I’m back! The same, but different.

PART I I’m emerging from the Place of Perpetual Grief, a strange state of being in which I constantly question every tear, every smile, every lump in my throat. Is it real? Is it feigned? Am I sad because I’m supposed to be sad, or because my dad has left me? Or both. Then my writer-sister-friend Gale Massey sent me an article in which the psychotherapist Francis Weller is interviewed. Weller maintains that modern American culture discourages us from “grieving rituals” common to other cultures, andRead more

The boy and boobs in the Big Easy. Not my boobs, though.

New Orleans is THE city for the Pterodactyl, mainly because of the liberal scattering of boobs. Regular boobs, cartoon boobs, enormous voluptuous boobs, painted boobs. Blue boobs. We walked through the French Quarter the other day, and he was agog. He kept tugging on his little sister’s sweater, screeching, “OH MY GOD, LOOK AT THAT ONE!” Then I had to be all, Don’t say God! Say gosh! “So I guess he’s not gay,” someone said. Because gay men have noRead more

Who am I again? Remind me.

See here. Let’s talk about me for a while. I’m not really myself around the holidays. For starters, the stress of all this expectation (did you read last week’s post?) renders me emotionally paralyzed. I don’t know what to buy people. I don’t know how much to spend. I browse online stores for hours looking for the perfect gifts for friends and families, and quit when I get a headache. Then I wake up the Saturday before Christmas and think,Read more

New Orleans childhood redux

In New Orleans, my parents live right behind a levee tasked with the dubious job of holding in Lake Pontchartrain. Each morning, they drink coffee while gazing at the large green hill and watching the seagulls drift in the wind. You can’t see the lake – the levee blocks it from view – but you can sense its looming presence. You can smell it. When I was growing up, the levee was a short walk away. Sometimes we went thereRead more

What I’m Reading: American Ghost by Janis Owens

In elementary school, while studying the Civil War one day, I raised my hand in class and said, “My dad says that the reason so many black people have the last name Booker is because we were slave owners.” Mrs. Rivera shot back, “That’s nothing to be proud of!” I cried in class that day. I wasn’t bragging – I was just excited to have something to say. Later in life, I belonged to social clubs that declined membership toRead more

Whew. That’s (mostly) over.

I rushed to Louisiana last week to be with my father, who had taken a bad turn while in the hospital being treated for injuries sustained in a terrible accident. The nights were long. I slept/didn’t sleep on the pleather couch while Dad struggled fruitlessly to find comfort from the 10 broken ribs stabbing his insides every which way. At one point, as I stared at the popcorn ceiling waiting for him to need a sip of water or simplyRead more

Everything’s okay for now. But not really. I love you, Dad.

My family, like most Southern gentry before us, thrives on panic and distress. Nothing gets the heart rate going like an unexpected phone call that starts with, “Everything’s okay, but….” “Everything’s okay, but….” is code for SOUND THE ALARMS! DUST OFF THE EMERGENCY PROCEDURES! LIFE HAS GONE AWRY! On September 5, my sister called twice while I was teaching a class. That’s not unusual. But when I arrived home, I noticed she had called Hot Firefighter Husband twice, too. IRead more

Dear Isaac: You don’t scare us (too, too much).

Seven years ago this week, I sat on my sofa and watched my hometown drown. Hurricane Katrina had dealt her knockout blow and moved on, but the city of New Orleans, at first just reeling and shaken, gasped for air as a sea of brown water crept ever higher. You know the rest. A few days ago, when it became clear that Tropical Storm Isaac was headed toward the Louisiana coast, I was relieved that my parents, who live inRead more

My teenaged boozing, which leaked into adulthood.

In high school, I dated a really nice guy with a big nose whose deodorant smell was overpowering. I went out with him because nobody else was asking me out. One summer, when I was 16, we went to The Boot, a famous local bar near the campus of Tulane University that didn’t check IDs. It was 50 cent hi-ball night. So I ordered a hi-ball. “I’ll take a hi-ball, please,” I said to the bartender. He looked at meRead more

Happy Anniversary, Honey! Love, your crazy bitch.

Dear Hot Firefighter Husband, Eighteen years ago, we exchanged vows under the gazebo on the tennis courts of my parents’ country home. Dad had installed a ceiling fan because, in his words, “there’s nothing more unattractive than a sweating bride.” You fretted about how your hair looked; I was afraid I looked fat. We drank a lot of champagne that night, and danced as the sun set over the pine groves. It was a fairytale wedding. You had asked meRead more