Julianne’s Blog

this is my blog. this is the only blog there will be.

Flowing along with the bayou 27 July 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 1:16 PM
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I’d been very worried that when I returned to NOLA and my friends that we would find we no longer had much in common. Luckily that’s not at all the case. In every situation I’ve been able to pick up exactly where I left off. Our lives have changed in the 7 months that I was away, but we are all still the same people and so we are still the same friends.

The past 8 months of my life have largely been about serendipity. It’s about observing and allowing things to happen, surrendering to life, really going with the flow. Realizing that no plan will ever last or actually make me happy. I’ve had so many adventures by following that mindset, some of the wonderful, some of them not so great. Alright, some of them were down-right crappy. But I did get to meet Rick Steves…

In the spirit of serendipity, my plans have changed once again. I wasn’t planning on getting an apartment, but a wonderful opportunity came up. I’m living in 854 Wilson now, just two houses down from where I’d been living since Hurricane Katrina, and where my sister lives now. I’d hoped to be able to move back into the area, but to be so close to that place and people I love is right up there with Rick Steves (maybe I can get him to visit…)

I’m still not sure how this changes the rest of my plans. Mainly, does Burning Man fit into this new direction? I’ve been questioning my motives for attending for some time now. If I were to go, it would be under different circumstances. I’d no longer be open for anything (West Coast road trip for example) but have a place waiting for me to return to. It’s very much up in the air.

I’m so excited about having a home again. I’m excited as I always am to be stepping off onto a new, unexpected path. I’m excited about living alone and seeing how my lessons from traveling will continue to manifest themselves. But more than any excitement, I’m grateful to have such a wonderful home and a reason to be somewhere. I’m grateful to be back in my city where I am surrounded by old friends while at the same time continously discovering new people, where you don’t have to be moving yourself to be a part of something. New Orleans has welcomed me home in a way I’d never expected, yet doesn’t surprise me. I don’t even mind the heat.

 

Back to the city of my birth 17 July 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 4:32 PM
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I totally pulled over on the interstate to take this.

I totally pulled over on the interstate to take this.

Everytime I stepped out of the Volvo I was shocked at the heat, but I still couldn’t wait to get to New Orleans. None of my friends knew that I was arriving; I’d told everyone that I was still in Paris. My first stop was Cafe Rose Nicaud on Frenchman, and when I walked in Lorraine had to do a double take. She closed the coffeeshop soon after that and we saunted down to Flannigan’s to while away the evening, followed by a run to Juan’s Flying Burrito and finally ending up at Lorraine and Brian’s pad in Algiers Point.

Since then I’ve been occupied with reunions. Everyone all had the same look of surprise on their faces. Of course, my first stop on Wilson Drive was 840, and Allia cried when I walked in. All the neighbors were happy to see me, even the ones I’d never really talked to knew I’d left and were happy to see me back on the street. I rounded up a crew of my favorite Wilsonites and whiled away the night at Finn McCool’s, eventually passing out on Boy Robin’s couch.

The next few nights passed in much the same way. I shudder to think just how much whiskey I’ve consumed in the past week. I haven’t had more than 6 hours of sleep any night, but it’s more often around 4 hours. I keep thinking it might be nice to have a relaxing evening, but I have so many awesome friends and there are so many places for us to explore in New Orleans that I just don’t see it happening. I’m out and around, having a great time and always looking out for new opportunities.

Dinner at Boucherie, nee Purple Truck, aka Que Crawl

Dinner at Boucherie, nee Purple Truck, aka Que Crawl

Since I’ll be leaving again in 5 weeks for Burning Man I’m not getting an apartment. So far I’ve been staying different places every night, and my wonderful friends keep offering me beds. I keep my backpack around so that I’m always ready to crash on someone’s couch. My days are spent with Allia at Ant Jooli’s Super Fun Time Summer Camp, which largely consists of running errands together. But hey, we do other stuff, like hang out in the Quarter, go to the aquarium, and explore beautiful Abita Springs on the North Shore. My nights are spents dancing and drinking around the city while my days consist of dressing Barbies and playing Dora the Explorer Go Fish. Oh, what a life!

Allia had never eaten beignets before!

Allia had never eaten beignets before!

 

The American Road Trip, Part 1 15 July 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 2:17 PM
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To pick up where I left off…

In January in Amsterdam I had met a fellow American traveler named Brian. We hadn’t really communicated since then, but one day in May we both happened to be online at the same time. I mentioned that I would be taking a roadtrip south from Cleveland when he was going to be in Chicago, so he decided to tag along.

We decided to go down to Leesville, Ohio, where Betsy, my mother’s step-mom, had a little house on a little lake. It seemed like a great place to stop for a night on the journey south. Betsy was up from her home in Mexico, visiting with her two college roommates Bridget and Sallie. The three of them were having a great time and happily included Brian and me in their fun. It became clear that we had to stay for more than one night, and three days were quickly laughed away. I started calling them “the three aunts.” As we ate blueberry pancakes with rhubarb syrup, we discussed everything from the definition of “creativity” to third wave feminism. Bridget played us a song she had written as we made s’mores around the backyard firepit. I walked out of the local thrift store with a blue Western Flyer bicycle, imagining how good I will look cruising the sweaty streets of New Orleans.

Hanging with the "aunts" in Leesville

Eventually it was time to resume the journey, and so that evening we arrived in Charleston, WV. Betsy had called ahead to a high school friend who welcomed us into her home. At her advice we ate at the Blue Grass Kitchen, which specializes in local organic food. The Empty Glass Bar was just behind the restaurant and was also highly recommended. The patrons there were so friendly to the two wayward travelers and offered us all manner of intoxicants. A couple of the more flamboyant gentlemen were particularly intrigued by Brian, although sadly the attention was not reciprocated. After politely turning down the bag of cocaine we finally made it back to our beds.

The next day had North Carolina on the agenda. Several hours of turning highways and barren interstate got us out of VW, through VA and TN, and finally into the Smokies. Brian decided to stay in Asheville, so after dropping him off downtown I drove west to Annie Langley’s house in Maggie Valley. Annie and I spent the weekend hiking, tasting the French dandelion wine, and of course we checked out the fireworks on the Fourth of July. It was great to see everyone celebrating our own national holiday, and it was so different from the events I’d seen and participated in while in Europe. Distinctively American.

Little SamI Still Love Smokey's After Dark

The road began calling me again, ever and onward deeper into the South, and so I made my way into Georgia. As a child I had loved visiting Helen, “a re-creation of an Alpine village complete with cobblestone alleys and old-world towers.” As I walked through the pseudo-Austrian town among the throngs of tourists and watched the teenagers tubing down the river, I realized that “Alpine” is more than just architecture: the was a spirit that I’d only caught a glimpse of, but I could tell that it was impossible to import. Luckily it was replaced by typical Georgian friendliness. For a few days I visited with my grandparents and other family in Atlanta, and then finally it was time for the last part of the trip: the journey to New Orleans.

 

Back in America 13 July 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 3:32 PM
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Well if you haven’t heard already, I’m not in Paris. I got back to the USA a month ago! I’ve been holed up at my mom’s place east of Cleveland getting my life back in order. My Mac and I had a tearful reunion, but quickly made up for lost time together. I happily exchanged the clothes I’d been wearing for months for the ones I had left behind. After a few days of searching I found my new mode of transportation, a teal Volvo 850 wagon. Alright, ready for a new adventure, but first a bit of backtracking.

Leaving my friends in France was hard. Izzy was visiting from Prague, so my last night we all ate a garden feast a Gigi’s apartment. A few hours later it was time for the inevitable goodbye; Jason and Izzy headed back to the dark house in Le Vignaud while I spent the night with Gigi in town. The next day called for a crepe, and then it was time to leave. As my bus pulled out of the Gueret train station I watched Gigi walk down the street and wondered when and where I would see any of them again.

I was met at Austerlitz station in Paris by a fellow I’d met a month ago in Switzerland. Since I had switched my two bags out for one large, heavy, and broken suitcase, I was very happy to have someone strong to carry my crap for me. We passed a pleasant evening with pizzas and more crepes, and at 6 AM the next morning I was alone again. The only thing left was to leave, but before I took my train to Charles de Gaulle Airport I took one last walk around that city, down to the Rive Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral. I couldn’t help but feel choked up and a little panicky as the plane took off and left Paris below. When I transferred in London I was shocked to hear so many people speaking English, and was embarrassed at hearing and understanding so many conversations going on around me. At 3 AM Paris time I landed at JFK, where my mom was waiting for me. The next day we got in her truck and drove west to Perry, OH, and suddenly I was back in America, so far away from the life I’d been living for the past six months but still in familiar surroundings.

In the Aeroplane over the Sea

 

I swear I’m not dead 5 July 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 2:47 AM
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So there hasn’t been much going on, just hanging around and making new friends, and of course enjoying my summer days. Things are going to start rolling soon. Burning Man is coming up in 2 months, for which I am not at all prepared, and after that there’s more traveling. But until then, I’ve also been posting on another blog, so you can check that out too.

 

I am a walking cliché. 19 June 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 10:44 AM
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Alright, damnit, but I’m not going to write a book about it. A blog is bad enough.
TAKING A YEAR OFF

TRAVEL

 

Parisian Pachyderms and Shiny Pants 12 June 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 12:52 AM
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Since my visit last week to Paris, I’ve come down with a sinus infection. The same thing happened the last time I visited Paris, leading Jason to shrug and mutter “Paris syndrom,” as if that’s what I get for leaving the village. That’s basically the opinion of all the villagers (myself included), but luckily it’s not too bad. Gigi happened to have a pile of antibiotics to share, and the old lady Jeanine down the street (by the way, there’s only one street in Le Vignaud) gave me some tablets that she says will make anything feel a little better, and also help me sleep. Self-medication is always more fun when it’s done in a foreign language.

Some family members have been concerned about my future. About how I will Be An Adult. Honestly I’m not too worried about it, but to show that I am at least giving it some thought I have come up with a goal I’d like to accomplish by the time I’m 30. This was inspired by a dream induced by Jeanine’s mysterious meds. And, all my dear aged relatives, by the time I’m 30, in those eight years, I will ride an elephant. Don’t know where, under what circumstances, but that is my goal for adulthood.

The last time I rode an elephant was when I was about 4. I remember we were visiting my mom’s father, probably in New York, and while most of my memories are actually from photographs and I don’t recall what my dress looked like I remember how the dress felt. And I know that on that day I also rode an elephant.

Back to the business at hand, everyone will rejoice in the knowledge that I finally got new pants, and these are good ones. Incidentally, almost the same as Gigi’s pants. They’re fuscia sateen and when I skipped out to the bread truck this morning for my croissants the elderly neighbors didn’t much know what to say, although the various chickens milling about in the street were attracted.  I’m sure they just chalked it up to the eccentricities of Americans. The old man across the street was feeling pretty chatty (or should I say the hue of my pants whipped him into a conversational frenzy), but the morning air’s sociability was thwarted by my utter inability to understand a sigle word he said. I felt like talking, but I didn’t feel like doing it in French. My brain just was not going that way; I guess I was too distracted by the bag of croissants I held and the baguette I’d stuck under my arm.

And speaking of Americans, Izzy just re-arrived in Le Vignaud, so now we are three. Gigi has gone up to England for a few days so I am holding down the Gueret fort, making sure her apartment maintains that nice lived-in atmosphere. It’s been too cold and rainy for bathing in the lake, so I’ve made good use of Gigi’s shower. And her place actually has a roof, so there’s no dirt blowing in or rain dripping down from that giant hole above the attic. So with my new pants and my clean feet, I’m starting to feel like a city girl again, the city of Gueret (which is funny for those who have seen Gueret; it’s like Metairie but it’s my metropolis). We’ll just see how the pants match the backpack.