DOUBLE-HEADER: #5: “Saints-sational Chi-town” and #6: “A Key Person to Be Around”

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Blogging Double-header: Two for the Price of One!

…Post 5 & 6 of my “10 days of blogging” personal challenge.

Seeing as my building didn’t have power all day, I’m gonna pull one of those “acts of God” clauses for my “excuse du jour.”

Post 5: Saints-sational Chi-town!

I certainly didn’t expect to find a fun place to watch a Saints game… I especially didn’t expect to find a place that downright CATERED to Saints fans…

World, meet Newport on Southport.

Southport has been one of my favorite streets for a daytime stroll since I’ve been here- cute shops and restaurants abound; a little trendy, hipster, yuppie, and casual all at the same time (at least to me, if that’s even possible).

Southport Street is also home to several Louisiana/ New Orleans/ Southern inspired establishments: Blue Bayou (which I just can’t take seriously because I think of the waterpark), Toons, and Newport Bar & Grill. I can say that I’ve been to all 3; they are all different, and cool in their own right.

I somehow have found a delightful group of 3 other transplants, all with some kind of NOLA connection… So we made plans to don our best Black and Gold and meet at Newport… Someone had gotten the “tip” that this was THE game day place (FYI- this person had also learned last week that Blue Bayou was NOT…).

I had a phone interview at 12 for a part-time music administration job I REALLY HOPE I GET, so I showed up a bit late (interview went super-well, I think… hoping for a face to face with the board in 2-3 weeks)…

I walked in the door shocked to see a sea of Saints shirts, the sounds of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and “Stand Up and Get Krunk” playing with the Saints game on about 700 televisions. I found my friends at a well-positioned table, enjoying char-grilled oysters, Bloody Mary’s, Abita beer, jambalaya, and other “New Orleans foods”. If I get there early this week, I will DEFINITELY be trying the shrimp and grits.

While admittedly, I am not the world’s biggest football fan, or an expert by ANY stretch… I had a great time.

I faithfully watched the screen, praying we “get over the yellow line” (how I understand the majority of the game), and enjoyed yelling and cheering along. While we watched, cheered, ate, drank, and subsequently became depressed over our team’s abysmal performance, we found time for some silly dating talk, too… It was kinda Carrie Bradshaw & the sex in the city girls meet man cave/ football game.

…And it was fun.

When you need a little Who-Dat and a little local feel, this is the place. Not too clean, not to fancy. Most importantly, chillin’ with a great group of people… and we know I love havin’ a krewe. Almost felt like home.

Who dat?!?

Post 6: “A Key Person to Be Around”

Back in New Orleans, there was a wonderful man named Wil LaPointe who was a fixture of the St. Louis Cathedral Adult/Concert Choir. He was there as long as I was, and I know for a fact, WAY before my time, too. Anyone who knows me well knows I really am bad at remembering names… But tend to remember every other detail about people- stories they tell me, voice quality, what they wear- if it’s not their name, I got it. Well, for years before Wil’s name stuck in my head, I simply referred to him as “hat man.” Wil always had a hat on, generally with a small feather. For many years, we had a tendency to arrive around the same time as him on Sunday mornings, and we’d stroll up the exterior stairs to our rehearsal room together, chatting about the weekend, him telling us stories about his life, or his kids, or his grandkids. Wil had a fantastic, dry, self-deprecating sense of humor. He would deliver any one-liner he had in the flattest speech possible… which only made it funnier. …And then you’d see his smirk. It was priceless! He prided himself on being “the oldest person in the choir” and always made jokes like, “If I’m still around, I’ll see ya next week.” He sat right behind me, in the bass section, with his hat politely under his chair, singing the absolute lowest possible notes… You’d hear him just trying to see “how low he could go”. …And every so often, you’d hear this tiny, high pitched sound that occurred when he adjusted his hearing aid. It was “the Wil sound”.  However, when I think of Wil, one memory always comes to mind… what he said to me/ called me every week.

We’d walk back to our rehearsal space following Mass each week to put away our music and gather our belongings… People always “race back” to get on with the rest of their day, but the fact of the matter is, only 4 staff members have keys to that space… So it’s a “hurry up and wait” game for most members. Frequently, I’d be the first person with keys back to the door, keys in hand, out and ready… I’m not much of a morning person (and was occasionally suffering the effects of a fun Saturday night), so the people would part, allowing me access to the door…I’d walk up, and Wil would smile and say, “You know what? You’re a key person to be around!” He’d chuckle and smile, and I’d do the same. Since he passed, it’s been a funny little moment that I really missed… it was one of the first ways I noticed his absence in a real and tangible way. It was silly and tiny, but definitely a hole in the Sunday norm.

I ALWAYS have my keys. In New Orleans, my friends and family always teased me that I looked like a janitor- I had keys to 2 schools, 1 cathedral, a hospital, 3 houses, a car, 1 office, a parking gate, a piano, a few locks, and a few that I still don’t know what they do/did. It was a sizable keychain, to say the very least.

However, “always” was NOT my Friday night.

My new apartment is strange in the sense that there is a “traditional” key for the front door, but a hotel/credit card type swipe key for my actual apartment. Which is cool & new-fangled, but also strange… I can’t put a swipe card on a keychain, and having the keys separate like that is weird and makes me nervous I’ll leave something- it throws my groove off (I am the girl who color-coded her keys).

I had a fun night at Oktoberfest and a fun restaurant down in the Loop area (downtown), and was headed home. It’s not often I find myself in a cab, but my friend and I shared one on the way home. My place came first, so I tossed my friend some money to pay my share of the cab. A few minutes later, as I approached my building door, I look in my purse…

I DO NOT see my keys.

I dig a bit more… There’s not much room to dig- I carry more of clutch (I call it a “p-wallet”- it’s like a combination of a pocket and wallet). I find a tiny key ring holding what’s left of my Nola keys and a rite-aid card.

Not helpful.

I feel an initial wave of panic- WHERE ARE THEY?? I swear I had them when I left!

Not only does my keychain have my key to get into my building, it has several other important keys… Keys that go to a friend’s apartment, my ONLY mailbox key, my car key (which is one of those expensive smart keys with a built-in clicker)… This is a problem.

My brain is already adding up how much it’s going to cost me to replace all these things, not to mention the uncomfortable discussions I might have to have with friends about “sorry that any random in Chicago may be able to creep up in your house… my bad.”

I STOP IT. I have this remarkable ability when I am “in the moment” of a mini-crisis to just shut that down and go 100% practical. So, I do.

I quickly text my friend to get the restaurant name… they look- no keys.

I decide the only logical explanation is that they slipped out in the cab when I was giving my friend some money.

I call the cab- no keys.

Within about 5 minutes, I have company at the front door of my building- turns out, I’m not the only person locked out at midnight on Friday night. Hahaha! Misery loves company, right? So, I meet a neighbor and we chat it up. We try not to look like creeps while waiting for someone WITH a key to enter our building. It’s Friday night… people are out; bars close early here… someone is bound to come home, right?

After about 5 minutes of waiting, I walk to the back of the building, eyeing up the fire escape and crafting several McGyver-esque plans to “break in” to my own apartment (I have done this at other places I’ve lived…).  True story: I’m kinda good at it.

I know in my apartment I have my valet key to my car, and my extra/ guest set of keys. Because of the swipe card key plus regular key, I have the key to my unit.

“This is not a disaster; this is no big deal; you’ve got this well under control.”… I keep repeating this to myself; not trying to prevent me from getting upset, but just trying to keep my personal level of frustration and anger at myself in check. I cannot believe I lost my keys somewhere. I think, “YOU don’t do this like this… Geez!”

Strangely, after a few minutes, after look #37 or so through her beach-bag sized purse, the girl from 301 finds her key!

We’re in! Hooray!

For this, I am greatly relieved and thankful. We exchange some closing pleasantries, and I take my defeated and frustrated self up to my door, with my silly swipe-key in hand. Ready to deal with the realities of missing keys in the morning and get a good nights’ sleep, I open the door.

I’m on the phone with a friend who’s all, “It’s ok; this happens to EVERYONE, EVERYBODY does this at least once. At least you’re smart enough to give a friend a spare and keep a spare.”

I politely agree, but all I think is, “No, maybe other people, but Tara does NOT do things like this!”

Wil LaPointe’s voice is swirling in my head, “You’re a key person to be around! Haha!”

I’m thinking, “Not today, Wil… I’ve lost my touch… not so much”.

The part of me that is obsessed with the work and writings of Brene` Brown understands this is nothing more than a full-blown perfectionism attack.  ….And I’ve completely indulged it.

The door opens.

I look on my brown leather chair, and instantly see a gleam of silver.

MY KEYS!!

They never left. They were never lost.

I left them at home.

Turns out, when you don’t drive anywhere, and you don’t require a key to lock your door, those normal “checks” are eliminated from the routine.

I had to laugh at myself- I was a crazy mix of relief, frustration, and exasperation. I could have cried or laughed at that point.

They were there all along.

Memory is a CRAZY thing… I thought back to my psychology lessons with my students, when we’d talk about just how inaccurate memories can be. I distinctly remember being SURE I had seen my keys in my purse at the restaurant several times… Clearly, that was not possible.

It was a night of “all is well that ends well” with a reminder that I still embrace perfectionism a bit too tightly.

 In fact, side note: if you notice the “way less than perfect grammar” in these posts, an occasional typo or repeating thing, that’s because one of my “rules” for this blog is no editing and pouring over posts- type, express, post… It’s one place were I’ve decided to try to embrace imperfection and practice vulnerability.

I went to sleep feeling thankful and grateful…As well as mindful of the need to be gentle and patient with myself… and reminded of the fact that it is also ok to laugh at yourself.

I also went to bed recalling the memory of a wonderful, wise, gentle, and funny man.

I’m a “key person to be around”… MOST of the time.

Cheers to you, Wil!

However, I gotta say, I think my McGyver plan was pretty epic. …I’ll keep it in reserves.

With keys and swipe card FIRMLY in my purse,

TM

 

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