I like this place, and I like to start here when I come back to New Orleans. Tonight was no different, and I’m one blog post from falling asleep on my Willow St bed after 2 glasses of wine and a great meal at the bar. Olive-oil seared gnocci, braised short ribs, some green beans, and an impromptu chat with the Exec Chef Donald Link and his wife. I first met Donald when the M.A.S. was here in July at Cochon, which can only be described as upscale Cajun (and as a result has alienated my more downhome NOLA roommate but brings me back again and again. I’m nothin’ if not upscale local. Eek – I sound like one of those upscale New Urbanist suburban malls that make people think they’re downtown, if amidst a sea of parking.).

I’ve been all over the emotional map in the 6 hours since I landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport (first: despair, second: hopelessness, third: familiarity, fourth: warmth, fifth: pleasure, six: ambivalence, current: curiosity) but tonight’s chat at least reminded me of one of my favorite bits about New Orleans – that everyone knows everyone, me included. Talking at the bar to the woman on my right, turns out she was the chef’s wife – whom I already mentioned I’ve met previously – and that she was a former consultant to one of my non-profit clients/colleagues here. These are the personal-professional circles that engulf you down here, I type as I lounge in an appropriated Saints sweatshirt from a Mardi Gras bbq of another former non-profit client.

Tomorrow and Thursday are my busy days, with Wed and Fri given over to exploring, catching up, and ruminating (and blogging). Army men and women in fatigues joined me on the shuttle bus from the airport to the rental car place. Smoking is banned in restaurants, effective 1/1/07. My roommate has 3 bumper stickers celebrating beer and shrimp on his car, and a bid in on a house in Bayou St. John. Life goes on, for better or worse. Coming into my room this afternoon was like entering the Gulf Coast wing of the Museum of Redstar. I clearly thought I’d be back before this – a half drunk bottle of water stood watch over the room from my nightstand, and discarded bottles of liquids exhumed from my carry-on were littered across my bureau. The water pressure in my bathroom is still abysmal, and my roommate’s still a slob. I’m hoping the M.A.S. and I can take a road trip in late January to clean out this room before this lease ends.

So until tomorrow, to see the changes.


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