Cajun, dinner, Faith, family, friends, writing

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!!!

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communications, concepts, connections, friends, ideas, learning, media, sharing

Introducing the Blogroll

There are several things that inspire me: conversations, articles, art, books, observations, music, dreams, happenstance…

What I would like to start sharing with my readers are more localized inspirations. If you look to the right of this entry, you will see “BLOGROLL”. These are sites from people I find interesting. I encourage you to check them out when you get a chance. I am honored to connect you to their worlds. I will now take this opportunity to give you the 411 on each site.

“All Things Kedinger”: Daniel is such a computer whiz, I cannot find words to describe his genius. His blog is quite humorous and informational as well. He and his wife are exploring their new role as parents, so there is a a baby blog chronicling their path. Needless to say, there is something for everyone.

“Corndancer”: I met Eb and Freddie while I was in Santa Fe last summer. They live in the mountains of Arkansas. Their site will keep you intellectually stimulated, as well as updated on educational matters (Freddie is a professor at the University of Arkansas). Plus, Eb will connect you to other intelligent blogs on his blogroll.

“Dragonflies and Goosebumps”: I recently met Mel online through WordPress. She is a thirty-something writer from Puerto Rico. She is an example of my favorite reason to love the Internet-you can connect from anywhere! She writes a bit of fiction and poetry. Very moving!

“Jamie Orillion”: Jamie took senior portraits to another level. I found his style helped redefine people’s idea of photography in our little Acadia Parish. It didn’t take long for his brand to grow (he now shoots around the state and country). Once you click through his archives, you’ll see what I mean.

“Mama Gab”: Gabby was a 9th grade English teacher who transitioned into a stay at home mom and homemaker. She and her husband are raising their children on a one person income. I absolutely enjoy reading her commentary on books and products she uses and the teamwork that is involved in the process. It is refreshing to know that someone puts this much thought into parenting. I feel a lot of people should be aware of this, even if they choose a different route.

“Micah Toub”: As you may be aware, I’m obsessed with thinking. I frequently read Psychology Today. I stumbled across Toub’s blog, “Growing up Jung”. I was instantly hooked, then realized the title is from his upcoming book of the same name. He is the offspring of two shrinks and the memoir discusses how he dealt with this scenario. His web site features the blog and other columns he’s written for various magazines. I look forward to reading his book and giving you a bit of insight on my findings.

Well that’s it for now. I’m sure I will be sharing lots of new information in the coming weeks. As of tomorrow, I am officially turned on to “school mode” and my role as teacher commences with inservices. It’s interesting that I will be a student of teaching, but “in charge” of students. To a parent, that statement could sound intimidating, like I don’t know what I’m doing. But have no fear, I have never been more excited to share knowledge. I just know I am about to learn more that I ever thought possible.

To new beginnings, sharing and caring. Cheers!

connections, food, friends, relationships, sharing

Fort Collins

I woke up right as we made it to Fort Collins, Colorado. I was going to stay with my friend Lauren and her family: Aran, Shea, and Liam. Rick was going to stay with our mutual friends, Doug and Katherine.

Lauren was my little sis during our sorority days of Sigma Sigma Sigma. She had moved to Colorado a few years ago and met Aran while they were working for Whole Foods in Boulder. They spent a summer in a tent while Aran studied bird migration. Nine months later, they had Shea–an adorable, smart little boy who now has the curliest, blond hair. They recently added Liam to their bunch and after spending a few days with him, I feel like I have met one of the happiest babies alive.

Doug and Katherine recently moved to Fort Collins in order for Katherine to attend graduate school at CSU to study Physics.  I had originally met Katherine in high school because we were both from the same small town. I re-met her with Doug a few years ago at the Rok Haus. They were avid climbers. Needless to say, they love the outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer.

When Rick lived in Lafayette, he climbed with both of them, but also had many classes with Katherine. The trio were extremely close before their ways parted. It was interesting to witness such an intimate reunion again for Rick.

We parked at Lauren’s house in order to change before heading to breakfast with Doug and Katherine at the Rainbow restaurant. The name immediately made me think of the Rainbow’s End in Flagstaff.

I loved the little connections I made from city to city. Certain moments reminded me of a previous town, which added to the feeling that I was on the right track.

I had an organic omelet at the Rainbow with lots of coffee to chase the egg. We decided to head to the lake in order for the crew to go rock climbing .

I was too exhausted to climb, so I found a rock to lay on as I read some of Charles Bukowski’s, “Slouching towards Nirvana.” I maybe read three poems before I passed out.

I woke up to three touristy-looking people scoping out the view of the lake, while also pointing at this girl who is sleeping on a rock. I checked my watch and knew I had been out for at least an hour. I scanned the shoreline and eventually saw Nick attempting a huge boulder.

I threw my books in the back of Doug’s truck and meandered down a thin path to meet up with the climbers. Nick had his camera, so I took a few shots while I tried to wake up.

It wasn’t too long before they were ready to make an exit. We piled into the truck and drove down the mountain. There was an authentic drive-in movie range at the bottom of the hill. Katherine told us they do double features sometimes and even have recent movies.

The sunny sky was so beautiful that day. Maybe I was still reeling from the sunrise I had witnessed eight hours prior. I daydreamed about the crystal blue water I had just seen. It was June, but I knew it would have been too cold to swim. It made me want to go to the beach in Florida with my family. We had gone two summers in a row and the waves were calling my name.

I was ready for another nap, so Nick and I went to Whole Foods to pick up some grub and then went back to Lauren’s for showers and naps.

I pretty much slept the whole night through. I needed to recover from the drive. My body needed to piece itself back together after all of the internal explosions.

Cajun, communications, concepts, connections, dreams, Faith, family, friends, ideas, learning, philosophy, relationships, sharing, stories

Saintly Faith

I wrote a few entries ago about how I’m trying to understand my own version of faith. There are a few recent situations that have caused maturation in this process.

The first occurred on December 7, 2009 when my second niece, Catherine Grace Marcotte, was born.

My sister Meggan was diagnosed on October 10 (our deceased grandmother’s birthday) with the news that she was a high-risk pregnancy case. She had very little–if not, zero—ambiotic fluid in her womb. She would have to be on extreme bed rest and if she reached 24 weeks, she would be admitted into the hospital for monitoring.

Well she did make it to 24 weeks. In fact she made it all the way to 27 weeks before she went into labor.

Catherine was born around sunrise on the morning of our great-grandmother’s 94th birthday. The 2.5 pound miracle was  immediately admitted to the NICU.

During Meggan’s recovery, her high-risk doctor told us just how miraculous Catherine’s birth was. She said she had never been so impressed with a little baby. With how little fluid Meggan had, the fact that Catherine came out so strong and healthy was amazing.

I still have yet to see Catherine. She is still in the NICU and now weighs 4.1 pounds. She was taken off of the oxygen tube just two days ago. At this rate, she will be home in a month.

I know these kinds of births happen often. But when you witness the preciousness of life first-hand, it makes you wonder just how delicate things are pieced together. It really wowed me as to how so many people from Rayne prayed for Meggan and supported them through this difficult phase.  It was a beauty to witness.

On an almost completely different plane, the New Orleans Saints have proven the longevity of the fruition process of faith.

After 40 years, they have finally won an NFC Championship and are headed to their first Super Bowl.

The fans have formed such a bond of unity during this season. I work at a restaurant on Sunday mornings and the vibe was so energetic. To see elderly ladies pulling for the Black & Gold gridiron was a spectacular site.

For the past few months, all you hear is “Who DAT!”. And I live in Lafayette, two hours from the Crescent City.

But Saints fans have existed through all 40 years of shotty seasons, yet they are still ever present and faithful to their patrons.

I feel this is a movement for Louisiana. After devastating hurricanes (Katrina and RITA), we are still here. Happy. Prospering. Even if the rest of the nation can’t see it.

Don’t you think it’s interesting that Yahoo.com released a poll on the happiest states and Louisiana ranked #1?

The media likes to play out devastation, and yes they did highlight the humanitarian acts of people going on air boats to help victims in the 9th Ward, but how much have they focused on the aspect of rebuilding?

George Clooney commented on the Haiti telethon yesterday that we should still donate money over the next few months to help rebuild the country. I totally agree, but what I want to know is how much coverage will still be allotted to the effort? How long before even that is old news?

The point is that many people still focused on all of the negative aspects from the levees breaking. What the media failed to emphasize was that a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita wreaked more havoc on the other side of our state. My sister who just gave birth lived in a FEMA trailer for months while she attended McNeese State University because she lost everything in her apartment in Lake Charles.

That wasn’t shown. It doesn’t really matter to the people here. We just rebuild and have faith that we will make it through. And have a great time while we do it.

I’m starting to see that whatever you have faith in, comes to fruition. It may take 40 years, but it happens. It happens faster in numbers, too.

Maybe we should take notice of what people really put their faith into. It could be an interesting outcome.

concepts, connections, friends, Giggles, memories, Travel

Deliriously Eugene

I awoke on Hilary’s couch to the sun luring me from sleep. Where was this moment at sun rise?

I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I followed the rays to Louis for a chance to go find my purse. I guess I forgot to mention that I had left my purse at the girls’ apartment the night before. I drove to the quaint road and knocked on the door.

No answer.

I didn’t have my phone at this point either,  so I couldn’t call Nick. I scoped out the parking lot and didn’t see Sal’s car.

I decided to drive back to Hilary’s to wait for everyone else to wake up. Hilary lives above a bakery. I tried to open the door that leads to a staircase to get to the apartment, but it was locked. I hadn’t bathed in days at this point and I was going on a few hours of sleep during a 72-hour span. I didn’t really want to go in public, but there was no other option. I entered the buzzing bakery.

I ordered a bowl of soup and LARGE coffee as I tried to hide my morning breath.  My laptop had been in my car, so I figured I could try to get in touch with Rick on Facebook. The Internet connection was weak, then my battery died.

I would now have to wait.

Fortunately, I only had to wait 5 minutes before I saw Rick open the door and peek inside. He was confused as to why I wasn’t on the couch, and because he couldn’t get a hold of me via phone, he decided to look for me. Tah dah. I didn’t drift far.

I finished my brunch and we headed back upstairs. One of the girls was now at Hilary’s and gave us a time to meet at her apartment to get my purse. The crew wanted to have one last meal together in Eugene, so we found another cafe to embark upon. Nick and Sal met us there.

We talked about education in America and how it needs to be improved, but we’re not sure how to do it.

I personally feel we need to remind kids how to LEARN. That way, whatever they want to learn throughout life, they know how to personally process something. We don’t remember equations or dates 20 years later, but we do remember how we process things. Am I saying it’s not important to learn these subjects? Not at all. What I am saying is that it should be reiterated to students WHY they are learning certain things.

I will get off of this pedestal now, before I ramble on for days.

After lunch, we went back to Rick’s for showers and naps. It felt so amazing to get rid of the grime. What did not feel amazing were my sinuses. I had to purchase a few packs of Kleenex and I was empty within a few hours.

What better way to feel better than ice cream? Prince Puckler’s is a home-churned, local shop. I got this two scoop chocolate masterpiece that erupted from a waffle cone. YUMMY!

As if we hadn’t eaten enough, we met up with some of the gang at Macminiman’s. Beer and salad is always a great combo.

We then decided to head to Maria’s house to watch a movie and allow Rick to say a final good-bye to his friends.

Yet again, we embarked upon an emotional farewell. However, right before we were leaving we realized several of the crew were headed in the same direction, so we decided we would follow one another in the morning to Bend, Oregon and have one final lunch.

We packed up at Rick’s and set the alarms for 6:30 a.m.

It was my final night in Oregon.

communications, concepts, connections, dinner, dreams, food, friends, Giggles, ideas, media, memories, Party, Travel

Epic in Eugene

We arrived in Eugene at 3 p.m. I knew we had a few hours to spare before Rick was through with his final. Our first stop was at a Jiffy Lube for an oil change. This was the most superior service I had ever received: the staff was friendly, the work was reliable and quick, and the waiting area was immaculate.

There was a young early-college-aged girl there who had gone over 9,000 miles since her last oil change. She said her grandfather normally took care of everything for her. I guess it made me feel a little more responsible.

Louis got a free car wash and we set out in the pollen-filled Eugene. One of the things I love about the Oregon scenery is the fir and pine tree-lined cities and roads. Everywhere is green. The trees are tall, too, unlike the short, grand oaks I am used to in South Louisiana. Unless you want a tour of the swamp for the gigantic Cypress trees, short and stout trees are what you get on a daily basis.

We drove near the University of Oregon campus and watched as students unpacked their dorm rooms. We decided to grab some grub and beer at McMenamins, a northwest brewpub, while we waited.

I felt like the atmosphere was authentically original, however when Rick called to see where we were, he relayed the info that it was a chain. This reminded me of “Mellow Mushroom” chains. Rick told us he and a few classmates were at a beer shop not too far away. Nick and I finished a game of pool and headed that way.

While we were on the road, we contacted Sal, a colleague from Baton Rouge who worked for the same company we did many years ago. He had just graduated from LSU and was on a solo road trip through the west as well. Turns out, he was near Eugene and wanted to partake in the festivities.

Beer Stein, a former fresh pasta shop, has the most extensive bottled beer selection I have yet to see. I was weeks away from home, so I chose an Abita Amber to cure what little homesickness I possessed. I walked up to a table of men from around the world and knew it was going to be an interesting night.

The gentleman asked how Rick and I knew one another and we kind of looked at one another like, “We don’t really know, yet we trust one another enough to ride half-way across the country together.” We all shook hands as Sal arrived, sporting an LSU visor and polo shirt.

The crew decided it was time to move to the party house, which was to be held at a pair of co-ed’s apartment.

The night started slowly,  mixing intelligent conversation with stout beer and wine. I’ve never felt more sophisticated in a tiny apartment. I exchanged tales from the road while they exchanged knowledge of physics.

I could tell Nick and Sal were bringing the Louisiana out of one another, especially when they disappeared giggling. I was mid-conversation with Erik, a student from Connecticut, when the duo arrived with Nattie-lite proclaiming it was time for beer pong.

They were a little too tipsy to notice the looks of disdain, but regardless they edged their way into the seemingly microscopic kitchen. The kitchen table was brought to center, cups were set up, and then the geniuses discovered they had no pong for the beer. Undiscouraged, they huddled for a quick game-time decision and voted on the use of a quarter due to the lack of a ball.

Rick and a buddy reluctantly played the first round. However, it wasn’t too long before Nick and Sal’s contagious energy spread to a few party-seekers. Once a few girls challenged the testosterone in the room, the hype of the game soared.

I stood in the hallway and held random conversations with strangers, while the sounds of fraternity hoo-rahs filled my background soundtrack.

At one point I counted and there were 12 different countries represented in the apartment: India, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, USA, etc. I felt like I was drinking with some of the smartest kids in the world. I literally could have toasted with someone who will make a remarkable scientific discovery. The moment still gives me chills.

As the party escalated to rambunctious, there was a phone call made to the hostesses from upset neighbors. We needed to move to a new location.

At this point, I could’ve gone to sleep– and it was not even midnight. The girls allowed Nick and Sal to pass out there, but I decided to push forward and walk to a bar with the physics crew.

I just kind of hung back and watched the rest of the evening progress. Erik was now talking to a girl from class. Rick was talking to….well everyone because that’s what Rick does.

Rick flirts with anyone. He isn’t gender specific either, although he is straight as a nail. He just likes for people to like him. He’ll tell you that directly if asked.

Anyways, the goal was an 80’s theme party, but that bar was too packed, so we stopped at an uppity type place. I felt sorry for the only couple in the bar that seemed to long for a romantic outing together. We were loud.

People were pulling cans of Schlitz from their jacket pockets, while others were crying. The night took a very emotional turn once we started walking through the streets of Eugene. For some, it was the last time they were going to see one another. Many of the International students were going home for good. Some of the American students were choosing not to return to the program.

People were saying their good-byes.

It was now around 3 a.m. Not counting the one hour nap, I had been awake for 18 hours straight….only on three hours of sleep. I was entering the delirious state.

The bar closed and we decided to walk to Hilary’s. I would label Rick and Hilary the co-leaders of this pack. They both exude strong male presences that cause people to gravitate toward their auras. This was proven correct when the hordes of after-party-seekers showed up at the apartment for hookah and beer.

For the first time ever, I just sat in the corner and watched the party ensue. I didn’t tell stories. I didn’t try to meet anyone. I didn’t become a part of the entertainment. I just watched.

I watched friends exchange stories. I watched them hug their possible last physical meeting. I watched first kisses that had obviously been desired for quite sometime, but the courage wasn’t mustered at previous occasions.

It was beautiful.

The clock was creeping to 5 a.m. and the crowd started to dwindle. I finally struck up a conversation once my fourth wind emerged. There were a group of Germans who had just made it in town to meet one of their comrades in the program. Their plan was to set out through the west on a road trip to see the Grand Canyon.

One of the guys, Karl, lived in New York City. I started to tell him about this quirky little Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn that was my favorite place because of the authentic eateries and people. He stared at me in disbelief and said that was where he lived with his grandmother.

As we chatted about some of our favorite Polish food (the burgers!), his friend Pascale passed out on me. We all laughed and they agreed it was time for them to head out.

It was now almost 6 a.m. and Erik and I decided to walk back to the original party house to get our vehicles. Our hope was to see the sun rise, but as we walked, we realized the overcast wouldn’t allow our dream to come to fruition.

My sinuses were starting to act up due to the allergens in the Eugene air. My immunity system was probably just reminding me that I had abused it with lack of sleep and excess beer.

Erik and I hugged before we got to our vehicles. It was then I noticed his face resembled that of Elijah Wood, or the kid from Harry Potter. At this state of delirium, the night felt like a magic spell had been cast over the snow globe-dom of downtown Eugene.

I drove back to Hilary’s and fell onto the couch that had been made up for me with blankets and pillows.

Sleep.

Cajun, connections, dreams, Faith, family, friends, ideas, learning, memories, Path Unknown, philosophy, relationships, sharing, stories, writing

Drifting through memories

I have sat in a cubicle for four months. Like the song “Little Boxes” on “Weeds,” I feel like I’m made of ticky-tacky and we all look just the same.

I have drafts for three children’s books. I have more ideas than time to make any of them happen.

And somewhere in the Internet, I am drifting to Eugene.  I am somewhere on I-5 awaiting an epic party, still reveling my time in Portland.

I have had so much trouble finishing the tales of my road trip through the west. I have issues accepting when certain phases are over. But somehow, I have managed to bring Portland to me.

I feel I am ready to complete the first portion of my blog. I didn’t make it to Canada. Instead, I chose security, which defeats the concept of a path unknown.

While I stand at the copy machine, I am at war with my inner conscience. I feel like a sellout, however, the responsible side knows this is what I had to do to pay the bills for a little while. This is not forever.

By finishing this adventure online, it will be time to embark upon a new one here in Louisiana.

I never thought I would have an unknown path at home, but alas, I do. It is a trail I have yet to explore.

I plan to share it here. No longer will I drift nowhere. My current has a purpose, even if I don’t know what it means yet.

That’s the new concept for me; faith.  I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but that’s where the journey comes in. Through my stories, I hope to grasp and share the understanding. I just know for the first time in my life I absolutely know in my heart I am exactly where I need to be. It is not where I expected. It rarely ever is.

So now, it’s onward to Eugene. Who’s coming with me?