Friday, December 24, 2010

Quod Non Necat Fortior Facit

I feel awful that I don't blog more frequently. I get these great ideas on things I should write about when I'm in the car, in the shower, sitting at the airport, etc. but I can't quite ever sit down and put pen to paper (err fingers to keyboard, I mean). My friend Katrina operates at least two blogs (that I know of) and between being a wife, work, and having a toddler running around, she still manages to find the time....No excuse, Chappy! So, looking back at my last AUGUST, I realized it was about time to at least update this thing.

First things first: Mom, don't take offense to that last post. None of us would be honest with ourselves if we didn't at least acknowledge that there was some form of dysfunction in each of our upbringings (you included). August was one of those moments when I just happened to feel the pang of a maladjusted situation on an acute level. You should know me well enough by now to know that I'm nothing if not passionate about nearly everything in my life-some see such passion and excitability as exhausting; Its all I know, and for better or worse, its who I am. I love you.

Moving on...As I wrote a couple months ago, the inevitable has now happened: I got the promotion and will be on my way back to Atlanta 1 week from today. Becuase I've known about the likelihood of having to move since April, I've had a bit of time to adjust to the notion. Unfortunately, though, while time may heal all wounds, the pain and reality of having to leave New Orleans is still very much just beneath the surface of my stressed-out exterior. I very much love my job and my client, though, and the ability to finally move my career forward made the decision a no-brainer. So, it is with tears streaming down my cheeks and a heavy heart that I now pack up my belongings (something I SHOULD be doing now instead of blogging....).

I always knew I'd live here one day. When I was a kid, I had to do a report on a state and its capital and I chose Louisiana and Baton Rouge. I was a visionary even as a wee child! Now that I am faced w/the impending move, I've had a long time to contemplate the reasons why I love this city and state so much and I've come up with quite a comprehensive list. Here goes: The warm hospitality of the people; The delectable-ness of the cuisine; The sweeping understanding that booze and entertainment on every level is something to be taxed-the-hell out of rather than banned; The beautiful architecture that rises from nearly every corner of the Uptown and CBD; The lively, dulcet tones coming from the bands pouring into the streets from the bars and clubs; The weather and soft ocean breezes that roll in when a front is passing through; The feeling that I'm surrounded by history when I walk into the shops and down the streets; Its a sportsman's paradise!; The timeless, unchanging culture and philosophies of the inhabitants who's families have lived here for generations upon generations.

Now, the above is by no means an exhaustive list. It merely represents some of the quasi-tangible things I love about my city. The biggest revelation I had concerning my attachment was made in October when Jennifer came to visit. Jenny is one of the best people I know and I am so lucky to have her in my world. She is the kind of person that simply will not let me hide from myself, which, in all honesty, makes me a bit anxious. Such inability to hide makes me a better person, though. She's always there to listen and comfort, but she will most definitely call me out if I'm being an idiot- - -I love her for everything she is.

In our multiple conversations, Jennifer helped me to realize that New Orleans represented a new birth for me, an entirely new life separated from everything I'd ever known. Most people experience the newness of living on their own in their 20's. In my twenties, I was married and there was absolutely no separation or even a small amount of breathing room until we broke up for good in April 2008. In New Orleans, I had to learn how to be completely self sufficient, balance a check book, open my own jars (which I still can't do), make small repairs to household things (I still have a difficult time changing light bulbs), feed/clothe/shelter myself, and just in general grow up. I became the person that I am today because of New Orleans and for that, I will forever be grateful.

Rather than go on ad nauseum, I'll stop here. The epiphany has been had and its now time to begin a new chapter in my life. I'm a firm believer of no door ever closing w/out another one opening, and I have faith that I am where I am meant to be at every moment in my day. I came to New Orleans for a reason and it is with another reason (the overall deep understanding of which has yet to be realized) that I return to Atlanta. I am very excited about my new position and am eager to dive in and start becoming even more stressed out trying to learn a new role! My new condo in Atlanta is beautiful and very close to the office. Aside from not having a view or covered parking, it has everything I need. I've made a conscientious effort to secure as much "New Orleans" stuff as I can to decorate the new place, so visitors be warned: there will be LOTS of fleur de lis! If you don't like it, you can leave.

In conclusion, a friend of mine here in New Orleans had some very wise, but simple, comforting words to help sustain me: "Don't cry or fret about having to leave. New Orleans isn't going ANYWHERE. If Katrina and BP couldn't take us out, we'll still be standing when you're ready to move back. "

Ce qui ne te tue pas, te rend plus fort
(What doesn't kill you makes you stronger)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A concept EVERYONE should keep in mind...

I saw this post on Facebook and it stood out:

"Sanity in family life is one of a child's most earnest needs
if healthy development is to be possible. In this context it means adults who,
for the most part, say what they mean and mean what they say."

The last thing I ever wanted this blog to be about was a doorway into my emotional psyche. I'm already stuck inside my own head and no one else deserves to be stuck in here with me. With that in mind, I will hold my tongue and keep from spilling out the diatribe that I really would like to commit to paper. I will, however, note that "sanity in family life" is not a concept I am familiar with. Not because those around me didn't say what they meant or mean what they said, but rather because when you're surrounded by emotionally unstable, volatile individuals, SANITY is often hard to come by.

The biggest lesson I have managed to learn growing up is that there comes a point in everyone's life where you have to STOP blaming your parents for screwing you up. They did what they did, when they did it, and whether or not their intentions were good or bad, makes no difference; once you're an adult, your decisions are your own. You can allow the ghosts of your past to continue to haunt you, or you can close the door and MOVE ON. I chose long ago to move on. I don't harbor any ill-will toward any of my parents (and I use the word "any" because if you know anything about my family life, you realize that I have a "biological set" and an "adopted/step" set). My life is what I make of it and although the experiences of my rearing have definitely shaped who I am today, I have the responsibility, no no, I have the OBLIGATION, not allow those experiences to continue shaping who I am in the future.

Children, on the other hand, don't yet have the presence of mind to determine ahead of time when their loved ones are screwing them up. They are constantly influenced by those around them and are acutely aware of things grown-ups naively believe go unnoticed. We have a duty to protect their innocence and raise them in a SANE environment. As an adult, YOU DO NOT have the right to make those around you miserable, particularly a child (and I'm not talking about discipline). If you're miserable and unhappy, deal with it yourself and don't take it out on those around you. If there is a problem/issue in your household, address the issue head on, seek out the TRUE cause of that issue, and come up with a solution. Children are children-they're messy and noisy and expensive-and although I do not have any of my own, I firmly believe they are a gift from our creator and are worth every bit of stress, every gray hair, and every penniless pocket book. Unless your kid is like Damian w/666 tattooed on his scalp, chances are that they are not the root cause of your problems-you are. Deal with it and get over yourself.

Family/friends, if any of the above makes you angry, deal with it and get over yourself. If you want to know what I REALLY think, ask me and I'll be more than happy to tell you to your face.

Good night.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Long Hiatus

It's been long enough since my last post that I probably am long overdue for an explanation. I had typed out a lengthy story and saved it as a draft, but after re-reading the draft, the realization occurred to me that it contained just a little too much information that my friends and family DON'T need to know about me. So, I shall spare you all the details, after all, only my sister and closest confidant knows the whole truth and only the truth. Suffice it to say that I met a guy, things became very close, very fast, and now said guy and I are no longer together. Like everything I do, I gave 100% of myself over to the experience. The relationship lasted just shy of a month and I learned more than I thought I ever needed to know from him. That said, if I ever see that rat-bastard again, he better have my money or I'ma bust him in the kneecaps. Don't show your face 'round New Orleans, Evan. Just sayin.

In between that time and now, my social life has been relatively stagnant, which is strange for me. March had St Patrick's Day, which was a nice, welcomed celebration after the departure of Evan. After the parades, I danced the night away at the bar across the street from the apartment w/NOFD's finest and my neighbor Al, and I drank so much I woke up dizzy the next day; I STILL managed to make it to work!

April had me in Atlanta on business for a week-that's when my world changed. While I kinda knew it was coming, the news still managed to blindside me. My client told me that in order for me to eventually accept the promotion that I'd been being groomed for for the last year, I would HAVE to move back to Atlanta, she needed me nearby. I never really knew how much New Orleans meant to me until someone told me I'd have to leave, and I quite literally cried myself to sleep the night after my meeting. On paper, the decision is easy to make: more money, better status w/in the company, and (finally) a change from what I've been doing for the last 10+ years-no more "glass ceiling". The reality of such a decision is much more complicated, though.

Leaving New Orleans means leaving a part of Independent Jackie behind (if you're familiar w/Seinfeld, you'll understand the reference). It means no more community feeling where I can walk to everything beneath the shade of 200+ year old oak trees. It means no more street cars and 24hr washeterias where you can drink and play pool while your clothes play in the spin cycle. It means no more falling asleep to the sounds of the barges passing in the night as they traverse the Mississippi. It means no more bridges illuminated w/thousands of lights and the city as its backdrop, or sitting on my balcony listening to the cicadas amidst the warm, salty breeze coming off the ocean and marshes. It means no more fairs or festivals where everyone is happy to see you, you can ALWAYS find gator on a stick, and the biggest problem anyone has is to figure out if they should stop dancing or try and make it through another song before locating a port-o-let. And I won't even get started on the cuisine to which I have become so accustomed it's like I've lived nowhere else.

Returning to Atlanta means returning to all the drama and nonsense and pain I left behind that was the impetus of my leaving in the first place. It means returning to working 10-12 hour days and battling endless hours of traffic just to go and get something to eat. It means having to live amidst smog and stagnant air that only catches a breeze if a front is coming through. It means water restrictions and pollen counts long after spring has sprung. Returning to Atlanta means I have to be a different kind of Jackie in a different city with a different culture.

As you can see, I have struggled w/the decision a great deal. I tried to figure out if the reason why I was so upset at the prospect of having to move was just that I didn't want to leave New Orleans or if it was that I didn't want to return to Atlanta-they're two VERY different concepts. After a tremendous amount of contemplation, I've decided that its really both. I don't want to leave NOLA, but I'm also not jumping at the thought of returning to Atlanta. If my client had told me that I could have the job, but that I'd have to move to Chicago (for argument's sake), I still would have been upset, but probably not quite so distraught.

Now, obviously, we all know I'm going BACK to Atlanta. The facts remains that I no longer have a husband; I don't have any children; I have my cat and my career and that's easily transportable from one locale to another. If all of this sounds sad and depressing to you, it really isn't my intention. Happiness is what you make of it and I know I can find a way to be happy in Atlanta. After all, returning to Atlanta also means returning to family and friends and familiar, beautiful places, skylines that can be replicated nowhere else, and breathtaking changes of season. Most of life is in the little, simple moments, we just need to be observant enough to take notice. The ETA of my relocation is still up in the air; my company has not actually given me the job yet. We still have a lot of red tape to go through, but I'll keep you posted.

The rest of my life has been punctuated by the above. Amy came to visit in May, and as usual, we had a blast, but I kept wondering if this was going to be the last time we'd be able to hang out w/me as an actual resident, w/a physical home in my beloved city.

Becky and Brianna came to visit for Memorial Day at the end of May/beginning of June. I love when they come to visit and I cry every single time they leave. It will definitely be nice to be closer to them and be able to see my two favorite girls every week.

July brought the 4th and Brianna's first camping trip, albeit to an oil-stained Gulf Coast. The journey took me 8+ hours when it should have only taken 3 at most. I also managed to get myself into TWO separate car accidents on the way to Pensacola. That's what happens when I have to sit in traffic for so long when I've become UN-used to it! Look out Metro Atlanta motorists; Chappy is heading back to the city!!! Our holiday was definitely an experience! After the first night, when we slept through storms and wind, Brianna woke up and said "Mommy, I'm not a fan of sleeping in tents!". That kid cracks me up. We had a tremendous time, but I was EXHAUSTED when I got back.

And now we're in August. I have to be back in Atlanta for work the 23-27. I've tried to line up a couple of condo showings when I'm in town, but until my company actually gives me the job, I'm not moving. I've worked in Corporate America long enough to know that nothing is said and done until its signed, sealed, and delivered. Until then, I guess I'll need to keeping pickin 'em up and puttin 'em down waiting for someone to make a decision and pull the trigger. I do, however, need to get out of this mental funk that is keeping me from enjoying my last couple of months here as a resident. Depression is a bitch and I didn't really realize I was kinda feeling that way until I just wrote it down...... Eh...where's the bourbon?

Monday, March 1, 2010

I should know better by now

I'll have to explain in a later post, but right now, I need a cathartic release and this is the only form of cleansing my brain and heart can tolerate....too much booze 'ill get cha in trouble.

Because I will never be quite as eloquent as I'd like, I had to channel Cowboy Mouth and Shawn Mullins (a FAB artist from ATL, if you're not familiar) to bring about the catharsis:

Cowboy Mouth....
If I put my faith in someone who was only trying to bring me down
I will stand, where I am standing now
Should've known there'd be danger
When I saw your face in the crowd
I used to believe in the love songs
Took me so long to back down
Every word you say takes my breath away
But I should know better by now

Shawn Mullins...
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve given up on you
Well all the plans that you had
Like all the promises you make
I watched them come and go
When you go too far,
Beautiful wreck you are
What a beautiful, such a beautiful
A beautiful wreck you are
What a beautiful, such a beautiful wreck

Bacchus Ball 2010

With Mardi Gras comes the Bacchus Ball. And ya'll know me-any chance to put on a fancy gown, some faux jewelry, get my hair did, and go out and party, I'm there.

I hadn't gotten a chance to upload the photos from the ball to the blog just yet-they've been on Facebook for a bit....sorry family! Although some of the newness had worn off, I had a great time. Matthew's family was as wonderful as the first time I met them-always hospitable and warm. Thank you guys for the tickets-hopefully I'll have a date next year!

Drew Brees, King Bacchus 2010, was so adorable and this was the first time in the history of Bacchus that a woman (Drew's wife) was allowed to ride on a float. The opening band was great (forgive me, but I'm totally blanking on who they were) and the place was PACKED! It took FOREVER to get all the floats through the convention center, and I was actually tired by the time it was all said and done-it's hell gettin' old!

Here ya go:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!!

It's that time of year again....I know the folks who've lived here their whole lives are totally over the whole "Mardi Gras" thing, but I LOVE it! The parades, the merriment, the balls-bring it on!

Becky and Brianna came down for some of the festivities. Fat Tuesday itself is not until February 16, 2010, but since they'd never been down here for any part of the Carnivale Season, I thought it would be good to ease 'em into the whole experience. After all, dropping them in the middle of St Charles Avenue on Tuesday might have been more than they could handle, and Bourbon Street is DEFINITELY not some place I couldn't take my 3yr old niece-ESPECIALLY on Mardi Gras.

Bearing the above in mind, when my two favorite girls were here visiting, off parading we went. It was BRUTALLY cold and windy here (which lead to me taking sick after Beck and Bri left), but I think everyone had a great time. I always miss Becky and Brianna when they leave-more than words could ever express.

Here are some of the pics. Brianna has struck up a friendship w/Lanie Murray (the daughter of one of my friends) and she's the other little girl you'll see in some of the pics. The Bacchus Ball is tomorrow. Got my gown all lined up and ready to go! Those pics will be forthcoming....HAPPY MARDI GRAS!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Believe

Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you know that the Saints recently won the Super Bowl. Its nearly impossible NOT to become enveloped by the love this city has for its team and it's even more difficult to articulate exactly how much joy has been ringing through the parishes for days upon days. The pride of all who live here is infectious, and I'm so happy to have been a part of witnessing history. I will remember this Super Bowl and the emotions I felt, as well as the emotions felt by all around me, for the rest of my life. What an incredible day!

The more and more I pontificate on my decision to relocate, the more and more I stand convinced the move was the best decision I've made for my life. In trying to find a song to correspond to the happiness I feel, "I Believe" by Cowboy Mouth immediately came to mind. I've always been a huge fan of the band, founded here in the great city of New Orleans, and if I ever meet Fred LeBlanc on the streets, with his remarkably deep voice and high energy, I may very well swoon. Let's just hope I'm standing near a patch of grass when that happens....

I couldn't locate the song to upload it to the playlist that plays w/my blog, so the lyrics below will have to do along w/a link to the band playing the song live. The song is so filled with hope and faith that the lyrics have moved me to point where I am w/out speech. I'm with ya, Fred; I believe in the power of love and that New Orleans is always gonna be my home...

I Believe

Cowboy Mouth

Whatcha gonna do with the restlessness inside you worried mind

How you think you're ever gonna get ahead when you feel so far behind

Step inside this endless moment for a subtle touch of grace

I've always found my strength inside the act of faith

I believe in the spirit of Rock N Roll

In the eternal strength of the immortal soul

Cause sometimes everybody's gotta let it go

I believe in the power of love

I believe in the sounds of Sam and Dave

That little children should occasionally misbehave

That all that you get is all that you gave

I believe in the power of love

Little boy staring out a windowsill to a world that doesn't care

Everybody 'round is so much bigger that they don't even know he's there

But one day he's going to grow to be a man and maybe then they'll see

He'll provide the hope and care for the family

I believe in the chance of love at fist site

That your life doesn't always have to be a fight

And if you do it at all you ought to do it right

I believe in the power of love

I believe that sometimes you got to take a stand

That you're holding my heart when you're holding my hand

Cause everything eventually is in gods hands

I believe in the power of love

I have got to take the best of me and keep that heart alive

Why'd I ever want to shut that down and kill my soul?

I believe that sometimes you've got to take a chance

That you can't live your life just listening to can't's

Cause the thrill of the ball's part of the thrill of the dance

I believe in the power of love

I believe that we never really are alone

'Cause there's so much more than anything we've known

New Orleans is always gonna be my home

I believe in the power of love

I believe in the spirit of Rock N Roll

In the eternal strength of the immortal soul

Cause sometimes everybody's gotta let it go

I believe in the power of love

I believe in the power of love