Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Prayer for Tomorrow

You may already know, but tomorrow, June 1, is designated as the official start to the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane season. Sounds more like a sporting event, eh?

I have a favor to ask of all of you. Seriously. I know recent posts of mine have tended toward the frivolous and absurd, but this is it. No kidding around now.

Do whatever works for you - light a candle, sing a song, hug your child closer, say a prayer, ring a bell, dance nude, plant a tree, meditate - whatever it is, we'll take it. Whatever it is you do that brings you closer to whatever it is in this universe that's more powerful than us - do it now.


Last year was about making a stand in New Orleans, and all the Gulf South - Damn it! We're home and no one can take that away from us. The adrenaline alone carried us along very nicely, thank you. (OK, some spite too, the kind that comes from daring to succeed despite the government's best attempts to prevent it.)

Somehow, this year is scarier because it's just about making it through. We need to make it through this season. We have to make it through. We have to.

And that's where you come into the picture. You want to help? Say a prayer tomorrow.

And then again every day until this season is over.

It's posts like this that just tumble out that make me realize that I never quite honestly answer some of those interview meme questions - I first answered what's your worst quality? by saying it was Procrastination - and let me tell you, that puppy is up there in teh rankings. But really, it's not even close to the truth. The worst?

It scares me/breaks my heart/crushes the brave good man in me to have to ask for help. I am at my worst.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fag Hag in Training

In honor of my dear sweet friend Soccer Mom in Denial, I want to share a moment from this weekend. It struck me as especially appropriate, considering her post today.

We stepped into a local watering hole to cool off - and to mark the official start to summer with a Huge Frozen Separator. These things are Heaven in a cup. Separators are not daquiris, but more like a really good, somewhat lethal frozen White Russian. With whipped cream on top. And a cherry. Not something you can chug, but must work slowly at, forcing you to slow down and cool down all at once. Just be careful how they sneak up on you, especially the 2nd one. Socccer Mom's had more than one Separator in her lifetime...

Relaxing. Chair Dancing. Huge Frozen Separators. People Watching.

Oh, the people watching in the French Quarter is always a treat, but even more so during major holidays. This particular watering hole has enormous doors, flung open to the elements with nothing to hide and AC to spare. From our perch, we'd seen lots of different kinds of families trot on by, some of them brave enough to look in and notice that there were mostly men in the bar - and that of the few women, some of them looked like men. And today, lots of families with lots of kids.

But she was my favorite.

A young girl of maybe 7 years was bopping down the sidewalk with Mom, Dad and big brother. Just as they got to the corner next to the bar and were preparing to cross the street, the music changed.

The girl turned on a dime and started moving. Really moving.

Mom tugged at her hand to come along. Dad admonished her to stay close to him.

Hah. Nice try, folks.

"Hey! I am dancing here! And. Oh. My. God. It's KYLIE!"

OK, I don't know where a 7 year old learns to worship Kylie Minogue, but her parents at that point saw the wisdom of letting her dance it out right there and then. Talk about a young lady who's well on her way.

To what, I can't really say, but I bet she'll have fun on the way.

Of course, her folks did also manage to find their way into the bar and into the world of Huge Frozen Separators. The music changed again and off they went.

"Hey! I'm dancing here!"

We should all be so firm in our conviction to dance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dry Spells

Contradictory to some rather substantial outside opinions, New Orleans isn't exactly waterlogged. In fact, for the second year running, we are more than 12" below our average yearly rainfall to date. That's good, right?

Erm. No.


Take a city. Fill with water (and various other discharges) for several weeks. Drain slowly.

Allow a good portion of those once-flooded buildings (plus all the ones that've been gutted but hang in insurance-limbo-hell) to remain empty, mouldering and drying to a nice tinder-like status for, oh say...21 months. Resume baking in a long hot summer, omitting customary rain patterns.

Spontaneous combustion, anyone?

Oh, and when the rains do come, none of the usual forces of adhesion and cohesion (come on, folks, remember your high school Earth Science and Chemistry classes) get to play their traditional roles. The water that usually helps the soil stay in place just isn't and doesn't. So long, topsoil. Hello, runoff.

New Orleans isn't experiencing a drought, not technically anyway. When you are surrounded by the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, swamps, bayous, canals, intercoastal waterways and wig-frying humidity, you're never quite close to a drought.

Still, we could use a little more rain.

So, despite threatening to impede all kinds of wonderful Memorial Day Weekend activities and plans, not too many people were really all that upset when the skies over New Orleans began to look like this yesterday.

And sometimes...

Sometimes it gets really really dark before a dry spell ends.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Shadow & Light II

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This is my first season singing with the New Orleans Symphony Chorus, and it's Show Time tonight. We will be performing Carl Orff's less-than-modest work, Carmina Burana.

Wow. Big music, exhausting exhilarating BIG music. Adrenalin. Goosebumps. And by the end of the weekend, shredded wheat for vocal cords. Oh, and I still have to show up on Sunday to sing in rest for the wicked.

It's been a whole lot of fun learning this piece, but getting to know the other Chorus members has been a wonderful side benefit. Many of them also sing at churches around the Metro area - it's a great town for all kinds of musicians.

I didn't grow up around a lot of Catholics (pre-Canada is Protestant country), and so I will confess (yes, pun intended) to the occasional inappropriate response to some church names - the first time I heard Our Lady of Prompt Succor, I giggled for weeks.

I learned a new one last week that reduced to laugh-tears: Church of the Holy Comforter. Well, in the wrong hands, this went south quickly - think of the accessories to go along with a Holy Comforter: you'll need Sacred Pillows, the Blessed Linens...and, of course, a simply Divine Dust Ruffle!

My new Catholic friends in the Chorus were not amused.

Too bad. I'm still giggling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Can I Keep From Singing?

I cannot recall a time in my life when I didn't sing. Doesn't matter if I'm happy or sad or moving half a country away to a new life or cleaning the oven. I sing. That's who I am. And there's always a song that fits every occasion. Ask me - I bet I know a song for almost anything you've got.

Yesterday, I did not sing.

I went so far as to skip one of our last rehearsals for the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans' performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (you may recognize the opening number, O Fortuna, from lots of movies and too many figure skating competitions).

And I never miss rehearsals.

It's not that I couldn't sing yesterday. I physically could, but it would not have been pretty. I probably would have been a liability at that point. No, the point is that I didn't sing.

Didn't even want to.

That is so rare as to be mind-bending to me. I've had bronchitis that didn't keep me down when I should have been. Last minute weddings or funerals? Nothing to it! Your Miss Lynch broke her leg a week before the opening of Grease? Bring it on!

But not yesterday. Why not is a story for another day. I am still living that story and cannot bear to tell it yet...

This morning, I woke up with an old hymn running through my head - quite a blissful way to start a Tuesday. Written by Robert Lowrey, How Can I Keep From Singing was a staple in our church growing up Methodist in Northern New York State (pre-Canada). Our choir here does a sublime arrangement of this tune by Russell Schulz-Widmar... and all modesty aside, we do it extraordinarily well. Sixteen years after my first time singing it with them, I still get goosebumps. It's a most marvelous union of text and harmonies. Goosebumps.

We've performed it twice since returning to our city and our lives, post-evacuation. It means even more to us all now. It has never failed to comfort me. Today was no exception. I woke up to this:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above Earth's lamentations,
I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That brings a new creation.
All through the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul -
How can I keep from singing?

Today, I will sing.

And today, I will shine.

Thank you to all my friends who reminded me to let it out and shine for all I'm worth.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shadow & Light

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another French Quarter Moment

We stayed.

Because we stayed, we were able to bear witness to what happened in the days following Hurricane Katrina, when the levees broke and flooded more than 3/4 of our beautiful old city.

Looting. Buildings on fire. Flooding. Majestic Oaks denuded. Gunshots.

Ah. But the other side. There are so many stories you don't hear.

Without power to keep it cold (and safe), food had to be cooked. And man, can people in New Orleans cook. So we did.

And in the process, we fed many friends, neighbors...and on our last night in the Quarter before our Exodus, many strangers too. A neighbor leaving town brought us 2 turkeys that he didn't want to throw out (and didn't want to face in his freezer whenever he returned) - my apartment had gas still, so we cooked the turkeys, stripped the meat, added veggies and seasoning and Voila! Turkey Soup Surprise. After eating our fill, we armed ourselves with ladles and started touring the neighborhood.

We dubbed ourselves The Soup Ladies.

I regret not having a picture of this moment, but the memory is still just as strong today. We knocked on doors, shouted into courtyards, and just generally offered what we had to anyone who was hungry.

Oh. That. Hunger.

We were all hungry most of each day. One meal a day, with a handful of granola or cereal randomly throughout the day. And here was this hot meal, arriving so unexpectedly.

We got hugs. A young hipster broke down and cried. One guy made us some very strong cocktails - we chose not to ask him where he got the ice, or how he was keeping it frozen. Somethings, you just don't need to know.

And then the soup was gone. Mission Accomplished. Drunky McStagger should be so lucky.

We did not walk through water to feed anyone. The French Quarter did not flood. You may have seen some idiots wading through waist-deep water, claiming they were on Bourbon Street - having just seen an alligator/shark/piranha just swim by. My favorite was the young lady (I chose another phrase at first, but it wasn't very nice) who was in a kayak, dramatically reporting on this and that, when a man walked across directly behind her. Through a couple inches of water. Yeesh.

No flooding there. Yes, we did see the water in other neighborhoods. We probably saw too much before we finally left.

Only one friend asked (because she had to) if I'd seen any bodies.


We were spared. I will always be grateful for that.

Here it is, 20 months later - and so much is still untold, still misunderstood. Still so vastly misrepresented. We know that rest of the world will never hear all the stories or understand everything that happened or comprehend why some of us stayed when we could have gotten out.

We don't expect that - and at times, I think it would diminish what we've come through if the whole world did understand.

Mostly these day, we just want to get on with life.

Not life as it was. That's gone.

Life as it is. Life.

We just want to live. In our city. In our ways. With our friends and neighbors and folks who aren't quite strangers anymore.

And so we live.

I apologize if anyone thought the photo from yesterday's post was of a flooded French Quarter immediately post-Levee Failure. It was actually taken shortly after a heavy rain in June 2006 - one of the very few rains of any amount that we've had since Katrina. (The city is almost 12" behind in rainfall this year already - that translates to burn bans and cancelled fireworks.) That puddle formed because the catch basin and drain had not been properly cleaned out since Katrina - a city responsibility now left to citizens.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A moment in the French Quarter

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Grover Dancing

I've had better weeks.

Work has been rather all-consuming this week. I got an email from BF Thursday afternoon, shortly after learning that I'd be working on Saturday, on top of the 50 hours I'd already put in. He was writing to ask me if I wanted to go to Ogden After Hours. At that point, I was so mind-numbingly exhausted that I couldn't imagine being very good company for an evening out for art and music.

Wait. That was exactly what I needed at that point. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art hosts a weekly series of Louisiana musicians performing in the building's stunning atrium. Free for members (that's us!), with wine and beer available for a modest "donation". Yes, that's exactly what I needed.

The new exhibit of Herman Leonard photographs was extraodinarily moving - pairing his iconic jazz images from the 50's and 60's with contemporary (yet pre-Katrina) photos of New Orleans life. Billie Holiday - Angel with Smoke. A sexy shot of a shirtless Lenny Kravits on one of his many sojourns to our city. Swing dancers at The Palm Court Cafe in 1996, looking as though they'd traveled in time just for that number. So sublime...

But. Oh. I realized I had tears running down my face as I took in one in particular.

Inside an unidentified church here in Louisiana, a Creole Mass is taking place. A woman is jubilantly dancing down the aisle, all in flowing white with a matching parasol. Joy, absolute pure undiluted unsullied unselfconscious joy. Joy so great there was no way to keep it in, no other way to express it than to dance. Joy.

We headed back to the atrium to hear some standards by James Andrews and his New Orleans All-stars - music I associate more with Mardi Gras, probably because it gets more air time then, but music that moves you - and, better still, makes you move. Now, we were looking down into the atrium from the second floor landing, listening and people watching. And then I spotted him. I'd never seen this man before, but he was having fun.


That doesn't do it justice. He was having Joy.

He was dancing, all within a space respectful of other folks around him - and careful not to spill his beer. Loose limbed, head grooving (and not in the Billy Crystal from When Harry Met Sally way) - he was so in his body, to borrow from SMID's Blog Exchange post earlier this week. Instead of crying this time, I started giggling. BF asked what was so funny - I pointed down below and said the fateful words...

"Grover Dancing!"

That was it. Peals of laughter melted the week and the worries away and all I wanted to do was find my Grover Dancing place too. I wanted that joy.

No. I crave that Joy.

I think we all do, and sometimes we have to be reminded that it's out there for us when we're ready.

When we're ready to be like Grover.

And Dance.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Well, I've Never!!

A few years ago (before BF), I had the misfortune of briefly dating a man who, it turned out, was absolutely nuts. Certifiable. I think it was on the third date - after a long and far-ranging discussion of like and dislikes, hobbies and talents, pet peeves and predelictions - that he exclaimed (and I am not joking here), "You're a freaking theatre fag!"

Why, yes...yes, I am.

It wasn't that he'd said it at all, it was how...some great condemnation of things I hold near and dear to my heart. Admittedly, I can recite Sondheim lyrics until I'm blue in the face, I did see A Chorus Line twice in the six months before it closed on Broadway, and I have always been a firm believer that it's a crime to have to use a body mike for a musical - if you can't sell it to the cheap seats, you don't have any right to be on the stage in the first place. (Courtesy of the Ethel Merman School of Belting 'Em Out)

All that aside, I thought about what he'd said for a long time, and weeks later (long after we'd stopped dating), it occurred to me that with so many stereotypes of gay men out there, I could live with being known as a theatre fag - even a freaking theatre fag - and that there were so many things I could have said in my own defense...if only I'd thought of them quickly enough.

So here goes...As I picture the moment now, I hear him say it, and I reply, "Well, I've never!"

I may be a freaking theatre fag, but...

I've never been to a Cher concert (or Madonna, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Barry Manilow, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Patti LaBelle...)

I've never watched the movie Gladiator, even just for the spectacle of seeing Russell Crowe sweat...a lot...

I've never gone to a nude beach...even just to watch...a lot...

I've never been to Fire Island, San Francisco, or Key West...

I've never been to Gay Day at Disney World...hell, I've never been to Disney World at all!

I've never named a pet after Erica Kane...or any other Soap Opera character...

I've never married/slept with one of my fag hags...

I've never asked one of my fag hags to bear a child for me - nor have I been asked by one of my lesbian friends to donate sperm...

I've never subscribed to Advocate, International Male, Southern Living, Marth Stewart Living, GQ, Mens Fitness...

I've never been a member of any fan club for any celebrity, even when I was a teen..

I've never thought so much of my gayness and natural fabulocity as to offer to actually cut a friend's hair...or an enemy's hair, for that matter...

I've never been on a gay cruise...or a straight one either...

I've never watched Gone With The Wind for start to finish...

I've never had a facial or a manicure or a pedicure...that I didn't give to myself...

I've never blamed my homosexuality on my parents' divorce...or my pastor or my gym teacher or camp counselor...although prolonged early exposure to images of Patrick Duffy in that skimpy little swimsuit as The Man from Atlantis may have helped push me over the edge...just a little...

I've never bought/used Rogaine...yet...(a bit too late for that, eh?)

I've never had any body part waxed...yet...

I've never been disowned by a family member...yet...

I've never had a gym membership...(you were expecting a yet here too?)

I've never seen either of the Queer as Folk series...

I've never owned anything by Gucci, Versace, Armani, Hugo Boss...(If I can't find it at The Gap Mothership, then I probably don't need/can't budget it!)

I've never dressed up as any incarnation of Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Patsy Kline, Dolly Parton, Bette Midler...

There's so much out there in the media today (pun intended) that makes up the American collected knowledge base of All Things Clearly Gay - that's just not me.

Well, not all of me, anyway.

I am curious. What is it for you, dear readers, that sets off your Gaydar?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Blog Exchange!

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

“Whatever. I don’t know.”

“No seriously, what do you want?”

I pause for a second in my toddler meal preparation and think. Last year I had a long list of things I wanted, but now I can’t come up with anything.

“Let me think about it, I’m sure I’ll come up with something.” I give M a quick kiss and turn back to my frozen vegetables.

Over the next few days my mind drifts to the question at hand and then drifts away again. I keep coming up empty. What do moms want for Mother’s Day? I poll one of my many online message boards and I laugh at the responses. Moms? For Mother’s Day? They want time, and lots of it. They want solitude. They want peace and quiet. Basically, these moms want a break from their routine. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t help me. I’m teaching Sunday School in the morning and going to a family brunch right after. I’ll be lucky if I get a half hour nap let alone a day on my own, so it’s back to the drawing board.

Suddenly it comes to me. I know what I want for Mother’s Day. I want to celebrate what I love most about being a mother. I want to spend some quality time alone with my husband and my daughter. We spend all of our days running around, going from one important appointment to another. The time we spend together is always punctuated by yet another task to accomplish or another errand to run. In three short months our little family will be forever changed and before that happens I want to stop and take a moment to really enjoy our little trio.

“M?” I ask calling him at work. “I know what I want for Mother’s Day.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” I hear the relief in his voice. He thinks I’m going to ask for something easy to pick up at a local store.

“I want to go to San Diego with you and C for a long weekend early in June. I want to play at the beach with C. I want to go to the zoo.”


“I need to spend some quality time with just you and C before the baby comes. That’s what I want for Mother’s Day.”

“I see.”

I hear the cogs whirring in M’s head. It’s not that he doesn’t want to spend time alone with us; it’s that he’s petrified of the flight. I know I’m asking a lot, but it’s what I really want, and I’m pretty sure M will agree in the end. He knows that I work hard to keep our lives running smoothly. He knows I deserve this. But I’m sure he still wishes I had asked for a day at the spa.

May all of the Mothers in the world have the day of their dreams, and the gifts they most desire!

This was a guest post written by Rose at It’s My Life... in honor of this month’s blog exchange.

When I’m not busy working, cooking, or running after my toddler, C, I’m usually hiding in the bathroom thinking up my next blog post or trying to read a chapter or two of the book I’m currently reading. When I do come up with something witty to write about, you can read it here (though I have to apologize, the baby within seems to have swallowed most of the wit these days…) where your usual blogger extraordinaire is blogging today.

Go on over and read his post and don’t forget to check out all the other
blog exchange posts this month!

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