Archive for July, 2006

Slow Down, you move too fast

Monday, July 31st, 2006

When I was living in Marin, my friend S came over with her daughter T and brought me a mechanized turtle that crawled and sang, “Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last.” Ha ha ha. Right. Most people associate me with rapid motion but recently someone told me that I move to fast figuratively too and it gave me great pause…barum bum.

I was in Nantucket at the invitation of a friend to come spend the weekend with some of her friends and on the plane ride home the whole thing: my life, my actions, this weekend, all came full circle. My therapist E has been trying to get at the crux of what would make a strong, independent woman be a door-mat in a relationship, particularly a woman who identifies more closely with her father and brothers than her mother and sister. Well, I’ll tell you, but much like this weekend, it’s going to take a minute of digression to get there.

On arrival, it was decided we would all have nicknames and so instead of my first letter I can call everyone by their nickname here and not sacrifice anyone’s privacy. Let me introduce them, but first may I tell you that after learning my divorce was final on Wednesday arriving at a house with my good friend and finding out two of the women were therapists, I was screaming inwardly: I AM BLESSED – Okay, so for the weekend I was Roxy and the others were:

Cookie, an executive in hospitality – she came up with the idea of nicknames. A statuesque Greek goddess with milk chocolate eyes. Several of our favorite lines came from her – “I couldn’t have got through my SATs without a vibrator” was one of the favs. Two days into the weekend she said to me frankly: “Roxy, I just met you two days ago and I think you know who you are and what you want, but you don’t take time to think, you move too fast.” She came up and apologized profusely later for being so direct, but I embraced her and kissed her all over telling her I totally concur (my fast pace is sometimes my friend and sometimes my foe).

Mimi, a therapist – it was her house we stayed at and although my good friend described her as someone who has an uncanny ability to distill everything down to its essence, I was most impressed by her quiet power. When she was in the room she was clearly the axis. Her comment to Roxy among many, but the one which I will take to my grave, “You’re the one I’d want to be with during Katrina.”

Susu, a therapist – she coined the “full circle” from the getgo, and always recognized when we had come to that fine closure on a topic that began on Friday sitting around the breakfast counter, a theme that would weave into many conversations, then suddenly find a resting place by Saturday at cocktail hour. Susu on first approach is seemingly reserved but when the layers start peeling back, the flower grows and grows, like my favorite flower – the peony. She reminds me of someone who would circle the pond several times before jumping in while I’d be the one who ran and plunged and then came up shouting – IT’S COLD IN HERE – she would find the right place to slip in. I lay in bed last night in Boston waiting to fly home this morning and still pictured the way she talked about responding to Crab Rangoon guy as she acted like she was typing the response.

Ali, did I ever find out what she does? Does it matter? She arrived a day later, but with aplomb demonstrated a quick memory for all our details and was able to overcome 24 hours of constant introduction to join the group effortlessly. We all remember most her ability to laugh from way deep down inside. It was Ali who recognized the friend of the birthday trip in the very restaurant we were eating.

Gigi – the best roommate ever – she provides the rare situation where you meet a guy and just adore him, then you meet his wife with him and adore them as a couple, then after many years of talking about going on a girls trip you realize you adore her – it’s like they don’t subtract from each other and they are both people I want to know. Fur-suit is now a new word in my vocabulary and so is BFM and TIB. (Hint – big fat mess (the guy who got in our cab) and talk in bed (what we did a lot).

There were many other characters met along the way – Chip whose third wife was a stripper but not HOT in bed like you would imagine, John Egan’s client who said to his friend about a poor drunk 24 year old woman on his lap “she’s showing me her boobs”, Heff driving by and spotting me and saying “What are you doing on my island?”, the BFM’s wife who went and got me a beer when it was so hot in the Chicken Box I thought I would pass out, the hirsute sweaty guy on the dance floor that was either 30 or 50 – hard to tell, and then there was Carrie – my seat mate on that tiny plane from Nantucket to Boston whose hand I held when she panicked during turbulence – this gamine green-eyed beauty who had just visited her new boyfriend (who moved from NY to Nantucket to get away and started a construction business) (she met him on a blind date set up by mutual friends) – she told me how she had been engaged to a guy she was seeing for three years and she realized that he cared little for her family (who she was close to) and he was selfish and she knew enough about herself to know her family was very important to her so she couldn’t marry him and she broke it off. “God bless you, Carrie, for knowing yourself.”

So I’m riding home on the plane exhausted from my getaway, but in overall bouyant spirits about what lies ahead – next year we are having the girls’ weekend at the LaLa – and it occurs to me that as a young woman I observed my mother’s role and made a mental note to NEVER be like her – she was completely dependent on my autocratic father – and so I studied how to be financially and emotionally independent so I would not ever have to be dependent on a man. And it worked, I have pretty much never put myself in a state of financial dependency. But 47 years later, I realize now I became my mother, or like E would say, I modelled her behavior towards men. So in the words of Susu it all comes full circle. But, the first step in solving a problem, is admitting you have one – so I stand in judgment (of my peers) I have been a door-mat and that has to change.

And I also take note of their slow down message too – I move quickly through everything, making shortwork of whatever task I undertake, which has given me the ability to do the work of two or more people, but I also eat fast, talk fast, respond fast, and those times being a hare is not as good as being a tortoise. So I am going to study intention and take to heart my lessons and work towards becoming the woman I aspire to be.

Cookie asked me if I could be anyone famous who would I be? And I said Carly Fiorina. And she said, whoa, I was talking about an actress. And I said but I admire Carly, she’s bold, she’s beautiful, and I will never get over watching her sit at a table and a line of men in suits winding all the way around the lobby waiting for 10 minutes of her time. It wasn’t that they were men, it was that they were all successful business people who wanted her advice. It harkens back to when I was in graduate school and I said I wanted a job where I was paid to think. Cookie said she wanted to be Meryl Streep. I said okay, not a business person, then I’d be Emmy Lou Harris, because she is beautiful and talented and has experimented with so many music genres and done all of them well and she has triumphed and suffered and has written songs about all those experiences with equal weight.

For someone who moves as fast as I do, it’s amazing to me that I have not done girl trips or trips alone till now. This trip was similar to my elephant sanctuary trip – I was pulled away from my routine for a few days and I came back with more insight about myself and the world I live in.

And as always I came back missing home. I picked up the Bean from the pokey and the woman said, “She doesn’t like storms, does she?” And I looked at her curiously. “She jumped in the groomer’s lap while he was working on another dog on account of the thunder.” I laughed and said, “Well, she’s a little neurotic.” And thought, like mother like daughter.

I want to add as a final note to this entry that I am lucky to be surrounded by strong, independent minded and beautiful women.

Requiem for a Marriage

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Divorces are common post-Katrina – but this one is messier – it involved friendships and trust and broken hearts and love’s labor lost.

Eternity was in our lips and yes,
Bliss in our brows bent
………………………Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra

Steve was the Antony to my Cleopatra, but he befriended a snake who used his charms to wound the whole lot of us as tight as possible and when havoc was sufficently wrecked across all lives, the snake slithered away.

Today at 11:45 Steve and Rachel’s divorce was final. Hope is the hardest love we carry.



Hope and Love

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one
not knowing even
that was what he did
in the blowing
sounds in the dark.
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

~ Jane Hirschfield ~

(The Lives of the Heart, 1997)

What the press should be filming on 8/29

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

On 7/25/06 9:59 AM, H (who stayed during Katrina) responds:

Rachel and all:
I agree. T and I have said the same thing. The Can was and is an island as a result of Katrina and we wanted to stay close on this anniversary. I want to eat cooked food, drink cold drinks and use electricity on this anniversary…

Playing devil’s advocate (this is almost literal) though, Ray is probably doing this celebration not for us, but for the tourism business; cameras from all over the world will be here as part of our calender obsessed news coverage. The production is going to be soooo predictable (replays of “one year ago today” type horror video quickly edited into today’s life on the street, read bourbon street; tear jerker paula zahn stuff in the lower 9 acting like she’s down with buckjumping; Fox suggesting that “someone” speculated that John Kerry drove his swift boat through the breach).

Anyway, it is an opportunity for the biggest free commercial we’ll ever have. All of us locals know it’s just an act. But suburban america (NASCAR enthusiasts), who dream of buying beer on sundays, will be interested in watching/gawking at our ability to have fun… Although the end of Ray’s speech should be, “may they rest in peace”, it’s likely going to be, “open 24-7″…



For those not from here:
buck·jump (bkjmp)
intr.v. buck·jumped, buck·jump·ing, buck·jumps
1. To buck, as a horse or mule does.
2. To move in sudden jerks; lurch.


If you are from the press – be in MidCity on August 29th and find out how the REAL New Orleans is comemorating this solemn occasion. Don’t be drawn to the shiny and gaudy, be real, get real, report real.

Where is C Ray?

Monday, July 24th, 2006

I asked T how come we haven’t heard from C Ray, she said, I was wondering the same thing, then G said she was worried because no one has heard from him. DOES NEW ORLEANS HAVE A MAYOR? – for all of you non-New Orleanians that felt sorry for us when he got re-elected: could you find our mayor for us? He has gone underground while our pumps are not working (that is a well-kept secret here), we have no rebuilding plan just individuals dealing with the grueling aftermath of trying to get their homes done at three times the cost and three times the aggravation, and we have no PR campaign other than the fact that some factotem nutball from hell has planned the STUPIDEST “celebration” of Katrina’s anniversary as if it were another festival in New Orleans.

My friend T writes when I sent her the line up:

Masquerade Gala?? Silent Auction?? Comedy Night???? Is the mayor’s office aware that they are commemorating one of the greatest tragedies in American history? Someone needs to fire the marketing/special events planner for coming up with such a ridiculous line up. It would almost be funny if it weren’t so galling.

I emailed my bayou friends and it was decided that we are staying here, in midcity, and we are going to clean the bayou that morning and pick up our own garbage, then we are going to make some jambalaya, drink some, ney, copious amounts of alcohol, listen to New Orleans music and light candles and bask in each others love and love for this city. H&T, N and the Snake, maybe H down the hall – J, the blind man on 2nd floor – all who stayed and suffered the enormity of the rescue – we will all get together and commemorate a solemn, life altering, natural, civic and government disaster called Katrina – and we will be thankful that we had “grace under pressure” to not go insane during and afterwards and celebrate that we are participating in raising New Orleans from the brown brackish water that engulfed her and threatened to lay waste her charms.

Do you know what it is to be a New Orleanian?
reNew Orleans
New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
New Orleans: Proud to Crawl Home
Make Levees Not War
New Orleans: Proud to Swim Home
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was gone
Be a New Orleanian

How many ways are there to say “home” – we are passionate about making this work and staying here.

In the Chocolate City This Baby’s Got Back

Monday, July 24th, 2006

So the other night V and I were talking about the house next door to L, man of mystery. She said the woman now lives in back of her, in her double, and that she sold it because “her daughter slept with a black man and got pregnant” – V said she told the woman “You sold a whole house on account of that? Damn!” So I told V and A about when I was going to buy my first house in Lakeview and the guy said “I’ll sell it to you as long as you aren’t a nigger or a Jew.” And A looked over and said, “Damn, you’re Jewish? You don’t look it!” And then she turned in the same breath and said to V, “You don’t look black either!” V, whose skin is the color of bittersweet chocolate, and I rolled out of our chair laughing so hard.

Last night H&T came over to eat white beans and sausage. I told them that I used to gage the size of my butt by how many black bus drivers in San Francisco would come onto me. When there was junk in the trunk – it was a LOT. On the smaller side, hardly at all. Lately, I’ve have had multiple encounters with black men professing their attraction to me – within a 24 hour period three told me I was the most beautiful woman they ever saw – Note to Self: I think my butt’s getting big.

It also made me wonder about this confidence in putting themselves out there that black men possess. I just couldn’t imagine the same come on from a white man.

Following the thread of the mating ritual, I read in the Wall Street Journal that there is a trend towards contractors sleeping with the woman of the house. I read this horrific article and then realized, yet again, I’m a cliche. The mere fact that K thought he could interrupt our professional relationship to come on to me is universal in the contracting world. Good grief. In the article, it describes the tool belt and weathered shorts with the distressed boots and how alluring this is to the wife who stays home and interacts with the contractor on her personal space – JESUS FUCKING CHRIST – what goes on?

This morning the air was cool from the rains last night, the bayou was placid, the grass was soaking wet – but there was a sense of peace all around and inside of me. In front of the LaLa I clicked my red heels and said “there’s no place like home.”

Love Potion #9

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Friday at Sipping with 7 – as we made our way out of the first room (which turned out to be the best) I ran smack into the BSF – we ended up in line together in the next room, in the dark, waiting for Love Potion #9 – he is even more of a stone fox up close – oh my – his name is T and T is redoing his house on Taft while he lives on Carrolton – but the question is why is T always alone? At JF he was solo, at this event he was solo – does the man have no friends?

I heard sadly that one of the bulls at the Tennessee elephant sanctuary killed its handler and critically injured another who tried to intervene. I sent a note to Scott and Heidi because I know it affects that small community. I am going to start working on the elephant book with S in the fall.

A and I met at Bacchanal yesterday to talk about our book for Taschen – we’re going to have another meeting as soon as M gets back from traveling.

L, man of mystery, had a party last night that I went to – met some great people – just laughed so hard all night long till I almost hurt myself. V and A were just little slices of heaven. We wound up at Pal’s at some early morning hour. L is going to sell his house – which is a shame – it is so gorgeous – just a jewel of a house.

My long bike ride got nixed due to major weather – thunder, lightning, pouring rain – and it is supposed to be 70% chance of rain late in the day – not.

Are your idealizations unrealistic?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Friday started off on the right foot – the delivery guy from Saia said he had no idea where MidCity was and could I meet him at Five Happiness – a character to the say the least, from the West Bank – the day continued in that fashion with an eldery woman asking me if I could check out her parking for her – and I felt like all day I was trying to spread the love and it was working for me. Making people’s day a little easier. Uptown and saw a car run a makeshift stop sign and hit another car – the woman hit got out of the car and was indignant and petulant – I felt sorry for the other woman, the one who didn’t see the handwritten stop sign that was low to the curb – a product of Katrina – homemade street signs and stops signs. Sigh. But it also was a reminder to be kinder – the woman hit was a gorgeous woman who made herself very ugly by being unreasonable.

So what is reasonable? Sonia used to tell me to temper my expectations – to make them more realistic. “Perfection is not a goal, Rachel.” Last night E said he thought the problem with relationships is that we idealize the Other. When he said it I didn’t agree with him – I thought to myself that might be your issue but mine is not about idealizing – and the more I think about it the more I believe it.

I romanticized the homecoming to New Orleans for 15 years – within those years even came back for 11 months – and then I came back and Katrina hit, my divorce hit, everything hit – yes, some of the rose color to my glasses has dissipated in the wake of all this – but I still feel like New Orleans yields to my unreasonable demands on her. My tendency to have unrealistic expectations of a place are made sound by knowing that no matter what, this fair and faded city is home. For better or for worse.

The question arose whether the addition at the LaLa was inspected. I called K, the ex contractor and she said she would ask J, the framer. No word. I called J and he screamed at me that it is not HIS JOB TO INSPECT that fell to the contractor. I then called the city myself and asked for an inspection. The guy came and said I already had an inspection – I told him I liked to do things twice – it made me feel better. Turns out his name was Jerry McRaney – he had a Mr. B’s tee shirt on and turns out his wife is Michelle McRaney – executive chef at Mr. B’s. He said the restaurant wouldn’t be open till Christmas sometime – we talked about the restaurants that got damage were using this opportunity to completely overhaul and were going to come back better. He said he lived in Gentilly and he was trying to do the same thing. Nice guy.

But back to idealizing – I don’t think the demise of my marriage was that I idealized my husband and when I saw the reality I was crushed. Not at all. I think I underidealized myself and put unrealistic demands on myself to be a perfect wife, daughter, worker, etc. and when I became more self-actualized, more comfortable with less than perfect – I was a late bloomer – our dynamic changed – I made demands – he thought I was being unreasonable in my demands – “I have needs too” was not going over well in the post-self-actualized era.

He’d say I changed – I no longer ADORED him – he liked to be the object of my desire – held fast in my gaze – we talked about this notion last night as well – the Other – it’s always a push me pull me with the Other – trying to negotiate what we want, what has been modelled for us, what we need. I liked being the object of N’s desire – it made me feel special and ADORED – but it is unrealistic – G needs to be adored, but she repels any man who adores her because she will not allow herself to ultimately be vulnerable. E idealizes women and then when the cracks appear he is disappointed. I give so much to the Other that I lose myself in the masterpiece – so I have learned I have to stand back, master the brush stroke, place myself center in the painting.

But in this idealized work of art, behind me is the backdrop of New Orleans – a texture of cannas, oaks, banana trees and ginger, weathered boards and wrought iron fences, uneven sidewalks and now piles of trash and standing water, abandoned neighborhoods and commercial areas, faded charm, silent trollies, and a bayou that needs tending, a house that pulls me emotionally, financially, intellectually to the brink then offers me a porch to sit and rest my eyes on a Great Egret who takes flight at the banks while issuing a deep croak and lands across the smooth water after offering me a glimpse outside myself.

Bloody Hell

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Reading blogs in Beirut and Israel on – the world has gone bloody insane.

New from New Orleans – Ocshner is buying the Tenet Hospitals – do you know how great this is? Ocshner is so far superior than Tenet, it is a strong commitment to the city, and goodness knows we need these hospitals.

Odd thing – I went out to MeauxBar last night with friends – it started pouring right before I left so I held back for 20 minutes before going to Big Blue – within that amount of time the water was up to my knees?

My neighbor Harold said he saw it, the car up to the floor in water. His friend called him and said you couldn’t even get into Gentilly because of the flood.

It was 20 minutes of rain?

MeauxBar was delicious – a steak salad that was perfect – it is in the old Golden Star restaurant – I told the owner Jimmy and Matt that I used to live next door in the Vieux Carre Motor Lodge and the Burgundy Inn in back when I was 20. My brother D, my lover K, and my brother in law G owned both hotels. My sister S and I would have the bellman go get us Jazz Alley burgers – these big juicy burgers with cheddar and provolone on top and giant steak fries and Dad’s root beer – to think we ate those things every night and I was about 130 pounds. Jimmy said it was some sort of Asian grocery in between – just moved here from the Hamptons six and a half years ago. Really nice guys.

Renny is here with Arlene – it’s funny how they act indiffierent to one another in the apartment but when we are out they are all over each other – PDA – some people like it, some people don’t.

The carpenter left for Michigan – a little reprieve in more ways than one – he may come back in three weeks (well he’s supposed to, but who the hell knows) – the sheetrockers come on Monday. I spoke to a tile setter today who asked me how sturdy the floor is in the bathrooms – he wanted me to put a 5 gallon bucket half filled with water and jump around and he said “how much do you weigh?” – I was like dude, I barely know you. The contractor and trades are telling me construction is slowing down a little – getting back to a more normal pace. I’ve still got miles/money/mental energy to go.

I could describe to you my house terrors – how I wake in the middle of the night and can’t breathe – G gave me some Xanax because the other day I didn’t sleep for almost 24 hours and I was so wired that I was chasing my tail all day long the next day.

I heard through the grapevine that S is coming to town to work on my friend L’s house. Her husband M called me today and said he was actually trying to call her and accidentally dialed me – I was like really, weren’t you trying to call S, that would make more sense then confusing me with L on your dial.

My dreams every night are wicked – so representational – I am looking forward to my upcoming travels – to tuning out.

Broken Dreamland

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Yesterday was, how should I say in English, sucky. But I’ll spare you those parts in my quest to focus on the positive. Well, so one thing – had a big call on Yahoo that went down the tubes – 14% down – for no good reason other than the usual trigger happy response of young boys who have unreasonable expectations. But on the flip side, a source turned me onto one of the latest absurdist ads – – reminds me of Burger King’s subservient chicken commercials.

Meanwhile went to see Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint last night with the Crescent City Horns – can I just say, wow, what a great concert. Elvis was in fine form but when Allen got on the piano, the joint was jumping. I ran into my old pal while standing in line to get in, R, with some of his buddies, and in typical R fashion, I had to hide his flask as he dealt with the ticket fiasco that ensued. Then another R came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder – she’s new to the neighborhood and I first met her at Sip with her dog Betty. Since I had gone through the telelphone book trying to get someone to go with me to the concert, it was good to see R again and add her to the rolodex. In the end, I just gave my ticket to somebody at the door. I need to stop buying in twos.

Now to deal with the Yahoo story.

Secular Prayers

Monday, July 17th, 2006

I lit my sort of novena candle and am waiting on news tomorrow the bank will give me a personal loan. Why? Because I learned this morning I can’t get a refi on the mortgage or more money on my home equity because they won’t lend money unless the house is 95% completed. Say what? That’s right folks. So today after S talked me off the ledge – the cost to do this house was woefully underestimated and the times have almost tripled that oversight – SO I applied for a personal loan at a rocking 12% interest to float me to 95%. I also applied for an SBA loan beyond the deadline but the nice guy on the phone said use the divorce as the reason why you didn’t apply sooner. Last resorts are borrowing against 401K at 10%, pulling out 401K with penalty (larger than 10%), and just pacing the work to my income (leaving it exposed to redo it a third time since it languished between “contractor of no import” and “contractor who does work,” entropy occurred and had to be fixed (not to mention shoddy work that had to be fixed as well).

But I have a good feeling about this – the LaLa will be my Taj Majal and I will spend many evenings entertaining there in my bare feet.

If you drive by the bayou and hear music and see through the windows folks sitting around a table laughing and drinking wine, don’t worry about the bills – living isn’t about being comfortable or about having money in the bank …

it’s about

Laissez les bons temps rouler!