Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Regrets & Mardi Gras

(This post is weeks late because I'm a slacker. You forgive me.)

I don't regret much. As stubborn as I am, I stand by every mistake and just figure it got me to where I am and that mostly, usually, that place isn't half bad.

Today, feeling a little bit of regret.

Why the hell didn't I apply to LSU law? What the f*ck was wrong with me? That should have been a no brainer but I listened to outside forces who told me it was too late to apply and didn't think I had the grades, even though I had a connection right in the law school admission office and the LSAT score. If they had rejected me, that's one thing. But not even applying? Stupid stupid stupid stupid. I realize how pointless it is, generally, to regret past actions. There's nothing I can do about it now. It is what it is. But.

As it's Mardi Gras, which is the best holiday weekend in the history of debauched holiday weekends that aren't ancient Roman Bacchanals, I have a little bit of regret about not going to LSU law and wonder how different my life would be if I had. An actual law school with an actual social scene and the ability to make in roads in the always difficult Southern social structure. And 3 more chances at Mardi Gras and football season. Le freaking sigh. (Hey Kathryn, how 'bout applying to go to law school there already so I can live vicariously? If you do, I'll take the La. bar.)

I don't know why this Mardi Gras is stinging more than any others in recent memory. Because I haven't been to Louisiana in over a year? Because the weather is fantastic and there is no school/bar study to keep me otherwise occupied? Not really sure.

We had a lovely Mardi Gras dinner at the Boxing Room, from which I am still utterly stuffed. I drank a single Abita and slower than my mom who doesn't even really drink beer. Am I growing up? I'm a little perplexed by this.

My makeup looks fantastic and I painted my nails in alternating purple, green, and gold in honor of the holiday. (I have intensely girly moments.) I pondered for a half second going out but...

Hold that thought. I'm going out. As Linds said: beer has healing properties.

Alright, where'd I leave off? I went out to a New Orleans bar here in SF. They weren't playing Mardi Gras music on the jukebox, that was a bit disappointing. It wasn't packed, which I'd predicted. Even though it's THE biggest deal in Louisiana, here in SF it's just a random Tuesday night, which is never much of a going out night.

I don't really agree with Linds' theory about beer really anymore but I thought maybe emotionally it would work. It didn't.

I had fun catching up with Cheryl and drinking Purple Haze but...I don't know. I felt decidedly meh about the whole thing. I wasn't getting drunk, there weren't that many people to talk to.... I knew going in San Francisco isn't New Orleans but it was still disappointing? (I told Cheryl about my not drinking previously and she said, "That's good! You know you're not an alcoholic because you can give it up!" Silver lining, y'all!)

Anywho, what I really wanted to talk about is how every Mardi Gras I am left explaining to those unfamiliar with the festivities about what Mardi Gras really is. Everyone just imagines it's a constant parade of bare breasts and a massive crush of people in the French Quarter. And while it very definitely can be that, it is also very much isn't that.

My first Mardi Gras I've talked about and a good deal of time was spent in the quarter. There was also a good deal of time spent uptown at friend's houses where we picnicked on medians and enjoyed an all together family friendly vibe while catching handfuls of beads next to people on homemade stepladders and kids clamoring for throws. Being around the family friendly environment, which in Louisiana still means coolers full of beer and laced Icees within reach, is a lot more authentic than being with tourists in the Quarter. Anytime anyone says, "Oh, you FLASH for all those beads?" I cringe because, in reality, that is such a tiny part of the Mardi Gras experience.

My second year my friend had gone home for break and we had his car, which at the time had the then novelty of having a DVD player in it. My friend Heather and I drove back and forth to New Orleans every day/night because we didn't have anywhere to stay in the city, both non-native Louisianans. There was a great lot right by Tulane med center with $10 parking. We'd stop at Walmart on our way into town, load up on snacks and then walk all over New Orleans taking in parades, flirting with boys. Each night we'd promise to leave early and yet I definitely remember stumbling out of a bar to see daylight one morning. Back to Baton Rouge to grab a couple hours of sleep, shower, grab some food and do it all over again. We had a blast.

It was also the year as a sort of science experiment we bought $3 canvas Ked-like shoes at Walmart, decorated them with paint pens the way you would a party cup, and wore them all weekend to see just how trashed they would get. They were black by the end of the weekend. You do not wear your good clothes to Mardi Gras. The city lets garbage stack up all weekend before sweeping the whole city at midnight on Tuesday. The crowds are intense. You also, if wise, don't carry a purse. ID, cash, credit card in a pocket, bottle of water, pants. But a backpack full of beer is completely logical. It's like urban camping. Bathroom facilities are at a premium and usually involve a disgusting port-o-pottie. A t-shirt and jeans will serve just fine at Mardi Gras.

My third Mardi Gras involved going to a ball. That's right, a ball. Formal attire is required. If you're male and not in a tux, you're not allowed in. It was held inside the Super Dome. There were tables with just mixers on them and people roll in coolers full of booze and food and the floats of the parade wind there way though the stadium, dropping off loads of beads, and really rich people get really drunk listening to the bands that rode floats in the parade play on the stage (Brooks & Dunn, KC and the Sunshine band, Chicago the year I went). I was there as a guest of my friend Brent and his dad. We finally left at 5 a.m. to drive back to Baton Rouge. It was AMAZING.

The whole weekend of Mardi Gras (we're using the term to encompass the whole entire thing) is such a sensory explosion of sights and sounds and people... Sigh.

The point is: Mardi Gras is amazing and awesome and at some point in your life, if you haven't gone, make friends with a native who can show you around and go before you are too old to really enjoy it.

Miss you, Louisiana. Hope to be back real soon.

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