Monday, February 04, 2008

Mardi Gras among the diaspora


I'm doing something really untraditional tomorrow. I'm working. I'm going to be loathed by my fieldstaff by this time Mardi Gras Day. Tomorrow I have to tell them to dig up all the exotic horticultural cultivars that they've planted. Or use Round Up on them. I never expected to be the popular girl on the block.

I've never worked Mardi Gras Day. I have a stack of cds that I'm going to distribute among my fellow stewards so at least we'll all be tapping our feet while we work.

Since I'm worthless, dead to the world first thing in the morning, I've laid out my clothes for tomorrow. I can't really wear my Hillaire Bellocq costume, my black eyed susan costume that I wore several years ago, spending Mardi Gras Day in blackface. But I have fabulous green tights, a purple sweater (the only purple item of clothing I own), and a really egregious yellow striped skirt that I found at Talbot's (and couldn't really live without). Regardless of how brightly colored I'll be, I'll still look more professional than the women in that department across the hall. I dug out Zulu and Rex beads and a really charming strand of red beads and rice beads, in honor of tomorrow night's supper.

My expensive grocery store up the street had king cakes for sale on Sunday (baby attached on the outside for litigious reasons). I decided to wait until today to pick one up for my wonderful colleagues. Sold out! I asked the girl behind the counter if there were any stored in the back. None. No more king cakes. I told her that I guessed too many New Orleanians had moved to Columbia. "Yeah, I guess we did." Danyelle is from the 7th Ward, Rue St. Anthony. I asked her how she liked Columbia: "man, it sucks. No music. Bad food." I imagine, too, that she misses the camaraderie of the 7th Ward, a neighborhood known for their raucous brass band second lines and street barbecues. She probably misses sitting on her stoop and talking to everyone who passes her house. She probably misses being able to walk everywhere and most especially, her sprawling family members who all reside in the 7th Ward.

I, too, miss the music, the food, friends, my cute house, bookstores. I haven't made a lot of friends in Columbia, but the city is filled with stellar personalities. I feel at home in my little bungalow with my fabulous rugs, my wingchair, my books and music. I adore my job. I cherish my immediate colleagues (but that surly horseback rider in some other department who plays country music in my general vicinity really needs to retire). I told Danyelle that since she didn't have to work tomorrow, she should blast the Rebirth Brass Band and make a big pot of red beans. Since she works the bakery, she had first dibs on the king cakes. Was it as good as Gambino's? "Yeah," she said, "it was good." I'll do my best to make her experience in Columbia a little friendlier, stopping by the bakery to say "hi" as often as I go to the store.

Finally, without further ado, a link to WWOZ, New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage radio station that will be broadcasting good, traditional Mardi Gras music. Lots of Professor Longhair, New Birth, probably some Dirty Dozen. Be careful, though, it will make you want to jump out of your seat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good as usual. I could almost see you saying these things. Hope you don't get run out of Columbia. Love Dad