Monday, February 21, 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

That’s right…not Christmas, not Easter, but Carnival time! That special time of year when the streets are crowded with gawking tourists, decent parking is impossible to find, and Bourbon Street drunks bare their wares more frequently than any other time of year.

All this aside, it’s still the most wonderful time to live in New Orleans. Costumes are being constructed, businesses are thriving, and residents seem (mostly) happy.

Because Mardi Gras falls so late this year, the weather is also warmer than usual, ensuring that more and more people will be willing to stand outside for hours to watch the parades pass by and collect assorted loot (beads, cups, stuffed animals, etc.).

This year, I’m determined to put together a costume for Mardi Gras itself. Until last year, I stayed in my Uptown neighborhood until all the parades of the day (Zulu, Rex, and the truck parades) rolled on by, then took my loot and relaxed at home with a drink or 12. (Catching beads all day, and occasionally getting hit in the face with them, can be exhausting.) Last year, after an especially long stall in the middle of Rex, I decided to go home, throw something together, and head to the Quarter. I went home and whipped together a skirt made of beads and threw on some various Mardi Gras accessories, most of which had been caught from other parades—headband, purple feather boa, MG-themed sunglasses—and headed downtown with my roommate.

The French Quarter on Mardi Gras is an absolute madhouse, not to mention a visual cornucopia of sights and sounds, colors and costume. It’s chaos and cacophony and brilliant, brilliant fun. The costumes alone are worth braving the crowds and making the trip.

Last year, for Halloween, I put my not-so-crafty self to work making a costume. I should emphasize here how not-domestic I am. I cannot sew. I barely cook. I have never endeavored to get all crafty and have never in my life owned a glue gun until now. My conversation with my mother (who happens to be incredibly crafty) went like this:

Mom: Watch out…glue guns are very hot.

Me: Duh. I think I’m smart enough to use a glue gun.

Five minutes later, post-phone conversation:

Me: YEEEOOOOWWWW that’s hot!!! Oops, I think I just glued my finger to the table.

In the end, the costume (a voodoo doll) came out acceptable enough. So this year I’ve decided to put my craft non-skills to work again in order to make a costume for Mardi Gras. This calls for a trip to costume shops, the Salvation Army, and Michael’s craft store. The only thing standing in my way now is this little thing called “working for a living.”

Working from home is both a blessing and a pain. I’d love to get started on my costume now, leaving myself lots of time to screw it up and have to start all over. But I don’t think my clients would appreciate blowing off my looming deadline because of the importance of Mardi Gras. They don’t live here. They just don’t understand.

Fortunately, my current deadline falls a week before Mardi Gras, leaving me that much time to get my imagination rolling and try to come up with something. I have ideas floating around in my head but lack the artistic vision to bring them to reality. I’m a word girl, not an artist. But I’ll do the best I can.

Whatever the result matters not. It’s all part of the experience. It’s the love of Mardi Gras, of parades, of friends, and of New Orleans. In the end, it’s all about the joy and fun of sharing the day with others.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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