Mom called to say she learned that leaving liquid in lead crystal is dangerous. Who knew? I told her. But seriously, the other day when I was there for lunch, she said she had confronted her Hispanic neighbors about the smell of pot wafting through the air. She brought them an article from the Times Picayune about a neighbor who had called the cops on pot smokers only to learn that they were doing heroin – oh my god – so she says she was just protecting them by giving them a heads up but the guys grew very quiet when she told them and now she thinks they are averting their eyes when she walks by. It’s the paranoia that creeps up on you that is perhaps the most frightening of the aging ailments.
Archive for March, 2008
I’m getting anxious about the impending separation as T is leaving the country for too long a period. In the end, I know it’s all doable, but the thought of being without her makes me anxious. I was at my mom’s Saturday and was trying to hang out and be with her, but I had this gnawing feeling that I wanted to get back home, and be with my family which now consists of T, Arlene, and Loca. I can’t imagine how xenophobic I might become when there is an orange cat and other additions to our family that make me want to stay close to home. I spoke with friends over the past couple of days who have been brushed by other people’s tragedies – an addicted husband who left his wife and two very young kids, a husband who committed suicide, a brother who attempted suicide, a father who is dying – all of these events give me pause and perspective. It’s hard to fathom going four weeks at a time without T here in this house doing what she does – making me happy, making our life beautiful, caring for all of us with such tenderness, I guess I can just focus on the temporariness of our separation and the joys to come and be thankful for every minute in between.
Spring is here and the irises are in full regalia at City Park – white, purple and yellow. But it’s the giant blue iris that is truly our state treasure. They are just about to peak in swamps and the best place to view them is Jean Lafitte’s National Park. I called this morning but they said they are not “at their best representation” right now – meaning we need a little more heat in the air to get them all to bloom and create the sense of being in a 3D Monet painting.
Yesterday some friends of mine stopped by out of the blue – I’ve been meaning to get together with them and tell them the new developments in my life but time has gone by without taking the opportunity to do so. They are both in retirement mode – he retired last year, and she was supposed to but stayed on another year to help her boss through a transition. When they came to the door, I was just starting to make a bolognese sauce and T was working on her copyedits at the dining room table. I sort of ushered them to the screen porch dangling glasses of cold rose to entice them to follow me. Once we sat down, glasses in hand, a toast to finally catching up, I told them about T and me. They paused, and one made the comment that I “would be back to men in five years.” She snapped at him: “no she won’t, this is a life commitment” and then she looked at me and said, “Rachel, Rachel, you of all people I would have never for a million years suspected you would be with a woman because you are the most man crazy person I have ever met.” As they digested the news, T came onto the porch and sat down, and as usual, within minutes, her warmth charmed them and when she went back to her work, they both said, “I really like her.” You fall in love with the person, not the ideology. I fell in love with T the moment I saw her and lucky for me the getting to know her has made that love explode exponentially – I could say it doesn’t matter what her gender is, but I can’t imagine her being anything but a woman.
Last night we went to a performance during the Tennessee Williams Festival of A Witch and A Bitch: An Evening with Flora Goforth and Marchesa Condotti. The play was a stand in for Bent to the Flame because the main actor was in a car accident and it was a condensed or “scenes from” version of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (a difficult four + hour dark play) by Williams. It’s a hollistic view of a woman who was a legend in her own time in denial of her dying condition and the dark angel who comes to help her passage. Williams wrote so often about our tragic or fragile condition but all of his characters seem to allude to a time when there was a life lived, la dolce vita, a feeling of aliveness that permeates the ephemeral and temporal quality of life – a feeling of observation of our own joy that tinges it with darkness because we know this too shall pass. He lived and wrote the bittersweet life and held up the mirror daring us to look.
Can I get an AMEN – finally, more than two years post-storm, the Green Market is returning to MidCity. It is long overdue and I know it will be met with enthusiasm by everyone in this neighborhood. Fresh fish, vegetables, real tomatoes and kettle corn – who could ask for more? No more slogging to Whole Wallet to get our sustenance.
In an entry entitled “That’s How We Do It” I gave an erroneous picture of the academic life in modern times. The morning I wrote it, T said it was a misperception because only 10% of academics are granted tenure, and even tenure itself stands on shaky ground these days as some universities are doing away with the track all together. She said most of her colleagues are subject to the grist mill of teaching four classes and uncertainty year to year about their positions. In an email this morning, another academic friend weighs in on my entry saying that it sorely romanticizes the academic life, which in turn leads to misperceptions that professors don’t work hard for the money, or even that there might even be money involved in this endeavor, much less job security. So I stand corrected – my career path has a different rhythm no doubt, but perpetuating the notion that academics live a life of contemplation belies the modern day academic’s life – where publish or perish is met with teaching to a head count that satisfies the bottom line, compensation is thin and job security is even more tenuous. In the meantime, I like this part of the email I received this morning – when I was walking Loca through the park on this amazingly gorgeous spring day (evidenced by the yellow and purple Louisiana irises blooming in harmony along the banks of the lagoon), I was given to think of Faulkner and how he came about naming one of his novels – Light in August – rumor has it he was on his back porch, with a bourbon, and the way the afternoon sunlight danced off the nut colored elixir gave him the title. This is what my friend writes:
But perpetuating the notion is one of the reasons the general public thinks we keep bankers hours, and is also one of the reasons that I have to try to stretch 47 grand over 12 months (barely a living wage these days) and why the starting salary for our new hire in English is 45,000 while that of an assistant professor in marketing is 125,000! Teaching Faulkner just ain’t worth much to the culture, but teaching kids how to display signage at Macy’s will allow one to live pretty well. Ah, those good old laissez faire market values. . .
Today for the first time in AGES we sat on the porch and friends dropped by and strolled by and it was so nice being back on the porch for a change – the weather was wonderful even if the wind did kick up – T is leaving before the real porch weather gets underway – but THANKFULLY she is coming back for my birthday as two and a half months apart is like asking me to stick pins in my eyes and chew glass!
Does New Orleans need anymore bad press? No, should there be a special fine for the idiots who get us in the national news – perhaps we need to amend our state constitution to add a more severe penalty for the sort of stupidity that gives us a black eye in the national arena. Take this little story where Prudhomme almost gets hit by a bullet today as we host the Zurich Classic in one of our world famous golf courses.
Our story is being written every day – and it’s a delicious love story of girl meets girl and suddenly two worlds create a universe. As each page turns, a deeper bond, a sweeter truth, with more and more reason why the stars aligned on that very day – Fat Tuesday – for us to meet, another drama unfolds on the bayou. A while back I was caught up in it – I seemed to have been sucked into a vortex where passion was lacking and I provided more than enough fodder for reminding people of what they were missing – sucked into this whirling cauldron of drama and denial, I woke often feeling as if I was catnip for some pussy cats who would never tire of pawing at me. I dare say I showed remarkable strength in announcing myself for who I am and stating clearly what my intentions were and then I pulled and stayed away to let the pussy cats wail for their demon lover. Flash forward and as the pages of our book are lovingly written replete with outer worldly heights of feeling and amor, I see sparks in the distance, rumblings heard over the bayou – noise from restless felines acting as tom cats with tails erect, roaming again – stalking disturbance, licking milk from shallow bowls set out for others, yowling for treats, and rubbing against doorways, leaving their scent in new territory. Meanwhile, this particular kitty, call me Wonder Puss, has curled up in front of a roaring fire and feels very sated and domestic, meow.