Argo, the Ayatollah, Eudora Welty and First Apartments

27 02 2013

When I saw the Best Picture Argo, I was transported back to that period of time. I had just graduated from college and that was the background news that was playing as I moved into my first apartment. My daughter moved out of her first apartment over Oscar weekend and the similarities in our lives struck a chord in me. How alike we are, yet still living different lives, a generation apart.

My daughter’s first apartment

My daughter’s first apartment

My daughter has now moved out of her first apartment. I am relieved, as I’m sure my parents were when I moved out of mine. My cousin, who moved us both, said when moving my daughter, “Well, it’s not as crappy as yours was!” He was right, which is probably why I didn’t cry when she moved in like my parents did.

I had moved to Jackson, Mississippi for that first job and first place to live on my own.  We were both drawn to those old, vintage, charming, non-suburban parts of town. The one with the old oak trees that form a canopy over the narrow streets. Neighborhoods full of beautiful homes with spacious wraparound front porches shaded by towering trees and flowering bushes in the yards. Neither my daughter nor I could afford those nice garden district homes. We both had to live in the edgier part of those neighborhoods, in the apartments that were…well, edgier.

My first apartment

My first
apartment

We both had places that had charm. Mine was actually over 100 years old. By charm, I mean they had high ceilings and hardwood floors. For that charm, I didn’t need a dustpan. When I swept I could just sweep and the dirt fell onto the ground from the cracks between the charming hardwood floorboards. We both had gas space heaters to warm us in the winter. My daughter’s had flames that leapt out of it. You had to be careful when you walked by so your sleeve didn’t catch on fire. I understood this, because in order to heat my gas oven, you had to turn it on and throw a match in. When you heard the whoosh sound, you knew it was lit.

I moved into my place in February. I didn’t know that you had to call to turn the gas and electricity on. The property handyman had hangover fumes clinging on his clothes and breath as my parents moved me in. It was very cold. There was a block of ice in the toilet and an icicle hung from the kitchen faucet.

My neighbors were Iranian students who had a picture of the Ayatollah Khomeini hanging on their walls. You could hear them chanting their Islamic prayers through the walls as I moved into my frozen apartment.

This is when my parents burst into tears.

I never mention to them there was a halfway house on the street behind me and my driveway was used as a cut through to the liquor store. I did tell them that the famous southern writer, Eudora Welty  lived just down the street and we shopped at the same Jitney Jungle. Her stately home was on my evening walking path.

My daughter’s now moved a few blocks deeper into that neighborhood into a prettier and safer part. I’ve lived in the burbs with all the modern conveniences for decades now. I often smile when I think back on my first apartment. While looking for a picture of it, I discovered a tender note from a long ago love. Those radical Iranian students proved to be good neighbors. I have a vague memory of debating capitalism vs. communism on my front porch and I also remember that they would share the pistachios their parents sent them from Iran.

When they told their parents of a single, wanton, American woman who moved in next door, had unchaperoned men in her place, was scantily clad in the hot summer months and whose rock and roll music could be heard through the open windows, those parents probably cried too.

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—Connie

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Parading

16 02 2013
Two guys walking abreast (that me and my buddy in the cleavage)

Two guys walking abreast (that me and my buddy in the cleavage)

It was a 
dark time growing up without king cake. I grew up in a time before
 Mardi Gras came to Baton Rouge. I’d heard about it as a kid and 
family friends would bring me exotic, glamorous beads from a far
off place. As a child New Orleans seemed much further away than 90 
miles and it was so foreign to where I lived. Even the accents of 
the people from there sounded funny.

That first experience didn’t 
happen for me ’till I got to college. My parents remained Mardi
 Gras virgins. But at some point in my young adulthood, a small
 parade began in the shadow of Louisiana’s huge phallic State
 Capital. Sure, it was a bunch of drag queens that 
liked to dress up and parade down the streets of the town’s oldest 
neighborhood, Spanish Town, but it was a parade. That little parade 
grew and grew and last year 100,000 came to catch the beads, or
 condoms, or white bread or whatever was being thrown off the 
homemade floats.

Governor Jindal was among many politicians skewered this year

Governor Jindal was among many politicians skewered this year

It is 
appropriate that a parade grew up organically in the shadow of
Louisiana politics. It’s the honoring of our corrupt and crazy
 political history that makes the parade so fun. Add sexual
 overtones to it all and it is a day that is so fun and hip and cool 
that Baton Rouge can only sustain that level of intensity for the 
day of the parade. The Spanish Town parade doesn’t try to be a big
 and glitzy New Orleans parade with it’s imported celebrities. The celebrities that are at the Spanish Town parade are likely to 
be the infamous politician who just got out of  jail. The
 floats look homemade because they are. Pictures are stapled to the
 sides that someone downloaded and printed on their office printer
 when the boss wasn’t looking. The paint is barely dry on others 
because they were hastily put together with a keg and an 
all-nighter.

costume copy

Even the colors are 
different. Instead of the traditional purple, green and gold, 
flamingo pink is the color that rules the day. People dress in the
ir reverence of the parade spirit and of course in pink. You can’t
 be too pink or too tacky. That drag queen spirit is still present 
in the deep marrow of the costumed revelers. Families are welcome, 
but this is an adult parade with pink penis popsicles sold by the 
same vendor selling pink cotton candy.

The hightlight of the parade 
is the lawnmower brigade—the Krewe of Yazoo. They parade like a 
marching band, but they’re all pushing their lawn mowers. And each 
year they have a choreographed performance. Last year they were 
zombies performing “Lawn of the Dead” to the music, Staying Alive.
 My favorite past performance may always be when they were the 
Mow-donnas.

The Grand Marshall and me

The Grand
Marshall and me

The Baton Rouge Spanish Town
 Mardi Gras Parade, a day of hilarity and friends and eating and
 drinking. It’s all the things I love about living here, all wrapped
 up with a big pink bow—just don’t ask where that bow has been!

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 enjoyed my blog, I’d love for you to
 hit the follow button and share 
it with your friends!
—Connie





The List

10 02 2013

This is part of the February Generation Fabulous bloghop. It’s even featured in Huffington PostClick the link at the end of the post to read the  celebrity crushes of the other amazing GenFab bloggers.

list photo

For a while, I thought I was the only one who had a list. You know, the list of the celebrity men that you’re allowed to have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for. Because that man in your real life would understand and love you so much that when Brad Pitt walks into your life…well, Brad would be so overcome with passion that he must have you immediately. Yeah, THAT list! I didn’t realize other people had a list until there was an episode of Friends about it.

Pitt

Numero Uno on my list is Brad Pitt. But not just any Brad. I want Legends of the Fall Brad. That beautiful tortured bad boy who loved so intensely that he went crazy…in a beautiful way. Real life Brad doesn’t do it for me, Angie can keep him. Even Brad from the movie Troy doesn’t hold a candle to Legends of the Fall Brad. That wild mountain man with those long blond locks blowing in the breeze. Heavy Sigh.
DayLewis

Daniel Day Lewis…now you may be thinking about him in Lincoln and going “Really?” Now, he gives a great performance and I think he should win the Oscar for that role. But no, Hawkeye from Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day Lewis. Another wild man with long flowing locks. My real-life sweetie has never seen that movie. HHhhhmmmmm, I might need to get it for Valentine’s Day.
Neeson

More long flowing locks in this epic period movie with Liam Neeson—Rob Roy. The movie poster copy reads, “He loved one woman. He feared no man.” Maybe I’m picking up a theme as to why certain celebrities are on my list. A strong man’s man who loves a woman so intensely, he would give his life for her. Whew!

Redford

Robert Redford is getting too old for me. But Bob washing Meryl’s hair in Out of Africa. That memorable scene has to be one of the sexiest of all time. Like Meryl, I would buy a farm in Africa and tell him long stories over a great meal, wine and candlelight if he would wash my hair. In the movie, it’s not like camping at all. It’s epic and romantic, and there are no bugs and the water isn’t too cold.
Clooney

Now George is a good-looking man, but real life George may be a little too good looking for me. Not that I wouldn’t go hang with him in Lake Como, Italy. But George Clooney as Dr. Doug Ross on ER. Doug/George was a bit of a bad boy who broke rules and he always had a wicked twinkle in his eye. The episode that was Julianna Margulies’ final episode when she ran into his arms someplace that was not in the ER because he had already left the series to start his movie career. The memory of watching that kiss still makes me melt. I may have to take a break now and go have a glass of wine and take a long bubble bath.

So next time I’m in New Orleans, sitting in a French Quarter bar (because this could happen in that old magical, romantic city), when someone from The List wanders in and our eyes lock from across the crowded room, all I can say is, he’d better be in character, because this is MY fantasy.


If you enjoyed my blog, I’d love for you to hit the follow button and share it with your friends! —Connie

If you’d like to read about the other celebrity crushes clink on this link and they are connected at the bottom.