26 April 2008

What I Think IT is

It came to me the other night, driving back to Megan and Andy's after a couple hours communing with my piano in the French Quarter. I was thinking about a recent email from a friend in MS that seemed to suggest summers are hotter in New Orleans. Is it hotter over here? What is it about New Orleans? Why do I prefer it to Gulfport?

The weather was perfect that night. All the car windows down, OZ jamming as usual... Folks on the street forming one picture-perfect still life after another. Each block a visual metaphor, containing buildings in every state along the pole from collapse to renewal and people displaying every human condition from affluent decadence to abject poverty. Everywhere I looked I saw poems, performances, collages.

That night, as ever in New Orleans, I was at peace in my body. Whether puffy-eyed, itchy and sneezing with allergy or gleaming with perspiration or waddle-walking after more-than-enough of another great meal: I'm almost always completely in my body here and smiling about it. I've never felt over- or under-dressed whatever the event. I'm not self-conscious about my appearance--even strolling down Magazine in pajamas with uncombed hair. I'm at home in my body, just as I am, in New Orleans.

I don't notice it being any hotter here than in MS. What I notice is that life is slower in both places than anywhere I've lived or visited in the North and West. And people seem generally more down to earth all over the South. What I decided the other night is that "down to earth" in Gulfport lacked the joie de vivre that I find in abundance in New Orleans. It's in the food and the people and the music and the architecture and the language.... In some strange way, it's even in the graft and ineptitude and violence and class bigotry that are also part of the landscape.

The unpretentiousness I notice as a distinguishing feature of Southern living has a brown tint in Gulfport and a dusty rose with flecks of gold tint in New Orleans. So far, it's easier to live with my depressive tendencies in NO than Gulfport.

I'm not looking for a fight here. These are my impressions, my opinions. If Gulfport is your favorite place on earth, I won't try to change your mind. I'm just reporting the view from where I stand. For my taste, New Orleans has a grace and elegance and kookiness that fits just right. And there's nowhere on earth I'd rather be.

22 April 2008

Aqui, Ahora

I agree that Be(ing) Here Now is the way to go.

Yet several times a day I run through a mental list:

find an apartment
collect my stuff from around New Orleans
retrieve my stuff from MS
deal with my stuff in CA
get my stuff from KY
get back on anti-depressant meds
start meditating
buy a scooter
do yoga
eat more fruit

This is a To Do list and it's all about things To Do at some moment beyond where I am.

A sweet young woman rang me up at the checkout counter at Walgreens today. Everything about her said "sweet natured": demure hairdo, gentle tone of voice, pale rose nail polish, easy smile revealing white, evenly-spaced teeth, a muted twinkle in dark brown doe eyes.

Was I ever as sweet?

I can't remember but "sweet" is not my nature now.

Another list in my head contains items like

Be nice
Don't ask questions
Put your hands in your lap

This list, duplicated countless times, is the fading wallpaper in one of my mind's rooms. The cashier's sweetness brought the list to mind. A list mostly beyond the Heres and Nows of the kazillion Present Moments of my past.

I appreciated the cashier's sweetness and thought about how often I encounter this kind of sweetness in New Orleans. And wondered if it's possible living here will lend even a touch of such sweetness to my nature. Here and Now, the possibility is fading on the wall. But maybe...

20 April 2008

Bike Riding

It's been awhile since I posted.

I'm staying with new friends in New Orleans. They are a delightfully eccentric young couple with hearts of gold whose generosity affords me comfortable shelter and, last Friday, some excellent eating. Today, they offered the use of the computer that sits in "my" room.

Hearts of Space is weaving good music medicine on the radio. My guitar lies in its case at the foot of the bed. Returned to me this afternoon from one of three places where my stuff is temporarily stored around the city. My contentment couldn't be greater tonight.

The piano is still in the French Quarter. I haven't missed it once today.

Then again, today was an unusual day: at 4 am I was lying on a couch in Long Beach MS wondering if I could pack up and get out of there without waking my sleeping hosts or their large dog. I succeeded and was cruising down I-10, watching the full moon set over New Orleans by 6 am. By 10 I was moping over the classifieds in the Sunday Times Picayune--looking for an apartment and slowly realizing I'll probably have to earn two paychecks before I can rent my own place...

At noon all I wanted was a nap after getting up before dawn two days in a row. But the weather has been luscious for a couple of days and going out seemed a better idea. So I did: a poetry reading up at City Park, a stop at Rouse grocery way up on Carrollton, a conversation with a friend sitting on the grass at Tulane...

...and back "home." Where I didn't miss my piano. Or open my guitar case. I sat down to write to you. To me. To write.

I felt a little rusty at first. I couldn't remember "how" to blog.

Apparently it came back to me.

15 April 2008

No Free Lunch

Two weeks in

I'm so glad to be back in New Orleans. The price? Miss Alex has to work 9 to 5. It's a very high price but, for now, I'm willing to pay...

And make up for it in other ways.

More to come. Very soon.