“You’re pregnant, again?!”

“You two need to get cable.”

“You know what causes that, right?”

“What are you going to do?!”

And then sometimes you really do get the sincerely genuine, “Congratulations! Children are such a blessing!”

But most of the time it’s a comment accompanied with a look of pity. It probably has to do with the look of exhaustion I wear daily—it doesn’t really blend well with the Mac concealer.

Yes. I am pregnant with baby number four. Now that I’m etching past the 12 week mark and the first trimester of exhaustion and nausea, the reality of what I am about to embark upon is overwhelming. It wasn’t “supposed” to happen for another year. I needed to finish grad school. My oldest is just entering pre-k and is not even four years old yet. I thought I’d have more time to prepare…as best as one prepares for four small children.

It seems like the female reproductive system is such a commonly discussed topic among media outlets and politicians. I’ve read so many blogs that talk about what we should and should not talk about with one another. But as more people discover our news, I feel like I have to have some type of stance as to why I am choosing to be so open to life. I may not seem very convincing in person because I am just so tired. 

This week I had my new students read my short story, “The Liver Philosophy”. The moral of the story is to do what is right for you, even if no one else gets it. I had my students write a summary of what they felt it meant and quite a few of them wrote about some of their own choices that they are willing to be a “Liver” for. It was both insightful and inspiring. What moved me more is that I had forgotten to live out the very words I had once wrote!

I know that having a large family is not what everyone desires. I know that being open to “God’s will” is very open to interpretation. I also know that I am not one to judge other people’s choices, as long as they can respect mine.

I don’t know what I am going to do. My motto is that I tend to take life 50 minutes at a time. It’s the teacher in me. Every time the bell rings, a new class begins and anything and everything can change. It carries over into my home life. A meltdown one moment can lead to giggles the next.

Having my children so close together is hard. I’m really finally admitting it out loud. Maybe that’s one of the reasons you have to be open to God to have bigger families. You have to pray a lot for your sanity and you also have to admit that you need other people. It’s a hard thing to do when you have a lot of pride and you were once so independent, but then you look around and you see that you have a real family and real friends who live and celebrate this one life with you.

I sometimes question if I’m making the right choice, but then today happens. After a chaotic day, my three boys will be so sweet. And we do something random like “chase the sun”, which involves driving down an open highway to watch the gorgeous sunset while listening to The Postal Service. And they talk to one another like brothers do and say in an almost synchronized, rehearsed manner, “Good night, Sun,” to the melody of how we read, “Good Night Moon.” And I think, Yes. I can have another. I will survive thrive.

See you in February Baby Bou:)

Class-action Cajun

I didn’t claim to be Cajun until I went to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I didn’t realize the fascinating tale of my heritage. I also didn’t gather there was a distinction between Cajun or Creole or that there was actually a vast difference between all parts of my state: New Orleans is completely different from Baton Rouge; Lafayette/Acadiana is distinguished from the current and former state capitals; there are actually Prairie Cajuns and Bayou Cajuns; and north Louisiana is almost a different state completely.

Once I had this cultural epiphany, I realized  the equation that perpetuates the problem: media + advertising + corrupt politics = misinformed perception.

Louisiana has always had a colorful history with a flare for fun. After all, we are the toe-tapping boot and the mouth of the Mississippi. We literally are the shit – the excess of the entire right half of the country flows from tributaries through us to the Gulf of Mexico.

With the surge of technology over the past 10 years, the Cajun image has been contorted to a nearly unrecognizable spin-off of a New Orleans step-brother. People from across the nation assume we are one in the same, but that could not be farther from the truth. But how would they know? They see commercials for multiple chain restaurants that say, “Try our Cajun style ________, straight from New Orleans.” Or they watch new popular shows like “Swamp People” and think that we all say, “Choot ’em.”

Should we embrace the fact that people know who we are even though they don’t understand that we do not cook like New Orleans or possess the same colloquial vernacular?

In the past two weeks I have joked that we should create a class action lawsuit as Cajuns against restaurants who misuse our name for their recipes. Shouldn’t it be Cajun approved before it goes national? Anyone who has eaten food in both New Orleans and Lafayette knows that the food is vastly different. Not even all Louisianians understand this concept, so how can anyone who has never visited our homestead?

I’m sure that many denizens from other states have similar issues with how their lives are portrayed on television. For example, the first time I flew to New York City to visit a friend, I was terribly nervous to hale a taxi cab and travel solo at night. My friend commented that life in NYC is not like NYPD Blue and he assured me that I would be fine – and he was right.

This morning I saw a status on Facebook that announced a casting call for a new show, “Party Down South.” The concept is similar to that of Jersey Shore. My qualm with the announcement was this line: “The search is on for the next big television personalities who are ragin’ Cajuns and appreciate all that the Southern Gulf cities have to offer.” This may not seem like a big deal, but a sentence later it listed that casting calls will be in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (NOT JUST REAL CAJUNS).

I feel like yelling, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”. All Americans should be outraged. We are allowing pop-culture society to ruin our roots. It doesn’t matter if you are Cajun or not. We should not sit by and let D-listed entertainment further cripple the minds of today’s ignorance and tomorrow’s youth. How long will we let rich culture deteriorate – everywhere?

A lawsuit may seem extreme. But sometimes an extreme measure is the only thing that makes it into the sensational mainstream media.

Here’s the full Casting Call invitation. Think for yourself:

Media Alert: Party Down South Casting

Submitted by doron on June 27, 2011 – 3:09pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Doron Ofir Casting June 27, 2011

DORON OFIR CASTING & 495 PRODUCTIONS ARE CURRENTLY CASTING LOUD & PROUD GULF SOUTHERNERS AND CAJUNS

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 27, 2011) – Doron Ofir Casting in conjunction with 495 Productions is proud to announce the summer 2011 casting tour in search of the hottest, proudest Gulf Southerners, Bayou residents and Cajuns to star in PARTY DOWN SOUTH (working title) by the legendary Casting Company and Production Company of MTV’s smash hit series, JERSEY SHORE . . . the search is on for the next big television personalities who are ragin’ Cajuns and appreciate all that the Southern Gulf cities have to offer.

“American is the greatest melting pot of cultures, dialects, lifestyles and hometown pride! I am excited at the prospect of presenting a cast that’s rich with personalities, that capture the world’s attention by showcasing the unique flavor of this slice of the South” – Doron Ofir Executive Casting Director.

In an effort to find the most outrageous and best characters in the South, casting events and interviews will be held throughout the month of July in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Doron Ofir Casting is seeking Gulf-Coast Southerners who are at least 21 years old and looking to prove that the party down South will rise again. If you call ‘gators your neighbors, reckon Mardi Gras should be a national holiday, your daisy dukes fit just right and are ready to make your Maw Maw and Paw Paw proud, we are looking for you!

The official casting and digital application to be considered and invited to audition can be found atwww.partydownsouth.com

A toast

As a writer, I’ve come to understand the reality of cliches. As a writer, you try to stay away from them. However, there’s a reason situations become a cliche–there’s some truth to them. That’s how I felt the week before my wedding. One. Big. Cliche. I was a stressed-out-bridezilla.

There are so many meticulous details that require your attention. I am grateful that by the time I made it to the rehearsal dinner everything seemed to slow back to a normal pace. The night before the rehearsal, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about how much my life had changed over the past year. I guess falling in love will do that to you. I realized as I was tossing and turning that I would have one moment to commemorate my feelings about Jon to our families. So after a tear-jerking speech from my maid of honor, this is what I came up with.

“There are different ways I have tried to describe Jon and I’s relationship. What I love about our dynamic is that I wasn’t a damsel in distress and he didn’t have to be a knight in shining armor. It’s more like a Wizard of Oz scenario. I’m Dorothy and he’s my Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion all rolled into one. We only needed to find one another to find our way home. But please don’t look at it from the other way. Then I’d be lost and he would have no brain, no heart, and no courage. That’s absolutely not true because we are here today.

On a serious note, I’d like to point out how incredible this moment is. Some people never get to experience this–being surrounded by family and friends. Life is short and these are the moments that matter. We try to define life: understand it and label it the best we can. I’ve tried to label myself as a few things: a writer, a teacher, a liver…But there is always one thing I have strived to be and that is, faithful. As of tomorrow I will be putting my faith into Jon and I and to this family. Because I think there is one thing we can all agree on and that is, ‘There is no place like home.'”

Now the toast was in the moment, so it probably came out a tad differently. Regardless, I wanted to remember a fraction of what I said because as I learned during the reception, the months of planning become a complete blur of six hours. All I know is that the next phase is sure to keep me guessing. It really will be domesticated training wheels…Cheers!!!

The preamble to proposal

This was something I wrote a few months ago when Jon and I first returned from Oregon. It’s remarkable how things grow:)

MARRIAGE TALK

We have now talked about marrying one another more so than I have with any other suiter….combined.

This morning we discussed what weddings meant to both of us while nibbling on an egg and cheese omelet that he overcooked in one of my great grandma’s thirty-year-old pots. The subject first came up during our drive back from Oregon. We were rounding a curve outside of Astoria when he mentioned that his stepfather asked if I were the last girlfriend he was ever going to bring home. He said he replied that he, “hoped so.”

That was an emotional first for me. I respected the fact that he pointed out that we don’t know what the future brings, but that it would be a cruel joke of the universe if we weren’t to work out. However, I’ve never really had anyone say that they wanted to spend their life with me. Any doubt I had prior to that moment seemed to disappear and the hopefulness has yet to wear off.

Most of my doubts were caused by initial fear of our differences. But as I allowed myself to not necessarily be “right” and I remained as nonjudgmental as possible, he grew to be something I never expected.

Both of us have been exposed to  fast-paced marriage traditions. His mother met his stepfather online and then he moved from Germany after several meetings to marry her. Not only did I just witness the whirl wind romance with my sister Meggan, but it turns out my father’s parents met and wed fairly quick as well.

The kicker: the couple who introduced us only dated for a few months and then were married. Seven years later, they are still such a strong model of love that lasts. I know that he and I both take the commitment pretty seriously and I can’t even believe that the discussion resurfaced again as we cooked for the first time in my home.

While cooking turkey fajitas, he told me that my father had stopped by the shop that afternoon to pick something up. Ronnie, his uncle,  told him later that his “father-in-law” had stopped by. At first Jon was confused, but then once the connection was made, he laughed.

I reveled silently, as to not make any assumptions. Hmmm. Most guys would not even retell that story due to it’s nature. He could easily have not told me at all, but part of him wanted me to know that they joke on that level. I was about to tip my head to overanalyzation, when he made the comment that the thought of marrying me wasn’t scary.

What?

I knew the thought was mutual for me. I mean who wouldn’t want to marry me? Turns out, quite a few. But could it be that there is someone actually really right for me? Or was I just starting to like the idea that he felt that way?

Stop overanalyzing.

When I listen to my heart, and more than just the accelerated beating pace when he touches me with his any part of his being, I feel a sense of security that I have longed for. He has seen my whole family, my whole history, my whole self, and yet he embraces the future.

Maybe we just both wanted to find one another. He had once said over the phone, “could this be it?”.

I was starting to reflect the possibility with each passing day. I felt more vibrant, yet I no longer had this drive. Most people would say the drive is what was to make me. But what they never saw behind closed doors was that same force drove me to self destruction.

With him, I face my insecurities and welcome the challenges in a much more peaceful manner. And I say to myself that as long as we can move forward through a few phases of our life, then maybe this can lead to our mystery ceremony.

Tradition versus Elise.

I am open-minded and accepting, but I am still a Cajun. And a Cancer at that! Home and family is a big part of me. So when it comes to ceremonies, I still want to be a part of what everyone else has done. But then there is a part of me that says “Change it up!”

While I sat in St. Joseph’s church (which is now just two blocks away from my house) for Meggan’s wedding rehearsal, my father made the comment that he wouldn’t have to worry about this hoo-rah for me, because I would probably have everyone outside, barefoot in a field somewhere.

I laughed because I saw its plausibility, but then told him I couldn’t specifically say because I did not know who my groom would be. He replied that he would, “probably be some moon martian just like you.”

Moon martian. Great.

So maybe I should embark upon something out of this world. It’s funny that finding something steadily comfortable is what will take me to such great heights.

But I wouldn’t make any bets yet. It’s still the honeymoon. And we’re still just talking jibberish over omelets. I would be lying though, if I said I wouldn’t be terribly hurt if these thoughts ever got scrambled.

Faith, my dear. Faith.

Cornucopia-Part 2

The following was submitted for a short story contest last year. Some of you may not think it’s very short, but there are certain spirits that can speak to you while you read it, if you let. I hope you enjoy.

CORNUCOPIA                              (Written 9/23/09)

By Elise H. Peltier

If you find yourself reading this, you have finally reached the age to understand just how intertwined your spirit is with the great abundance of life. For years I wondered how I was supposed to relate to you how you have helped me to grow into the woman that I am; or how I could possibly be the one chosen to guide you along your path. Either way, here I am now. Alive in this moment because you are reading my words. Our words.

There can be a fascination with words: how if you link them together they can become sentences. If those sentences are combined properly, they become great ideas that then become actions. But most intriguingly,  sometimes just one word can mean it all. In order for me to tell you our story, I have to tell you its story.

Most people in Western civilization immediately associate the word “cornucopia” with a cone-shaped horn overflowing with fruits and grains. This symbol often appears during the autumn season before the Thanksgiving holiday. It is during this season where our story begins.

My mother walked into my bedroom the morning of October 22, 1998, her 40th birthday, to awaken me with the news that one of my best friends had died. Waddy was a senior at the neighboring Catholic high school, Notre Dame. It was the week of their homecoming football game. He was driving home after the parade on a road a half-mile from his house. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but his truck overturned. His window was halfway down and he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He was killed instantly.

When my mother broke the news to me, I was beyond devastated. I had yet to experience the death of someone close to me. I remember walking around in a daze for days. I kept thinking of different reasons as to what he was doing in the truck to make it flip. I figured he was probably changing out a CD and went off the road into the gravel, then over-corrected and the truck flipped. It was no surprise to me that the windows were down. They were always down, so everyone could hear his music from miles away. I’m sure he was excited that night too. The coach had told him he was going to start a game for the first time. I could just picture him smiling as he drove his big maroon, Chevy truck down that country road. The same wind that flowed through the surrounding fields probably danced with his freckled face as he reached for a CD…and that’s when it happened.

I remember crying waterfalls at the funeral. I remember going sit at his grave with a few of our mutual friends after the service. One of the guys had “I really miss my homies” by Master P blasting through the stereo of his old white Honda Accord. The ten of us sat scattered across the grass with unspoken questions churning through our saddened, unsuspecting minds.

I reminisced about how Waddy and I originally met. Although his younger sister and I had played softball summer league together, it wasn’t until middle school youth group that we formed our independent friendship. We both allowed our stubborn personalities to cause arguments at first, but slowly our bond shifted when we recognized our similarities. He became a big brother figure to me. Since I’m the oldest of four girls, I was used to being my own protector. Although I refused to give up any control, he taught me how a real man gives genuine compliments to a woman.

We remained very close despite the different schools we attended. I was with he and his friends every weekend. He was the first friend I really discussed and shared the presence of God.

The day after the funeral, we decided to make t-shirts in his honor. The back had a quote Waddy said once at a youth group meeting, “To live and believe in God is a great adventure. To die and be with God is a greater one.”

It may seem strange that I am talking about death, when cornucopia means quite the opposite. However, some religions view death as the surface level appearance of the true birth of the soul.  According to a modern dictionary, Cornucopia is derived from Greek mythology, which continues our journey with the word into a deeper history.

When Zeus was a baby, his mother Rhea brought him to a cave on Mount Ida in Krete. There, he was nursed by a she-goat, Amaltheia. Legend has it that her horn was cut by a tree and never-ending fruit came from thee.

The relevancy of this story is quite intriguing for our own purposes.

The shape of a ram’s horn is like a spiral. Waddy’s death began this cycle in my life; a spiral.

In January of 1999, my aunt Carla, who was only seven years my elder, asked me to be a godmother to her daughter. I was a junior in high school  and was to make my confirmation into the Roman Catholic Church in March. For months, I awaited the birth of my first godchild, Malorie. I thought my role would be to teach her about our faith, attend all of her sacramental rites, and give her presents for holidays.

It was mid-June and Carla was patiently, but crankily ready to have Malorie. Who could blame the uncomfortable nature of a woman who is pregnant in South Louisiana during summer months? To my surprise, Malorie was born on June 27th, Waddy’s birthday. After careful consideration, I knew in my heart that it was no coincidence. The connection would be strong with my godchild.

Here is an interesting twist to our correlating stories: a godmother in South Louisiana is often called “Nanny” ( this is the case with me and Malorie).  The term nanny is used to describe a child’s caretaker. In older times, it pertained to a wet nurse, which is derived from Almatheia.

One more tid-bit before I continue: Greek mythology is very similar to the Cajun lifestyle due to the nature of story telling and parables in order to explain valuable life lessons. Also there is a congruency to Greek and Cajun heritage: the lushful nature of drinking and eating. I soon became abusively involved with this culture.

It’s odd as to how fast one’s life can change. A year later, I started college. The direction of my spiral went downward with the speed of a vacuum-like black hole.

For the entirety of my adolescence, I was the good kid. I was involved in school activities and youth group. I graduated ninth in my class. Once I moved out of my parents’ house, I guess you can say I went drunk with freedom. I joined several college organizations, but I was more active in night life. Eventually, I flunked out.

I could delve into detail here, giving examples of anonymous adventures, booze and bad decisions, and crazy connections, but that can be revealed at a different time during a personal conversation–should the need arrive.

Let’s just say I had to abandon everything I once practiced to make sure I was choosing what I believed in. I never lost this sense in my heart that there was a truth for me to know, understand, and feel. The void kept me searching.

As I approached truth from a more intellectual level, I began to see how many different people throughout the history of humanity, held different truths in their hearts and minds. Before college, I didn’t realize there was really a religion outside of Christianity. There isn’t much religious diversity in Rayne, Louisiana. I knew there was St. Joseph’s, the church I attended where pretty much every family tradition has occurred, and there was another Catholic church for the majority of our black community, and then there were a few Baptist churches and a Methodist Church.

After researching different religions and world history I started to ponder this possibility, “How is God only experienced through one type of worship or lifestyle?” The notion made me very weary of the validity of everything I was taught while growing up.

I started to-study Eastern philosophies. I would read the teachings of the Buddha every night. I began having conversations with people around me about what they believed. Did they have faith in anything at all? I needed something to happen.

That’s when I felt God again. It happened out of nowhere. I had been talking about philosophical principles with a group of friends and a pal made the comment that I was more of a spiritual teacher than I realized. I walked from his apartment to mine considering if that statement were true. By asking questions, did people think I had the answers?

I brushed my teeth, contemplating if it were possible to feel the answer. The song switched on  iTunes and I found myself closing my eyes. Suddenly, everything drained out of my brain and my being felt like a frequency of light. I no longer felt like I was a person standing inside of a small bedroom in a corporate complex. I felt like I was a part of everything. There was no boundary between me and the objects around me. I felt alive. I felt like nothing. I felt peace. I felt me.

I opened my eyes and the room seemed to possess a hue of God’s residue; because everything was God to me.

I fell asleep with a smile and hoped to awaken with this same knowledge. I didn’t want it to disappear as fast as it appeared.

The next morning was Mother’s Day and my family was celebrating the occasion at my mother’s sister’s house. I decided to bike there since it was such a gorgeous day. Breezy, non-humid days during May in Lafayette, Louisiana are almost unheard of. Normally, the humidity is as thick as gumbo and your sweat drops are the size of nickels. Instead of claustrophobic weather, I felt like the universe wanted to me to soak up the proof I had experienced the night before.

As I biked to my aunt’s, I began to think about the importance of Mother’s Day. I was 24 at the time and had no children, nor prospects of a husband. This is rare for a woman my age around these parts. One of my younger sisters was planning to be married that July, the other one was in a fairly serious relationship, and the youngest was only 14…but I think she even had a boyfriend at the time.

I contemplated how fortunate I was to have such spiritual, genuine women in my life as role models, especially my mother. I have never seen anyone strive for such a positive existence. She follows the rules, but also goes above the guidelines. She’s the kind of woman who saves bottle caps and popsicle sticks for the kindergarten classes. She volunteers to babysit, what seems like the entire town’s children. She recycled before it was cool. Needless to say, I always felt like I had a lot to live up to.

My thoughts reverted to my internal explosion the previous evening and the same burst of peace created a lightening of proactive force in my mind. I needed to explain this type of experience to Malorie. That was my role as godmother: not just to be there for the rites of passage, but to explain how to reach God, which is not having to reach or search at all.

She was only seven at the time, so I knew I had years to develop my own understanding.

My life took a more upward spin in the spiral. I left my secure job to return to school in order to pursue a more purposeful calling.

The following Christmas, my sister asked me to be the godmother of her child, almost precisely the time Carla had asked me nine years before. Of course I said yes. I felt I was at a more mature level to handle this responsibility.

June came around and it was no surprise that Ellah was born on June 27th. It would have been Waddy’s “golden” birthday –27 on the 27th. I cried in the waiting room because I felt the connection physically bonding the three of us.

The need to relate this story became strong in my heart, but I knew it needed time to mature.

I finished school as Outstanding Graduate of my college, then took a four-week road trip to the Pacific Northwest. I returned home in order to celebrate another sister’s wedding…on June 27th.

From death, spiraled birth and commenced with matrimony. It is the classic definition of cornucopia; abundance.

For the first time in a decade, I found myself living back at home, just in time for me to celebrate my 27th birthday.

It’s peculiar how the comfortableness of your home town can appear to be just a setting of past memories through matured eyes. I spent hours driving through familiar roads listening only to my thoughts.

One afternoon, I was lost in a daydream, taking rights, then lefts that turn into long stretches of country highways that suddenly curve without much warning. The serenity of the wind through my open windows made me wonder how I ever left this peace for a busy, dramatic lifestyle.

I found myself taking a right onto “Coin Road” and I was immediately plunged into the present moment. This was his road. It had been years since I drove past the cross that had his initials and football number, “W.F. #59”.  I realized I had never told his mother about how I had two godchildren that were born on his birthday. In fact, I hadn’t talked to her about him since a few months after his death. At the exact moment I contemplated trying to write out our story, I passed in front of his cross and my cell phone alert went “DING DING”. The text message couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I had goosebumps and I knew it was more than a coincidence.

I was listening to NPR that night and the DJ used cornucopia to describe something…from that vague description you can note that nothing else stood out to me. Yet, the word haunted my memory for days. Finally, I looked up its meaning and everything made sense to me. It was the word that defined my life experience for the past 27 years.

Humans have tried to explain our purpose for life since the beginning of recorded history. For centuries, It has evolved through different religions and philosophies in order for each generation to understand and relate their own internal journey. Some stories sound absurdly ridiculous to a differing culture, but it doesn’t make it any less real to an individual searching for their own truth.

Waddy passed on before ever having to question anything. He died with an unwavering faith and childlike wander. He never had to worry about social media or what information appeared when you googled your name. He is that innocence in my heart.

The only conclusion I have come up with is that if you pay attention, we are connected in more ways than one: through words, numbers, dates, people, places, interests, etc. Life can occur anyway you choose to view the lens of your glasses. The beauty of today is you have more options of what color or prescription you want in your frames.

Waddy was right when he said “To live and believe in god is a great adventure. To die and be with God is a greater one.”  Once you are no longer physically here, you can spiritually be present to multiple people at the exact same time. This knowledge brings me such a sense of joy and that’s how I feel every time I look at either of my godchildren. I experience the possibility of abundant opportunity and connection. Waddy has made my life a great adventure and affirms my belief in God.

You see, sometimes you just need a reminder as to why it is imperative to stay optimistic. Pessimism will lead you nowhere. Hope, however, will always bring another day. Then your life will be your own creation, your own cornucopia.

Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine

the logo

A-LIVE-R

After much deliberation, I have decided to share a draft with you, my readers. I figured if you are loyal enough to read my daily thoughts, than you qualify as the perfect critics for one of my upcoming endeavors. As many of you may know, I am dabbilng with composing a few children’s stories. This can be quite a daunting challenge, but alas it is well worth a try.

I have been working on this story for the likes of three years. Please feel free to give me some feedback. If you like it, feel free to share it. Just please don’t steal it…that would surely be a way to break my heart and my trust. Hope you enjoy this LeeCeeLand Production:)

“Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine”

By Elise H. Peltier

“Malorie has a secret. It’s one she wants to tell
about a special family and a hidden magical spell.
The tale starts at the cradle, with a grandmother’s loving care.
Malorie was the oldest grandchild and Mom Mary had so much to share!
As Malorie grew, so did their bond; through kisses and milkshakes and magic baton wands.
But accidents happened and Malorie grew sure
When she was sick or hurt, there really was only one cure.
Mom Mary had a medicine you won’t find from the doc or the store
It’s a gesture from the heart, but oh so much more.
There’s a twinkle in her eye that dances through her hand
It echos in her giggle, it’s music to the band.
At first Malorie thought, it was just in her head
But every time she was sick, she never had to stay in bed.
A kiss on the cheek, a day on the couch
Would fix any ache and soften any ouch.
As soon as there was pain or sickness would begin
Malorie would ask her Mama for Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine.
It didn’t take very long before Malorie’s curiosity
Conjured up the her courage to find the magic recipe.
She watched and she waited for any type of clue.
But laughing and praying for others was all Mom Mary would really do.
She tried to find a potion or a hidden book of tricks
But nothing showed a sign of a medicine that’s magic.
Time flew by and Malorie was no longer a girl.
She grew to be a woman in this new-age type of world.
Things were not as simple now that she was 25
But through the bonds of her family, she was grateful to be alive.
As she explored her life, meeting people from afar
She wished she had found the potion to keep hidden in a jar.
To share with those who hurt or those who need a giggle
Those who need a friend, even those who want to wiggle!
Then news came one day, it changed things pretty quick.
Her sweet loving Mom Mary was so very terribly sick.
Malorie felt helpless, she didn’t know what to do
Neither did the family or doctors. No one had a clue.
Mom Mary could not use her magic on herself.
It seemed like the medicine had to come from someone else.
As Malorie realized this curse, she also grasped the spell
In order to help Mom Mary she had to tell the tale
About the magic medicine that proves of powers from above
It’s invisible yet solid, It’s a simple act of love.
So the more you share the gesture, you’ll learn the trick again
Prayer, laughter and love is the magic medicine!
So remember Mom Mary’s gift, it’s important and it’s pure
Because you just may never know when you’re giving someone their cure.”
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Dialect, shmialect

I wrote an email to a friend earlier this week to let her know I would pass by when I got off of work. Her response included a jab at the term pass by; she said I have been in Rayne too long.

Ooohhh how I love terminology.

By no means was her intent mean. It just made me giggle at how I didn’t think twice when I wrote it. Our everyday terms here are uncommon even in New Orleans. My best friend of 10 years is from the Hammond area. We were roommates in college and our first trip to the grocery store sparked the first questionable term. I asked her if she was going to get down. She looked at me with a blank face. I thought she didn’t hear me, so I repeated the question.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“Uumm. Are you coming into the store?”

“Yeah. I’ve just never heard that phrase before.”

The same thing happened the first time we used our dishwasher. I asked who should save the dishes first. From that moment on, any time she gave me the puzzled look, I knew there was a phrase we needed to discuss. I mean she had never heard of “cher bebe”!

Jon and I have these conversations frequently, although he had more exposure as a child when he would visit his family so he wasn’t completely shocked when he moved here.

I find it originally endearing. For as many large vocabulary words I throw around, at heart sometimes I still “talk like dat.”

I know there are tons of other unique slang words and phrases we use here. SO feel free to share them here. Maybe we can come include them in a Cajun Slang Dictionary. lol.

For you say tomato, I say tomato. It’s all the same!

Domesticated Training Wheels: the Mission

SO here’s the idea. My life has taken a grave turn since graduation. It’s cliche in almost every way. Find a job, somewhat settle down, learn about domestic living. It’s a part of my life that I have yet to master. And I had been very down about it.

See, I was ready for a new adventure in my life. One filled with refreshing scenery and exotic people. But the reality of finances forced me home first. Once I moved into the house, my understanding of what I was to learn next shocked me.

I don’t really know how to keep up a household, or cook dinner every night. Raising kids would be a whole other ballgame I have yet to even consider. Fifty years ago, this is what women were trained to do- it boggles my mind,  because my generation is almost clueless.

Especially me.

So I’ve started a personal experiment, because I’ve been blessed with a glimpse. I have a house to take care of–that belongs to my great grandmother. I have someone to cook for–but we’re not married. I have nieces to play auntie to–and they can go home if they get to be too much. I have plants in pots–I’m not ready to be grounded. I have a temporary full-time job–it’s preparing me for structured teaching.

I was discouraged because this transition was a challenge. I was on top when I graduated and for some reason I thought life was going to allow me a freebie due to good karma.

Silly me.

Now that I have accepted this mission, I trust that my current experience is necessary to get to the next step. I feel a lot better. And I know that I am not alone. And I understand that right now is a great step to revel in.

I will share the quirky little things I learn while becoming domesticated…well as domesticated as LeeCee can get. I appreciate suggestions along the way and hope that I find valuable information to share.

Life’s a trippy, adventurous journey, no matter the scenery or environmental factors. Maybe one day I’ll ride with no handlebars.

Moving Her-story

I’m not exactly sure , but I think my obsession with “Lost” has propelled me into an alternate reality. One where things out of the ordinary happen and my path is illuminated every day. This timeline that I’m now on is perfect and I feel very connected to my own island. However, instead of the tropical background, my electromagnetic force is a house in Rayne.

To avoid vague rambling, I must start with an update for those who may be unaware of the recent year of my life. Last May I graduated from UL Lafayette in General Studies. I then took off with a friend and traveled throughout the West; 7,000 miles in four weeks. I returned for my sister’s wedding/godchildrens’ birthday on June 27th.

I chose to live at home for a bit to figure out my next step. I started to wait tables again at Zea. I freelanced for 008 magazine. I worked a temp job in an office and had daily battles with a copy machine. I had swine flu right after Halloween. Then I met Jon.

Jon lived in Portland, Oregon. We had a mutual uncle (WE’RE NOT RELATED!) who gave him my number. After working out one evening I had a missed call on my cell phone from a Portland number. I thought it was the cops calling me about some parking tickets I had received a few months earlier, but it was Jon saying that his uncle told him we would enjoy exchanging at least a few conversations.

Those conversations seemed to happen every day for  two months. By Christmas week, he managed to score a plane ticket to come here for two months to see if he liked living in Lafayette. I adjusted to having a manly boyfriend around all of the time and he enjoyed the Cajun hospitality. My temp job ended on January 31st and by the end of February we flew to Portland to meet his family and pack up a U-Haul to move him back to Louisiana.

Upon our arrival home a discussion  with my grandmother, Mom Mary, set the plot into climactic motion. Her 94-year-old mother Lena, went into the nursing home. The insurance company would not cover the house if it were empty and since I was living with my parents, she asked if I would want to take care of the house.

SURE!

I had always been fond of the little red brick house with the screened-in back porch. In fact, during my travels when I pictured home, I pictured that house. However, I saw my great-grandma there with me.

So, I began cleaning the house. It was in excellent condition. Mom Lena was very organized and was always a hard worker–she spent 38 loyal years at the historical Mervine Kahn Department Store. She loved being in her yard. When she was in her late 80’s we passed by the house one day and she was on her roof sweeping, “Because it’s dirty!”.

But as I cleaned the blinds and walls I felt the curiosity to know more about the history of the house. I asked my mom and dad for details and this is what I was told:

My great-great aunt Louise built the house in the 1960s. She was an Arceneaux and had come from oil money. She was never married. She was engaged once, but her fiance died. She taught first grade for years and during her summers off, she would travel. When she fell ill at an elder age, she no longer had siblings to care for her, so she went into the nursing home on Robert Street.

The house sat empty for over a year.

It was 1980 and my parents had just married and spent their first year in Lake Charles while my dad finished at McNeese. They wanted to move back to Rayne and eventually start a family. They talked to my Uncle Donald, who was in charge of Aunt Louise’s house, and he agreed to let them live there.

They spent the next few years in the red-brick house. I was conceived there and spent the first two years of my life toddling around on the orange carpet. Right before my third birthday, we moved into our house in the country. My mother used several of Aunt Louise’s concepts to design the house, which as I sit in it now I realize why it feels all too familiar.

As we moved out of the house, my great-grandmother moved in. She was a strong/stubborn woman who liked to stay busy. I remember her holiday being Christmas day. We would go for dinner every year and fill up on fudge.

She has two children, my grandmother and uncle Sherman. Once Mom Lena was too old to get her yard work done, Sherman would tend to the handy work, but she always raked her own leaves. It was one of her favorite things to do. About a year ago, she was next door trying to clean the neighbor’s yard, when she stepped on a piece of metal and sliced her foot. Because of her age, her body took longer to heal. During this time, Sherman had a stroke. With both of them in recovery, Mom Lena decided it was time for her to go to the nursing home on Robert Street.

Now I sit in this house and feel the “her stories”. It’s unusual for a house to have such a strong feminine vibe in South Louisiana. It’s the first time I consciously feel like a woman, and it’s in the home I took my first steps.

One more odd twist.

I had about an hour and a half before Ellah was to arrive one afternoon, so I flipped through the Instant Movies on Netflix to kill some time. I ran across a movie that instantly struck a memory, “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeves. I remembered my mom saying that’s where they got my name. Intrigued, I hit play.

The plot is about a young playwright who falls in love with young actress, Elise MaKenna. . The kinker is that she lived in a time period almost 100 years before him. He discovers a way to go back in time on…June 27,1908.

My heart stopped. I called my mom on the spot.

“Mom, did you watch ‘Somewhere in Time’ while you pregnant with me?”

“Uuummmm. Chuck. Was I already pregnant with Elise when we watched ‘Somewhere in Time’?.

Mumble in the background.

“Yes, we did.”

“So you mean to tell me that you were pregnant with me, sitting in this very living room, watching this movie and the date he goes back in time is June 27?!?!”

“Yeah, oh that’s kind of neat.”

Kind of neat?! Mom, it’s the date the connects everything for me! And it was set in stone while I was in your womb!”

“Hhmmm. You are the one that would figure that out.”

We talked a little longer and then I sat shell shocked. Is it destiny that I’m here and the house is reminding me of my true path? Or will I suddenly realize that I’ve really been dead all along?

Either way, I signed my papers yesterday. I will be a fifth grade teacher for a private, Catholic school next year. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Neither did I, but the journey is interesting. Especially when you follow the signs.

I’m just trying to move her-story along.

The Orange Juice Philosophy

An editorial I wrote two summers ago:

I have come to understand that I live my life by various philosophies. It allows me to bend my own rules instead of having to defend strict beliefs. Maybe, I don’t really like to be wrong and I like to leave some space to play.

Recently, I started to covet a new guitar. Don’t get me wrong the one I have now is great…for practicing. The action is high and it is very challenging to perfect high bar-chords. In the long run this will make me a much better player, but for now I am trudging on this nasty plateau.
Being a poor college student, I have some free time between my four jobs. When it comes to thinking of free things to do, I decided to check out a local music store to see what I should set my intentions on next. This is never a good idea when you don’t have the money to back it up. Yet, it strikes a desire to figure out a way to make your aspiration a reality.
Still, the ability to have a new guitar was not happening in my current reality.
I was telling my mom about the predicament and she told me this is a complete example of her “orange juice philosophy”.
See, when we were growing up, we didn’t have a whole lot of money. My mom had to have orange juice in the morning and she could only afford to get the cheap concentrate Winn Dixie brand. We thought it was fantastic. I can even remember eating it directly from the canister. We drank this orange juice for years with no qualms whatsoever.
Then Wal-Mart opened in the neighboring town of Crowley.
For the same price, my mom could get the Minute-Maid brand. Orange juice as we knew it was changed forever.
There was no returning to the cheap brand. Even if she ran out, she would drive the extra ten minutes to get her new fix.
So as I was telling her about my yearning for a new guitar after playing a new one, she told me to remember the orange juice.
“Never try something new if you are not willing to stick with the old one, because you may never want to go back,” she said.
I thought it was a pretty nifty little piece of advice.
Not long after that, I had a new roommate who moved in…with a brand new Yamaha guitar.