2011: stealth deliverer of good things

Before I write anything, I would like to share that “ninja spanker” was my top search this week. Where do people come up with these things? And also, how did my space become relevant to ninja spankers? (As I type this, I recall mentioning Spanker Banker after Krewe du Vieux sometime in 2008, and also dressing up as a ninja for Halloween that year and fighting pirates on Jackson Square. The internet don’t forget, y’all).

That said, it’s been two years since I did a year in review, two years since I wrote some resolutions, and consequently, two years since I resolved some resolutions. In the two year gap, I got engaged, got married, moved to a new city, bought a house, started 3 new jobs, graduated, became licensed, acquired a couple more nieces- you know: Almost all of the most important things that can happen to a person besides being born. Now that I sit down to review last year, it seems like nothing happened.  But alas. It did.

January  Co-piloted a tiny plane from Belize City to PG. Swam in a blue creek. Climbed into a cave. Met some fun UWisc Physical Therapy peeps. Watched the Rose Bowl on a rigged up TV, under a thatch roof outside, sitting on benches removed from a mini-van. Spent nights in tiny cabins above water. Ate seafood caught on a kayak with a spear. Took a 6 hour bus to Cayo. Shed tears over this discussion with my former supervisor: “Your work is being used here, Brooke. Every day.” Discovered God doesn’t need a person to use a person. Understood that sometimes we don’t even know we’ve been used. Said goodbye to the BZ. Again.

More pics: here

February  Worked a 16-hour shift during Snowpocolypse 2011 and felt like a Lamb in a Bow Tie. Discovered, via Jeff, that cross-country skiing on the Monon during an ice storm is possible, and acceptable. Went to New Orleans and spent time with my good ole friends and co-workers. Got my Haydels King Cake. Got my Abita. Got my Steins, my Surreys, my house party with a nice brownie spread, my 2 days of 65/sunny, got my washboard band, got my Kim, got my Mandy. Could not have been happier until Tator Tachos appeared. Realized (besides the availability of junk food & supportive social worker friends) why the NOLA feels like home: it’s where I fell in love! J and my’s entire do-I-like-you-do-I-love-you-I-totally-love-you-let’s-get-a-daiquiri-let’s-get-married happened here. Sigh :)

March Went to Cuba Belize Mexico Belize Cuba Belize. Cuba with some good friends. (If you’re an immigration officer, I would like to state for the record I oppose the embargo.)  Had many rooftop mojitos. I neither confirm nor deny the Cuban cigar or the night dancing in Old Havana. Listened to old men argue about baseball in the center of the park. Watched a Cuban baseball game. Became entranced by and forever drawn to Cuba and its music. Thanks friends!

More pics: here

April  Unveiled Brooke 3.0 to the public. Not so bad, 30. Received breakfast in bed from a dude I thank God for by the minute, and a tent. Promptly camped in the backyard. Celebrated Lil’s 3rd birthday (where does time go?) Took down the Christmas tree… and put it in the Monon. Can you find it? Spent Easter with the Hartmans in WI, and got the Easter flu, which everyone mistook for morning sickness. If that had been the case, I’d be 9 months pregnant today. Told you guys.

May Started a new job! Waved goodbye to the hospital (although I still pick up ER shifts here and there when they need help) and joined a private practice in Carmel. Hosted the Kaminski Fam for Memorial Day and ran around Lucas Oil. Celebrated J’s birthday. He continues to be in his 30s. That’s all he would want you to know, I think.

June Celebrated our first anniversary with a romantic evening alone the Hartmans, Kaminiskis, Sellers, Sharon, Pat and 2500 others for the 18th annual Indy Nite Ride. Jeff and I enjoyed a burger at Bub’s after everyone left. The event has facilitated use of the following statement all year to justify anything we’ve wanted ever since: Well, this can be our anniversary meal/gift/trip since we didn’t really have one? Celebrated Maycie’s 2nd Birthday. Love her.

July Breckenridge! This was our anniversary trip, since we didn’t really have one. Also, it was truly the anniversary and location of our honeymoon! Hiked some hikes. Snapped some pics. Ate some good food. Drank with friends. Hot-tubbed with family. Surfed on snowfields. Biked down Vail pass. Garden of the Gods. Pike’s Peak. Celebrated a Hartman (the original Hartman- well, not the original original, but the Ron & Kathy Hartman ) Anniversary. This one gets 2 rows of pics, because I’m the boss of this space, and it’s what I want to do.

  More pics: here

August Hosted the Sellers/Wilsons for Labor Day. Shucked some corn. Grilled some food. Played with some noopy nieces. Dad’s family reunion in Brown County. Spent some time in Nashville and a good night at a Brewery. Hosted Elaine & Doug, also Sprinky. Cut into a sex cake. Found out E&D are having a boy! Can’t wait to meet brand new Baby Luke.

    More pics: here

September visited some good (fun!) friends in NYC. This was our anniversary trip, since we didn’t really have one. These friends appreciate my knowledge of pop culture, which is sometimes a foreign language to J (although he is the one who first informed me of the Kim/Chris split and insisted I see Bridesmaids. He heard both on sports radio). Observed 9/11. Held the Statue of Liberty in our palms. Went to the Catskills. Ate some good food. Played with an adorable baby. Participated in the first bonfire of Fall. Played in a kickball tournament, concussed myself on the pavement. Celebrated Callie’s first birthday. Love her. Joined a small group at church. Made some friends.

   More pics: here

October Destin! I know I’ve said this before, but this was our anniversary trip, since we didn’t really have one. Plus it was the location of our other honeymoon, between the ceremony and actual honeymoon in Breck. Spent some time with the Grampies. Spent some time at the Blossfolly (ceremony beachouse) beach, for nostalgia’s sake. Ate dinner at Henderson Park Inn, where God gave us the most amazing anniversary sunset ever imagined.

More pics: here and here

November Hosted the fam(s) for Thanksgiving: Hartmans, Sellers, the Grampies, Wilsons, Kaminskis, Sharon, & Grams. Got rear ended. Saw THREE rainbows in one day. Spent a noopy weekend with Callie.

December Watched the Badgers win the Big Ten Championships. For reasons unexplained, my nieces started calling me Uncle Brooklyn. Dressed up in snowflake placemats & battery operated lights for a party. Celebrated our engageaversary in Chicago on the 96th floor. Celebrated Christmas in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indy, and Sprinky (not a place, but a BFF). Celebrated the last moments of 2011 with good old friends and good new friends.

          More pics: here

The End! Cheers to all for such a great year, and thanks for the friends who hosted us.

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Love. Trash. Mardi Gras.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a year and a half.

Last Mardi Gras I walked out of my St. Charles Ave. apartment at 7pm in a total haze to meet some friends for Lebanese food. I squinted my eyes and looked around after just having woken up from days (fine, weeks) (fine, like a month and a half) of parades and parties and beads and king cakes and mimosas, staying up way too late and attending way too little class, to a totally empty and ghostlike street at dusk. It was trashed. The city had partied itself silly, vomited plastic cups and beads, and disappeared.

Mardi Gras is, without a doubt, two of the most super fun weeks in life. Days end at 3 in the afternoon to get home before parade routes close local streets. It’s normal to be offered king cake 8 times in one day, and its normal to accept all 8 times. Weekends start on Thursday and are stacked with parades, sometimes two or three a day, full of 12-foot high-heeled shoe floats and themes like Your Stimulus Package led by “Spanker Banker.” It’s okay to set up lawn chairs in the middle of the street car track and be drunk at 10am.

Mardi Gras is humanity in its most ridiculous glory. Six weeks of indulgence, leading up to the very last day, the very last hour, of unrestrained reckless abandon.

Why? Because midnight starts Lent: a forty-day season of restraint and self-examination in preparation for Easter.

I imagine myself in life, how I must appear to God, like that street. The aftermath of Mardi Gras knocking on the door to church on Wednesday morning. I’m (metaphorically, of course) sloshing beer and dripping gumbo all over the place, dragging a string of broken beads caught on my shoe, dressed in an Oyster outfit, fat off of King Cake, momentarily sidetracked by tiny little ponies and fire blowers. And God opens the door, and I see him, then I see me. Then I see him, then I see me. And I’m like, Maybe I should wash my hands.

The thing is, at 8pm on Mardi Gras night, the police shut down the streets, the French Quarter is emptied and everyone goes home. Street-cleaning crews start rolling, city employees set out on foot with brooms, rakes and blowers to push 100 tons of trash into the streets, the street guys sweep it all up, and dump trucks carry it away- all before midnight on Ash Wednesday. The city must be clean by midnight. While most of us are fast asleep in a drunken haze, smiling and filthy, our city is being renewed. We wake up on Wednesday morning to sparkly clean streets. The mess we made, no longer there.

So. Back to my story. I squinted my eyes and looked around to a totally empty and ghostlike street at dusk. It was trashed. What came to mind was a Mother Teresa quote I’d seen earlier in the day: Love has a hem to her garment that reaches to the very dust. It sweeps the stains from the streets and lanes, and because it can, it must.

Because it can, it must.

And then I remembered that God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (while we stood at the door with our gumbo and beer and tiny ponies and fire throwers), Christ died for us.

God loves us. We trash ourselves. Jesus makes us clean.

50 days of oatmeal and 10 face wipes

Today the AT&T guy asked for my address, and I was totally stumped. I couldn’t remember the address to my dad’s attic.  AT&T had a Fort Wayne address in the system and a New Orleans address in the system, and there I was in Indianapolis trying to suspend my plan while I go to Belize.  He squinted at me with that you’re-an-identity-thief-look, then asked for my license and the last 4 digits of my social security number. I started to explain the situation, but he was bored by the fifth word, so I just sighed and waited while he dialed customer care.  He told customer care I was going to Guatemala.

Some people do displacement well. I do it kind of complainy and neurotic-like.  I feel like my life is totally out of control when I can’t put together a good outfit, and when doing so includes a trip to the attic, a trip to the trunk and rummaging through 4 suitcases. Is it in the Belize bag? Is it in the Thanksgiving bag? Is it in the New Orleans bag? Is it in the Madison bag? Nope. It must be in the trunk. Nope. It’s gotta be in the attic. Oh. There it is. Right there in the 4th box from the back labeled dishes. My black sweater!

Yesterday I purchased 50 days worth of Instant oatmeal and Fiber One bars- both items of comfort and ease that are simple to make, quick to fill and parasite free- and spent 2 hours rearranging and weighing suitcases to get them to fit. Also $80 worth of bug spray, sunscreen, tee trea oil, wet wipes… and a jump rope. For exercise. I remember doing this last year with Steph at the target- should I get washcloths or face wipes? The kind that’s already wet, or the kind where I have to add water? Which takes up less space? Which one is heavier? What I have found is: little luxuries go a long way.  I can’t bring 90 days of face wipes. But I can bring a washcloth and know that 10 Olay face wipes will feel like gold on ten special days when the water is off and I really just want to wash my face.

And you should have seen Elaine helping with my clothes… There were mountains and mountains. Then piles and piles. Then stacks of three.

  • Please can I bring my blue and white striped pants?
  • Will you even wear those pants?
  • I think so. I don’t know. Maybe.
  • But you already have the khaki and white striped ones.
  • I know but I like the blue ones.
  • You can’t have both. You already have 8 other pants. Pick one.

And on and on and on: please can I bring my 10th green tank top… please can I bring my 8th pink Nike shorts… please can I bring my 4th white sweatshirt… It felt like last year’s Gustav evacuation. It was a careful selection process, and in the end, I always wanted the thing I dind’t bring.  Sigh.  As of tonight, my clothes for 3 monts fit into one moderately sized suitcase. My supplies fit into an second, and my sheets/towels/bathroom/bugstuff/meds/snacks/etc. fit into a third. Whew. I’d like to share a picture sequence of my life in relation to this topic.

My apartment at the beginning of the school year:

Apartment 1

My apartment at Finals:

Apartment Finals

My apartment in the middle of selling furniture and hosting guests:

Apartment guests

Apartment during packing phase:

Apartment packing

Post Packing:

Post Packing 1

Post packing 2

All the lipgloss I found while packing up the apartment:

Lipgloss

What happened to SJP- kickball. Home run if you hit her in the face:

SJP kickball

Getting home:

Packed car

My mover: Note the basket he’s holding. It wouldn’t fit into the car, so we dropped it off under the I-10 overpass where the homeless hang…

Jeff

My life now:

suitcases

The end:

Empty apartment

In case you wonder about me, you can find me according to the following itinerary:

  • August 29th Madison
  • September 1st Indianapolis
  • September 5th Belize
  • November 25th Dallas
  • November 29th Madison
  • November 30th Indianapolis
  • December 1st New Orleans
  • December 11th- GRADUATE!

Goodbye. Post you in a couple days.

Good Morning, August. Who let you in?

I don’t even know how to start this one. Apparently life moves slowly while you’re waiting for it to boil, and then one day you wake up and it’s over. Not life, just your time in New Orleans.

Sprinky asked me yesterday if I was sad yet about leaving. I had meant to already be sad by now, but I am just way behind schedule. In the midst of all the violence papers and statistics labs and policy analysis and client terminations and closing summaries and furniture selling and Belize packing and friend hosting, I hadn’t really thought about it. The end-of-the-semester glow in my eyes had failed to consider that at the end of the semester a) assignments must be finished and b) I have to leave. What?!

Per a), I cannot possibly finish in time. Here is how homework has gone for me lately:
8:40- arrive
8:45- arrange table
8:47- dig for change
8:50- Buy tea
8:51- mess around on Facebook
8:52- open the document
8:53- go to the bathroom
8:55- check my phone
8:57- write a sentence
9:01- check my email
9:03- stretch
9:05- check my phone
9:07- mess around on Facebook
9:10- make sure the document is still there
9:15- save the document
9:18- pack up
9:20- leave

Per b), But I just got here! I can’t even wrap my brain around the fact one year ago today I packed up everything I owned and moved to New Orleans. We poured sugar on Sprinky. We sang with the Hattiesburg Applebees singers. We dumped my stuff into a storage closet and took the city by storm. What I mean is, I flipped out. New Orleans just seemed so new and scary and impossible then. But things settled, I took a few deep breaths and couple thousand beignets and recovered. I really thought I had arrived, you know? And I thought I’d be here for a while. I had no idea that, behind its back, life held a bunch of other crazy ideas: an opportunity to do my last semester in Belize, a brand new adorable Maycie to love in Indianapolis, along with a delicious old Lil, a best-ever Jeff (don’t start!) in Wisconsin, and the impossible task of graduating into the non-profit world during the worst possible job-finding time ever… with a special expertise in an area that doesn’t really exist outside of New Orleans. Sigh.

But it will be okay.

Two weeks from today I’ll blow a kiss to New Orleans & thank her for her hospitality, then head north. I am drooling at the thought of getting my hands on all those cute winter coats… but only for a second. Three weeks from then, I’ll leave for Belize.

August equals change. I have to tell myself every 25 minutes that everything will be just fine. I also have to keep myself from stockpiling Bee Sweet cupcakes in my cheeks…

New Orleans, you’re crazy and I like you. Don’t forget about me.

NOLA sunrise

139 in New Orleans

Sigh. Last night at like 2 in the morning, I woke up to a lady screaming outside my window. I was totally disoriented and couldn’t figure out if I was night hallucinating or if I’d just had a bad dream, until I heard the lady scream again, then yell—I mean, like, yell, scared and desperate lose-your-voice kind of yell, HELP! She yelled again, long and whimpery and hoarse, and I sat up in this weird paralyzed terror. I listened to her scream again and then heard a car drive away. I thought I might throw up. I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat in my bed in the dark. Yes, I realize normal people would have run to the window, grabbed the cell and filed a report. But I was too afraid to look out my window.

When I finally snapped to it and peeked out the window, the street was empty, and leaves were swirling around in the middle of the street where the car must have pulled away, presumably with the lady in it. I could hear the lady screaming in the distance farther and farther away.

I never called 911. I don’t know why—maybe, I think, because I could imagine them saying: where? What did she look like? What did the car look like? Why didn’t you call right away? And I just didn’t know any of those answers. The longer I waited, the more stupid and irresponsible and guilty I felt for not looking and then for not calling right away. I just stared out onto dark, creepy Jackson Avenue, and the saddest, angriest feeling of hatred for this city came over me. I just wanted to pack up all my stuff and go back to Indiana. Like they don’t have abductions, rapes, murders, etc. there…

I love this city, and I have this beautiful view of the skyline, and the front of my building sits right on Saint Charles with the streetcar line and parades and everything. But outside my window, six floors down is Jackson Ave. I started to wonder about Jackson when I first moved here and people kept asking me where I lived, and I’d tell them, and they’d say, ‘Oh, Crack Corner? Just don’t park on the lakeside of St. Charles and you’ll be fine…’ or, “Isn’t that the triangle of death?” Yes. In fact, it is.

I’ve seen a thousand million drug busts and arrests and roll calls out that window, most of them at like 6pm, with a beautiful sunset and skyline view behind the cop car lights, and safety is a daily discussion in class, but I just felt unaffected. Until this lady’s screams came into my window.

So I turned on all my lights, the TV, my music, watched videos of my baby niece, Lily, for 2 hours and took an Ambien. I had to wake up 3 hours later to work this family therapy conference in the quarter—and my body was still on Ambien, I think, until noon. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that lady, and I couldn’t stop wondering if she was safe, and I couldn’t stop asking: what if that had been me and people heard me screaming for help but didn’t do anything?

Anyway. I’ve been telling myself that if I heard her, other people heard her too, and one of those people probably called, right? We looked up the crime stats for last night—3 murders in 3 hours, no women.

At noon today I got caught in a downpour and went home to sleep. I woke up 3 hours later in a gloomy haze. It was a beautiful night with a beautiful sunset and I couldn’t even bring myself to look outside or acknowledge Jackson Ave out my window, which is so unhealthy—as if me and that street and, consequently, this city are in some kind of irreparable fight. It was so strong a feeling of withdrawal and isolation that I forced myself to get up and seek out all the places in this city where I know beauty exists. I went to Audubon Park, I went to the fly, and I went to the lake. I ran and jogged and walked until I couldn’t take another step, and then I cried for a long time. I felt like God didn’t exist here last night, and that ugliness had taken over.

But it’s not true. Ugliness is everywhere. But so is truth and beauty. Are New Orleanians eating and laughing and enjoying things and generally being held together? Because if they are, then God is here. These things—truth and beauty—can’t exist here without Him.

I read this book. It was given to me by my Grandma, who’s friend’s granddaughter had self-published, called Charismatic City: My New York. She did a funny thing with Psalm 139, and I liked it. I claim it as a way of humanizing this amazing, ugly, beautiful, complex city:

139 in New Orleans

Lord, you have searched Crawfish Guy, and you know him.

You know when that avocado vendor sits and when that preacher on channel 79 who hangs out at the Daiquiri shop rises.

You perceive that pickle-tub drummer’s thoughts from afar.

You discern the blind, deaf guy outside my apartment’s going out and his lying down.

You are familiar with all the meter lady’s ways.

Before a word is on the hotdog man’s tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for this streetcar driver, too lofty for him to attain.

For you created those scary guys on the corner of Jackson and Carondelet’s inmost beings, you knit them together in their mother’s wombs.

I praise you because that little girl with the booty shorts is fearfully and wonderfully made. The man following her on his bike was not hidden from you when he was made in the secret place.

How precious are your thoughts about that homeless man under I-10, O God.

How vast is the sum of them! Were he to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When the super skinny lady on Louisiana Avenue awakes, you are still with her.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Amen.

Oh, and please let that lady be safe tonight.

It’s about that time again.

I have to tell you three things:

1. I have a boyfriend. That’s both ‘boy and ‘friend’ in the same word. I do not have to pay a monthly boyfriend fee. It’s totally voluntary in his part.

2. I’m graduating this year! Not in May, but in December. I have been working toward my Master’s Degree in Social Work at Tulane University in New Orleans. I’ve had the best experience doing individual and group grief and trauma counseling in the Recovery School District with kids who are experiencing stress due to having witnessed a violent crime or having been through Hurricane Katrina.

3. As my culminating capstone experience, I will be taking this grief/trauma model to Belize in August and implementing it in a grassroots Domestic Violence shelter. I’m dying to tell you the story of how this whole thing came about, but it would be impossible and annoying to make you read a 5 page letter, so I’m just going to list the facts:

  • I went to Belize in the fall with CFI. A team member saw “Open Doors” on a storefront. Team member said, “Hey, we have an Open Doors food bank in Westfield! Let’s see what this place is!” Team drove around for an hour trying to re-find Open Doors. Couldn’t be found. Gave up. Went back to hotel. Front desk lady said her aunt works for Open Doors and lives right behind hotel. Open Doors Lady came over after dinner to talk. Open doors lady has a name: Marilyn.
  • Turns out, Open Doors is a domestic violence shelter in San Ignacio that was just opened last February. It’s only the second safe shelter in the entire country. One woman walked miles from three villages over on a broken foot, broken hip, and broken hand carrying a baby and a three-year-old with a broken arm.
  • Marilyn and her friend, Anna, started Open Doors to provide support and help for the women who come in, but they have no idea what to do with the kids, many of whom are imitating violence and showing significant distress.
  • I have been trained in how to help and treat kids who had witnessed ongoing, traumatic violence in New Orleans. I felt the tug to find a way to bring the New Orleans program to this shelter and train the shelter staff.
  • I went back to Tulane over Thanksgiving break and proposed the program. Tulane pulled strings to get me into the International Program, but said I’d have to find someone in the country to supervise me.
  • I called Open Doors. Marilyn said she had a student was working with her, and I should talk to the student. The student wasn’t there. Dead end. Student walked into the office as we were hanging up. Marilyn handed over the phone. I couldn’t hear the student because of a bad connection and only 1 minute on my phone card. I asked for student’s email address to e-mail questions. Student said: Melissa@TULANE.edu. As in, TULANE UNIVERSITY, my school in New Orleans!! She (Melissa) is a cultural anthropology doctorate student and has been doing research on domestic violence in Belize since 2002. She will be leaving in July. I’ll come in August. A seamless transition.
  • Even in the retelling of this, I feel unable to express God’s clear and shining presence in all our lives in that moment—Marilyn, the Tulane student, me and the kids who need services. All of our lives intersected in the realization of that little email address, and God’s plan became clear and undeniable to all of us. Everything we’d wondered on and off before—why I was at Tulane of all places, why Melissa was in San Ignacio of all places, why Dave (the team member) had insisted on finding Open Doors that day, that the front desk lady happened to be the niece of Marilyn, and that their exact need was my exact training—it all came together. God makes me cry, He is so perfect and organized. Sigh.

In addition to this project, I’ll be continuing the AIDS/HIV prevention programming I did last fall in the schools, and starting a mentoring program through CFI to match up the Standard 5 and 6 girls with “big-sister” type women in the States. These women will hopefully serve as pen-pals and supports, and will be a source of encouragement for the girls to continue their schooling past primary school.

Please know that if you’ve been involved in any of this Belize business for the past few years by supporting or encouraging in ANY way, this opportunity could not have come together without you. Although I am certain God would have met their needs with or without me, I appreciate your willingness to serve through prayer and financial support so that we could all be a part of it.

I’m working hard to fund the projects through student loans and corporate sponsors, however, if you feel particularly drawn to any of these upcoming fall projects, I’d love your prayer and support. The total cost of all three projects is $3,900 and if you’d like to contribute, it can be done in three ways:

• Make a check out to CFI with “Brooke Wilson” in memo line and mail to: CFI, 448 Leeds Circle, Carmel, IN 46032 (this method is tax deductible)

• Go to CFI website and contribute online (this method is also tax deductible): http://www.cfikids.com- designate to “Brooke Wilson”

• Make a check out to Brooke Wilson (this method is NOT tax deductible): email me

I hope you get a sense of my heart and my calling through this letter. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel blessed through this opportunity and want to help with the skills I’ve been given.

The end!

Brooke Wilson
brkwilson@gmail.com
http://www.brkwilson.blogspot.com

Take home exam, Part II

I had a meltdown tonight that started with the realization that there was a Part II to my take home exam. I called Sprinky. She asked if I had a cold. I told her no, that I was crying and that I couldn’t even think of a good reason why since Part II only added two more double-spaced pages.

By the end of the conversation, I’d cried through the cellulite I had discovered on my thigh 20 minutes earlier and the resignation to aging and out-of-shapeness, which was only amplified by the understanding that I would not be able to get to the gym to play basketball tomorrow at 6 because I’d have to stay up later to finish the stupid exam; and after that, that I’d seen the most beautiful sunsets from the levee 4 nights in a row and had done my best to share them with people, but that at the end of the day, it was still only me walking to my car in the dark; and after that, that I’d missed the gorgeous moon tonight, but saw it last night when everyone else was busy and I was exploding with spectacular full-moon goodness; and after that, that the plane tickets I went to buy jumped like $70 during the 3 minutes I was trying to purchase them. My family—all 8 sides of them—will be together on the same day at the same time for my niece’s first birthday party, and American Airlines is messing with me. I don’t know when that will happen again barring a funeral or my own wedding. Doesn’t the airline industry know that?

In the end, it turned out that 80 degrees and sunny reminded me of summer in Fort Wayne with our little sliding door open, and me on the couch and Sprinky in the bedroom, and everyone coming in and out, and air mattresses all over the place, the OC and champagne, and the baby Weber grill, and my family only 2 hours away. I haven’t spent a summer outside of Fort Wayne in almost 10 years. What I’m missing here is couple of SCAN peeps, a very icy tall nonfat mocha on the corner of State and Coliseum, Elaine on my air mattress, a ten-year old following me around for weeks at a time, dusk on my balcony, and one very important Sprinky on the couch.

Photobucket

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What I have instead is Schroeder’s take home exam part II, which seems to be as hazardous as tear gas or something.

Brooke, vegetables. Vegetables, Brooke.

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Don’t they look lost and lonely on my counter?

After a nice little rally from New Years to Mardi Gras, and then a month straight of King Cake and margaritas, I have reintroduced fruits and vegetables to the diet. They were kind of shaky on the way home from the grocery, and they were very quiet all night, sort of clumping together and looking around nervously. I told them they’d get used to it, and they didn’t really protest. They just sat there and eyed the frosted frog cookies trying to creep up on them from the left. They are a smart bunch.

Yes, I know I’m weird.

Really, Mardi Gras? Really?

Mardi Gras is here. Do you know how I know? My apartment building is fenced off and there are guards at every entrance. I can’t park on the street, and to get into the building, I have to have to be wearing a wristband corresponding with the parade color of that day. My apartment number is on each wristband, and if I forget the wristband or wear the wrong color, I sleep on the streets. If that happens, though, I wont starve because I can reach out and touch 5 different funnel cake and corndog stands. It’s beautiful, really.

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The upside: drinks and beads all around for the next 10 days!

Is this thing on?

I had this beautiful moment today driving across the industrial canal—the lake on my right, a giant cruise ship on the left, making my way from the upper 9th, where I successfully co-led my first grief and trauma group(!) through the city to the lower garden district, where I live. Twice, there was traffic and I ducked down and around and over and sideways and made it through the city quickly and efficiently, realizing: a) I know my city. At some point, my brain automatically began to calculate the shortcuts through an entire city separated by canals and interstates and really confusing u-turns. That moment felt like home. And b) I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do. How often does that happen?

I would also like to state for the record after careful consideration and eight articles that I have plenty of securely attached features, thankyouverymuch. I have also come up with my own theory. It’s called, we shouldn’t be forced to do 8-page reflections on a thousand articles covering the same basic theme, even if courier new does take it down to 5. It’s alarming what you find out. Did you guys know about this ‘reading’ business? Either way, bring on substance abuse. Now there’s a topic I can handle. With two hands.

Winn Dixie ran out of chickpeas. I think that’s so weird.