Fancy in the French Quarter: Turning 40

What seemed most appropriate ahead of my birthday? A trip to my favorite place in the USA: New Orleans! When it was sprung on me, the feeling was that perhaps this trip I’d stay in the French Quarter — which I’ve never done. And, stay on Bourbon Street — which I would normally run away screaming from the idea! Since it is the middle of June and 40 was a big deal for me, I decided I’d find the best hotel with the fanciest pool, and experience the full insanity that is the worst part of Bourbon Street on a Saturday night where you might catch a disease by standing still too long or wearing open toe shoes.

I knew what to expect, so to find a man pissing himself on the front steps of the hotel didn’t really surprise me. Ah, how nice it was to be transported then, to an amazing lobby, with wonderful courtyards and a splurge on room service. I even had a side street balcony room where the 2nd lines go down.

It was so nice to meet up with friends at places new and familiar while not really leaving the Quarter except to go to our usual neighborhood for my tattoo session. Yes, I finally got the James Jean tattoo that Shawn Dubin and I had discussed a few years earlier, and it’s perfect. I didn’t drink nearly as much as I thought I would, and I even pooped out on going to a dance party on the Saturday night (well, I was still sore from the dance party on the Friday put on by DJ Soul Sister). The saddest thing is food is always such a letdown when you leave New Orleans. It just is.

They say that 40 is the new 30, but I find that in my case especially, turning 40 has been like what most men experience when they turn 50. It’s been very hard this past month. I know everyone older than me has been shaking their heads and rolling their eyes about it, but the fact remains I am not handling it well. I didn’t think I’d care at all: then the day actually came.

This might be in part because most of my life I had a strange feeling I wouldn’t live past 31, and that feeling would prove prophetic in a most unexpected way. Due to other medical complications I’ve been forced to age a certain way, very prematurely. I’m still adjusting to that even thought it’s been a few years because I was never given the time and space I needed to fully deal with it (2016 was a horrible year). What then, is one to think when they didn’t die young as expected, but also been forced to age prematurely biologically? This, I am still reconciling.

Sorry to be Captain Bringdown, I suppose I’ll get over it soon enough. It really was a fantastic weekend.

 

Summer in New Orleans

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Went on another trip to my second home of New Orleans. A birthday, a wedding, and meeting-up with friends from around the country. So much happened, it is almost silly to blog about it while life gets back into the usual swing here in Cleveland. Although summer wasn’t as bad as I had imagined (and I packed my trusty parasol while sipping cold drinks), I can safely say I’d rather stick to spring, summer, and winter for future visits.

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New Orleans Knows Your Thoughts

Back from another whirlwind in New Orleans, and the New Orleans Film Festival, where NOLA Bound premiered at The Joy Theater. You can watch the whole piece online now. Crista Rock did an amazing job, the production is super fancy, and I can’t imagine how crazy she must have gone editing down all the footage!

This time my husband, my mom, step-dad, and other friends came into town. It was a swell couple of parties that got thrown on Sunday night (even DJ Spooky did a set at Bellocq!), and we were lucky to have 9 or so of the participants of the program come down for the screening, if only some for a day. I also got to meet some new people I had been aware of online. I was even a last minute addition to the Nerd Nite organized by Champ Superstar at one of my favorite places, Mimi’s! My husband met some news friends as a result of the NOLA Bound program too! And well, a whole lot of eating, bottomless coffee from Stein’s, dive bars, fancy lunches, partying, movie going (Prytania is the oldest theater in Louisiana I found out), and shopping got done along way. My husband picked out a dress for me at Trashy Diva that, I only now realize, made my boobs look pretty epic. But hey, where else am I gonna show off the jugs if not my own film premiere? We did decide to do one “cultural” thing, and that was The Civil War Museum. Did you know you can buy an assortment of Confederate flags, DVD copies of “Song of the South” and “The Little Rebel” in their gift shop? Well you can. Hey, I have shot glasses of Confederate Generals 1861-1865, so whatever.

This was my 3rd time down, and New Orleans has now become like an adopted home for me. I am familiar with the neighborhoods, places, and some of the politics, enough where I feel almost like a semi-resident. The Lower Garden District is the neighborhood that feels most like home to me, and I kept referring to it as “my” neighborhood on accident at times. There were even a few times I gave tourists directions and knew what bus routes or street car stops they should take! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to move there full-time; the salaries are weak, rents are high, the medical care still isn’t where it should be for my needs and for how often I’m in an exam room (I need good insurance), and I think I’d probably die in the summers. As another former Cleveland resident put it, “it’s the most functional northern Caribbean city”. For now, it’s a place to look forward to visiting unless fate unfolds in a way I don’t expect. I’m thankful I have a lot of good friends down there now, especially Chris Boyd, who let my husband and I be his house guests for 5 days! He was batting 1000 with his food recommendations for my family, too. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal in the city. Already, my husband and I hate tourists who walk around with hand grenade drinks, picking beads up off the dirty streets and who act a fool by throwing up on everything. Anyone would hate that in their city, which is part of why NOLA Bound seeks to change the marketing of New Orleans from just those few blocks of Bourbon Street. Clover Grill is the only reason to ever go there, otherwise I tell people to stay away from that area at all costs (and they never listen to me).

One thing I never thought I’d see in my life was my husband dressed in a cat mask leading a renegade parade of costumed dancers, farm animals without leashes, a bulldog on a lounge-on-wheels, and a wine squirting silver lion float, through the Marigny and parts of the French Quarter. He stopped leading once he realized we didn’t know where we were supposed to take this mobile dance party. That whole experience was pretty amazing as we stopped traffic and caused a lot of commotion once we entered the Quarter with all the tourists joining. There were a lot of parades that night, but ours didn’t have a police escort, nor a brass band. I do remember a few drag queens with whistles directing traffic at one point!

director Crista Rock snapped this, just a typical Saturday night.

Let’s see, places I went:

Trashy Diva

Vernon, for men’s clothes (though I hear it’s being taken over soon)

The Saint (duh)

Molly’s on Decatur

Pravda

Mimi’s in the Marigny

Juan’s Flying Burrito

Atchafalaya

Gott Gourmet

Sucre

Funky Monkey

Stein’s

Emeril’s New Orleans

Jimmy J’s Cafe

Half Moon

Bellocq

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Some of these I went to 2-4 times or had been before but I recommend them all.

I met a couple of Tulane students at the bus stop well after midnight on a Saturday, we were trying to help some drunk driving girls park their car properly because they were blocking the street car stop and vomiting out their windows (yes, the driver was vomiting!). One kid was from Maryland and said he never heard of Tulane until he applied, “it’s corrupt but the price was right”, which seems to be like a lot of things in the city. I think he put it best when dealing with the darker side of the city and the realities of living there, “if you act like everything is fine, you’ll get treated right, but if you get negative and start to hate on it, the city will know and she will drive you out! The city knows your thoughts, and she will make you pay if you don’t like her! If you ever get frustrated, don’t let on that you are.” I think that’s pretty accurate, as I know as many people who have been driven out as who have moved there and love it. Until next time, my lovely dirty coast.