Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dome, Sweet Dome

The Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
I refuse to call it the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  To any Saints fan, it's just the 'Dome, where our beloved boys in black and gold battle it out on Sundays (and some Mondays and Thursdays too.)  WHO DAT!

Thomas and I just spent a long weekend in New Orleans, which is one of my absolute favorite cities in the world.  Of all the places we've travelled, this city has captured my heart and soul and I find myself returning to it time and time again.  (Generally during football season, but I'm always up for a road trip.)  New Orleans is so culturally unique, and it's like no place else I've ever visited.  The laid back approach to life, the value the locals place on family, friends, food, hospitality... it is hard for me to articulate the love I have for this city.  So many problems face it, but there is such a spirit there, an undying hope, and a "you can't keep us down!" determination to survive despite so many things stacked against it.  It really bothers me that so many people only experience a very small slice of the French Quarter and never get off of Bourbon Street.  The city has so much more to offer than that loud, boozy, barfy strip... but most never see it.  City Park's beautiful old oaks, the stately mansions in the Garden District, the funky vibe of Magazine Street, the quietly dignified cemeteries.  All speak to me, to my  heart.

My dear husband grew up on the West Bank, and he's a life-long, die-hard Saints fan.  Even when they were the Ain'ts... but he doesn't see the city as I do.  We discovered that we most likely crossed paths there as children, at the '84 World's Fair.  I fell head over heels for the city then; it took a little longer to meet him.

Anyway... I feel like the city loves me back, in a way.  It's always there, ready for a great time, ready to show me a new secret or reveal a new idea.  As a historian, just the history of the city is fascinating, so unique- only New Orleans could have been shaped and molded by the different factions that have controlled it throughout it's life.  Anywhere else and it wouldn't have been the same.  New Orleans, too, is so welcoming to outsiders- stay there more than a week and you're a local.  People there say come on in, sit down, relax... stay a while, listen to some music, here have a bowl of gumbo.  Tell me about yourself, what brings you here?  And I could sit and listed to a New Orleans accent all day long.

I'd move there permanently if I could... I'm one lottery ticket away!  I could advise at Tulane, or Loyola, or UNO...

I guess what I am trying to say is... New Orleans is my happy place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who's Your Daddy?

Well, if you look at these two photos, there's no denying who's MY daddy.  That would be him a few years ago, at Big State Baseball Camp at the University of Dallas.  Yesterday, Sept. 10, 2012, my beloved Daddy turned 60.  He has now outlived his daddy, and for that I am so thankful- because he almost didn't.

Oct. 10, 1992- one moth to the day after his 40th birthday.  TKG played football in Dallas that night, and as a freshman cheerleader (no, you can't see THAT photo!) I went along.  We arrived back in Tyler about midnight, and as I was 15 and not yet driving, I did what I always did after an away game.  I called Dad to come pick me up.  We lived about a mile from the school, so he was there quickly.  We went home, and I headed to the kitchen for a snack; he went to the back of the house to the bedroom.  A few minutes later, my mom came into the kitchen and said Daddy wasn't feeling well, was having some chest pains.  She was going to take him to the emergency room, and would I please stay awake until she called me to let me know what was going on.  My two younger sisters were asleep in their rooms, and she didn't want to wake them- at this point, we all thought it was heartburn.  We never thought it would be a heart attack.

Because he was awake and waiting for my call; because mom was awake and recognized the need for action; and because he had some fantastic, quick-thinking doctors who knew a heart attack when they saw one, Daddy is here today.  They were actually able to stop the heart attack in progress, to get his heart beating normally again, and to save his life- and, who am I kidding, our family's life.  Daddy is the heart and soul of the Roberts family.  The worst day of my almost-35 years was the next day, when we were allowed to see him.  It profoundly shook me to see my Daddy, my hero, my Superman, hooked up to all those machines and looking so weak.  This was the man who had taught me to throw a baseball, to ride a bike, who had given me his red hair and impish grin, and wicked sense of humor.  He taught me so much, and we came so close to losing him.

So as we celebrate his 60th, I am profoundly grateful for the extra 20 years we've had together; that he was there when I graduated from college, that he was there to walk me down the aisle, that he was there when my world crumbled; that he has been there every time I ever needed him.  I am such a Daddy's girl, and I am so proud to say that! 

I love you, Daddy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We visited the historic Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, just next to the Novodevichy Monastery. This is one of the most prestigious cemeteries in the city, and contains the final resting places of Dmitri Shostakovich, Nikita Khruschev, Anton Checkov, Sergei Prokofiev, Boris Yeltsin, and Raisa Gorbacheva.  There are many, many fabulous sculptures and grave markers, and the cemetery is very park-like, withe beautiful trees and lovely places to sit and reflect, enjoying the peace and quiet (when there aren't hordes of tourists, anyway.)

This sculpture is my favorite.  It marks the grave of Aleksandr Bakulev, one of the pioneers of heart surgery in the Soviet Union.  He was the first to perform open  heart surgery, hence the ruby representation of a heart in his hands; he also was the first to perform several other thoracic surgery techniques.  This literal representation of "holding my life in your hands" speaks to me, as my dad is a heart attack survivor and he wouldn't be here today without life-saving cardiac care.  Just goes to show, that no matter how far apart we are, we really aren't all that different.  At one point, we were sitting in Red Square, and I said to Thomas, "We're in mothereffing MOSCOW, dude!"  It is amazing that we had the chance to visit this place that once seemed so remote, so dangerous, so evil, so OTHER.  And when we were there, it couldn't have been more amazing, and the people were so wonderful.  Not different, and certainly not evil!