Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Answers to Pointed Questions

My dear friend Soccer Mom In Denial (SMID) has been gently cajoling me to get back in the blogosphere after a protracted absence. Now that I've returned, she's asked to interview me. I do notice a pronounced difference between the questions she's posed to me and the ones she received from Gunfighter. It's entirely different when you've known someone for 15 years...where she refers to me having a lot of "things", I like to think of it as nesting comfortably. Anyway, here are the answers to her questions - and I'll never be credited with being as succint as she was!

1. When was the last time you had a hairy spider on your head? 1999 - I was living in a great 3rd floor converted attic space on Burgundy Street in the French Quarter, when one night, I woke around 4AM, rather warm and itchy. I didn't think much about it, but when my alarm went off at 6:00, I knew something was wrong. I looked in the mirror and had tiny red welts all over the right side of my face. I guessed at what'd happened and decided my boss would never believe me.

I showered and dressed for work and then hopped on my bike for the 1 1/2 mile commute. The boss rolled in about 20 minutes after I arrived - and screamed at the top of her lungs. Apparently, my eye (and ear!) had started to swell shut...after a Benadryl and a few deep breaths, I called a friend of mine at Audbon Zoo who suggested that it was the right time of year for spider sacs to hatch, and that I was probably the closest warm thing for them to snack on.

We counted over 80 bites. I called my doctor, and she said to go home, sleep it off and stop playing with the spiders.

I asked my boss before I left (how I ever biked home is beyond me) if she would've believed me if I'd called in with this story. No way, no get out of my sight.

(A year later, I was hired as Outreach Coordinator for Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - traveling to schools with small collections of live animals to introduce to the public. Even though non-lethal-to-human tarantulas were part of the group, we were never allowed to put them on our heads. As stewards of the animal kingdom, we strove to breakdown misconceptions over these animals that many people find detestable. So, that fun day when I carelessly tripped over the outstretched leg of a 3rd grader and lunged forward, Rosie held on to me with the only things she had - her fangs. Eighteen minutes later (I sat in the corner, breathing deeply, trying not to cry, listening to the kids ask my volunteer if Mr. Ken was going to die), she let go and it turned into a great teachable moment.

But just no spiders on the head anymore, please...

2. How did a nice boy from New York State end up in New Orleans?

Step 1 - Drop out of college, home to Watertown

Step 2 - Get job offer w/friend's company in Boston, move there

Step 3 - Meet cute, uptight guy - date until he takes job in New Orleans

Step 4 - Let cute guy woo me from afar for a year, visit NOLA and fall madly in love with the city

Step 5 - Decide it's time to take the plunge - and as a sign to each other, we both get tested for HIV (my first in 3 years, his first ever) - His -, Mine +

Step 6 - Recognize that New Orleans is where I am supposed to be right at that very point in my life - also find funny how my boss decides to "downsize" my job within weeks after telling her my status

Step 7 - Pack everything possible in my Ford Festiva (much funnier when you know I'm 6'4"), sell the rest and drive to Louisiana

Step 8 - Settle in to a whole new way of life in the Crescent City

3. You have a lot of "things" - clothes, pictures, toys, etc. What is your favorite thing?
My may not be a Steinway, but it's mine. Even when I go weeks (sadly) without playing, the muscle memory is still there of works I learned when I was 9 or 10. I missed it while evacuated for 3 1/2 months...but I was one of the lucky ones. It was still there when I got home.

4. You've taken a break from your blog. Why? And what do you hope to accomplish now that you're back?
About this time last year, I lost my crap. Up to that point, I'd mostly been blogging to get Post-Katrina demons out. It was safer than drinking heavily to silence them and cheaper than any of the very few therapists that were back in town.

But, I started a new job which I jumped feet first into - and then, almost immediately, ran into a world of personal relationship crap, from which I/we are just now emerging. During that time, i just didn't have it in me to blog. Add to that the fact that I still can't get internet service to my apartment...thank you, BellSouth...well, you get the picture.

So, after months of prodding from Soccer Mom In Denial (Fag Hag #1 in my book), I realized it was just time to get off my behind and start up again. I accept that I am doing it for entirely selfish reasons - I see it as a great chance to dust off my writing skills and stretch a bit artistically. Also, I can only tolerate so many inaccurate, galling news reports about the state of things here in New Orleans. Do you want to know what it's really like? Stay tuned...

5. Describe your typical Sunday. Awake by 7:30 to start vocalizing (I am the Bass section leader for our Methodist Church choir), iron my clothes (Soccer Mom, you may want to Google that expression... heehee), shower/shave (the full head) and at church for 10:30 warm-ups and 11AM service.

Back home after church and likely off to brunch with our gang. Or gardening. Or strolling through the Quarter with the BF.

If my voice is holding out, the afternoon may lead me to Good Friends, one of the fruit loop bars in the heart of the French Quarter, just the other side of the Lavendar Line (a local reference to the cross street that is traditionally the demarkation between the straight and gay sections of Bourbon Street - depending on the holiday, it can be a very hazy line). Tommy plays the piano there while people of all parts of society and all shades of sobriety sing (and bellow) along. Many years ago, a very tall, striking creature known as Velveeta Plauche made occasional appearances there, to host the Easter Bonnet Contest, or Miss High Hair or the Trailer Park Beauty Pageant...she's been away for some time, but I hear she's planning a visit to NOLA.

When the voice isn't up for it, I usually stay away from Good Friends. In addition to the church choir, I also sing (with the BF) in the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans - and showing up to those rehearsals still ragged from pretending I have all of Julie Andrew's high notes from her Sound of Music days...well, it isn't pretty. Mostly, BF and I grab take out from a neighborhood deli, curl up on his sofa and watch our guilty pleasures (Family Guy, American Dad).

In bed, asleep by 10PM. Such party animals...

6. What is the one thing about New Orleans you wish people knew?
I wish people knew the true beauty of New Orleans that comes from being in the city at times other than Mardi Gras

...from that azure sky in October that takes your breath away and tells you that summer is finally over!)

...from knowing where the locals eat and make music

...from seeing something other than Bourbon Street after your conference lets out

...from being here to witness the rebuilding of NOLA while others are still debating IF it should be rebuilt

...the true beauty that comes from really knowing and understanding that this city is so much more than the sum total of all the images and stories of Katrina and its aftermath.

I know that's not really just one thing, but it is to me.

5 comment(s):

Jenn Taylor

Ohmigosh! I don't even know where to begin in this comment. Is it just too forward to announce that I love you after reading only one post? Seriously, that is some dang good writing and I am so glad soccer mom posted the link to find you. I am looking foward to returning and reading more and more because:
1. I do want to know what it's really like in New Orleans now,
2. Your candidness is splendidly refreshing,
3. Singers really do me under and
4. I am not afraid of spiders.

Welcome back Ambassador!
From the new kid in blog-town who has Something to Say


I've been to New Orleans three times, once for mardi gras in college, once for a conference, and once with my husband to celebrate our 2nd anniversary. The last was my favorite, because we did so much. Toured the garden district, went to magazine street, did a cemetary tour, ate really well.

New Orleans is just gorgeous, and my heart breaks for the city and it's people for all you have been through.


SMID says - It was an honor to interview you.


It is an odd thing to live in a city that is only known by the majority of the world for the Worst Thing That Ever Happened To It.

I live in Nanjing. First responses by non-Chinese people is usually,

"Oh, that's where The Rape happened right?"
"Oh yeah, the massacre by the Japanese, right?"
"300,000 Chinese slaughtered, right?"

And if it isn't that then they usually have no idea at all where it is.


I'm so glad that you used the term muscle memory. We use it a great deal in my line of work, too.

Oh, and I sing Baritone (and sometimes Bass) in our church choir as well. Although, to be fair, I should say that I don't sing particularly well! I just like to sing.

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