Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fresh Fish!

I had a great English teacher in high school. She was no-nonsense and had a very dry sense of humor. When I was in school, she definitely had a few (three-four) decades under her belt. She's still there- which means that she's been teaching for at least 75 years. (I said I had a great English teacher, not Math teacher). Anyway, nothing tickled her fancy more than calling one of her students out when we made a dumb mistake. She would announce that she had a "Fresh Fish" to award and would tell the whole class who the moron of the day was and present them with a button with an image of a 'fresh fish.' (She wouldn't say moron of the day- but she should have). I think she felt like she lived in this cartoon:

One day in class, she started with the announcement of a fresh fish. I smugly looked around to figure out who the dumbass was. She made her way across the room and handed me a button. What?!? That has to be a mistake. We were studying Emerson in class and had discussed the "Concord Hymn" and then had to write about it. Apparently I understood the meaning, but failed to actually ever read the title because my write up was about the "Conquered Hymn." I had been to Massachusetts once and the word Concord rung up images of grape jelly and not a small town in Mass. We all got a chuckle at my expense and I proudly put the button on my back pack.

Recently at work, I kind of wished I could award myself a fresh fish. I was working on moving a lot of documents from one online system to another. I downloaded all of the documents, printed them out, went downstairs to the scanner, and scanned them to myself. It wasn't until half way back upstairs that I realized how much of a waste of paper and time I had just killed. I printed out documents from my computer to put onto my computer. The whole transferring documents to an online system is a new thing for me but I guarantee you I won't make that mistake again- just like it took me only one attempt at trying to rewind a DVD for me to realize the benefits of the new technology.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And Everywhere Else It's Just Tuesday

So I made it through another Mardi Gras. Even though I didn't catch any totally amazing throws (or amazing enough to blog about), I did have a pretty successful Mardi Gras. I wanted to give a brief recap of my seven days of partying like a rock star in the best city on the planet.

There were some great one liners.

Scene: Sitting at a bar talking to some friends, with a group of young (I'm not sure they were even suppose to be at the bar) gentlemen sitting next to us. One of the guys is way beyond the point of a happy buzz and is chain smoking as he struggles to balance on his chair.

His friend loudly says to him "Hey- ash your cigarette" We look over and see him turn his glazed eyes slowly to his friend and then to his cigarette, which is 90% ash. He taps it on the ash tray. His friend responds "good- you were really starting to look white trash."

Scene: After marching in a parade dressed up as mermaids, my friends and I are piled into a car heading home. We think we see someone we know on the street, so Steph makes a U-turn, pulls up to the guys and shouts their name (or the name of the person we thought we recognized). It wasn't him. The two guys look at us and Steph explains "Sorry- wrong person." To which one of the guys replies "want to give us a ride?" Rachel and I quickly say 'no,' but Steph asks "how old are you?" They answer at the same time: "32" "17" We guessed they were about 21 and left them to enjoy their night stroll together.

If I was going to get in a car with total strangers, it would definitely be with angry mermaids.

There was some really good food eaten.

Mardi Gras is by far my favorite time of year but I am always happy when it is over. One time my dad and I had a conversation about the most calories we have consumed in a day. I told him it was easily over 4,000 and he didn't believe me. Then I walked him through a typical day during Mardi Gras. He quickly agreed. After all of the gumbo, red beans, Zapp's, and fast food consumed I wish there was a way to purge myself like a crawfish (but without the whole dying and being eaten thing).

In fact, Steph and I shared a goal of obtaining Mardi Gras boyfriends (out of towners who were  nice to look at that would do our bidding for us for a few days). My MG BF would have to scramble around the bottom of the ladder and pick up any good beads I dropped (I told you I am shameless). Steph's MG BF needed to go get her Wendy's every morning to help her fight ethanol poisoning. In a weird twist of fate, Steph ended up being my MG BF when she lured me out of bed with a double stack on Mardi Gras day.

There were some amazing moments.

If Steph hadn't shown up with the greasy goodness, I would have never made it downtown. The French Quarter on Fat Tuesday is surreal. It's like walking in a Tim Burton dream. It's amazing.

As I mentioned before, I love just about everything about Mardi Gras. If you step back to look- there are so many beautiful sights. This Mardi Gras- I got to witness one that tops my list. We made it to the river as the Saint Anne's parade gathered near the water. We watched as participants threw ashes of loved ones into the river as a final farewell on Fat Tuesday. It might sound weird to some of you, but I can't think of a better send off than that- a crowd of revelers pausing the party to say goodbye to loved ones in their Mardi Gras finest (including large men in silver hot shorts and pink boas). It's New Orleans and it's Mardi Gras. And everywhere else it's just Tuesday.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ms. Mardi Gras

I have been going to Mardi Gras since I was very little. I was one of those kids in a box on top of a ladder. For all of you that have never experienced the best few days on earth, see below to figure out what I am talking about.

Mix drink. Put kid up in ladder through front (don't worry there's a pole there- they won't fall out). Climb up the back of the ladder to watch parade with kid. Ask someone on ground to hand you said mix drink. Catch shit.

I love Mardi Gras. I love everything about it. The bands. The floats. The beads. The way everyone loses their identity in the 30 seconds that it takes a float to pass- everyone wants beads and everyone on the float is being screamed at like a rock star. The mixed drinks on the streets. The tailgating for hours before and after the parades. The pageantry. The traditions. The fact that everywhere else, it is just Tuesday. The music. The food (especially the moon pies). The costumes. The artistry behind it all. The dancing girls that lead bands down the Avenue. The way the floats crawl down the street and look like a Tolkien creation from far away. I love it all.

I especially love the beads. In fact, to put it bluntly, I am a "bead whore." It is my goal to catch the best pair of beads that are being thrown off of a float as it passes in front of me. Typically, these are what I call "hoo hoo beads" because they are good enough to get out of towners to show their hoo hoos for. I have never and will never show mine for a pair of beads. I usually obtain them by making eye contact and smiling. That's all it takes. Even if the gross old men on the floats give me the "lift your shirt signal"- I glare at them and grit a smile and tell them "you've got to be kidding me" with my eyes- and they usually still throw me the beads. One of my favorite recurring stories from Mardi Gras past was when men propositioned my mom (who was on the back of my ladder) to flash. It's just the example of the mindset of "anything goes" at Mardi Gras. Needless to say, my mom gave them the "shame on you" look in response. What did they expect? "Excuse me, baby, can you scoot to the side? Mommy needs to lose her dignity to get you that cheap stuffed animal that is soaked in beer."

I digress. The point of this blog is tell you exactly how good I am at getting the attention of the bead throwers and why I tell people that they can call me "Ms. Mardi Gras." In 2006, a group of Saints players were invited to ride in one of the parades to celebrate making it to the play-offs. As their float rolled by me on the street, a rider looked at me- pointed- took the hat off of his head and threw it to me. I caught it and put it on and waved at him to thank him. I then realized that everyone in the crowd around me was in a tizzy trying to figure out if the hat hit the ground or- if it didn't- who caught it. One of my friends who witnessed the transaction said "Leila- Sean Payton just threw you his hat!!?!" (OK- don't kill me for the next line- I was not really a Saints fan at the time). "Is he the kicker?" The way I saw it was a small white guy on a float of NFL players threw me a hat. It must have been the kicker. Wrong. I was even more stoked when I realized I had caught the hat off of the head coach's head.

The Saints rode in a lot of parades in 2010 to celebrate their recent Super Bowl win. Sean Payton (who I could identify this time) was invited to be King of a major parade on Monday night. As his float lumbered towards us, I joked "Alright Seany boy- whatcha got for me this time?" The float rolled in front of us and a helper on the float handed Sean a hat which he signed and then looked at the crowd to pick out the lucky recipient. We all went wild. By some miracle of a Mardi Gras god- he looked at me and pointed. In that split second, my brain digested the number of events that were about to occur: I was going to miss the hat completely and then get off the ladder to fight someone who caught it and end up in Central Lockup until Wednesday; I was going to jump forward off of the ladder and break my neck trying to catch the hat and die an early, but respectful death; I was going to catch the hat and have the most amazing Mardi Gras throw in my possession.

Good news. I'm not dead and I didn't go to jail. I caught the hat. And maybe soiled myself. A little.

I couldn't believe that it happened twice. The stars aligned and my years of practice paid off. I am now the proud owner of two Sean Payton hats.

Yeah, you right! I am Ms. Mardi Gras.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I was a member of a state championship soccer team in high school. WAIT- before you read the next paragraph click here.

It was quite the underdog story as about half of the girls who were starters in the game (including me) had all started playing soccer together freshman year and the team that we beat to win state had given us one of only two or three losses so far that season. When we played them the first time, they beat us something like 7-0 and came in to the championship game quite cocky. We ended up beating them in penalty kicks after overtime periods. It was magical.

When I got to college, I got fat. Then I slimmed down my Sophomore year and decided I would pick up soccer again. I went out to a club team practice and immediately got frustrated with how it was run and the other girls there. I also realized that I loved the comradery my high school team as much as I loved the sport and officially hung up my cleats- or so I thought.

One weekend during my junior year, my roommate asked me to come play a co-ed game on her team made up of mostly engineers (nerds!!! but wicked clever when it came to ways to imbibe). I hesitantly went with her and was relieved when the other team didn't show thinking I had gotten out of it. However, everyone out there was still ready to play, so we had a pick up match among their team.

I was nervous to play with guys, but was enjoying the game. For some reason, I was playing forward and was trying to be cool and show off my "amazing" skills. I got my opportunity when someone crossed a pass in the air directly in front of the goal. I jumped up to get my head on the ball and the instant I did, the defender got his head on my face. As I watched my first and last goal from a header sail into the net, I also heard a loud pop and immediately felt blood (I also think the goalie was too stunned by the scene to block the ball, it was luck). I got the ball, the defender got my face and the better part of my nose. I had a broken nose from a pickup scrimmage that I didn't care about.

I immediately grabbed my face and my friend and I ran into the Rec center to ask for towels. I dripped blood up the steps and it took a few attempts to explain to them what we needed- everyone was staring open mouthed at my blood stained penny.

I went to the hospital and they confirmed my suspicion of a broken nose. But apparently it was not bad enough to need any corrective work. It would get to stay the way it was without the Owen Wilson charm factor. Awesome.

The nose incident marked the true end of my soccer career. It also provided plenty of awkward nose bleeds which I would try to follow up with an inappropriate joke about illegal drugs that usually didn't go over too well. Oh yeah- and the guy who broke my nose? Apologized to me every time he saw me for the rest of college. It was unnecessary- I knew it was a mistake. I will admit, though, the line "Hey, remember that time you broke my nose?" did milk his guilt enough to get me a drink or two when I would see him out.