Yesterday I spent the day in Arizona wine country with friends. Turns out that yes, things can grow in the desert. Not just prickly things and snakes. But lovely things, like grapes, and long-distance friendships, and beautiful, blue-eyed baby girls.
Yesterday was one of those days with the ability to save those who need a bit of saving. You know the kinda days I’m talking about: when the stars align, the sisterhood converges, and the desert abides. When the chaos of life slinks off your shoulders. When you find yourself in an unexpected place, with perfectly, imperfect people.
Today I’m thankful for the yesterdays in my life. To the planes that arrived on time. To the cramped cars, and the funny Border Patrol men. To the cough drop talks, and the woman with the sangria from California. For the girl gangs I’m apart of. And the ones I don’t yet know.
Wednesday I am flying out to visit my friends in Arizona! I am so excited about this trip. First of all, I am traveling alone. Which means I have no one to worry about, but myself. Now you know I LOVE my family. And if I’m being super honest, I am very bummed that Jerimiah and Jackson are not coming with me because I love to travel with them and I am meeting a new baby that I want them to meet too! But the timing did not work with their schedules, so I am going alone. It has been a long time since I have travelled alone, and I am sorta excited about not having to pack three people. Kennel a dog. Fight with my 11-year-old about Arizona-appropriate clothing, etc. You know, the mommy logistics of travel. Instead, I can just pack myself, walk from the car to the security desk at the airport, show my own ticket, not worry about where everyone’s shoes ended up, grab myself whatever I want to eat for breakfast, and get on my damn plane. Wow. Amazing.
But the nervous part? Well, for all the shit I give the Atlanta airport (and I give it a lot of shit, because it is the busiest airport, uhhh, ever) I have never navigated my way through it. I have never flown in or out of the ATL. I’ve never taken the SkyTrain, or snaked my way through that security nightmare. I have only ever heard about it from my husband and friends. I have also never been through LAX, and because I used miles for this flight, thanks #AmericanAirlines, and I only paid $12, I have layovers. One on the way there, and one on the way back. I detest layovers, but I’m not gonna complain, because #TwelveDollars. So I go from Atlanta to LA, then from LA to Tucson. Then on the way back I go from Tucson to Chicago O’Hare (which I have been through, and it’s not too bad), then back to Atlanta. Whew.
I keep having all these thoughts about the first time I ever flew alone. I was 18 and on a flight from Kansas City (MCI) to Boston’s Logan (BOS). This was pre-9/11, which of course meant I just kind of walked onto the plane. I might have had to show a ticket, I’m sure I did, but it was Kansas City and it was 2000, and I was young and stupid and remember very little. I think people still smoked in the airport back then. Maybe.
Anyway, I had a six a.m. flight, and I had to go through Detroit. I was on a Northwest flight, remember them? And Detroit was their “hub” and if you have never been to the DTW, well, just consider this a blessing and move on about your life. Right before take-off I had a panic attack. Like, a real one, y’all. An honest to God, could not breathe, thought I was going to pass out, was willing to open an “Exit” door, panic attack. I didn’t know what to do. The sun was just coming up over Kansas City, and I just kept telling myself to watch the sun. Watch the sun, watch the sun, watch the sun. I repeated over and over again to myself. And before I knew it I had a glass of OJ in front of me and a bagel with cream cheese (they still served food on flights back then) and I had managed to slow my breathing, and recline my seat, and just watch the sun.
My palms get a little sweaty when I think back to that day. And I’m pretty sure I never told anyone about that panic attack. I was embarrassed to say the least. But it was real. And sometimes when we are taxing to take-off I remember that day. Then I find the sun, and close my eyes. Usually I reach for my husband’s hand, or give my son’s leg a reassuring pat. I can never be stressed when he is watching, because I don’t want him to be stressed. But this time… hmmm.
I will be fine. I am pretty sure. Yes, I will. But I guess keep your eyes on the sky on Wednesday. And if you see a news report about a woman pulling an emergency exit in an American Airlines flight en route to LAX, well, I guess maybe just send up some good thoughts!
But for real, I will let you guys know when I land safely in Tucson. 🙂 And of course, I will share pics of the new baby!
You remember the part of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie and Mr. Wonka shoot out through the roof of the candy factory? Of course you do! It was such a great part of the movie. We just found out that Charlie now owns all of that great factory and is a rich man, which is wonderful since his grandpa is too sick to work (even though he has no problem singing and dancing). Anyway, I have always loved that part of the movie, and I have always been afraid a real elevator will do that one day. Like, for real. I am terrified of elevators, and it’s only part claustrophobia. The other part is the Great Glass Elevator. It’s like how I won’t take baths because I think the bottom will open up and suck me under like in Nightmare on Elm Street, you know what I mean?
I’ve been so scared of getting stuck in an elevator my whole life, that the ONE time it did happen, I totally and completely lost my shit. And I am ashamed to say, several people saw me lose it.
So there we were, at a hotel in Myrtle Beach (I know, I know, I’ve learned my lesson. We don’t go to Dirty Myrtle anymore, but not because of this incident, because eww…) Anyway, there we were outside in the hot tub, the sun had set and a storm blew in. I was there with Jerimiah, Jackson, and my best friend Rachel and her whole family. There was eight of us total. We all decided to head back to our room, which was on like the 10th floor, and because of the storm, everyone in the resort was headed back to their rooms too. Which made the elevator area very crowded. So I got a little nervous, because again, I am afraid of being trapped in an elevator, especially with people I don’t know. So when the first one came down and all the people in my crew loaded up in it, with ALL the other people standing there waiting, I passed. I just couldn’t risk it. I said I would meet them up there, and I stayed put to wait for the second one. Jerimiah decided to stay with me, which ended up being a good thing.
The next elevator came down and dinged. It opened up and no one was on it, so we hopped on. The door closed and I was feeling okay. Then the power flickered in the elevator and it just sort of stopped its humming. You know, that humming that elevators have. At first I thought maybe the door was about to open. Like maybe someone had hit the button after the door closed, but nothing happened. The elevator didn’t move. The door didn’t open. It just sat there. I looked at Jerimiah and he immediately stepped into action.
“It’s probably just a kink,” he said, then he hit the open door button. When nothing happened I completely and totally lost my shit. I immediately started sweating. I grabbed his hand and told him we were gonna die in this elevator, that the air was going to be sucked out of it. Dramatic? Yep. PS… this was right after that cruise ship elevator mishap where those people were crushed and blood came spewing out of the elevator like a real-life damn horror movie. Google it. I can’t even add a link here because it stresses me out too much to recall.
Anyway, my glorious husband was all, “It’s okay.” And he hit the “help” button. We heard some rustling and cracking from the other end and I screamed, assuming that we were headed straight up at break-neck speed, to crash through the roof of the hotel and be shot to our deaths into the ocean. Dear Baby Jesus, don’t let me die at Dirty Myrtle.
Then I did what any sane person would do, I started pounding my fists on the door yelling for someone to help. Turns out, there were a bunch of people on the outside of the elevator. Turns out we had never left the ground. Turns out the hotel knew it was stuck and had already called the maintenance guy over. Turns out this happened from time to time at this hotel.
Meanwhile, J was communicating via the little phone with the fire department, who also knew because they had been alerted, and they told him not to worry, we were in no danger. I was sweating though my clothes. Should I strip? I should strip my bathing suit off, right? I wanted to know. “Dear God, no, just calm down,” as he kept touched my arm and told me we were okay. I just couldn’t believe him in that moment because I was steady waiting to blast the fuck off.
Turned out though, we were okay. We didn’t die in an elevator in Dirty Myrtle. And I am 90% sure I have shared this story with y’all before, but that is how traumatic it was. And I’m in a hotel this week, and every time I am in one I remember this incident. So there’s that. You are like my therapist today. Thanks, y’all. Thanks.
We’ve been in Louisiana again this week. The last time we left Baton Rouge I said, “Good riddance, may I never see you again!” Then I screamed something in made-up French like, “Tu es stupide et je ne te reverrai jamais! Je ne laisserai pas les bons moments rouler! Puis-je ne jamais vous revoir!” And flipped I-12 the bird. Anywho, I’m back.
This time we had my mom with us. Which was good, in a way, because Jerimiah, Jackson, Duke, and I are way over the touristy stuff, (which is what we had to do again on Sunday because my mom had never been to New Orleans!) So there we were, back in NOLA and doing the touristy-type things again, when it hit us why we are not fans: New Orleans is just a really sad place, y’all. Well, most of the Deep South is, but New Orleans is worse because of the tourists that come through and wreck the city, deplete the resources, don’t give two shits about the local people, and do it all while they are drunk and screaming, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” So I guess it isn’t NOLA that I dislike, it’s the people who come and treat it like shit. Then try to make up for it by throwing a few bucks in a street performer bucket, or take a Haunted Tour and pretend they don’t really just want to stop at the baby grave yard for beers. (Listen, I’ve done that nonsense before. I’ve been to Mardi Gras as a dumb, 20-something, and I’m sorry. You live, you learn. #WhiteDumbGirlShit)
But my mom, on the other hand, is a 75-year-old white girl who just wanted to see the sights, take pics of the Catholic Basilica for her Catholic friends, and step foot on a streetcar. No hand grenades need apply. So we did that. She had an experience for sure (pics below). We took her on the streetcar and the city bus, because the streetcar on Canal is down near the portion of Canal Street where the Hard Rock Hotel came crumbling down, killing one and injuring dozens more. (They are still looking for three more people who are lost in the rubble.) So we had to take a bus around that location. Then we walked down to Jackson Square, had lunch at the Market Cafe, walked through the French Market, and made our way up Bourbon Street. My mom was in awe of the massive amounts of people, meanwhile this was the least crowded I’ve ever seen the French Quarter. And it was only 80 degrees out and we were boiling hot, so there’s that. But still, a ton of drunk people by noon, the smell of urine wafting through the air, and horse shit, always horse shit. Oh, French Quarter.
And there I was. Looking at Jerimiah. Eyeing Jackson. We all had that look in our eyes. That look that said, “This doesn’t feel right.” Because well, it just doesn’t. I know, I know, New Orleans is a tourist Mecca for fun, but honestly, it’s so much more than that. There is so much history there, so much wrongdoing went on there. So much still left to fix, and well, the three of us are just too sensitive to that sort of thing. We trudged on. We drove my mom through the Lower Ninth Ward because she didn’t understand what levees we were talking about, and that felt wrong. It felt wrong for her not to understand the devastation that happened there, but it also felt wrong to be tourists in a neighborhood where people are still just trying to get by, to rebuild, to forget about being treated like animals. But geez, there’s no way to forget. And forgive. How could there be?
And maybe that’s it. Maybe I have only known the post-Katrina New Orleans. Maybe it used to be different than it is now. Maybe it was more fun back then. Maybe the locals were more forgiving. Maybe there was more harmony, but if there was, it isn’t there anymore. The locals don’t like the tourists, but understand their necessity. The tourists vomit and pee on the street corners where slave auctions took place in the 1700s. So I mean… While we were eating lunch we watched a white man and a black man get into a fight over bread on the ground at Jackson Square. It was a silly situation, but the emotions were real. And the anger wasn’t really about bread on the ground.
So yeah, it’s some depressing shit. But there’s no real way for people like me, white people with privilege, to talk about shame without making the “other” feel like shit or seeming to use them as fodder, so I gotta stop. Here’s some pictures of my mom enjoying her first (and probably only) time in The Big Easy. I think she had all the fun she could stand.
Houston, we have a problem. That is what I repeatedly said to my husband and son while on a whirlwind weekend trip to Houston a couple of weeks ago. I said it usually when I had to go to the bathroom. A number two. Somewhere in public. It never got old for my son, but I assume that it did for my husband, particularly when we were at NASA and he said, “You need to see a damn gastroenterologist.” Hmpf.
So yeah, we went to Houston a couple of weeks ago*. We got there on a Friday night and left on a Sunday and honestly, for it being part of Texas, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, would I go again? Uh, probably not. Once you’ve seen that many concrete highways, strip malls, and chain restaurants in one place, you are probably good. But I am glad we went. I am glad my son got to go to Texas (his first time) and I am glad that I gave Texas another shot after the fiasco I had in Amarillo many moons ago. (Let’s save that for another post shall we? Just know, I am not a fan of Texas.)
But Houston felt different. It certainly felt WAY better than anywhere in West Texas, and it certainly smelled better too. My son was slightly disappointed because I had told him that you sorta of know when you cross the Texas state line because you can smell the cow poop. He was sniffing, but there was no cow poop in sight. So that was a plus, but it also made me look like a liar. So now I have to take him to Abilene. Which sucks. There is never a good time to go to Abilene.
Anyway, we went to NASA, toured the Johnson Space Center (until we got rained out and had to take the tram back early causing us to miss Mission Control, #SadFace) then tried some of that awesome chain restaurant food that we have never been to (Chuy’s and Shipley Donuts), stopped in to the Art Car Museum (which was a big hit), and took a stroll to Houston’s own version of Chicago’s “Bean” which is lovingly called, “The Refried Bean”. We even met up with our cousin Britny, and her sweet doggo Willow, who have called Houston home for several years now. It ended up being a nice, little weekend, just jam-packed. Then again that’s how we usually do things.
Anywho, here are some pics for your enjoyment. As always, have a great day and remember, Houston—not bad, Amarillo—very bad. Mkay. Bye.
*This trip was before the sadness and madness that unfolded in El Paso. I feel so sorry for what happened there. And while I am steadfast in my distaste of Texas as a whole, I know there are a lot of good people there, just trying to get by. And a lot of them are immigrants. And that was some crazy, racist-fueled bullshit, and if you want to see how I feel about that you can check out a vlog I made here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/08/06/right-to-bear-a-tomahawk-thrower/
Here it is. The husband works his nine to five in Georgia, then once a month he travels down here because this is actually the business unit he supports out of his Georgia office. This is the only area in the company to do it this way and I think they just want to “try it.” But this summer he’s been called longer than one week at a time, therein lies the problem. We don’t mind when he gets on a plane on Monday morning and is home by dinnertime on Friday, but when you throw in a weekend, a Sunday travel day, and two full weeks, well that is when things get a little weird. We are a tight family unit. Too tight? Maybe, but no one is complaining. It works for us. So when Daddy is away, things feel wonky. Throw in the fact that this is Jackson’s last two weeks of summer vacation, and we always plan to squeeze in a little fun there, and you have yourself a problem. So we did what any normal Missy, Jerimiah, or Jackson would do: We changed plans last minute, rented a car, and drove the whole family back down here for the two weeks of work. After all, we sorta all work for the company now. Ehh.
Last time we were here we did all the things. We did New Orleans, we did the airboat tour, we even did LSU, and Mike the Tiger, and fried alligator. We went all out because we suspected Jackson and Duke and I would not be back. Ho hum. So this time I am stretching things a bit for something to do. Yesterday we went shopping for back to school clothes, because that is just a necessity, so we got to see the cool exciting worlds of both Kohls and Old Navy. Ohhhh. Ahhhhh! Okay, now what? You guessed it, Target for school supplies, but let’s leave that excitement for next week shall we?
On the seven hour drive down here, I started frantically looking for things to do that were both fun and educational because school starts in two weeks and I don’t want his first day to go like this:
Teacher: What did you do on summer vacation, Jackson?
Jackson: Listened to my mom complain about the heat in Baton Rouge.
You know, top of mind and what not.
So I started to Google cool things around Baton Rouge. I kept going further and further out, swiping right, yelling, “No! No! No!” Then I ended up in Houston. Whaaaa?! I know what you are thinking now. Missy, you HATE Texas! Yes I do, that part has not changed. BUT, Houston has NASA, and NASA is cool as shit, as long as there is no “Space Force” involved. So I dunno, maybe I will take my kid to Texas this weekend to get a tour of the Johnson Space Center. Should I make him watch Apollo 13 first? Probably. Or maybe I will take him across the street to the Blue Bayou waterpark. Because the only thing left for us to do here is drop a ton of money at a casino. Because that is Louisiana. Beaches and casinos. So, the world may never know what we decide on… Until Friday, I really have to decide by then. Wish me luck!
I’m in the Deep, Deep South, y’all. And I’m in it deep. Like fried chicken from the Piggly Wiggly counter, sweet tea at the plantation, carrying a knife in case of gators, must be white to have money, deep. Deep, y’all. I’m only halfway through my first week here and I am already emotionally drained. Things are different here. They are different than any other part of the United States I have ever been. Things here are different physically, financially, and economically. They are different in ways that you can see, and in ways you can feel. The way people look at you. The way people move around in public places. Yes, things are different in the ways that you can see. In the physical. But it’s the things that you can’t that make it so disturbing.
The first thing I noticed crossing over the Alabama line from Georgia is the physical changes. The roads for example, went from smooth, black asphalt to a bumpy red and brown mixture. The potholes nearly doubled, and the trash on the side of the road skyrocketed. By the time we were in Montgomery, a mere two hours from our house, I felt like we had been transported thousands of miles, and by the time we got to Mobile I felt like we had been transported back in time. At a Piggly Wiggly between Biloxi and Gulfport, I overheard a man and a woman arguing over whether or not he would blow his whole paycheck at the casino, and then I watched as a woman made the crucial decision on whether to spend her last dollar on a candy bar (that was marked on sale, but rang up full price) or a Faygo Orange Soda. She picked the soda as it went better with her microwavable shrimp gumbo.
The second or third time my car hit a very large pothole, I asked my husband why the roads were so bad. He mumbled something about low taxes and that we need to check our tire pressure. The next day he sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal with the subject: Thought you might be interested in this, per conversation yesterday. The article title was: The South’s Economy is Falling Behind: “All of a Sudden the Money Stops Flowing”. I will leave a link to it here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-souths-economy-is-falling-behind-all-of-a-sudden-the-money-stops-flowing-11560101610 He is right, my husband. The South doesn’t like taxes. They also don’t like education, healthy food, or relinquishing their divisive ways, and nowhere are those ways more divisive than here in Baton Rouge.
In Baton Rouge there is a very clear economic and racial divide, and it starts near the university. Louisiana State is quite clearly the pride and joy of Baton Rouge, but it seems to go a step further. Something changes when you see the first sign that says: LSU This Way. The streets get better. The houses get nicer. You suddenly don’t feel like you are stuck in Louisiana. I Suddenly felt like I was in Kansas City, or Chicago, or one of those tree-lined streets in (insert small Northern town). Jackson and I spent about an hour walking around campus yesterday. We saw Tiger Stadium, which rivals Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City (home of the NFL team The Chiefs) and shines so brightly at night, that a purple haze can be seen across the Baton Rouge shipyards, deep into Port Allen. We saw Mike the Tiger in his 15,000 square foot enclosure, complete with a waterfall and a rock that both cools in the summertime and heats in the winter. He is a lazy sort of Bengal, having never had to work for his food, nor fight for his dominance. He was born and raised in captivity, and was gifted to the University from a tiger rescue in Florida. He is the seventh tiger to be housed on the LSU campus and a constant reminder of Baton Rouge’s priorities.
We were schooled in Mike the Tiger from other visitors from the moment we stepped foot onto campus, until the moment we left. They beamed as they told us: He likes to run and jump at the fence. He likes to have his belly scratched. There are only two people allowed in the fence. He has a separate enclosure for game day. He used to be placed behind the opposing team in a rickety sort of cage. Psychological warfare. Cool. Very cool. Their pride in this tiger is palpable. The rampant racism that sizzles under the surface like the midday sun, is less noticeable.
There were a group of school children at Mike’s enclosure when we got there. There were maybe twelve or fifteen of them. There were about four adult escorts. The children were running along the enclosure fence, yelling for Mike to come out of his lazy, afternoon nap. They were pumped up to see him. I imagine they had traveled by bus to get to him. They had energy to burn. When Mike would move one of them would yell for the others and they would all crowd around, trying to get the best view. Occasionally one of them would whistle. Jackson joined a group of six or seven other boys at the fence line and was looking at me smiling. An older woman, there with her grandchildren to see Mike, approached me and politely suggested I get my child back away from the enclosure with a wink and a nod. It wasn’t because Mike was up and around. He hadn’t moved from his afternoon siesta. It wasn’t because she feared for my son’s life at the paws of a Bengal Tiger. It was because all the children hanging on the fence line were black.
I’m probably not saying anything new here. It’s the South, after all. And I probably have a lot more to say on the topic. And I feel like I am taking the easy way out by ending here. But sometimes you just have to see something to believe it. And this was my seeing. And now I just don’t know what to do with it.
If you’re like me, you’re tired as shit of visiting Branson, Missouri. But if you’re like me, that means you also lived there for five years and you did all the things. Like, ALL THE THINGS. So you’re sorta worn out with that nonsense. If you are also like me, you have a child who, while born in the local Branson hospital, still doesn’t really remember his time there. So whenever he visits he wants to do ALL THE THINGS again. Le sigh. Loooong story short, we spent a few days in Branson a couple of weeks ago and took Jackson to the Toy Museum, which he had actually never visited, though we had. And then he talked us into the Celebrity Car Museum which we have all been to SEVERAL times. Then of course there was Silver Dollar City, which I don’t mind too much since it has roller coasters and the little Wilderness Church. You see, my husband and I got married in that little Wilderness Church on an unusually warm December day in 2007. So it is always sorta fun to have our picture made in front of it.
So, ahem, what follows are a bunch of pics from our few days in Branson, including a timeline of sorts in front of our little church.
PS… If you don’t know what Silver Dollar City is, or you have never heard of Branson, Missouri before, good on you! But just know that you will never experience a woman dressed in 19th century garb slinging Dippin Dots anywhere else! Link here: https://www.silverdollarcity.com/theme-park
I’m writing this post early, like three days early, because on Sunday morning (this morning, but not this this morning, you know what I mean) I am actually headed to Louisiana for two weeks and the plan is to head out early because it is a bit of a drive from Atlanta to Baton Rouge. In preparation for this trip, I have been talking to my 10-year-old son about Louisiana, because he has never been. My husband goes once a month for work. He has also been to New Orleans, as have I (if you don’t already know that get yourself up to speed on my Mardi Gras Experience in my four part series. Here is the first part: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/03/01/corner-of-bourbon-and-canal/ be aware, this is not for the faint of heart.)
Anywho, we have been discussing alligators and the show Swamp People. We have been talking about slavery and Water Moccasins. Civil War, why rebel flags are in fact hate, not heritage, LSU and Mike the Tiger, and Crawfish. I even gave him a painfully boring lecture on what it means to be Creole versus Cajun, and how pidgin languages came to be. He isn’t as into linguistics as I’d hoped.
The thing is, he is now TERRIFIED of Louisiana. But for good reason. I mean, they keep a tiger in a cage so that with every roar they can score touchdowns. It doesn’t add up. So yeah, he’s confused, and a little scared. He thinks we are going to be attacked by an alligator if we take an airboat tour. He thinks the Mike the Tiger will get out of his enclosure and chase us. He thinks he will go for a swim in the hotel pool and the bottom will open up, all Freddy-style, and suck him out into the swamp and he will be forced to live with Troy and Big Billy and make a living off of unsuspecting tourists for the rest of his life. And truth be told, it could all happen. Especially in Louisiana.
So, I guess what I am asking for here is some prayer. Or some good thoughts. Or maybe where to get gumbo that won’t burn his tongue? Cause I don’t know much about Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. And I don’t know much about much anyway. So if we get eaten by a gator, well then that is on you guys. Or the Voodoo Queens that I made mad. Just a heads up.
I have these memories that sort of live on the cusp of my brain and they nag at me, and nag at me, and nag at me, until I take the time to write them down. They aren’t particularly special moments, or important, or a moment that other people might think should be memorable, but they spring up in my brain when I am doing other things and I can’t seem to shake them. They are called Involuntary Autobiographical Memories (IAMs), seriously. That is what the mental health community has decided to call them, and they are more common than I thought, which is helpful for someone like me, who is always afraid I am weird and my brain doesn’t work like it should. None of that is important, and honestly would be best discussed with my therapist, or a my physician, or an unsuspecting bartender. But I do have to share the following story today or I will have sweaty night dreams about it. So, enjoy?
I am about four years old. We are headed to Southern Texas, Corpus Christi, to be exact, and we are riding a Greyhound bus. It is hot, my teenage sister is cranky, per usual, and my mom is nervous. I can tell because when she is nervous she shakes her legs up and down in her seat in a fidgety sorta way. I have to pee. I ask my mother to pee in the bathroom they have on the bus and she says no, absolutely not. I start to wonder why she is so against me going pee in the bathroom. There is a bathroom on the bus, and it is clearly marked. I’m only four, but I can read. I start to worry that I won’t be able to hold it much longer. I sit silently and look down at my shoes. I am wearing Jellies. You know what I mean, those cool sandals from the 80s that lacked both structure and support. They were colored, with flecks of glitter in them, and they are the reason a whole generation of 40-year-old women now have plantar fasciitis.
Anyway, I had to pee. And I was very afraid the I was going to have an accident and that pee would run down my leg and into my Jellies, where it would pool in the sticky, plastic sole, and I would have to walk in my own pee for the rest of the trip. Again, I was four. And it was hot. And I was on a Greyhound bus.
I put my hand on my mom’s leg to sort of calm her in some way, then I lied and said I didn’t have to pee anymore. I probably said this because I thought she was nervous because I had to pee, and she didn’t know when we would stop next. We did stop occasionally, though I have no recollection of the stops.
When I looked back up I made eye contact with a man walking toward the back of the bus where the bathroom was. He smiled a polite smile. He was wearing cut-off shorts and a blue t-shirt with the arms cut off of it. He made his way back to the bathroom. I turned my head to be sure he went in. A little while later, the whole bus filled with a horrible smell and I involuntarily scrunched up my nose and said, “Eww!” My mom shushed me. It wasn’t polite. But then she moved her shirt to her nose and bounced her legs up and down again. And that was that.
Weird isn’t it? That is all I remember about the Greyhound Bus on our way to Corpus Christi, Texas in the early 1980s. I don’t remember the color of the seats, or the scenery that we passed. I don’t remember stopping at a McDonalds to eat and use the bathroom. I don’t remember what my mom or sister were wearing, or the odor that inhabits a bus like that. I remember my shoes. I remember that I had to pee. I remember the man and the way my mother reacted to the whole thing.
I remember more about the trip once we arrived, like my oldest sister’s house, the reason for going to Corpus Christi was to see her. I remember her creepy boyfriend, Rick, and his work van. I even remember the night they had a party and everyone drank beer. I remember my mom’s friend Debbie, who came along, but I only remember her sitting on a metal folding chair on the front porch of the house, talking about how hot it was and wiping the sweat from her breasts. Otherwise, it’s like she wasn’t even there.
Involuntary Autobiographical Memories. Ain’t that some shit.
Listen, I am not gonna lie, this was a trip of a lifetime, for a lot of reasons. But should I, a 29-year-old mommy, have gone balls to the wall at Mardi Gras? No. Yes. Maybe. I’m not sure. Seems like I may have had more fun had I been 21, single, without child, and totally okay with drug-fueled sex in a dark alleyway. And since there has never been a point in my life where I was cool with that, I’d say no. Probably not. Now I do want to take a moment to say that I am fully aware that this is not everyone’s experience at Mardi Gras. I even know that in New Orleans, Mardi Gras can be, and routinely is, a family affair. Especially for the Cajun and Creole people. What my friends and I did was 100%, young, white-people, tourist Mardi Gras, and I am glad that I did it, one time. I will never do it again. Though I am currently planning a family trip to New Orleans for later this year, and I am so unbelievably psyched about it because that city is beautiful and magnificent and full of history. Now, having said all of that, and properly apologizing to my Louisiana kith and kin (I am so sorry, y’all), let me tell you about the dumbest thing I did in New Orleans.
As I mentioned in Part Deux, the group did a history tour while we were there and Melody, Kasey, and I were smitten with what we learned. Some of what we learned about was the voodoo that surrounds the city and its people. Because of this, we made a point of visiting Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 before leaving town on the last day. We picked this cemetery for a specific reason. It was the best known cemetery in a place of known cemeteries and it was supposedly the final resting place of Marie Laveau, the infamous voodoo priestess. Fun fact, Marie Laveau and I share the same birthday, September 10th. I used to think that was cool.
Anyway, the cemetery itself, on the north side of Basin Street, was a lovely testament to those buried there. Considering we knew by then how some of the New Orleans dead were treated, this seemed to be quite nice. There were some remarkable above-ground vaults and very detailed workmanship on many of the crypts. We took a few snapshots of the different tombs and then quickly made our way to Marie Laveau’s final resting spot.
Legend predicates that you must not touch Marie Laveau’s tomb, rightly so, UNLESS you leave a sacrifice, or she will make your life a living hell. Well, I did not know this at the time. I saw the many trinkets left around the tomb, but paid little mind to them. I had been so caught up with her life, from recently reading about her, that I was eager to just see where she was supposedly resting. I say supposedly because whether or not her remains are in there is constantly disputed. Either way, when I saw it I sort of lost my shit and went right up to it and touched it. And that is when shit hit the fan.
It sort of gives me the chills thinking about it now. I feel like I am being watched as I type this, and you guys, I am not “into” this sort of thing. But what I did that day, and the events that transpired over the next year, while most likely, probably, coincidental, serve as a reminder that you should never mess with the dark arts and to this day my plan is to go back to their tombs and place sacrifices on both of them in an attempt to make right my wrongdoings. To show respect. To say I am so very sorry to these two amazing women.
This all happened at the end of February 2011. 2011 turned out to be the worst year of my whole life for a number of reasons, ones I won’t explain here, because well, some of it is just too unbelievable. And I know, I know, most of you are all, Christ, Missy! None of that had anything to do with touching a VooDoo Queen’s tomb and not leaving a sacrifice, but I mean, do we know that for sure? No. No we don’t.
Look it, if you have made it to the end of this series of unfortunate events, bless you child. This has been one bumpy ride and I wrote this strictly for myself and my best friends. A ride down memory lane never hurt anyone, not physically anyway. I do, eight years later, look back at this trip so fondly. I look at my friends, at my MIL, at the rag-tag team of weirdos and I smile. I am glad I did it with them. Glad I lived through a once-in-a-lifetime experience with ladies who know how to take a joke. Know how to laugh at themselves. Know how to have fun, and be sad, and learn, and trust the collective. I am grateful for a husband and son who don’t mind if I run off from time to time with my girls. Who trust I always come home alive and disease-free. I learned a lot on this trip. A lot about people and a lot about myself, which may seem like a lot to put on a silly girls trip to Mardi Gras, but nah, it isn’t.
I also learned about the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is a fickle lady. She’s electric, but she’s gloomy. She is fast, she is slow. She will show you a good time, sometimes at a price. She will fill your mind with things you didn’t know possible, then she will burden you with doubt. She will give you a collection of ugly memories. She will offer up her own kind of repentance. She will make you tingly all over. She will lift you way, way up. And if you let her, she will pull you way, way down. New Orleans is the woman you didn’t know you needed, at a time you didn’t know you needed her. And I love her. And I am afraid of her. And I miss her terribly. And I want her. And on a good day, I plan to see her again. And on a bad day, I wish I never had.
Mardi Gras literally translates to Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is a day to indulge in all the things you intend to give up for Lent. It is called Fat Tuesday because on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday you are expected to indulge. Cakes, and breads, rich meats and sauces. Items that many will give up in preparation for Easter, which comes exactly six weeks later. Fat Tuesday is positioned right after Carnival and right before Lent. The purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. The purpose of Carnival, is to drink as many Hand Grenades as you can, while you drunk-hobble down Bourbon Street, your boobs hanging freely, and people pelt you with strings of 25 cent beads while you scream, “Shit yeah, Mardi Gras is awesome cock-suckers!” I think.
Listen, this is Part Deux, in what is shaping up to be a four part series, of my one and only trip to Mardi Gras back in February 2011 with my Mother-in-Law, two of my best friends, and a rag tag team of weirdos who had never left southeast Kansas. To get up to speed Imma need you to check this out first: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/03/01/corner-of-bourbon-and-canal/ I think it would be best so you are aware of all the, uhh, specifics before you jump right into this one. But, if you are so inclined to start here, well, then I like you. Go for it! Bonne chance!
Now where was I? Oh, yes. Do y’all remember when we were getting out of the car in a hurry at valet because we were being rushed and also because we needed to help MIL unload Peggy’s sweet-ass van, as all the occupants of that van were staring wide-eyed into the streets unable to move? Well then, do you remember that we were quite pleased with ourselves about the speed and accuracy with which we exited our car, with the exception of one thing: Purple nail polish? Yeah, okay.
So the first night, before we got sloshed on Bourbon with a mixture of Hand Grenades and Huge-Ass Beers, we tidied up a bit. Well, Melody and Kasey tidied up a bit. I slapped some more deodorant on and called it good. The girls in the other room took showers, did their hair, the whole nine yards, so we had some time to kill waiting for them. During that time Melody was debating whether or not to ask for the car just so she could get her purple nail polish. Kasey and I were trying to convince her that it was dumb, and just to forget about painting her nails. Then MIL pops in from the bathroom is all I have purple nail polish! Yay! Crisis averted. Melody used the nail polish, then we all left to get totally obliterated.
The next morning went like you would expect. It sucked. We were all hungover, there was no way we wanted to pay for room service to bring us all the best hangover foods, and we didn’t really have a plan for the day, save buying more beads (it became apparent that we were gonna NEED a lot of beads) and getting a tattoo. Yeah, that was a goal for the weekend. Le sigh. We were all a little tired when the weirdos next to us were knocking on the door at what felt like 6:00 am, but was probably closer to 8:00 am. I rolled over to see this:
What happened next was a situation that to this day is called, The Purple Nail Polish Incident and it has varied truths. But this is how I remember it.
Cranky MIL: Melody, where is my purple nail polish?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know, dude.
Cranky MIL: Well you had it last night.
Cranky Melody (elevated tone): I gave it back to you.
Cranky MIL: No you didn’t. That’s the problem. You should have given…
Cranky Melody: OMIGOD, yes I did!
Cranky MIL: Nope. I don’t have it.
Kasey (in a whisper): Dude, get her the purple nail polish.
Me (getting up to start to look for purple nail polish): Where did you have it last?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know when I HANDED IT TO HER!
Cranky MIL: You never HANDED anything to me.
Me (getting side-tracked because I am hungry): Whose bagel is this?
Kasey (standing up to help look): It’s left over from last night.
Cranky MIL: I wish I could paint my nails this morning…
Cranky Melody (throws blankets off her): ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Cranky MIL: You are supposed to return things you borrow…
Cranky Melody: I DID RETURN IT.
Me (biting on a day old bagel): Dude, just get up and look for it.
Cranky Melody: Why don’t we just go to Walmart again today and spend three hours there looking for purple nail polish and other shit we don’t need?!
Cranky MIL: We might have to since I don’t have purple nail polish anymore.
Me (feeling something in my mouth that is not bagel): Melody, get up.
Cranky MIL: It’s fine. I just wish I had my purple nail polish.
Cranky Melody (jumping out of the bed): OH MY GOD! Don’t say PURPLE NAIL POLISH ONE MORE DAMN TIME.
Then Melody walks over to dresser and grabs the purple nail polish as MIL walks out of the bathroom and she hands it to MIL.
Cranky MIL: Thank you.
Cranky Melody: YOU’RE WELCOME.
Me: You guys, this bagel broke my tooth.
Weirdos next door knock again.
Kasey (opens curtains): It’s going to be a good day!
Deep breathes. Yeah, so. I am sure that MIL and Melody have different versions, but you know, this is my blog. And, did we just skate by the fact that I broke my tooth on a bagel? In hindsight, it was more likely the 15 or so Blow Pops I crunched on the drive down, but that hard bagel took it over the edge. So there we all were. Four women. One with a broken tooth. One with purple toes nails, one without. And Kasey. The forever optimist. What happened next can only be explained by the desire to be a united front.
MIL explained to us that the other four weirdos had never been to the beach. Or maybe one had, I can’t exactly remember. The point is, while we all have been to several beaches, in different countries, and different regions, the ladies next door needed a win, so she asked what we thought about driving the hour and a half to Gulfport, Mississippi, all eight of us in Peggy’s sweet-ass van, to show the weirdos the ocean. We all looked at each other when she used the word ocean. Well, okay, she corrected. The Gulf Coast. Melody, Kasey, and I looked at each other. Their make-up still smudged from the night before, circles under our eyes, me holding my tooth, and we nodded in agreement. Let’s give them a thrill.
You know what they say, “Girl, your brown eyes sparkle like the Gulf Coast waters!” Just a reminder that this was less than a year after the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast of Mexico. So there was literal oil to be unearthed on the beach. We know cause we found it. Only we didn’t scream OIL! and call the Clampetts. We sort of, uhh, ignored it. Then jumped in for a swim. Eek. The photo below was captured by a stranger on the random beach we stopped at in Gulfport.
Two hours later Kasey, Melody, and I sat in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl (whose name I was recently reminded was April, but I can’t change it now) while the other ladies spent way too long in yet ANOTHER Walmart. At this point Melody and I were not speaking to each other because she had been texting some dude who lives in Arizona who she didn’t really know and I he was planning to come for a visit, and I was like BAD IDEA Hombre. And she was all, I know what I am doing. I mean she was 25, she obviously didn’t need me telling her how to live her life. So we had spent the ride to this random Walmart somewhere between Mississippi and Louisiana, in the way, way back of the van. Kasey was forced to sit between us, and the three of us sat silently as we listened to Titty Tina offer the body guard services of her ex-boyfriend who lived in NOLA, because he was not, quote, afraid to bitch slap anyone who deserved it. End quote. And that’s how we first learned of Bitch-Slap. And the stifled laughter between the three of us in the way, way back over what we collectively knew would be his name from now until eternity, is what mended the strained friendship.
While the “old girls” went into Walmart, Kasey, Melody, and I stayed in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl. MIL had taken the keys, so we didn’t have air. Probably because, #PurpleNailPolish, and so we sat with the doors open, sweating in our slightly damp clothes, and listened to Pasty-girl recount all the men she’d slept with. One of her conquests ended up being a family member of mine, uhh, by marriage. And we all nodded our head in agreement, cause yeah, that made sense. It wasn’t MIL.
Back in NOLA things took an exciting turn. After the feud ended in the van, someone, ahem, Kasey, came up with a great idea. It was Tammie’s birthday, and she was ready to par-tay! So Kasey, presumably caught up in the excitement of being in the way, way back of Peggy’s sweet-ass van, decided that every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! of which she said every 20 minutes or so, we were all to scream, Happy Birthday! So as you can imagine, hilarity ensued. Until the crying started at dinnertime.
We had decided to go out to dinner that night at a seafood place called Deanie’s Seafood. It was supposed to be the best seafood in the French Quarter and this was back when, well, we believed claims like that. So we all washed the oil off of us and decided to convene for the walk over to Deanie’s around 5:00 pm. At about 4:45, Tammie knocked on our door to inform us that Janie was crying.
We all walked over to find a distraught Janie. She was upset because everyone else was so fancy, and she wasn’t. She had only packed, I want to say, two pink shirts and some jeans. Sigh. MIL quickly offered up some of her clothes, an offer Janie sort of smirked at, while Melody, Kasey, and I tried to get her to just try one of MIL shirts, they were nice. Then I offered one of mine. Then so on. The girls showed her that they were all wearing jeans, but she said their shirts were fancy too. I explained that my fancy shirt was the same one that I jumped into the Gulf with. Didn’t matter. Then we offered to go look for a fancy shirt for her, but she declined. The crying eventually stopped so we all just shrugged and walked to Deanie’s. I dunno.
Listen. Dinner was a mess, y’all. I ordered shrimp, but it had all the tentacles and what not on it, so MIL had to peel them for me because I can’t with that shit. Then Janie asked her to accompany her to the bathroom at some point. If I was the Mommy of Kasey, Mel, and me, then MIL was the Mommy of the weirdos (and sometimes us) and it was starting to weigh on her. But at least every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! We all screamed in unison, Happy Birthday! At least.
After dinner we had reservations for a walking Haunted History Tour, which was ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY the BEST part of the trip! If y’all have the opportunity to do a walking history tour in NOLA, do it! At one point Melody, Kasey, and I had to separate from the weirdos and go to the back of the tour because we were so engrossed in the history and the stories that we wanted to listen, not drink and scream Happy Birthday! We were shunned. Let’s just say that. But yeah, worth it.
Birthday girl was a little drunk after the tour, so we tried to sober her up with a trip to Cafe Du Monde.
At this point the stories diverge. We decided that we wanted to go a chill bar and listen to some of that New Orleans Jazz we heard so much about, and well, the crew was having none of that, so we went our separate ways. I can’t tell you what they did, but I think it had to do with dancing on bars (sans MIL and Janie) and karaoke, and probably shots. But Kasey, Melody, and I went for a walk along the river, then settled into a cool little jazz spot that had outdoor seating. We had the pleasure of enjoying a muffuletta while we listened to a cool, little jazz quartet for an hour or so, before we headed back to the hotel. I have no pics from that time because, well, that is how chill and relaxing and nice it was. The calm, if you will, before the storm.
If you are still reading this, bless your heart. (That is what people say to patronize others here in the south.) You are a trooper. Really, you are. But this seems like a good break spot. We have covered quite a bit of ground today, and I left quite a bit out. For your pleasure. Thanks for traveling down memory lane with me. Two parts left. And I promise they won’t be worth it. As a parting gift I have included some more pics of Day Two.
I’ve been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I should really stop there. Save myself from the inevitable torment that comes every single time I recount the story. I get tense, and anxious. I can’t sleep. My body gets achy, like the flu is about to take over. Or maybe it’s just the ghost of Marie Laveau II, who still rightly frightens me. That’s what it is. I am afraid that if I delve into the past, and recount the events that transpired on those four sleepless nights at the end of February in 2011, the ghost of Marie Laveau II will come back into my life, spitting and shrieking, assuring me all the bad things will happen again. But here I am, acting against my better judgment, just like my time spent on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal many moons ago. This story is so varied, so full of life, so mysterious and wonderful and dreadful and wrong, I would be a disservice to attempt to tell it all at once, so I won’t. I will tell the tale of my time at Mardi Gras in parts, and if you feel like hopping down this dangerous, but ultimately delightfully stinky rabbit hole, then read on. But it’s certainly at your own risk.
I honestly don’t remember how it started. I’m not sure if my friends, Melody and Kasey, suggested we go, or if my mother-in-law decided she would go and invite us along. Someone decided they would go to Mardi Gras that year, and invited the other. My MIL took the reins, being the only person in the group who had ever been to NOLA before. She cashed in some of her hotel points and got us a pimp view at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Canal Streets. Right in the heart of the French Quarter, a stone’s throw away from Old Man River, and smack dab in the middle of the Carnival action. I think her friend Peggy was supposed to come along, then couldn’t last minute, but my MIL had already secured Peggy’s PIMP minivan, so she decided to invite a few other ladies she knew from her home town. So my MIL (I won’t use her real name to protect the guilty), Janie, Tammie, Pasty-girl, and Titty Tina (I’m using aliases here for a couple of the girls for two reasons. 1. I don’t remember Pasty-girl’s name but she legit wore pasties on her nips one night, and 2. Nah, it’s really just number 1) all hopped in the van in Southeast Kansas and headed south. Mind you, none of these women had ever been to NOLA, and two of the five had never been outside Southeast Kansas (unless you count Joplin, MO and anywhere in Oklahoma, and I don’t.)
Kasey and Melody and I set out from my house in Branson, Missouri on the morning of February 24th. I guess someone watched my kid, cause yeah, I was the only one who had a kid-kid at the time. A toddler, and I would suppose that my husband took the time off work to stay home with him. What a saint that man is. We left on a Thursday, cause why not? We loaded up my VW Passat, which meant I was the only one who could drive, since I was the only one who could drive a manual. Really smart on my part. (I guess maybe I had the safest car of the lot. Eek!) I should take a minute to inform you all that I was 29 years old. So on the FAR, FAR end of the proper age to be going to Mardi Gras. Kasey was closest in age to me at a whopping 26, and Mel was, well, Mel was giving us the gift of her youth at 24. Which left me as the Mommy, Kasey as the annoying big sister, and Melody as the spoiled baby, as it were. Which is why when the first fight happened, somewhere in Arkansas, over whether or not Kasey should have included Dave Matthews Band on the mix cd, I jumped into “Mom” mode and never really recovered. Which made me, well, uncool, and also a bit out of sorts for the rest of the trip. More on that later.
My MIL left a bit before we did from Kansas, and the plan was to meet up somewhere near Memphis several hours later. Remember, she had a van full of women who had barely ventured outside of Kansas, with her being the only exception. She was in the military for many moons and is a worldly-traveler. Which is why it took so long to valet park the cars at the hotel. She had to explain over and over again that it was totally safe, that we would get Peggy’s PIMP van back, and that they needed to be “fast”, like storming the beaches of Normandy fast, and they should have money in hand to tip all the people helping us. They were confounded. It was painful to watch. But, whoa now, I am getting ahead of myself.
We ended up meeting on some sketch-ass back road along the Arkansas/Tennessee line. If you haven’t spent a lot of time on the Arkansas/Tennessee line, you should thank your lucky stars. It’s scary. This is where we were first introduced to the rag-tag team that came with MIL. We pulled into a gas station to see them all crawling out of Peggy’s van. As Melody, Kasey, and I approached the van, one of the doors slid open and a loud and robust woman said, “Y’all gonna show your titties?!” You guessed it, that was Tina. Then we met Tammie, who I already kinda, sorta knew, and then that one girl, then Janie, who looked like all of our grandmas, explained she had never been outside of Columbus, Kansas. Awesome! This is sort of where the regret started to set in.
After a quick stop we were back on the road. We decided to follow Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, since MIL knew where she was going. However, it wasn’t too long before MIL seemed to not know where she was going and Snoop Dogg (we programed my GPS to sound like Snoop Dogg) was all, “Hey Cuz, you missed your turn back there, ya dig?” And I was frantically calling MIL to tell her what Snoop had said. Meanwhile, the chatter in the van was so loud she couldn’t really hear me, and we kept on going that way. In the end it only added thirty minutes or so, but that was a LONG-ASS thirty minutes or so, Cuz.
Our next stop was at a Walmart right outside of NOLA. By this time we were in Creeper Louisiana and everyone we met asked if we were headed down to “M’gra”, I think. I didn’t understand a lot of what was said to me. Everyone seemed drunk and there was so much Mardi Gras merchandise that we lost all our senses. We loaded up gobs and gobs of 25 cent beads, and noise-makers, ribbon, t-shirts, masks, and King Cake. We left Walmart thinking we were prepared for all that was coming.
Below is a pic of the whole crew, minus me, the photographer, at the Walmart gas station somewhere along Lake Pontchartrain after a supercalifragilistically-long trip to a Walmart, where maybe some of the ladies saw Black people for the first time, I can’t be sure.
It wasn’t long before we were pulling up to the Crown Plaza on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. It was late, probably 10 pm or so, and we were dog-ass tired, but seeing the lights of the French Quarter and having eaten fifteen or so Blow Pops on the way, gave us a jolt of excitement that carried us through the next half hour or so of the “check-in” process. First there was the valet parking. If you have been to NOLA, to the French Quarter to be exact, and have stayed in a hotel you probably know that there is zero parking. You valet your car, then they take it to some undisclosed location and bring it to you whenever you call for it. This is the case for many big cities with limited parking, and you would know that if you had, say, every been to one of those big cities. My car was cool. We knew what to do. We hopped out to a barrage of people yelling orders, slipping tips into palms, drunk people barfing on the corner, men fighting, and cars honking. We took on thing at a time. We knew we had to get our bags to the bellhop, then hand over the keys, then get to our room, then we would be able to take it all in.
The occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, however, were totally numb to everything. They stood, wide-eyed, mouths agape, on the street taking it all in at that exact moment, as MIL unloaded the ENTIRE van and yelled at them to get their asses over there and help because we were holding up the valet line and people were pissed. Whew. Melody, Kasey, and I got our shit unloaded, our car sent away, our tips distributed, and quickly found ourselves inside this beautiful hotel with everything we needed except one bottle of purple nail polish that Mel had accidentally left in the back seat. No big deal. Right? Right.
After we all reconvened, they all had their eyes filled with enough sin, and MIL checked us in, we headed upstairs to our rooms. One of the first things I recall was standing outside our rooms (two doubles next door to each other) and we realized for the first time that we had to share our room with one of the occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van. Our inclination, was to pick MIL, if we had the pick, because duh. But as we were waiting at our door for our keys, Janie walked over to us like she as rooming with us. Now, listen. Janie is a sweet woman. Totes someone who knows a lot, she’s smart, and kind. But I can’t beat around the bush here. She was way outta her league, and honestly she would have been appalled by some of the shit that we talked about. So we all stood politely and smiled at her, waiting for MIL to sort it out. Of which she did by yelling, “Janie, get your ass over here” and pointing to the room with the other girls. Whew. Crisis averted. So that left MIL, Kasey, Melody, and me in one room. And Janie, Tammie, Titty-Tina, and Pasty-Girl in the other.
Let me pause here and explain something. This all happened eight years ago. We are far enough removed from the events that transpired to look back with rose-colored glasses and laugh. But at the time, some of this felt very serious and very wrong and very scary and very amusing and very fun and very fucked up. But again, I am choosing rose-colored glasses and I hope the other ladies are too.
As I said before, this story has to be told in sections. So I think this is a great place to stop. We went out and explored that evening, as late as it was. Melody had her ear licked by a stranger, we drank HUGE ASS beers. We saw a couple having sex. We saw several people vomit. We met our first Voodoo Priestess. We walked with the crowd, as one does at Mardi Gras, as one big wave headed deeper and deeper into the French Quarter. And for all the grossness we encountered that night. For all the laughs we had. For all the beer we drank. It only went down from there. Even after we found out that Titty-Tina had an ex named Bitch Slap who was in town and was coming to find us. But that is best saved for another time.
Enjoy some pics from the first night of Mardi Gras in February, 2011.
Just kidding, it’s Missy, not Slim Shady. But I can see how you would mistake the two of us. We are both thin, pale, and have an unmistakable penchant for rapping and driving hella fancy cars.
But no worries, I don’t murda people.
So as most of you know we just got back from a fabulous spring break, one for the record books (in more ways than one) and I have had several people message and text me and ask how it was, and specifically, how we liked taking a cruise because they are thinking about taking one or thinking about using the cruise line we did for their next cruise. So I decided I would write a blog about our trip to help all y’all out cause I am real lazy like that. So without further ado… wait, there is further ado. Before I get started let me write a disclaimer.
This is my experience on a cruise ship, specifically the MSC Divina. This may be different than your experience on a cruise ship. This may be very different from Royal Caribbean or Carinval or Celebrity. If you have had different experiences I welcome you to comment about them on the comments section of my FB post so friends who are shopping for cruises can benefit. But please remember this is how I feel, not how you feel. How in the hell would I know how you feel anyway? We haven’t gotten drunk together and cried over REO Speedwagon songs while we slip into a coma of nostalgia and regret together. Or have we? Doesn’t matter. Just remember, my thoughts and opinions, not yours.
Okay. Let me start off by saying right out of the gate that if I EVER decide to take a cruise again (very unlikely) it will most definitely be with Royal Fucking Caribbean! I don’t know if y’all know about RFC, but those ships look like the fucking BOMB! One of them pulled into every port we were at and the three of us were all like, “HOLY SHIT! You think they would notice if we snuck on?!” Also, shout out to my girl Kelley who was on one of these ships while we were on ours and I was seriously looking at her pics of her husband zip-lining and her kids climbing a rock wall and I was all, where the hell is Kelley? Turns out she was on a RFC ship! The Oasis of the Seas to be exact. GD man. GD. It looked nioce!
Anyway, let me start with the things we liked (sort of a compliment sandwich, if I may). We liked: Our stateroom. It was a balcony room. It was much bigger and had more storage than we anticipated and there was a king size bed and a couch that folded out into a queen bed. It worked great for us. In fact, it was more than we needed.
The particular package that we chose also had free wi-fi (well, 900 mb of it for free, of which I used only 700mb the whole week), it was free wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and we each got an extra 12 drink coupons to use on anything! So Jackson could get milkshakes or juice with breakfast, and Jerimiah and I could have mixed cocktails. Now this was all included in our particular package. So this would be the first tip I would tell people who are cruising for the first time. Look over the packages and really consider them. Jerimiah’s mom booked our through the government’s vacation site because she is military, so we may have had different perks, but searching on my own led me to seeing that different packages offered different things.
My first disappointment was the parking situation. Parking was not included in our package, and from what I understand it rarely is. So we drove to Miami, only to leave our car for a week in a real sketch, gravel parking lot and be shuttled to the port and back. We had to pay for this of course, like $100 I think, and then we had to pay for the shuttle. We also had to pay, on top of the cruise fee, $200 in tips the day we left. So when it was all said and done we spent more on this cruise than our trip to Disney last year (and we didn’t even pay for Jackson’s cruise, my MIL gifted his ticket). So, yeah. My first thought for anyone who has never been on a cruise or to Disney is GO TO FUCKING DISNEY! You will have a much better time and you may, depending on how you do it, save money! (But that is a whole other blog post!)
My next disappointment was the “Kids Club”. It seemed pretty hectic and disorganized, and the first and only time Jackson went he had an awful time, citing kids arguing with each other over Legos and them basically just being made to watch a movie the whole afternoon. Now, I have heard marvelous things about the kids clubs on other cruise ships, so I am gonna chalk this up to a “MSC Fail” , but be aware that the kids clubs may not be all that great, especially if you have a kid who plays specific games or likes certain things or is shy or gets anxious around crowds.
And dear God, the crowds. We went to the pools only one time. There were never open chairs. The day we did go we only got some because it was Bahamas day and we were over the Bahamas in like three hours (Nassau kinds sucks, definitely pay for Atlantis) and we high-tailed it back to the ship. The water was cold, it is salt water and from what I can tell it is pumped into the pools everyday, so if the ocean is cold, the pool is cold. Pretty simple rule of thumb. We don’t mind salt water, but some people were very surprised by this.
Now some silly things happened that can be expected anywhere you are, like our shower head fell off and needed replaced. But it took them three hours to replace it. Again, I can only speak to my particular cruise ship for that, but it seemed absurd to wait three hours for someone to come and screw on a new shower head. Also, I had to call them five times during that three hours, so I was cranky.
But something that was a big surprise to us was the “Medical Help” on board. On day number five Jerimiah lost his footing going up the stairs of the theater and his toenail caught the top of the step and sort of stayed there when his foot came down. There was major blood because, why not, and we had to schlep all the way down to the fourth floor for medical help. It isn’t really marked very well, and we had to find someone to help us find it. When we got there they were “closed”. Apparently for lunch or something, so I had to go in search of a phone to call the “Emergency number” then they seemed agitated that we had an emergency on their allotted lunch break, then we had to wait for them to get there.
When they did get there the first thing the nurse said was, “We have to cut it off. It will cost a lot of money, okay? Follow me.” So Jerimiah, who was sort of in a blur of confusion, followed her and I was all, wait a minute. How much is “a lot of money” for cutting off a toenail. Turns out it is $400 US dollars. Okay, so as you can imagine J decided (I decided) J would get it bandaged up and come home Sunday and have Urgent Care remove it for $5 US dollars. But we wanted to make sure that we filled out a form, an “Incident Report” so that our insurance would cover the “Bandage fee” of $300. US. Dollars. Not kidding. But in order to fill out an “Incident Form” to submit to your insurance you have to have a consultation with the Doctor on duty, which costs $125 US dollars. I wish I were making this up. But I am not. So we could have paid $825 on the ship or we could do what we did. Go back to the room, bandage it up, and wait till Urgent Care opened at home on Sunday and have them cut it out. Of which they did and our co-pay was $5 US dollars.
Hmpf. So, don’t get sick or hurt on a cruise. Best case scenario. Or maybe take your chances with a hospital at a port. Which is a good reason to always have your passport when you exit the ship! Just FYI! In case of injury or in case you murder someone and they put you in a jail. Both would require a form of id.
Well. So. Did we have fun? You bet! We have fun wherever we go and whomever we go with because that is how we live our life. In fact, the day that our shower head went out and Jerimiah just really wanted to wash the blood off his dangling toenail we found ourselves drinking alcohol in our “regular coffee” we ordered (because no one on the ship was from America, so they didn’t really understand that we didn’t want Bailey’s in our coffee everyday) and laughing about how absurd life is sometimes, and how we would most likely live forever in St. Maarteen!
Which leads me to the ports! The ports! Oh my!
The Bahamas was a necessary evil. Look. It is what it is. We had a nice time at this real sketchy beach, we endured the homeless people, the people trying to sell us beads, and the people trying to braid my hair! But we found a Dunkin Donuts, Score! And Jackson learned how to play a Conch Shell! We bought it for $5 and he’s been playing it ever since! I always knew his musical talent would blossom at some point!
Puerto Rico was on my bucket list, so I was so excited the day we pulled into Old San Juan. It was everything I had read about. It was clean, it was nice. There were police everywhere, not because of crime, because they wanted to assist you and help you have a great time. There was so much history. The city is so vibrant. The people so polite. And bonus: It’s like being in the US! You can trust all the post offices and police stations. Everyone knows English and they all commiserate with you about how awful Trump is. It was a great day! We saw the two military forts, walked about 15 miles, and took some amazing pics! We even had authentic Puerto Rican food, which you really can’t beat.
St. Maarten. Whew. Y’all this place is like a magical land I never knew existed. I know there are better beaches in the world, but I saw the best one I have ever seen in St. Maarten. We first took the water taxi over from Philipsburg, where you dock at. Then we took a taxi (which are all government owned) to Maho Beach, AKA “Airport Beach”. You’ve probably seen it on the Travel Channel. It is the beach that butts right up to an International airport. It is unusual because there isn’t much island to the “island” so the landing strip has to start right after the beach, which means when the planes take off and land they do so about 100 feet above your head. It is pretty cool. Not at all the “relaxing” beach, but fun to see and experience one time!
Our taxi tour continued to the French side of the island. One half is The Netherlands and they use Gilders as money, and one half is French and they use Euro as money. Pretty cool and a little strange. Sort of like Kansas City being split down the middle! Orient Beach on the French side is the place to be. You can see islands (British Virgin Islands) in the distance. You can rent jet skis, you can parasail, you can buy fresh $5 coconuts from a man with a machete on the beach. For $10 he will put rum in it after he cracks it open. We had one coconut and Jackson jumped on a water trampoline! We relaxed and swam in the warmest, most crystal clear water you can imagine. I could have stayed there forever.
Alas, one downside to cruising is when you find the perfect spot, you still have to go. We were glad to leave the Bahamas, but oh so sad to leave St. Maarten. That is one of the reasons we don’t think cruising is for us. We needed more time. Less time finding stupid ways to fill our days at sea, and more time exploring the lovely ports we get to visit.
So I would say that my biggest takeaways from our cruise are this: If you like structure, if your idea of relaxing is sitting by a public pool, if you prefer to play card games and waste your days away on a boat in the middle of the ocean drinking a bunch of alcohol, if you like to have specific times to be somewhere, including dinner, if you enjoy meeting new people and learning about strangers, if you don’t mind crowded elevators, then cruising is for you! If you prefer to be on your own schedule on vacation. If you like to pack a lot of experiences and places into a short amount of time. If you don’t like to have a lot of “downtime”, if you want to linger at places you like, and leave places you don’t, then cruising is not for you.
Also, gamblers and shop-a-holies would REALLY love cruising! Those are the two main things to do on the ship and off, besides drinking, and people take pride in doing it. I wanted to strangle most of them, but hey, to each their own! I did learn to play Roulette and I got pretty good at it! 😉
Hope this helped and entertained! See y’all around. But on land!