New Orleans and The Last Breakdown

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©2013 Breathless Boudoir | Jen & Max Trombly

I explored many subjects in this mysterious city; contrast (difference between light and dark), magic, definition of beauty, examination of sensuality, and loneliness.  My palm reader from the French Quarter said I had two lifelines, so I think I’m starting my second life now.
palm reader bourbon

I love contrast and New Orleans is a perfect example of this.  A place of culture, great food, music, tradition, celebration, color, and joy.  There is also amazing pain, pollution, poverty, addiction, sadness, inequality, and devastation.  I could stay here a month…it’s so fascinating.  I ran through the impoverished neighborhoods day one to see the other side and to escape the tourists.  It’s so evident that we are not right as a society just by seeing the two sides of rich and poor.  A problem since the beginning of time.  Let’s envision a smaller delta between the haves and the have nots.  I’m reading The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein and he is getting to this topic about changing our society and he’s coming to town!  Info here.
litter graffiti

Back up a minute!   I drove out of Lefleurs Bluff State Park in Jackson MS, hit a bump and Baby Blue didn’t like it. Another axle problem, damn.  Walked up to the gas station and asked if anyone knew a mechanic and three folks looked at each other and scratched their heads and said, “nope, everyone is at work”.  OK, so if everyone is at work then they are not a mechanic in their shop.  Hello?  I was so frustrated, I rolled my eyes and one guy started looking for a tow truck and got me a number to call.  Where am I?  I’m in the deep south and maybe folks are not critical thinkers.  A tow truck operator came.  I’m getting used to them by now and I went with him to his shop carrying Baby Blue.  They were super nice and I left the van with them.  I had to get to New Orleans, so I rented a cute tiny fiat.  Wow, how different it is to drive a little gas efficient tiny car that can go 80mph!  And I could take a phone call and actually hear what they were saying!
fiat baby blue tow

I got to New Orleans and thankfully Jay Pierce is my secret agent on what to do and he sends me a list of places to go.  One is his old mentor that has a restaurant called Lucky Rooster.  I asked for the Chef and mentioned Jay.  I had the red carpet rolled out…very fun and great food and drink.
lucky roostertrainbeads

I call the mechanics back the next day in Jackson Mississippi and the dude cannot find the part and it’s been two days.  What?  I googled with my phone and find the part in 1 minute.  He says, I don’t have an account with them, so can’t order it.  OMG.  Really?  I order it myself and dropship it to the ridiculous mechanic in Jackson.  I am beside myself with the incompetency.  Over dinner with Jen and Max (more on them later), they discuss a poverty economy with me.  In low-income communities, people trade services amongst themselves.  (of course!)  They would never pay money for something like auto repair or even health, the neighbors all take care of themselves.  The nurse will look after the sick in her off hours.  My question of ‘where is a mechanic’ does not work unless I live in the neighborhood.

My lessons are about homesickness and loneliness this week.   I’ve not been alone or lonely for as long as I can remember…constantly busy or surrounded by tons of people.  I have so many friends/family that are lonely and in need of connection.  I’ve never understood it and when they mention it, I just blaze past them saying, I’m busy….gotta go.  I have compassion for them today.  A revelation.  Some cute advice from folks is, go to the puppy shelter, volunteer at a homeless shelter, go to a diner and talk to the waiters.  Of course, I have lots of connection with friends and family, but this is really eye opening for me and I’m being a baby.

ruby slipper

Our society and the media has done a number on women and also men about beauty.   I had a photo shoot with Jen and Max of breathless boudoir.  I wanted to document this time in my life because it is pretty spectacular.  Their mission is to empower women through sensual portraiture.  We did shots in the French quarter and also at the hotel.  They are an amazing couple and I felt a kinship with them.  They are a liberal couple that feels a little trapped in the conservative politics of Louisiana and they want to expand their business and also land where they think they can raise kids in a good school system.  Big order!  We had an unbelievable day and ended up at dinner going deep.  A highlight for me!

jen and max

I’m stuck in New Orleans.  Not a bad thing.  Because the budget is a bit fragile, I leave my hotel and search for my first Air BNB experience.  I clicked on the cheapest room I could find ($40) and it is with a Mardi Gras mask maker.  How fun is that?  Well, I go to unload bags and I’m clearly out of my element and comfort zone.  His house is in the 7th Ward and I’m different from all the others in the neighborhood.  The older black men give me sweet smiles and waves and the younger folks glare at me like “why are you here?”.  I’m pretty open to new situations so I decide to just go with it, this is part of my adventure.  My host answers the door in his underwear and he is extremely hungover and on his way to the clothing optional bathhouse.  He invites me to come, which was nice, but I decline.  I enter a dark, dirty leather shop and my room is the hallway that connects the rest of the house to the bathroom and kitchen.  There are sheets hung rather than doors.  I leave my stuff and have a great day in New Orleans and have dinner with two women that were wonderful that I randomly met.  I go “home” and try to go to bed.  It’s really gross and no one is there.  There was fear of the unknown…I was in no real danger, but being in this area really freaked me out.  Every bump made me jump and every dog barking made me sit up.  Two people came in about 4.30am and they were women’s voices, so that gave me comfort, then my host came in around 5am and I settled into a few hours sleep.  I packed up and left the next day.  I’m sure if I had the courage to join the people that were sitting out on their doorsteps we would have some things in common, but that might have to happen next trip.

7th Ward

Eyes wide open midway through this trip.  I’m grateful.

Backwards to Jackson and then over to College Station, TX to see Laura, our PhD in Shakespeare and her man, Dan.  Can’t wait!!  And Zafer is parachuting into Texas!  Beyond excited!

BMC New orleans wall new orleans

About tamischwerin

I run a non-profit (Abundance NC) that builds community resilience including health of the earth, our bodies and our spirits. I also am active in creating an Eco-Industrial Park community in Pittsboro NC.

9 responses »

  1. Zafer is jazzed about his impending sky diving outing. His mission is to land within the vicinity of his Mom, assure her that everything is fine back home, dig Texas, and return home. We are cheering for you, darling.

  2. wonderful stories. love the photos esp of YOU in the orange tights. gorgeous. love you! glad you are having such wonderful adventures. gillian

  3. Golly, Miss Molly, er, Tami. I can only hope I would have gone with the orange tights as well. Your photo is beautiful, and you have an adorable spirit! New Orleans is indeed a wake-up call on so many levels. I have spent a lot of time there, as I have many relatives with deep roots in the Big Easy. After Katrina, Mama said the city looked tired, weary of the fight. About 100 miles away, New Iberia, home to most of my eccentric clan, is source for many of the poems I write, site of a sweet life for the white folks in the big house, but for the colored, nothing has ever been easy. When you return, having experienced this, you may decide to go down into the mine shafts surrounding abundance. I think you just may be amazing! Thanks for including me on your send list.

  4. You are so beautiful! Breathless team Jen and Max totally captured the essence of Tami.

    “I could stay here a month…it’s so fascinating.” Be careful what you wish for. You may just end up waiting a month for Baby Blue’s recovery. Sounds like you’re figuring out the culture and how to push your agenda forward so it won’t come to that.

    I love what you learned about the poverty economy. I would have also misinterpreted the ‘they’re all at work’ remark. This economic model is our future and you and Lyle are at the forefront of the ‘cash to bartering’ transition back home. Bravo for diving in with all senses alive and alert.

  5. I appreciate your comment about loneliness. I think it is true that unless you have felt it, is hard to understand, and even then, easily forgotten.

    On my bike trip years ago the loneliness was overwhelming. I remember it felt a bit like I was going insane, I had such an intense desire for human connection.

    Here’s to compassion and empathy…

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