The plan when my beloved and I 'shacked up' over 2 years ago was a year in SoCal, then we move to NOLA. Well...lets revisit how that worked out - quick answer: it didn't.
I had been in Los Angeles for just over a year as of last summer. I was frustrated as hell with my job, having been shoved into a management posish I didn't really want, and was getting little support from higher ups. And I am no armchair quarterback, I didn't pass off the projects to others save a special few, I kept up my workload AND tried to head up the team. It wasn't my bag. I was stressed to the max, mentally wiped out, homesick for my soul's home. At home, the direction was a destination-less ramble which was frustrating.
Then late summer, an offer from an awesome NOLA friend to "just come on out and stay with us until you can get on w/a job and place of your own!" happened. I discussed it with my Boo and I went with it. I gave a month's notice at work and got ready and left.
It was VERY hard to leave my sweetie and our cats, but it was all in the name of my going on ahead and getting us set up in NOLA so that he and the cats could follow on later. My hosts were great, but the job market not as 'open'. And, housing when you don't have a job is pretty well not happening. I did get a job as a seasonal hire at Sucre in their production kitchen making Parisian macarons. :) I had sent Chef Hanna my Flickr set of cake/cookie art, and at the interview, he called me an "artist"! :) on that compliment high, I agreed to work the 4 pm to midnight shift... LOL WTH was I thinking? (I was thinking "oh, sure I'm a night owl..." Not fully realizing I am but on MY determination when I'm at liberty to run around...)
I spent a total of just over three weeks working there (and though it was neat, switching from 20 years of comfy task chair to on.your.feet.for.eight.hours was a HEINOUS thing to do to my bod), given the Thanksgiving holiday was in there and I drove to Houston for the holiday weekend. I learned how to 'match up' the meringue shells, flip them (one ready for filling, one for capping), filling them, capping them, and any post-capping special treatment... Like airbrushing some luster or sparkle, painting on a swoosh, striping with thin stream of chocolate. Also, helped 'finish' the marshmallows by dredging them in p.s. hit with disco dust. :)
That Monday after I got back, I was told by my dad that he was going to have to have a double bypass operation!??!? I gave my notice (as putting another gap in my work schedule was not going to help them). On my last night there, Chef came up and gave me a big hug and wished me and my dad well.
I drove to Houston, and helped get stuff set up for his return to the house after the then-forthcoming surgery and went to an art gallery opening with him. Monday a.m. was a rainy and thought/fear-fraught time as we headed to the hospital. On the upside, he's generally VERY fit and the threatening blockage was found in a stress test, and not via a cardiac event, so going in, his body wasn't nearly as stressed out as someone having had a full-on heart attack who was in less-than shape. The surgery went amazingly well, like: 4 hours from gown to recovery! AND while they were in there, realized they may as well do another so that this doesn't need to happen again: so triple bypass in 4 hours! His recovery was great, he was cracking jokes that very afternoon! Granted he was high as a kite on morphine and didn't remember it the next day! LOL! Until he was operating under his own doctor-approved power, from the moment he went into the surgical suite, I was given POF (power of Facebook) to update his status for his friends on his page. I felt like his PR agent. ;)
Once I returned to NOLA, I was able to move into my friend's little Tulane-Study-Hut. I had delusions of living 'small' in that space...but yeah...no. I'm too old to live like a Ramen-brick-eater. I was missing The Dude and the critters something fierce (not to mention: our beloved orange Rascal had succumbed (right as I left for my dad's surgery) to pancreatitis that was not diagnosed until too late after his ear surgery in September. Boo was understandably devastated, I felt lost being so far away at that point... It's still weird to not have him around)...
The week before Xmas, my sweetie flew in and we had a quick turn around the city, and drove to Houston the next morning. Spent his birthday and pre-Xmas there, and went back to NOLA to spend the rest of the week.
I had, in the meantime, scored a shop position in a Chinese antiques store that was opening on Magazine St. The only good about that was it was fun rambling around an approx couple-hundred year-old store, where it wasn't so much dust, as the building that flecked down in itsy-bitsy mote form as the mondo tourist buses trundled down Mag. At first I was keen on the job, but as I got deeper in, it was a waste of my time. The owners had massive issues. And, about a month in, my Boo dropped the bomb on me: once he got on with the FAA, he wasn't going to be able to choose where he goes...which ruled out NOLA as Baton Rouge was the nearest office. All that effort and expense for nothing...other than anecdotes for a rarely read/more rarely kept up with blog and Facebook.
I muddled through, as after all - Mardi Gras was coming at me! We agreed I'd stay through MG, so I geared up and set a course for immersion. From the Krewe du Vieux on... :) There was a break for the NFL to shove in to the city to commandeer it for the Super Bowl...and they had the GALL to tell us (hey, I was paying rent, I was a resident) to 'be nice' to Roger Goodell, the utter slime ball who WRONGLY destroyed the Saints' 2012-2013 season by suspending Coach Sean and key players for the bullshit bounty gate. To see Jackson Square overtaken by t.v. show sets thrown up across the lawns and wedged under hundred + year old trees, light set ups 'rigged' in the trees, and FAKE AS HELL 'ironwork' that even Disney Co would reject as too far shoved in the MIDST of some of the best remaining wrought iron examples... It was too much. And then...the night of the SB.
I had worked that day...oh! The SALES we made from the crowds...NOT! Nobody was of a mind to buy a Ching music table or armoire or Ming spirit house. i went home. The game was rolling, I needed food...my micro-kitchen was a joke to me, I had about as much functionality at my disposal as the playhouse I had 39 years earlier. Again, the studio was GREAT for students only needing a hot plate for ramen (or meth), but I was too far down the foodie trail to camp like that. So, I drove over to the Camellia Grill. I dined, chatted with the awesome staff, and then drove home. I parked as usual on the street and walked up the psycho neighbor's drive to get to my humble abode. I went inside and talked with my Boston-based NOLA-sis for a bit, then watched Downton Abbey and slept.
I awoke and got ready for work... I walked to the street and as I got to the driver-side door I saw my CDs ALL over the interior?!!? They weren't like that the night before...and I checked the doors: all locked. Everything was still in there, just ALL over?!!? All windows were intact and closed... So, the car had not been broken into. But what?! And THEN I saw it: sometime after I had parked the night before...some drunk a-hole had failed to navigate the street properly and sideswiped my NOLA Rouge?!!?!!!
The damage was crippling...I feared it was a matter of being totaled. I was bereft, she was MY car, I had bought her by myself, took care of her and paid her off... For the no-note-left actions of an utter jackass, I may be car-less?!!?!? I bawled as I called the insurance co, I bawled as I called NOPD (almost pointless), I bawled as I called my sweetie and my family...and called in 'not working' to the shop. And I especially cried as the tow truck arrived to take her unable to move-self away to the mechanic for triage. There I was...two weeks from Mardi Gras and a planned trip to Houston to drop off stuff and see my mom for her birthday...and then the move back to SoCal...without a car.
The next day, I got the good word she was fixable...but it was going to take a bit of time - two weeks to be exact. Well, yeah...I could have gotten a rental, but why? It was hard core last weeks of Mardi Gras, and hell...the rental could have suffered the fate of NOLA Rouge, after all...I was living in easy reach of Tulane frat houses. One of which had been raided for a meth/LSD/etc operation within the week! I opted to walk to the streetcar (a 10 block hike each way - not a big prob, but just time consuming) and the odd cab to get me through the break.
I essentially quit the shop, as I wasn't going to stress myself out further by waking early enough to get the streetcar...and they weren't paying me enough to care at that point. I went to parades, I packed some stuff, I indulged in laziness that settled on me due to the depression at leaving NOLA and in essence, my dream of myself and cats (Boo was a happy addition after dream already on my mind) and Boo living there - granted I envisioned a bit more s/f and a grown up's kitchen. It wasn't NOLA as I wanted it, but it was NOLA. I could have stayed, sure...piss away the love of my life because I wasn't willing to afford him the chance to follow his dream?! Yeah, I could have pushed to work in office furniture and made decent bank and done it on my own...but that wasn't what I wanted anymore. I wanted an 'our home'.
As all folks who live in NOLA say: Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. It's true...it's a LOT of fun, but it's a lot of hassle. Getting around is a pain due to parade routes getting closed to cars, streetcar routes impacted, minimal buses to fill the gap, trying to get to parties/meet ups to watch... I'd be up for such a hassle if we could live there as I wished. But I need to set that free. My sweetie has as much as said he doesn't want to live there...ever. :( I say he hasn't spent enough time there to make that declaration decidedly.
As my car wasn't ready until after Mardi Gras, my post-MG trip to Houston was scrapped. And that put me in a pickle. I shipped about 30-something boxes in all back to SoCal...and still didn't have enough room in the by-departure repaired NOLA Rouge for everything?!!? Some stuff had come from my Houston storage, but I sent it to SoCal, some stuff had been bought... And I seriously purged the cache of Mardi Gras loot I had scored, donating unwanted items to be recycled for next years MG.
As my NOLA time wound down, I dined with friends, I walked around absorbing NOLA images into my soul... As I shoved the last of what would fit in my car, trying to remember that The Dude was going to need a place to sit once he flew into Houston (he was going to drive back w/me)...I steeled myself for departure.
I drove to Houston, put a couple of things in my storage room and was able to also give my Houston friends their Muses swag that helped me make space in the car. I was excited to be returning to my man's arms/side...but very sad to have New Orleans in my rear view mirror. My old job that had contributed to my stress had actually asked me back so, I didn't have to hunt for work back in L.A., but I did say I wanted no part of managing, just do my work and go on...it was agreed upon.
I've been back now for over 4 months. I miss easier access to my friends. Still not a friend-rich environment for me out here. But two dear friends (married) are moving out here in the next month from NOLA, so I'll get to see them as traffic allows. Things have changed a bit here, for the better. The cats are finally settling in to a mostly peaceful environment (Vinny still opts to terrorize the ladies, but he's only almost 2). They have dealt with my departure, Rascal's death, Boo's feeling the loss aline, and my return...to have seen ALL FOUR on the bed at the same time the other day was a landmark event! I've reworked the kitchen space to be more workable for me. My man is off getting his A&P certification as I write this, and there's a chance of his getting on with the FAA soon after. :) Granted...that may cause a 'blog post of import' depending upon what that entails. In the meantime, I'll just be better at chronicling my SoCal life as it is on here.
Truth be told: I'm feeling like a castaway again... Not sure what I want to do with my life now. The 'having my own funky NOLA bakery' thing just didn't happen... I'm going to focus on getting fit again (damn the neighborhood's dirty looks, I'm GOING to walk around the area!) and doing artsy/bake-y things and just see what tomorrow brings.