Category Archives: funny

The Re-Reading Project Guest Post: Sati

I once knew this girl who thought she was God.  She didn’t give sight to the blind or raise the dead.  She didn’t even teach anything, not really, and she never told me anything I probably didn’t already know.  On the other hand, she didn’t expect to be worshiped, nor did she ask for money.  Given her high opinion of herself, some might call that a miracle.  I don’t know, maybe she was God.  Her name was Sati and she had blond hair and blue eyes.

I don’t know what made me pick this book up some 20 years ago.  I never liked Christopher Pike books, as he is chiefly known for writing Young Adult horror books.  Sati is his first adult novel, published in 1990.  I’ve actually read other of his adult novels post Sati and didn’t find them any more interesting than his horror books.  However, Sati really caught me.  I had just read Richard Bach’s Illusions:  Adventures of a reluctant Messiah (1977) and it was, what I call, a “thinking book.”  Gave me lots of things to think about….although a bit too heavy on the God part, as I’m not a religious person by any stretch.  Sati reminded me a lot of Illusions, but not as religiously toned.  It is the only book I try to read at least once a year, and that’s saying a lot, because I’m a librarian and I am exposed to a large number of books on a daily basis….I know these things.  There are lines in this book that I’ve highlighted (yes, I write in books) because they made me stop and think.  One of my favorites is:

“Say you have to study for a test,” Sati said.  “You go out on the lawn at school.  You open your book.  You focus on the material, and after some time you become absorbed in it.  But not far away another student is listening to her radio.  One of your favorite songs is being played.  Immediately your mind goes to it.  But then you realize what you are doing.  You have a test coming up.  You put your mind back on your book.  Now maybe 45 minutes go by.  Suddenly you realize that you are not studying.  You’ve been listening to the radio again.  The mind does not just wander.  It wanders in a direction.  The music is charming.  The book is boring.  When you were not thinking about it, your mind automatically went to the music.  The reason for this is what I have been saying all along.  It is the nature of the mind to seek out greater happiness.”

I tend to battle my pleasure-seeking mind, the battle between having fun and being a responsible adult.  I have bills to pay, presents to wrap, need to go to the drugstore, call my mom….the dull stuff that makes up our days.  However, I also have an art project I’m working on, or a good book to read, I hear my hammock calling me….the great stuff that makes up our days.  From this passage, I try to look at things a bit differently.  I try to do the things I WANT to do first without worrying about the things I HAVE to do because invariably the things that HAVE to be done WILL be done.  It’s the things that I WANT to do that often fall by the wayside because I’m so preoccupied with doing the things I HAVE to do.  Anyway, that’s what I took from it, you may see it in a whole different light.

At the time I picked up Sati, I was in grad school getting my Master’s in Library Science after narrowly escaping a career in addiction counseling.  I say, never ask a 17 year old what they want to major in in college!  I was going to save the world by dishing up words that would so profoundly affect alcoholics, they’d put down their bottles and march into the world as happy, brand new people.  Little did I know that a frozen cat would change all that!

In my senior year of college, I was home visiting my family when a friend of my mom’s came over crying and frantically waiving a box around.  She asked my mom if she could put her dead cat in our freezer because she was running late to grad school and didn’t have time to bury him.  I asked mom what kinda nut she had as a friend and she said told me “oh, that’s Sally, she’s just that way….and she’s in grad school to become a librarian.”  “A what? You mean you have to go to school for that?” (a question ALL librarians are asked at one point or another) I asked.  Mom just shrugged.  But, I got to thinking.  I’m a book person, don’t think I’m going to save the world after all and gosh, I could put off working in the REAL world by going to school a bit longer, hummmm, and get paid to read all day?  Count me in!!!  So off I went to get my Master’s in Library Science.  I never did see Sally again (or her frozen cat), but I fully expected to run into (and hoped to never become) some of those weird cat loving, book reading, unmarried quiet types.  Laugh is on me, that’s exactly what I turned out to be!!  Many years, many cats and many books later, I’m the Branch Manager of the Latter Public Library, where I’ve been for 18 years.  Like thinking I’d save the world, I don’t get to read all day after all.  I get to handle a vast array of situations like the kid who tells me “I need a picture of Jesus, no, not a drawing, a PICTURE, like from a camera,” or the teenager who is desperately writing a paper the night before it’s due, “I need to write a 2 page report on WWII, do you have a book on that?” or the older patron looking to reminisce a past reading adventure, “I’m looking for this book that I read years ago but I can’t remember the title.  It was red and about a lady who falls in love with a man who lives in Texas.”   Eye-rolling aside, I look back and realize I’m saving the world after all….just in a different way!

I hope you read and enjoy my favorite book, past and present, Sati.

***

Missy Abbott is the Branch Manager at the Latter branch of the New Orleans Public Library, one of my favorite places on Earth, and she happens to be one of my favorite people as well.

Missy Abbott plus Sati

Missy Abbott plus her copy of Sati

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The Re-Reading Project: Snot Stew

Our mama was the best mama in the whole wide world. She did all sorts of stuff for us. She gave us milk so we would grow up to be big and strong. And she gave us baths with her tongue, which was dry and rough, but it felt good anyway.

You can probably guess that the narrator of Bill Wallace’s Snot Stew is not human, but is instead Kikki the kitten, who is left alone with her brother Toby when first mama cat abandons them and the rest of their siblings leave the barn where they were born. Kikki and Toby are adopted by a family of “people things” and Snot Stew is the story of how they adjust to domestic life. Toby is more adventurous and adapts easily, while Kikki spends a lot of time cowering underneath The Couch.

But they both love the stew that The Mother feeds them, so they feel tricked with their people things Ben and Sarah start playing what they come to recognize as the Snot Stew game. But Toby is also playing a game with Butch the outside dog, which becomes treacherous and allows Kikki to be brave and save the day.

Snot Stew coverSnot Stew is a silly book that, as an adult, I flew through. Like Charlotte’s Web, it has really clever and amusing illustrations that enhance the book. I don’t know how many times I read this book as a kid – my book fair copy is battered and worn – but I know I haven’t read it once since I started recording my reading at thirteen. It’s funny that it’s impossible for the adult in me not to see the clear takeaway message that Wallace, a former schoolteacher, built into the book (it’s better to share, especially with siblings), but as a kid, I think I was way too distracted by the silliness and the adventure to consciously realize it was there.

The only other book of Wallace’s that I read was Buffalo Gal, a Western adventure with a female protagonist, that I also must’ve read before I was thirteen, because it’s not on my reading record. I was pretty sad when I saw during my research that January 30th will be the two-year anniversary of Bill Wallace’s death. Though it’s been about twenty years since I read either one of these books, they were integral to making me the person and reader that I am today.

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NaNoWriMo 2012 Day 12

I was determined to get an earlier start today and made plans to meet with Jessica to war in the morning. Well, the cold, rainy morning slowed us down, but we both still got to the coffee shop fairly early. We dove into a longish 45-minute word war. I managed 1,131 words and Jessica did a chunk as well. After our war, I kept writing for a bit longer and added another 686, making a nice first round for today. I’ve got to write more later because I’m still 2,000 words behind!

Between my two word counts, I ended up having a conversation with a guy at the table next to me who’d caught bits of my conversation with Jessica. He wondered what we were up to, so I tried to explain NaNoWriMo to him. He was confused and intrigued and it was kind of funny, the look he was giving me while I tried to explain this thing that doesn’t make any sense. I’m sure he’s going to tell someone he knows later, “You’ll never believe this crazy thing these girls I met in the coffee shop was doing…”

Day 12 (so far) word count: 1,817

Total word count (so far): 18,077.

5 p.m. Update:

Before he left, the guy I talked to earlier caught my eye and said, “Good luck with your project. Write on!” That must’ve given me good luck, because after doing a bit of freelance work and eating lunch, I sat down to write some more, invigorated. “Write on!” I did! I caught up!

2nd session word count: 2,115!

Day 12 (so far) word count: 3,932

Total word count (so far): 20,192

11:05 p.m. Update

Today has been a very productive day. Just did a bit more writing and garnered a further 861 words. I’ve just gotten past the Big Climatic Moment where that one character was originally going to die. Yup, she’s still alive. I’ve tried to get the plot back on track several times, to no avail. She’s decided that she’s going to survive, at least for now. But, I’m satisfied that the Big Moment was still very climatic, regardless. Maybe even more so.

Day 12 word count: 4,793

Total word count (so far): 21,053.

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Jessica Darling, Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, I was shopping in a Books*A*Million with a friend of mine when a book glowed at me from a shelf maybe ten feet away. I’m not kidding. The book lit up and made a chiming sound that told my shy, bookish heart that it was a book for me and I should come fetch it right away.

That book was Sloppy Firsts, the first of of the Jessica Darling series, which starts out with an almost-16-year-old Jessica writing to her best friend Hope, who’s just moved. That was me when I was 16, moving from Georgia to Louisiana, writing to all my friends. So, even though I was was a bit older than Jessica in 2001, the first book and later, the rest of the series, seemed to eerily parallel my own experiences in that comforting, amazing way we all need from books when we’re younger (and maybe always).

So, when author Megan McCafferty sent out a newsletter offering interviews to 10 bloggers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sloppy Firsts, I jumped on the chance and sent her 10 questions. And she answered them!

With no further ado, here is my Q&A with Megan McCafferty:

Q: What do you think the Jessica Darling of Perfect Fifths would say to the Jessica Darling of Sloppy Firsts if they found themselves trapped on an elevator together?

A: “Don’t worry. You’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.”

Q: What did Sloppy Firsts teach you as a writer?

A: Everything about writing a novel! Before SLOPPY FIRSTS, I had never written anything longer than a 10 page term paper.

Q: What is your favorite/most memorable fan story about Sloppy Firsts?

A: I’ve kept the first fan email I received from a reader in Indonesia. It’s still so surreal to me that young women growing up on the other side of the world see themselves in this angsty suburban New Jersey teenager.

Q: Do you remember where you were the first time you saw someone reading Sloppy Firsts (someone who was not related to you)?

A: Yes. I was picking up my son from daycare in the Fall of 2003 and I saw one of the high school YMCA volunteers reading SLOPPY FIRSTS during her break. I was so tempted to point and yell, “THAT’S MY BOOK!” but I refrained.

Q: What is you favorite thing about being a writer? What is your least favorite thing?

A: My favorite thing is hearing from readers how much my work has meant to them. My least favorite thing is the business of selling books, and worrying about my future in it.

Q: What inspired you to write [new novel] Bumped?

A: Everything in BUMPED is inspired by real life. The initial idea was inspired by the Gloucester High School “pregnancy pact.”

Q: Who were your favorite writers when you were 16 years old? Who are your favorite writers now?

A: When I was 16, I didn’t read many books because I was a magazine junkie. So my favorite writers were on the staff of SASSY. Now I’m lucky to consider some of my favorite writers as friends, including Gabrielle Zevin, Rachel Cohn and Carolyn Mackler.

Q: Which fictional character (not one of yours) would be Jessica Darling’s best friend? And which her arch-nemesis?

A: Samantha Baker from 16 Candles. Which would make Caroline Mulford from the same movie her enemy.

Q: Is there something about Jessica Darling’s character or history that you’ve always known that hasn’t ever been revealed in the books? (People are complex! Even fictional ones! Especially fictional ones!)

A: Absolutely! Just like there are things about me that not even my husband of 13 years knows about. There are always unknowable aspects to everyone….

Q: What do you think the Megan McCafferty of July 2001 would say to the current Megan McCafferty? What would you like to say to 2001 Megan if you could?

A: 2001 Megan to 2011 Megan: “Are the Backstreet Boys still together?”
2011 Megan to 2001 Megan:  “Start paying more attention to Justin Timberlake.”

Megan’s newest book is Bumped, a dystopian novel about 16-year-old twins in a society where wide-spread infertility has made teens the most prized members of society.

You still have the rest of today to enter Megan’s Epic 10th Anniversary Giving Away of Rare and One-of-a-Kind Stuff contest, so check it out.

Here are the links for the other blogger-fans and their interview posts are so funny and creative, I feel so lucky to have been included amongst them:

Anna Reads

Slatebreakers

The Reading Zone

Muggle-Born.net

Stuck in YA Books

Book, Line and Sinker (with photos of the 5 Wonders of Pineville)

I’ll link to the other interviews as they go up. Enjoy!!

[8.28.11 Update: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SLOPPY FIRSTS AND JESSICA DARLING!]

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By any other name

I recently changed the name of my blog. It’s a pretty subtle change, but it illustrates a big difference in the way I think about myself, my writing and my blogging.

The old blog name was:

Jill of All Trades

and the new blog name is:

Jill of All Genres

What’s the difference, you might ask yourself. Well, I should probably tell you a little story of why I called myself “jill of all trades” to begin with.

It used to be, when I was a student, I had about a hundred part time jobs. All at the same time. I was a partner in a small literary agency, I was a writer, but I also watched houses (and pets) while folks were out of town. So, at one point I made a business card for myself. Let me insert a picture of the card here:

One of my mentors scoffed at me including all the various jobs on my business card, especially “housesitter,” but it was one of the ways I made my living. Also, I didn’t feel like I could just claim “writer,” not at that time. The card would have felt so blank, with nothing to hide behind if it had just said:

Emilie Staat, Writer.

When I graduated from the MFA program at LSU, my card was woefully out of date. I no longer agented. I no longer housesat. But I still wrote. Not only that, but I was now a Master of Fine Arts and a great pun occurred to me. And hence, my new business card:

And this card served me well until I ran out of them and then dithered about my new business card. I’d had the old ones cheaply made at Kinko’s and they no longer had the striking pink paper or the same business card service. It was time to upgrade to a nicer card anyway. Something like Jamey‘s gorgeous business cards. But as I’ve said, I dithered and stalled.

But now I know why.

I am now at a place in my life where I have many jobs and commitments again, but almost every single one of them is related to my talents and interests as a writer. Jill of All Trades has become misleading because I am not a waitress or a carpenter or a lawyer or a computer technician like other writers I know. I only operate within one trade these days, a trade that has many facets, which we often call genres.

I have finally built a life for myself, rocky though it almost always is, where I use my writerly instincts and experiences to make a living. How and when did this happen? It’s so surprising that it’s easy to forget that I was building this life, working for it with all my might.

But it’s just the first step. A serious first step in a new direction and I’m glad to be on this path. I think it’ll be time for new business cards soon…

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Going to Bragtown

This is a double decker brag post as the clever people in my life are succeeding left and right. Let’s dive right in.

Flood Streets, the film created by my friend Helen Krieger and her husband Joseph Meissner, will premiere at WorldFest Houston on April 11th and is also showing at the Boston International Film Festival April 23rd. Helen just had a signing event for her book In the Land of What Now, which inspired the film.

Lindsay Rae Spurlock just had several shows during SXSW and is performing regularly now in L.A., supporting her CD Heart On.

Zack Godshall just the Louisiana premiere of his film Lord Byron at the Manship Theater in Baton Rouge. I loved reading this:

Made in Lafayette for less than $1000, the film features the first all-Louisiana cast and crew film to go to the Sundance Film Festival.

Q & A to follow, so stick around to hear from Zack and some of his talented cast spill the beans on how they pulled off this no-budget film right here in Louisiana! And what it was like to bring to Sundance the lowest budget film in the festival’s history.

Barb Johnson will be reading April 12th at 7 p.m. as part of Loyola’s 1718 Reading Series at the Columns on St. Charles. If you’ve never seen her read, you really shouldn’t pass up this opportunity. And if you have seen her before, it’ll be a great time to catch up with her. 🙂

Maurice Ruffin just had his short short “Zimmerman” published on the Gold Room reading series’s website and his story “The Sparer” is a finalist in the Country Roads Writing Contest. During the month of April, all of the finalists’s stories are up and we can vote for the winner of the Reader’s Choice Award. I hope you’ll go read them all and vote for your favorite. My favorite is “The Sparer.” 🙂

Terri Stoor has a funny, touching piece published with the St. Petersburg Times. It’s on their website, so you can read it in its entirety. I heard her read it recently, which was a special treat.

While I was writing this, Nick Fox gave me the great news that a story of his has been accepted for publication by Third Coast.

And my latest 225 piece is about writer’s block. I got to talk to some of my amazing writer friends for this and what they had to say is incredible. Check it out. Unfortunately, we had to cut some great quotes from Brian P. Moore and Jamey Hatley because of space. I want to include a bit of what they said below. Enjoy.

Brian, who writes for the New York Post, told me:

It’s my guess that the despairing totality of, say, Dashiell Hammett’s paralysis is a rare bird. Most writer’s block is case specific, and with some time away can be tackled with minimal angina. Writer’s block isn’t something to be confronted so much as elided, which should suit the non-confrontational personalities of most writers. If I can’t get a character out of a room in my novel, there’s always a newspaper story to work on. It’s a reverse whac-a-mole approach, where the mole is free to roam without fear of head wounds.

And Jamey said:

When I think of writer’s block, I mean that something isn’t working. I remember reading an interview with Toni Morrison where she said, ‘You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.’ So, being blocked for me is crucial information. When the writing is stalled, when I can’t get the right words, there’s usually something that I haven’t figured out yet that I need to know.  This is not to say that I am gracious during the waiting process. I whine, I complain. I draw dramatic red lines through pages of text. I have never regretted waiting out the block. The rewards have always been worth it.

 

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LJ Smith: Strange Fate

A little while ago, Borders sent me an e-mail and said I might like to pre-order Strange Fate, the tenth and final (?) book in the Night World series by L.J. Smith. I couldn’t help but laugh as I scrolled through the comments from readers that all generally said the same thing, “I love this series, but I’ve been waiting for it FOREVER.” The comments are generally the same over at B&N and Amazon, where there’s even a forum called “When is this REALLY coming out?”

I’m not laughing to be cruel, it’s just that I’d be willing to bet money I don’t have that most of these readers/commenters, a lot of them anyway, have not been waiting over a decade to read this book, as I have. Most of them don’t even know that Lisa Jane Smith’s books were originally published when I was a teenager, before they were born in some cases. Strange Fate‘s original publication date was shortly before the new millennium and accordingly, the plot of the earlier books reflects that.

When the Night World books were published, 1996-1998, I was 14-16 years old and L.J. Smith was my favorite writer. Her books meant the world to me and I was bewildered by the inscrutable, almost entirely unexplained delay in the publication of the last Night World book. I went to college and still periodically checked in on a giant fan site for updates. L.J. was sick, we heard, but was back to writing and the book would be published soon.

Years passed and I started to believe that the book would never be published. Then, just a few years ago, all of her books were re-issued in new editions that would appeal to rabid fans of Twilight. The Vampire Diaries series was adapted into a t.v. show, which I watched for a while. I had to stop, though, because the t.v. show didn’t reflect either the books or my experience of them as a teenager, or both. But then, I knew they wouldn’t. To be successful in this millennium, they couldn’t. The Secret Circle series is being adapted now and I’ll probably watch a few episodes out of curiosity and because I like Britt Robertson from Life Unexpected. I think she’ll be a great Cassie.

I’m a little annoyed that when (if?) Strange Fate is released, it won’t match my series (though, yes, I have bought all of the reissues). On the left is what MY Strange Fate should have looked like a decade + ago and on the right, what Strange Fate will (maybe) look like when (if?) it’s ever published. And that’s something Lisa Jane’s newest fans may be learning, which her most senior fans have long known – I’m not going to invest my money (and hope) till I hold the book in my hand.

Many of the teenagers reading Lisa Jane Smith (or L.J., as I’ll always think of her) don’t realize these are not new books, as evidenced by one of the comments I read that said Lisa Jane should stop writing multiple series of books at the same time and just finish Strange Fate. 🙂 I feel sad and nostalgic when I think about these books now, especially Strange Fate. Now that I’m almost thirty, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to experience it the way I would have when I was 16 years old, moving to Louisiana and completely adrift.

But just like a teenager, I’m waiting… and waiting… and waiting… to find out.

P.S. While researching online for this blog, I found the following paragraph on the Wikipedia page for The Vampire Series page. This horrifies me as both a fan and a writer:

Unfortunately, Smith stated in her blog on the 9th of February, 2011 that she was fired by Alloy Entertainment and that ‘Midnight’ is her last book. Alloy Entertainment will be hiring a ghostwriter to continue the series. She will still be mentioned as the creator of the series on the covers of the new books but she will have nothing to do with them. Smith has asked her fans not to boycott Harper. L.J Smith has also already given Alloy Entertainment her manuscript for ‘The Hunters: Phantom’, although there are no guarantees that it will be released, let alone with any of her input.

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The Emily Curse

Earlier this month, Maurice sent me a link to a Radiolab story called “Finding Emilie”. It is a phenomenal story about an art student, her tragic accident and her boyfriend’s conviction that she could recover. It WILL make you cry, regardless of how stoic you think you are.

There’s a point partway through the story where Emilie’s mother talks about how, of all her children, Emilie always seemed to get the bad stuff and she asks, “Why? Everything bad seems to happen to Emilie.” My automatic, flip answer was…”Because of her name!”

Having been an Emilie my whole life (except for a period in my early teens when I tried to make everyone call me Rachel), I have long studied this phenomena. Yes, it is a phenomena and it is real. And here is my evidence.

All of the really famous Emilys are generally creative, often writers, are usually unlucky in love and/or depressed and die early:

Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights, died at age 30 and never married.

-The poet Emily Dickinson lived till age 56, but never married and barely left her room in her later life. Her poetry dealt extensively with death and mortality.

Fictional Emilys seem to fare even worse than real-life creative Emilys (even Maurice admits he has an ill-fated fictional Emily in his work):

-Emily Grierson from A Rose for Emily, who kills a suitor and presumably sleeps beside his corpse in a wedding suite until her own death.

-Emily Webb from Our Town who dies giving birth.

-Emma/Emmeline in the song by Hot Chocolate, who wants to be a famous actress and kills herself because she can’t achieve her dream. (Minute 3:12 will give you chills, but you have to listen to the whole song to get there.) This song is probably based on lead singer Errol Brown’s mother, I’ve read.

More scientific Emilys seem to be longer living. Not quite as famous as the creative ones, they are just as successful. But that makes sense because one of the meanings of the name Emily is to strive or excel or rival. I’ve also heard that Emily means “industrious one.”

I don’t buy into the Emily Curse… but I’m getting a little ticked off by this perception around the name. Doomed, fragile Emilys vs. hard-working scientific Emilys? Why does everything happen to Emily?

And that’s what I like about the Emilie in the Radiolab story above. Though there’s tragedy in her story, I get the impression she is the most stubborn, persistent person. And that she will continue to triumph. I want more Emily/Emilies with her spirit and determination in fiction and in real life.

In that vein, there’s Emily the Strange, a goth teenager with attitude, who doesn’t entirely fit the mold. While she wears all black and never seems to smile, she’s strong and sarcastic. I hear Chloe Morentz may play her in the movie version. All I can think is that after her roles in Kick-Ass and Let Me In, she is NEVER going to smile in a role again.

But, check out a coincidence I stumbled upon while putting this post together:

Emily the Strange

Emilie the not-so-strange

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This is what happens when Banksy’s nominated for an Oscar…

Apparently, Banksy has arrived just a bit early in Los Angeles and has taken the opportunity to paint the town. TMZ has images and The Week suggests this may be Banksy’s own Oscar campaign, since Exit Through the Gift Shop is up for Best Documentary. One of the pieces thought to be Banksy’s work is an enormous Mickey and Minnie inserted into a billboard. Huffington Post has video of the billboard and it’s removal.

As usual, Banksy shows that it’s not just the what of his art, but also the where and the when.

 

 

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Saved by Mormons and bragging on Nick

I thought I had all time in the world, leaving work a little “early” so that I could swing by the house and spruce up for The Dirty Parts at Allways Lounge, which it seemed everybody and their mother was attending. It was a chance to catch up with a lot of folks all at once.

But when I got home, I couldn’t find a single safe and legal place to park. This is becoming more and more of an issue as they’ve extended the times people have to pay to park on Magazine, which means more people park on my street to avoid paying. A lot of people say, “You live right next to several popular bars – you had to know what you were getting into when you moved there.” But it’s not just the bar traffic during the night, it’s all the Ladies Who Lunch shopping at all the upscale boutiques during the day as well. Quite frustrating. So much so that I found myself trying to parallel park on an extremely narrow (yet still two-way) section of Camp Street. The curb had an extreme drop off, but I thought I could do it if I eased off the curb slowly. It would’ve worked if there hadn’t been a bricked-in flower box or something right there which I didn’t see. My back wheel got caught on it and I could neither drive back up the curb or reverse over the flower box. I was well and truly stuck. Meanwhile, there was extremely dangerous traffic trying to go around me in both directions with barely enough clearance for one car. No one stopped to help me, they just did their best to get around me. Ah, New Orleans. But that’s not the city I love. In my city, people generally see each other and do their very best to help each other. Not tonight.

I’ve said it several times. This is a hard city to live in, one of the hardest I’ve ever known or heard of. Luckily for me, just when you feel like the city has taken everything it possibly can and you have nothing left, something incredibly and entirely unique to New Orleans comes along and rescues you. You realize you can never live anywhere else.

This night, two young Mormon elders walked by and saw my distress. It could have been the beginning of a joke, it was so random and unlikely. And yes, funny, because they were dressed in suits and were the only ones who stopped to help me. But I was so touched that they knelt down in those suits, in the dark of narrow Camp Street and heaved me out of my jam. They were so respectful and so quietly competent. So, once I was saved, when one of them asked me if they could give me a card, I said heartily, “Yes, please!” It was the least I could do for all that they did, as I might’ve ordinarily hugged any other helper, but couldn’t, of course, hug them.

Saved by Mormons is a strange way to begin a night that ends up at a show called The Dirty Parts at the Allways Lounge. And that’s New Orleans, for you, that dichotomy. It was a reading by Tony O’Neill and included performances by Ratty Scurvics, Oops the Clown, Trixie Minx, Bella Blue and J. Lloyd Miller, as well. A few members of Peauxdunque were there, as well as my filmmaker friend Helen Krieger and Lee Ware dressed as a cigarette girl and hawking Tony’s books. And guess who was the Master of all these Ceremonies? Our own Nick Fox.

In his newest newsletter, I’d read:

…I decided that if I’m going to be an emcee, I need to look the part. So I went to Soul Train Fashions up on Chef Mentaur Highway and bought three pinstripe suits (one brown, one blue, one burgundy), two pairs of two-tone shoes, three shirts, three ties, and a pair of suspenders. I even went to Meyer the Hatter and got me a brand new hat. I’ve never spent that much on clothing in my life. But it felt good. It’s an investment in something I want to do.

He was wearing the burgundy suit and definitely looked the part. I was sitting next to Tony O’Neill while he was signing one of his books for me when Nick got up and performed a particularly profound and pleasing bit of poetry. Tony said to me, “He’s a genius.” Ain’t that something? 🙂

It’s good to see your friends shine.

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