Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Musical Monday: *Signs That Might Be Omens Say I'm Going...*

*Current Fragrance: Geranium Pour Monsieur by Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (My ode to the first day of Spring)
*Currently Listening: "Our Town" by James Taylor

...I'm going /
I'm going to Carolina in my mind.

North Carolina is my spiritual home. I feel this weird connection between it and my soul. Even though I only lived there for a year and a half, it was the year and a half where I really feel like life (the life that I REALLY claimed as my own, to live on my own terms) really began for me. It's where I also want my life to come to its close. (And if you think THAT's morbid, just wait until the Musical Monday where I write about Strauss' Four Last Songs.)

WAIT! Before I get too carried away, this entry is going to come in two installments. I'll call this one Part I: The Warm and Fuzzy. Tomorrow shall be Part II: The Crazy (A Perfume-y Take on March Madness)

There's something so admirable to me in the very essence of North Carolina. It just is what it is. It doesn't try too hard, it's not the loudest or the coolest kid in the room, it's proud of its self - but not because of what it does or how it looks to the outside. There's a quaintness to it. Normally quaintness kind of makes me want to vomit, but when the quaintness is this genuine...you just can't. It's also the state that raised my husband, the most Carolinian of all fellas - so yes, I am biased - thankyouverymuch!

I'm having a lot of Carolina Nostalgia as of late 1) I escaped/ran-away-to/moved to NC ten years ago in January and 2) It's March Madness right now. (This is an all-encompassing thing in the LeBlanc-Hood household.) 

I've come a LONG way from reading a Vogue as Al screamed at the Heels when he took me to a NIT game at the Dean Dome to now! Let Al explain it to you, as he so eloquently did in the forum that we've all been posting on for THE POOL ("We" being those of us playing in THE POOL)

Yes, it's a little long, and if you really only care about the perfume...skip it. However, Al's a pretty pithy guy, so you really should read it! :-)

From Saturday:

So today I'm sitting in our local laundromat doing laundry and listening to NC State further destroy my bracket...by the way, for those of unaccustomed to big city life, the laundromat is actually a common destination in a place where you are lucky enough to get a place bigger than a postage stamp...and thinking about the impending game against Creighton. I couldn't help but to think, "should I have cleaned my t-shirt today."
See, for those of you not familiar with those of us of the superstitious ilk, we would be considered normal, everyday people who think superstitions are idiotic. Throw that out the window when one of our favorite teams is playing...and I notice the effect seems really strong on those of us who cheer for my alma mater.

For me, my superstitious nature for games kicked in around 1993. The Heels were down by 20 against Florida State in Chapel Hill. Frustrated, I practically tore the T-shirt I was wearing off my 8th Grade torso, and reached into my collection to find a 1991 ACC Champions shirt.

Right after I switched into that shirt, the Heels staged a furious comeback to actually beat FSU, in a game that still is talked about in Carolina lore. I would wear that shirt, on Gameday, all the way through the infamous timeout Chris Weber took in the NCAA title game. Yes, I believe that I was the one who caused that timeout.

My superstions have been varied...growing up I would "turn down the sound" and listen to Woody Durham and Mick Mixon call the games over the radio, sparing me from having to listen to the likes of Billy Packer and Dick Vitale. It was when I was listening to Woody that I realized I was no where near alone...in a close game, Woody was famous for his phrase, "Time to go where you go and do what you do.".

I'm sure all of this made no sense to our famous coach, Dean Smith, but it did to one of his assistants. The current coach, Roy Williams, is a true Tar Heel. He has been known to specifically spit in the Mississippi River whenever his team plays a game near there (so imagine my delight in knowing that should they go all the way, they will play in both St. Louis AND New Orleans). He will throw away a tie if he wore it during a loss (and if you've ever seen Roy dress, I get the feeling they don't come from Sears...). During the '09 title run, the Heels played the Finals in Detroit. Earlier in the season, they played Michigan State on the same court that would host the Final Four, and Roy had taken the opportunity to go to a nearby casino and gamble. The Heels crushed MSU that first time...so of course Roy went and gambled at the same casino before they played MSU. They crushed them...again.

My wife has ALWAYS made fun of me for this. She finally got my perspective this past Wednesday. Her alma mater, Lamar, was in the NCAA's for the first time in 12 seasons, and playing for the right to face, of all teams, Carolina Friday. As the game started, Kat put on her LU bomber hat, and as the game went on, she became more and more tense. I was trying to talk to her and, she kept giving me the death stare. Lamar lost, so clearly her bomber hat wasn't lucky.

The upshot was that between this and her participation in the pool, she finally understands that this is completely irrational, ridiculous, silly....and absolutely necessary in order to have your team win. If they lose, well, it isn't the team's fault...it's something YOU did. She punctuated this point by playing the Clef Hanger's version of Carolina (sung to Black and Yellow) before Friday's game. The Heels won that one, so on her way home she will be listening to it again.

So, as the Heels ply Creighton today, picture me sitting in out living room, in my Heather Grey "North Carolina" T-shirt I purchased during Homecoming 2004...the same game Connor Barth kicked a last second field goal to beat Miami for the first time...watching the game, screaming at the TV, making sure to change the channel at every commercial break and halftime, doing my part to push this group of 18 to 22 year olds to win. If it works, my hope is to do it four more times this season...cause God knows my bracket is dead.
More on this type of behavior tomorrow... Back to perfume and James Taylor. Clearly there's nothing that conjures the love I feel for the State and state of mind that is North Carolina that its own James Taylor. Taylor was born in Boston, but raised in Chapel Hill, NC and now calls Western Massachusetts his home. In my mind, Mr. Taylor gets me, he gets Al; we're all spiritual kin. 
Carolina in My Mind evokes all kind of warm-fuzzy-teary-sob-inducing love within me. (And by the way, the James Taylor Pandora Station...total emotional land-mind for me!) I have a very distinct memory of Al and I driving a beautiful road (it's not exactly a back road, but picturesque nonetheless), it had to have been either Spring or Fall...the light was simply stunning...the light you only get in a transitional season filtering through the leaves...the type of the light that just in the way it shines says "yes, I won't be around that long...I'm transitory....things this special don't last that long...you know that." We were listening to Carolina in My Mind on the car's CD player. In MY MIND this is my definitive Carolina Moment. Just like the Fall and Spring sunlight, my time as a North Carolina resident was far too beautiful to last all that long; I think it was for the best though. My memories of my time there are those of ideal perfection, beauty, peace, happiness and hope. I have a place in my mind I can go and feel secure and feel all that is good in the world. That is a priceless commodity to have and if you have some way to cultivate a memory of time and place in your life, DO IT! (Yes, I am now crying and sniffling in the most predicted Kathleen of ways.)
 This type of peace and beauty also has a smell. The now discontinued (why naturally!?!) Fleurs de Chocolat Lucia by Fresh. It smelled of fine dark chocolate (the good quality bitter kind, not sugared to death), sweetened by orange and all sorts of other good orange citrus fruits...well, maybe not grapefruit...and made sophisticated by what my nose wants to remember as mimosa, or heliotrope, or maybe even a smattering of ylang-ylang.
I remember the trip to the Franklin Street Sephora when I bought my bottle of Fleurs de Chocolat Lucia. Given that I was living in NC and it was still basketball season, I'll say this happened between early February (because I had been there long enough to feel comfortable driving places by myself and I had my job at Sears) and mid-March. I got off of work a few hours before Al did, so I decided to take the car and go to Sepohra. I was enchanted by Sephora. I'd never been to one before moving to NC. Hell...I'd lived in Beaumont and this was 2002! I was particularly taken by the little bath oil beads that were shaped like different critters and whatnot. Does anyone else remember these?
I don't know if Al warned me or not, but I decided to descend upon Franklin Street (the Street that pretty much occurs on the edge of most more "Traditional" college campuses; bars, restaurants, College-X gear, bookstores, coffee shops, and whatnot) about two hours before a UNC Basketball home game. I good part of me thinks they may have been playing DOOK. I mean, I'm sure Al warned me, and being the stubborn lass I am, I ignored him thinking, "Ha! It's basketball...how busy is it really going to be." I was STUNNED! All these people wearing baby blue! HEAD TO TOE! THIS IS CRAZY! Wait, I still really want to shop. I should call Al and tell him I'm most likely not going to be there right when he gets off of work to pick him up...
 I'm pretty sure the conversation when something like this. I remember the last line verbatim though.
Me, "Hey Al, ummm...something's going on down here. It's crazy! I'm not going to make it back right on time to pick you up."
Al, "*sigh* I told you, Carolina has a home came today. Of coarse it's nuts!"
Me, "Oh, yeah. That explains it I guess.... It's just so weird to see grown-ass men get out of their super expensive cars, clad head to toe in baby blue."
 Tomorrow...Part 2: The Crazy (A Perfume-y Take on March Madness) 
*Currently Listening: "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel

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