Jun 26, 2006

the time before death

Tonight I ended up with my friend Velinda in the house of an elderly man and his dying wife. I'd never met the man before, and neither had she. How we ended up there is a long story, and not really the point. I think it was Providence, however.
I went along with her on behalf of her church. They had asked her to be a part of a prayer group for the wife. So, at seven, she, I and four other members of her church gathered together around the dying woman's bed, held hands and prayed for her.

Velinda and I had gotten there early, so we had the chance to talk to her husband alone. He's a very sweet man, clearly devoted to his wife. On the wall, we could see a photo of her, looking beautiful. She's had Lou Gehrig's disease for a year or so, he told us. It was hard for him to keep from crying, but despite it, he was obviously grateful to have anyone there to talk to. I think he's just very lonely. His life consists of caring for her. Except for these strangers visiting and a neighbor, he is alone with her all day long.

When we went to see her, she was gaunt and clearly near death, shockingly different from the beautiful woman in the photograph.

Over her bed, he had strung family photos up for her. Next to her bed, on the floor was his little pallet. Although she can't speak, she is still aware, he said, and she grunted in what seemed like gratitude for the company. They've been married 55 years, and he's clearly very much in love with her.

She is expected to die this week.

I left moved by what I saw, however, somewhat sad. It's a sadness I've been carrying around for a long while.

I can't help but think, watching so much death unfold around me, about my own death. As I've mentioned before here, my aunt's been living with my mother and myself for a while. She recently lost her husband, and it's pretty clear she's lost the will to live.

My own parents are making plans for their death now. I'm staring at the living will on the desk in front of me in fact.

I've been caretaking for my mother since the day I was born it seems. In less than a month I will have a birthday, one I'm not looking forward to. I am now the age that my mother had her first heart attack and open heart surgery in fact.

Death is very much on my mind.

This couple tonight has children and a family. It seems like a normal happy family. He's been happily married for 55 years. And yet this poor man is so lonely. That is what old age is like, loneliness, even with 3 children and 8 grandchildren, no one really has time for him. People are busy. That's how it is.

When I get old, I can't help but wonder, who will be there? I can't help but fear that it will be no one.

I'm an only child, so I have no immediate family. My extended family has never been close to me. (They don't approve of being gay, or for that matter the fact that I associate with black people). Friends are great, but I know all too well that they disappear...even when times are good. It's something that the old man reminded me of, specifically, in fact, unprompted. "You can count your friends on one hand," he told me. And despite all my very earnest attempts, my "romantic" life has ended in little more than rejection.

I guess for everyone death is a scary great unknown, but it's the time before death that really scares me most I think.

Jun 25, 2006

7 Wonders of Lafayette

I just came back from a lovely trip to the Capital of Acadiana, Lafayette, Louisiana. I went to visit my friend Michael and see his new home, nestled right in the leafy bosom of USL.

Here are a few highlights:

1.Supertarget- The chief tourist attraction of Lafayette. I had heard tales of it, but really didn't believe it until I saw it myself.
It's like a regular Target....but with meat!

2.Alesi's Pizza- Lafayette's oldest Pizzaria, so I was told, entirely staffed by Mexicans for 50 or so years. There's a beautiful neon sign of an Italian (or is that Eye-talian?) tossing a pizza pie into the air. Or maybe it's a sombrero. Who knows. Very good pizza all the same.

3.USL's gator habitat- (i. e. Campus)- The university surrounds a lovely man-made swamp, complete with alligators and garfish, where buxom, middle aged women in black chiffon, sequins and high heels walk their miniature dogs and children on Saturday afternoons.

4.River Ranch- A huge "new urbanism" development near Lafayette. Imagine Houston meets Eurodisney plopped down, as if by aliens, in the middle of cane fields.....
and then walled.

5.Borden's Ice Cream Parlor - half a century or more years of bad wallpaper.

6. Steak and Tamales- a restaurant from Alabama, I believe I was told. Who's ever heard of such a thing? I certainly haven't. I didn't eat there, but had to ask. The tamales did not get very good reviews, but the fish, I was told, was excellent.

7. The drive-thru Chik-Filet. Unbelievable! We just don't see that sort of thing here. Of course the tourists were packed there. It was a riot scene. It's the size of at least two ordinary Chik-Filets....and, did I mention, there's a drive through! The menu is much more expansive (fruit salad!) And, most amazingly, it's completely staffed and patronized by whites.
Remarkable.

Jun 14, 2006

The Woman in White


The other day, at a Dollar Tree, I found myself behind a middle aged black woman, dressed all in white---white shoes, white socks, long white dress, and, most notably, white wig.
The wig, of course, was the most notable part of the costume.

I was very excited, to be that close to it, to finally get the chance to examine it in person.

You see, I had seen this wig before....
nearly every day, in fact, driving home down Carrollton Avenue, before the deluge.
She was hard to miss, waiting for the bus, getting off the bus, rushing to the bus, rushing from the bus, blinding white wig flashing in the sunlight.

The wig was more than just white, however, it looked homemade. I know you're probably thinking, "a homemade wig?"
Exactly.
But it was. Up close I could confirm it. It looked like a hank of white yarn, sewn crudely down the middle for a part, and pulled back into a bun. Like wearing a mop head on your head, in 100 degree weather.
Still, I had to admire her ingenuity.

Now, a woman who wears only white, nothing but white, all the time, every day, is notable, but a woman with a white yarn wig on, well, that's something else.
And two women in white yarn wigs is even more amazing.

Yes, there are at least two such women. I saw another just recently waiting for the bus (naturally). She was a bit younger than the first (daughter?)
I had to hypothesize that it's a cult, or at least it should be.
I mean, why else, besides it being God's divine will, would anyone wear a white yarn wig in New Orleans in June?

Now despite the fact that she was maniacally whispering to herself the whole while she wandered the dollar store, (attracting the attention of the manager) and even while she paid her three quarters and 25 pennies...for one pair of white socks at the dollar store, I was glad to see her.

It comforts me somehow to see that she has not disappeared in the floods.

She has only, like the rest of us freaks, moved to the Westbank.

8 Women


I just returned from my friends Missy and Jan's. I went over to see a lovely film they insisted I see, called "8 Women" I'm glad I did.
It's a French film from 2002.


If you like frothy French musicals about suicide, incest and rampant lesbianism, (and who doesn't??)
well, this one is for you.

The 50s costumes alone are worth the ticket.)

This completes a trilogy of favorite Catherine Deneuve films I've been introduced to by friends: "Belle De Jour," "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and now "8 Femmes"
All are wonderful.

fema to female?

"WASHINGTON - The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.

Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.

Federal investigators even informed Congress that one man apparently used FEMA assistance money for a sex change operation...."


hmmmm....so THAT'S where the money I've never gotten has gone.
Typical.

Jun 8, 2006

"I saw Anderson Cooper's Stool!"


I was in our local Barnes and Noble yesterday and saw a huge poster of none other than the ubiquitious Anderson Cooper. It said that he would be at a book signing here sometime late next month. I can only imagine what a crowd that will draw.

Back right after Katrina, I had a sighting of Mr Cooper. Sorta.
My friend Dennis and I were driving around the quarter when we saw a stool in the street and a number of dazed looking gays surrounding it.

"WTF?" I said.
I couldn't figure out why they were adoring the floodlit stool in the middle of Bourbon St.

We circled around and then eventually saw what the commotion was about.
I later naively told my friend Michael,

"I saw Anderson Coopers stool....on Bourbon St!"

Needless to say, he got a good laugh at that.

Anyway, you'd think he'd have had enough of NO. But we've been good to him, I suppose. He's got a very carefully written "autobiography" to shill.

I am not, unlike what seems to be a great number of gay men, infatuated with Mr. Cooper. I'm actually much more infatuated with his mother.

But that's beside the point.

Tonight I stumbled across this picture of Andy and his supposed lover. (above)
At least this is the twittering in gay cyberland. The twittering goes on to say that he seems to have a penchant for younger latino men.
The younger thing, (his paramour is 25 or so) I don't get. I mean really now. It's all too cliche, isn't it?

It's stupid,I know, especially for someone I don't even think of as a role model, for me to feel somehow "disappointed" in his following such a well worn gay cliche (pedagogue, sugar daddy, call it what you will....all alledgedly of course). But it still does sort of disappoint me. I don't know why.

Jun 5, 2006

The set up

So today I had a date with a defrocked priest.
(not the first date I've had with a defrocked priest in my life, by the way)

A mutual friend called me a few days to set up a date with him.
As reluctant as I was, I accepted. What the hell, it's lunch, I figured. What else am I doing on a Tuesday at noon?

"And that whole pedophila thing was nothing...really!"
She assured me. "People are just out to get him, you know how people are."

I've never had anyone set me up on a date before. No one's ever offered. Whenever asked, the best anyone has ever said was "you really ought to just move out of this city."

I've always had to scrounge them up myself, so I figured I couldn't very well look a...ummm...gift horse in the...uh...mouth, right?

The thing about it is, however, that there was really no real work on her part. Within two minutes of the meeting I realized that she had pressured him into meeting me. It was clearly a favor he was doing for her. (Hell, I'm nearly his age...what would he want with me?)

Of course, she lied to me, saying that he "remembered me" from her mother's funeral (he was the priest officiating)...and "thought you was "attractive."

Twisted.

But naturally, when I went up to greet him, he didn't even know who I was.
"Are you Jason?"
Then he asked if we had ever met. No, he'd never seen me in his life.

Clearly he wasn't interested...which is fine, trust me.
I mean, trust me.


But she has delusions of us "dating" simply I think because it would just solve the problem of me not having a boyfriend for her (If that makes any sense.)
Her thought process was pretty simple:

"I have a gay friend A; I have gay friend B. Let's get A and B together and solve their problems. Simple as that"

The main thing I'm worried about now is how to coach her down from her excitement over this "love match"

Jun 3, 2006

I want to go home


It's 2 am and I'm torturing myself again. I have a copy of Elle Decor before me, while I wait for the page to load (the joys of dial up) and on the screen before me,
the sad sight of New Orleans apartment listings. I'm swinging wildly between delusion and disappointment.

Since August, I've been living with my family. I've slept in 10 beds not my own in that time (one in the bed of a dead man).
I'm ready to go home. What "home" I don't know.

For the past month or so, I've been shunted off to sleep on the floor of my mother's house. My aunt, who recently lost her husband, and can't take care of herself, has been living with us. I'm not really complaining about her being here. She's really not that much of a problem, and she gives my mother something to talk to instead of me all the time (My mother talks a lot), but she also (like my mother) doesn't drive and needs constant attention. It's been a tiny bit more on the camel's back, you know.

Anyway, the gist of it is that I'm caught in a terrible limbo. I don't know what to do, but whatever I do do, I'm sure will be wrong. I'm very frustrated in every arena.
I am currently without a job. My job is in a strange limbo depending upon enrollment. In any event, I know I will be paid less than I was before, which was
very little, very. And FEMA...well, they've screwed me over big time.

So, here I am again at 2 pm looking on Craigslist for a place to live. I was spoiled by my old apartment, I think. I don't just want anything, you know? I'm grateful for the floor her at my mothers, which allows me not to take the fleabags I've seen so far, and I've seen some fleabags being offered out there, believe me.
Nice places less than 1000 dollars seem impossible to find....and who can afford that????
And now the landlords have a racket going in which they want a fee for them to check your credit. 25 dollars or so, just to look at a place, huh?

I know I'm certainly not alone in this predicament here. Naively, I'd thought it would get easier as time went on (you know, students leaving uptown for summer, more places fixed by now....) but it hasn't.

I don't know how it will work itself out, or not, but all I know is I just want to go home.