Nola – Warning: esoteric woo-woo ahead

Okay, New Orleans… I see you.

It’s taken me a little while to put what energetic pieces I can gather from this place so that I can understand – in my way – what’s going on in this place.

Here’s the esoteric woo-woo, so hold onto your crystals and incense….

My sense is that underneath the surface of New Orleans there is an incredible, big, thriving goodess energy. She’s huge.  She’s been here for a looooooong time before all this New Orleans happened.  It is nourishing and pulsing, and also active (instead of passive) and I dare say she is pissed.  She’s not evil or malevolent, but there’s a lot of annoying things going on right on top of her and intruding on her goddess space.  And this also makes sense why people are so drawn to this land, which should never have been developed in the first place (see more below).  Everyone wants a piece of the goddess.

So “on top of her,” as I visualize it historically and energetically, there is a lot of unrest, corruption, misfortune, and – to be blunt – unnatural surroundings.  Perhaps more than any other city I’ve been in (and I feel this way about every major city), this should never have happened.  The development of this area is unnatural and feels to be to be a true ecological abomination.  Strong words, I know.  Just telling you what I am sensing here.  Just drive over the 6-mile bridge to get over the water to the land surrounded by water, sometimes flooded by water, only possible (aside from the french quarter) because of all the water pumped out by man to expose the land below, and continuously managed, pumped, pulled…. The billions of dollars spent to make this possible.  Like I said, Goddess is pissed.

On top of all that?  Liars, cheaters, swindlers, obliterated slobbering partygoers, witches, wizzards, kittycorns (it’s a thing around here, I guess), the abandonned, the forgotten, the perpetrated, the disenfranchized, the disrespected, the impoverished, and gluttonous wealthy, the privileged fancypants, the wandering wide-eyed, and up-and-coming whateveryouares…. all dancing tirelessly on this tired land.  I can feel the foundation cracking, cracked, and no matter how many times they clean the streets in the morning to make the cobblestone shine its deeply broken.  A fresh coat of paint over crumbling plaster and warped wood.

So, of course, now I love it here.

If you put all the abomination aside, it’s beautiful and fun and delicious and the darkness that is EVERYWHERE is as alluring as a big, shimmering, garnet button with a sign above it that says, “If you dare!”

But despite the love, I cannot get comfortable.  The unrest I feel is like a thin skin.  There are cracks in me, and it’s letting in all the everything swarming around this place.  It’s brittle, and edgy, and it is like bugs under my skin.

And I see the people who are comfortable here.  By no means is my experience what everyone will or should experience.  Goodess has something to say to me, but she might have something very otherwise to say to you….

I see the people completely at home here, rooted here beneath the cobblestone and swamp, deep down to the heart of something I am not connected to.  They too make me swirl with unrest.  They have the groundedness here I am longing for but simply cannot grasp, and they have a power in that grounding of this place that I might never have here.


Okay, so onto more practical things.

Eli has been a lovely companion as we wander the French Quarter.  Jackson Square and its surroundings have been a perfect place to explore because of its central location and convenient running space for Eli.

These days there’s only so long he’ll tolerate the carrier before getting antsy, and there’s only so long I can wear him before I get sore.  Kid is 24 pounds!

Jackson Park is also a great hub because of the numerous street artists and performers, as well as the lines of horse-drawn carriages for Eli to enjoy.  It’s also across the street from Cafe du Monde, the Mississippi Riverfront, and a few blocks from the French Market.

We’ve been to Cafe du Monde 3 times – yum! By the time we went the third time, Eli recognized the place and made his infamous sign for “more” right away, AKA, “Give me more beignet NOW please!”  Super cute.  Kid ate an entire beignet on his own each time!

Also, I gotta say, Cafe du Monde officially had the worst table service I’ve ever seen – which is impressive… I’ve seen some pretty shitty service, as you’ve read already.

The way it “works” (it doesn’t work – but the way it is supposed to work) is that there are rows of tables running under the tented patio.  Each server has their row of tables, not clusters but rows.  So you can see the servers of other rows passing you by as you wait for your (ever-absent) server.

I’ve seen the kitchen.  It’s chaotic.  Lines of servers waiting for their orders to come out, and next to them lines of patrons waiting to use the only 2 water closets in the place – which are in the kitchen.  So much dysfunction.  That said…. continue reading…

I’d say there are 100 tables, each a 1-4 seater round.  Tight tight setup, but works for the setting and menu of COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS.  That’s right, the menu consists of COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS.  I was to be very clear about this because based on the level of chaos the servers claim to be experiencing you’d think they were blowing glass back there custom made for each table.

And I get it.  A busy floor is a busy kitchen, and when you’ve got a handful of tables it can be hard to juggle all the orders and – wait….. it’s COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS.  They take your order (if they ever take your order), then bring you the illusive coffee and doughnuts, and you pay when they bring it, and then they are DONE.  No check, no need to return.  Take the order, bring the food, done.  Is this complicated?  Is it their first day in business?…..

As you can probably tell I almost lost my mind.

Despite my mindfulness-centered efforts to simply “enjoy the moment” I was overtaken with disbelief that simple service could be so blatantly neglectful and dysfunctional.

Also keep in mind every time I have a toddler with me who is less than thrilled about sitting still.  I considered the take-out line, which was longer than the seating line.  Bygones….

The first time I went I sat for 10 or 15 minutes without any sign of a server.  So I opted to change tables AKA change sections, and then waited another 5 minutes before finally getting service.  Not so bad, but I still had to do the table switch.

The second time I went I sat for 20 minutes – 20 MINUTES – before my server even showed his face in my section.  You have to understand that people are coming and going in that amount of time.  After trying to get the attention of the server in the row next to me who vascillated between blatantly ignoring me and brushing me off with “You have your own server” comments, he finally listened to me and (I assume) went back to get my server, who miraculously then showed up a minute later.

And I get it…. The servers must get tapped all the time from people not understanding how the sections are divided.  I get it!!!!  But seriously…..  All three tables in our row were abandoned.

The server finally shows up and I give him a piece of my mind.  No swear words or anything, but also not my finest moment.  I tell him how long I’ve been waiting and that it’s unacceptable.  “He’s been so busy,” he tells me.  Honestly, I don’t care how busy a restaurant is… There’s no reason to not walk through your section for 20 minutes.  Especially in a place like this where you are in and out in that amount of time when service is good.

The third time we went to the cafe, with Dave this time, of course the service is fine.  I swear, I’m not crazy!!!…. Well, at least, I’m not making it up!

And of course the challenging therapist in me knows the dialogue:  “You could have left.  You didn’t have to stay.  You choose to stay, which means you choose the situation as it is.  Why get so angry about something you choose?”  Or, “You had such bad experiences, yet you went back 2 more times?  Why would you do that, I wonder?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah…. I don’t want to talk about this anymore 😉

I got a psychic reading from a recommended “Bottom of the Cup Tea Room,” where psychics give palm, tarot, and tea readings daily.  There are many good things to come for me!  But I don’t want to jinx it 😉

Eli and I also did a 3-hour city tour, which was monumentally successful for a toddler.  He slept for about 1/2 the time, and the other half cuddled with me and looked out the window.

We visited the French Quarter, downtown New Orleans, the Warehouse District, the Garden District, an above-ground cememtery, and the 9th Ward.

Some things I learned on the tour:

The French Quarter is the original “New Orleans” since it was the only land above water at the time it was settled by King Louis the ???

About 100 years later the technology was harnessed to pump out water and expose the land, allowing more expansive development into other areas of the city.

New Orleans sits next to a lake that is 660 square miles, and at its deepest point is only 15 feet deep.

The French Quarter was the only part of the city that did not flood during hurricane Katrina, because it is the only part of the city above sea level.

Other parts of the city flooded up to 12 feet.

Evacuation of the city would take 36 hours.  The city had less than 24 hours before the hurricane hit.

It took 20 days for the city to drain/pump out the flooded water.

The toxic flood waters (a mix of water, sewage, chemicals, etc.) killed much of the plant life in the city.  The city park lost 1/2 of its trees (about 2000 trees), and almost every structure had (and might continue to have) extensive flood damage.

Business in city was, for all intents and purposes, shut down for a year after the storm as clean-up and rebuilding efforts took priority.

6 people died in the Superdome.

An estimated 1833 people died in the city during the storm.

Pieces of the Superdome roof came off during the 175 mph winds, and cost $165 million to repair.

Debris of the Superdome roof to a neighboring hotel shattered glass windows which then allowed for more wind damage to remaining windows.  90% of the glass was shattered after the storm.   The hotel was under repair for 6 years before reopening.

Houses in the lower 9th Ward were often only 10-15 feet, and the flooding there was 10 feet.

People stranded on rooftops and highway overpasses were left for up to 5 days before help or rescue arrived, and endured upwards of 100 degree days without food or water.

Levies around the lake and waterways are now 10 feet higher than before, and a cement wall has been constructed around most of the city to help manage future (and inevitable) flooding.

In the above-ground cemeteries, bodies have to sit in a tomb for “one year and a day” to ensure that there are no more diseases that might spread.  They are then moved to the family tombs.

Though small, family tombs may house upwards of 30 people over the ages.  Older bones are removed and crushed, then bagged and put at the bottom of the tomb, while the more freshly deceased have their place above in coffins.

Garden district home owners are ridiculously wealthy people.

Lakefront homeowners are ridiculously wealthy people.

I love it here, and I can’t wait to leave.

So that’s my New Orleans nutshell.  And I promise you that is actually the nutshell.  I’ve only been here for 2 weeks and feel like I could write for hours about it.

Next stop: Austin, Texas!


3 Responses to Nola – Warning: esoteric woo-woo ahead

  1. Mom

    Your storytelling is so magnificent…I feel as though there might be a book here….:)

  2. Mom Patnode

    Yep, ditto!

  3. Davemills

    Oh, man, I LOVED New Orleans! I lived there for a month a year or two before Katrina. I DID have guides the whole time, though. I had good friends who were living there, moving back after attending college and learning the ins and outs of the whole city. The food, music, art scene was at my fingertips. Every night somewhere to go and have a new mystical experience. And the trees hanging over the streets! Most of my travel was on bike and I often had to bike through the Garden District. Sweet tropical smells. A whole nother world… Thank you for writing about it! It brings a lot of memories back. 🙂

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