Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscar my Butt

I had an insane weekend.

On Friday, I picked my girlfriend up at the airport. She is also a Memphian, and I have no idea how we never met until an all girl's Vegas trip in January a couple of months ago, but when we met, we instantly clicked and decided that we might be twins who were separated at birth. She just happens to be about a foot taller than me and significantly tanner, but I believe that we could be twins, nonetheless. After I picked her up, we went to the promenade and hung out in Santa Monica for a little while. My buddy called me on Friday evening and invited us to Shabbat. This turned out to be a neat experience for my friend (well, me too, but I have done Shabbat before), because Memphis isn't just booming with Jewish folk, so she got to experience a completely different approach to Friday night festivities. We went over to my friend's house and were definitely the only WASPs present. Our fake bake, platinum hair, and inundation of "y'alls" made us stand out a bit [just a bit] from the brunette crowd. Talk about fantastic people. We had a wonderful experience, complete with hummus, brisket, and a lesson about Judaism. They even let us light the candles before they said Hebrew prayers. I have great friends.

After Shabbat, we headed over to my favorite spot, Cabo Cantina, and drank margaritas next to the fire pit. We were accosted by crazy people all night, which is typical, but makes for good stories. At one point, a fat, bald headed man with a beard came up to us and tried to pick a fight with some other goon with a puppet face, and in between making death threats, the fat man asked if any of us would like to buy a bike. I said that I needed one. Turns out, he buys bikes at police auctions, fixes them up, and then sells them. He showed me a glorious bike on his iphone. It's like all time stood still and there was a glowing aura of light around the pictures on this phone. I was in love. With a bike.

Around this time, this skinny young guy asks my girlfriend if we are OK, seeing that we're bike-bartering with a guy who looks like his name could be Bluto and he just broke out of Angola Prison, and come to find out, the skinny guy is a super nice youth group kid from Arizona who just moved to L.A. two months ago. So. Eventually we left the goon, Bluto, and our new friend, and we went home.

The next day, my girlfriend dresses up in a black track suit and black Shox, and I told her she looked like a back up dancer for JLo. We go to the mall to find cocktail dresses for our Academy Award party on Sunday (insert lame theme music) and our skinny friend meets up with us. I call the bike rapist to follow up, because he made me a $60 deal on the hottest bike in all of L.A., and he said we could come by and get it. I thought to myself that at least I'd met this guy in real life, so this is technically a statistically safer transaction than one via Craigslist. Right? Now, keep in mind that it was the middle of the day and there was a group of us, so I didn't think I was going to get murdered if we did a drive by of the guy's house and did a quick bike pick up. So we did. And now I have a glorious new (sort of) bike. Thanks, bike rapist!

After all of this, my friend and I got cleaned up and met our other "friend" who was in town at the Beverly Hilton. This guy hooked my girlfriend and I up (more like we hooked HIM up, since we didn't get paid CASH MONEY) as "models" for an Oscar party the following day. He took us up to meet the lady coordinating the event. Her name was Anita. She opened her door and said, "Are you girls the models?" and I almost started dying laughing in her face. I wanted to say, "Yes, we are models. And you must be the president." I've gained a good 10 lbs. over the past year. Model my ass. All of a sudden, Anita the slave driver puts all of us to work stuffing VIP bags full of swag. I lasted about 10 minutes. Then I got mad. I started thinking, I'm stuffing $400 gift certificates for facials in bags for assholes. If I was giving shoes to orphans or something, I could justify this free labor, but I have no desire to give rich jerks fancy presents. I exited stage left, right in the middle of this Beverly Hills sweat shop, and sat out in the hallway, grouchy. I called my man friend.

Eventually we left the plantation room of death-bagging and went to the W in Westwood. We stayed there for a minute and then went to a club at the bottom of the Hilton, but I was having some interpersonal issues at the time, misinterpreting text messages, and was on a crying jag for personal reasons that I don't feel like getting into, so I just wasn't in the mood to dance. Or sweat. Or drink. I just wanted to be a hermit and have a good cry.

After a few hours, we left that place and I got separated from my girl friend and wound up with two other guys who were in the group (vendors for the Gifting Suite), one of whom was in a wheelchair, and we're walking through the parking structure, and I'm trying to find my car, and the guy in the wheelchair is popping wheelies around all of these Lamberginis and ferraris and I'm a little worried that he's going to have a head on collision with a $700,000 car, and I am not sure if I'm more worried about him further damaging his health or him damaging the car of some big hulky porn star who will murder all of us when he scratches the paint off his ride.

I eventually find my girlfriend and we pull out of the Hilton garage at 2 in the morning, and the Asian guy working the pay booth says, "Is that your natural hair color?"

I said, "Why would you ever think this is my natural hair color? Don't you see my eyebrows? They're black. Of COURSE this isn't my natural hair color."

Asian parking guy, "I love your hair."

Thanks for complimenting my fakeness. Why not just say, "Nice hair," instead of asking if it's real? People are rude.

We make it home, and pull into my parking garage and my friend gets sick. Really, really sick. So she's there getting sick and I'm sad and crying and then OUT OF THE EFFIN BLUE some wee man Indian guy in a suit comes walking up to me at 2:30 in the morning and asks me if I'd like a piece of gum. It is still in the foil packaging, so I know that it hasn't been laced with roofies, and my breath smelled like a camel corpse, so I took a piece of it. We're both standing there, smacking gum, arms folded, watching my friend ralf like a lion, and I am crying because I thought I got dumped via text, although I didn't. So the Indian guy goes, "Let me read your palm." And I said, "What?" and then I just sort of stuck my palm out like a loser because i didn't have anything else to do.

"Why is your hand so orange?"

"Because I got a spray tan."

Why is everyone so blunt about my fake hair and fake tan? Dicks.

"Oh. Well. This line is long. This means you have a good heart and will live a long life. And you will get married only once. And have two children. And you will be wealthy."


Anyway. Then he tells me to stop crying because I am a good woman. Then he asked if I needed help with my friend, and I said no, and he got on the elevator and left.

So I'm standing in my garage, feeling incredibly weird, chewing gum, wondering if I really just got my palm read by a wee Indian man in a suit, and I am sad. I ask my friend if she'll go up to my apartment and she says she wants to sleep in my car. I get tired. I get really tired. Crying makes me tired as hell.

I tried to pull her butt out of that car for a good 15 minutes.

Eventually, I gave up. I wrote a note on a post it that said, "Come up to my apartment, room ***. Lock my car when you leave. Love, RH" And I stuck it on her leg and locked her in my car.

I started walking toward the elevator, feeling real empty and light and heavy all at once, and the Indian guy walks off the elevator and says he's left his phone in his car. He gets his phone and says, "Where is your friend?" and I said, "I left her in the car. She's sleeping in it. I left her a note with instructions." He is APPALLED at this news and says "You can't let her sleep in the car!"

So we go over to the car and pull her out and prop her up in the corner of the elevator. The whole time, she's got one eye open, and she's giving him the stink eye with the other one.


When we got to the 3rd floor, the door opened, and we all stood there like three statues.

My friend says, "We aint' gettin off this elevator til YOU LEAVE."

So the Indian palm readin' gum giver leaves and we walk to my room.

My friend passes out and I cry for the next several hours because messages get misconstrued via texts. I didn't sleep so hot.

The next day, we get all gussied up and go to the Hilton for our Oscar party, but I feel so weird from the day before that I didn't even wash my hair. I just didn't feel like it. Anyway, we show up with hair and make up, and the event coordinator asks us where our "costumes" are. This made me almost faint. Costumes? I was told to wear a black cocktail dress. Does that qualify as an effin COSTUME?!

The lady, who is past her prime and fat and looks like she should sell Mary Kay products begins to brief us on how to walk and what to do. These people were so into it. You should've seen the other models (yes, they were REAL models) walking down the red carpet, swaying their hips like they had springs in them. I started giggling so hard. I had that same, shoulder-shaking giggle that my Aunt Vera used to get at funerals when we all knew it wasn't OK to laugh. One look at my girlfriend and it was over.

The event planners were like pageant moms, telling us exactly how to walk and smile and woo the celebrities with our charming demeanors. What a crock of crap. I whispered to my friend, "What if I just dropped my drawers and took a dump on the red carpet?" I know this was crass. It was incredibly crude. And it was. HILARIOUS. We started laughing so hard we just about fainted.

The coordinators wanted us to learn about each of the vendors so we could tell the "celebrities" about their products. The models were picking up these brochures and trying to memorize all these facts. I prefer to wing it. So I made stuff up. I made so much silly stuff up about those vendors. And the celebs bought it. Every bit of it. It was like "Catch me if you Can."

After we'd been "briefed" on how to walk through a room full of crap with a pretentious butt hole on our arm (really? who needs instructions for that kind of "work?"), we all sort of broke off and wandered around like sheep. We met this real nice lady named Ida. She was about 100 years old and was sharp as a tack. She was an old Jewish lady who had a background in textiles and I'm pretty sure was the most important person in all of Beverly Hills. Man. She was a trip. She talked crap about the other girls and how their dresses were too short and she held mine and my friend's hands as we walked down the red carpet to check out the VIP lounge. It made me feel safe. Holding hands with an old person is awesome. Makes you feel warm and connected. She invited me to a party in the Marina on Tuesday. I might just go.

We walked through the VIP area and saw a room full of auction items. Sports, movie, music memorabilia. A Saints helmet with the whole team's signatures. A guitar signed by Elvis. A "Gone with the Wind" movie poster full of signatures. I was sort of caught up in it for a minute, like I got sucked into vintage Hollywood, back when people were still pure; but it took about five seconds before Anita started screaming at everyone and I wanted to punch her face and remembered that all of this was about money and instant gratification and impulsivity. I was back in reality. But not really, because there is no reality in L.A.

Before we knew it, the D-List celebrities started arriving, and I had to escort the congresswoman to the gifting suite. She was wearing this crazy teal Oprah 1992 suit with huge shoulder pads. I escorted her and her security people and her entourage of dated-looking glamorous friends through the Gifting Suite. I made up crap about every one of those vendors. I made up so much nonsense that I couldn't even give you an example about what I said. I just used words like "haute cotoure" a lot and gave 'em lots of martinis.

I ushered around lots of soap stars, too. I had a few from "The Young and the Restless" who happened to be my favorites.

All of a sudden, I felt a little sad, despite the fact that I had been laughing with my girlfriend all weekend and living the dream. Walking these B-list (C-list? D-list?) celebrities through this room of pink satin and gourmet chocolate and martinis and designer jewelry just made me depressed. It made me want to kick my shoes off and sprawl out in a field of clover and smell the summertime. I thought about that earthy smell and feeling that sticky summer heat on my neck. For a moment, it made me want life to be simple. That vacant look behind fake eyelashes and $90 lip gloss just made me feel like life can be a real tragedy when people forget who they are and where they came from.

Eventually, my friend and I DID kick off our shoes, and we're walking around all of this money,wearing flip flops, smelling like the back of a cab because we'd been sweating our asses off all day. All of a sudden, I see this man with a mohawk and his pomeranian who also has a mohawk. I'd seen him before working at a fabric store in Venice. How the crap did he even get in? Apparently his mohawk dog is famous.

At the end of the day, when we started tearing down the Gifting Suite, a very handsome, silver-haired man in a suit, drinking a Heineken out of the bottle (trashy), approached me and made a few corny jokes about nothing. We started shooting the bull a little bit. Apparently he's been on "The Young and the Restless" since the 1970's. He was a super hunky old man. I always say that I'd totally date Robert Redford, but I was given the opportunity last night, and I have further validated that I'm all talk.

This man asked me if I'd like to have dinner with him. I wanted to laugh slash throw up, but then I realized that he probably dates girls 50 years younger than him all the time, so I just politely told him no thank you and went on about my way.

My friend and I finally went to the after party, where we mingled with some pro athletes and soap stars and people who thought they were a lot more famous than they were. Speaking of people who think they are famous, I saw my ex walk in for a moment, and had that puke feeling, but didn't talk to him and he didn't see me, so I guess everyone came out unscathed.

We danced for a while. I love to dance. I love to dance while sober. I suck at it and I don't care. It burns off all of that nervous energy.

As I'm dancing it out in my dress that barely fits anymore (I kept asking for Vaseline before I zipped it up but finally I sucked in enough to jam that zipper up its ladder) and wearing flip flops that don't match and my make up has slid down my face into oblivion, I spot....

A midget.

A real, live midget.

Now, I know that we aren't supposed to call them "midgets" because some girl in graduate school gave some big speech about multiculturalism and how midgets want the "m" word to be their equivalent to the "n" word because it is very offensive, but I think that calling them "little people" is much, much worse.

Anyway, the reason I bring up this "m" is because he could DANCE LIKE A CHAMP. Like MICHAEL freaking JACKSON. So. Of course. I tackle him.

I ran up to that midget as fast as I could and he and I GOT DOWN. He only came up to about my belly button, but whatever, dude. That midge and I shook our money makers like there was no tomorrow.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, some old Asian man has a heart attack or something, and the music stops, and the curtains are pushed back together, and we all have to get off the dance floor, and the paramedics come rushing in and haul the guy out with a neck brace on, as he's strapped to a gurney.




Then, I see my buddy Brian, so we take a few pictures.

All of a sudden, I had that panicked feeling, like faking that I was a model all day was going to make me die. I grab my friend by the hand and we run up to our room to get all of our crap. We start hauling ass through the lobby, holding hands and laughing and running in our flip flops and dresses, and all of a sudden, she drops my hand and runs over to these bird cages that we have been talking about all weekend. The cages are covered up with sheets so the birds can sleep. Please note that she and I hate birds and are mildly scared of them because they are filthy animals and they crap everywhere.

So, fast as lightning, my girlfriend runs over to those 8 foot tall bird cages and tears the sheets off of them and throws them on the ground, like she's a ninja or something, and the birds start squalking like crazy and flapping their feathers, and she and i tear down the hall running like crazy women, laughing so hard that we're about to faint, and I can't even believe that this is the life I'm living, with soap stars and congress women and Indian palm readers and bird cages and models and midgets.

Monday, March 1, 2010

La Vida es Bueno

I haven't been writing regularly, which might be affecting my mental health, but I'm writing more in my personal journal, so maybe I'm less crazy than I think. How does that work?

Yesterday, I had this complete sense of peace all day long. This rarely happens. Normally I'm running around like Ricochet Rabbit, like I've lost some critical body part that I can't find. Yesterday, I didn't feel like that at all. I just felt whole.

I had a weird couple of days there before yesterday. I went to a small group through my church on Thursday because I have essentially no friends who have the same fundamental beliefs that I do, and I thought it may be a good opportunity to network with some people who share my faith. So. In my typical fashion, I made a few nervous attempts at icebreakers that pretty much left the room silent, like I was doing stand up comedy for the morgue. Some guy said that he was from Jersey, so I started fist pumping, and nobody got the "Jersey Shore" reference. Maybe one should not fist pump at a small group meeting?

I never know the rules.

Maybe I do know them and I ignore them because I always try to talk myself into being a bad ass, which I am not. I'm actually pretty sensitive and then I hide behind my projected bad assity. Ha. Bad assity. That's funny.

Back to rules.

I never know the rules for friendships or work or dating or school or church or funerals or parties. I just sort of wing it and hope I don't make too many people mad. The whole time my brain is in a fog, like I'm some sort of nut job serial antagonist, and I can't catch a glimpse of clarity because I'm so caught up in the energy of the moment that all social norms get thrown under the bus.

Anyway. That was weird.

Friday I had my review at work, and despite the glowing monologue of how hard I work and how I have improved the quality of life in this office (insert inappropriate violin vibrato making hand gesture), I got such an insult of a raise that I was offended and felt a little bit like I wanted to take my fist and break every window in my office. I kept trying to think, "a wee little slap-in-the-face raise is better than no raise, and eat least you have a job, Rach." but I have had this ridiculous, perma-PMS recently, where I cry at insurance commercials, and I think I've just been in a heightened catastrophic state for a few weeks now that amped up the whole review process. Plus, I need a lot of affirmation/validation from authority figures for one reason or another, and I think getting jelly beans for working my ass off more than 40 hours a week hurt my feelings, like when you're in a serious relationship and your boyfriend forgets to call you on your birthday. It's not the end of the world and it's not that you expected fancy jewelry- you just wanted them to remember your special day. Is that the lamest thing I've ever said? Don't judge me. I have perma-PMS and an external locus of control.

Friday night, I had dinner with my coworker and her parents, and I recalled that the last time I'd been in a real home in L.A. was over a year ago. Just seeing pictures of little kids and old people and FAMILY made me feel like a champ. I've become quite the sentimental sap recently. Maybe I've always been like this? My perceived self and real self are completely incongruent, so who knows, but the bottom line here is that I felt really safe and really content. Plus, my picture made the fridge. I was on the freaking fridge! That made me feel great, too. I got some good parental counseling from her parents, and we must have talked for over two hours about my current quarter life crisis. I felt a little more stable when I left, like I'd spent that time over candles and pizza and jazz music normalizing my 25 year tornado of insanity.

On Saturday, I bet I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and started cooking. I should preface this by saying that I burn everything. I have trust issues with people, situations, and recipes. Is this because I am a control freak? Is this because of negative life experiences? I am insecure about my cooking skills because I burn things and always CONVINCE myself that there IS NO WAY that a pie can bake in 30 minutes- better leave it in for 45. If I'd just trust the effing recipe, I'd do fine, but no, no, no. I have to alter everything because I like improv and because I don't trust recipes.

My mom told me something regarding aviation a long time ago, and I don't remember the context of our conversation, but I remember her saying that one of the first things you learn in flight school is to "trust your instruments." A lot of times pilots' equilibrium and crap gets all jacked up there in the sky, and they don't know up from down, and even if something looks safe, it might not be, so they have to TRUST THEIR INSTRUMENTS. So. I started trusting my instruments. Er, recipes.

I cooked up a storm ALL DAY on Saturday. I trusted my recipes. I made the best food ever. I have never fried anything a day in my life, and I even fried okra. Yes, I did. The menu was as follows: sausage and chicken gumbo with rice, black eyed peas, fried okra, cornbread, golden coconut pie, peach cobbler, and sweet tea. I am a champ.

My favorite Tennessean/Los Angelian and I co-hosted our annual south party on Saturday, and it was delicious. I've discovered that I have this immense sense of fulfillment, purpose, and satisfaction when I can do something for someone else; whether it is helping a friend move or making them food. I love the feeling that comes with serving someone. I think that's why I get so depressed at work. I spent 85% of my life there and I don't feel like I'm helping people. My cook fest on Saturday made me realize that I need to regularly do something for someone else to have that sense of purpose consistently.

Now we're at yesterday. I laid (layed? lay? lain? I used to be really good at English...I need to get back into school ASAP) by my pool for several hours, sprawled out on a chair like a starfish, reading "The Catcher in the Rye," which I haven't read since college. I was laughing my head off, out loud, like I'd just escaped from the loony bin. I forgot how crazy funny that book is.

After taking it easy all day, I sat out on my porch in the sun with my bikini top and oxford shirt and boxers on, barefoot and fresh and white trashy, eating a bowl of gumbo and listening to the wind in the palm trees. Made me realize how lucky I am.

It's good to be alive today. It's good to be alive every day. I just need to remember it more and not focus so much on the negative.

Country Doesn't Suck Anymore

I went to see Brad Paisley on Friday. I typically hate country music, but something about that show--seeing all of those hookers in jorts and boots and cowboy hats--- made me feel connected and alive. All of a sudden my Ipod is loaded with this stuff. I can't get enough. I remember being a little kid and my dad forcing us to listen to Hank Williams and Tammy Wynette on every road trip and family gathering imaginable (he used country in disciplinary form and so I have always associated it with punishment) and I hated it then, but since I've gotten older, I've associated it with simpler times and good memories. There's something nostalgic about that twangy, whiny crap, and sometimes, it makes me cry a little. In a good way.

I've always been dichtomous. I've probably talked about this before. Extroverted but having a few hermit tendencies. Adventurous but cautious. Country but hood. It's weird how that works. For some reason, I've always preferred the "hood" to the "country," but after this show on Friday, I discovered that I'm equal parts of both. Brad paisley opened with a mic stand that looked exactly like the boxes that are put around the mic stands at the Grand Ole Opry, and all of a sudden, I felt grounded. It felt like home.

I get homesick for this imaginary place a lot. I'm burned out on writing about it, so I won't, but I've only recently learned that you have to create your own sense of home to get that feeling of wholeness. For me, that means listening to some good blues and Tupac and calling a relative or friend with a southern drawl once a week.

The only down side to Paisley is that I haven't been able to FREAKING HEAR since Mardi Gras. Not sure if it was the weather or the fact that everyone was sick or the fact that I slept with a cat every night, but my ears have been stopped up for a week, and I haven't been able to hear very well since then. So, I essentially YELL IN EVERYONE'S FACE every time I attempt to respond to a question, which I'm sure is obnoxious, but it is what it is.

Mardi Gras 2010. Oh man. Best Mardi Gras OF MY LIFE. All 3 Haley sisters were together, which doesn't happen much these days, and despite our very different lifestyles, we all pulled it off and had fun. I saw my aunt denise, who I partially aspire to be- and i had all of those wonderful, safe, kid feelings when i laughed with her and we talked about what a smart ass kid i was once i developed some autonomy.

We somehow scored a balcony on Bourbon where we got to throw beads to the peasants. I felt empowered and excited. I rarely get those excited feelings of Christmas, but I've learned that they can be recreated when I'm around people I love and I'm doing something fun- like when my friend and I got on a 4-wheeler and chased horses around his lake during Thanksgiving. That. was. awesome!

I lost track of who I was for a while there, between the world's worst job, overwhelming bills that I could never seem to pay, running my own household, weeding through superficial relationships and trying to make my way through school. I forgot my roots and my sense of soul and my purpose. I got so lost in stress and anxiety and depression that I forgot how rich my life has been- how I've had amazing experiences and the privilege of growing up among great people.

At the concert the other night, Paisley kept showing images of lakes and people tubing and drinking beer and sitting on porches that looked like they came straight from Collierville Town Square, and it's like I really remembered where I came from. I remember being on R.T.'s boat with all of his hooligan friends and listening to Lil Wayne and being so sunburned that I couldn't sleep and all of us flying those toy helicopters around his lake house. I remembered going to the rodeo with Uncle Petey and Aunt Vera and my sisters and Hugh and Mark riding horses with us when we were kids. I remembered eating a stick of sugar cane and eating caramel apples in the fall. It's weird how certain things trigger memories. It's funny how that music triggered my history. There's this certain type of deoderant--- Teen Spirit, I think? That always makes me think of summer camp. Ha. weird!

Back to Mardi Gras- between the shrimp poboys and beignets and cigars and beads and haunted feeling of New Orleans and jazz and being with a huge group of sisters and cousins and dear friends, I felt so solid, and so alive, and I felt happy and complete, like if my life had ended right there, it all would've been awesome. I think that's what it's going to take to be sure of myself. It's remembering who I am and where I've come from- who my people are and where my passion is.

Brad Paisley got up to the mic the other night and welcomed the staple center with saying, "Hello Los Angeles, you bunch of spoiled brats!" and I was relieved to know he "got" it. I even got a little bit excited when he said he lived in Tennessee. There's a sense of simplicity about life in the South that is both charming and frustrating- something you never want to lose touch with but something that reminds you to keep the fire under you butt so you can accomplish something in life. People out here let the fame and glory and glitz of money get to them, and for a while, I felt really caught up in this cyclone of privilege. It took a little bit of country and a trip to Louisiana to bring me back home. I'm at home because I'm me.

No Shoe Monday

I wrote this a while ago and decided to post it anyhoo. An excerpt from February...

I didn't wear shoes while I was sitting at my desk today.

I kicked 'em off yesterday, too. Right in front of my client. Like a total hillbilly.

I think I hate wearing shoes. It's weird, because I love to buy them. I love to try them on. I even love wearing them if I'm all glammed up and ready to go out. But man. At work? Shoes? Really? Seems like the dumbest idea ever. I have the ugliest work clothes known to man, so I have really ugly work shoes to match. Maybe that's the problem.

Anyhoo, I don't anticipate meeting my future ex husband at my place of employment, but I am a little surprised that I no longer put forth ANY EFFORT when I go to work. I love to put on lots of hooker eyeliner and lip liner and wear floosey makeup. But at work? Nah.

Every morning, I lay in bed until the last possible second, just long enough to factor in a cup of coffee, which takes about 6 minutes to brew, and enough time for a quick deo application and some teeth brushing. Then Seacrest, out.

Our IT guy told me the other day that he was worried about me because I am not the same as I was a year ago. No shit, Sherlock. Back then, I actually showered on a daily basis. Now, I don't see the point. I mean, I shower if I have a date, but for work? Who even cares?

I need a job where I can wear flip flops. And jorts. And bikini tops. And maybe my awesome Memphis trucker hat. And lots of bracelets. Within a bike riding commuting distance. Where I can work with angry teenagers who have AD/HD and who hate everyone. Anybody hiring for that kind of job? I want to start a camp.

Camp makes me think of being a camp counselor with my sis every summer, where we would tell all of the campers that there was a "crockagator" in the lake that would devour them if they didn't act civilized, and every summer, their parents would call the camp director saying that their child was "traumatized by stories of the crockagator" and we were confronted about it like we'd fed them rat poison or something. And of course, we'd say, "What are you talking about? We know of no such thing."

My sister and I have always gotten into immense, delicious trouble together.

I'm leaving for New Orleans late tonight to go to Mardi Gras. I don't think I've ever needed a family reunion so bad. I can't wait. I can't wait to see my sister and cousins and friends. I miss Louisiana. I haven't been in a long while. People are real down there. You can say whatever you want and they don't get their panties in a wad over it. I can't wait to drink a Bushwacker and hug my sister and see my Aunt Denise.

Oh, dirty South. There's no place like home.