The Blues Hotel

February 25, 2012

As the James Taylor song goes,

Maybe you lost your job
Maybe you lost your girl
Maybe you feel like you’re losing your mind
That’s not the end of the world

Everybody gets to feel some pain
Everyone got to get caught out in the rain
Everybody got some days that they can’t explain 

Everybody Has the Blues

 

The plain truth is, sadness is hatched in every human being at some point in their life for no family is flawless, no human being perfect and no lifetime untouched by darkness.  The sadness I refer to is one that never completely dissipates and it is usually born during the innocent years. It is frequently a byproduct of the loss of someone deeply loved, or the betrayal of someone deeply trusted, or the unexpected dysfunction of a situation so close to being perfect.  Sometimes it comes to life in the throngs of grief when a sister has died too young and there exists confusion over what heaven really is.  Sometimes it introduces itself when a parent, for the first time, becomes someone impossible to respect.  Sometimes it sneaks into the room when a loving uncle becomes too affectionate in all the wrong ways.  For some, it is the spawn of a backhanded smack across the face or the sudden unexplained absence of a pet loved through and through.  Or worse yet, occasionally it sprouts from an ugly act of selfishness, dishonesty or violence for which we personally are the culprit.  Some things simply cannot be undone and they plant dark seeds within us that never completely depart.  The sadness and secrecy at first become something to deal with, then something to live with, then at some point, something to bury. Most adults bury it well, without the trace of a tombstone for others to detect, for if others could spot the sadness in each of us, then they would know that we have fault lines.  They would know that we are somewhat damaged goods and that we have ugly scars which may have healed, but still left traces of their original trauma.

And just when we think that we will never say hello to those hurts again, the foreboding knot in our stomach pays us an unexpected visit.  The catalyst may be as benign as the aroma of bourbon at a Christmas party, or the first three notes of a song on the radio, or a blast of cold wind that ushers in the fragrance of a blazing bonfire.  It may be the melodic solo at a funeral of someone we barely knew.  Just when we are confident that those old memories have been exiled for good, our senses betray us and we are transported back to that place, that time and that sensation where they all began.   For some of us, the tears invited by a sappy movie can in an instant become tears for a different reason, a distant season or a person long forgotten.  For each of us, sooner or later, the sadness will pay an unannounced visit.  However, as long as we know that it may come back but will eventually leave again to hibernate, we can let it stay for a day. As long as we are aware that it may sneak into a room on tip toe, or it may slam through the heart like an unseen freight train, we can cope with it.  As long as we give it a nod, look it straight in the eye but make a promise to our self not to stare, it will for the most part stay in its own room, right where the blues belong.

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Happy Mardi Gras everyone!  If you live in south Louisiana, the next couple of days will elicit memories of carnival seasons past.   Stacks of King Cakes are accessorizing every check-out counter in town, schools and businesses are shutting down for the duration, and streets are being sealed off as though a hurricane was coming.  In a sense, one is.  My earliest memory of Mardi Gras is one of my father, rest his soul,  who finally gave into the non-stop begging and drove me and my best little friend Jo across “the longest bridge in the world!” to New Orleans  for at least a couple of hours of parades, beads and crazy people in costumes.  My parents must have struck a deal with each other at the last minute because, sadly, there was not enough time for me and Jo to plan proper costumes.  My mother, however, cut us loose with her collection of lipsticks so that we could suit up with war paint all over our faces.  We did so with giddy delight and before we knew it we were over water.   Once we finally parked the station wagon and headed to the parade route, reality and a nipping fear began to set in.  The noise was deafening to my young ears and the people were, well, they were a little off balance and just a touch ill mannered.  Still, atmosphere did not deter us to the point of crying or wanting to leave.  It was just a little unsettling.  Jo and I were expecting to see giant headdresses of feathers and gargantuan jesters strolling through the streets to the gentle undertones of the Mardi Gras song we learned at school.  “If ever I cease to Love, If ever I cease to love…….” Where was the moon of green cream cheese?  We wanted to see it, so we held hands as we walked and kept hoping.  Memory does not offer me a realistic account of how long we stayed or even which parade we attended.  I know we didn’t stay very long, but it was long enough for my father to claim follow through and we did catch a few doubloons and strands of beads.  Still, it was all just a tad unsettling.  Not like today.  Today Mardi Gras is a clear picture of women flaunting their bare breasts to hordes of tourists, and gentlemen pillars of New Orleans society sporting masks, ballet tights, wigs and crowns.  Nothing unsettling about that.  Not at all.  If dressing up CEOs like King Vitaman and having them toss cups and beads to a passing crowd hungry for plastic just once a year is what it takes to make a party, so be it.   Nothing odd about that.    So have a drink, or several drinks.  Then it will all seem perfectly normal no matter what planet you are from.  Dance in the streets and hope you can find a bathroom.   Strip naked and wear a wheelbarrow on your head.  Nobody will bat an eye.  Put on your war paint and paint the town red or, better yet, paint it purple, green and gold.  Just have a great time, for it is Carnival Time!

Lover Boy

February 14, 2012

There is a very small female dog in my house and she is in…uh…season.  Her name is Elly and she belongs to our neighbors, but, my husband and I have liberal visitation rights.  So for the next few days, she will be in residence with us.  Because of her fertility situation, there has been a big yellow stray dog outside my house for days.  He apparently has been courting Elly.  He has no collar, no name and no manners.  Yesterday I went out for a while and left Elly safely in the fenced yard so that she could enjoy the pretty weather.  Big mistake.  When I returned home, large yellow Hobodog was IN the yard terrorizing Elly, who measures up to approximately the height of his wrists.  Needless to say,  Stalkerboy, possibly a blend of Labrador Retriever and Pit Bull, was anxious, frustrated and fairly determined to succeed in his endeavors.  Within minutes, Elly, Yellowdog and I were all exhausted from the struggle to catch each other for different reasons, so I made the decision to simply crate Little Girl inside the house until YD gave up and left.  Also, I needed to figure out exactly how he snuck into the yard, for as I said it is completely fenced in.  So I walked the fence the entire perimeter of the yard searching for holes, trenches, open gates, etc.  None could be found so I simply assumed the Beast had followed me or my husband into the yard unnoticed as we opened the gate and drove in.   I decided to put the Big Boy out again and observe him, knowing full well that he would want to re-enter the scene of the par-tay.   I put him outside the gate and watched him spring into action.  The Demon ran around my fenced yard and into the yard of my neighbor where he effortlessly sailed over the fence between her yard and mine into a small enclosed area where we keep fire wood.  He then shimmied under the swing gate and back into Elly territory.  This took him all of about twenty seconds.  Ah-ha!  The old “jump the fence and shimmy under the gate routine.”  I’ll show him!  So I stacked a pile of firewood in front of the opening where he did the shimmy and once again, exiled him to outside the yard.  This time he made the same mad dash around our fenced property line to my neighbor’s yard but he didn’t bother to jump the fence by the wood pile.  Instead, he ran a little further along down to the six foot storm fence and then scaled it like a well trained, purple hearted Navy Seal entering Osama Bin Laden’s compound.  And he was beating his own time!  Fifteen seconds, tops.  Baffled at what to do next, I called my husband for back up, but, oh right….he was out of town.  He did however remind me that he had seen this animal before (if memory served him well), tied up in the yard of a house not too far away.  I resolved myself to take this poor lost puppy home to his mommy.  I opened the back of my handy little Subaru SUV and in the blink of an eye Diablo was inside, panting, drooling, breathing fire.  So as fast as I could, I drove the Precious Thing home and pulled up in front of the house.  I knocked and honked.  No answer. There was a horse in a stable though, so I know that folks still live there.  I opened the hatch and ushered Sweetie out of the back and told him to stay in the yard and be good.  I very slowly and quietly got back into my car and gunned the accelerator, flying back to my useless fence.  Feeling jubilant with success and laughing like the Wicked Witch of the West, I then caught a glimpse of a yellow flash in my rearview.  No!  It can’t be!  I was driving fifty MPH and the Beast was right behind me.  No matter how fast I went he was right there on my heels like a scene out of a bad dream.  As we both re-entered my driveway, Elly ran to greet us and before I could scoop her up, he was on her.  I fought him for her, won and ran inside with her, listening to him scratch up my hundred year old solid cypress kitchen door with the gusto of Jackson Pollack working on a canvas.   At my rope’s end, I called Animal Control who agreed to come pick him up “some time” today.  As I was pondering the long hours ahead I could hear the rhythmic percussion of the dog talons working on my door.  “Uh, no I will just bring him to you…now.”  So once again, we went through the boarding call routine.  Before I could say “Group A,” he was in, bathing my nice leather seats with drool.  I drove one block and like lightening, He had completely cleared the back seat and was in the seat beside me.  In another second his paws were on my head and he was…you got it…having his way with my elbow, then my shoulder, then my bicep.  This dog was on a mission and apparently Eau de Elly was still clinging to me and my clothes.  The dog was out of his mind for me.  I drove the back roads as slowly as possible, terrified, yet hopeful that I would have a wreck…which would actually be a relief. Finally I had no choice but to drive down a main drag.  Other drivers looked at me in disgust.  Me, the perverted middle aged woman who gets her jollies with dogs.  Ahhhhh!  I was getting scratched and bruised but…. Eureka!….. I could see the sign for Mecca straight ahead.  Slowly I pulled into the drive and opened my door to get out.  Romeo came with me, this time up on hind legs, front legs wrapped around my waist.   I dragged him along with me into the building where I was immediately chastised for “bringing” the dog into the lobby.  “What?”  I shouted, “He is bringing ME!  Can someone help please???” I was told to wait outside and “don’t let the dog get away.”  Ha! Get away?? I wish.  So Tiger Woods and I waited outside on the sidewalk, me just standing there and him…doing his thing.  Finally a nice man came out of the building and gingerly removed the dog from my hip.  The animal cooperated completely as the man ushered him away to a kennel. Exhausted, I re-entered the lobby to leave pertinent information.  Then I left.  My car is shredded, my sweater is torn, my lungs are clogged with dog hair and my attitude is poor to extremely poor.  And, oh yes, did I mention that my husband is out of town???  Strangely, even after all this, I feel badly for Yellow Dog. It isn’t his fault that his owners did not take proper care of him.  I hope that maybe, just maybe, someone will adopt him, train him, neuter him and bath him, but chances are it probably won’t be me.

Loving Sam

February 8, 2012

 

Every morning I have coffee with two men, three if you count my dog, Bubba. The other two are my husband Tom and Sam Champion, the most adorable weatherman in the world!  Sam greets me every morning from the set of Good Morning America in a fabulous suit, with perfect hair and a movie star grin.  Sam laughs when he chats with Robin and the other anchors.  Sam is a cut up. He sometimes pokes fun at himself but if he needs to be serious about the weather, he can do that too.  In my fantasy world with Sam, this is how our special day together goes.

Sam sends me a text as soon as he is off the air and it says, “Picking you up for lunch at noon Sweetie.  Be ready for a surprise!”  Sounds good to me.  My husband will be out all day running errands for me anyway. You know-grocery, vet, dry cleaners, etc.-so I am foot loose and fancy free. I quickly straighten up my groovy Manhattan town house just in time for the doorman to announce Sam’s arrival.   At noon sharp he is standing at my door with a big bouquet of fragrant white lilies in one hand, a huge bag from Bergdorf Goodman in the other, a bottle of bubbly under his arm and, of course, he is wearing that toothy dazzling smile.  “Hello Gorgeous!” Sam declares. “I picked a little something up for you,” he practically sings.  I grab the bag, the flowers and Sam for a big hug.  Oh, you are so sweet!” I proclaim as if I was just awarded door number three.  “Go put it on, put it on!  I cannot wait to see it on you.  I thought of you when I saw it!” Sam begs.  I plop the lilies in a vase, rush the bag to my bedroom and pull out the contents.  Inside is the most beautifully constructed slate grey Armani suit I have ever seen.  It has a feminine cross front jacket and the fabric feels like a marriage of flower petals and cashmere.  The stitching alone is artwork. Well… I put it on and it fits perfectly!  Even the legs and sleeves are the right length, which never happens.  And to top it off, hiding in the bottom of the bag are a pair of Jimmy Choo sling back peep toe pumps in the exact same shade of charcoal as the suit, but they have a teeny little silver/grey bow on the side of the strap.  Very subtle and tasteful. Perfect.  OMG.  I practically sprint back to the living room where Sam has already poured us each a glass of the Veuve  Clicquot.   “Oh, my god! You look so gorgeous!  It is perfect on you!  I couldn’t remember if your inseam was 27 or 29 so I was a little nervous, but it is perfecto on you My Beauty!”  He presents me with a glass of the champagne and ushers me to the door as he places in my free hand the most buttery black leather clutch in the world, then kisses me on the top of my head.  “There is a tube of Bobbi Brown Old Hollywood inside.  It is the perfect shade for you, Darling .  And now, off to Lutece!”  “But Sam,” I say, “I thought Lutece closed years ago.”  “Well, actually, it did, but I had them reopen it just for today, and just for you.  As we speak they are preparing that sautéed fois gras you love so much.  The one with the dark chocolate sauce?  Hmmm?”   “Oh Sam, you are so thoughtful,” I practically sob.  “Oooooh  no!” he gently commands. “No crying.  Watch the mascara.  You look too perfect to mess it up now.”   So Sam, my Old Hollywood lips and I climb into the back seat of the very discreet Lincoln Town Car which is the same color as my new suit, and we dance around the other traffic on Madison Avenue with the grace and rhythm of Bob Fosse himself.  Shortly, we arrive at Lutece and Sam ushers me in like the Prince Charming that he is.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I told them to feel free about letting just a few other select customers in today.”  I look around and there are a few diners, but not many.  Seated at one table are Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie.  They wave as Meryl raises an eyebrow and gives me a nod of approval on the suit.  “Thanks Meryl,” I humbly reply as I breeze past her.  We stroll past another table. This one is holding up Tennessee Williams and Marlon Brando.  Tennessee is obviously drunk, but not so drunk that he cannot fire a quick zoom on my Jimmy Choos.  Marlon is also drunk and brooding about life and death and everything in between.  Oh, Marlon.  I hope they don’t see me for I do not feel like dealing with them right now. Seated at a lonely table across the room by himself, looking sad and drinking Pernod and water is George Clooney.  Every time I toss a glance at him he is staring at me intensely.  Weird.  Sam and I sit.  We eat.  We drink more champagne.  We call our husbands and tease them because they are not part of this magical day and we eat and drink some more.  Tom says he cannot wait to see my new outfit and that I should stay as long as I want and enjoy myself. Sam howls at everything I say as though it is all so brilliant, so clever, so witty and cool.  We gossip.  Sam unveils to me where Diane gets her hair and other stuff done and how much Robin pays her doggie sitter.  George keeps sending notes to me via the waiter but Sam makes me send them all back because he is so loyal to my husband. And just as the meal is ending, around 4:30, Sam halts the conversation like a trainer heeling a dog just to tell me that even after all these years of friendship, even after two bottles of champagne, even after all the crisis we have been through together over the years, I still look 35.   I love Sam.  He loves me.   He is my best friend in the world.  Life is good.

Clodhopping

February 3, 2012

 

Recently I was the happy guest of a friend at a fundraising luncheon at our local university.  For the ladies in our fair city, this event is quite the place to be and be seen so everyone pulls out the stops regarding wardrobe.  Because this affair is designed for an audience of ladies, we all did what we usually do in the presence of a crowd of  other ladies. We wore our most adorable outfits because the fairer sex takes note of these things.  We notice the worthiness of the dress, the pants, the hair style and of course, the shoes.  Speaking of, have you noticed that shoe styles are becoming more and more masochistic these days?  I was soooo happy to say goodbye to the pointy toed fence climbing creatures of pain that saw me through the last decade.  But wait.  True, the new version of footwear is less painful, but it is also more treacherous for sure.  The heels are about four stories high and there are platforms under the balls of the feet, just to make sure that you don’t get too cocky about walking.  Surely these evil lovebirds are designed in some shady back room, by men who hate women.  They are not an efficient means of transportation from point A to point B. Metaphorically speaking they are the equivalent of sleeping on a bed of nails in order to get a good night’s rest.  Truly, shoes were originally intended to PROTECT the feet, not implode them along with everything north of there.  For any gentleman reading this who has no concept of the platform high heel experience, here is an idea for you.  Strap a brick to the bottom of the ball of your foot.  Now stack two more and strap them to your heel.  Now walk.  Do it sexy like.  Better yet, dance!  Now you get it.  Helpful Hint:  It is possible to maneuver these babies if you sort of march everywhere you go. Think Sousa.  Think drill team.  Get those knees up!  Because you see, this footwear doesn’t bend.  AT ALL . So there we all were on Saturday, drinking champagne and laughing and chatting away. Bidding on auction items we didn’t really want. And the really well dressed gals were marching around the room not even noticing that they were doing it. Even the twenty somethings were hugging the walls just in case.  Even the most long legged, graceful fashionistas in the room were marching just a little bit. Everyone sporting these these seductive clodhoppers were unconsciously and instinctively dodging  a Jerry Lewis comedy routine with each step.  Hup two three four.  Hup…..You get it.  No one can argue that a pair of gams looks fabulous in these cherry pickers, but really, my guess is that these runway land mines are at their best in a seated position, legs crossed.  Or just about any other position other for that matter.  What they are not happy about, is walking.