Dictionary.com defines an activist as: “an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, esp. a political cause.”
What an activist is not?
Someone with a wide audience already available to them but doesn’t use that audience until they publish a book and decides that as a way to market that book, it would be great to pretend to speak out for people while accepting large amounts of money to speak on this particular issue. Meanwhile, the individuals that you are speaking out for, have suffered a fate much, much worse than yours, however you will accept acolades of courage and bravery because most people do not know better.
That’s an opportunist.
It has been over a year since I have posted on this blog. How did that happen. I’m always one that intends to keep a blog – in fact, in the past when I first learned about blogging through Xanga, I posted armies of blogs per day, every day. I get comfortable where I am, then something inspires me to change. Try a different platform, something about the current blog that annoys me or simply just finding things I wish I could change and trying to start over and change them. It’s all lame, really, and a testament to the difficulty that I sometimes have in 1. committment and 2. following through. That being said, so much has changed in the past year, me not the least of them, that I crave the outlet to separate all of my thoughts and different aspects of my life without prejudice. I haven’t really had that much this past year, as my career took a path that I could have never predicted, so it time again.
I won’t bore you with a play-by-play of the events of the past year. As much as I love our home, I miss New Orleans so much. The streetcar, the visits with Miss Elizabeth at Blue Cyprus Books, Miss Norma’s Sno-Balls, the park and the zoo. I enjoy aspects of being here on the swamp – the added protection it gives me that I didn’t have before – something quite important when dealing with those people of our past whose mental stability comes into question each day as they act more and more like someone you simply do not recognize, as well as the ability to breathe deeply in a way that I couldn’t when we lived on Plum. I miss it. I have yet to really allow myself to call this place home, hoping one day to find ourselves back in the Big Easy when life has calmed down and ugly custody battles and Northern arrogance no longer dictates who, what, when, where and why of my life, but happy to finally be at a point in our life where we have moved forward into planting roots and owning a home and finding a community. Thirty minutes away from New Orleans isn’t far. It really isn’t. Sometimes, however, it is far enough to create a feeling of loneliness and longing for people, places and things.
At any rate, it is the right time to call this place my salvation on particularly bad days and my sanctuary on days when I simply need to write and thing and separate my thoughts of the confusion that often comes with over thinking.
And still, No regrets. Never.
I knew it was coming. For months I watched as one by one, those around me left, leaving huge holes, figuratively and literally, where they once stood. One by one, they all fell down, violated and stolen, taken without permission, used. I would watch and wonder what happened after they fell, the journey they took, how their fate ended. I hoped. I hoped that they would find peace, that no further harm would happen to them. What could I do? I was stuck here, powerless, waiting.
Each time they entered, I wondered if it would be me. I watched, quietly observing as they marred what was all that I knew as my life. The green was slowly dying, being replaced by a dense sunlight, a wilting brown, spaces of nothingness in my community that once was not there. As I watched, I waited. I wailed inside seeing the others go, but felt enormous relief that it was not yet me. I knew though, that one day when I saw them come forward again, it would be me and there would be nothing that I could do but surrender and accept my fate.
Over there, the empty space to the right of the poison ivy, I remember when she came. I had been here about three years. I watched as she blossomed, as she grew. She was one of the first to go. It seemed like a crime, really, her being so small. They didn’t care. They had no discretion. They took whatever they wanted, ravaging, stealing the souls from this place, not giving it a second thought. Up a few feet, that one hurt. He was there near the beginning. When I first came, he welcomed me, protected me. As I watched them take him away, I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t. Now I wish I would have so I could have seen him, just once, to help me be strong.
And now, here I am, alone. No one comes and goes anymore. They have all found shelter somewhere else, being scared off by the noise, by the barren landscape, by the change when change couldn’t be afforded by anyone. I stand here, tall, reflecting. Sometimes the worst friend you can have are your thoughts, racing, taunting, leaving you feel even more alone.
I stand here and wait, knowing soon, it will too be my time.
I am cheap. I was raised in a family where you didn’t buy something unless you needed it, there was no such thing as spending money on fast food, and if you are too lazy to cook it – you don’t deserve to eat it.
Today I went to Dollar Tree and picked up groceries. This is something that I just started doing and it has saved our family so much money each month on groceries that it is absolutely amazing. I purchased everything from a few Hot Pockets for my husband when he gets home from work at 2:oo am to chicken broth. I was able to get a bag of frozen fries for $1.00 Tortillas, lunch meat, lunchables, orange juice, pretzels, animal crackers, instant potatos. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 This is good food, not expired, not flavorless (though if it was they have a whole colony of spices and herbs there, too, and not just plain ole generic knock offs.
They have Campbell’s tomato soup there for $1.00. The bonus? They are the 45% more cans, which makes things like making chili even cheaper. Additionally, one can of soup only need to be used at lunch time instead of two. And I can use the soup as a base in Bacon Cheeseburger hotdish. Oh, and the have the Sargento cheese that I use for the topping of said hotdish there, too. For $1.00
The only thing that I need to get from the grocery store is ground beef, chicken, yeast (to make bread), milk, and eggs. If I had my way, I would have my own chickens so I could use their eggs and so I could butcher them. (Can you tell that I am completely from the country?)
My husband works very, very hard for our money. It is his job to make it. It is my job to make it stretch as much as possible. I take a lot of pride in it and the fact that my daughter thinks I am the best cook ever brings me a lot of pride, too.
I feel really thankful today, given the state of the economy, that I have the tools to be able to take care of my family in this way.
I have been putting off writing this post.
I am leaving New Orleans.
There. I said it outloud.
I could rant in this post how eff-ed up it is to live in a country where a court can tell a law abiding citizen where and where they cannot live, but I won’t. I could go on about how much of an emotional terrorist my ex-husband is, insuring that I have no peace, even 1,200 miles away from him, but that post would drain me too much emotionally and create a climate inside of myself full of negativity and hate. I should probably go on about how I am a thrity-three year old woman more than capable of making good decisions, especially when it comes to my child that I am with day in and day out – even homeschooling her when I found the schools to be a bad environment for her in the city, but it would do no good. Nothing that I could say right now would adequately describe the situation that I am in so instead of having my hands tied and a little girl left unprotected from a man that violated her in the worse way and my family continually sinking because of the unnecessary cost this is forcing upon us, I will simply say that I am leaving.
In trying to see the positives out of everything, I realize that this does mean many different things to my family. It means more financial freedom – owning a home – better schools – children that I trust my daughter to play with – more space – land – and in some ways, freedom from some of the things difficult to escape in NOLA.
As I write this, I look at the piles of things to do. My husband works every day for the next two weeks, so that task falls on my hands. My body is in a great deal of pain thanks to my fibromyalgia, but I don’t have the luxary of just slowing down – things need to get done and I need to be the person to do them.
I’m cautiously optimistic.
I’m not moving that far away from NOLA, but it’s NOLA, and there are so many things that I am truly going to miss – watching the streets from the street car, my visits with Miss Elizabeth at Blue Cypress Books, the zoo, the aquarium, City Park, and Miss Norma’s Sno-Balls. I am going to miss being able to count on seeing Miss Evie ride her bike around the neighborhood and listening to my neighbor play the french horn. I’m going to miss the banana trees in my yard, the Asian plums, and the feeling I get when I ride anywhere with my husband and look around.
I’m leaving NOLA, but so much of me will still be here.
I joke with The Viking and tell him that I have some sort of super-sensitivity to paranormal things, as I seem to wake every evening/morning during thee witching hour, unable to go back to sleep until the hour is complete. I also have bat ears and hear every single thing, so along with my witching hour wake up call, I hear the house creak, someone pass by our house, and a change in Cleo’s breathing as she slumbers away. Of course I know there are a multiple of reasons why – post traumatic stress (I am most certain), living in a city where noise is all around us, fibro – needless to say, though, if I were to write my letter to Santa Claus tonight, I would ask him for a safer New Orleans and a good night sleep free of interruption and sleep disturbance. You wouldn’t believe what continual sleep disturbance can do to a person. Go read or rent Fight Club and it will fill you in.
So here I am, wide awake, getting upset that I am wide awake – which will simply lead to not being able to sleep for a while, which leads to me getting upset about that. Damn you, cycle of ill will towards and very tired Mommy.
The jelly that I made earlier today/yesterday (depending on if you count the new day really starting at midnight or if you have slept, etc) set. I am relieved to know that. Not really, but at least I know that now, since I am up at thee witching hour.
Ok, enough complaining. Maybe that is what I should have given up for lent.
Once upon a time, there lived a girl from the country. Growing up, she watched her mother sew dresses, bake bread, can veg, and make their own jelly. When she grew up and had a family of her own, she distracted herself from life and having three babies under three by doing many of the things that she grew up watcher her mother do. She decided that her mother didn’t do it because it was cheaper or because she loved doing it, she did it to escape, like some people shop or some people drink.
After I left my last life, swam around trying to find myself like Nemo for a while, and started my new life – I left those things behind. Not necessarily because I didn’t enjoy them or because I didn’t think they were important, but because it represented something really bad to me. It represented my mom, who suffered for over a decade with an illness that took her ability to breathe away. It represented my last marriage, loveless and full of control and abuse. It represented selling myself out in order to make my family happy and to follow what they thought were the right and things were to do. It meant having to have perfection, no emotion, and being a nodding and agreeable Stepford Wife. So I rebelled. I rebelled against homemade food. I rebelled against immaculate housework. I rebelled against everything that was my old life, the things I resented, all of those thing I wish could be changed by some magic time machine that didn’t change the course of the future so much that I didn’t have my current husband, but changed it enough to spare those that needed to be spared.
So you can understand exactly how theraputic yesterday was, mixing flour and yeast and oil and water together, kneeding with my hands, punching out air and kneeding again, when I made the first loaf of homemade bread that I have made in many years. Making it here, in New Orleans, with a different life, a different set of circumstances, with different meaning.
It made me miss somethings – the country, the quite, the security that comes with it and the safety too – it made me appreciate other things, mostly internal things like myself that keep me moving forward, even when I want to stay paused, even when I want to stop, most of all though, when I wish I could simply rewind and edit.
Baking homemade bread – cheaper than therapy and tastes much better
The bread recipe I used:
3 cups flour (white or wheat)
1 package, or 2 teaspoons yeast
1-tablespoon sugar (or brown sugar, or honey)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of lukewarm water.
First, mix your dry ingredients, and then add oil and water. Stir with a fork or spoon until sticky and stiff.
Turn your dough onto a floured countertop, and knead for a full 5 minutes.
Place your dough back into the bowl and cover with oil, move dough around so all sides are covered.
Place your dough into a warm spot, free of drafts with a cover (such as a table linen, or dishcloth) and let it set for about 2 hours.
After it has set, take it out and “punch” it down to release any built up air inside, knead again.
Place dough into very well greased loaf pans, and let it rise again for about an hour.
Place in oven and bake at 350 degrees for roughly 30-40 minutes.
I was anxious. Were we going to the right place? Would there be parking? What would we be dealing with? Would it be safe? Ever since I was mugged and had my wedding ring stolen, safety has been a big issue for me. In fact, it has probably been the only issue, causing me to sometimes shut myself off from the rest of the world in my safe little bubble. Then I start to think about how sometimes even bubbles pop and I don’t feel so safe anymore. Being outside, in the dark, doing something unfamiliar – ack.
We arrived early, nearly an hour, parked and walked a couple of blocks up. The street was congested, only because it had been blocked off, and we found a wonderful location, within the first block of the parade. We sat down and watched as the block came alive – a resident was interviewed by a news crew, the police mobile unit moved in, officiers watched the block, the city tow truck met up – and as the sky darkened, the band played, and the parade came alive.
This is our first Mardi Gras. My daughter, dressed in her cowgirl costume, held a sign that read: “Throw me something, Mister! My 1st Mardi Gras!” On the same was a heart with NOLA written in. I became as excited as she did, waving my hands in the air, cheering, screaming to them to throw me something. My daughter caught the attention of the camera man covering the Krewe of Druid parade. She became bashful, then waved to the camera.
We had our hands up, waiting for the coveted beads. Cups, stuffed animals, and doubloons came our way. A football. A little girl across the street came over, handed my daughter a cup with some beads and told her “Happy First Mardi Gras!” Masks were thrown to her.
It was the most amazing experience of my time down here and I now know why I live with the day-to-day stress, the worries.
All you need to do is look around the street during a Mardi Gras parade, and watch the random acts of kindness and know – people here, people here are different.
The people here ARE New Orleans.
I was going to move my blog. I have crazy ex inlaws that somehow found me and decided following my every move was benefitial. You see, I spent nine years of my life with a pretty “involved” man. He was so involved that I never had to worry about thinking for myself. He wouldn’t have wanted me to hurt myself by making something called a decision. But then I did make a decision, a big one, and packed up all of my clothes in a garbage bag and left him, starting over completely. But no one had ever done anything like that before, had courage and left the family. Since then, what I do and who I am with and where I go has become of great interest. I think they were disappointed when comments were moderated. I decided, though, not to move afterall. Why should I have to jump from home to home, literally or in the cyber world, just to find peace? I shouldn’t. I mean, I moved 1,200 miles away, what more should I do? So I am going to put my big girl costume on and take it like a woman.
We now go back to your regularly scheduled program.
I’m 32. I think that 32 is such a weird age. You now find yourself surrounded by adulthood, but yet the free-wheeling and care-free days aren’t so far removed.
I am going through this weird thing where I am trying to find who I am, defining what I am about, and deciding what I want my life to be. I realize most people probably go through this at a much earlier age, or maybe we always go through this, but for me – well, I find myself highly involved in trying to figure this out.
I think that part of the problem is that I have been taking care of people for most of my life. My mom first got sick when I was thirteen, so I didn’t go through a lot of stages that most thirteen year old go through. Or fourteen year olds. Or sixteen year olds. Or eighteen year olds. The day before I turned twenty, my son passed away and life was forever changed. I became apart of a club that no one ever wants to be apart of, a club you can’t really understand unless you are a member. Then more babies came, more responsibilities, a few more tragedies, a lot more triumphs and then I blossomed into someoe who no longer would submit to the cruel words and intentions of a man I had no business marrying or having a life with. And then I left. I started over. And then I met my Papa Bear.
At any rate, I am in this weird finding my own stage. It is hard because I am a gray person, not black and white. I’m not on thing or another, I am kind of a combination of everything. It is confusing. It gives me a headache trying to figure it out. (And no, there are no voices in my head but my own thank you very much!)
One step, right? One step!