Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Orleans blogger tells moving stories

I've never been a big fan of blogs. Although my boyfriend gets practically all of his news from sports blogs, I'd rather stick with traditional news outlets in most cases. But in August, I got hooked on a weekly blog called "Joie d'Eve" on New Orleans magazine's website. Perhaps it's because the author, Eve Kidd Crawford, is also Louisiana native who got her master's from the Missouri School of Journalism. Or maybe it hit an emotional chord for me because it's been more than two years since I left Louisiana and every day I feel some cosmic force beckoning me to return. Either way, Crawford delivers well-crafted essays about her life in Louisiana each week, and the ongoing narrative about her sister's death due to alcoholism is one of the finest I've seen in online-only journalism.

In "The Best I Can Do" (May 28, 2010), Crawford writes about her struggle to fulfill her sister's only request: to write her obituary.
Brett Ashley Kidd was born Nov. 16, 1960, at the height, obviously, of my father’s Hemingway obsession. She loved Motown music and classic R & B, the color pink, Bud’s Broiler’s hickory sauce, the Saints, anything on the Food Network that wasn’t Rachael Ray, North Carolina barbecue, the Democratic party, dancing, cooking and talking on the phone. She was loving. She had a great sense of humor. She had goals.

And then … she wasn’t, and she didn’t. Alcoholism slowly took over her life, took away all of the good and bad parts of who she was until she was just 67 pounds of no one.

Ruby is obsessed with monsters lately. They’re under her bed, obviously, but they’re also in the car and in trees, and when she does something bad, it’s the monsters who are at fault.

When I got the phone call from my dad on Saturday and I told Ruby that Aunt Ashley had died, she said, very seriously, “Mama, I’m sorry that a monster came and made your sister dead.”

And I said, “No, baby. Monsters aren’t real. That’s not what happened. Aunt Ashley was very sick, and sometimes sick people die.”

But I can’t stop thinking about it. A monster did take her away. A long time ago.

This much is true: My sister died last weekend. She was 49.

But this is also true: My sister died years ago. A monster came and made her dead.
Her posts reveal the odd combination of humor and sadness following a family death, such as in "Ashley, as Ashes":
“The only thing I ever took comfort in about life after death,” my dad said, “was, ‘Today a man, tomorrow a worm, the next day a butterfly.’ I guess Ashley did it a bit different: ‘Today a woman, tomorrow an oyster, the next day …’?”

And I finished up, “A po-boy?”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, she’d like that.”

And she would.

Rest in peace, Ashley. See you in a sandwich.
In "A Fitting Goodbye," Crawford describes her sister's New Orleans sendoff, and most recently in "Beaujolais and Bittersweet," she recounts her last good memory with her sister — drinking wine:
On the one hand, it felt awful to drink with her, like I was signing her death certificate in my own hand. On the other, this was probably the closest I’d ever felt to her, the most typical “sister” thing we’d done in years.
Crawford's posts about her sister seem uncharacteristic for a blog celebrating the New Orleans culture. After all, she's usually writing about being a mom, wearing searsucker or hosting Carnival guests, and she does so in a refreshing way. But somehow, she's also struck a balance in writing about her public personal life and private personal life. Occasionally revealing private details breaks down barriers between her and the reader as well as touches on universal emotions. When reading this blog, you don't just get a stereotypical dose of Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and great eats; you also pick up the nuances of the Louisiana spirit — the passion, grit and perseverance of the people who live there. Perhaps that's really why I'm hooked.

Please check out "Joie d'Eve" and share your favorite blogs.

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