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Bailey’s ABCT Performance
August 12th, 2008 under family, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: none ]

My little girl.

Stress in the Big Easy
June 19th, 2008 under Cancer, Christianity, family, God, Katrina, Recovery, Shirley, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: 3 ]

Pandora'sIt’s been a tough day. I took my lovely wife to the doctor’s office this morning for her quarterly check-up. Four years since her final treatment for cancer. It seems like only yesterday. I hate that office. We got the bad news there. It’s always pretty packed with folks. Folks waiting for the bad news. Folks waiting for good news. Folks with wigs, using walkers, terribly tired, terribly scared, and terribly sick.

Visit to Pandora'sI watched people trying to stay awake. Two people were trying to work the 500 piece puzzle. Several had their spouses with them and some had their kids and grandkids with them. All alone was Sister St. Dorian. Just her and God. It was kind of sad. Her big black horn-rimmed glasses matched her skirt and head covering. Even though she looks to be in her late seventies, Sr. St. Dorian rose rather quickly when her name was called. She released the break on her walker and pretty quickly left for the door. I prayed for her.

As soon as the wife went in for her results, I left the waiting room and went to the lobby of the hospital. I couldn’t stand being in the room any longer.

Great news! She’s fine. I dropped her off at work and headed to the NOBTS library to work on a chapter for the next book. On the way I saw such devastation. I forget how terrible it still is in Gentilly. I get angry and depressed when I drive through my old neighborhood. “Guess they’ll never convict Jose Vazquez, Jr.’s murderer,” I thought as I drove past Vasquez’s restaurant on Gentilly. It hasn’t been touched since Katrina.

Trip to Pandora'sGot to the library, made a quick run through the New Orleans Blogs and saw another jerk is using the floods in Iowa to trash New Orleans. I love it when someone who’s never been here explains why Katrina was our fault. It really sucks around here. I know it could be worse. A lot worse.

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Other days I feel like Sister St. Dorian. Alone in a scary place. Just me and God. Gotta hop up now. Got work to do. Can’t wait to pick up Shirley Jr from camp and Shirley Sr from work. I owe the little one a snowball. We’ll go by Pandora’s. Life is good.

Mardi Gras: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?
February 24th, 2006 under Food, Friends, Holidaze, Katrina, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Shirley, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: 3 ]

Got Too Close!I read my first convincing argument as to why it is inappropriate to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year. His best point is that folks outside of New Orleans may think we’re back to normal. I still disagree with the commentator, but he has a very good point.

So, let me make this perfectly clear—New Orleans is NOT back to normal. I don’t know how many YEARS that will take, but we’re not even close! Many still need help. There was an apartment fire the other day and it left folks homeless. Not the kind of homeless that apartment fires usually yield. The literally have nowhere to live. They cannot find places to stay because there are none. I think you have the point now.

Second, I know that for many Mardi Gras is a drunken orgy of show me your ____s. But, for most of us, that’s not what Mardi Gras is all about. It’s about holding my daughter’s hand as we trot up to the floats to get cheap stuffed animals. It’s about watching her and Shirley’s eyes light up when they get a 5 cent piece of crap from a stranger! It’s about being with my son as he marches in the rain. It’s about seeing old friends that we’re too busy to visit otherwise. It’s about a thousand other really good things.

I need Mardi Gras. You know why? Guess what I will be doing without for Lent? A job. Some of my closest friends. Lunches and dinners at some of my favorite restaurants. Peace of mind behind government built levees. Neighbors who live in their homes instead of trailers.

BTW—For lunch, I ate a shrimp poboy-dressed. For dinner I ate at Café Roma yesterday. I got the book by Chris Rose. Ate Red Velvet cake and Banana Pudding (made by my girls). I took pictures at a local park too! It was a very good birthday.

Panty-Palooza Valentine’s Day Idea
February 13th, 2006 under Holidaze, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 4 ]

ValI thought Mindy’s Panty-Palooza idea was really cool. She suggested providing gifts for a local Crisis Center. She said that panties would be a good idea. I didn’t feel real comfortable with that so I took Shirley Jr to the store today and we bought some things for a girl her age. I’m calling the Crisis Centers tomorrow to see where we can drop it off on Tuesday. Thanks for the great idea Mindy! My daughter really enjoyed picking out the stuff.

Trip to Mardi Gras World
January 10th, 2006 under Humor, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: none ]

ClintonShirley Jr and I went to Mardi Gras World in Algiers today. We had a great time!

Here’s a pic of Shirley Jr with a Bill Clinton mask on. I had to take the pic very quickly. For some reason, when she put on the mask, she couldn’t inhale.

Unfortunately, the Reserves weren’t handing out water there any more. Two weeks ago we got two cases of water. I’ll try somewhere else tomorrow. I know I should feel guilty about taking the water, but I don’t.

I’ve loaded a few of the pics I took today on my Flickr account. Some of them are pretty funny.

I heard a few days ago that Barkus will roll in 2006! The theme is the Wizard of Paws: There’s No Place Like Home.

BTW: Anybody out there have a “Glenda the Good Witch” dress that I can borrow. I’m up to about 270 lbs right now. Shirley says she’s not going to make that outfit for me this year. That’s a heck of a lot of taffeta!

Last years’ Barkus parade had a Harry Potter theme! We hope that we can join the Homans and Keith again this year. We have such a great time! I promised Shirley that I wouldn’t go all out on the float this year. Chloe really doesn’t like the parade, but it’s really not about her.

Happy Birthday Elvis Wherever You Are!
January 8th, 2006 under Holidaze, New Orleans, Shirley Jr, Vanderbilt. [ Comments: none ]

ElvisI had planned on returning to Nashville today, but my plans have changed. I just couldn’t handle Shirley Jr being in that awful school any longer. I enrolled her in Lusher and she’ll be back there on the 17th, but I really didn’t like her being in a school where bullies seem to go unchecked and teachers yell at kids. In fact, when she went to her room to turn in her books, her teacher was rude to her and didn’t even say goodbye, or we’ll miss you, or anything. I really don’t understand how a teacher could be like that. The saddest part is that Pittman is considered to be a good school. The walls are freshly painted, the office ladies are very nice and it appears to be a great place.

Oh, well. Lusher will be great and Shirley Jr is so looking forward to being back. I’ll head back to Nashville next weekend.

Happy Birthday Elvis wherever you are! We’re eating King Cake today in honor of you!

French Quarter Fun
January 4th, 2006 under New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Shirley, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: none ]

Cool GranpaShirley, Shirley Jr, and I went to the quarter last week and had great fun! We ate begnets, listened to music and had a great time. We also went to a party at B and Xy’s house on New Years Eve and went to the bonfire on Orleans Ave. It was great to be with them and the Homans. We’re intentionally doing more New Orleans things when I’m in town like eating a muffaletta from Central Grocery
or playing at City Park. Take a look at my latest pictures.

New Orleans is really amazing. It has a wonderful mix of folks and great artists, musicians and cooks. It is such a unique place.

It has been a real gift to live here. But Katrina has taught me a lot. Although I would love to be a part of the New New Orleans. Family is more important. Wherever they are, I will be happy.

Pray for us as we face the uncertain days ahead. Thanks for your love and support.

Night Out with Shirley
December 30th, 2005 under Food, Friends, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Politics, Shirley, Shirley Jr. [ Comments: 7 ]

BoneramaShirley and I had a wonderful night last night. It really began with a trip to the Esplanade mall after dropping her mom off at the airport. Shirley’s mom is the sweetest person I know. It’s really hard to say goodbye to her. When she lived in Memphis and drove down to New Orleans, we could usually talk her into staying a few extra days. Shirley bought a sexy top for our special evening. SHE’S SO HOT!

We started off with dinner at Dick & Jenny’s at 4501 Tchoupitoulas St. It was almost as good as Jacques Imo’s! We found out yesterday that Jacques is opening today. It was so good to eat fine New Orleans food! The Crescent Cafe in Nashville does an excellent job with Gumbo, Red Beans, and Po-Boys, but I was ready for some Alligator Sausage Cheesecake. (The only thing that it resembles in a traditional cheesecake is the richness of the flavor.) The food was unbelievable. It reminded me that New Orleans has the best food in the world…period.

We missed the Zion Harmonizers, but saw all of Bonerama and Cowboy Mouth. Bonerama is so-named because the band consists of a drummer, an unbelievable guitarist, a tuba player (haven’t heard a tuba solo that good since Galactic. As a matter of fact, I haven’t heard a tuba solo since Galactic.) and four trombonists! They were very cool! I’ve got to get their CD.

I got to tell Fred how much I appreciate his music and he gave me a hug! I also got to tell Chris Rose, the T-P columnist, that his post-Katrina articles inspired me while I was in Nashville and made me feel a little at home too. He hugged me and said, “Welcome home brother!” That was cool!

Of course, Cowboy Mouth tore the f-ing walls down! Their new songs really are great, but if you’re not from here you really won’t understand them. Fred’s promise to send us home “hoarse, horny, and happy” was realized!

Nights like last night make me want to stay in New Orleans forever. A total stranger walked up to us in the House of Blues and said, “I’ve noticed you and your wife sitteing here and I want you to know you’re the luckiest man in the f-ing world! I can tell you guys have been together a long time and your wife is f-ing beautiful man! Have a happy New Year!”

Only in New Orleans!

I took Shirley Jr to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch today. It was great to eat at Lan’s Palace again! However, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. They were looted during Katrina. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for them to know that they might deliver their wonderful food to someone who looted them.

Life After Katrina
December 1st, 2005 under Holidaze, Howie Jr, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Shirley, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus, Xavier. [ Comments: 1 ]

TurboDogSometimes I think I’m bipolar. My trip to New Orleans for Thanksgiving was wonderful, but also a bit bittersweet. I got to take both of my girls to the Quarter and listen to live Jazz while I sipped on a Turbodog. The zoo reopened so we also got to go there. The weather was perfect! I also was able to finish the front bathroom. I installed the shower surround kit and finished the plumbing. (Got to use my torch twice!) Fixing the roof was a major pain, but hopefully Howie Jr won’t get wet next time it rains.

Turducken was great. I was also able to spend time with son #1. He’s such a great guy. I miss him so much. Shirley had the week off so we got to stay up late every night! Shirley Jr was as fun as ever and Howie Jr was very busy as usual.

Driving past Xavier was very difficult. Even if I were to be asked back, it wouldn’t be the same. So in the middle of this wonderful week with my family, I was often gripped with sadness. Life will never be the same. Spending time in New Orleans itself is depressing. All you see on the news and read about in the paper is about the hurricane. I actually looked forward to getting back to Music City.

But, when I got here I realized how much I miss my family. Life will never be the same. I’ll never get this time back. But I must make the most of it. I’ll tell you the good things I’ve learned from this mess.

I believe now more than ever in Grace. My lowest points seem to always be met by Grace. Yesterday, the maintenance man came to fix my sink. He told me about how he used his vacation time to set up showers in a shelter for victims of Katrina. He told me about Paw Paw in Crowley La and his struggles. He shook my hand and said he’d pray for me. He said that if he could help me in any way to let him know. And he meant it.
Jason is giving me his bike today. I advertised on Craig’s List that I needed a bike and Jason is bringing it to me today. These acts of kindness may not seem like much, but to me they are huge.

I didn’t think I could love my wife more than I did, but I do. She is more beautiful and full of wisdom and strength than ever. I am so blessed I can’t describe it. I also appreciate how good my kids are. Shirley Jr really doesn’t like her school at all. But she looks to the time when she will be back at her old school and she continues to be as positive and sweet as ever. Howie Jr made the honor roll! Damn, I’m proud of him! Son #1 is growing and learning and was so sweet to his little sister!

Life will never be the same. Fortunately, my outlook on life will never be the same either!

November 25th, 2005 under Friends, Holidaze, Howie Jr, Katrina, New Orleans, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus, Xavier. [ Comments: 3 ]

PickleThanks to Joe Kennedy for reminding me I’ve been too negative lately. Returning to New Orleans for the week has done that to me. It’s true that in many cases New Orleanians love to b*tch and are often not thankful when they should be. So here goes—

I’d like to thank the nice ladies in Clarkesville Tn at the Red Cross center for providing me with a listening ear, a possible place to stay in Nashville, and a white credit card! Y’all were so wonderful. I’d like to thank the folks in Houston Co. TN for being so nice to my family. Both my kids (the oldest was at the University of Florida) were welcomed with open arms to their schools. Howie Jr got to play on the football team. #71 rules! Shirley Jr was invited to a sleep-over and my family there was great! The ladies at the library were also very helpful to me as I tried to continue my research. There was even a man at church that slipped Howie Jr a $20 bill. Everyone wanted to help so bad!

I’d like to thank the Baptists folks from Missouri that are STILL feeding folks every day at the church down the street! Thanks for the National Guard guys and gals that stayed in the school across the street from me. Thanks for protecting the neighborhood from looters. Thanks for cleaning up my yard and the school yard. Sorry that the soldier in your company spent 14 months in Iraq only to come to New Orleans and lose his leg. (Got infected while rescuing folks.) Sorry y’all couldn’t drink the beer I offered you! BTW thanks to the guys from Germany that camped out a block away from my house so that the pumping station would continue to run! (They didn’t turn down the beer! Sorry guys, Bud was all I could find!)

Thanks for the MREs, the water, and the ice. Thanks for the free meals, free beer, free prayers. Thanks to all those in Nashville who have made me feel loved and cared for. Thanks to all my friends who have called, emailed, and offered me everything from jobs to places to stay.

I’m thankful for my brother and his wife, My wife and kids, and my former colleagues at Xavier. I’m most of all thankful to my God for providing for me and demonstrating to me that I am loved.

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