marathoner452: (St. Charles Streetcar)

Start off with a drive up Esplanade to Carrollton to Canal and have lunch at Mandina's.  Then walk all the way around City Park on a crystal clear day that just doesn't happen too often in New Orleans, just warm enough and hardly any humidity.  The New Orleans Museum of Art is right there and it's free to Louisiana residents, so check that out for awhile.  Then hit Rouse's for file powder and head back down Carrollton to Basil Leaf for a delicious Thai dinner, during which you watch the streetcar rattle by and after which you walk the rest of the way up Carrollton to the Riverbend levee.  Walk along the levee for awhile, with the river on one side and the city on the other and stars shining bright overhead, only to get cut off from the rest of the city by the train.  Finally, end up at Creole Creamery for dessert of chocolate chicory ice cream in a waffle cone.  Waffle cones taste like fortune cookies.

Thanks[info]ekaterinn.  I needed that.  We both needed to not be teachers for a day.

marathoner452: (Default)
I have free parking for my car in the school parking lot, just blocks from Endymion.  I can fit 5 in my car including me.

Only in New Orleans...could you finance the 8th grade spring trip to DC by selling parking for Mardi Gras.  At our faculty meeting this afternoon when we were discussing logistics I could only think that they'd never be able to have this conversation in Chicago.  And that is yet another reason why I don't think I could ever leave.
marathoner452: (Default)


how a teacher shows that it's a snow day

Snow Day! )
marathoner452: (fluffy nola)
...the in-house substitute teacher cheering me up over lunch just by listening and telling me that I'm doing a lot better than I think I am.

...teaching equivalent fractions to a 6th grader.   (Who despite being almost 14 performs on a 2nd grade level in reading, writing, and math.  Thank you New Orleans public school system.)

...sunset over the Mississippi while taking Stitch for a walk, and counting 125 train cars at the corner Mazant and Chartres.

...a long overdue after-hours haircut, on the recommendation of my 4th-6th grade fashion consultants.

...cafe au lait with soymilk and Ekaterina until the coffeeshop closed at 10 pm.

...the Louisiana Music Factory, which will get another chunk of my paycheck this weekend as I shop for Christmas presents and continue to flesh out my music collection.

This is a problem, I'm getting entirely too attached to New Orleans.  How could I ever leave?  Where could I go?
marathoner452: (rebirth)
New Orleans has the highest murder rate in in the United States, twice as dangerous as Detroit and Baltimore.  95 per 100,000.  Detroit is 46 and Baltimore is 45, and those are the cities the rest of my family lives near and sees on the news all the time.  We're also the second most dangerous city in the world, behind Caracas, Venezuela.  I also live in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods of New Orleans.  I like to shock people by telling them I live in the 9th Ward, like the kindergarten aide at the faculty meeting this afternoon who's a New Orleans native.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask if this is really my life.  Three years ago I was fresh out of college and back living in very safe and comfortable Hampstead, Maryland, working as an AmeriCorps VISTA.  I could safely go out for a run at 11 pm.  Then I came down to New Orleans for what was supposedly just a volunteer trip in March 2006 and, as D. would say, New Orleans had "somethin' to say" about me ever leaving.  As they say, "New Orleans chooses you."  I live in the 9th Ward and teach at a school named hope.

I never had romantic ideals of New Orleans, never spent spring afternoons sipping coffee in a courtyard in the Quarter or at Jazz Fest or riding the streetcar down St. Charles.  Heck, the St. Charles streetcar wasn't even running when I came to visit and the Canal Street streetcar just ran as far as Claiborne and was free 'cause hardly anyone was visiting.  My first Mardi Gras was spent at the St. Anne parade through the neighborhood followed by dinner at Sugar Park.  My first impression of New Orleans was from the Claiborne bridge down into the Lower 9th Ward.  But jeez, I never expected to have a drive-by shooting 2 doors down on a Sunday evening.

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/11/new_orleans_has_highest_crime.html

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4480

In more positive news, Chicago came to visit and brought us cake this time.  If only all faculty meetings consisted of 6 layer lemon cake.
marathoner452: (Default)
A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

- Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn

marathoner452: (Jackson Square)
My grandparents were here for the weekend and we accomplished the following in 48 hours:

Friday night:  dinner jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Saturday:  breakfast at Cafe du Monde
ferry over to Algiers to Mardi Gras World
lunch at Napoleon House, delicious pesto pasta salad and a Pimm's Cup for me and red beans and rice for them
driving tour of Lower Nine
back to the house to take care of the animals, D. at Voodoo Fest
dinner at Deanie's Seafood

Sunday:  breakfast buffet at Orleans Cafe
10:30 church service
back to hotel room for first half of Saints game
wandering Quarter enjoying perfect weather
lunch at Johnny's Po-Boys

Then they're going to Snug Harbor for dinner and a show tonight.  All that and I didn't even have to walk down Bourbon Street once.  I'm back in love with New Orleans and extending an open invitation to y'all to visit.  :-)
marathoner452: (rebirth)
Just so you all know, I am safe in Birmingham for the duration.  I have the animals and D. has promised me her soul in exchange for evacuating her life.  If all goes very wrong, and I hate to imagine this, then I meet her in Philly and make it somehow back to Maryland. 

For now, I'm sharing a hotel room with a fellow teacher from Esperanza.  We go back to work Thursday at the earliest.

The Chipotle here won't let you get your margarita to go, even if you're from New Orleans.  So I shall have to rely on the stash I brought with me until I can pull sympathy points (which I still sincerely hope will not be possible).

As I was leaving New Orleans I saw a pair of angel wings on the door of a shotgun house.  That about sums up our situation in New Orleans.  We need guardian angels and all the prayers we can get.
marathoner452: (Default)


From my limited knowledge of hurricanes, a hit just to the west is worse than a direct hit because in the northeast quadrant of a hurricane you get the sustained winds plus whatever the forward motion of the storm is.  And don't forget the storm surge.  At least it's not getting worse, but Gustav's still a tropical storm and he's not even in the Gulf yet so who knows what could happen.  I'm evacuating Saturday afternoon/early Sunday morning unless Friday night's forecast takes the storm well away from New Orleans.  I may be evacuating with a co-worker and her cat, which would make for a far more enjoyable experience than being stuck in a hotel room by myself for four days.
marathoner452: (NOLA)
Just in time for the three-year anniversary, here comes another hurricane.  So since D. will be out of town this weekend, I've made reservations for 3 nights in Birmingham, taking notes on everything I'd have to get ready, and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the current track as posted on the National Hurricane Center website is very very wrong.  Right now we're in the 5-day cone and the track is pointed directly at New Orleans.

List of things to do, just in case:
Nail plywood over front and back windows.
Secure anything that might blow around, most of which we did last weekend for Fay.
Load up truck with all the plastic bins in the evacuation center and secure bins with mesh webbing.
Pack as much of my life as fits in a couple of duffel bags.
Stuff cats into cat carriers, load cat carriers and dog into truck.
Leave my car here because it's all but dead anyway.
Head for my hotel room in Birmingham and wait.

I should have known that living in New Orleans could come to this.

still here

Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:07 pm
marathoner452: (fluffy nola)
It is a relief to have new brake pads on my car.
It will be a relief to be done with the TGNO summer session on Friday.
It will be a relief to know if I have the special ed. job at Tubman Elementary, and to have a job for next school year period.
It will be a relief to take a break from New Orleans this weekend, yay Baton Rouge pool party and St. Francisville.

I'm going a bit stir-crazy in the middle of a New Orleans summer, but having an excuse to go to Laura Plantation, Ignatius for dinner, and Bluebird Cafe for brunch with [personal profile] ekaterinn last weekend reminded me of why I live here.  This weekend, New Orleans just felt like home.  I even figured out how to make pralines, late at night after baking double-chocolate cookies for Kamp Katrina and with ingredients purchased at Mardi Gras Zone.

That is all.
marathoner452: (Default)
I saw tourists step right out in front of me while biking down to The Historic New Orleans Collection.  Look, I know we're all in a heat daze and you can get go-cups and drink in the streets and yes, the French Quarter is very pretty and we all need to stop and take pictures of it, but would you mind looking before stepping into the middle of the street?
Do I get extra points for actually running into one, or maybe free beignets or an Abita or at least new brakes for my bike?
I smelled fresh strawberries on my cereal, fresh blueberries and/or blackberries coming soon to a bowl of cereal near you.
I felt like the weather was cooler today, fancy that, 85* almost feels refreshing.  It is refreshing I think, even with matching humidity, so long as there's a good breeze.  The breeze keeps away the mosquitos too.  Stupid mosquito bites from sitting on the porch at 1 am.
I tasted margaritas at Tomatillo's and double chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven at midnight.  That's the best time to bake cookies, late at night after a couple drinks.
I heard Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan's on Thursday night.  It was entertaining to watch the tourists show up in cabs wearing beads and looking so out of place, that is if they even dared to get out of the cab, because we do live in such a terrifying neighborhood.  (Bodies found in trash cans notwithstanding.)  The music was better enjoyed from the wooden bench out front, away from the crowds and the heat in a too-tight little black dress and sneakers.  This is the 9th ward, I don't care if I'm overdressed and don't match.
We should go hear him play somewhere somewhat less crazy, somewhere where we can enjoy the music.
marathoner452: (I love history)
I like to say I was a history major from the time I was about 10 and got upset when social studies classes were canceled every time we had a 2 hour snow delay.  From the time I was in middle school and my sisters and I played southern plantation in the basement, complete with cotton plants made out of cotton balls.  From the time I was in high school and dyed paper with tea and wrote by candlelight to complete a US history assignment, then went on to read The Peculiar Institution in AP US history and ace both the US and European history AP tests.

Reading The Peculiar Institution, the first modern book written on antebellum slavery in the United States inspired my senior year college thesis project titled Slavery and Freedom in St. Mary's County, Maryland and Key West, Florida.  You should have been there to see the reaction when I presented my project, with a white professor who grew up in Tennessee or something arguing that they always took care of the black children in their care and a black professor who grew up in the Caribbean arguing vehemently otherwise.  After I graduated, I put the project away and all but forgot about it.

Until now.

Now I'm not saying that I'm going to devote myself full-time to research or anything, especially not with teaching starting in the fall and for at least three years and education classes for at least the next 11 months.  But visiting the Historic New Orleans Collection this afternoon touched a nerve.  I'd love to continue the research I started 4 years ago and see how New Orleans compared with Maryland and Key West, especially Key West because it too was a frontier town heavily influenced by Caribbean immigration.  If nothing else, I can read a few books on New Orleans history to satisfy my own interest and help get me ready for eventually becoming a licensed tour guide.

Committing to teaching in New Orleans for at least three years gives me a stake in her future and, by extension, a need to understand her past.

Plus, it's a great excuse to take advantage of ice-cold air-conditioning.
marathoner452: (rebirth)
I spent the day in Algiers painting Algiers Technology Academy high school with Habitat for Humanity.  The building used to be an elementary school and the students didn't like all the bright colors, so we repainted it a more institutional and sedate gray that has been added to the palette that is my painting clothes.  There were about 10 of us doing the painting, mostly long-term volunteers and I was the only one who could describe myself as living here.  As we finished up the conversation turned to New Orleans' recovery and I found myself unable to participate because unless you live here and are invested in this place, you don't fully understand why someone would want to live here.  I can't be rational on that subject.  I bought a fleur de lis ring last Thursday and wear it on my left ring finger where you're supposed to wear a wedding ring.  Yeah.  I've committed at least three more years of my life to New Orleans and I can't see myself leaving after that.

Unless. of course, I melt this summer.  It's 84* with a heat index of 89* and it's almost 10 pm and it's only the beginning of June.

I've put down roots and started to carve out my niche.  Tomorrow I'm going to to DMV to get my Louisiana driver's license.

I'm on the membership team at church now which last Sunday meant giving visitors and volunteers Mardi Gras beads and explaining that Muses is the name of a Mardi Gras krewe and what a krewe is, then having the pastor encourage us to give her an address where we could be reached in case of a long-term evacuation, then listening to Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground, speak for more than an hour about social justice in New Orleans.  I love my UU church for all of that.

Today was my dad's 50th birthday and the entire family got a kick out of the card I sent:  "Cher, I could cook a pot of red beans over your 'burthday' cake!"  I got it at Boutte's Bayou Restaurant down in Lafitte, total Louisiana birthday card.

On the way back to Camp Hope down in St. Bernard today, we stopped for snowballs and I got a hurricane (flavored) snowball because it is the beginning of hurricane season, after all.  I'm trying hard not to think about the implications of that, trying hard not to think about how safe we're not and of all the reasons why no sane person would live here.
marathoner452: (lazy summertime)
Yes, I routinely chase the ice cream truck down Mazant for orange creamsicles.  Yes, the driver of the ice cream truck knows me and sometimes sits outside the house honking and waiting for me to come out.  It's one of life's small pleasures in a New Orleans summer.

Next up:  Chocolate City ice cream from Mardi Gras Zone, and possibly more ice cream from the Creole Creamery after church tomorrow.
marathoner452: (Jackson Square)
This video makes me want to go to New Orleans and I live here. I gotta get out more often, ride my bike in all of it's Mardi Gras beaded glory up and down St. Charles en route to some classic yet affordable restaurant for lunch and have the tourists snap pictures of me in the process. :-)

Hello all.
Hope all is well on your end. We're hoping to crack consciousness on YouTube as part of our ongoing efforts to promote the New Orleans renaissance. Tourism is fundamental to NOLA, encompassing pretty much everything we're about - from cultural preservation to necessary economics - responsible for about 35% of the city's operating budget and over 100,000 jobs. Tourism is at about 80% of pre-Katrina levels right now.

All is splendid right now with Festival Season in full swing, cool, breezy days, and azaleas, sweet olive, Japanese magnolia and jasmine painting the city with an explosion of color and scents. But summer's coming and things slow down a bit. We want to fully leverage the great spring activities to generate momentum through the year. Appreciate you forwarding this link along to one person. More is icing.
Don't forget to allow us to return the favor. We're good like that.
Thanks!

marathoner452: (rebirth)
Nola Rising Paint Party

"It's all spring-y and green so I'm going to paint 'Rebirth' on there." -me

Yet another reason why I love living in New Orleans.

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