Looking over my yesterdays

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Continuing my trip down memory lane, I went through that last box that had been in storage. I found this masterpiece as well as three books that I wrote when I was somewhere between the ages of six and eight. There was a Torah-style Halloween story, written before I learned which way to staple the pages, a first-person narrative about a 12-year-old boy who had a run of great luck, called “Yeah for Today”, and my favorite, the riveting tale of a group of feline musicians called “The Cat Band”.

In Chapter One, a cat named Lenard [sic] decides to “have a band”. He phones his friends Pierre, Fuzzy, Arthur, and Montecon, and all agree that having a band is a fine idea. Rehearsal is going swimmingly until two of the band members clash over the hour; apparently it’s midnight and the neigbors [sic sic] are sleeping.

Things look tense for a moment until Pierre opens Chapter Two with a witty anecdote from his days “back at France”; laughter ensues.

Enter: Wendy, a “very, very, very pretty cat” who walks into our boys’ lives at the start of Chapter Three and promises them a gig at the Cat Rock And Roll Meowy Theatre. The boys head down, sign a contract (yep, I’m an agent’s daughter), and perform to a packed room, with Wendy as backup dancer. The book ends on a high note, with the promise of many more shows to come.

Somewhere along the line the artist formerly known as Fuzzy changes his name to Fluffy.

 

Speaking of hep cats, I’m learning a new song with my voice teacher: Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? That was on the roster of songs we were going to learn even before I went back down in March. It’s a challenging one, and I love it.

And since I do know … hoping to get back down in July, when it will be humid and sultry (it’s always sultry) … the New Orleans chapters of the book I’m avoiding writing take place in summer, so I must ignore my aversion to being uncomfortably hot and embrace it instead.

Next Saturday there will be a Second Line to honor pets, those who have passed and those who are still with us. My Louie will be represented in poster form … Lou-on-a-stick. Photos TK.

I met someone last night who lives in Billie Holiday’s old apartment in Sheridan Square. Apparently the building used to house the jazz club Café Society, reputedly the first integrated jazz club in the country, and artists lived upstairs. Very cool. All roads lead to New Orleans.

Back to book …

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

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People in New Orleans love to talk about New Orleans. The city is a love letter to itself in the most beautiful way, a celebration of the things that set it apart from everywhere else. Though I was there a few weeks post-Mardi Gras, it’s decorated for it all year round, and for other holidays, regardless of season:

Decorated for Halloween and mardigras all year round

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As I mentioned, this was my tenth trip down there and it was every bit as inspiring and magical as any visit I’ve made. I spent the week researching, writing, seeing friends and meeting strangers … and, since the writing component was the original impetus, I am happy to report that I met my goal. On to Draft Three!

That city is my muse.

In New Orleans you have to be okay with things not necessarily going as planned, but going, instead as they’re meant to. It’s a city of happenstance, of making a wrong turn and winding up just where you should  be, of sitting next to a stranger at a bar who knows the answer to a question you’ve had for years.

I have some cool stories of happenstance from this trip, stories that I will share here soon.

While I was there I had to fulfill a short creative assignment and I came up with this; pardon the repetition:

It’s said that once you drink the water here you’ve no choice but to return; it becomes a part of you. It seeps into your soul, this magical corner of the world where the streets are paved with music and the trees drip Spanish moss, wind chimes, and Mardi Gras beads.

It’s voodoo and gumbo and Zydeco, shotgun shacks and Creole cottages in purple, gold, and green, and every color in between.

Street corner musicians dance among black cats and Indians and the tarot card readers of Jackson Square.

It’s a beautiful love letter to itself, this town, to its past and its present, to Louis Armstrong and Storyville, the Fleur de Lys and Marie Laveau.

Here the dead have joie de vivre, and the local spirits are as much a part of the fabric of life as brass bands, second lines, Dr. John, and crawfish.

Once you’ve been here, indeed, you can never forget what it means to miss New Orleans.