Tag Archives: New Orleans

What I did in New Orleans … This Time

What I did in New OrleansJust got back from a 10 day trip to New Orleans to visit  family and of course party my brains out. Below is a brief list of the things we did. More details to come in the following days.

What I Did in New Orleans:

  • Went to the dress rehearsal for the New Orleans Symphony’s performance of the Leningrad Suite. My nephew plays percussion. Mom, my brother the proud Papa, and I had the entire auditorium to ourselves. It was a mind blowing experience. There is nothing like a live symphony for breakfast.
  • Went to a 2nd line/Super Sunday all black block party. At the bar in the epicenter, Sidney’s, Sis and I were treated to a bucket of Corona Beers and one helluva good time.
  • Open mike night at Buffa’s Bar on Esplanade. Listened to brother and his guitar friend. They played 3 original songs “LSD and Weed” and “Train Wreck” and I forgot the 3rd.
  • Dinner at Italian Restaurant Mona Lisa’s.
  • Lunch at French Market restaurant. Mom and I had a dozen grilled oysters each and Abita Purple Haze beer.
  • After lunch we went to the flea market in the old French Market which was originally a farmer’s market. It got really touristy for a while, but actual fruits and vegies are starting to reappear.
  • Discovered a tasty local beer called LA31. Drank copious amounts of it.
  • Went on a telephone booth photo op session with Sis and Mom. We bar hopped our way to Fayhey’s Irish bar via the old Cosmos bar, on the way back stopped at the popular gay bar on Bourbon Street and went upstairs to the balcony to sip beer and people watch on the street.
  • Went to Mom’s mail box shop. They have a cute little gift shop. I bought a pot holder for my mom in the shape of a pot leaf. LOL
  • Walked in the Frenchmen street district of the Faubourg Marigny. The place is full to the rafters with people at night. Tons of Jazz, and other music venues. Big name musicians drop in frequently.
  • Went dress shopping at Italian Direct Shop. I had a belly full of red beans, rice and smoked sausage so I couldn’t find a dress that I liked that didn’t make me look like a barrel.
  • Went to the Avenue Bar on St. Charles Avenue. It’s famous for its beer selection. The bartender handed us a clip board with 8 pages of beers listed.
  • Perused the art shops on Royal Street. Bought a fabulous water color print for my Mom called “Coffee and Gossip.”
  • Attended an African music festival in Congo square at Armstrong Park. (named of course after Lois Armstrong.)
  • Went to The Abbey, a bar that’s been on Decatur Street for at least 60 years. It’s a dive that everyone checks at least once on a visit to the French Quarter. Not uncommon to see someone you haven’t seen in 20 years.
  • Visited the neighborhood bar by Mom’s house, Iggy’s. They tried to feed us. They always do and the food is always delicious. All it costs is the price of a beer.
  • Rented two Meryl Street movies at the old Royal Street pharmacy. Iron Lady, and Julie, Julia. Royal Pharmacy still has an original old fashioned style soda counter. We are still hoping that someday they will reopen it.
  • Stopped into Molly’s Irish Pub on Toulouse Street.
  • Had an afternoon beer at Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop on Bourbon Street
  • Listened to the Radio Station WWOZ and their pledge drive all week. The talking got a little old but a lot of musicians dropped in at the station and played live to help the fund raising.
  • Had breakfast at dear old La Paniche. It closed the next day after a 33 year run. ***sniffles***
  • Went into to Jimmy Buffets bar and restaurant, Margaritaville, on Decatur to get a picture of a dear friend’s art work – a huge sculpture of an airplane flying out of the wall. The artist, Jules, passed away last year, sad to say. He’s been a friend of the family since he was a little boy.
  • Bought a TV for Mom. We went to Walmart to get a new remote for her old humongous dinosaur TV and there it was…a 32 inch flat screen for only $178. Couldn’t pass it up.
  • Had a spinach quiche for breakfast at the Crescent Door. It’s an old timey French style pastry shop with lots of tile and mirrors and of course wonderful pastries.
  • Went to Mary’s hardware store and bought a bicycle pump so we could fix a flat on Mom’s rose cart, and picture hanging supplies to hang to watercolor print we got on Royal Street.
  • Had pulled pork eggs benedict at the Ruby Slipper in the Faubourg Marigny.
  • Bought Horse Liniment at a Feed Store in Metairie. It’s great for aches and pains. Mom managed to sprain her thumb somehow and hasn’t been able to play her guitar for almost a month.

God Loves You Just as You Are – But the Rest of Us Need a Break

GAAAaaaa

GAAAaaaa

Sometimes when I’m down on myself I find comfort in muttering “well God loves me just the way I am.” This is true… I guess…if you believe that stuff…could be the Cosmos, or Buddha, or even the Great Pumpkin. And then I try to apply this to other people who are at the moment behaving in a rather unlovable way. Sometimes though, I go sailing right past the limits of my patience and medication and that’s when I find myself thinking “OK, yea, sure, God loves you just as you are – but the rest of us need a break!”

I’m beginning to suspect that a large percent of the population who subscribe to the “I’m just fine and peachy keen just the way I am” have forgotten that they don’t live on a desert island. We all live together in the desert of the real. Those of us who are relatively sober and sane anyway.

I’m still in recuperation mode from Thanksgiving. I better get on the ball here and finish percolating and ruminating because Christmas is just around the corner. Having a large immediate family of 4 sisters and 2 brothers and all their children and significant others, the chances of making it through the holidays unscathed, without at least one person, and usually more than one, going bat shit crazy are slim to none.

This Thanksgiving was no exception of course. I went to New Orleans knowing full well what I was getting myself into or so I thought. Why do I keep doing this? It’s because it’s my family and I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and pretend they don’t exist. OK, sometimes I do go through periods of pretending this, but it’s not sustainable over the long run.

This season sent me a bit of a curve ball. A relative who just 6 months ago I initiated a failed intervention for alcoholism, was a clean and sober and behaved in a perfect lovely manner; helpful, talkative, a joy to be with. However, another relative who is usually pretty well pulled together, this time became completely unglued. This particular person is usually fastidious, well groomed, soft spoken, and kind. Every time I saw them they were in the same clothes, disheveled, ranting and raving, smelling of stale beer, throwing things, verbally attacking anyone who crossed their path and just in general acting like they needed a trip to the hospital in a padded wagon.

Unfortunately in New Orleans there is no padded wagon. Mental health care is in abysmal short supply in the U.S.; in New Orleans it is non-existent. If someone has a meltdown all the emergency room can do is shoot them full of tranquilizers or anti-psychotics and then turn them out on the street. Usually the hospital does not bother to inform the family that their loved one was put on the street in a bad part of town at 3:00 am.

I’m waffling back and forth about what to say to this relative who took temporary leave of their senses. Should I say anything at all? I don’t know. I think I’m going to have to because they have a mood spectrum disorder and claim to be handling it on their own. Unfortunately, this past Thanksgiving it was excruciatingly obvious that this is not the case.

Holiday Planning for the Emotionally Challenged

holiday breakdownSo we survived Halloween by keeping the shutters closed and the porch light off. Oh what a party pooper you may say, but hear me out. Mr. Husband and I are the babies in our neighborhood. The majority of our neighbors are elderly and the only time a house goes up for sale around here is when someone died. There are no houses with children near us.

Any kids that show up here are bused in from who knows where and swarm all over the block scaring us half to death when they dart out into the street from between parked cars. I don’t like it. When I’m in a cynical mood I wonder if the parents are hoping for the opportunity for a juicy lawsuit. I prefer children that I at least know in passing, as in I trip over their tricycle when walking my dog, they throw a Tonka truck at my head, etc.

The holidays are always a weird time for me. It is particularly stressful for me because I have in-laws who have entirely different expectations of when and how to celebrate holidays. After going through this for years I have developed a deep-seated resentment because my in-laws tend to ignore the fact that I have my own family with their own expectations and ways of doing things. This is mostly my fault because I haven’t put my foot down and explained that I have a right to celebrate my way occasionally. Instead I’ve piled up a humongous debris tower of resentment.

I have bowed out a few times over the years and gone to be with my family for Thanksgiving. I always have a lot of fun even though my family gatherings can get a bit wild and crazy. So… what to do…what to do?

I’m going try to plan a bit this year and decide what I am willing and capable of doing. I’m going to send out Christmas cards this year. I haven’t for a few years, partly because I received a snippy reply from one of the card recipient’s informing me that I was wasting the earth’s precious resources and killing trees by sending out Christmas cards. Well, how rude! I removed them from my list and in an attempt to take the high ground I refrained from calling them and sharing my opinion that they should take up residence next door to the Grinch who stole Christmas.

So here I am facing the holidays again. It occurred to me while ruminating about this subject for the last few days is that Mr. Husband our past 10 years together has not joined me with my family for a holiday even once. It’s been his way or the highway, year after year. I’m not quite sure why I put up with this, but it’s starting to piss me off. Why do I do this to myself? I’ll just grin and bear something for years or even decades and then suddenly it’s a Mt. Vesuvius eruption of anger and resentment. Then I decide that I’m not going take it anymore and Yee Haaa, here we go.

So it’s not too early to plan for the holidays. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to do the Christmas card thing. But, for Thanksgiving I’m going to visit my family in New Orleans. What the heck, maybe I’ll just stay there for Christmas. I haven’t been with my family for Christmas in maybe 20 years. It’s high time to do something about that.

 

New Orleans – The Big Easy

New Orleans Graffiti

New Orleans Graffiti

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.

 

If You Are Drinking to Forget - Please Pay In Advance

If You Are Drinking to Forget – Please Pay In Advance

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.

old buildingI 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.

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