Archive for March, 2006

Fear Factor

Friday, March 31st, 2006

A nice chat with S to catch up on work and personal issues and she tells me she is trying to keep her chin up – I told her my thoughts today were about fear and what a counterproductive emotion it can be. Her son sent me a drawing of a saguaro cactus with my name on it – I have it taped on the wall. It seems to me all the revelations that have popped up over the course of the last year have centered around fear. “I couldn’t give you what you wanted out of fear.” “I fear I might fall in love with you; be in love with you; only want you cause you adore me.” S and I talked about how much fear underlies our daily work – fear of getting the story, fear of it being accurate, fear of losing clients’ money, fear of not measuring up to one’s colleagues – it’s amazing we can get through a work day with all this fear handicapping our every move.

And magnifiy that with fear of the next hurricane, fear of the next terrorist attack, fear crime is coming back quickly to New Orleans, fear fear fear. Micro fears of not being able to afford LaLa, affording it then losing it, fear, fear, fear. It’s enough to paralyze you. You have to live with it – coexist with it – and not focus on it.

L insinuated this morning that I am a little bit of a Polly Anna – the times when I haven’t been were based on fear – irrational fear that practically immobilized me – the first time was when my father died and I feared the world because he was my great protector – the next time was moving back to California in ’95 which I now think I feared the banishment of me – and yet I trained to overcome these fears and to embrace life and all of its complexities. Seriously – training – I learned that life is not meant to be comfortable – you have to live with fear – and once you know that your world fans open in wondrous ways.

So what to do – only thing to do is make a list – top of my list is to go hear music, if we are going to hell in a handbasket, I want to go listening to music – and so Willie Nelson next week, then it’s BeauSoleil, Marcia Ball, Radiators, Iguanas, Pretty Girls, Cowboy Mouth, Subdudes – and let’s not forget two jam packed weekends of Jazz Fest. Thankfully I live where the music is so I don’t have to fear I am missing out.

A long wonderful bike ride on a beautiful day – rode along with no hands as P had showed me how to do when he was here – along the lakefront a middle aged guy rode by slowly on a Harley with a big fat cigar in his mouth and winked – the lighthouse is still crushed and on its side – ride back was slower while cars were rushing all around trying to get home – sliding into the weekend – dance card full – itsy bitsy progress on the LaLa – all the promise of tomorrow still there.

Alligator Tears

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

A large alligator, possibly more than one, has been discovered in the Bayou. A dog got eaten the other day. Watch yourself.

Last night’s celebration was just what the doctor ordered – fun – exciting – T and G were awesome bookends – and the oysters and champagne just kept coming. How incredibly blessed am I to have met both of them and even later in the evening yet another – the night was wonderful in the way that only New Orleans seems to inspire – the city brings people into your life who fit you with the same comfort of those you have known your whole life.

This morning, I lashed out when a friend in trying to be “correct” slighted me – I won’t suffer being treated like persona non grata or be relegated to a shadowy existence – I’ll be damned.

The winter of my discontent is done – THANKFULLY – and oh, what a difference to me.

The Great Yes

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

I’ve been feeling familiar tugs that keep me in a kind of whirlpool or (as some might call it cesspool) frame of mind. I had a heart wrenching dream about V last night that has lingered in my thoughts all morning – oddly W was a grown up girl and the baby was a boy – it was very surreal.

At mid morning I pulled Blue over to stop a rampage of thoughts that appeared and were dominating my world view and yelled at myself while four guys in orange vests sat in a truck and watched the crazy lady. When I noticed them looking at me, I assured them I am nutsola – out of my mind – and not to mind me – and they found this amusing.

I drove home and cleaned off my desk and decided to face my life anew with conviction that recent past notwithstanding I will make the right decisions.

D called from Houston to catch up – her disciplined view of life is too rigid for me but it’s so familiar of her and I love her deeply. My other niece S is house shopping in Houston as we speak. So I guess I know where I and the Bean will be evacuating to this fall.

I saw a big monarch butterfly in pieces on the grass today and I flinched at the wings, so beautiful, torn from its body.

Che Fece . . . Il Gran Rifiuto

A day comes to some people when
they must pronounce the great Yes or the great No.
It is instantly clear who has the Yes within,
ready; and by uttering it, he crosses over to

his honor and conviction. The one who
refuses has no remorse. If asked again,
he’d say no again. And yet that No —
the right No — weighs him down to his life’s end.

C. P. Cavafy – Translated with Willis Barnstone

Won’t Make it Thru the High Noon Sun

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Joke to start your day – S caught up with N, L and me and the dogs to get us to sign the petition against the cluster mailboxes this morning. The post office in all their infinite wisdom has decided that they shouldn’t have to deliver our mail to us in our houses because there is too much “debris” to walk through to get to the mailbox because of Katrina – so they are going to put clusters of boxes in each area so that we can be robbed or shot at while we try to get our mail and so the mailman can just hop out of the car and not have to walk too far. Good grief. But anyway J was running by and he had a joke for us so it got us off the subject of how things are not right – Clotiel gets to the Pearly Gates and she sees Marie off in the corner. “Marie! What happened to you my friend?” Marie said “Oh Clotiel, I froze to death.” “Dear God,” Clotiel said, “Well I suspected my Boudreaux of cheating on me and I was going to catch him in the act, so when I thought he was in the house with her, I snuck home but I couldn’t find them. I searched the house up and down, front and back, and couldn’t find him at all.” And Marie said, “Wish you’d checked the freezer.”

Long run on the bayou as I had lifted the table saw into the Snake’s truck and tweaked my arm injury yet again. Stopped by the house to talk to the sheetrockers – 3 weeks before the windows are even in – good god – what does it take? C was riding his bike and we stopped to chat – he looked so dapper in his hat – he said I looked dapper myself in my pink tee shirt – it made me smile – part of a request from a previous life.

Lola’s tonight with L to talk through all the whatever that has been swirling – good bottle of shiraz with a viognier kick – he sent me a scathing email earlier that I was not happy with – but a nice evening even though there were certain points where he said this might not go well and he watched me watching cute guys who were coming in and out and he kept saying – a ha – and I was like you don’t know a ha mister – and he finally admitted that I was maybe a fool to be waiting around for N who has made his choice – and I thought of Grey’s Anatomy last night when Meredith said “you need to pick and please choose me” – give me a break – or possibly worse when McDreamy said – “she’s my wife” and I told L I’m okay where I am and I’ll get over him and us – I just need time – and he asked the ubiquitous question – how much? – and that is the great unknown – time heals all wounds is how the cliche goes – no matter how gaping.

Focus on me

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

A reporter sends me a card – “I kind of wish we had backup singers” – says she thought of me when she read it – I wrote her back and claimed I am starting a solo career instead of seeking a group. Another colleague who is now off to Africa to volunteer in an orphanage sends a card with an earnest message “wanted to say, though stressful at times, I will miss working with you. Work (and life) need not be easy to be worthwhile and meaningful.” This from a woman who called me intimidating. But she’s right – the meaning of life is not to be comfortable, it’s to live it. L softens at the end of her note and says she appreciates now my “forthrightness, your intellect – but mostly your humor and your laugh!” She’ll be in Africa for three months to start – might be worth a trip – although I feel hemmed in by a house that wants every drop of blood I can give it and by blood I include money to nerves and hey I forgot, just how many days is it to hurricane season?

First half of this glorious Sunday was spent cleaning up the LaLa – Arlene hung out on the porch guarding the bayou, and I filled garbage bags full of debris the workers have strewn everywhere. I cleaned the side yard of orange soda cans and empty Marlboro boxes and created a wood pile in the front yard. Faced with a back yard that was chock a block with house wrap, wood, orange soda cans and empty Marlboro boxes, I called it a day and came home. A quick shower and turn around and picked up G and we went to Le Brasserie for Irish coffee and afternoon talk. She’s interested in investing in real estate so we went to look at a double in the Bywater that seemed like an interesting proposition for perhaps both of us. Then we walked over to Bacchanal for music and wine in the courtyard. For certain we both agreed we love that neighborhood and could move there ourselves – it’s got that nice mix of funk, architecture, and cute boys. We both agreed for sure on bike messengers.

I have been meditating on changes in my life – change in the way I think about work, change in the way I perceive my strength, change in the way I accommodate partners – the woman I met in New York a few years ago who spoke at a conference said “think like a trapeze artist – it is between letting go and grasping the next bar that opportunities reside” – I mentioned this to G about how we have to perceive the opportunities and not be tied to habit or programming. We talked about C who opened Bacchanal – moved here when he was in his early twenties and worked at restaurants and wanted to own a wine bar and one day this building went up for sale and it had the yard and he made it happen. G said that Bacchanal was the first place she went when she got back from the evacuation – before she even went home. It’s also where she went when she broke up with her boyfriend. While we were sitting there A walked in and turns out we both know her – she’s drop dead beautiful and sings cabaret downtown.

It’s about focus and clarity about knowing what you want and then taking a risk. I have been saying I never want to redo a house again, but the thought of maybe investing in real estate, investing in New Orleans, all seems to make sense. It’s good to focus with the parts of me that are once again fully functioning – the head works, the heart doesn’t – so focus on things that require the head for now.

S sent me renderings of the Hawaii house – it looks so fresh and new that it makes the LaLa seem like an antique. I measured the outdoor shower for shutters – albeit shutters cost an arm and a leg – if I had any clue how much the rest of the house is going to cost I could maybe gage if I can afford them – but nooooooo, no one seems to want to tell me how much.

I’m ready

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Despite what anyone says I am ready. Today was a good day – I bought a dining table, chairs, coffee table – I found the perfect gift for little A, the toucan returned with a better peck, the day fell into serendipity pretty much to the end.

F says its aplomb you need to master. Or as the master said himself, grace under pressure.

N pointed out the little ducklings in the bayou and said see, spring. And this time I think the pelican has gone.

Rogue sunflowers are appearing everywhere around the city in a bizarre pattern.

I did my best time today in a race – my even better than best – I knew I could do 3 miles no sweat and so once out there I just decided to go for it – under 10 minute miles – that’s great – now if I could do that times two for the Crescent City – that would be great.

I went by Ricca’s to look at shutters and they are so expensive but I wound up in back with this salesman who had to sit down because he has feet problems and I told him about the race and he said you must not smoke? and I said I quit after starting back up after 14 years and he said he could quit anytime and I said honey, then do it. It’s the same farce I had laid out for myself – oh I’m not an addict anymore, I can quit – please – quit. Today is day 11 and I feel better than 11 days ago for certain.

The 2 year old birthday at the bar in the Quarter was typical New Orleans – and nice in its off beatness and bohemian feel – I spoke to J who works at Adlers and she told me about all the beautiful jewelry – then C who just finished a chakras or something like that spiritual course that was given for free because of Katrina – little A played in the planter box with the banana trees and the banana chocolate cake from La Spiga was delicious and V put butterfly candles on the cake and made a sign with her hands of how she was going to get these big old sticks but then (fluttering hands) saw the butterflies – and little A was good and happy the way a 2-year-old should be on his birthday – he played the triangle in his little nazi boots.

Then L and I went to relaunch at Handsome Willy’s and the boys were oh so cute and the girls in their snappy clothes and the conversation always good – a woman was speaking about going back to her coke habit during the storm – and the music was DJ’d and danceable as it is want to be there – and a good time was had.

Pal’s for a night cap where a man with one tooth missing kept wanting to buy me a drink.

The Welcome

Do you wish to immigrate to my heart? Where are your
papers? What are your purposes?
Are you lost? Are you broken? Come to the chamber of
my heart for safety. Remember the old country. I was not
there. I was waiting for you here.
Do you wish to be naturalized in my arms? Let me instruct
you in the new tongue. Tread softly; Death too first makes
inquiry, then shows the way.
Come, pledge allegiance to my tattered proud flag. Here,
and here only, the streets are paved with gold.

David Joel Friedman

Animal planet

Friday, March 24th, 2006

In a nutshell – I kissed a toucan today and wondered why its beak was so hard – and then it dawned on me that it was a different species – and maybe that is why its bright plumage attracted me but its heart was strange and foreign – and it could be I am more damaged – but I see my potential a lot clearer – and you know what happens when you start connecting the dots – a narrative unfolds – mysterious then foreboding – parallel universes – suddenly questions have answers – and the dawn breaks through the darkness – like an injection of adrenaline that was being tapped while the shock of the new paralyzed motion – if one more person says the word soulmate I am going to crush them – no one will ever mate my soul for godsakes – can we not own one thing without having the urge to merge – does form follow function – who gives a f – is unfocused talent as good as disciplined mediocrity – do I write to understand myself or to be understood????????

I cried huge tears today when Cliff told me he is leaving and moving to Memphis – my mailman – I love him – now he said he can’t live here anymore. I told him New Orleans needs him. Don’t go. And he said only “Rachel” – and I said I would never speak to him again.

Float like a butterfly

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Rolled out of bed from yet another sleepless night except last night had some wonderful dreams that at least woke me up with a smile. Bounded out the door with the Bean to do a solo walk since L doesn’t have his boys and N goes to school early on Thursdays. Arlene has developed a new habit of pulling to the LaLa when we are getting close because I have been stopping every morning to check the progress of J and his men. But they weren’t supposed to be there this morning so I just went inside and cleaned up some water bottles and someone’s sunflower seeds and while there the crew arrived because they needed to finish papering and put in the windows so I got distracted speaking to them. Long and short is I walked all around the bayou and got back to the Can and didn’t have my keys – so had to go back to the LaLa and get the keys and that pretty much was how the rest of the day went. A series of jags and double steps and agh – on the trip to get keys ran into the Snake and Renny and he came by to take a gander at the addition and said “this will be a beautiful office” and he was highly complimentary of the framing job so that made me feel good since the Snake was a contractor in a former life.

Then it was out to Metairie to donate my car to mom – but she stood me up and I had to go back a second time to get the title and of course, get screwed because I had a LA license and a CA tag so they managed to take the usual title change and donation fee and jack it up six times. Then it was a call to come to the LaLa and meet the glazer and then that became a fiasco with all the different things that came up and all I could feel was my cash register going kachink kachink kachink and I asked K, no I think I begged her, to tell me what she thinks finishing the house is going to cost, but well the best I got was she would work on it.

N and I walked Renny and the Bean around the bayou in the late afternoon and I came home finally to finish some work and I had rented Fight Club which I still haven’t seen and was all ready to enjoy when I put the DVD in and kept seeing Rebecca Romjin Stamos lying almost naked across the bed and something wasn’t right and I realized I had Femme Fatale that was in the case of Fight Club and I knew it was the end of a long day of jags and double steps and I was thankful to be at the end of it.

S called and she was in full uproar about some work glitch and it was funny to listen to her because she rarely, if ever, gets mad, and she was almost fist pounding mad. Earlier an article that I was interviewed for was sent to me from one of my reporters, F, and in it I am called fashion obsessed – which I got a big laugh out of – T wrote it for the new wires and it ran in two papers I know of – Denver Rocky Mtn News and the Sacramento Bee where S’s parents live – I’m sure J is scratching her head on that one – no one who knows me would consider me fashion obsessed – shoe obsessed maybe.

T’s also writing our script again for Desperate Editors for our reporter’s conference in April – I play Bree, of course – and last year we had a great time with it, so we are looking forward to being actresses again. Plus, we have a good writer, she’s a clever girl that T.

The pelican is still in the bayou even though it is time for him to fly away. The green market is coming back to the Can next week – hip hip hooray – strawberries, okra, greens, and tomatoes right at our fingertips, the Sav-A-Center opened on Carrollton – that is the big news – a real grocery in our neighborhood to reopen – so progress is being made around here and maybe around the LaLa – so lots to be thankful for.

Reality is the new fiction, they say

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

L was reading David Copperfield and giving me character sketches that reminded him of people we know – he said the theme was that parenting in general turns children into monsters. And he referenced his own doting J and her inability to discipline her flawless son and how that might have rendered him petulant and self-serving in recent gender exchanges. And I like to fall back on my favorite WC Fields line which is “parents fuck up the first half of your life and kids fuck up the second half”- and my retort which is I didn’t have kids because my parents dbl f’d my first half. I keep trying not to laugh at all this incredible crap that has happened in my life but today when my accountant’s associate sent me an email with her usual 10 questions to get started, question #6 was hilarious and I quote – Correct me if I’m wrong but I vaguely remember you mentioned that you gave birth in 2005? If so, please provide the child’s full name, ssn & birth date. – I won’t tell her what I actually gave birth to in 2005.

N’s sister P is in from NY with her husband A and with them are 1800 high school kids from around the US who are here to work with Habitat for Humanity in the 9th ward gutting houses. A brought his class of teenagers over to the Parkway and N, the Snake, and P and I met them there for dinner. The owner, J, came over to the table to check on us since he remembered the Snake from his and N’s unwedding that was held there last May – and I asked him when they were putting catfish back on the menu – and he said well we have shrimp and oysters on now but they are not up on the board – we serve them on Friday and after 4 but you have to ask. Do you want some? And we all said oh we just ate, no, but thank you, and he left and came back in about 10 minutes with big platters of fried oysters and fried shrimp and cocktail sauce and we all ate like we had not had food in three months. And the woman sitting next to me said, everyone is so nice here. I thought of the guy in the American Can video recently circulated who said in New Orleans people said hello and how are you and they don’t do that in other parts. He was sad that it could be gone forever now.

N said I cried again today. And I said I cry everyday sometimes twice a day – sometimes all day. N said I’m back to once a day. It had stopped.

Washington Irving wrote: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

Then the woman next to me asked me if I am from here I told her I had just returned from California about 10 months ago. She said oh didn’t you love it there and I said absolutely not. And she said well what do you see as the major differences between here and San Francisco and I said the people. And I referenced the video and how that is true about New Orleans more than any place I have been except maybe Bali – people are friendly and generally interested in your well being – unlike anywhere but especially California.

The kids were adorable – young, smart, excited, enthusiastic. When we left N was thanking them for coming and doing everything they had done and she welped up waving goodbye.

I was speaking to one of my VIP media sources today who offered up an idea to get some PR for New Orleans because he said the rest of the world doesn’t understand what happened here and you need to localize the message so they get it and maybe offer help via money or brain trust. So I’m going to contact an advertising acquaintance here and see if I can’t help that to happen.

S called from Hawaii – having gone to the grocery and being in cell range – he said he might have a design project brewing here in New Orleans that could be interesting.

I worked on anger management this morning and later tonight – managing to get angry – at the end my attempt seemed contrived and inordinately harsh – I am not going to dally with anger unless it comes to me on its own accord. L said earlier that his mother’s doting may have caused him to be a misanthrope because he finds himself in a world that is not working out like he wanted it to be – but despite my world not working out the way I wanted it to be or would like it to be I don’t want to study anger – I want to proceed with love even if that sometimes doesn’t serve anybody. I saw enough anger as a child to allow me to spend the second half of my life without it.

The Pelican has no Aubade

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

au·bade (oh-bäd)
1. A song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak.
2. A poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn.

Saw K this morning walking Lola and Cleo and he was in a sunny mood and said that he is optimistic about the city and our chances of rebounding. I said good because everyone else seemed to be in a funk about it and the crime is picking up again. He said he thinks because he writes for the TP and works with a team of others who are actively trying to get the city back on its feet or feel as if they are contributing to it that his feelings might be colored by those efforts. At the same time, he said his house took on three and a half feet of water and the insurance company keeps jerking him around and switching claim reps on him and this has been going on for seven months. But he said, it doesn’t matter, it’s not like he could get anyone to work on the house at this time anyway because of how crazy things are here.

The usual sudden have to do’s on the LaLa sent me into a whirling dervish – and still some things just not worked out – sigh – and don’t know when they will be.

S called from Hawaii looking for sunshine – we had it here – he did not have it there.

E pounded her fist and said why aren’t you angry? She said I am angry. I muster anger in some places but not in others – I don’t know – I am angry – I feel like I am – but I don’t always relay my anger to those it is directed at – and sometimes I do – I don’t know, it doesn’t come naturally. And sometimes it appears like a volcano. I’m apathetic about anger – it’s sadness that stirs me more – I don’t know.

Chicken Vindaloo with sugar snap peas and a nice bottle of Shiraz Viognier – L came over for dinner – this is exactly what was in my fridge to make for dinner Sunday night when we had to evacuate – I think I am confused – I just don’t even know what I feel anymore or what I am going to feel = and so the pelican drops out of the sky and dives for a fish and then without the fish in its mouth it sits there bewildered – ai ai ai – shaking its beak and wondering what went wrong this time – it took the risk, there has always been reward, but this time there wasn’t – are you mad pelican? are you sad? or are you simply bewildered?


I feel as if we opened a book about great ocean voyages
and found ourselves on a great ocean voyage:
sailing through December, around the horn of Christmas
and into the January Sea, and sailing on and on

in a novel without a moral but one in which
all the characters who died in the middle chapters
make the sunsets near the book’s end more beautiful.

— And someone is spreading a map upon a table,
and someone is hanging a lantern from the stern,
and someone else says, “I’m only sorry
that I forgot my blue parka; It’s turning cold.”

Sunset like a burning wagon train
Sunrise like a dish of cantaloupe
Clouds like two armies clashing in the sky;
Icebergs and tropical storms,
That’s the kind of thing that happens on our ocean voyage —

And in one of the chapters I was blinded by love
And in another, anger made us sick like swallowed glass
& I lay in my bunk and slept for so long,

I forgot about the ocean,
Which all the time was going by, right there, outside my cabin window.

And the sides of the ship were green as money,
and the water made a sound like memory when we sailed.

Then it was summer. Under the constellation of the swan,
under the constellation of the horse.

At night we consoled ourselves
By discussing the meaning of homesickness.
But there was no home to go home to.
There was no getting around the ocean.
We had to go on finding out the story
by pushing into it —

The sea was no longer a metaphor.
The book was no longer a book.
That was the plot.
That was our marvelous punishment.

Tony Hoagland
Hard Rain
Hollyridge Press