Monday, September 20, 2010

Days of our Loyns

“To be ranked in the top 10 among southern universities for 20 years in a row is quite an accomplishment and reflective of the hard work and commitment of our students, faculty and staff."
-Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D., President of Loyola University New Orleans

When it came time to pick a university, I had the best. idea. ever. Why not go to college in New Orleans?

My fellow Honors students, largely out-of-staters like myself, spent much of our first weeks of school marveling at our brilliant idea. How did no one else think of this??? we'd exclaim, our mouths full of crusty Po Boys and bellies full of beer.

we are GENIUSES (thanks losanjealous)

I loved Loyola. I loved the people, the classes, the music, the food, the culture, and most of all, the city that provided the setting for my golden undergrad years. I left my heart in New Orleans that muggy May day in 2005 when I moved away for good.

One of my college buddies told me today I should check out an article in The Maroon, Loyola's school paper. While reading the story of ADG's mysterious removal from campus and Sig Ep's suspension for the fall semester, I typed my own name into the Archives search box to see what came up.

Oh, the treasures. OHHHHH the treasures! Four uniquely hilarious remnants of my undergrad days.


This article is a dual-pronged shoutout to me and my girl Abby Roberts. We were ballin pretty hard in 2005. Abby was a finalist for the Truman Fellowship, and I had just scored the big Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanities. I was, as we liked to say, a mellow felon.

oh yes. that was a good look.

What on earth could be funny about a straight-ahead news story about scholarships?

"If I was a movie star, Davina would be my manager. She guided me through literally dozens of applications for fellowships."

What a f#$%in soundbite, huh?? Davina was the greatest mentor of all time, and if I found myself in need of someone to manage a nascent acting career I would be calling Davina first, but WHAT MADE ME SAY THIS TO A REPORTER? Out of the mouths of babes...


Why, yes! That IS my hideous hairdo in the photo that accompanies this article! Thank you for noticing!

Isn't it super meta of me to be using my blog to link to an article where I comment about the New and Mysterious Phenomenon of Weblogging? Katie-generated gems of wisdom include:

"[Blogs are] kind of contagious. You read one of your friend's blogs that have cute pictures and mood icons, and you can't help but want one."


"It's a lot easier to be passive-aggressive and say inappropriate things on the Internet than to actually face reality. That goes along with the territory of blogging."


Having already demonstrated my considerable expertise with social media, it is no surprise that the Maroon clamored to get my sage opinion when a new phenomenon called The Facebook swept campus by storm in 2004.

Katie Jones, classical studies senior, said she checks once a day to see if she has any new friends.

On the plus side, I did make a pretty spot-on prediction:

"Once Loyola picks up on ( more, it will be huge," Jones said."

9/4/03: GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH: GO TO CLASS by Katie Jones

My darling college roommate Joe worked for the Maroon, which somehow yielded my being asked to write an editorial.

The 2nd anniversary of 9/11 was a week away. Bush had just called the war in Iraq a "catastrophic success." I was living in the most vibrant, wonderful city basically on earth ever.

So what did I write my editorial about? Going to class.

You really just need to read the editorial. Look, here's the link again. I have wanted to reread this article for a long time, and I have to say it aged pretty well. I really enjoyed reading it lo these many years later. My dear friends will know that all of the hypothetical situations mentioned are taken basically verbatim from our freshman year.

Reading this editorial really took me back to those warm, spicy days. My wonderful friends and all the things I learned. The crawfish boils and the shotgun houses. The streetcar rides and sunrise nights. The shenanigans and the debauchery. I miss those days.

And that side ponytail I'm rockin in the photo? A catastrophic success.

Discussion Question:
What are your favorite remnants from your college days?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Chicago and Kansas concert in Boston has been changed to the Kansas and Boston concert in Chicago

I've been here in Boston (well, Cambridge) for two weeks now. I have learned a lot in that time.

-Locals who find Southern accents charming outnumber those who find them off-putting. When I referred to the cashier and bagger at the grocery store as y'all, the bagger cried out Y'all should come back here, okay? and beamed like she'd greeted a native speaker in Spanish.

-You can take the train to Wonderland.

From herrafeliks' Picasa gallery

-Actually, you can take the train almost anywhere. In fact, we've only taken the car out 3 times since we moved here.

-People don't really smile or say hi on the street, but most will smile back if you initiate.

-Everything is more expensive.

-Making new friends is the best part of moving.

stayin sassy

-Autumn is a season that actually happens in some parts of the world. I am wearing long sleeved shirts that I have never worn before.

Look at all those clothes! BONUS: my replacement glasses came!

-Living in the city is complicated. You have to move your car once a month so they can clean the streets. The apartments are tiny. Sometimes the trains close down at weird times or break. In exchange, I get to live within walking distance of virtually anything my heart desires. So far, the tradeoff is working.

-People here are very educated and well-spoken. I have a feeling my competition for jobs is VERY stiff.

-Did I mention that our apartment is tiny?

-Silly art projects do wonders for the job-search grumpies.

-So does chocolate cake. And wine.

big ups to Nico for hosting that wonderful dinner

So what does Cambridge have in store for the DePalmas? Only time will tell. Hopefully gainful employment and eventually a functioning oven. In the mean time, I'm gonna be getting to know this big, weird, cold city.

Discussion Question:
What is the hardest move you've ever made?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

Yesterday, while I was waiting for the T to take me back to Cambridge after my excursion to Arnold Arboretum with Molly, a busker horrified me by playing "O Holy Night." There may be a nip in the air up here, but that's ridiculous.

And then he played "How Great Thou Art."

Elvis' rendition feels appropriate, somehow.

The last time I heard that song was at Grandmother Shirley's funeral two weeks ago today. The hometown vocalist warbled it sweetly over my grandmother's closed casket.

Hearing it felt like tripping and falling.

I guess you could say that I haven't really dealt with my grandmother's death yet. She passed on peacefully with my father by her side on August 29th. I was somewhere in Virginia or Pennsylvania or somewhere when I got the news. I felt so far away from everything.

The entire three-day trip up to Massachusetts was a blur, spent mostly in silence in a blank, determined state. The animals seemed to understand the intensity of the situation and behaved amazingly--Boudreaux in Nick's lap in the UHaul and Moppy catatonic in his carrier in the Spruce Goose.

We weren't scheduled to move in until the 1st, but the stars lined up and we ended up completing the final six-hour leg of our trip AND getting the keys and moving our stuff in on the afternoon 31st. We managed to clear enough space to lay the mattress on the bedroom floor and collapse when we were done, both of us trembling with exhaustion and Nick nursing a busted big toenail.

The next morning, I went to Logan Airport and flew to St. Louis, and then made the three-hour drive to Bevier in record time in my zippy rental car. When my mom asked me later how the brakes were on the car, I told her that I was pretty sure I didn't get a chance to use them at all on the trip up. I flew towards my family as fast as I could travel.

I pulled up to my grandmother's house just like I had done a hundred times. But when I walked in, she wasn't in her chair in her nightgown. Then I remembered. She's gone. I didn't cry until I saw a copy of the program for her funeral propped up in the kitchen, her birth and death dates in script below a photo we took of her at Thanksgiving a few years back. It just did not compute--standing in her kitchen, breathing in her smell, looking at this unmistakable evidence that she really was gone. That night, my mother and I slept in her bed.

I picked out my outfit for the funeral before I left for Boston at my mother's suggestion. While picking through the racks at TJ Maxx, I could just see the disgust registering on my grandmother's face as she surveyed our options. Zipper detail? Tacky. Ruffles? Uggy. I settled on a conservative black knit cardigan, a black pencil skirt, and grandmother's pearls. I could not disrespect my grandmother's memory by showing up to her funeral in an outfit with a lace cutout or other such nonsense.

And the next morning, we performed the most sacred of human rituals: burying our dead. My extended family sat across the front row, each of us holding on to the person next to them. I hardly let go of my father the whole morning. Grandmother didn't want an open casket, because she didn't like people staring at her, but they let me see her before the funeral started. Her lipstick was perfect. Her hands felt cool, like wax.

We buried her beside her husband and my sister. According to an old family tradition, a spray of 50 fat red roses adorned her casket. A few of us grabbed single blooms before they lowered her into the ground.

An autumn drizzle began to fall. I pulled my cardigan tighter around my shoulders. The pastor read the poem Grandmother Shirley had transcribed in her own shaking handwriting to be read at her burial.

When he got to I am the gentle autumn rain, we looked into the falling droplets and I think we all looked for her there. I think I'll always look for her there.

We miss you.

Discussion Question:
What do you think happens to us after we die? Be honest.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

instructions for moving far, far away

First, you need a reason to leave.
A new job, a new lover, a new school, or just wanderlust licking
     the soles of your feet.
You will know when it is time to go.

Sometimes it helps to bring someone along with you, or to meet someone there.
     You can meet your lover there, or bring your dog along.
Sometimes it's nice to go alone.

Find a place to live.
Look for a home that feels like vacation, somehow.

You'll need to take all your things off of your shelves and out of your cabinets.
You can get boxes at liquor stores.
You can steal a thick stack of newspapers
     like the free ones that advertise cars
     or the other free ones that advertise local bands
     out of the graffitied plastic racks outside the grocery store.
They are good for wrapping the things that might break.
Only bring what you really need.
You will have to buy the packing tape.

If you are rich, pay someone to pick up all your boxes
     and carry them out of your place
     and load them into a truck
     and drive them to your new city
     and take them
          box by breaking box
     into your new home.

If you are not, you'll need to do these things yourself.
Of course, you can't do it by yourself. Your things are too heavy,
     too many.
Take the friends who rescue you out for pancakes.
Pancakes cost less than movers anyway.

Pay attention to the drive, or the flight, that takes you to your new city.
Remember where the trees start looking different.
You might leave something there.

Get good directions and
     eat breakfast every morning. You are tired.
You are not normal right now.
But take heart--
Soon you'll get there and suddenly you're there.