New Orleans at Mardi Gras is a Southern Gothic Tale in Technicolor

from Krew of Muses gallery

Why is New Orleans so beautiful? Because the city is unique, fascinating, tragic, dramatic, eccentric, violent, happy, upbeat, decrepit and alive. There isn’t a street in that entire city that doesn’t tell a story. The people who live there take pride in those stories, and want to tell their own. Hell, they’ll go out of their way to make their own, the more fantastic the better. Music is a part of life and the food is all their own. The people of New Orleans know how to live while staring death in the face.

And oh my does that city know how to party! I spent my first Mardi Gras season in the French Quarter last week and came home hungover, dehydrated, exhausted and with a fat lip from getting hit in the face with a bag of beads thrown from a Bacchus float. Translation: I had one of the best times of my whole life.

Krew of Muses

The parades alone are worth the 2000 mile trip. The floats are decked out in brilliant colors and manned by Krew members who throw jewel colored beads into the crowd. My favorite was Muses, which is a more bohemian parade. The Krew of Muses is one of the newest Krew’s in town, but their gorgeous floats and fun marching bands have become a City favorite. Bacchus is an older, traditional Krew, and their floats are monstrous! Trailers pull gigantic floats depicting children’s literature, such as Harry Potter and Where the Wild Things Are. The music in the parades is performed by high school and college marching bands, and those kids can rock. Even at the end of the five mile parade route, the drums still pounded and the horns shook the ground we stood on.

The French Quarter is a mix of beauty and filth. Bourbon street is a mess, packed shoulder to shoulder with young, sex starved drunks hunting for beads. It made me think of Spring Break with an open bar. Not my scene at all, but the people watching was fantastic. I liked the side streets and neighborhoods off the Quarter where locals like to celebrate. Costumes and masks were the preferred attire, otherwise people liked to go mostly naked.

Bourbon Street

My husband is from New Orleans. We’ve planned to go for years, but circumstance and money kept stopping us. But this year we said “screw it” and bought our hotel room and flights. It’s one of those things you have to do, even if you think you can’t afford it. Adventure is important, and the beauty of New Orleans showing off her splendor is worth the price. She is proud of her Krews and music and food and happy to share it with you. She’ll also scam you out of your last dime so keep a hand on your wallet. New Orleans isn’t a polite princess waiting for you to dote on her; she is a Queen looking for a good time and someone to party with. Life and Death walk hand in hand, and if you say hello, one of them will buy you a drink.

A Pornographic Elastic Heart?

First, watch this video

Then tell me, what is it about?

Is it truly pornographic?

There are so many stories portrayed in this one dance piece, which is why I love dance so much. The movement of an arm and the twirl of a head can shout a hundred words in an instant. In this video, I see a father and daughter trapped by expectation and patriarchy, fighting each other for understanding. The father is hoping to tame his daughter so she stays with him and does what he needs her to. The daughter is trying to break him down, destroy him if need be, so they can both be free. That’s just one story.

Another story is a man fighting his inner demon. If he can only tame it, he’ll have peace. But at the end, even when demon is calmed, the man is still trapped. The grief on his face is heartbreaking.

It’s sad that the only thing so many people can see is a man in skin colored trunks trying to seduce a little girl. Is it the color of his trunks, or her tunic, or that he’s a grown man in a cage with a child? I agree, all of those things could make you uncomfortable, but is it impossible to see beyond the visual and give the art a chance?

The Elastic Heart video is brilliant because it is complex, daring, and controversial. It tells a story we can all feel, while challenging us to feel more.

Art requires fearlessness, not just from the artist, but also from the person experiencing the art. Break out of your comfort zone a little bit and you’ll be amazed by what you’ll discover.

Thank you, and Happy Birthday Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was alive when I was born. The following year, he was murdered. Despite the attempt to silence him, I grew up listening to his words and reading his story. His message resonated deeply within me.  But why had this black man affected the life of a little white girl growing up in California?

Because I am white, there is no way I can fully comprehend the power of his message. But his words about unity, freedom, and love are for everyone, black and white, male or female. I am awed by his willingness to stand up for the rights of black people in a world that hated him for being black. He was a man with a family and I’m sure he was scared most of the time. But he couldn’t stay silent. His strength is why a gun couldn’t stop  him.

My parents were hippies in the 1970’s so I was lucky enough to learn about Dr. King and Vietnam and integration at the dinner table. I knew who The Black Panthers were and I could find Saigon on a map. But no one impressed me more than Dr. Martin Luther King.

Today, I continue to educate myself about freedom and equality in my country. As a white woman, I can never understand how it feels to be black in this country. I try not to speak for the black community. Dr. King’s message of equality should inspire us all to do better. Recognize racism wherever it is and fight to end it. Don’t turn your back on injustice.

Dr. King would be marching in the streets for justice today. He would also be preaching about love and forgiveness. America can not exist with an “us vs them” mentality. We must work together.

A bullet killed the man in 1968. Don’t let apathy kill the message.

100 Happy Days 1: A room full of estrogen

Feeling run down? Hassled? Angry every time the laundry hamper fills? Then you need to pack up some clothes you no longer wear and go to a Swap-O-Rama party. The more laughing women the better. Unless you’re a man, then all that estrogen might be scary. Because my daughter is medically fragile, we tend to live a very different life than other people. I feel like I live on a different planet most of the time. But I forced myself to go to my friend’s clothing swap party. The house was packed with women I barely knew digging through racks and racks of clothes other people had brought. I hung up the items I’d brought, grabbed a glass of wine and started “shopping.” Within 30 minutes I felt comfortable with all those strangers and had a fantastic time. We laughed, tried on clothes, joked and teased each other, talked about our kids, our partners and our pets, and had far more fun than I thought a group of women could have. Mostly, I realized I’m not so different from other women. My child is different, but we all share the same hopes and dreams for the people we love. We all fight for our children. We all need to laugh. And we all desire a pair of red heels.

Can 100 Happy Days really make you happier?

Last year, I gave the meme #100HappyDays a try. I actively looked for something that made me feel happier and then posted it on Facebook for my friends to see. The last two years have been extremely challenging so I had to do something different to force me to remember the positive.

Did it work?

Surprisingly, yes. At first I felt silly. I rarely pay attention to meme’s and I’m allergic to doing anything just because “everyone is doing it.” But when you reach the emotional bottom you have to try something outside your comfort zone. And I’m so glad I did.

I’ve decided to continue posting 100 Happy Days, but this time I’m stepping it up by posting on my blog, rather than only on my personal Facebook page. Blogging encourages me to look deeper at happiness. On Facebook I can just write “I love how warm my coffee is in the morning.” On a blog, I need to write a little more; why does the warmth of coffee make me so happy in the morning?

Since I began the #100HappyDays on Facebook, many of my friends decided to try it too. They report the meme has helped them find the positive in every day as well. So give it a try. Who cares if everyone is doing it; there’s a reason people are copying each other. 100 Happy Days seems to work.

If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission

This is an image and quote from Eddie Colla. For more information, go to his webiste

Eddie Colla’s image is on my laptop as a reminder. I spend so much time doubting myself. Making excuses. If only I had the time, resources, money… What do I know? I don’t even have an MFA.

Enough.

Time to accept the truth that I am hiding behind poor self esteem and the only way to gain confidence is to try. I have a lot of knowledge and experience in publishing, editing and writing and it is time to trust myself. And so, I am actively seeking more editing clients as well as people who need a book shepherd. Plus, I’m collaborating with two other writing professionals to create something exciting that should help struggling writers. I’m looking for more teaching and speaking engagements. And I’m finally publishing my book on creating a publishing company. How ridiculous to write a book on self-publishing and then not publish it!

I’m never going to get over my insecurities and shyness, so I might as well accept that fact and go for it. I feel… no… I know I have the ability to help others.

So, what’s stopping you? What are you afraid of? Why are you hiding your own, unique and wonderful voice? Like I said, the fear doesn’t go away, but it gets easier to ignore.

Protests, Riots and Creativity

image by “Mighty” Mike McGee http://www.mikemcgee.net

I have been glued to Twitter all week, reading real-time updates from protesters all over the country. The killing of Eric Garner and the decision of the grand jury not to prosecute the officer who killed him has sparked a wildfire of rage and frustration. Most of that anger has been seen in the protests, and too many people calling themselves protesters have turned those actions into riots.

But many people have transformed their frustration into art. For example…

This song by Rising Sun All Stars  https://risingsunallstars.bandcamp.com

This spoken word poem by Tia Nache Yarbrough

This performance piece in New York’s Times Square

This image   http://heartacheandpaint.com/I-Can-t-Breathe

image by Damon Davis

image by Damon Davis

 

And this one  https://lockerdome.com/6272859261640513/6865575687363604

And this    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7558/15331991803_36bc4215c1_b.jpg

artist unknown. please help me identify to give proper credit

Creativity is a force that can heal, scream, question, destroy and unite. Creativity can open minds and change the world.

Art has power. How will you use it?