Dear Jimmy Graham 

Hey Jimmy Graham, 

Its Rebecka here. I’m a fan! Of you, of the Saints, of the CONSTANT underdogs, and of great football players in general. And I just have to say, I saw your tweet to Akiem Hicks and was instantly saddened.   

Yeah, I know you almost immediately deleted it. Yes, I am aware you didn’t call out the Saints directly or blatantly bash anyone in a clear cut way, but that’s part of the reason it’s so frustrating. 
You see, as a Louisiana native, a realist, and a die-hard WhoDat, I’d have preferred a dig that was obvious. No debate. No retractions. You just felt what you felt, and said it…plain and simple. We may have disagreed greatly, but I’d at least respect your choice to put it out there for the world to hear. 
Instead you chose the passive aggressive route, and it left me questioning if I could remain a TRUE fan (of yours that is.) 

  
Do you know why the majority of people love you? Well, it’s because of your incredible skills that were put on display for your fans. Where did those fans come from? Besides your childhood days, those fans came from the University of Miami, or the New Orleans Saints faithful that cheered you on through good and bad. 
We loved you. Regardless of the game’s outcome. Regardless of the politics. Regardless of how well you played. We were loyal. 
And you know, it just about broke my heart when you were no longer “ON MY TEAM,” but because I’ve been a fan for so long, I vowed as truth…to always be on yours. 

  

I cringed when I saw you in another team’s colors. My heart would pang each time I was reminded of your absence, but I would never have shouted “SOUR GRAPES” about an anomaly of an athlete that made the game of football itself (not to mention the position of tight end) rise up. 
I hate that you did. I hate that the roar of the Dome wasn’t loud enough to drown out your own insecurities. I hate that I question your inclusion on the list of “My FOREVERS gone-by” that I faithfully love to this day. Those like…Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Jarvis Landry, Lance Moore, Tracy Porter, Tyrann Matthieu, Bobby Hebert, Devery Henderson, Malcolm Jenkins, Odell Beckham Jr., Roman Harper, Jeremy Hill, Archie Manning, etc. etc. etc. (it’s quite a long list) that I stay faithful to. 
(And yes…#foreverlsu) 

  
They gave their heart and soul for me, and the least I can do is follow it through. 
So even now, although I’m hurt, I still choose to remain your fan. Not because you’ve given me the same consideration, not because I couldn’t find a reason to be justifiably angry or confused, not because I couldn’t come up with some ugly statements about how I wished I would have saved my breath when welcoming you home with cheers and homemade posters along the airport roads after a crushing loss…but because I know and understand what it means to be forever in gratitude to someone who once made you BELIEVE. 

  
So being the real fan I am, I will say, “Good luck to you, Jimmy!” 

I hope you bring a whole new fan base to their feet while watching you do what you were made to do. 
And as for Mr. Hicks, I wish you only the best! Thank you for your time, your effort, and your unrelenting work. You will be missed, but don’t ever forget…as some may…your REAL fans will always be in your corner. Give em’ hell #76! (Or whatever # you wear in the future!) 

  
Respectfully, 

      A Who Dat girl, and a TRUE FAN 
(And side note…for the people that would like to point out that some said awful things about Jimmy Graham after he left Nola. They were not true fans of him. So shush.) 

Advertisements

MORE THAN AN EDUCATION

brick 2

Looking back, I wonder if I would have become the same person I am today without Little Flower School. I’m sure I would have attended some other academic institution. I assume I would have been taught all the basics just the same…reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, etc. etc. I’m sure I would have had friends, played sports, joined clubs, and been a part of all those typical activities that children are involved with in elementary school. I’d probably have turned out just fine, but I know deep down…I would have missed out on some of the greatest bonds and most precious life lessons that I could have ever hoped to experience. And that’s all because what I learned there was SO. MUCH. MORE.

blanket lfs

I didn’t just learn to read words on a page. More importantly I was taught to read the world around me. To recognize when someone is happy, and to share in their joy. Or to feel when someone is hurting, and to comfort them with a hug, or kind words, or a good laugh. To realize when someone thinks of you as a friend and take to heart what a gift and responsibility that is.

I didn’t just learn to add and subtract numbers. More importantly I was taught when to add my two cents and when to know that my input was not necessary. When to let my light shine bright, and when to subtract my ego. I learned how to multiply my blessings by having a grateful perspective, and how to divide my time more wisely when losing sight of my priorities.

I didn’t just learn scientific formulas or experiments. More importantly I was taught to find the elements that made up my own happiness. An experiment that carefully added some real life growth to a mixture of unpredictable fun and friendships. I learned to calculate my own grand theories on life…and recalculate them when my estimations were way off. I learned the science of loyalty and love.

I didn’t just learn about geography or social studies. More importantly I was taught the significance of our own rich heritage through the exposure to families and friends who each brought traditions to the table. I learned to map out my goals and work with others to achieve them. I learned to appreciate far-off lands just as much as my own backyard. And I spent my days creating my own history, which would in turn, create my future.

I didn’t just learn to play a sport. More importantly I was taught that it really isn’t all about winning, but rather how you play the game. I learned that having fun often trumped the over-all victory, and that teammates were the ultimate teachers of compromise and consequences. I learned to ask for help when I needed it, and to cheer on others, especially when they felt there was not much to celebrate.

What I’m saying is that my time at Little Flower was a “ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME” kind of PRICELESS. IMG_0068While I was busy just being a kid…all of this education was creeping in, cleverly disguised as fun. I played my little heart out on the volleyball court and religiously attended every single other athletic event, jumping for joy when we were doing great, and praying for the day when I was old enough to be a cheerleader. I ran full speed down the halls towards recess (desperately trying to make it past Mrs. Rabalais office before she saw me)…sliding on the backs of my penny loafers, and spending the next GLORIOUS 15 minutes hanging from the monkey bars or making houses with leaf-piled frames. I bowed my head for what seemed like an ETERNITY during the “Stations of the Cross” (in an un-air-conditioned gym in the Louisiana heat!) and knew that each Wednesday I would faithfully hop along the cracked and broken sidewalk that led to church. I recognized every person that I encountered throughout my day (students, teachers, lunch ladies, staff, parents, etc.) and felt safe enough to hug every one of them.

mr l

LFS 6 IVY LOU I could unroll my pleated skirt in 5 seconds flat when I heard a teacher coming…and roll it back up even faster as they walked away. I made ornate shoe-box Mardi-Gras floats, paraded around wagons filled with beads, and just about lived for the weeks leading up to the Etouffee Festival (free time!!!) I watched my parents get all dolled up for the Harvest Ball, and imagined how fun it would be when I attended one day. I ate cold Sno-cones in the warm sunshine as I laid on my back in the field next to the gym…creating cloud shaped stories in my mind. I played kickball until I couldn’t breathe, and went home with bruised arms from trying to hold kids back during intense games of Red Rover.

Basically, I had a blast. LFS 1 So now, looking back, I appreciate those days more than words can say. I understand how very rare and special it was to learn in a place like that. In fact today, I find myself cringing at the thought of schools with 8 different 2nd grade classes, or car rider lines that stretch for miles, or 4 different basketball teams. I hope these places aren’t as cold and impersonal as they seem, and I still feel a tinge of heartbreak that my own child will never get to experience what I did. I mean, my child is blessed and I do really like his school. I know he will learn so much while there, but it won’t ever be Little Flower. It couldn’t be.

Because Little Flower was so much more than just a school…it was a family. LFS 2

For Those Still Trapped…

cage 1

I can hear the merciless cries.
The sounds of pain and anguish.
So I follow…to find HER.
And SHE looks curiously familiar.

I don’t know HER,
or HER story…
But my soul insists that I act on HER behalf.
It demands that I defend HER.

I step into HER cage as SHE retreats,
shrinking into the corner.
“Why are you crying?” I ask.
“Who hurt you?”

SHE points as an assortment of people appear.
I stand. I am here! A voice for the voiceless!
An advocate! A protector! A shield!
The crowd draws near and begins to rumble.

cage 2

I throw my arms out to block HER, as they shout…
“You little bitch! I swear I’ll get you!”
“You whore!” “I hate you!”
“You’re sorry. Pathetic. Weak.”
“I NEVER cared about you!”

I puff my chest forward and gather my strength.
“How dare you!” I scream back!
“Leave HER alone! Go away!”
The collaboration only stares back, unfazed.

The people before me do not seem to fit together,
besides their mutual DISTASTE for HER.
An older woman, physically tired and mentally wavering.
A young man, shallowly handsome and equally broken.
An elderly gentleman, confused with time and place.

And there are more.
A friend, much like the girl, but vengeful and scorned.
A trusted confidant with ulterior motives.
A lost love. So special, so deceitful, so insignificant.
An authority figure, so abusive, so overpowering.

And SHE sobs louder, harrowing, wretched wails.
So I yell!
“BACK OFF! Leave HER alone! Stop hurting HER!”
“Can’t you see you are hurting HER?!”
“Stop! No more! I won’t let you near HER!”

sad 1

They back away, but do not go far.
I hear them plotting, planning.
When they come back they do not shout.
They wait for the girl to get to HER feet again, and then,
they tauntingly whisper…

“You aren’t good enough. You never were.”
“You never will be good enough. You will break.”
“You can never be happy. You will always fail.”
“You will always feel this pain. You will always wonder why.”

And as I try to raise my arms in HER defense,
I feel my body shake.
HER pain is too real. Too powerful.
I want to surrender.

But SHE steps behind me and whispers in my ear.
For all the insults and comebacks SHE has tried,
for all the vicious retorts spewed in defense with no avail.
SHE tells me that SHE now understands.

SHE now knows why SHE is trapped,
Why they still torment HER,
SHE knows what SHE must say.
So I say it. LOUDLY. WITH FORCE. WITH CONVICTION.
With a release of emotion that becomes overwhelming…

“I forgive you.”
“I FORGIVE you.”
“I FORGIVE YOU.”
“I FORGIVE YOU!!!”

And just like that, they are gone…

HER shadows, HER once-friends, HER youthful enemies.
HER family, HER quest, HER tormentors.
HER loves, HER mistakes, HER ghosts.
HER lusts, HER regrets, HER demons.

They can no longer hurt HER, but the cage remains.
“I don’t understand. What is left to do?” I ask.
SHE bows HER head and allows the tears to fall
as SHE gently exhales, “And I forgive myself.”

The cage disappears.
And SHE…no…for in reality, SHE never was.
But, I.
I am freed.

still

Who Are You? And Where Is My Mother?

BLR 1
There have been numerous revelations made under the moonlight of a dark Louisiana sky, and I have been witness to many. Nights where I learned who I really was, nights that showed me who others really were, and nights that will be burned into my memory as the backdrop for my earliest epiphanies.
It was one such night I learned that the women of South Louisiana were keeping a secret from the rest of us. And soon, I discovered the truth.

I was a young girl, and my mother, along with her friends, had planned a weekend getaway to the camp in Butte LaRose. (For those of you unfamiliar, think…tiny little town on the levee in the middle of nowhere. One road in. One road out.) This weekend, reserved only for girls, promised to be like all the other events that us children were “Volun-Told” to attend. So our mothers packed up the cars with food, and alcohol, and giggling school-girls, and drove out.

A little camp, crammed with maybe 5 or 8 women, and all the female children they could make, became the scene for one of the most UNEXPECTED lessons I have ever learned. That weekend, under cover of a thick Louisiana summer-night sky, the women we knew as our mothers transformed before our eyes. They quietly revealed their big secret…something they had been hiding all along. That weekend we discovered the truth…these women, were not our mothers after all.

THEY WERE NOT OUR CHEFS.
We were told of our new independence:

“If you’re hungry, make yourself a sandwich, sweetheart.”

“You know where the kitchen is, and could you grab me some olives while you’re in there.”

“Well yes, dinner is ready. We ate an hour ago. I’m not sure where you were?”

THEY WERE NOT OUR EVENT PLANNERS.
“I’m sorry you’re bored dear, you should do something about that.”

“No, I’m not sure what you girls will do this evening? But I need you to go do it, because we have a Bourre game to start.”

“Did y’all hear that? The girls just asked if there was a TV!!! HAHAHAHA!”

THEY WERE NOT OUR NURSES.
“You fell off the bike handlebars and were drug 30ft across the gravel? Band-Aids are in the bathroom. Don’t bleed on the rug, please.”

“That mosquito bite on your forehead does kinda look like a horn. It’s huge! Too bad you didn’t see the bug spray on the porch.”

“Sweetheart, can you go check on your friend. I think I saw her fall off the front steps about 10 minutes ago. Can’t be sure though.”

THEY WERE NOT OUR MAIDS.
“I have no idea where your shoes/pants/earrings/friends are.”

“No, we are not out of silverware. It’s just all dirty. You should wash some!”

“There will be no laundry done. That shirt looks great on you, dear! Just like it did yesterday.”

THEY WERE NOT THE RULE-MAKERS.
“Girls, hush! It’s 2am! And I’m about to win this whole damn Bourre game! Maybe y’all should play outside?”

“Yes, I heard you…you said you’re going to go play in traffic. Don’t be silly, there isn’t any traffic out here. But if you meant in the road, just remember, be good. Be careful. Behave. And have a good time!”

“It’s really your decision. You don’t have to ask me.”

BLR 2

And so the weekend went on, and we settled for being casual observers of the most complex creatures. We watched our mothers bond with their best friends over Bloody Mary’s and play card games late into the night. We heard them tell stories about their lives. Real stories…about love and loss, about betrayal and forgiveness. We heard them gossip and giggle, then whisper and pray. We heard them say cuss words we never knew existed, and tell jokes that still make me blush today. We saw them laugh with reckless abandon, and at times, cry with full permission.

All in all, we learned that our mothers were human. They were fallible, funny, sensitive, strong, sarcastic, emotional, UN-relenting, amazing women. On these weekends, their purpose was not to be our caretakers. Their purpose was to feed their own souls. And by watching them that weekend (and over several trips just like it afterwards) we learned what kind of women we’d spend the rest of our lives trying to become.

So for those women of South Louisiana…
Thank you.

Sincerely,
The Girls

photo

Members Only

“We didn’t lose everything, but nothing was ever the same.”

family5

I belong to a club. A very exclusive club. You cannot join. You will not be invited. The dues are too expensive, and the expected life-long requirements are too much for most to handle.
I didn’t ask to join, and yet, in August of 2005, I became a full-fledged member.
In the years that have passed, I am reminded to pay my dues with every threat of extreme weather. I am reminded that although most of my friends are allowed to play in the rain, and throw lavish parties in the honor of the unpredictable storm track models, I must give an inch of my skin, and a patch of my heart, and an ounce of my blood to remain.
I wish exaggeration was granted in speaking of those things that terrify your soul. But giving into the story-telling flair that adds to a sense of fear for most is not acceptable here. The flowery and colorful words that I would often use to explain a situation cannot be applied now.
This is my worst nightmare. It is the crying, scared child in the dark corner of my dreams. It is what haunts the unspoken sighs that have followed me with a trembling voice and shaky hands. It is the part of me that I DO NOT wish to share, but as I mentioned before, IT has requirements that I cannot control.
It now demands that I tell my story.
I still cannot give a play by play. I cannot share the chronological details that would suffice for you to adequately understand my tale. But I will tell you this…
We underestimated Her. We laughed and clapped with the excitement of having days off of work and care-free new time to relish in. We stocked up on alcohol and food, and watched the droves of others flocking to the nearest store to gather batteries and water bottles like they were going out of style.
We got some. Not a lot. Just some. Enough to make our parents happy, and enough to save some in our budget for the free time that we would be filling with nights out with our friends.
We watched the Weather Channel and went to work as usual.
Jim Cantore appeared outside of my work and I laughed, hoping someone would see me on TV. What did they know?
The night before we sat in wait with our family. Me. My husband. Our child. My mother. And our friends, another couple.
The storm track stays the course as we pop the first top and eat our privileged delivered pizza. Our baby sleeps soundly. We drink and play cards for hours. The laughter is as loud as our ignorance.

When the wind picks up I am instantly sober. The storm track changes. The giant windmill of clouds wobbles on the TV screen. It moves towards us. “What does that mean?” asks my husband (who is from the North)….”It means, we get a direct hit. We can’t escape it now.”

kat 1
My mother has mental health issues. She begins to mix past storms with present. She lived through Camille. She insists on driving to the beach. I cannot change her mind. I see her back out of my driveway through hot tears of anger and frustration.
I hope I will see her again.
The night turns black and power fails. The water is cut and phone lines are sporadic. I am still getting texts from friends. They have changed from funny quips about puking in the dark, to frantic cries asking for prayers as the water rushes up second story steps where they are staying. The last text I receive from my friend declares that the water has forced them to the attic, and that, if they do not survive…we should look for the dogs. My mother texts one last time as she reaches the shoreline, and decides to drive to my cousin’s house…a block from the water.
“The water is too high, we must swim out. I am so sorry I left. Please tell Seth I love him.”
I would tell him, but he is only 9 months old. He won’t understand why his grandmother drove into the belly of the beast. Bi-polar means nothing to him at this age.
For the next 12 hours I survive HELL.
I tuck our innocent child into my t-shirt and squeeze him tight as each new terror unfolds. The roof comes apart. The fence levitates and crashes into the windows we have boarded. Trees are uprooted and tornadoes pass with the piercing screams of doomed trains. The possibility of death becomes not so theory, and much more so, reality.

kat 2
I kiss my child and tell him I am so sorry that we didn’t leave. I tell him that he would have had a beautiful life, and that he deserved so much better than to die within his first few months. My husband kisses him on the head and promises that he will take care of him in the afterlife if he gets the chance, and apologizes for not being able to protect him now.
We find the permanent marker and take turns. I write my husband’s social security number on his chest, and he does the same on mine. Then we hold down our little baby boy, as I write his own 9-digit newly given number on his tiny torso. He squirms, and my tears do not help as we struggle to make it legible. I wish I could let him up, that I could stop this madness, but if we die, we know…the torso is most likely to stay intact, and hopefully, they will identify our bodies by this. Hopefully, we will get a proper burial, and our remaining family will not have to anguish over the mystery of strewn body parts not matching up, or bloated and unrecognizable faces too difficult to identify.
We apologize again and again to our son. “I am so sorry sweet boy. We will play catch in heaven, I promise. We will have family dinners, and you will get to play sports, you will get to have your own dog, you will get a birthday cake, we will….you will…we promise…we swear…” We promise the world as it slips away. Tears and regrets hold us together like glue.
Several hours later the world becomes quiet. The storm lets up enough to let us know that we will live.
And we do.
But we have never been the same.
The deal we made to make it through that night forced us to sign on the dotted line. We became irrevocable members then. And we remain members to this day.
We are not the only ones still paying, there are many other card carrying members out there, and we find solace in the fact that others belong to this god-forsaken club.
We are the SURVIVORS OF HURRICANE KATRINA. And we walk amongst you. kat 3

WHO DAT

cajun8

With all the recent changes to the Saints roster, let me just take a moment to vent, and to explain why these changes really suck (to me)…and also why I’m tired of people suggesting that the reason I am upset is because I “JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT ALL WORKS.”

I’ve read the news stories, updates, tweets, and status posts that announced those heart-wrenching headlines, “JABARI GREER RELEASED…LANCE MOORE NO LONGER A SAINT…WILL SMITH NOT RETURNING…ROMAN HARPER IS GONE…. MALCOM JENKINS SIGNS WITH EAGLES…VILMA’S CONTRACT ENDS….SPROLES IS OUT…”

(Ugh. I still cringe as I write these words.)

This sucks.

saints2

And here’s the kicker…when I’ve voiced my opinion  that this whole losing players thing is awful, as if to add insult to injury, I was told…”THE NFL IS A BUSINESS…YOU MUST NOT UNDERSTAND SALARY CAPS??…YOU CAN’T HAVE PEOPLE LIKE DREW BREES AND JIMMY GRAHAM AND EXPECT ALL THE OTHER GUYS TO HAVE A JOB…THIS IS JUST HOW IT WORKS, PLAYERS GET LESS PRODUCTIVE…IT’S A MONEY MAKING THING…THIS IS HOW CONTRACTS WORK IN PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL…ETC. ETC. ETC. 

And to all of THOSE people let me just say this….SHUT. UP. ALREADY.

I get it. I understand things change, and that professional football organizations must make decisions based on more than just sentimental value…I promise, I GET IT.

I LOGICALLY UNDERSTAND!

I AM WELL AWARE THAT ALL THESE REASONINGS ARE LEGITIMITE!

So let’s move on, okay?!?!  I’ve heard your well-thought-out justifications and say in response ….wait for it….THIS STILL SUCKS!

saints1

And here’s why:

Because these guys are like family…they are part of the WHO DAT NATION and part of my SAINTS FAMILY, and they mean something to me, dammit! We hung out every Sunday, without fail, for what seems like a wonderful lifetime. And you know what??  They all belong to a dream team that is still playing together in my mind. These people are on my Saints all-star roster where they will live forever as a team.  They will all continue to walk as one unbelievable, improbable, underdog, feel good, miracle-maker group.

In my glorious dreams all beloved SAINTS, past and present, play together….PORTER STILL INTERCEPTS, MCALLISTER STILL RUSHES FOR THE SCORE, ARCHIE IS STILL THOWING EM’ DEEP, FUJITA IS STILL THE MAN, SHOCKEY STILL GOES CRAZY AFTER A CATCH, WILLIE ROAF IS STILL AT LEFT TACKLE, HARTLEY STILL KICKS US INTO HISTORY, BUSH STILL LEAPS OVER THE GOAL LINE, and so on and so forth.  All while teammates like Rickey Jackson, John Carney, Joe Horn, Morten Anderson, Bobby Hebert, and Sam Mills cheer from the sidelines, and wait for their number to get called.      (***Please note there are many other names that belong here***)

All of them, all together, always.

saints3

And I know this isn’t practical, but when has being practical mattered to Saints fans? Did you see the 09’ season? That wasn’t always practical. That was a beautiful, hard-earned, magical, hard-core, amazing adventure-turned-championship. And because I did witness that miracle, and because I was taught early on what it meant to be a true Saints fan, I still believe….in ALL my SAINTS.

I don’t care where those players end up. I don’t care what team they play for or what fans they entertain now. I don’t care where they call home these days, and I sure don’t care what jersey they have to wear. Because in my mind, if I saw them tomorrow, walking down the street, I know I’d be thrilled and I’d still have so much to tell them.

Like:    THANK YOU!  And that I will always be a fan, and that I am so grateful to have watched them play and cheered them on. I’d tell them GOOD LUCK in all their endeavors, and I’d wish them only the best in the future.  I’d promise that they would forever be a Saint in my eyes, and that I would always cherish the memories.

But then again, they might not have that much time to chat, so in reality I’d probably  just smile from ear to ear, wave my hands in the air, and shout at the top of my lungs the only phrase I know that sums up all the reasons why I still believe…….”WHO DAT!”

Now I have to run, because in my mind one of those “dream team” games I told you about is starting.

We are in the Dome…. the Falcons are about to punt it away…and man…GLEASON LOOKS READY.

saints5

 

The Song Remembers When….

****One of my favorites! Just felt like sharing again…

The Impatient Cajun

beach

My life has had a soundtrack. It’s filled with songs that instantly transport me to another place and time. Some are happy memories, some not so much. But the minute that I hear them….WHOOSH, I’m gone.

PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON (Peter, Paul, and Mary) –I’m just a small child, and my mom is singing softly as my eyes get heavier. She’s running her hands through my hair and as she wraps up the song….”So Puff that mighty dragon, sadly slipped into his cave”…I wait for just a few seconds, and just like every night, we whisper in unison, ”Goodnight Puff” …then I’m off to dream


FANCY (Reba McEntire) –I’m probably 8 or 9, and my best friend and I are doing the dishes at her house. (And no, I do not mean loading the dishwasher) We are singing on top of our lungs into our silverware microphones and dancing…

View original post 1,023 more words