Editor's Note: This post was written almost entirely yesterday (Sunday) between 3:30pm and 4pm CDT. For the reasons it was not posted during that time, please see item "Six". Thanks. HR.
This time last week I was rolling west through Pensacola. That night I rested my head a half mile from the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been a week, more time than I've ever spent in New Orleans despite the visits I have made here in the past. It doesn't feel like it has been a week at all. So now I'm sitting in a coffee shop, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Magazine Street, finally having figured out how to work the wifi on this blasted laptop. For the record, I have visited many of the blogs I usually frequent in the last hour, speed reading just to make sure I haven't missed anything big this week.
Back to New Orleans....
Here are some things I've observed so far:
1. This is a beautiful city. This is something words cannot describe with any kind of justice. Driving around, I am constantly distracted by the way things look. I mean constantly. It is difficult to drive, and I'm not talking about traffic, I'm talking about the way those Corinthian columns look on that light blue house, I'm talking about the woodwork facades on front porches, I'm talking about the sense of character you get driving around and seeing houses that have been here for decades upon decades. The weather has also been near perfect all week.
2. The mood here can swing very suddenly from vitally untethered joy to desperate heartbreak in a way I've never experienced. I've been watching this everywhere I've been: sometimes you will see friends who haven't seen each other in a year or so, and there is so much happiness in that moment, and so much sadness when the bad news of the last months is exchanged. And then the mood settles to somewhere in between, focused on one topic, resolve.
3. In the part of the city where I am staying, the place is absolutely overrun with children.
4. Maintenance is a huge issue (shocker, I know). This week the top stories in the Times Picayune have been about the Saints, the Saints, trash pickup, rodents, voting referendums, and local healthcare. (On a side note, "Amendment 3" passed overwhelmingly Saturday, paving the way for Louisiana to get rid of the 20 some odd levee boards throughout the state and establish only two. There are also job requirements that are attached to being appointed to such a board, such as being an engineer/knowing what you're doing etc, and none of these boards will have access to funds that have anything to do with something other than levees or related infrastructure.)
5. A lot of people I've met down here used to live in Atlanta, then they 'had enough of all that' (direct quote) and decided to move to New Orleans.
Six. I need a new &%$# laptop. Looks like that bubble money I'm getting from my old job has an earmarked expenditure stream after all. Any suggestions from you techies as to which one I should look into? Here's my focus: word processing, wireless internet access, and pictures in that order.
7. Families with children are far more entertaining than television could ever hope to be, but dang it kills me to miss college football on Saturdays. (Did get to catch the last half of UGA @ Ole Miss. We keep playing like this, we're only going to beat Tennessee by .001 th of a point next Saturday.)
8. Some of the coolest people in the world work in homegrown restaurants.
9. Traffic here is like a jazz ensemble. The object of the game is to get from point "A" to point "B" without slowing down or breaking the flow of traffic. If you do break the flow of traffic, it is considered 'off tempo' and results in horns blowing angrily. If someone in front of you is turning left, you just go around them...if the car in front of you makes it, it must be safe. If you must stop at a stoplight you only stop for as short a time as possible and then accelerate! when you go so the next person in line can get a jump on the que. St. Charles Avenue goes from four lanes to two lanes somewhere, and I still haven't figured that out. Crossing S. Claiborne Avenue is a religious experience. One Way street signs are mere suggestions (they may not point you in the right direction), and many street signs themselves are homemade.
10. I have now been smoke free for 7 days.