Warning: Family Stuff!

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I spent the past, basically two weeks in Louisiana. Two of my girls graduated from high school these past two weeks. That’s why I’ve been gone. The girls I’m referring to are my nieces, Emily & Hope.

Emily, my sister’s daughter, graduated on Sunday. Her party was the Saturday before. My parents and I drove down that afternoon. Mom had made pralines to sell at the local Pow Wow. We got there and just hung out really. As it got later, the party started winding down my brother David and his family started getting ready to leave, but somewhere along the long goodbyes, David and my oldest brother Rudy began wrestling in the hallway, seems they forgot they were adults and reverted back to a time when they were in middle school. David must have been getting an upperhand because all of a sudden Rudy found himself on his knees and biting David on the leg.

I realized at that exact moment that all of us were together and with Rudy and his family leaving the next day I knew we had to move quickly before our chance to take pictures slipped away. Each time we find ourselves together for family functions we try our damndest to get pictures together. The boys took their picture together first then me and brenda sat in for a sibling picture. Then we got Mom & Dad in there. Our portrait sessions always invlove an “outlaw” picture, the spouses fo my brothers and sister. Seeing as I only have one sister I only have one brother-in-law, so this picture always winds up with the sisters-in-law configured around him. I am proud to say I was the only one to get the picture with my brother-in-law holding his arm up and hand on his head layed out across the ottoman.

So Em’s graduation on Sunday. This is the one that gets me and makes me feel old at the ripe ole age of 28, yes I know it’s pitiful. As always she was beautiful in her white cap & gown, insert an eye roll from her right here. Only a select few were able to attend the graduation. Due to the hurricane the end of last summer, tickets to the event were limited. But at least now I know what Emily really thinks of those she invited.

The graduation was held outside, which isn’t that big of a deal right, wrong! The school put up one of the big white Baptist revival tents, enclosed no less, in the middle of New Orleans during the end of May. Anyone who’s been to New Orleans or lives there knows that the summer heat is relentless and makes its debut earlier than the rest of the country. So needlesstosay we were stifling hot in this tent with only one AC unit in the entire tent, on the other side from where chose to sit, of course. See I told you now we know how Em feels about us. Common sense finally set in after I’m sure a few people fainted from heat exhaustion, they took down the sides of the tent, the crowd cheered, myself included. The breeze was very nice.

The graduation was long, hour and a half, but it was a beautiful ceremony. The salutatorians and valedictorians gave their speeches and talked about what their class went through after the hurricane, I teared up here just so you know.
After the ceremony was over, the family members that attended congregated in the cafeteria, at least that’s what it looked like, and we proceeded to take oodles of pictures to show the rest of the family that were unable to attend.

Graduation dinner followed. For some reason the kids, well most of them are not exactly kids anymore, but whatever, they somehow tried pitcher acrobatics with the tea pitchers and spilled like half the tea onto the table. Dinner waas great and the chit chat was fun. We had decided to each say something about Emily and one of my sisters-in-law ordered a long island iced tea which wound up being passed around by all the women after all the emotional speeches were made, trust me we needed it.
The night doesn’t end there, oh no. My nephew was going to turn 21 the next day and the sister-in-law heading out of town so she wanted to treat our nephew to his first legal drink in New Orleans. The first place we all thought of was Pat O’Brien’s, a notorious bar on Bourbon and St. Peter’s St. It was still early and we strived to stay awake long enough to even drive out to the French Quarter, wasthe hardest second wind to come by, let me tell you. Now if you’re looking for details from that little outing I hate to tell you, but what’s said at Pat O’s stays there.

It’s inevitable that anytime my family gets together and find ourselves at restaurants , something kind of goes wrong. Well we had a slight issue at the restaurant we went to for my nephew’s birhtday dinner. Needless to say they the women in the fam weren’t not pleased at how things went down. I sat at the table with two of my nieces and my sister’s-in-law niece. One niece had her eye on our waiter, who I must say has pretty decent taste.

Tuesday my sister and her hubby had to go out of town. I was going to hitch a ride, but decided to saty so that I could spend more time with Em and my other niece Belicia, who spent the night that night. I have to say this was quite and eventful evening. I missed the final performance episode of American Idol and set the Tivo wrong, so I was a bit upset when I got home, but anywho.

Em for a long time has wanted a tattoo. She turned 18 in Feb. and has been talking about it with her mom ever since. So my sister asked me to go with her just to make sure she was okay. It was Em, her friend, myself and my other niece B. Em talked with the shop people and her tattoo wound up being twice as long as we originally thought it would be, about 4 inches. Her friends and I all took turns watching the tattoo come to life. It actually came out pretty nice. Course my sister and the other adults in the family are reeling a bit about it, but what can you do? We then went and had a little bit of tapas at this cafe. We would’ve stayed in the quarter too had I not forgotten my ID back at the house. So we drove back to the house and I haven’t had so much fun with my nieces in a long time. Just getting to spend that quality girl time and talking and catching up with each other. It was great. I’m gonna miss ’em.

So the rest of the week went by pretty quickly. One day Brenda and I drove down into the city. I hadn’t seen anything when I had gone back home back in December. We went to St. Bernard Parish, the 9th Ward and Lakeview. About 2-3 weeks ago I was watching Ellen and she said her and her crew went to the city and took video and she reminded everyone that those pictures had been taken just a week prior to the show and that the hurricane had hit just 9 months ago. Well I saw firsthand what people were dealing with. The videos from the news stations and other shows do not even come close to what it’s like. No on is around, just a few dumptrucks around hauling out the occasional debris, but no where near as cleaned up as the areas surrounding the city. We saw two of the three levee breaches. Houses that used to be blocks away from a major intersection all pushed right next to each other or even into each other right next to the road. A city that’s usually bursting with people on the streets, on their front porches, in shops etc. now looks like a third world country.

With the current hurricane season knocking on the Gulf Coast door there’s no telling as to when New Orleans will be back on its feet or even close to the wondorous city it once was. That Sunday night we went to the Quarter for my nephew’s birthday; on a normal Sunday night Bourbon St. regulars are fewer and far between, but you still have to maneuver around small crowds, that Sunday there was hardly anyone on Bourbon. A few faithful tourists, and city dwellers that came back were all that hung around. No bustling St. Peter’s St. could actually hear the music coming from the House of Blues as opposed to only seeing the long ass lines to get inside.

In all it was quite depressing. Not even close the city I grew to appreciate as I got older. See my parents world and subsquently my world as a young child consisted of mainly Metairie and the suburbs, regardless of the fact I grew up in an area of tow called Mid-City, right there in the heart of New Orleans, my street was right across from the city bus HQ. It was only after I went away to college that I truly began to appreciate the city and all its mystic, that I understood why so many people fell in love with it when they visited, why Faulkner wrote there and why Degas found inspiration there as well, why so many unknown yet just as important artists, writers, musicians and lovers of life came to New Orleans. Needlesstosay I was truly overwhelmed, especially when I drove past my high school, my 10 yr reunion impending for the fall, yeah I got a little choked up.

As much as I like my new home here in Texas, New Orleans and Louisiana will always be home, I just live elsewhere. Something tells me I’ll be back one day.

For a canine’s take on the trip to Louisiana check out Zoe’s new diary entry at Dogster!

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