Mardi Gras Eve

Mardi Gras Band by Anna Harris

So many Mardi Gras days under the bridge. It’s not a happy day for me. Maybe once it was, but I can’t remember any solid examples to lend that thought creedence. I keep wanting to turn it around, make it into a day of wildness and magick, the way it feels it should be. I want it to be a Bacchanalia, to be mad with wine and desire, but instead I keep it on an even keel. I walk around the city, maybe wear a mask and some sparkly clothes. I have a few drinks, do some people watching, then retire in the early evening to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for the rest of the week. I guess that makes me old and boring.

For me, the joy of Mardi Gras stopped that morning when I woke up in your bed without you. In the kitchen, WWOZ was listing out the day’s concert information, interspersed with snippets of old time carnival songs. You’d be playing your own songs that afternoon on Frenchmen Street. The sun streamed weakly through the windows of the pink house, falling in bars across that futon mattress on the floor. I lay there, thinking that I’d already missed Zulu, and would probably miss Rex at this rate. I wondered how I’d get downtown. I felt regret, but it was bigger than a missed parade. There was distance between us that had nothing to do with carnival plans.

It rained that afternoon. But doesn’t it rain every Mardi Gras?

Get Down, by Anna Harris

A Word A Week Challenge – Dance

Just ran across a neat little posting challenge by A Word In Your Ear. Each week, a new word is chosen, and anyone who wants to participate can take part. You can find more extensive rules here.

This week’s word is “Dance.” My photo was taken on Mardi Gras Day in 2012, just outside of a popular New Orleans gathering spot/watering hole called the R Bar. Located on Royal Street just off of Frenchmen, during important days like Mardi Gras and Halloween, the street outside of R Bar normally gets packed with people in costume. Last Mardi Gras, there was music and dancing (this year there was a humongous apocalyptic horse effigy and a bull riding practice barrel, but that’s a whole different story). The guys in this picture were just getting down, and I was lucky to catch them at their most exuberant.

Get Down, by Anna Harris

Enter the Junior Dragon

2013ChineseNewYear

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! 2013 is the Year of the Snake, also known as the Junior Dragon. The Snake is known for being polished and aristocratic, with a love of fine things. This year’s element is Water, so the Snake in question is the Water Snake, which affects preferred colors a tad – blues, greys, and bluish greens are most appropriate this year, as are Snake’s preferred tones of glittery golds and silvers. Snake is a go-getter, and this year is going to be good for racking up achievements, if we’re up to the task…which I believe I am.

I’m sorry I’ve been rather spotty in my writing as of late. It’s been a particularly difficult few months. My freelance business is going well, work-load wise, but not so well pay-wise (in comparison). I’ve got two clients who pay pretty well, and I did get a raise at my day job, but I’m also working for free for my personal trainer and getting rather stressed out in all at the amount of hours I work vs. how much money I make. Soon it will be time to seriously attack that imbalance and figure out how to fix it, but for right now I’m just trying to focus on the fact that I am not my job, and my debt does not have to dictate my life.

The first big accomplishment of the New Year (Gregorian and Chinese) just happened this morning, and it directly applies to my financial problems. I paid off a credit card (!!!!!), and am actually getting ready to pay off a second credit card tomorrow. Can you believe it? I’m having trouble believing it, but it’s sinking in that I’m finally getting closer to getting rid of the debt that I can comfortably attack (we’re just not going to think about student loan debt – ever). Hopefully I’ll be getting paid from some stocks that The Man and I are waiting to get bought out, and I’ll be able to pay off a third credit card, at which point I’ll only have one more to pay.

My plan moving forward is to put all resources toward paying down this debt, and pretty much refrain from spending on much else. My only two major areas of expenditure in this new period of my life are going to be food (going vegetarian again on Wednesday) and on beauty items – lotions, makeups, and other personal care things. I’ll wait on buying new clothes until I’ve at least got the third card paid off and have started paying down the last one. By then hopefully the vegan diet and lots and lots of gym going/personal training will make it possible for me to buy smaller sizes and make the purchases worthwhile. After I’m done paying the credit cards, I can save up for my next big goals – braces (again, ugh), Lasik, and my trip to Santiago de Compostela.

I’ve been reading this incredibly excellent book lately called How to Look Expensive, written by the beauty editor of Glamour magazine, Andrea Lustig. It’s full of simple but (for me) pretty earth-shattering tips on how to play up your best features and really take care of your appearance without breaking the bank. Best of all, she doesn’t just give basic tips – she gives the names of the best products to buy in every category. So far with the help of this book, I’ve started sleeping on satin pillows (to help my skin retain moisture), started using Burt’s Bees Radiance eye cream (which actually has worked to lessen my dark circles), picked up Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm (amazing! color AND moisture all the time!), and started using this cool tubing mascara from L’Oreal that gives my eyelashes incredible length and doesn’t smudge or smear at all. I’ve been using moisturizer twice a day, and also I just started using Furlesse strips at night for my frown line between my eyes. With all of these changes, my skin’s starting to look a little younger, which of course I love 🙂

In other news, since this is turning into the longest blog post ever, I officially signed up for witch school today! I’ll be attending the Seasons of Avalon school starting a couple of days from now, and am thinking that since it’s something I’m passionate about, I’ll use it as a really great excuse to start waking up earlier every morning to get an hour of study time in. We’ll see!

Other things that are flitting through my pea brain today:

1) Documentaries – I didn’t watch enough of them during January, but it’s still my goal to watch them regularly. Started watching another one yesterday about burlesque, so I’ll keep up with my “Documentary Days” posts throughout the year, I guess.

2) Origami – a friend of mine recently started doing origami again, which makes me want to get back in the groove with creating pieces more regularly. I want to make things that I can sell or give away as gifts, so that’s going to be on my schedule in the next little while. Maybe earrings, or holiday ornaments? Not sure yet, but I’ll figure it out and let you know. Any ideas for me?

3) Travel – one of my best friends invited me to come along with her family on a trip to Seattle in the summer. I’m stoked!

4) Mardi Gras – today is Lundi Gras, and I’m really just worn out from the entire experience. I hadn’t realized how little I drink and go out now, and I’m really just not interested in hanging out in crowds. Don’t get me wrong – I still love costuming and celebration, but going out til 3 in the morning is really not my cup of tea anymore. I don’t want more than a couple of drinks (if that) and I don’t really like going out just to drink or go from bar to bar. I yearn for deep conversation, lots of laughs, and maybe some hijinks, but there’s really no one around to put me into that mood these days, other than my coworkers, and I can’t hang out with them 24/7.

5) Crime – While standing around on Saturday night at the parades, I saw two fights, including watching someone get punched in the face. Later that night, there was a shooting on Bourbon Street. Last week, a 30 year old woman was abducted from in front of her house, driven around the city for a couple of hours, beaten and raped by a 15 year old, 16 year old, and 18 year old. She lived about 10 blocks from me. The Man bought me a taser to go with my pepper spray. As much as I love living in this city, the ever-present threat of violence is getting to be a bit much for me.

6) Fitness – Starting Wednesday, I’m back to a very strict diet and an even more strict workout schedule. I’ve been seeing a personal trainer three days a week and going to a fitness boot camp on Saturdays, but as of Wednesday I’ll also be going to yoga five days a week on top of the rest, plus running at least 2 to 3 miles every other day. My trainer says that my body is made to be around 135 lbs, and I intend to pursue that and get at least half way there by summer. So there. 🙂

A Few More Mardi Gras Faces

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, looked back through my photos from Fat Tuesday and found a few more shots to share. Personally, I’ve always attributed my adoration of crazy colors and whimsical costumes to my early love of Seuss’ works. These images celebrate the beauty of play.

Happy Feet, by Anna Harris

The Good Doctor, by Anna Harris

Thor (with Muscles), by Anna Harris

Techno Boots, by Anna Harris

Tribal Gras, by Anna Harris

Regally Attired, by Anna Harris

Mardi Gras 2012: Groups & Interactions

My last post on the Faces of Mardi Gras was all about the people and costumes my camera singled out on Mardi Gras Day, 2012. I took more than just those few photos, but wanted to separate others out to explore the theme of interaction. When most people think of Mardi Gras, they think of drinking and partying, but it’s been my experience that few people take into account the people they’ll meet and things they’ll learn about themselves during the highs (and lows) of the celebration. These photos are about the human side of New Orleans’ Carnival, from fragility to boredom to exaltation, and a few other stops in between.

Drag, by Anna Harris

Center of Attention, by Anna Harris

Otherwise Occupied, by Anna Harris

Book Club, by Anna Harris

The Family That Costumes Together, by Anna Harris

Hair Repair, by Anna Harris

Girlfriends, by Anna Harris

Get Down, by Anna Harris

Faces of Mardi Gras 2012

For me, the best part of Mardi Gras Day has always been the people watching. The rest of the weekend is for partying, but the last and biggest day of the season is generally more about checking out the crowd than being part of it. I love the colors, sparkles, and smiles that abound in the city during the daylight hours of Fat Tuesday. The Man and I rolled out of bed at 9am and got costumed up, then rode our bikes down to the French Quarter to take photos before things got too rowdy, as they tend to by mid afternoon. Here are a few of my favorite faces from around the Quarter and Marigny.

Purple Mask, by Anna Harris

Chicken Dinner, by Anna Harris

Parasol, by Anna Harris

Feather Man, by Anna Harris

Dinner Hat, by Anna Harris

Dancing Dreads, by Anna Harris

Creepy Face, by Anna Harris

The Gras Begins!

My band Drive West played last Saturday, which also happened to be the day of New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras parade of the 2012 season, Krewe du Vieux. The Man and I dressed up in honor of the parade, and Crista Rock, a photographer friend of the band, took these fantastic shots.

Anna Singing, by Crista Rock

Anna & The Man, by Crista Rock

The Man is crazy about costumes (even more than I am). I love the shrimp and crawfish with LED lights underneath.

Anna & The Man Kiss, by Crista Rock

Dreaming is Also Apparently Lucrative

In my last post, I talked about really wanting to prove myself in my field, and needing to move on with my career if I were to ever accomplish that goal. For most of this week, I was concentrating heavily on a lot of upcoming media events my company is taking part in, as well as keeping an eye on what was happening on Craigslist and CareerBuilder. Nothing really big was popping up, nor did I really expect anything to present itself. However, one must remain vigilant, right? Well, yesterday it paid off.

I found an ad on Craigslist in search of freelance copy writers who could put together a lot of short articles in quick succession. I knew I could do it, but I don’t have formal experience other than my last six years of sales and marketing writing for two separate companies. Luckily, this ad only asked for educational background (which I have in spades) and contact info, so I took a chance and wrote in. Within an hour I received a call from the business owner, and as we chatted it turned out that he had his MSc from Full Sail University, as well, and was willing to take a chance on me. I got the job!

It’s not a huge amount of money, but if I work hard, I can make a nice little bit of extra change each month. Best of all, after we got off of the phone, I did some more research on my new employer, and found his photograph online. Right away, I realized that I KNEW this guy in the past. After wracking my brain for a minute or two, I remembered where we had met before. In 2004, we both worked as servers at the a well-known New Orleans restaurant. At the time, he was getting ready to move to California, and I was just starting to move up at the restaurant. We were friends with the same group of people, and even went out drinking together a couple of times before he moved. I remember having great conversations with him, and thinking that he was going to end up doing well at whatever it was he chose to do with his career. After realizing that we had known each other before, I wrote him back and he remembered me, too. The restaurant that we worked at had a very professional vibe, no drugs and not a lot of partying going on, and the members of our service team were very hard workers. With both of us knowing that each other have this quality, it only makes it easier to work together, and for him to trust me to be up to par with his expectations.

I’m so excited about this opportunity, because not only am I going to be a little more financially secure, I know that I have the chance to learn even more about SEO and see what’s happening in the New Orleans SEO market. Perhaps one day there might even be a chance to help expand this company’s service menu – who knows?

At the moment, though, I need to get off of the computer for just a bit. Mardi Gras is in a month and I’m only now starting to build my costume. The Man is busy installing LED lighting in a purple suit, and he’s already more than 50% done with putting together his crazy-awesome costume. Meanwhile, I have an idea and a few pieces, but nothing constructed. I’m going to be the Tabsinthe Fairy, a mash-up of the Absinthe Fairy and a tabby cat. In my mind, I’m a green tabby cat also dressed as a fairy, and I’d like to sew up a bunch of sparkly green catnip mice to hand out to cat-lovers. We’ll see if that part happens, but I know I’ll be able to get the costume done if I just get off of the couch. I’ll be posting pictures of my progress, unlike when I promised to post Halloween photos and failed miserably.