Recap of Day #2: A.K.A. “Oops!”

So overall today was a pretty good day. I ate responsibly for most of the day, went to Bikram, and generally was not an asshole to myself in the diet department. I didn’t do quite as well tonight, but I did make some better choices that will leave me a lot better off than I would have been otherwise.

After Bikram, I got ready to go out to Dirty Linen Night, an annual art walk event on Royal Street. It was a lovely evening; our ‘sister’ gallery, Graphite, had an exhibit, drinks and DJs. All the guys from work went out, so I donned skinny jeans, a cute top, and heels and went out to join in the fun. We had a great time going from gallery to gallery, stopping in at a great little sterling silver shop, La Mina, owned by one of my bosses’ friends, and then catching some dinner.

Unfortunately, though I had planned not to drink or eat, I had two glasses of wine and a taco salad. However, it’s not all bad – I scraped half of the cheese off of the salad, ate grilled shrimp instead of beef, and didn’t touch the shell. I’m still past where I wanted to be for the day, calorie-wise, but I don’t feel guilty. I came very close to ordering a po-boy instead of a salad, and I could have stayed out longer to have more drinks, but I took responsibility and was much more conscientious in my choices. I’m OK with myself, and now I’m heading to bed.

Here’s what LoseIt.com has to say about my day:

Bikram on the Bayou

Bikram Yoga consists of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. This is a pretty accurate depiction of the class, pose-by-pose, starting at "Why am I here?"

Miracle of miracles, it looks like a real honest-to-goodness Bikram studio is opening up in New Orleans! Finally, I can get back to working on trying not to die while contorting my body in a steaming hot room. Woohoo! If you’ll indulge me by thinking back to September of 2011, you’ll remember that I tried out the only other Bikram studio in town and found it severely lacking. Not only did I get kicked in the face and not have any room at all between my mat and the others in the room, the teacher wasn’t on script and dangerously forcing people into poses their bodies weren’t ready for, the heat was WAY over its intended 105 degrees, and someone in there STUNK. I later found out that though the studio called itself a Bikram school, it was not accredited with the actual Bikram program. It was a sad experience all around, and it seemed very likely that it might be years until I was next able to work on my practice, if at all.

But lo and behold, I woke up on Friday morning with my typical back and hip pain, and decided it was time to make the switch and find a non-hot yoga school if I had to. I’m too young to be laid low by lingering pains. So after looking up yoga on Yelp, and reading a bunch of descriptions and pricing, I decided to just try looking for the closest school via Google Maps. I figured if it wasn’t really what I wanted to do, it might as well be close, right? As it turns out, the new studio, Bikram Yoga New Orleans, is under construction only about four blocks from my house in the CBD.

The school’s website isn’t fully functional yet, but from checking out their FB page I know that it’s going to be legit. I’ve seen photos of the studio (beautiful), the mirrors (full length), and the heating system (Reznor = bad ass). The bones of the website are pleasing, and whoever designed the school’s logo did a great job. I’m just so very ready to get back to class. No idea when their first day open will be, but it looks like it could be as soon as a week or two from now. I really hope they have some early morning classes, instead of being like so many places in New Orleans that only have classes during normal working stiffs’ work hours. Any way it goes, I’m going to do my best to make it there and get these kinks worked out. I’m ready to start sweating again.

Made of Stars

Sorry that the last post was private. There are two reasons for that:

1) I needed to vent about a problem I’ve been holding inside for the last year or two, a problem that has become more intense since my move. I wanted to share without making my musings public, something I have tried to do in my private journal in the past, but found unsatisfying. I’m a fast typist, and it’s nice to be able to see many full thoughts come out of my head and start to live and work themselves out on the electronic page. Maybe in the future I’ll share my thoughts with the world. For now, however, if you really wanted to read, I wouldn’t mind, I think. The post is password protected, and I’ll share if you’d like to write me for it.

2) Since the problem concerns another person, I didn’t want to air something I really should be able to talk to them about in person. Since this person’s demeanor makes it virtually impossible for me to share real thoughts without getting laughed at for “thinking too much,” and this in itself seems to lead to a much darker future path in our friendship, I didn’t think it good to air grievances quite as publicly as I would like. My few readers know me well enough by now, I think, to know that I really don’t mind telling all about myself. There’s not much about my life that I don’t find is made richer by sharing, but this is one of those rare times when I believe the problem might come back to bite me in the proverbial ass if I let it live outside of my head and one protected blog page. I haven’t even been able to tell my best friends. Another interesting way the internet has changed relationships forever.

But enough with that. I’ve already written a major post on it today, and now I’m tired of letting negativity into my borders. From now on this afternoon, only positive thoughts. The most positive? I’m back with my band again! I have some photos I’d like to share with you of the band’s practice space, so I’ll save more musings on that precious topic for another post, but let it be known that I’m insanely happy about getting to sing again, and also to hang out with dear old friends that I haven’t seen in years, and love, love, love collaborating with.

Also in my personal news? I’m taking two free online courses in pagan studies at The Pagan Campus. I know I told you about these before, but I’m having so much fun that I had to mention them again. One class is in Numerology, and the other is in Sabbats and Esbats. I’m learning a lot, but also learning how much there is to learn, and that I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg. I love it. I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life honing my craft, and following the right path for me. Having grown up in super heavy-duty Christian country, where people believe that the devil ‘planted’ dinosaur bones in the earth to fool the weak-minded (lol, btw) into believing that the earth is older than a few thousand years, among lots of other weird, backward-ass thoughts that make very little sense, it’s so nice to get to meet people who believe in something that makes all the sense in the world, and find a religion where appreciating and honoring Mother Nature is the common thread. I don’t care to separate the Universe into multiple gods and goddesses, as many pagans do, but I also love the fact that for once I’m being given the right of way to practice what the Universe keeps proving to me every day is real and right and logical, and to finally see and embrace the abundance of love and energy we have at our fingertips, just by opening our eyes to the possibility of being proactive healers instead of sheep. Like Moby says, “We Are All Made of Stars“.

What else? Well, I made 100 overall in my last marketing class, which is good. I think that this next class is going to really kick my butt, so I should probably actually be doing homework right now instead of writing a blog post or two. But that leads me to the next interesting bit…

I dreamed a book last night. Not a short story, not part of a storyline, but an entire book. It’s not an earthshaking novel or anything, something more like a Harlequin romance, but hey, a book’s a book, and now I’m going to start putting it together. In all, I have three books in my head now that need to be written. One’s about an old haunted house in NC, one’s about ghosts and voodoo in New Orleans, and this last one is about a centuries-old curse on a New England family. I have got to get a routine developed. This is just getting silly. Think of the money I could be making, or at least the ways that I could be so much freer in my life if I just got some kind of order mapped out. With three books and the idea for a very strong small business in mind, I believe the only thing that’s truly holding me back right now is not procrastination, but rather fear. And for the life of me, I have no clue why I should be afraid of success. After all, I want so much to be self-sufficient.

So I’m sitting in bed on a rainy Saturday afternoon, listening to The Man curse at the pieces of a bench he’s been trying to build from scratch all day, my beloved Miss Isabel cat curled up beside me, thinking of this new book, the many paths of my life stretched out before me in my mind’s eye, trying to choose the right one, trying not to hurt anyone too much, or disappoint anyone too much, but trying most of all to be true to myself.

Esse Quam Videre.

I’m trying.

 

3 Days Later (or “Attack of the Parents!”)

I’ve decided I’m not going to just let this blog slide (much, anyway) because I’ve reached my goal age. I’m still not at my goal weight, so let’s keep going. Today’s going to be a very interesting day, to say the least. To start it off…

Today’s Weight: 154.8 lbs

The scale said 154.6 lbs the first time this morning, and I was psyched, but then it climbed back up that extra notch every successive weigh in. That’s OK, though. I think the last time I hit 154 was two years ago around this time of year. This time it’s staying off.

Now what about today is going to be interesting, you ask? My parents are coming to town for a visit. This kind of situation can be weird, fun, and a little stressful even in the best of times, but what makes this quite singular is that my parents have never visited me before. They did come into town for a day to drop me off at college in 1999, and they also came back into town for a day to see me graduate in 2003, but other than those two days, nothing in all these years. I’ve lived in New Orleans for a little over 9 years now, and with a 3 year lay-over in Chicago, and they’ve never just come to see me and hang out. They hate the city and everything about it.

To be fair, I only tend to go home once every couple of years lately, since I happen to not believe in going broke to go on vacation to a split level in the middle of nowhere, with no activity around for miles and no car to get to that activity, even if there was something. In fact, I haven’t laid eyes on my parents for two years, so this is going to be interesting. They never did seem to be able to recognize me at the airport, so I’m sure it’s going to be another awkward reunion.

On top of this, my mother has never flown a commercial airline flight before. The last week was peppered with weird questions that most people in the Western world have known the answer to for years, like, should I put a lock on my bag? and, Why CAN’T I bring a drink with me? There was also a frantic last minute search on my part to make sure it was definitely OK to bring along homemade sausages for an in-flight snack. It turns out it’s not against the law to bring them, as long as they’re wrapped securely and go through the x-ray like everything else. I didn’t have the heart to bring up the fact that everyone within nose-shot was going to hate them for opening up stinky sausages in a closed space. It’s just so frickin’ weird when people bring along meals from home for their flight, not to mention how odd it is that a 2 hour flight would create the sense of desperation that they might starve. Are my parents hobbits?

They’re going to freak out at how little I eat in comparison to them. They’re also going to freak out about lots of things – people, cars, tall buildings, prices, loud noises, rude staff, no parking spaces, having to walk places…

I’m hoping this weekend will be good, but I’m very short tempered when it comes to listening to complaints. I don’t know if I’m going to hold up under the strain of both parents. I’m not that great of a tourguide. We’ll see. I’m hoping to get them out of the city for much of the trip.

The worst I’ve yet to describe, though. The worst? I’m introducing my parents to my boyfriend’s parents. Alone. No boyfriend – he’s away on business and couldn’t get home in time. The other set of parents is awesome. They live here, so they know how the city works (and doesn’t). They’re also used to urban spaces, having originally come from Long Island. They’re pretty normal in all the ways my parents aren’t. Not that it’s bad to be different, just that it makes it harder for me to figure out a common ground. I wish Dan was here, or that I could just not introduce them and wait for it to happen later. But it might be years before both sets of parents are in the same place again, so that just isn’t feasible.

Argh.

I’m going to go pour myself a cup of watery soy yogurt and an iced coffee, and get some real work done while I dread 11:40am.

Catch you guys on the flip side; wish me luck. I have a feeling I’m really going to need it.

 

The Moonlit Ride

Victorian Bicycle, by Kitschy Kitschy Cool (click thru to visit Etsy site)

Back in the pre-Katrina days, I was an avid biker.  I rode my bicycle everywhere, at any time, for any reason.  I wasn’t crazy-over-the-moon about my bike in the way that hipsters seem to be, but I loved it. It was a blue Raleigh mountain bike that I spent a pretty penny on in college, and got some good use out of around New Orleans until 2005. I used to ride through deserted patches of the Garden District and Uptown in the middle of the night, breathing in the heady scent of jasmine, listening to jazz on my CD player (I hadn’t caught up with the whole digital craze yet), dreaming all kinds of big dreams. Then one day someone stole my tire, and not too long after that, I evacuated the city with a cat, a laptop, my photo albums, and an extra t-shirt. Like every other thing I owned in the entire world, what was left of my bike was left behind.

My story is not even close to as sad as that of inhabitants of half of the city. I lived in a part of town that didn’t flood. Sure, they broke both my doors in anyway, in search of left-behind pets (none there), but other than that my things were safe. All was well. Except. I left town with $30 in my pocket, and didn’t get a FEMA check. I didn’t go home to rural NC for fear of getting stuck there forever, and instead went to Chicago and slept on a friend’s couch. It was a month and a half until I was able to secure a job, money, food, and other than some much-needed assistance from my sainted grandparents, I was in bad shape. In the end, I couldn’t afford to make it back to New Orleans in time to claim my belongings before my landlord threw them out. She was nice about it, don’t get me wrong, but my life from 1999 to 2005 was tossed out on the street, including my bike. An old friend managed to save a few pieces of original art, my jewelry, and a few other odds and ends, everything that would fit in a small box that he could cart back to his temporary residence in New Jersey. I met up with him that Thanksgiving in Long Branch to pick up this tiny box of belongings, and ended up giving half of my jewelry away to another Katrina evacuee I had known for a few years. She left town with a few changes of clothes, but no baubles for dressing up, and it seemed only right to share. There’s nothing like something sparkly to cheer a girl up, after all.

I eventually moved back to New Orleans in 2006, with barely enough belongings to fit into the back seat of a rental car. In the time between then and when I moved away again in 2008, I never scraped up the cash to buy a bike, instead borrowing friends’ on occasion. By the time I got to Chicago, land of ice, snow, and terrifyingly busy intersections, I had forgotten what it felt like to ride free in the moonlight.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when my boyfriend, The Man, gave me a beautiful little vintage bicycle, candy apple red, complete with a basket and working lights on the front, rear, and wheels. I’ve ridden it a few times back and forth to the gym, and last weekend all the way to the French Quarter. I was scared of the traffic, but it turns out that there are actually bike lanes in the CBD now, and a year of defensive driving in Chicago has endowed me with nerves of steel for New Orleans biking. Tonight I rode it again, to the Marigny and back (about 6 miles in all), the cool breeze on my neck, the moon beaming down as if to say it has missed me all these years. I felt good, strong, capable in a way I haven’t felt for some time.

It’s nice to be home.

The Cats of New Orleans

Since I’m working from home now, it turns out I end up spending a lot of the day basically Velcro’d to my couch.  My social life is pretty sparse, since I’m not a big drinker and I’m trying to drop some weight, which makes me not too much of a big eater, right now, either.  That means that my only real excursions are rather boring – trips to the gym, grocery store, and the occasional coffee shop.  Thus, it seems like a good idea to start inventing reasons to get the hell out of the house, so as to prevent (or at least slightly impede) my gradual decent into madness.

Which leads me to my new project: taking photos around the neighborhood.  I have a DSLR that I’m trying to learn to use, and even on ‘auto’ (which yes, I know makes me one of those people) it takes decent shots.  I’ve signed up for some classes, starting in early November, but until then I’m not going to shelf my camera and wait to become learned before trying to capture a piece of everything I see and love.  I typically take photos of architectural details, but the other day I saw a number of cats out in people’s gardens around the Lower Garden District.  Here are a few who were kind enough to pose for me.  I guess you could also call this series ‘Cats Behind Bars’!

Magazine Street Cat, New Orleans, October 2011

Magazine Street Cat, New Orleans, October 2011

Catnapping on Magazine Street, New Orleans, October 2011

Catnapping on Magazine Street, New Orleans, October 2011

Unimpressed Cat on St. Mary Street, New Orleans, October 2011

Unimpressed Cat on St. Mary Street, New Orleans, October 2011

The Reluctant Lock

Key in Door

I just moved back to New Orleans from a long stint in Chicago.  I did not want to.  I moved back to the city mostly because it was time to put more effort into my relationship after 3 years of long-distance dating.  The Man believes that I’m a little bummed to be back in my old stomping grounds, but that I’m mostly OK.  In reality, I’m a lot bummed to be back in my old stomping grounds, but OK enough now to realize the experience will most likely grow on me.  It just didn’t make sense to relate my despair to him when I knew there was a high chance for me to turn it around.  I’m pretty resilient, and I did mostly have a great time living here the last time (1999 – 2008).  I have sweet memories of what it’s like to be a New Orleanian, even just a transplant.  There are quite a few people left in this town that I’m proud to call ‘friend’, and it’s the kind of city where it’s incredibly easy to make new friends with just a tiny bit of effort and a bit of social lubricant.

The Man and I have moved in together.  It’s not the first time.  The first time was in Chicago, though it was somewhat of a disaster since he was having a hard time finding a job and the resulting mood around the house was less than zen.  We lived there for two years, though by that time he was working in New Orleans again during the week and only home about twice a month for a couple of days at a time.  We moved into a second apartment in Chicago, as well, but again it was mostly just my apartment that he visited every few weeks.  Our newest place is our second attempt at living together full time, and it’s going pretty well.  There are only two problems.

The first problem is the amount of time I spend in the house.  I work from home now, as the marketing director for an interior design firm in Chicago.  From 9 to 5:30, Monday through Friday, I sit on my couch (or bed), typing away on the computer and chatting on my cell phone.  By the time the afternoon rolls around, my back and hips are screaming in pain, and I’m a bit stir crazy.  By the time The Man gets home from work and wants to enjoy being home, I’m absolutely mad with the need to leave, to be anywhere but home.  Last week I had the most amazing moment of overwhelming joy while shopping for a loaf of bread at Winn Dixie.  That is so not normal; I’ve made the resolution to get out of the house much more in the coming week.

Which leads us to problem number two:  our front door lock doesn’t work for me.  My key doesn’t turn in the lock.  “Easy,” you say, “just get a new key cut.”  I did.  Eight keys, in fact, most of which work for The Man with just a little jostling.  In general until yesterday, it took me no less than 10 minutes to lock or unlock my own front door.  For a woman who 1) works on a tight schedule, and 2) REALLY needs to leave the house when it’s time, this is a sophisticated form of torture.  Of course, for the first week, The Man regarded my complaints with that bemused look men tend to get when dealing with members of the opposite sex who obviously aren’t clever enough to use mechanical items.  It didn’t help that in general I’m not the greatest with mechanical stuff, and I also couldn’t turn the key in my own car last week (in my defense, it’s only been my car for a week, and I didn’t know there was such a thing as a wheel lock mechanism).  But then on Friday his key gave him a bit of trouble and he realized it wasn’t all in my head.  Finally yesterday, when all three housekeys on my keyring AND the two he possessed failed to get us into our apartment, we reached a point of agreement.  He realized how utterly frightening and frustrating it is to neither be able to get into nor leave your own house, depending on the whims of a shitty deadbolt.  Eventually we got in again, but again I’m trapped in my own home until a solution is reached.

So.  Here we are.  It’s noon on a Sunday, and The Man, along with our landlord (who thankfully lives upstairs and saw our key plight) is attempting to install a new deadbolt.  I say ‘attempting’ because the first lock the landlord bought locked with a key on both sides, and once they got it installed, it was realized that wouldn’t do.  The landlord has run back out to the hardware store for a proper deadbolt lock, and The Man is having a smoke on the front porch.  There’s a dishrag stuffed in the hole where the reluctant lock once lived.

Someone with a bigger imagination could probably see a world of inferences in this story.  Perhaps this is a chance for a new life, free of boundaries.  Maybe this small change will help truly ignite larger changes in my personal life.  Right now, all I can think about is how frustrating it is to be locked away in your own home, complaints as to quality of stay only believed when indisputable proof is received.  I guess I also think about how this house has become an extension of my distaste for this move; I feel like I was trapped into moving here, there was no other choice.  Maybe now that I can leave whenever I want to, I’ll stop feeling like this entire move is a form of imprisonment.

The Man says that I’m never happy.  Maybe that’s true, but I remember times when I was happy a lot.  It’s just that for the last few years, everything has felt like such a struggle, like life is all about working hard to not go under, not working hard to rise above.  I’m so ready for that to change.  As much as I’m sad about moving back here, I want to start living with joy again.

While I’ve been writing this, the new lock arrived and was installed.  I’ve tried it out and it works smoothly, without a hitch, nothing but a velvety click when I flick the key back and forth.  Maybe that’s the first sound of happiness as it returns.  I’d like to think so.