And, Thus, A New Journey Begins…

This past year, for so many, has been full of major events, both good and bad. And 2009 promises many changes. President Obama has a long, rocky road ahead of him, but is determined to turn things around in the U.S. for the better.

The universe has been giving me not so subtle hints about changes I need to make in my own life. Well, I've been listening, and am now bound to explore what those changes might entail. Wednesday, I embarked on a journey that began in New Orleans. Upon arriving in the city with friends, we headed straight for Dick and Jenny's, a great uptown "mid-nineteenth century barge board cottage" that Zagat lists as "as inviting as a 'Southern woman's open arms'". Sharing a charcuterie plate (homemade sausage, foie gras and sweetbreads pâté, ham rillettes) with Shawn, and siding that with a bowl of creamy portobello-brie soup and a dish of truffle-goat cheese grits, was the perfect dinner after a two-hour drive from Lafayette. Just hanging with good friends all hailing from different worlds (Cajun, Canadian, Indian, folk, indie, & pop) in a warm, rich environment was the perfect way to ease into who knows what's to come.
After dinner, Mike, Kristi & Morgan set off for their hotel to begin their own weekend journey to Ohio the following day, and Linda, Shawn, Arpana and I headed to Linda's mid-city bar Pal's Lounge – a local dive with a great jukebox and a very sweet bartender. If you ever make it to Pal's, no matter if male or female, you must check out the men's room wallpaper. Don't ask, just do it. More conversation continued, though this time mostly regarding relationships and the interaction between men and women, what we want, what they want, and honesty and communication. Gotta love those talks, especially while you're analyzing and discovering your own situation while offering up your long and hard-earned wisdom.
The evening/morning ended at about 1:30am, only with more chatter about life and death with Shawn until about 3:30. Then all was well in sleepyland.
Shawn left for work eeeeeeaaarly Thursday morning, and I stayed in, but still woke up too early (approx. 9:15), jumped in the shower, ate some grits with olive oil & feta (a new one for me, but will bookmark it for another occasion with lemon-garlic shrimp), and watched the news until Shawn came to pick me up for coffee. A large iced soy mocha with a vegan oatmeal-raisin-peanut butter cookie. Yum. A delish fair trade coffeehouse offering yoga classes, vegan noshes and poetry readings, Fair Grinds is a fun place to hang, chuckle and sigh with fellow café-goers while listening to loud cell phone talkers' accounts of how the online graduate study application isn't working and whether or not they'll attend the Southern Baptist Convention.
After another shower and a few moments to breathe, Shawn and I met Marc and his friends at Lüke – one of Chef John Besh's restaurants. Bloody Mary's, beers, pied de cochon "croustillant" sauce Gribiche (rich and crispy balls of saucy pigs feet), flamenküche (a "thin Alsacien onion tarte with bacon, caraway and Emmenthaler cheese), and grilled housemade boudin noir (black boudin with a small copper pot of sautéed potatoes, apples, onions and bacon). Incredible food and relaxed atmosphere. Marc is here in New Orleans filming a documentary on the Black Mardi Gras Indians. Perfect timing as this year Mardi Gras falls on February 24, only a week and a half away, and following a season full of parades and other festivities that began January 6. Hey, New Orleans takes its Mardi Gras season seriously.
After a light dinner and a quick nap, we'd planned on heading to Vaughn's for Kermit Ruffins and beans 'n rice, but what began as an hour & a half nap turned into a 10.5 hour night's sleep. Oops. So now it's Friday morning, and I'm back at Fair Grinds taking some time to catch up on my much-neglected blog. More coffee, meals, and unavoidable eavesdropping to come, so please stay tuned, and thank you for joining me on my journey. Bon appétit!

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