Thursday, April 26, 2012

Animals and Art

As I was driving home today, I thought about 3 things:

1. I haven't written a blog post since returning from New Orleans.
2. The CD I have in my car, of two guys with guitar, sitar, and flute, mostly sucks. My cat could do better.
3. My sister sent me some cards with artwork by cats.

These 3 thoughts have led to this post, which is a collection of animals "doing" art or music.

Let's begin with music. First, here are some birds playing a guitar:

Here is Nora the cat playing a piano:

Here is Nora playing with an orchestra:

Here are cats doing music with a car chase video:

Finally, here are some cats doing art on an iPad. I'm sure there's plenty more, but I'm having a hard time finding things that aren't contrived, photoshopped, or otherwise manipulated. As a non-manipulative blogger, I ask you to enjoy the above, and if you miss my essay-ic blog posts, never fear, more are coming.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Today is my fortieth birthday. This is considered a "milestone" birthday, though in true fashion, most of my friends who are in their 50s and 60s (or heading there shortly) assure me that 40 is "young". My body has given me signs this year that this may not be entirely truthful. However, I am sure they all wish to be young as well, so anyone younger must be...well, young.

 I went to a palm reader in New Orleans who told me I'd live to be 100. I hope she's wrong. 100 seems like a long time. Unless, of course, I have several great books waiting to burst out of me like an alien when I'm that age, assuming I'm not shot down by Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Then I'm sure 100 won't be old enough. But I've got quite some time to find that out.

 I was greeted early this morning by a gift from the cat on the bedroom floor, which had to be cleaned up before anything else. Mother Nature, or perhaps Yahweh, has given me another gift, in the form of burning sinuses. Really, it seems like the kind of thing Yahweh would do. ("I will smote them with poisonous yellow powder from deceptively pretty flowers and weeks of no rain.") I'm going by track record here.

 I am optimistic, however, that things can only go up from here, unless gravity starts to take them down. I have arranged a shorter day at work, that will be punctuated by a lunch out with my co-workers. I don't know what I will do afterward, though--it will be a beautiful day outside, but I live in fear of the killer pollen.

According to legend, it rained the day I was born. My father had a boat in those days, and my family used to go fishing. My one sister told me that "I ruined a perfectly good fishing trip" by being born. A shame too--if she had been left adrift to fish instead of the alternative, her life might have been different. In any case, I strangely have no guilt about this, nor any shame about the fact that I share a birthday with Adolph Hitler, something else my family reminds me of from time to time, or at least used to. My astrological chart looks nothing like Hitler's. I had a sister-in-law when I was married who had the same birthday as me, and I can tell you that we were absolutely nothing alike. Many of you will say, "well, sure, astrology is BS." Like Aleister Crowley, though, I tend to think it has some merit, it's just that birthday sun signs are usually the only experience anyone ever has with astrology. It's much more complicated than that.

 But that is a digression. I've had many discussions lately with friends about what we will do when we "grow up". I have to wonder when that happens. I was sure it would have happened by this time. But I still have many things to pursue, like I did when I was younger. The difference is that now I have more limitations than I did when I was younger, at least in terms of finances and domicile. I should be grateful that everything else is a green light. I feel like I have more opportunity these days, not less, and more modes of expression.

 Now if I can just convince my body to be on the same page, I'll have achieved world domination by the time I'm 45. Or something like that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Orleans Day 3

On my last day in New Orleans, I left the French Quarter behind, and headed over to the Garden District and the Irish Channel area. This was my first time taking one of the streetcars that still runs in New Orleans. It's $1.25 to run the whole line, and I took the St. Charles line down towards the District. Most interesting was watching the driver navigate the car around a traffic circle--she actually had to stand up to do that.

I stopped at a restaurant for breakfast on the way. The restaurant had a new scheme of having the bar open in the morning, so the hostess seated me there, saying I could be entertained by Evan, the bartender. Evan was not used to getting to work at the ungodly hour of 8 am, as he was usually the night bartender. Still, he was a local, and we had quite a long discussion.

His parents lived in the Garden District, and he recommended that I make my way down to Audubon Park and zoo (where I'd hoped to end up on the boat that never materialized the day before), but I never did make it, as it was an additional walk of 3 miles from the farthest end of the Garden District. I mentioned the Lafayette Cemetery, and asked if it was safe to go there. "You're going in the daytime--it should be fine. Just don't go there at night." He said in general in New Orleans, "Just use your common sense--if something doesn't seem right, stay away. Most of it is just fine."

I asked him about how Hurricane Katrina had impacted the Garden District; I didn't imagine as much of a storm impact, as it was pretty far inland from the river. "My parents were fine during Katrina--they didn't get any flooding," he said. "It was the aftermath that was bad."


"Yeah. We were lucky to just end up with a broken window. But New Orleans was like a third-world nation. My Dad went away for four weeks after Katrina, and when he came back, there was still no power."

"A lot of crime and looting?"

"Oh yeah. It really brought this area down. But they had nowhere to put displaced people. It was a mess."

He then reflected on the current year. "We're a bit concerned about this year. Winter was warm, you know, no hard freeze. The year of Katrina, the Winter was 3 degrees warmer than average. That keeps the Gulf warm, and creates an environment that makes these big hurricanes. This is another year like that."

After leaving the restaurant, I walked the rest of the way to the district. The houses were breathtaking, and the landscaping was beautiful. Most were surrounded by iron fences. The telephone poles were all entwined with jasmine. Some properties had little ponds, straw horses, other architectural or landscaping curiosities.

As I made my way through the District, I came to Washington and Poydras Streets, where Lafayette Cemetery #1 was located. I later learned that the area just to the South was known as Lafayette originally. It was a different town from New Orleans, and rivaled it in prosperity. Eventually it was incorporated into the city with other small surrounding towns. I spent some time wandering through the cemetery. It was the perfect day--warm, but with a gentle breeze that made it like an Autumn day. I wasn't aware of any famous figures buried there, I just knew that Ann Rice used the cemetery in some of her novels, particularly about the Mayfair witches. Across the street from the cemetery was the Garden Book Shop, one of Ann Rice's favorite bookstores. Naturally I spent some time there.

While in the cemetery, I was approached by a woman with a New York accent. "Excuse me, can you tell me anything about this cemetery? Why are these cemeteries special?"
I told her as much as I knew about these above-ground cemeteries from the tour I'd taken on Tuesday. I also gave them local advice on shopping, which she was keen on finding. "So," she said, "I can say I've seen a New Orleans cemetery, and that's good enough."

"If it's good enough for you," I said.

I finally asked where she was from. She was there with her husband and bored teenage daughter. "New York," she said. I'd guessed correctly. After giving them some direction about town, I said goodbye, and realized that no matter where I go, people always think I have information they need. Earlier I had been stopped by another couple that was looking for the streetcar stop. In spite of it being my first time ever riding it, I was able to help them out. I think I was more surprised that I could give correct information than anything else.

I'd posted my thoughts about my information karma to Facebook, and my friend Chris wrote back: "You should have fun with it. Tell them, 'Timothy Leary had his first acid trip right on these very grounds.'" It was a pretty good idea, though I didn't get a chance to try it out.

Eventually I got hungry and found a place for lunch on Magazine Street. I decided to poke around the Garden District some more afterward, and then I remembered that there was a Catholic shrine nearby. I decided to take the plunge and go visit. The shrine was for Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. He's "Blessed" because he needs one more miracle to be a saint. (I always thought it was 3 miracles, but apparently Pope John Paul II lowered the required amount to 2). Like other Catholic sites in New Orleans, it was a bit tricky finding the entrance to this one, and when I did, I had to be "buzzed" into the building, and then accompanied to the shrine itself. Maybe there's just a lot of crime around, I don't know. The woman at the shrine told me that there was another miracle involving a girl with cancer, and that they were very close to getting canonization. "The Vatican requested that we have the pertinent documents translated into Italian," she said. "We knew we were close. Then the girl--in a totally unrelated surgery--ate before surgery and ended up dying on the table. It was unrelated, but the Vatican had to throw out the whole case because she had died." It was clear that they were disappointed.

I watched the short film on Blessed Francis Seelos, and he actually seems like a very cool guy--the kind that Christians should want to be identified with. He died of yellow fever while ministering to members of his parish that had yellow fever. I had a very nice woman unlock the shrine door for me, and I walked in. It is in the back of the cathedral on Constance St. I have to say that the place had a very "sacred" feeling to it. I've had experiences in various houses of worship of many religions where I feel like something is pouring out of my heart, and I feel quiet inside. It's quite a peaceful feeling. I had that feeling in the shrine. So, perhaps there is something to this almost-Saint, or maybe the devotion there creates the atmosphere.

I headed back up to St. Charles Ave., and stopped in the Avenue Pub to have a couple more local brews before calling it a day. I sat near two other tourists, one from Texas, one from Colorado. They had been on Bourbon St. the night before, and had a terrible experience. "Everyone was so mean. And at the bar we were at, someone pissed in a cup, mixed it with some beer, and put it on the curb 'to see if a homeless person would drink it.'" The one man I spoke to, Philip, said, "I saw old couples walking up and down Bourbon St. by the sex shops. I had to wonder, 'What could they possibly find here that they want to see?'"

The bartender cut in at this point. She said, "Now, don't go away from New Orleans sour because you had one bad experience on Bourbon Street. New Orleans is definitely not like that." I had to agree with her--it was an unfortunate case of someone winding up in the wrong bar at the wrong time. He said he would try to amend his negative experience that evening. After all, the French Quarter Festival was just beginning that evening.

But as for me, I had a REALLY early flight the next morning, so I had to pack it in early. I had a very timely flight from New Orleans back to Newark on Friday morning, with absolutely no delays or inconveniences. On the bus to the airport, we stopped at a Sheraton hotel to pick up a passenger. The woman across from me pointed out two airplane pilots getting onto another shuttle. "Oh look," she said. "They're going to be flying a plane. Let's see if they're walking straight."

I arrived home to a day much colder than that of New Orleans, but not unreasonably cold. I got home feeling like I had an excellent time, and that going back was a must--just not right now. Within the next couple of weeks, New Orleans weather will start to become unbearable. I'll wait til after Summer. And after hurricane season.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Orleans Day 2 (Wednesday)

I am an early morning person rather than a night owl as a rule, so my second day in New Orleans started with a 7 am visit to the famous Cafe du Monde for their beignets and cafe au lait. As I turned from Canal St. onto Decatur, I noticed some interesting architectural features--gas lanterns lit with actual flame outside hotels and restaurants, and drainpipes that looked like something out of Lovecraft's story about Innsmouth.

At the cafe I noticed that most of the waitstaff was Asian, and some of them didn't speak much English (or French). Beignets are the only thing you can order, and they give you a plate with 3 of them, absolutely smothered in powdered sugar. Beignets are often defined as "French doughnuts". They are not circular with a hole in the middle; they look more like puff pastry, and they are delicious. I contemplated getting beignet mix to bring home, but I notice that they need to be deep fried. Not having a deep-frier, and not really inclined to buy one, I think such an experiment with frying in my kitchen would be nothing short of disaster. The cafe au lait is made with their special coffee, which is blended with chicory. I already like chicory-based coffee drinks, and you need to like strong coffee to like this.

I wandered out to the "Moonwalk" (their name for the walkway along the river) to see about catching a ship over to the "Fly", about 3 miles outside the Garden District. However, there was no sign that there were going to be any ships until afternoon, so I opted to walk around town a bit more and take a cruise on the last Mississippi steamboat, the Natchez. The French Quarter Festival was going to begin on the following evening, and there were lots of golf carts whizzing up and down the Moonwalk by the Aquarium, and lots of ringing of hammers and tools as stage sets and booths were being put together.

Around 11:00 I boarded the Natchez with lots of other people, got myself a glass of red wine and settled in at a table on the top deck, enjoying the breeze off the river. The cruise was about 2 hours. That section of the Mississippi does not have a whole lot to see--oil and sugar refineries, the distant site of the monument of the Battle of New Orleans, a couple of plantations, and lots of other boats. They did allow us to visit the steam engine room (and this is truly the last steamboat in New Orleans, others just have a wheel stuck on the back of a regular boat), but I didn't go down. I didn't care much about the scenery, I just liked being out on the water. You did get a spectacular view of the New Orleans skyline, and the Jackson Square area. While sitting on deck, I had a chat with a woman who was in a tour group. She lived in Phoenix, but was originally from Scotland. She told me she used to live in New York State, and when visiting family there she would routinely take the train to Toronto and fly out of there to Phoenix just to avoid Newark. "I don't miss Newark Airport at all," she said. It's hard to blame her.

After the cruise, I headed over to the Marigny section of New Orleans for lunch. My friend had told me about a great restaurant there with reasonable prices, and I remembered finding their menu appealing. I headed down the other end of Decatur Street towards Frenchmen Street. I couldn't exactly remember the name, but I had a feeling I'd know it if I saw it. As I passed the French Market and headed towards Esplanade Ave., a couple of young skate rats were sitting on the curb. One called out to me, "Hey there, you've got a nice ass!" I turned around and shouted back "thank you!" and we both started laughing. I got a lot of compliments, most of them not quite so blatant, as I walked through the city over the three days. Sometimes I find these remarks to be creepy, but I can't say that was the case in New Orleans. They felt like genuine compliments, and that's how they were taken.

Esplanade Ave. had some spectacular houses, and if I'd had time to visit the Mid-City area, I think I would have seen more of them. But I headed up Frenchmen Street, and found the place I was looking for--the Marigny Brasserie. The place seriously lives up to the hype--excellent food, great service, good prices. I was more than satisfied after I left. I wandered into a bookstore down the street, which was largely a purveyor of gay porn, to my amusement. However, for the dedicated book shopper who is not particularly into gay porn, you could dig through and find a lot of local history and folklore material as well.

As I headed back down Decatur Street, I passed another witch/voodoo shop called Hex, and opted to have a reading and consultation there, which was very worthwhile. The woman who read for me was spot-on with everything, and I don't say that lightly. I have read myself for many years, and I'm pretty good at spotting frauds and "face readers". She scarcely looked at me while she did the reading, and she came up with many very specific things that would not generally fit most people. One of her first questions was, "So, what's stopping you from working on your doctorate?" She was also right on with many family and relationship issues, and in the end she gave me some good advice and remedies regarding both. She only recommended buying one inexpensive thing in the store. At one point she looked up at me and said, "You know, you don't need me, or this store. You already know everything I'm telling you. You have that guidance on your own, you just need to listen." I told her that was true, but I need to hear it from someone else who doesn't know me. Sometimes I don't know if what I'm "hearing" is my own Self (in Jungian terms) or my own delusions. She said that was entirely reasonable.

I felt like dessert after this, so I headed back towards Bourbon Street and stopped at La Divinia on one of the side streets for some Italian chocolate chip mint gelato, which was very good. The sky was darkening at this point, and my umbrella was in my room (naturally), so I ducked into an Irish pub called Flannigan's. There were two older men there, visiting from Ireland. I ought to have bought them a drink, on account of them saying my name properly ("Breej" rather than "Bridge-id"), but they bought me Guinness instead. Another young man came in after they left, and we sat talking with the bartender. They had McSorley's dark, so I had that, and he started pouring me Jamieson shots. I don't typically do shots, but these went down smooth. Then he told us he just got a surprise shipment of authentic French chartreuse. He opened it, let me read the pamphlet that went with it (which was in French), and then poured me some. It was good, but went down like fire. I'd contemplated having a cognac, but after that, I knew I would not even remember my name after another drink. So, I paid for what I had (I don't think I tipped him, I was so out of it, and I do feel bad about that), and made my way back to my hotel. I have no interest in being so far gone that I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm at, and all the heavy liquors will do that to me.

I did wake up in the middle of the night to the sounds of a couple having sex in the next room. I have a rule about people having sex in the next hotel room. They have a right to do it, but I have a right to critique it if it disturbs my slumber. It sounded slightly kinky, and the girl seemed excited, but there were times when I wasn't sure if she was enjoying herself or throwing up. (Could have been both.) Compared to the couple I once heard in a Paddington, London hotel room, I'd give them a 6, but the guy still lost points for moving too fast. If you know what I mean.

Tomorrow I will discuss my last, much quieter day in New Orleans.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Orleans Day 1 (Tuesday)

It goes without saying (almost) that one never gets to or from Newark Airport without some kind of ordeal. In my case, my flight to New Orleans was delayed 50 minutes, and then the gate was changed to the other side of the terminal. However, arriving in New Orleans made up for it, as everyone there was markedly more cheerful and helpful. I got to my hotel at the same time I'd originally anticipated, so it was all good.

The shuttle driver asked if I was there visiting friends. "No," I said. "I hope to meet some new ones."

"Now THAT's the way to do it," he said.

I was checked in to my hotel by midnight, which is early by New Orleans standards. I thought about going out, but then realized that I really didn't know where I was going at that point, and I'd rather learn in daylight first. I woke up fairly early the next morning and headed over to Decatur Street in the French Quarter. I had a place in mind for breakfast, but it turned out to be closed. So, I ended up happily at the French Market cafe, where I had one of the best breakfasts of my whole life. I was going to visit the Ursuline Convent, but it appeared to be closed in spite of signs saying it was open. I noticed that many houses of worship in New Orleans (especially Catholic ones) were very difficult to get into, in spite of their "open and come in" advertising. I'm not sure why that is. I ended up wandering around the French Quarter, taking photos, and checking out its offerings. I walked all the way up and down Royal and Bourbon Streets. I also spent some time walking along the Mississippi River, and while there decided to sign on for a tour of St. Louis #1 cemetery. A friend had warned me not to go to any of the New Orleans cemeteries alone, so I took her advice.

The streets of New Orleans are beautiful, with ornate iron balconies often covered in flowers, and colorful houses. I noticed that many doors have shutters over them, which I've not seen at all up North. Demaine Street seems to have a lot of voodoo and esoteric places. I had read that there was a voodoo temple at the top end of Demaine Street, but I didn't make it up there.

I had stopped for a drink, and tried the local Abita Amber, which was pretty good, though not my favorite. I decided to postpone lunch til after the tour. I spent a lot of time sitting in the shade, as my pale genetically-European skin was already burning to a crisp in the hot sun. The tour of the cemetery was largely in an open space that was hot and filled with stone, so it was like being in an oven, though the guide took us to stand in shady places under large monuments.

If you've not been to a New Orleans cemetery, you should visit one if you go. They are unlike most cemeteries in the world, as they are entirely above ground. When the French settlers arrived in New Orleans nearly 300 years ago, they found that if you dug a hole, it would immediately fill up with about a foot of water. If you buried someone in the ground, the first storm would send the coffins floating away, usually into your back yard. This was a problem for the French and then the Spanish who lived there, and when yellow fever epidemics broke out and wiped out more than half the population, it got worse. So, they developed this step-tomb system, which contained anywhere from 1 to 3 slots for caskets. The person would be placed in a wooden casket, and then put into one of these slots. The slot was then bricked up, plastered over, and the initials of the burying undertaker were written in the plaster with the date. (This is still done, by the way). Tombs could be rented or bought, and if one couldn't afford to buy, they had the tomb for a year and a day before the next rent, and when their time was up, the body would be taken out. The sun is so hot in New Orleans, the bodies actually bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit within those tombs (also called "ovens"). So, not much was left of the body, and what was left would be crumbled and put into the caveau ("cave", an empty space at the bottom of the tomb). The tombs are ornately decorated in many cases. Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo queen, has her monument in St. Louis No. 1, but she's not actually buried there. This doesn't stop people from marking her tomb with large X's and leaving offerings in front of it.

The weirdest and most out of place monument in the cemetery was a large pyramid, which our tour guide told us belonged to Nicholas Cage, and housed 5 of his deceased cats. She noted rather dryly that Nicholas Cage was the only person she ever knew of who could be arrested for drunkenness in New Orleans. She also told us that wild parrots could be found throughout the town, and mentioned an incident where one stole her hat while she was giving a tour. She came back the next day and found pieces of the straw on the ground. "Stupid parrot. Hope he chokes on the rest of it. That was an expensive hat." Then she looked at me and laughed. "I'm probably being too mean to that parrot. But I was pissed off."

On the ride back, our tour guide told us that they used to give tours of St. Louis No. 2, but no longer do so because it is too dangerous. They did a tour for a Halloween event one year, and they had to be accompanied by armed guards. She recalled an incident in that cemetery where someone actually jumped out at the tour group with a gun and demanded their money. The second woman the gunman approached happened to have a black belt in Judo and wasted the guy into the ground. But the tour guides weren't thrilled, as people still could have been shot if she wasn't successful in subduing him.

After the tour I went and had dinner at the Crescent City microbrewery. I found that all the sunlight did not make me that hungry. New Orleans is a peculiar choice for me in some ways, because I don't eat vegetables and I'm not fond of most seafood. Still, I did not have a single bad meal while I was there.

I ended up wandering into Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo, which is a great place with a great vibe. Afterward, I headed down Bourbon Street to the Old Absinthe House. This is not the original Old Absinthe Bar where Aleister Crowley used to go--that is now a rather cheesy-looking tropical bar. I had the Absinthe Frappe (not cheap--$20), and a nice chat with a woman visiting with her husband, originally from Toronto.

"This place is really wild," she said.

"Yes, I think the nights can get quite wild."

"Not just the night--all day! People are drinking here all the time! And you can take it anywhere, as long as its in a paper cup!"

This is absolutely true. And I'd heard from many others, tourists and natives alike, that New Orleans visitors and maybe the locals start drinking early and don't stop. The woman and I talked politics for awhile, and the workings of dual citizenship (she was both a Canadian and American citizen). After her husband was ready to go, she said goodbye, and I pressed on to Pirate's Alley Cafe, which is also an absinthe house. I figured that I won't get properly-served absinthe up North, I might as well drink it here.

They were very nice in the Pirate's Alley place, and got to see an authentic louching machine. In order to release the flavor of absinthe, it has to be "louched". One puts a small amount of absinthe in a glass, then puts a special slotted spoon over it with a sugar cube. (Sometimes they set the sugar cube on fire, but that's an American thing.) Then they do a slow drip of water from the machine into the glass, over the sugar cube. This creates a clouding effect in the absinthe, and releases the flavor. Some of the machines are quite ornate--another bartender told me he'd gotten one from a museum that was closing, and the design was of 3 women's bodies bent over. I met some more people in this bar, and one very nice woman from Milwaukee bought me another absinthe. The bartender, learning it was my birthday, gave me a shot of something called "Toxic Baby". I have no idea what's in it, but it tastes like mint. I was also talking to a man from Chicago, who was a regular visitor. He told me to avoid Bourbon and Canal between 10 pm and 2 am, as it got to be quite dangerous.

It was getting late at that point, so I headed back to my hotel, via Royal Street, avoiding the sex shops and revelry on the block before me. I went to bed and only suffered a minor headache, for which I considered myself lucky. Tomorrow I will post about my second day in the Big Easy.

Friday, April 06, 2012


Wow, it's been a month or longer since I've posted. March has been characterized by unusually warm weather, illness, and general insanity. I don't mind the occasional illness, I just mind a whole string of things that have no reasonable explanation, and should. I suppose I should be grateful that I'm not dead yet. But some days were pretty bad. In any event, I am starting to feel like a human again, and should play catch-up with those of you who read faithfully (or not).

We left off at the end of February, when I visited the Jung Institute about becoming an analyst. I've decided to start more traditionally because a. I can't become an analyst without having done supervised counseling, and b. it's what I can afford (free at my place of work). Nonetheless, it was an interesting evening. I had a train ride home where I got to hear the voice of a man who sounded like a cross between Animal from the Muppets and Fat Albert. I should have made a wish, or something. That doesn't happen every day, and may never happen again.

In the middle of March, I attended the Mid-Atlantic/New England Regional American Academy of Religion conference, and presented a paper on afterlife mythologies and religious conflict for the Psychology of Religion section. It was pretty well received, and I'm now looking to turn the idea into a book. Usually I do a full write-up on each session, but I will pass this year. I heard some interesting arguments for the existence of God, a discussion by my favorite professor (and now colleague) Stephen Johnson about Richard Niebuhr's theology, and a summary of a working group on pluralistic religious teaching, which was quite interesting. Much of that takes place from a Christian perspective looking at "other" religions, and this is problematic. I started to listen to a paper discussing Calvin's view that "God" and the "human soul" as separate substances actually glorified the human soul, but I ended up leaving early. I can't warm up to Calvin. (The theologian, not the cartoon character) and I think the notion that the soul is separate from God is BS, with no offense to the woman giving the paper. The other papers in my section were on the psychology of early Korean Christian converts, and secular ideas of attaining happiness, both of which were fascinating. I may write on the latter at some point. I met some great new people, and some old classmates from seminary, which was a surprise and a delight. One friend was a minister who I had 3 classes with in graduate school--I didn't recognize him at first, but I was very happy to see him once I remembered. We had some great class discussions.

Last month was Fred Rogers's birthday. Well, it would have been if he was alive, anyway. I have started doing some sketching, and while I was sketching one day, I listened to this clip of Mr. Rogers getting a lifetime achievement award at the Emmy's. It always makes me cry. It's weird, because I had mixed feelings about Mr. Rogers growing up. I kind of liked the parts of his show where he took you to see how crayons were made or something like that, but that "Land of Make Believe" always creeped me out. On the whole, he was obviously a good guy trying to do a good thing for children, and was very humble. Now that I am more involved with the study of psychology, what he was doing makes more sense to me. But as a kid, he seemed kind of nerdy and goofy. Of course, I'm pretty nerdy now, so I'm not one to talk.

I wish I could say I've made huge progress on my stories or academic writing, but this month has really been rather blah. We are opening a pharmacy school where I work, and we're acquiring these standard 4,000 page manuals that doctors use for our library collection. I found myself paging through them, looking to diagnose myself, as it's cheaper than going to the doctor. I think I did figure out what my problem is, not that it's all that easy to solve. In short, I don't think I'm managing stress as well as I'd like to believe.

I've had two whole months now of not being in love with anyone, and grieving my last loss, if you can call it that. I came to the realization that the reason we fall in and out of love is because we project our Anima/Animus image onto someone, and naturally they can never live up to that actual image--they resemble it, but they're not it. I also realized that marriages fail because when we get married, our spouse is no longer the Anima/Animus, but rather the Mother/Father. The archetype suddenly shifts, and now your partner looks like someone you've never met. They don't properly "fit" your parental image, and you resent them for it. This is why people can live together for a long time, but if they get married, everything suddenly changes. The only answer is to integrate those images, and not let them take over--we become "possessed" by them, as Jung indicates in this clip.

And true to form--I was thinking about relationships the other day, around the same time I was looking for some empty journals on my bookshelves. (I acquire lots of blank writing journals). I found one that had diary entries from the month just before I got married. It was very sad to read, and once again reminded me why I prefer to be alone and not to settle for something that isn't right. The universe has a habit of reminding me of this whenever I'm melancholy.

I started April by seeing Wild Flag. I wrote about them last April, when I saw them opening at Radio City for another band. They were as spectacular as ever--I just wish I could have stayed for the whole gig. It was a miserable night in New York, and I wasn't feeling that great. I knew I couldn't catch a train later than the 11:11, so I cut out early. I did see my friends Richard and Ray, which was awesome. I also discovered that McSorley's gives you doubles of their ale for only $5. And I'm still looking forward to Ray's photos. I was in the back for the show, but had a good view of the band. Seeing Carrie Brownstein always makes me happy. I have to say, I like them much better live than on record--their album didn't really grab me, not that I think it's bad. But I may be unfairly comparing them to Sleater Kinney in my mind. The L.A. Times had a review of an earlier show, before their album came out. They mentioned that neither Mary Timony nor Carrie Brownstein had quite the vocal range of Corin Tucker, which is a fact. That might be the difference, but I'm not sure. They're a great live band, and absolutely worth seeing. I always go home inspired.

Next week I head to New Orleans, for a much needed vacation. I've not been there, so in true Brigid's Blog fashion, I'm sure I will provide a travelogue when I get home. I am not bringing a computer to the Big Easy. But I am bringing a camera, and need to update my Flickr subscription. I hope to visit a few haunted sites and cemeteries. And the Old Absinthe Bar.