August 30, 2008 :: Chucks vs Vans, St. Louis Cathedral

What else can I say about our trip to New Orleans:
  • I think I hate Bourbon Street. I mean, the hour or so we spent at Pat O'Brien's piano bar, swilling down $10 kool-aide-of-death and requesting songs the piano mistress hadn't played in decades (Tom Waits and Nina Simone fall to the bottom of the list when smashed 21-year olds in tiara'd bachelorette attire request Sweet Home Alabama four times in a row, I suspect), was really fun in a dank, touristy way. But nothing else on that street is. I promise you.
  • Because I disliked Bourbon Street so much, I think I'd rather don a tiara and parade through the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's, naked, than get anywhere near Marti Gras.
  • I didn't eat enough "real" New Orleans food...because we're not locals and I have no idea where the "good, cheap, authentic" type grub is. The $14 po-boy I had at the fancy french-named place was effing excellent...but I'm sure we could have done better. Anyone have some suggestions?
  • The night Blake and the guys finally played, I lost track of him for an hour and a half--until I realized they were on in 10 minutes and he was nowhere to be found. He had apparently snuck upstairs to a hidden third floor (!) of the ancient club to take a nap on a couch. While searching the Quarter for him, I encountered at least 5 bars/venues with awesome-sounding music coming out of them, and fantastic-looking, my-type-of-people clientele. I was thoroughly freaked out about not knowing where he was, but the impromptu pub crawl was awesome.
  • Best quote of the weekend: (From a coked-out radio exec wearing a tie-dyed Grateful Dead shirt whom we met standing next to the hotel elevator) "Daaaamn, Maaan. (sniiifff) Is this elevator goin' up, down, or sideways?"
  • I saw no ghost tours, no garden district, and no cemeteries. That, among other reasons, is why we'll be heading back for another weekend very soon.



August 29, 2008 :: North

Sometimes I think back, way back, to a sunny day when I was probably thirteen. I was trying (in vain) to tan in the backyard of my parents' house in Indiana, attempting to bronze myself into the confidence to wear skirts that bared my twiggy, pasty legs. I was reading Orwell, and thinking not about 1984, but about 1994, 2004, 2024. I wondered very specifically that day what my hair would look like when I was a grown woman, a real adult. I wondered if I'd have a job I liked. Who my friends would be. Where I'd live. I thought, "who will I marry?"

Sometimes the 2008 me wanders back there and plays the matching game. "I live hundreds of miles from this backyard. My hair is curly and short and brown. I can't believe people pay me to write - all day long. My friends are very different, though I still think about the ones I had then...." I've done it a lot lately, because I've finally answered the last question. "I'll marry a man named Blake." That I never would have guessed. I'd never known a Blake then.

I remember wishing back then that the guy I'd marry would be smart. That he'd read lots of books. That he'd not be some meat-head jock, some guy's guy, some asshat that thought with his lesser member. I hoped he'd be cute. (probably cute...handsome has hardly ever intrigued me). That he'd be fun. That he'd like music and not be concerned with being "cool".

I wish I could remember more - or remember if I'm really matching these things up now because they fit so nicely with who I am marrying--if I'm re-writing history because it seems so right, or because I really wanted those exact things? I wish I knew.

And I wonder if now, when I think, "What will i be like in 2028? Will my hair be gray? Will I have children? Will I love Blake even more than I do now?" if I might be somewhere twenty years from now, re-writing today's wishes in my head to suit that present.



August 28, 2008 :: South

We came back talking about moving there. The candy-colored shuttered windows had gotten me. The music-friendly vibe, the fantastically cool ordinary folks, him. The fact that New Orleans is a city, but a small one; a scene, but a wildly eclectic one; a place that's surface-level debaucherous but somehow very sweet, impressed us both. Everybody falls in love with New Orleans, right? It's a dangerous new boy, that one that you coveted in 5th period math class, all brooding and damaged and probably really, really bad for you. It's that crazy week in a west-coast city on the corporate dime, $700 dinner on the Amex, four shots of tequila, giggling through the airport strip search knowing that you'll never breathe a word about the fun once you're back home. Everybody loves the Mardi Gras city, right--the masks and the pirates and the voodoo? We're just that ordinary, I guess. But we're also the kind of people who would absolutely pack up the dogs, drive down one weekend and just plain stay, because I think what I loved so much more than all that above, was the overwhelming everyday-ness I could see everywhere. I could see us chatting up favorite shop-owners on our way home from work. I could see us in the Pravda bar on Tuesday nights, playing chess. I could see us unlocking the big, shuttered door on an ancient, tiny apartment.

It's was the brightest vision I'd had in a long time.



August 25, 2008 :: All Hail the Green Fairy

So, the last thing I said (a million years or so ago) was something about absinthe, right? Ah yes. Considering I drank the gorgeous elixer above moments after I snapped this picture, I'm a bit surprised I remember.

Ok, enough romanticization of alcohol. The green stuff up there is fascinating, and caustic, and knocked me out like a handful of Benadryl. It was a welcome effect, as our first night in New Orleans went something like this:
  1. Enter Orleans Parish sweaty and tired, check-engine light on the Van blaring. Call club. Find out that club's owner's wife had just passed away.'s still OK to load equipment in, so come on over!
  2. Arrive at locked, vacant club. Wait. Chat with locals hanging out on stoop.
  3. Meet the fantastic Miss Kathy, who is from Blake's hometown, and who, coincidentally, knows everyone Blake knew in elementary school. Weird, but awesome.
  4. Leave equipment at Kathy's adorable French Quarter apartment. Drive, and park van at hotel.
  5. Bask in the glory that is our clean hotel room. It comes with fruit! And Cheese! And sparklinkg water! And a note for "Mr. Eric Francis."
  6. Eat cheese anyway. Screw Mr. Francis.
  7. Walk through French Quarter back to club.
  8. Find ourselves immediately swamped by jazz funeral. Eat memorial red beans and rice
  9. Go across the street to bar as club fills with rowdy (?!) mourners.
  10. One hour later, re-enter club to find that rowdy mourners outnumber concert-goers 10 to 1.
  11. Watch truly awful, tone-deaf singer woman embarrass talented (and very nice) studio musicians by wailing like a wounded dog in front of them, on-stage. Sing correct notes and harmonies very loudly, laughing hysterically.
  12. Watch Dave Chapelle-esque comedian do interim/band changeover show.
  13. Watch Dave Chapelle-esque comedian introduce second, abrasive comedian.
  14. Think, huh. That's interesting.
  15. Listen to second, abrasive, apparently racist comedian call Blake a "picnic-shirt wearin', Opie-lookin' mother f**ker" on stage, into the microphone, as Blake attempts to set up his gear.
  16. Watch as Blake swallows hard and holds his Southern-boy tongue. Breathe sigh of relief that I will not need to mount stage and break up fight.
  17. Listen to jokes get longer, louder, and truly offensive, then ponder future of night as hard-core rap group takes stage.
  18. Look around to realize drummer's wife and I are the only Caucasian people in the room.
  19. Watch some really interesting dancing.
  20. Get backed into a corner, surrounded, and begin feeling very uncomfortable.
  21. Leave club. Watch Blake & Kevin argue with concert promoter who has totally lost control of his venue.
  22. Agree on performance for next night.
  23. Shove through undulating, to be honest, scary crowd, to get equipment.
  24. Deposit equipment at the (again) fantastic Kathy's apartment.
  25. Find a quiet bar.
  26. Drink absinthe.
More later.



August 12, 2008 :: The rubber and the road

I love road trips. And tomorrow I will be leaving on a rather fantastic one that will entail at least two (a third is in flux) rock-type shows, a suite at a hotel I know will be clean, well-appointed and feature ice-cold air conditioning (Starwood-owned hotels just plain rock the hell out of any motel 6, La Quinta, HoJo, Best Western-type establishment. Oh, so much do they rock with the mod decor, the Bliss products, the Tazo tea with your little coffeemaker...), awesome food, awesome drinks of the mixed variety, fantastic architecture, and 1990's era mix-tapes blasted obnoxiously from a '91 Econoline van speeding due south from Atlanta.

This is band-trip #2: Musicians and significant others go to New Orleans. Woo hoo!

I need a nap just thinking about it.

I feel unprepared. I haven't had a lot of time to explore what I should do or see while we're there. That's nothing new for me, really. What's weird is that I almost expect the city to just suck me in and show me where we need to be. My better judgment knows that this has backfired in the past and left me and company meandering aimlessly through various places (one snoozer of a trip to Baltimore stands out), but I can't shake it. Maybe I'll do a little googling this afternoon. Just to be safe.

I will take pictures. I will try hard to not drink too many hurricanes. (My father tells me a weakness for rum-punchy drinks is something I've inherited from my mother. Knowing her and the stories, I don't have a chance.) I will rock my face off, with abandon, at every opportunity.

I will write you when I get back.


August 6, 2008 :: "Laid Back"

Wow. Been a long time. I think this blog has already captured the 3 words I’ve felt inclined to say this summer. Between the heat and the smog, the crazy month at work and now the dead month, I’m out of whack, uninspired, and on the edge of making some kind of drastic change. Ideas this week have included digging up the entire yard and re-planting every square inch, dreaming about full time freelancing, and selling 90% of what we own and buying a tiny vacation trailer to pull behind the truck. All of them still sound awesome.

Anyway, it’s a bad day to be considering big things, however, since it is that day this month, that day that wreaks havoc on my emotions and better judgment and apparently, vital organs, as all those below the belt feel as if they’ve been punched. I cried last night. About voting. Something’s really off, and Mr. Rainey is doing his best male duck-and-cover, bless his heart. He’s so sweet, it makes me feel bad even thinking about how short I was with him about his driving, his socks on the floor, the record cover design we’ve been working on, his existence, in the room, next to me on the couch, taking up all that SPACE….yeah. I’m really sorry and apparently really crazy.

At least though, I’m not online dating. (Nice segueway, huh?) Oh, but my friend is, and she has a question for all men out there. What’s up with describing yourself as “laid back?” It’s ubiquitous, it seems. If you’re male and you’re on one of the very popular dating service sites, you’re apparently the easy goin’ist guy you'd ever hope to meet. Which makes you suspect, simply because, having dated a good number of men, I know the odds are not in your favor that you are actually in any way “laid back.” This is the truth of advertising. Yell loud enough that you’re something, and it’s a given that you are exactly the opposite of that something, and are trying very hard to cover it up. Who knows? Maybe it’s that, or maybe they’re just lazy, or inarticulate, or their moms have told them they’re laid back. All of those things bring to light other problems that make them not a good date. But that’s another post.

Regardless, all of this makes me very happy that I am taken, and hope to stay that way. I guess I’d better be nicer to him about the socks.