La Fete de St. Jean-Baptiste

Today is La Fete de St. Jean-Baptiste, an old French holiday observed now in Quebec and also in swaths of Southern Louisiana (where we French-Creoles settled). It is one of the two days a year that I make gris-gris. I’m not a practicing traiteur (it sounds like “traitor” but means “treater”) like my great-grandmother once was (a good Catholic but also the person you went to for a boost to your prayers), but I honor a few old traditions. This is one.

Alas, I will be on a plane for most of the holiday this year. My “working” will be limited.

Other things: seeing my play performed today at Source Festival was amazing; they did such a fantastic job with it, and it’s always a little surreal to see your words brought to life. I also enjoyed a day out in Washington DC, despite the formidable heat.

And now, certainly, I must pack up and get some rest before the long flight home.

A Tisket, A Tasket

Today is May Day, also known as Beltane, or Walpurgis, or by any number of other names. It’s one of my favorite sub-holidays because it brings warm weather and sun and flowers. When I was a child, our town had an annual May Fair. Artisans would set up tents and booths to sell their wares, and there would be games and food and music and a May Pole, and we would go to greet one another and enjoy that singular sense of community. I almost always ended up buying a garland of flowers for my hair.

There is an old tradition of May Baskets, not much observed any longer, wherein someone would leave a basket of flowers and treats on a doorstep, ring the bell, and run away. The object was to catch the person, and if you succeeded, kiss them. Call it an old homage to spring fever, the adolescence of the year, and all old fertility rites—in any case, great fun.

So in the spirit of the season, this year I leave a basket of words and thoughts on your doorstep to consider. It’s hardly fair, I realize, since you are unable to catch me from here. Though I suppose if you were enterprising enough, you could come find me.

You, who are like a magpie of a man, gathering the shiny bits and pieces of others whom you admire and making their words and affectations your own . . . I don’t think you do it out of malice, no, and maybe it comes so naturally, this mimicry, that you don’t always realize you are doing it. But you are sensitive enough, and deep enough, to be able to look within yourself and know the truth at the heart of the matter. You do these things, appropriate these gestures, in part out of honest esteem for those from whom you steal, but also because you want very much to fit in and to be liked, and maybe just a little because it feels safer to use others’ words and actions instead of your own. Every one of these little trinkets that you gather from the pockets of friends, acquaintances, coworkers, adds to the shell you build for yourself, something for you to hide in. Even now, reading this, you might feel exposed and vulnerable.

But here are the roses I give you: I love you anyway. And so do they. And were you ever to summon the strength and courage to step out of the shade of their shadows, you would be welcomed with open hearts and arms. You have much to offer on your own terms, and in your own words. Remember that you are friendly, and likable, and capable of more than superficial conversation. You might spend your days with other people’s words in your mouth, but to be heard you will need to speak for yourself. You fear being overlooked yet hide in plain sight.
Don’t be afraid to show yourself. Inside and out. Because you are loved. Inside and out.

Good Friday

Woke up to weather too nice to stay indoors. I thought I’d go find me some hot cross buns, but alas, I did not. Instead I ended up in Leicester Square at the National Portrait Gallery. Then I walked through Trafalgar Square and stopped to watch a bit of the Passion Play they were putting on there. Didn’t go into the National Gallery. Did stop at a place called Texas Cantina to try the British take on Tex-Mex. Um . . . At least they had Dr Pepper? From what I can tell, British people don’t like spicy food, so . . . The queso was okay, though not at all spicy. And the chips were too thick and gritty in texture. I had their version of “southern fried steak” but it seemed like they’d basically seasoned a steak in the British style (if you can call it “seasoned;” had sort of a Worcestershire flavor to it?) and then breaded that. Even the breading wasn’t what would pass in Texas. And they hardly put on any gravy. None on the mashed potatoes, which is just unheard of back home. Drown those suckers!

Still and all, I’ve satisfied my curiosity on that score.

And then I walked back over to Covent Garden and around the market a bit, but it was insanely crowded, what with the good weather and the holiday. So I didn’t hang around. I took the tube back to Green Park and decided to walk from there back to Eccleston Square. They were having some kind of memorial service in the park, something to do with Canadian soldiers and maybe (from the dates I heard) World War I? I stopped to pay my respects and listen for a bit, but aside from a lot of talk about the soldiers’ sacrifices, it wasn’t clear to me what the particular occasion might be. (Did hear the date 9 April mentioned, if that matters.)

Then I walked past Buckingham Palace, which has become a regular route for me—when I stayed near Green Park last summer, I would walk from Victoria, and now that I’m staying near Victoria, I walk from Green Park. I briefly considered shaking the gates and shouting, “Let me in!” but decided I didn’t feel like getting arrested or shot today.

Now I’m back at the flat, though it’s hard to get serious about writing because the weather is still so nice. And yet there’s no where I really feel like going. There’s lots of London yet to see . . . Every time I come, I see a little more, but even still I haven’t seen the half of it. Will try to work in a few more outings in my last couple days if the weather stays agreeable. I do have the ticket to “The Recruiting Officer” for tomorrow evening, too, so that’s something to look forward to.

St. Patrick’s Day

Although really this post has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. I’m just acknowledging that today is, in fact, St. Patrick’s Day.

I took this from Christine Rains’ blog. I think I’m supposed to pick 10 people or whatever, but I don’t really do well with those kinds of things, so I’m just going to answer the questions.

Favorite color: Okay, this is tricky because it’s a very particular shade of blue that I’m not even sure has a name, but I know it when I see it—it’s a deep blue like the sky just before it goes full night.
Favorite animal: falcon
Favorite number: 4
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: soda
Facebook or Twitter: Hmm. You know, for me they fill two separate needs or desires, so . . . both.
My passions: writing, music, history
Getting or giving presents: Now that I’m a grown up and can buy myself stuff, giving is usually more fun. Though I do still like to receive presents.
Favorite pattern: Um . . . Depends on what it’s on? For example, I like things that look like star-spangled sky, but I wouldn’t drape a couch in it. Hate florals for the most part, but have a couple lovely dresses with nice floral patterns. So . . . Just depends.
Favorite day of the week: Saturday
Favorite flower: I like daffodils because they come back each year and I always know it’s spring when I see them. And I love the smell of hydrangeas. And gardenias. And jasmine. And honeysuckle. More to the point, I just really like flowers.

Mardi Gras

As someone with deep roots in the Southern Louisiana culture . . . I’ve always avoided Mardi Gras.

By which I mean, I’ve avoided the raucous street parties that Mardi Gras is known for. See, I don’t especially like having people step on my feet, jostle me, spill beer all over me, or puke on me. It’s just not my kind of fun.

I’m more of a take-me-to-the-ball kind of Cendrillion. And yes, there are Mardi Gras balls, and they are quite lovely, and sometimes only slightly less raucous depending on how the night goes on. But less crowded, too, so escape is easier.

I also enjoy the traditions. King cake. Costumes. The pageantry sparks my inner love of drama, I suppose.

And now my freezer is stocked with fish fingers so that if I choose (though I usually don’t, mostly because I forget) I can go without meat on Fridays for the next few weeks. But at least there’s nothing against eating beignets.

Those Godless British Heathens

Just had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Oh, I’m going to be in England for Easter.
Scott: Do they care?
Me: That I’m going to be there?
Scott: About Easter.
Me: No, of course not. They are godless heathens who know nothing of magical rabbits bearing chocolate.

The truth is, I have no idea what they do for Easter over there, since I’ve never been during that time of year. I do hope there are flowers, though. If not bunnies and chocolates.


Yes, I do prefer it with the apostrophe, thank you. The apostrophe shows a letter has been removed. That is the function of apostrophes.

I like Hallowe’en, I suppose, though I find the roots of the holiday more interesting than its current incarnation. My minor was ancient and classical history, after all; I’m designed to find old things interesting. (And yet I also study pop culture . . . So I guess I find some modern things interesting, too.)

I enjoy dressing up, and I like having an excuse for it at least one day out of 365. (When I modeled in college, I had more excuses to dress up but also never got to pick my own clothes, so that didn’t really count, I don’t think.) I’d be more excited about the whole candy aspect if I were a kid, but once you’re grown up and can have candy whenever you like, that part of Hallowe’en loses its shine. We’ll take the kids trick-or-treating tonight, though, and we’ll probably eat a fair amount of the candy that is collected if only to keep the kids from having too much of it.

On the other side of the holiday, I don’t like gory things. I find psychological thrillers are more to my taste. So while I’m happy to read Stephen King–and he can be graphic, but he does also have a relatively subtle touch and doesn’t tend toward gore for its own sake–I don’t go see movies like Saw or whatever. Just not at all my thing.

And tomorrow is All Saints’ Day. I will make a gris gris, probably out of the dried rose on my desk.