We Built This City

Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint.

I am already tired and achy, and we’re only on Friday. I live inside the St. Charles parade route–the parades pass by the corner at my house–which can make Carnival a challenge. I can’t get my car home from work–even if I dared brave the horror of parade traffic, I can’t get across St. Charles anyway–so I generally have to walk to and from work (the streetcar isn’t reliable during Carnival, and it’s always packed with tourists like a can of sardines), which is about 2.5 miles in each direction. On the way home, of course, the parades are already rolling which means mobs of people to try to get through, many of them already intoxicated and the rest well on their way. Right now, on Friday morning of the home stretch, my lower back is already sore and I have a blister on one of my toes; my hip and knee joints are achy and tired, and my shoulders are sore from holding them up in the air to try to attract the attention of riders. Heavy sigh. And living in the parade route also means routine chores–grocery store, etc.–require about the same amount of planning and attention to detail as the Normandy invasion. I managed to get that taken care of yesterday morning before heading to the office; and I sure hope we’re good for the weekend, because the next window of opportunity is Monday.

But I love Carnival, I do; I just wish I had the energy and the fit body of my younger self. It does take a toll on you; when I got home from work last night I was so tired and achy and mentally fatigued I seriously considered skipping Muses, which is one of my favorites. But once I was out there and caught my first throw, I forgot about everything and felt like a kid again; laughing and dancing to the marching bands, running out into the street and yelling with my hands up, jumping up and down with a big ole silly grin on my face. We caught everything that makes Muses special: a shoe, a shoe bracelet, a shoe medallion, duck medallions, and the inevitable go-cups. At one point a go-cup landed at my feet and a woman asked me if I minded if she took it: “I have a Muses cup from every year but I haven’t gotten one this year yet.” Not only did we let her have it, but I gave her the ones I’d already caught.

Carnival is about many things, but not the least of them are generosity, civility, and community; I got so annoyed at people who are bitchy or greedy during parades. You’re missing the point of Carnival, I want to say to them, it’s not just about catching things; it’s about our sense of community and that we all have to get along together; a reminder that we’re all in this together.

There’s not enough of that in this country anymore.

The Lost Apartment is in ruins as well; I need to spend this morning creating some semblance of order before the madness of the weekend. If I don’t do it today, it will take the entire day Monday.

Heavy heaving sigh.

And now back to the spice mines.

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