Addie J said, “Look, Mom. This is how you drink when you’re fancy. You stick up your fingers. Right?” I said, ” Righ– wait a minute.”
Yesterday, I was hoping to leave class downtown and go straight to my sister-in-law’s house to hang out before our Fat Tuesday plans. Things got tangled up and I had to cancel the pre-party plans, and in my head I was super-crabby about it and blaming Dave for not letting me know in time. (As you will see, this is because I am a raging, massive bitch.) At the end of his very long work day, Dave drove all the way home to pick me up and take me back downtown, to the bar hosting the party. He let me sit and chat while he fetched Abitas and plates of shrimp boil, and he finagled me a tshirt and an Abita drink coozie from the manager. He even traded in the first shirt he got for a smaller size– because he knew I wouldn’t wear the big one. Finally, he took me home at the end of the night– then stood in front of me in his coat and said, “Okay. I have to go back to work. They’re still working on that building downtown and I need to be there. I told them I had something to do with my wife, but I’d be back.” I was like, “WHAT?!?!? Why didn’t you tell me?? I wouldn’t want you to have to do this!” and he said, “I know. That’s why I didn’t tell you.”
He got home at 3:46 this morning and left again at 8:15. Same project.
So, this is my reminder to myself: you are lucky enough to be married to the most considerate and sweet man in the world. Next time you’re feeling cheated of a couple of hours of hangout time, remember that he does stuff like this.
Yesterday, I was really happy to see that the military has begun extending benefits to same-sex couples. I also read that Ashley Broadway, the Army wife who had been denied membership to an on-base spouse’s club because her spouse is a woman, had been offered full membership. Love is love, and I have never heard a compelling reason to treat the LGBT community as second-class citizens– and what’s more, I am entirely confident that we are raising a generation of children who understand that love is love. My own children accept same-sex relationships and marriage to the extent that they are uninterested in the topic– it would be like discussing my own marriage with them. They’re like, “Right, we know. That’s how life works. Are there any Girl Scout cookies?” And while Dave and I can take a little bit of the credit for their attitudes, we cannot have done it all by ourselves. Our friends Jill and Aimee and their children have contributed. My older nieces and nephews, who model tolerance for the lifestyle differences of others. Other parents of kids in our community are clearly teaching their kids the same– it’s not just me or just my three. Our cultural viewpoint is changing, and changing for the better. I’m happy about this in a cultural sense, of course– and also for a totally selfish reason: my kids live in this world. Therefore I want this world to be as enlightened and positive and good as possible.
And then there’s this: a group in Indiana trying to Ban Gays From Prom. The idea, evidently, is to send a message that God does not want people to be gay (funny that He told them that, by the way. I had lunch with Jesus the other day, and Jesus said they were cool with it). I mean, are we living in the movie Footloose? Do they not realize how tone-deaf and judgmental and downright foolish they seem? I was happy to also find this link, illustrating that those who are trying to pull together an event– for high schoolers– which only includes kids who agree with them and actively seeks to exclude others– are in the minority. I am disturbed that one of their most visual proponents is a woman who teaches children– a teacher who first equates being gay with having a disability, then says that she believes being gay is a choice, yet also admits that she doesn’t understand. Well, now we’re getting somewhere: you don’t understand. Maybe if you started there, ma’am, and you opened your mind to all the possibilities, maybe we could get somewhere.
But until then: it’s time for you to sit down.
This morning, I rolled over to look at the clock and saw that I had exactly twelve minutes left. This is the worst possible amount of time to have left before getting up: you can’t really go back to sleep, but you still don’t want to get out of bed. So I lay there for another six or seven minutes, wishing (as I do every morning) that I could roll back the clock about ninety minutes. When I was done wishing for a Time-Turner, I cast my mind forward (as I do every morning) to the next holiday we have scheduled. It occurred to me that, since Halloween or so, my family has been taking fun trips of varying lengths every couple of weeks– but the next trip out of town will likely be me alone, and will involve Minnesota instead of Mexico. So, essentially: boo.
Meanwhile, back at this particular ranch: Addie J got up and asked me if she had school today. She seemed shocked at the answer (she’s probably experiencing a little Gloomy Monday Ennui as well). Then she disappeared– and reappeared in a size 4T purple tie-dyed mini, hot pink tank under sparkly teal tank top, and totally mismatched tights. “Tights, so I’ll be warm,” she informed me. “So can I wear these shoes?” –Holding out her bright-yellow sandals with the wedge heels (which were “Summery and Cute” last July, but in the wintertime have morphed into “Tuesday Afternoon Pole Dancer”).
And I thought: I’ll be having this discussion with the J every morning, without a break to someplace fun, for weeks.
And THEN I thought: I am such a freaking baby.
UPDATE: Addie went back upstairs for awhile, and I called up: “Everything okay?” Through her closed door, she replied, “Fine!! Just changing!! .. You don’t have to see me or take me to school. I’ll just walk myself.” Naturally I went straight upstairs…… it was a bathing suit coverup.
I am a little jealous that this blizzard is hitting an area other than the one I live in. And I’m trying to gain some perspective and remember that this is a dangerous storm, not Julie’s Funtime Snow Day Celebration. So stay home and stay safe, East Coasters….
P.S. Addie J just informed me that she is allergic to ugly. I said, “Actually, so am I.”
Sometimes, when I tell people about our family’s annual trip to Mardi Gras, the response is disbelief. Like, “Um, do you really take your kids there? Really?” Or they might think I’m kidding: “Funny,” they’ll say uncomfortably. “Can you imagine if you did?”
Well: yes, I can. Because I do. Listen up, class: the season of Carnival begins about 6 weeks before Ash Wednesday, and culminates in one final day of celebration before everyone has to get serious during Lent. This very last day of debauchery is known as “Mardi Gras’ in French; in fact, the term’ Mardi Gras’ has come to stand for the entire Carnival season in Nola. It is so ubiquitous, in fact, that we tend to refer to that final day of Carnival by its English translation, Fat Tuesday ,in order to differentiate it from the season as a whole.
So what is involved in celebrating Carnival season? Well, houses are decorated. Streets are decorated. People get together for crawfish boils. There’s a King Cake in every office at all times…. and there are parades. If you haven’t been to Mardi Gras, I will tell you now that you have no idea what I mean by “there are parades.” Once, someone said to me regarding Carnival, “Oh, we don’t like parades. My kids don’t ever want to go to the Labor Day parades or anything.” This is like saying, “I went to Cleveland once and didn’t like it, so I’m never going to go to Europe.” Mardi Gras parades are giant, miles-long outdoor parties, where families and friends meet up– day after day– to celebrate the season with thousands of other families and friends. Tents are erected in the street. People set up grills, 6-foot tables, bring gallon jugs of daiquiri and plenty of cups to go around. And then you get to watch incredible spectacle. Bands go by, not sullenly playing “God Bless America–” but freaking JAMMING blues and jazz. The baton twirlers are popping and locking. The drumlines have entire dance steps that go with their parts, and spectators pour into the streets to dance along. Floats are ornately decorated, programmed with gorgeous LED displays (some of which were originally programmed by my brilliant husband) and roll by, crammed with costumed riders who then throw you beads and toys and flashing tridents and stuffed animals. And, as a spectator, you can get right up in there and fight for beads– or you can sit in the back with your drink, hanging out with your friends or your kids or your grandma, just taking it all in and letting the occasional beads and throws land in your lap. It. Is. The Greatest. Show. On Earth.
And yes, for sure: if you go to Bourbon Street in the evening or after parades, and hang out in that 2-block radius, you’ll see some flashing and some ungentlemanly behavior and a great deal of public drunkenness going on….. which is why no one takes their families there at that time. But since that’s where most of the tourists are– and that’s where they take the photos you’ve all clutched your pearls over– people are left with the mistaken impression that the whole of New Orleans is an X-rated fiasco during Carnival season. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Attached is a photo of Addie, me, and Gabs on our ladder, with a new little friend we made that day. And here (if you can handle this much cute) is a video by Tulane University’s Communication office, featuring the Mardi Gras ladder:
Means that you will chirp until
I replace the cell.
It’s like a snipe hunt:
Which one of you is chirping?
…Fuck. Out of 9-volts.
“So the guy was handing out paperwork,” Dave said. “And I thought of you, because he was licking his finger to separate the pages, and I know how that makes you dry-heave….. and then I started thinking to myself, ‘I actually hope none of that is for me– because dude’s licking a lot of finger.’ ”
Just listening to the story made me dry-heave. Of course.
So Guinness is not a huge dog. He is, in the dog world, similarly proportioned to me: a lot smaller than most other full-grown specimens of his species. However, he does not appear to realize this (Dave would say, “Hey!! That’s also like you!!” –But Dave’s a jackass). Moreover, having spent his early life in a hoarder’s home, fighting other dogs and cats for food, Guinness came to us with a relatively intense distrust of other animals. This manifested itself in the dog version of Little Man Syndrome: a dog would be walking innoecently past us (or across the street from us, or visible in someone’s backyard, or heard or smelled anywhere in the vicinity of Guinness) and the poor dog Would. Lose. His. Mind. Shaking, growling, straining at his leash, volleys of angry barks.
Now, as you picture this, remember that Addie J can pick him up with ease. And then picture the dog he considered his greatest enemy: a sweet, affable, friendly yellow lab who was bothered not at all. Which was considerate of that dog, because Guinness wasn’t angry so much as he was afraid; he would be shaking and cowering from the stress for as much as 30 minutes afterward, throwing up his food, whimpering– it was the saddest thing you’ve ever seen.
Guinney had Little Dog Syndrome, and it was the worst. I’ve never had a small dog before– Abita, although a total pacifist, was pretty damn huge– and I cannot STAND yappy little dogs. There’s already a yappy little dog in my neighborhood, and I always think, “Oh my God, shut UP!!!” (But I never say it.) (Okay, sometimes I do say it.) (But only in the summertime, like if we’re sitting on the patio and the dog has been relentlessly yapping at us for hours.) (Or actually, any time the dog starts its ceaseless fucking YAPPING because his owners never do anything about it.) (I really can’t stand that dog.) I was determined that Guinness not become the neighborhood’s second Yapping Nuisance, so I’ve been researching and reading and trying tips and tricks.
And I am pleased to say that it’s working. At least 75% of Guinness’ instant reaction to other dogs is gone, replaced by him instantly turning to me for his “Oh, there’s another dog nearby” treat. He’s still not totally thrilled by other dogs, but he never challenges them anymore and rarely barks. Except for his new archenemy: a massive black mutt who, unlike Yellow Lab, has no patience for Guinness’ Little Dog bullshit. If Guinness got close enough to this dog, it would eat him for lunch. I’m hoping that Guinn will get used to this big guy eventually– but for now, it’s the most comical David and Goliath thing you have ever seen. And my little guy has NO idea.
I can think of at least five people, off the top of my head, who should just start getting treats every time they see something that intimidates them– and I bet the US budget would be balanced by the end of the year.
Yesterday, the kids and I were out walking the dog. Neither one of them wore gloves, and this should not come as a shock: my kids spend the winter dressed for balmy summer afternoons and I don’t understand it. I have to fight with them to wear jackets when it’s 25 degrees outside– and I hear you all saying, “Just let them go outside without a jacket. Then they’ll LEARRRNNNN.” Well, guess what? –I’ve tried that. They don’t learn. They just run around outside wearing tshirts in 25-degree weather. (“Then I guess they’re just not COLLLLLLD,” you’re replying sagely. “Let them BEEEEEEE.” –Except, I can’t. It makes me feel freezing cold to see them inadequately dressed for the weather. I cannot stand it, and I cannot let them be. I make them come inside and put on more clothes while they try to kill me with their eyes.)
Anyway. No gloves. Cam had pulled his hands inside his jacket cuffs, but Gabby’s hands were slowly freezing solid. I gave her one of my gloves for her left hand and held her right, tucked into my coat pocket. “Thanks, Mom,” she said. I grumbled back, “WHY didn’t you guys wear gloves to school today?” They explained earnestly that the reaons were myriad: they didn’t think they would have outside recess; it didn’t seem cold when they looked out the window; gloves are hard to keep track of; and Gabby added, “We assumed that we just wouldn’t need gloves.”
And here’s where I made my fatal decision. I lightly said, “Well, you know what happens when you assume, right?” …And proceeded to explain that stupid, stupid “ASS out of U and ME” joke to Cameron and Gabby. It was like loading your enemy’s cannon with your own shells. You can imagine how they’ve delighted in using that joke for sixteen hours straight– they don’t actually use the word “ass” though. Instead they go through elaborate mimes and charades designed to make one another crack up hysterically. It’s actually worse than if they were just saying “ass.” I wish they would just say “ass” so that I had a reason to tell them to knock it off; and anyway, they’re just repeating a joke that I myself taught them. Because, again: stupid decision on my part.
All I can say in my own defense is that I ASSumed it wouldn’t be all that funny.