Been in New Orleans for the last week. I don’t know why I even bother to bring my laptop there. I rarely find time to write and even if I had the time, there are so many distractions going on that it just doesn’t happen. Also, I don’t feel comfortable leaving my laptop lying around so it gets complicated to drag it out, find a place to plug it in, boot it up, and so on. By the time this is done I’ve forgotten what I was thinking about.
For this trip, I resorted to a low tech solution, pen and paper. It’s easy to whip out a notebook and start jotting down thoughts. There is an added benefit too.
The very same people who have no problem reading over your shoulder and even commenting when you’re pounding away on a laptop tend to leave you alone when you’re furiously scribbling away. It must a whole different body language and atmosphere. You are obviously doing one thing – writing. Not playing games, piddling with e-mail or whatever.
Saw a bumper sticker on the wall in a bar near my Mom’s house that intrigued me. It read “New Orleans – The Big Easy? Nothing Big or Easy About It!” The actual city, not including the suburbs, of New Orleans really isn’t that big. And the only thing that is easy there is drinking. Way too easy. Try to do anything besides drinking and you feel like you’re running the gauntlet. The streets are in abysmal shape. An ordinary drive from one place to another makes you consider wearing a mouth guard like football players or boxers wear.
I saw pot holes so big that you couldn’t see the traffic cones put there unless you stood at the edge of the hole and peered down in it. Then there are other places where the shaky ground heaved up the asphalt into a hill large enough that you need a dirt bike to get over them. Driving a car over it is out of the question. Your choices are try to go around or back up and try a different street.
There is a reason that all the graves in New Orleans are above ground in mausoleums. The ground in is in a constant flux and shifting. Most of it was not solid ground at all until developers tried throwing truckloads of oyster shells and other debris out to harden it up long enough to sell a house.
At least with an above ground grave you can keep an eye on it and relocate if need be. I would get ticked of if my coffin popped up in the middle of a street. Imagine thinking you are in your eternal rest only to sit up and see a street car heading straight at you. I would haunt my relatives if it happened to me.
Visiting people who live in or around the French Quarter in New Orleans brings additional challenges. Most of the streets have 2 hour restrictions from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm unless you have a resident sticker. There are meter maids lurking around like buzzards just waiting for you to go one nanosecond over the time limit. A resident zone parking violation costs $80 dollars. Whenever I return from a trip to the Big Easy my tires are covered with neon orange chalk marks. My car was on the watch list obviously, with Texas license plates. You’d think N’Awlins would be a little friendlier with its guests, but that’s not the case if you are locomoting around in an automobile.
Since the buildings are so ancient the electrical wiring is a major hodge-podge. Many people don’t have door bells. If they live in an apartment in the back you have to stand there on the street and yell, hoping they hear you or a neighbor who knows you takes pity and lets you in the gate. The advent of the mobile phone was a god send, allowing you to call someone and ask them to let you in.
The mobile phone trick can be a problem though if you pack up, leave, get on the road and discover you left your phone in the apartment, like I did. I stopped at a convenience store to use a phone and had to call Mr. Hubman at home in Texas to ask for my mother’s phone number because, DUH, her number is in my phone so I never dial it and therefore don’t remember what the number is. We arranged a drive by to retrieve the phone because there was no hope of finding a parking place due to a large funeral at the teeny tiny church on the corner.
So yes, hanging around in New Orleans can be a bit tricky, but it’s a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. It’s definitely on the top of my list of places that I wouldn’t want to live in, but love to visit.
Howdy all and a belated happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers. You know who you are. I hope you had a wonderful day!
I left town on May 4th for a chick trip to a condo on the beach near Tampa, Florida. Hit the ground running. I found out that sun, sand, Peach Jell-O shots, pina coladas and 5 hysterical giggling women do not mix well with dragging out the old laptop. It was all a hilarious blast and I’ll get into the details in a later post.
Returned from that trip late Wednesday the 9th, vegetated for a day, and turned right around and drove to New Orleans on Friday with Mr. Husband. My nephew graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. The festivities were held in the Super Dome of all places. What a crazy scene. I think many confused it with being at the dome for a Saints football game. The result was the noisiest, craziest graduation I’ve ever been to in my life.
People were screaming, yelling, changing seats constantly, and dragging nachos and soft drinks over the heads of people wearing suits and dresses. The festivities finally escalated to people blasting air horns and blowing on plastic trumpets. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard.
When our beloved nephew, brother, grandson, walked across the stage to receive his diploma we decided “ah what the hell”, and we yelled too. This was a momentous day for our family. No one in recent history, that we can recall, has actually graduated from college. A few of us have attended college, but got too busy making and raising babies to finish.
The evening consisted of bar hopping all over the French Quarter with the usual slight tipsiness. I won’t go into those details, mainly because my memories are a little fuzzy.
Mr. Husband and I got to do a little movie star-gazing while we were at the hotel. At Saturday breakfast we saw Sylvester Stallone loading up at the breakfast buffet. Then Sunday night I was loitering outside the hotel smoking and people watching. A black Chevy Suburban pulled up to valet parking and out climbs Arnold Schwarzenegger, with an escort of 3 body guards or groupies. I’m thinking maybe Sly and Arnie are in town to discuss their upcoming movie I’ve heard some gossip about. Or maybe just to party. Hey, it is New Orleans after all.
For mother’s day we all trooped down to the Old Coffee Pot for brunch. It’s on Rue St. Peter a few doors down from Pat O’Brien’s and has the best breakfast and bloody maries to be had in the city, in my not so humble opinion. After that we ditched the youngins and headed up to the pool on the roof of my hotel. 29 floors up and what a view. Almost scary, we kind of felt like we were going to get blown off at one point.
That evening it’s off to Tipitina’s on Napoleon Street up town for some Cajun dancing. I found out that I’m a bit out of shape. I get swept out on the dance floor almost immediately and by the time I took a break I thought a lung was gonna shoot out my nose like a big chunk of bubble gum. My shoe broke, but I kept on dancing.
Mom managed to dance a few numbers even though she forgot to wear sturdy shoes and had on flip-flops. Cajun dancing is extremely energetic and you absolutely need shoes that stay on your feet. Couldn’t get Mr. Husband to dance, but I intend to work on it if it takes me the rest of my natural life.
So the big family news this time around is another nephew who is 18 and married to a 17-year-old girl with 2 children already. She is pregnant with identical twins!!!! Oh….my….God. It was the talk of the weekend. Those of us with grown children thanked our lucky stars that we are done with all that.
It’s been a wild and crazy couple of weeks and I’m glad to be home. There’s no place like it. I may go to bed for a week. All the better to plan my next trip.
Part of it is fall allergies. But the main problem is preparing for the NaNoWriMo novel challenge in November. Been thinking about story lines, characters. Worrying about losing my mind in the process. Started jotting down ideas on a legal pad a few days ago. Now I have 2 pages full of snippets. Glanced over the list last night and a strange thought came to mind. “Good grief, much of this is from my own experiences.” I could write an auto-biography and no one would know, or believe it. If they did, I ‘d get a one way ticket to the basket weaving academy.
True living in New Orleans for 20 odd years added to the list of oddities. One night in the French Quarter is the rough equivalent of a year in the suburbs. The most exciting things in my life this last month is the bug guy came and sprayed for termites. Well Mr. Husband ate something bad and hurled, but that was a vicarious experience at best. And oh yeah, my girlfriend got a boob job. Now I want one too. But that will pass, I’d want a new pair of boots if she got some. That reminds me, I bought 2 pairs of boots last week. A gal just can’t have too many pairs of boots, in my opinion.
Back to the novel contest. It will be interesting to see if I persevere. I’ve given up on New Year’s resolutions because they are sooo…permanent. I know I can do something for a 40 days because I frequently make some kind of habit change for Lent. One year I gave up the F word. That was an incredible challenge. It made me realize just how much I used that as a go to word when ticked off. During that time I researched more interesting ways to swear. My 2 favorites are “great crucibles of balderdash” followed with “by Thor’s left buttock!” Try saying that to the person who stole your parking place. Doesn’t help, but they might be a little scared of the crazy lady.
One thing that concerns me is that Thanksgiving falls right at the end of this dash to the finish line. Ah Ha, see there I’m making excuses already! Maybe I need to come up with some sort of reward to finish. A trip to Berlin or Moscow. Yea buddy.
I’m sharing this story for 2 reasons, to get my fears out in the open and remind myself that even bad experiences don’t mar a good trip. Here goes.
A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away I was a young an up and coming Punk Rocker. Oh yes, I had purple Pat Benetar hair, wore a spiky dog collar as a necklace and wore all kinds of nifty safety pin jewelry created handcrafted late at night and in my right mind (I swear) from… you guessed it, safety pins.
My mother chose to spend the majority of her adult life in the French Quarter, New Orleans. However, she had temporarily relocated to Key West, Florida. Brother and I and our significant others decided on the spur of the moment to visit her. Punkers do that ya know. And so this story begins.
Late nighters that we were, we all dutifully showed up at crack of dawn at the rendezvous point. We smoked a couple of … “cigarettes”, yea that’s what they were, downed some coffee and piled into brother’s old Chevy, painted flat black, in proper punk fashion. On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again….Sorry I broke into song. Away we go down that highway radio blasting, not much money between the 4 of us. Life is good.
Things went well until after dark. It began pouring rain. A torrential downpour of biblical proportions. Sitting in the back seat I began to feel that the old car felt a little more wobbly than usual. I asked my brother to pull over and check the tires. Nothing appeared wrong so we resumed, Eastward Ho! A little later we all felt that something wasn’t right with the car. Brother exited the highway and headed into the parking lot of a strip mall. Pulling into the parking lot it seemed that the car was drunk and wobbling all over the place and we heard a loud thunk and then metal on metal. After a slow motion donut we came to a stop more or less in a parking space and investigated. The right rear tire fell off. It fell OFF. It FELL THE F@@K OFF.
In the downpour we located the tire and only a few of the lug nuts by the dim light in the parking lot. Fortunately there was a tire place in this mall, but it was the middle of the night so we had to wait until morning. At this point I felt it prudent to mention that I had a bottle of champagne in my pack and offered to share. Not like I could sneak sips of it as if it was in a little lady flask. So we cracked the bottle open and passed it around, sitting in the car in our soggy clothes. After some discussion and a further inspection of the tire and the remaining lug nuts we came to a conclusion. The night before, some idiot had stolen the tire, replaced it with a thread bare old tire, and hand tightened the lug nuts. What kind of sick puppy does this? We could have been killed! We would have probably noticed a missing tire even before coffee.
Morning finally came, we put our own spare on the car with shiny new lug nuts and away we go. Later that day the transmission on the car started going out. We rolled into a mechanic shop with a heavy heart and light wallets. The mechanic said that the transmission was shot and it would take eleventy seven million dollars to replace it. We retreated to a diner across the street to discuss our limited options. I remembered an auto mechanic class specifically for women I took years before. One of the topics was the top 4 or 5 things that auto mechanics try to tell you that you need X expensive repair when all you really need is Z inexpensive repair. This was where I learned that transmissions have filters and that some mechanics will tell you that you need a new transmission when all you need is to get that filter cleaned.
Armed with this Eureka moment we went across the street and I explained to the mechanic that replacing the transmission was not an option. I asked him to clean the filter. He looked at me like I had 2 heads and said it wouldn’t help. I asked him to humor me since that was all we could afford. He was probably thinking “how the hell does this addle brained filly know about those dag nabbit filters?” He cleaned the filter and said it was so full of gear shavings that it was a miracle we made as far as we did. We paid him 35 dollars and hit the road again.
We finally made if to Key West. We did have a fun trip with much laughter. Brother’s car lasted a few more years. The transmission never did go out as far as I know. I ended up staying in Key West and met future husband #1. He was a bartender and co-worker at Sloppy Joes, the bar where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out in and drink himself into oblivion. We married and moved to his home town, Boston. But that is another day and many more stories later.
Well, another musician has gone to Rock n Roll heaven. It’s a crying shame, in my opinion. I know many have voiced sentiments to the tune of “so what if another rich, spoiled brat celebrity overdoses?” The fact that anyone dies from a drug overdose is a big deal.
Ladies and gentlemen, addiction sucks the big one! I’m not going to get into an argument of whether addiction is a disease, a moral weakness, or indication of possession by demons. No one really knows the answer. When someone dies from drug abuse it is a tragic death, regardless.
Amy Winehouse is dead. She was a human being, with a huge monkey on her back. As a celebrity she could pretty much do or get whatever she wanted or thought she needed, with little or no reality check. She took advantage of this and paid the ultimate price.
To me drug addiction is a curse. There are several with this curse in my own family. I’ve watched them struggle with it for decades. None of them have died from it…yet. There are times when I tried to talk myself into detaching to protect myself from the pain. But that doesn’t work.
I lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. For much of that time I worked the night scene. Almost everyone I knew from back in the day is dead now. All directly or indirectly from drug related violence. I visited friends dying in a hospice from Aids caught from by sharing needles. Went to a funeral of a beautiful woman, with a heart of gold, shot in the head on the stairs of her apartment building by a dealer. My brother in the neurology ward of a hospital with possible permanent brain damage from taking a fall while drunk out his mind. My mother transforming from an intelligent, articulate conversationalist to a slurring, cursing sot on a regular basis. My beautiful daughter lost in her own personal nightmare of drug addiction and all that accompanies it.
It’s a miracle I lived through all of this myself just from wandering around the French Quarter at night while all this craziness went down. But, most people who die from drug or alcohol abuse don’t go out in a blaze of gunfire or a quick overdose. They spend decades spiraling downwards into degradation, poverty, and a slow death. For the people who love them and watch this, it is a slow torture that is beyond my capacity to put into words. But I’m giving it my best shot today.
Miss Winehouse, rest in peace. I shed a tear for you today and for all those fighting addiction and the family and friends who love them.