Cajun, concepts, Epiphanies, experience, Faith, family, Liver, philosophy, relationships

“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:)

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communications, concepts, connections, dreams, driving, Epiphanies, farewells, friends, ideas, learning, memories, Path Unknown, personal, philosophy, relationships, sharing, stories, Travel, writing

My Moroccan Cab Driver

I had a life-encouraging conversation with a cab driver form Morocco, the country Penny Lane wanted to travel to in Almost Famous–one of my favorite movies.

It was one of those moments when you felt like you met someone who introduced you to someone who haled the cab with the driver with whom you were meant to exchange words.

I was on Facebook earlier that afternoon chatting with Val. She was in Austin, I in Portland. She told me she had a friend who lived here who I just had to meet.

A little back story. The whole reason I know Val is because of a mutual guy we both had a thing for. We often pick on him and say the whole reason we both liked him was for us to end up becoming friends.

Well, her friend Kate had been living in Portland for a few years. Val sent me Kate’s info and after a few rounds of phone tag, she came meet me at this trendy restaurant. We discussed how Val and I had met and she told me she remembered the incident.

These are reasons I do not believe in coincidences.

Anyways, Katie took me around the Northwest part of Portland, which I hadn’t seen yet. We drank and hung out with some other locals: one who told me about a girl he is in grad school with who wrote about the travesty of Katrina (the girl’s last name is Trickey). The other guy was from south of Savannah, Georgia and we talked about the South.

Another anyways, Katie and I both realized how tired we were and she was going to call me a cab. She ran outside of the bar to conduct the search and ended up haling me one that was already outside.

We say goodbye and I hopped in to find this 40ish black man driving the cab. He and I strike up a conversation and I say I’m just passing through Portland.

This sparks a whole discussion on what exactly is passing through. He says he is a child of the planet and has traveled the world twice over. I am completely understanding what he is saying and we catapult ourselves into this very deep talk.

We crossed labels and cultures and barriers that most people won’t allow. We were both so astounded as to just how much we understood one another on a universal level.

Yet again, it was one of those conversations that I don’t think I can adequately capture.

The one thing we both emphasized though is that there is hope in this world.

One of the things that gives me hope is that I have reached this level of universal understanding.

I am from South Louisiana. We are the last to get anything. The fact that I have these types of conversations on almost a daily basis with people from my state gives me hope that there is a larger understanding taking place within the human species.

I tell this to the cab driver and he is flabbergasted. He then tells me about this monkey theory about a single monkey evolving and another monkey modeling that monkey’s action. Eventually, there is this exponential growth of monkey understanding and that’s how it becomes an evolutionary cultural custom. It’s all in the exponential sudden spurt.

That’s how I know something big is about to happen. It’s the whole reason I had to get away from the South. I knew in my heart that something is taking place in humanity that most of us don’t even realize. You can find it in the most unexpected places.

We can’t compartmentalize how we find truth. But as humans, we try to figure out everything. This life is not meant to be understood. But we spend lifetimes trying to say that the answer comes in a certain form. However, when you let go of the expectation, the answer shows up in an unexpected fashion.

We have to let go and trust one another.

We stayed parked in front of the Ace hotel talking about these universal ideas for five minutes. Both of us were so excited to have found someone who “gets  it”. Neither of us wanted to part ways because we both knew it could be a while before we found another soul to share this truth.

All we did was tell one another to pass along the peace and hope that it does exist.

His name was David. We shook hands after formally introducing ourselves and smiled.

This is the Liver philosophy. This is life. It exists. I found it in Portland. I have found it everywhere. It is me. It is you. It is now.

connections, Epiphanies, experience, Faith, ideas, Liver, Meditation, Path Unknown, personal, philosophy, Serendipity, stories, Travel, writing

The Grand Canyon…or the Glorious Conversion

We woke up like it was any other day How was I supposed to know I would be changed today?

The drive was an hour and a half to the Grand Canyon. We drove through mountains of lush pine trees and entered the south end of the park. I was really surprised to see so many mainstream tourist spots, such as McDonalds and other fast-food joints.

It was $25 to get into the park. Thank God we had some cash. I didn’t realize you had to pay to get into National parks. Silly Elise. I should really research some of these things before I venture into it; but then it wouldn’t be unknown. At least I’ve been prepared so far.

What I was not prepared for was the sensation that encompassed me at the first view of the canyon. It’s somewhat a shame that a certain four letter word was the only thing that escaped my mouth.

There really are no words that can describe what one may feel at this wonder. It is so vast. No lens can capture a clear picture. Even to the naked eye, there is a mist over the distant canyon. You feel the infinite of life and the spec of time you actually exist all at once.

Mr. Robert had told us while we were in Fort Sumner that it doesn’t seem like this majestic site can exist in the U.S. I wish we were known for more spots like this rather than ignorant idealists.

Nick and I just sat in silence for a moment in awe.

We then walked to another lookout point where there were a few more people. There was a family praying, a Japanese family talking in foreign tongues and a young emo-couple–the guy was actually nose to nose with a squirrel.

As we walked up the path to another lookout point, I noticed how many different languages I heard. When we arrived to the tourist spot, there were translations in over six dialects. It was impressive to feel a part of such an amalgamated space.

We decided to find a shuttle bus to another part of the park in order to broaden our view. As we drove to the pickup spot we noticed a tourist center. We thought it would have information, but what it had was the biggest tourist-trap store ever. Did you know there is a Chase bank in the Grand Canyon?

You can buy Northface products and granola and raunchy paperback books.

My stomach turned. To me there is a place for city and a place for natural environment. I was so turned off that I almost just left, but Nick talked me into taking the shuttle for one more view.

Yet again, thank God for second chances.

We got off the bus and saw tour buses, one which read “Freedom Tour” over the dash. It made me feel a little better. We hiked over a small hill and walked through a cabin-like hotel to see the most glorious vision. We took a right and tried to get away from the hotel as fast as possible. Not too far off the path was a cliff that called my name.

It was quiet and I couldn’t hear anyone else. Nick had found his own cliff parallel to mine. I sat Indian style and slowly exhaled. I then inhaled and closed my eyes. I felt so balanced. I knew there was nothing in front of me except a drop of hundreds of feet. I had no fear. I had no thoughts. I just felt everything. I felt free. I felt like ME.

I opened my eyes to see a rolling canyon, but in the center was a greater crack that looked like a spinal cord that opened into a “V” at the very end of it. I was aligned in the middle and it almost looked like a person lying straight with their legs open to the world. Or maybe that’s just what I saw.

Regardless, I felt open to the universe. I have no reason to hold anything back anymore. I have survived poverty, college, heartbreak and loss…just like most people.

But for some reason, I have been fortunate enough to be placed in a perfect position. I literally can do whatever I want. I do not have any children or a spouse yet. I have all of these big dreams and I can choose one and go with it. I can move or stay at home and I would be completely satisfied. I feel so blessed that I almost feel guilty. But I also know that I have made different kinds of sacrifices along the way that many don’t choose.

It’s the LIVER philosophy. Doing what is right for you, regardless if it works for others. When you do that, you live. And when you live, you become a LIVER. A wise uncle of mine taught that to me two summers ago. It’s a process, but the refining stage has been incredible.

I feel like I have been living wholey since graduation because everyday has been completely new and completely different. I have not done one thing the same or mundane. I know that stage may happen again, but it won’t be for a while.

These were some of the clarifying thoughts that went through my brain on the top of that  cliff. I stood up, stretched my arms to the sun and then stood in mountain pose.

I looked over and saw Nick sitting on his rock with his legs dangling into the oblivion. Our mother’s would be freaking out if they saw this.

We walked the trail back to the car, took a rock for Mooney’s third-graders and then drove off. I know. It’s kind of bad karma to have a spiritual experience and then take something. But it’s for a class! Nick even drew a comic strip on the way back to Flagstaff depicting how we would get arrested for taking a chunk of the canyon. It ended with two guys in a cell, one saying he was in for murder, when Nick responded saying he took a rock from the Grand Canyon, the slayer replied with “You Bastard”.

Ironically, we ate lunch at McDonalds. Two American novelties: Big Macs and the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t eaten there in ages, but for a few bucks I got a side salad, yogurt parfait and a grilled snack wrap. Not too bad for fast food.

We made it back to Flagstaff to walk through downtown again. We decided to postpone Vegas in order to take in the city one last time. I bought some “Maverick” shades at a boutique, along with some purple tights and several bumper stickers.

One of Nick’s fraternity brothers had picked up his sister in L.A. and they stopped to have some coffee with us before they headed to Tuscon. Oddly enough, his sister turned out to be one of my former Sigma sisters.

We started chatting and both realized that Austin, Texas may be in our near futures. Funny how things work out.

Nick and I made it back to Marcus and Eva’s in time for a grilled feast. We drank a Flat Tire beer and called it a night. I can’t wait for those two to move to Lafayette. It’s such a blessing to find such wonderful people who you get along with. Plus, I really hope I can return the hospitality that was shared.