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.