Monthly Archives: January 2010

What the what?

At long last.

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Mardi Gras Survival Guide

Natives of cities like Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans seem born with Mardi Gras survival skills—what to bring, where to park, where to pee. Newcomers to Mardi Gras in the Gulf South are at a disadvantage, but this guide should level the playing field come parade time (February 16th this year).

Start Early

Mardi Gras may be about indulgence and debauchery, but you’ve got to be serious about your preparations. Die hard revelers actually sleep next to the parade route overnight or bring their frat buddy’s beat-up couch out to the median. This isn’t entirely necessary, but you should still get out to the route early to avoid some traffic and to secure a good spot. Use a tarp or blanket to stake out your space.

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Nights.

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Kayaks and hair metal

Despite having shipped my shiny bicycle from Seattle and tooling around on it a couple times, I hadn’t been on a serious ride since…September? Ruptured spleens will do that to you.

Blinky Superflash: The best of 80s hair metal.

I joined up with the local bicycle club here and–now that the air is no longer cold enough to rob unsuspecting people of their phalanges–I went on a ride Saturday. The description online noted the route is “slightly hilly,” the meaning of which is quite different in south Louisiana than in western Washington state. I have a feeling that if I ever face an actual hill again, I will be quite frightened to go down it. Flashbacks may ensue.

Anyway, the ride was perfect. I did about 30 miles at a very reasonable pace, which isn’t much of a feat for big bike heads but was just what I needed to feel comfortable on the bike again and get some exercise and fresh air. The ride consisted of some pleasant creek crossings and plenty roadkill sightings. Being on a bike brings you startlingly aware of a lot of things you otherwise may not notice in such detail: terrain, the curves and cracks of a road, the fresh-manure smell of the country air, the gentle flow of small rivers, and the snarl of smashed possums.

There were a few busy highway crossings, and I was happy to have my fantastic tail light, the Blinky Superflash, which maker Planet Bike named after history’s most underrated hair metal band from the 1980s. Or so you would think.

One thing I didn’t expect when I became self-employed is that I’d forget holidays like MLK Jr. Day exist to the rest of society. When I remembered it was a holiday, I delightfully gave myself a day off. It’s fun to surprise yourself this way. A MeetUp.com group I joined hosted a kayaking trip near Pearl River. The weather and the company was pleasant, although I’m paying for the 8 mile paddle with some pretty sore shoulders today. For all the years I’ve lived in the New Orleans area, I had never paddled the rivers and bayous around here until recently–and probably didn’t realize they exist. How lucky we are that they do.

Cypress knees remind me of gnomes.

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Filed under Cycling and Bike Culture, Travel

New beginnings

Now that’s not something you see too often around here.

Yesterday morning, I had to scrape ice off of my car’s windshield. The fountain froze solid, as did the puddles in the driveway. This might not be very cold to people in, say, North Dakota (are there even people in North Dakota?) but it certainly is here.

The ice on my car's windows one frigid morning.

Word on the street is that the deep freezes we’ve had the last few nights will wreak havoc on the strawberry crop. My first thought was, I hope Abita can still make Strawberry Harvest Lager.

I’ve finally started looking at apartments. It’s kind of a crazy process. I have to weigh the odds that a decent place will get scooped up while I’m looking for the “perfect” place. Or that I’ll settle for a place that’s livable and then, two weeks later, something better will open up. I’ve seen 3 places so far that are fine, each with certain positives and some drawbacks to weigh against the others. The stress of having to choose makes my spleen hurt. Seriously.

It’s also exciting to envision my life in each of these places, to think of how I’ll arrange my furniture and what pictures I’ll hang where. What meals I’ll cook and what movies I’ll watch. The memories I’ll make. The blank canvas of an empty apartment holds so much possibility.

Hopefully I won’t screw it up.

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Resolution, schmesolution

I resent this New Year’s Resolution business. It reminds me too much of high school religion class  when we were forced to sit in a circle and divulge any number of things.  This kind of abomination is what happens when you go to an all-girls Catholic high school. Usually these sharing sessions involved “special intentions,” prayers you wanted to say for someone or something. Some teenage catastrophe like losing your calculator. Or we’d have to share what we thought a certain song’s lyrics had to do with a certain Bible verse.

Pardon me while I vomit.

This is almost like a New Year’s Resolution. Ok, maybe not, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my Catholic school days and that was bugging me.

Anyway. I don’t like the idea of making a promise to myself just because it’s the time of year when everyone else is. Besides, I continuously make little resolutions to myself. Throughout the year I’ll set small goals or start new projects. For example, I’ve noticed since moving back home that I’ve stopped seeing things through the wide eyes of a tourist. In Seattle, there was so much to learn about and so many places to explore. Turns out, there are just as many opportunities here but when you’re already a local you tend to get settled in your routine. Your surroundings can become too familiar to inspire exploration. But I hope to change that for myself.

I think that by making these little resolutions all year, I miss out on the inherent flakiness of New Year’s resolutions. Like people who buy a gym membership in January and quit in March.

Those people suck.

I do enjoy the gentle hum of promise in the air this time of year. I don’t partake in much reflection (see above complaint) but I do enjoy this fresh-start feeling. A new year, a new decade, and hopefully new opportunities. Huzzah!

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