Julianne’s Blog

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

New kid on the block, again 8 February 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 7:28 AM
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I wrote this post back in August and never published it for some reason. Well, better late than never. Tomorrow Jason and I are packing up the Volvo for the drive back to New Orleans, where we’ll be until the end of March. See you all soon!

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I’ve been back on Wilson Drive for a week now, and it’s been wonderful. My neighbors here are simply amazing! I’ve always known that they are all special people, but since I’ve been back in NOLA I’m continuously amazing and humbled by their openness and generosity. I am so luck to be surrounded by such wonderful people! Of course, I also love my apartment. There isn’t much in it now, but it’s all mine. If I want to have a crazy awesome dance party with my iPod speaker, well then it’s on, and there’s plenty of space for jamming but no room for embarassment. Luckily my upstairs neighbor seems cool. We’re going to put an access hatch with a rope ladder through my ceiling, although we haven’t quite decided which room it should go in.

I’ve come across a new job, and it’s wonderful. Galatoire’s doesn’t accept reservations, so on Fridays rich people pay people like me to wait outside and hold a table for them. All I have to do is give the maitre d’ the name of my party and then sit in a lawnchair in front of the restaurant on Bourboun Street for 3-4 hours until my party shows up. I walk about with $60-75 cash and a lovely sense of self-satisfaction. This past Friday I ran into my third grade teacher Ms. Covington out to lunch with her husband, the principal of my elementary school Mr. Theriot. It was pretty cool seeing them again after so many years, and they seemed impressed by my schmoozing.

Just about every day I run into and old friend. I’ve reconnected with school chums, some I’ve known since 1st grade, others who I met a couple years ago at UNO. At the same time I’m making plenty of new friends, and there’s always my regular buddies to spend time with. I have a great time on the town, but I also love being in my home, alone and mellow. I’m so happy with whatever I’m doing and it doesn’t get old.

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OK, November deserved more than one sentence. 13 January 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 8:25 AM
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November was a good month, and should be appropriately represented in the almost defunct blog.

I gathered together a rag-tag team of girlies off Craigslist and we all set off for the West Coast. Two of the girls were actually only going to Houston, which is why I agreed to let them bring their dog. I’m not a huge fan of dogs, and when I spend any amount of time with them in enclosed spaces my allergies react in new and unexciting ways. So when the girls’ plans in Houston fell through and they decided to ride to Pheonix, I had mixed feelings. I mean, yeah, that was a little bit of extra gas money (although not at all an equal share), but on the other hand, I’ve had red blotches on my chest that are just now starting to fade away.

the rideshare team

But the point is I got to Los Angeles! Even though Jason knew I was coming, he was still surprised when he turned around in his kitchen and saw me standing right in front of him. He jumped about three feet in the air and yelled out “HOLY SHIT!” We were still laughing about it a couple weeks later. Our time together in LA was spent mostly in his apartment, where we read, ate a lot, watched season 3 of Californication, and pretended to work. But we went out to see a couple movies, had a picnic on the beach, rode around on bicycles, and went to his niece’s 5th birthday, so see, we aren’t total bums.

November 21 was Jason’s birthday, so a couple days before we had a party. I’d brought 2 packs of Abita Beer from Louisiana, plus Camelia redbeans and some spices. I made a huge pot of beans and 10 or so of Jason’s friends came over, we had a screening of Jason’s short films from the past 15 years. It was a great evening.

I’d been planning on giving Jason his present on his actual birthday, but it worked out better to give it to him the day before. There was a lot of symbolism in this gift and he loved it just as much as I hoped he would. I don’t want to brag, but he’s told me a few times that it’s the best gift he’s received, and I think it’s the best gift I’ve ever made.

The next day, on his actual birthday, we piled into my Volvo and headed east. It was midnight by the time we pulled off I-40 in northern Arizona. Following the signs for a camping site down a dirt road, we found ourselves in the middle of a state park. It was 17 degrees but there were no artificial lights, and we spent a while looking up at the stars. We made a bed of sleeping bags and blankets in the back of the station wagon and fell asleep.

I was freezing, Jason was wearing shorts!

In the morning we were only 2 hours south of the Grand Canyon. After grabbing some breakfast at a Flintstones themed restaurant we entered the park. Neither of us had ever seen the canyon before, and it was amazing! We spent hours walking along the south rim, peering through binoculars, interacting with park wildlife, and taking Polaroids. We watched the chilly sunset and got back on the road.

We slept in the car again that night. Since there were no pitch-black state parks available, we made do with an abandoned adobe building in New Mexico. As we set up our bed in the back of the car we heard loud, angry barking, that got closer and closer. I shone out a flashlight and the wild dogs were close enough that we could see the reflections of their eyes. I jumped in the car and Jason was right behind me. It was scary, but we felt safe… until around 3AM, when we were awakened by a knocking on the window and a flashlight in our faces. I hid under the covers while Jason explained to the cop that we were just passing through, that we were too tired to drive and that this was the only quiet space we could find. The officer was nice enough about it and we drifted back to sleep. The sun had already risen when the next cop woke us up, so we climbed into the front seat and got back on the road.

Our Thanksgiving plans took us to St. Louis to visit the Blakemores, relatives on Jason’s mom’s side. I’d met Uncle Pat at Burning Man and it was great to see him again. The family had rented a cabin outside of the city and we met them there for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. The next day we stopped at a thrift store and Jason’s cousins picked out some great finds for me.

relaxing with the Blakemores: me, Uncle Pat, Jamie, Uncle Bug, and Jane

Our next stop was Russellville, Arkansas, where we spent the night at my dad’s house. My younger brother Andy was visiting for the holiday, and the four of us made some delicious pizzas and played a great game of Scrabble. I think that will be the only time I’ll beat Jason at that game! The following morning Jason and I dropped Andy off at the Little Rock Airport for his return flight to Cleveland and set our sights on New Orleans. The interstate took us right through Memphis and we decided to visit Graceland. Four hours later we were Elvis-ed out (although I had reached my threshhold after about 1 hour…) and resumed our roadtrip, finally and absolutely New Orleans bound.

 

December’s adventure 10 December 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 7:31 PM
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Another month, another trip to California. In November I put about 5,000 miles on the Volvo, or rather I would have if the odometer weren’t broken. But since it is broken, it doesn’t count, right?

Well December’s mileage will be only about 2,000, because this time I’ll be staying in Los Angeles until the beginning of February. I’m bringing some paintings to work on, my sewing machine, and a few projects so that I’ll be able to set up some sort of un-vacationy routine, maybe even find a little job in LA. I can’t help but be a little nervous, but only because this is something new and different. I’m crazy excited about spending so much time with Jason. After our time there, we’re heading back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. March is unclear, but I know that for my birthday at the end of the month I would like to be in New Orleans with my friends and Jason. Also, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! is going to be in NOLA on 11 March, and I am so super psyched about that.

Another notable entry on the iCal is Allia’s grand debut as a ballerina, this weekend in The Nutcracker. She’s going to be a mouse, and I haven’t seen any of her costume or dance steps, so I’m pretty excited. Last week while Jason was in town the three of us saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and I had a great time hanging out with them both.

So, to summarize: I spend all day hanging around the apartment, painting and sewing, with occasional outings on the bicycle, but now I’m going to do it in LA the city, not the state.

 

A happily uncertain place 3 November 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 5:49 PM
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It’s been 3 months since I moved into this little apartment back on Bayou St. John, and almost 2 months since Burning Man. I’m not sure exactly what my life is doing right now, but I can tell that it’s really good. I’m getting pretty settled.

Friday night Lorraine slept over at my place. It was great to have some casual time alone, something we haven’t done since we lived together a year ago. Saturday was Voodoo fest so we dressed up in some bodysuits I just happened to have lying around and hit the park. My mushroom costume was fabulous and I felt like a star! People kept coming up to me all day with compliments, my favorite of which was, “I’ve heard about your costume and was hoping to find you!” I was in a ton of pictures and an interview for Fuse TV. When the camera would scan over the crowd at the Gogol Bordello show, it was real easy to see exactly where I was.

Halloween in NOLA

We were ready for anything

I’ve been very busy sewing lately. Soon I will have a page to show all my projects. I’m also painting again. Money is definitely tight but I am supporting myself with my hobbies. When I have a lot of projects going on I can move around on a whim, and I get to stay home all day. But even better than that is being able to travel.

Next week I am going back to California. I was there for about a week last month, and Jason and I had a wonderful time together. We drove up the Pacific Coastal Highway to San Francisco for the Burning Man decompression and spent the evening in a park in our matching red velvet costumes. Oh, it was fabulous. So in a few days I am driving there in my Volvo. After a couple weeks in LA Jason and I are heading east, spending his birthday at the Grand Canyon before continuing on to St. Louis to be with his family for Thanksgiving. Then we will stop at my dad’s house in Arkansas on the way back to New Orleans in time for Kami’s big 28th birthday. A few days later Jason will fly back to LA, but I won’t be too far behind him, chasing his plane in my station wagon.

SF Decomp
After the party, without our hats and wigs

So here I am, starting to feel settled in my life, when in reality I am just as divided as I’ve ever been. On one hand I have my pretty little home in my city, but on the other hand my mind is always on the west coast. Looks like the next year might be just as unpredictable as 2009 has been.

 

Something old and something new 27 August 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 12:28 AM
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Another Katrina survivor

So here it is, the end of August. It’s inevitable to remember August 2005 as a landmark in our collective memory, but I had my own personal hurricane in August 2008. A year ago I had a job I loved, was plowing through my last semester to my degree, and, most important to me at the time, spent my time with someone who filled me with so much happiness and love that I always sped up the closer I got to home in order to see him a few seconds sooner.

Now I’m a year older and I  feel I can say that I’m at least a year wiser. My heart got stomped on, I quit my job, sold most of my possessions, finished school, traveled around Europe, met Rick Steves (that’s become a mantra to me), and eventually found my way back to NOLA. I feel like I’m living a richer life now. Not financially of course–the painting is going OK but I’m going to have to work very hard to make it pay off. I whir up the Singer sewing machine at least 4 times a week. I see at least one friend every day and go out with other friends several nights a week. I go on dates and while nothing looks very promising I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. When I first returned Kaden had forgotten me and was afraid when I tried to hold him, but now we both enjoy walking around the neighborhood and smelling the flowers.

My pillowcase from Budapest, the bed we built, and a photo of my Grandma

My pillowcase from Budapest, the bed we built, and a photo of my Grandma

I am so happy being in my home, because everything in it tells something about my life. It’s like living in my own storybook with no set ending. Everyday I make a choice to stay, not because it’s easy but because I always find a new reason to be happy: introducing friends who come to eat redbeans with me, hearing palm fronds scrape against a car roof as I ride my bike down Esplanade, seeing my dishes gently drying on their wooden rack. That last one has always made me happy and I hope in 30 years I’ll still be satisfied with it.

In a couple days I’ll be heading out to Burning Man. I didn’t go last year but somehow this party in the desert has been responsible for most of what’s happened in the past year. I can’t help but be nervous about how actually attending while effect my life. But at the very least I will be appropriately dressed in my teal and green spandex bodysuits.

 

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!