On Being AWOL and Schizophrenia--a Purge
First, I had spent the week before Krewe du Vieux reading posts with comments that made NOLA seem like the Seventh Circle. Certainly it was a place that should be nuked immediately, clearly more threatening than Iran, which it appears Beavis is determined to nuke. Let's put that aside for the moment.
I was miserable. I read my usual blogs and news, read the comments. Everywhere were comments about how NOLA folks were a. drunk (sometimes, that's true), b. stupid (also sometimes true, hell Nagin and Jefferson got re-elected), and c. should be wiped off the face of the earth for various reasons ranging from our ineptitude, to corruption, to the murder rate, to some nebulous moralistic "you guys are having way too much fun" thing. (Please forgive the lack of links in the following text.)
I had had it. I love New Orleans. I was beginning to think I was insane for loving her as much as I do, me being a staunch heterosexual. I couldn't understand the insensitivity, the just flat out mean views of people outside of here. I was down and trying to find a way out of the sludge of negativity. I am the eternal optimist, I believe, I really do, just like the Saints' tshirts say. ::::::::::::freaking idiot:::::::::::maybe::::::::::maybe a pioneer?::::::::::::are we all pioneers?:::::::::::maybe:::::::::::::Hey, I really believe Blanche Dubois' comment about deliberate cruelty being the one unforgivable sin, and I was seeing what I thought was deliberate cruelty, or at least deliberate ignorance. (Case in point, Ashley's info on the signs at the Saints/Bears game. What the hell are these people thinking?)
Oyster posted an article by some amazingly shallow mall seeking moron, Derbyshire. BANG. Polimom wrote a beautiful, heartfelt piece on New Orleans, recovery and levees. Cross posted it at The Moderate Voice. I read the comments. BANG. State of the Union Address. BANG. Democrats 100 day plan. BANG. And the hits kept coming. Everywhere I looked I was informed that we shouldn't exist for whatever reason. It was 3AM one night and my brain wouldn't stop and I was done. What else could I write? Talk about abandonment issues. Where the hell is the rum?
This was followed by a string of crime reports. Murders all over the place, stats that make my skin crawl, and thoughts of hiring a sniper to sit outside Jordan's office (I'm basically a pacifist for crying out loud!). Did these people really go to law school? Of course, then, me being me, I started wondering what is the SOURCE of the problem. I've always been an advocate of what I call "peeling back the onion." Let's find out what the layers are covering. Hell, I do it with music, I do it with life. (Uh, kids, you hear that Zeppelin song you love cuz it's so retro? Ever heard of Robert Johnson? Listen to THIS! Yes, I really did that to some 16 yr olds years ago. They were flabbergasted.)
I posted a comment about gun control, and predictably, was put on the rack by Second Amendment folks. 3AM--DONE.
I put together in my head a piece about racism and classism. Kept thinking about EJ's comment to me about making sure I had a thick skin. I don't in some ways. (Still working on that piece, I think. . . . .) 3AM--DONE.
What wasn't done was my KdV float, costume, or throws. Too much fun. Too much juxtapositioning. I had wanted to be a member of KdV for nearly a decade after finding out what they were about. Finally it was here. Did I dare, DARE, enjoy it? 3AM--DONE, absolutely DONE:::::::::::::some sleep would be good but I have 30 blocks to dance through two days from now and an out of town dear friend visiting, and my daughter, her husband and my darling grandson living with me and my Entergy bill is from Mars, and money is tight and:::::::::::::hey with any luck I'll be tight soon too.
The week before the parade, I walked into the den after having planned on going there since the float creation process was first announced. Something always prevented it. So here I was, the rain pouring into the den, a paper mache C. Ray Nagin face down in a puddle in our space, cold as hell and knowing virtually no one in our krewe. I see Cathy Greenfelder, one of the officers of our sub-krewe. A brilliant, lovely and lively woman, we talk for a while and she puts me to work. Says, "Can you draw?" "After a fashion." "Can you paint?" "After a fashion." (I've been drawing and painting since I was nine.) Next thing I know I'm painting a shopping cart white to become a freezer and then am asked if I can paint William Jefferson's face in house paint on foam core in a mirror image. "Sure," I say gamely. (Shroeder, thanks, you have a great photo of Cathy's piece, and now I can see what dreadful job I did rendering the wide faced Jefferson for posterity!) Okay, now I'm jazzed.
I go home, set to work on our "Renters are roadkill on the Yellow Brick Road Home" shopping cart. My friend from out of town, bless his heart, takes a three hour nap while I paint and wire away on the thing. Clearly he thinks I'm crazy but having known me as long as he has, just puts this into his "par for the course" column and leaves it at that. I have my husband bring straw from the stables to jazz up our scarecrow costumes (which, of course is now ALL through the house and probably will be for a year.) I bleach my hair blonde as Harlow, exchange in a bizarre email conversation with fellow bloggers, dig out the 200 lbs of beads I've saved from last year for this very moment. Oh yeah, I'm ready. 3AM? I'm READY!
Day comes and we're gonna roll. As Adrastos said, we milled about forever it seemed, but damn the food next door to the den was spectacular. The den looked like something out of a Fellini movie---weird prisoners, strange doctors, people with Mad Hatter hats and lots of red stuff on, pink beauticians all over the place, a friend who's usually a soft sweet woman suddenly turned into a dominatrix FEMA inspector (downright scary she was!), people with neon lit collanders on their heads (yeah, I know, this sounds like I made it up!) I run into Wet Bank and his fabulous Uncle Sam wife, members of our sub-krewe. We spread out looking for other bloggers and checked out the finished floats. Never found half the people we were looking for but Wet looked great in white face as a poodle (although his tail was strangely missing). Our captain sees us pull a bottle of Myers out of our cooler and says, "I knew I liked you right away! Good taste in hootch!" We're doing okay. This is my idea of heaven---a grand leap from the Seventh Circle.
I hear that Dangerblond's krewe is behind us. So I head over there as fast as I could, miss seeing a bunch of bead bags and trip over them. Never found her. So very much wanted to meet her. Once I get headed back into our direction I find the parade has finally moved. Unfortunately our shopping cart has been left behind. I jog up to our krewe, find my husband pulling our float (no mule for us!), then jog back to find our cart. I run with the overweight cart over railroad tracks and through three other sub-krewes and catch up. Amazing. We're on our way.
The parade was fabulous. Danced for blocks to the sounds of the crowd and the great brass bands with us. Saw many friends on our way (had seen Maitri for 2 seconds as she was headed into the den and me out--never saw her again, but found out from reading her posts why that was!) and gave them our best booty. Had been warned that the State Palace was a dump (no pun intended) and that I should bring my own TP, so called my daughter and had her bring a roll to drop into our cart on Decatur Street near Molly's. (I shoulda charged for it! Everytime I headed up the staircase later that night, women in various costumes were begging me for a bit of it. I handed it out freely and was very glad I brought it.)
Got through the parade with nary a thought about being DONE. Had one of the best times of my life. Learned from Wet Bank's sister that it's okay to tell fellow krewe members to buy their own throws and not purloin yours. (Mark, your sister is a hoot! I love her!) Once at the State Palace I see Adrastos, looking like an acid burn victim convict (and yes, I DID say he looked "cherubic"), his forever lovely wife looking like he just beat the tar out of her, and several others, but lost my husband totally. Spent the first 45 minutes looking for him. He had the cooler (hey, SANDWICH in there!) and had told me on the way in that he was "really drunk." (Somewhere during a lag on Frenchman Street I find him slugging Myers straight out of the bottle telling me it's more "expedient.") I'm seeing him passed out somewhere. NO. He's just dancing at the front of the stage, at least that's what I found out when I found him leaned up against the wall on the once glorious staircase of the theatre. Loki shows up with his beautiful bride, we talk briefly and both at once, as we are wont to do, then he mysteriously disappears. Hours go by dancing and laughing and having a wonderful time. Humid Haney arrives in front of me, eight feet tall with wig, plastic boobs and some kind of Saints hardhat on and I hand him the rum and coke, which he liked but apparently the stuff made his plastic boobs sticky (like he CARED!). Met some others I've been wanting to meet, and there I am, flushed, probably slushed, bleached hair and scarecrow makeup. Oh yeah, it was my dream scenario for meeting the folks I seriously want to talk with!
We stay til the show closes. The next day my legs wouldn't work. My age kicked in and I wondered how I had managed to dance the 30 blocks AND dance til 4AM. 4AM--DONE.
Now I have to switch over into "Boba" (read "Grandma") mode, go to an elementary school and help out with the reading class, deal with a stomach bug that rendered our household useless for a day, AND think Streetcar Named Desire. We're doing Barkus on Sunday. I'm going as the Tarantula Arms and had to revamp the shopping cart to become a "Flowers for the Dead" thing. I've got everything done but my costume and my dog, Zola's costume (he's going as Shep Huntleigh, Blanche's never seen beau.) Hey, no problem. It's only the day after tomorrow.
As I'm re-painting the shopping cart, re-loading the shopping cart with another 200 lbs of beads and other throws, I'm reading about Vanessa Johnson sending her son out with a gun to kill them all after her son got beat in a fist fight (fist fights, in my view, are a damn better choice than a .38, but hey, I'm an anti-gun pacifist), a guy in Slidell who put a child's hand on a stove. I'm reading about how Robert Dawson had only been home for four hrs before he got shot down and his 54 yr old mother can't read or write. I'm getting emails about how we need to mobilize and others talking about tech stuff that I have no clue about. (WTF IS digest mode?) I'm reading about how one of our own close knit group is cracking under the strain. I'm reading about continuing corruption. I'm seeing Anna Nicole's death being front page news (yes, she was young, had a wee baby and it was tragic, but really---what did she actually contribute to this world? Or am I being a bitch?) I'm seeing possible lawsuits about the levee failures. I'm hearing my grandson telling me that thieves go to hell (he SOOOOO didn't get that from me!) and seeing money tossed into everyone's pocket but those who need it (I hope hell exists and that my grandson is right). I'm seeing articles about kids who can't get into school, estimates of 300 are probably more like 2000. I'm seeing tourists in the Quarter, which is a good thing. I'm seeing who's the grand poobah at what super-krewe parade. I'm seeing friends who work for Road Home with good hearts being skewered by the parodies and bad press. I'm seeing people who are being skewered by Road Home being upset, and rightfully so (btw, mominem's Road Home Math posts are brilliant and enlightening). I'm seeing Poppy Brite give up on public appearances but getting a new home. I see me, being totally schizophrenic---having a wonderful time and loving Carnival season but worried about our future and our schisms. I'm wondering if maybe they shouldn't just put Prozac in the water supply. I'm seeing Chris Rose turn into an apologist, and the Catholics, whose dogma spawned Mardi Gras, what with Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, having fits about Krewe du Vieux. I'm seeing Travelling Mermaid saying "Humanize the victims" and she's so right, but so many people won't be able to relate to the culture of the victim, so any humanization will become moot. I'm seeing joy and frustration and anger and angst and breakdowns and it's all so damn local. Forget about the larger set of issues, the national, the international, the corporations, the. . .the. . . .the. . .
So here's the deal. I'm gonna take my grandson to every damn parade he wants to see (his favorite is Krewe d'Etat--gotta love that! It really DOES skip a generation!) Then I'll get back to work. I'll find a way to fit American Zombie's oversight idea into my already overfilled plate. I'll get back to the writing I do other than the blog. I'll go back to figuring out what the hell Entergy is doing with my bill.
I'll put both sides of this schizophrenic situation together, in some kinda way. But since my sewing machine is gone, I guess I'll have to use Stitch Witchery and hope the fabric doesn't melt.
I'll be Blanche Dubois at the Tarantula Arms on Sunday and wonder why no one GETS that intentional cruelty IS the one unforgivable sin. Then I'll probably shut my pie hole for a little while, unless of course, as usual, I can't.