Monday, May 19, 2008

everything i ever wanted to share about nola

it has come to my attention that i have been neglecting my blog (thank you, compTron). it has also come to my attention that i have only given team leader chris one blog shout-out (thank you, team leader chris). in an effort to rectify both errors...

sparkle turns 25
i am officially 1/4 of a century. i celebrated with a mardi-gras boa (courtesy of lacey and danielle), sleeves (you're too much katie!), a ride on the st. charles streetcar, team dinner at reginelli's, and a surprise house visit from other ameri-friends in the area.

yearning for a blitz

hansen's sno-blitz sweet shop, that is. jenny and liz might remember this name from our 2006 adventure in the big easy. shortly before we visited, i heard an npr report about this snowball institution and its reemergence after katrina. unfortunately, i was not able to try it out in 2006. when i realized i lived a mere 2.3 miles from hansen's, lance and i hopped on our bikes without delay.

the nostalgic shop was much like i pictured it - a line of locals extending out the door, newspaper articles from the 1970's and pictures dating back to the Depression dressing the walls. as i ordered mary's secret recipe, i mentioned that i'd hoped to come here since i first heard about it on an npr report while living out of state. at that, a woman popped her head around from behind ernest hansen's patented sno-blitz machine. "that was me," she grinned. "i'm the granddaughter, ashley. welcome to hansen's!" we shook hands, she asked how i liked it, and pleasantly told me to come back soon.

after 2 years of rumination, my first experience at hansen's sno-blitz could not have been better.

i ran into lonni, our waitress from the flying burrito, across town at rusted up beyond all recognition bikes where she helped me find my preferred mode of transportation around the big easy. r.u.b.a.r.b. represents a thrilling element of living in new orleans after katrina. a community bike shop that fixes up discarded bikes and redistributes them to new orleanians is indicative of the rise in creative resourcefulness and civic involvement since the storm. i'd love to see one of these in la or detroit...or maybe i'll start one of them.

unknown (to me) facts about nola
nola - an abbreviation for "new orleans, la".
after the storm - a commonly used phrase referring to life after katrina; perhaps the strongest reminder of the hurricane's hovering influence in new orleans.
decor - i spend most of my time here working with residents in their homes. nearly everyone, it seems, has a formal sitting room and an always-set dining table complete with cloth napkins and place settings.
east coast speak? - native new orleanians sound far more like al paccino in the godfather than clark gable in gone with the wind. who knew?
parking mayhem - except on one-way streets, people park facing in both directions on both sides of the road here. that is to say, you might see two vehicles kissing rather than bumper hugging on any street corner.
bumpy roads - i'm not talking potholes. i'm saying don't sit in the back of a 12p-van unless you like wooden roller coasters.

the coolest day ever
once upon a time wolf-5 went to a holy cross neighborhood meeting in the 9th ward of new orleans. it reminded me of barack obama's stories about community organizing in south chicago. announcements included "the _________ had their bikes stolen last week. they look like __________ and are very sentimental to them. if you see the bikes around, please call them or the police." talk about neighbors who know and care about each other.

a stroll up (yes, uphill) to the mississippi river led wolf-5 to mike, an architecture student at loyola university in new orleans. mike led wolf-5 on a 2.5 hour tour of the ninth ward including history of the holy cross neighborhood, global green/make it right house (part of the holy cross project), where the levees broke, lower 9th ward (what is left of it), and observation deck by the former cypress grove in the bayou. while participating in our team reflection activity, he left us with the succinct request "to share with people what it's like here".

it was one of the most effective educational experiences of my life. i'm a little spent on writing at the moment, but if you'd like more details, please let me know.

about (or a bout of) altruism?
i've worked a few hours since i've been here. maybe a few too many. the other night, i crashed early. as lacey tells me, when the rest of the girls came into the room a few hours later, i sleepily greeted them: "may i help you with something?" i have no recollection of this event and admit nothing...

xoxo from the big easy!

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

gosh i sure miss you but am so happy that you are having such an amazing time.