know, the Addisonhunters are a group of very very very old ninjas who hunt down fires in the deep woods of Chinese….”  (Hey, at least Will offers comic relief.)  I do my best to calm the kids, who are still wide-eyed and dazed.

Finally, Paul is convinced that there is no immediately identifiable danger.

“Okay,” he says, holding on to a smoke detector, “I’ll start putting them back now.”

“WHAT?” (I’m thinking he’s out of his mind.)

Paul looks incredulous.  “You don’t want to sleep in a house with no smoke detectors, do you?”  Oh, right.  Probably not a good idea, especially tonight.  Thank goodness one of us considers these things.

After a half hour of taking down the offending alarms and 20 minutes of searching for signs of smoke, Paul starts the weaving-the-ladder-through-the house game.  We listen to his progress as his selects a few rooms to re-equip.  Fifteen minutes later…

FIRE FIRE.  GET OUT.

Yes.  It starts again.

The fifth of the five alarms he’s re-installed triggers a repeat performance.  Oddly enough, we discover five alarms to be surprisingly equal in sound level to the previous 11 (12 if you count the carbon monoxide detector).

Kate sighs heavily and turns to once again, cover her ears.  “Mommy,” she shouts, exasperated, “is our house on fire AGAIN?”

* Update.   Neither Paul nor I slept a bit for the rest of the night, and no one slept in Kate’s room.   Paul replaced the offending alarms (which he discovered had a high false-positive rate) with better-rated units and replaced all batteries.

Family
Mi Familia

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Birthday, presents, and another year…

***** BIRTHDAY

Did you catch that thing in the last post about the Epiphany celebrations in Ireland?  Where they honor today as “Women’s Christmas” and all the women party all day while the good gents take over all duties of home and family?  I completely and totally subscribe to that tradition as my Official Birthday Tradition from now on.  Paul willingly and thoughtful fulfilled all that he could to free me up today, but unfortunately work was not quite so forgiving.  Next year I’ll plan ahead.

***** PRESENTS

Alejna and I are introducing THE BEST OF JUST POSTS 2009 — we (with other readers, hopefully you, too!) are looking for THE BEST Just Posts from last year.  Nominations for the year’s best posts are currently being accepted.  In roughly two weeks (stay tuned!) we will open up a space for online voting and give awards (presents! whee!) to the winner in each category.  (You’re perfectly welcome to start practicing your fabulous acceptance speech; you’ll find no judgment here.)

You can view all the Just Posts from last year by going here and read more about the Just Posts here.

Just Post entries are encouraged from anyone at anytime!

***** AND ANOTHER YEAR…

I participated in Holidailies again this year and enjoyed the challenge.  My humble thanks go out to the two who host the event.  The community they create is warm and friendly; I’ve found other interesting and kind bloggers through the site.  They also chose a ‘best of’ that is selective enough to be manageable to read, which is a great way to find other interesting blogs (and thank you, mystery readers for my own additions to this list!)

*****

Milestones

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Epiphany 101


Borrowing from the incomparable list-making of Alejna, this is a list related to EPIPHANY.

pi (1)


Epiphany: In name and title


Epiphany: Sudden flashes of realization

  • Epiphany, the sudden discovery of some meaning.
  • Epiphany is also used to describe religious visions, such as Theophany, Hierophany, and Darsana.


Epiphany: A holiday around the world

  • According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three Kings (Magi) followed a Star in the heavens to the Baby Jesus, arriving with gifts for him on the day now celebrated as Epiphany.  Melchior represented Europe, arrived on horseback and brought gold.  Gaspar represented Arabia, arrived in camel, and brought frankincense.  Balthazar represented Africa, arrived on elephant, and brought myrrh.  Most Christian calendars recognize this date as January 6th.
  • Some branches of Christianity celebrate the coming of Epiphany by honoring it as the Twelfth Night.  These Christians Twelve Holy Days from December 26th to January 6th is considered the spiritual heart of the year to follow, with January 6th as “Holy of the Holiest.”
  • In England, “Twelfth Night” is traditionally the last opportunity to party before the resumption of post-holiday work.  The “Yule Log” is kept lit until Twelfth Night to bring good fortune in the new year.
  • Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate the Baptism of Jesus with the Feast of Theophany (literally, “manifestation of God”) on January 6th.  They also perform the “Great Blessing of the Waters.”  In Greek Orthodox tradition, during the “Blessing of the Waters” celebration, young men dive into the water to retrieve a cross that was thrown in by a priest after being blessed.  The first man to find it is believed to have good luck for a year.
  • In Ireland, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th under the name Little Christmas (Nollaig Bheag) , or Women’s Christmas.  This is the first time I’ve heard of Women’s Christmas (Nollaig na mBan), but the general idea is that men take up all duties related to house, home, and family, and women party all day.
  • Italian children hang their socks on the eve of January 6th for Befana to visit to fill them with candy or coal, behavior dependent.  This is similar to Russia’s Baboushka who also provides presents on the eve of Epiphany.
  • In Spanish tradition, on the even of the Day of the Kings (El Dia de los Reyes), children polish and leave their shoes ready to accept presents from the Kings.  Roscon, a special type of bread decorated with candy fruit, is made.
  • In Mexico, children may leave shoes near the family nativity season or under a tree, with notes with toy requests for the Kings, sometimes with offerings of hay for the Kings’ animals.  A bread called Rosca de Reyes is made in the shape of a King’s crown and holds a small doll inside.  The person who finds the doll in their bit of Rosca is responsible for throwing a party on February 2nd, “Candelaria Day”.
  • Similarly, in Puerto Rico, children traditionally fill a box with hay and put it under their beds.  They eat Rosca de Reyes in the evening, with a small doll inside representing the baby Jesus.
  • The Christmas season ends on January 6th in the Philippines for Tatlong Hari (“Three Kings”).  Children here also leave shoes out, so that candy or money may be placed inside.  Others greet one another with the phrase “Happy Three Kings!”
  • The gâteau des Rois is eaten in France on Epiphany.  This is a kind of king cake, with a trinket (usually a porcelain figurine of a king) or a bean hidden inside.  The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes “king” for a day.  King cakes are eaten in other areas of Europe, including Belgium and Portugal.
  • King Cake is also available in Louisiana starting on January 6th, as Epiphany marks the start of the Carnival Season, which lasts to Mardi Gras Day.  (Side note: I’m all about blasphemy, but eating King Cake before January 6th is seriously messed up.)


Epiphany: The day that comes tomorrow

  • Epiphany = January 6th = tomorrow.
  • It is the last day of the yearly daily blogging event, Holidailies.
  • King cakes will go on sale in New Orleans; Paul will have jury duty; and Kate will go to the Aquarium on a field trip.
  • My age will change from age 21 to age 22.  In hex.
  • Tomorrow, January 6th, is My Birthday.

pi

Blogbits
Milestones

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