Saturday, July 19, 2014

Getting Back To It

I haven't written in this space in almost a year and a half. I guess it was because I got away from what I originally intended for this blog. Instead of writing about living life in New Orleans, specifically; I was writing about life, in general. The first and most basic piece of advice given to someone who aspires to write is "write what you know". The problem with this being that "what I know" often involves other people who may not want their business broadcast on a public forum. I found that I couldn't be truthful in writing about the trials and triumphs of my daily life without also exposing the lives of others. So, I decided to leave it alone. Writing, even in this, oh-so, basic and remedial capacity is not always easy. Sometimes the words just come to you, others you can't even put a sentence together. Taking a break was nice. But I knew it was still sitting here. And I missed it. I decided I could get back to it, but in the way originally intended: highlighting all of the cool, eccentric, fabulous, fun, interesting, sometimes challenging, people, places and things that are New Orleans. After deciding that I was going to start again, actually getting started was another matter. The words wouldn't come. It seemed incredibly stressful for something that was supposed to be for enjoyment! It has taken a couple of months but, today, it feels like the words will come. I'll give it a shot.

They say that in New Orleans the four seasons are Carnival (Mardi Gras), Festival, Sno-Ball (Summer), and Football. We are well into Sno-Ball season, but there are still festivals to be found. In just a couple of weeks we will be enjoying Satchmo SummerFest. But first, even though I'm a little late in getting to it, I want to talk about Jazz Fest. The topic of Jazz Fest can inspire passionate debates(arguments) among locals, many of whom balk at the corporate sponsorship, daily pricing, or the influx of mainstream acts over homegrown talent. Others enjoy it when they can go. And then there's the die hards....who go all day, every day. Weather (extreme heat or rain) be damned. I fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, it can be pricey at $70 a day. BUT, that's for 8 hours of fantastic music! There is literally something for everyone's musical tastes AND room for you to hear something new! And, yes, there are a lot of major acts, many that I don't care for. BUT, I personally don't go to a lot of arena shows anymore and if an act that I would like to catch comes to Jazz Fest...even better. I get to see them along with all of the others on the bill that day! Instead of paying 100 bucks to see one band at an arena, I pay 70 and see lots of bands. Sounds good to me. This year I went to Jazz Fest 5 of the 7 days and had a great time. Being out at the Fairgrounds in the heat amongst a crowd that smells of patchouli, suntan lotion, and beer, dancing to the music....well....I didn't want to be anywhere else! The crowd is so chill and happy to be there that there were good vibes everywhere. I know how clichéd that sounds, but, I swear, it was true! Some highlights for me: MUSIC Rumba Buena (new to me!), Boutte Family Gospel, Davell Crawford, Robin Thicke (pre-begging) who had to end his set early because the heat go to him, poor thing, his shirt was soaked!, Marcia Ball, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Tricia Boutte & Paul Longstreth, the whole second Saturday Acure Stage line-up: Marc Broussard (new to me!), Allen Toussaint, Voices of the Wetlands Allstars, and Mr. Bruce Springsteen. FOOD cochon de lait po boy (more than once), Ms. Linda's ya ka mein, panne'd chicken po boy, Cuban sammich, strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler....the list for both could go on and on. Now, I'm going to be honest here and say that I've never faithfully gone to Jazz Fest, I've always preferred French Quarter Festival. This year converted me. I just found it really enjoyable and can now say that I highly recommend it. It's worth the price. And even better if you get a Brass Pass during WWOZ's fund drive ($500). Even if you don't attend every day, you can rest assured that the money went to a good cause. Some helpful tips if you do go: dress for COMFORT, not cute. It can get extremely hot out there or it can rain, be prepared for both! Sun hat, suntan lotion, sunglasses, eye drops (for the dust), plastic rain poncho, bandana (for the sweat), sensible shoes that you won't miss if ruined, etc.; bring cash, smaller bills; be prepared to try new things. If you are a seafood eater, you will be in heaven!; prepare for crowds on Sat. & Sun and when there is a huge act. If you plan on seeing someone like Springsteen and want a good view, get to the Fairgrounds EARLY to get in and make a run for the stage. Then be prepared to set up camp and enjoy all of the acts on that stage for the day and to make friends with the people around you. You are going to be there for a while. If you plan on wandering, make sure you have marked your spot and will be able to find it when you get back. The scenery will definitely look different and it will be difficult to pick your way through the crowd. I'm not usually willing to forego moving around all day, but I did it for Bruce. Luckily, I was stuck next to cool people and liked the music line up for the day. It was hot and a bit uncomfortable at times, getting to the "bathroom" was a hassle, but I'm glad I did it. Felt like a warrior after I made it through the day! lol! Again, I had a really nice time and am so grateful to the people who helped me make it happen! I strongly suggest you make your plans and go! It's like New Orleans, in general, you should go once at least once in your lifetime.

Some other things I've been grooving on lately:

Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, I just love this band and try to see them when I can. Kinda country, kinda rockabilly, kinda swing...just all around good stuff. And Vanessa Niemann's voice is sublime. Check out their CD's "Set Two" and "Last to Leave".

Meschiya Lake, One of the best singers I've ever heard. Fantastic personal style too. Her lastest is "Fooler's Gold".

"Oh New Orleans, Here I Come!", Great song written for Tricia Boutte to sing when she's missing her hometown over there in Norway. On the CD of the same name.

Aresene DeLay, Another member of that super talented Boutte family. To my ears, Arsene has a voice like Ella Fitzgerald! I love her new CD "Comin' Home" and you should rush out and get it. She can be seen around Frenchmen at the Spotted Cat (w/ the majorly awesome Antoine Diehl), Café Negril, and BMC. Go get you some!

"That's It", The latest by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, their first of all original compositions. And I really dig it! Especially the title song.

And now for a non-music selection, The Cake Café (corner of Chartres and Spain in the Marigny), Steve Himelfarb used to be known as "The Cake Man" when he walked through the streets of New Orleans with a huge tray of homemade cake slices for sale. I guess he is still known as "The Cake Man" in his cozy restaurant where he serves those cakes and more. My buddy Mike and I went out there for brunch two days ago and enjoyed it, immensely. The atmosphere is informal, you order at the counter and they call you when it's ready; and the food was tasty! I ordered the corned beef hash w/two eggs special. So good! The hash was homemade and the corned beef was tender without being too fatty, eggs were cooked as ordered. Also came with a fresh biscuit that was stellar. ($9, I believe.) Mike had those same biscuits with sausage gravy. And there was a superb cream cheese danish involved in our dining experience too. With drinks and tip, around 30 bucks for a lot of food in a nice neighborhood joint. We'll go again.

So, there it is. My first blog post in a year and a half. I'm rusty, so please excuse the typos and bad form. I'll edit as I go along. And I'll be making an effort to get out more in order to have things to write about.

Live life to the fullest, tomorrow isn't promised.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Great Expectations

Well, here we are 2 weeks into the new year already. And, as I always am at this time of year, I'm feeling so optimistic. I don't know why, but I think that good things are going to happen this year and it makes me breathe easier. This is not to say that everything has changed and all stresses have been eliminated with the arrival of 2013, it's just that I'm choosing to focus on the potential and possibilites ahead. I feel like something new and exciting can happen and that's....well....exciting! I don't think that this is going to just happen on it's own or fall out of the sky and hit me on the head. Hell, I can't even pinpoint what I think is going to change. It's just a feeling that I've been having. But I do know that I have to help it along. To that end I'm just trying to be an overall better person by consciously practicing patience, empathy, a positive attitude, and generally manifesting good things. I totally believe that what you put out in life is what comes back to you. And all of the criticizing/judging of others, complaining, and self-pity that we engage in just isn't helpful. Now, these qualitites also don't disappear overnight. You have to work at it. Hard. Even the Dalai Lama will tell you that he is not perfect in this way and that it takes great effort. But I think it's a worthy endeavor. I guess you could say that I'm on a mission to banish the negativity from my life and live in a more fulfilling way. It's high time to get to work.

There are several areas in my life that need attending to in order to achieve my overall attitude adjustment and I'm going to start with my everpresent weight. Honestly, I am so sick of hearing myself talk about it that it's just time to DO SOMETHING. I re-joined Weight Watchers yesterday. My way didn't work. For whatever reason, I need the structure, accountability, and support that they provide. It can be expensive, tedious at times, and downright annoying if you don't have a good leader, but I have to do it. I have to stop fucking around and just lose this weight already. Being thin may not be the key to being happy in life. But it sure as hell helps. I'm fat now and I've been thin. There's a difference. I'd rather be thin. Period. End of story. Weight Watchers is a start. Next up on my list of things in need of an overhaul is my relationship. But I'm not going to get into all of that on here right now because there are two people involved, not just me. I will say that we are coming up on 4 years of being together and are still not on the same page about some key things. All relationships have their ups and downs. Sometimes you have to make a decision regarding what you are willing to compromise on and what you aren't willing to live with. This isn't fun. But neither is living with a situation that isn't ideal for you. This goes both ways. Everyone should be able to live the life they choose to live. With that being said, I have some thinking to do and decisions to make in this area. Next in line is the job situation. But that is what it is. I still need to have money coming in so I have to do what I have to do. I still consider myself to be very fortunate, my little trials are less than a lot of people have to deal with. I will grow and learn from whatever happens in the next few months and continue to belive that everything always falls into place.

Now that we have all of the seriousness out of the way.....I have been able to get out for a bit o' fun in the last 2 weeks. On New Year's Day my mom and I tried out Mojito's for brunch. Nice little place that offers live music and a great courtyard for outside dining. I had a dish called the Sausage Braid: eggs, sausage & cheese wrapped in pastry dough. Really delicious but the portion was small. (Yes, I actually said that after writing about my weight problem.) Sipped on mimosas while listening to The Mumbles, whom I had never seen before. I liked them. The drummer had a pretty soulful voice for a white boy. The one thing about that day that is still etched into my mind is that on the way home we saw a person lying on the ground receiving CPR. Couldn't help but think that was a shitty way to start the new year. Never found out what happened to them. Scary how you never know when your time may come.

The following week my old college professor was in town with his crew and I met up with them to check out trumpeter Kermit Ruffins' new Treme Speakeasy. Kermit performs every Sunday & Monday night. Supposedly at 6, but that's 6 in New Orleans time. Which means 7 or 7:30. It was a cool little place that has table seating and serves down home cookin' cooked by Kermit himself. I didn't eat but the macaroni & cheese looked awesome! Needless to say, the music was also awesome. Kermit and his regular band and several guests rolled through. It was a good time. After that we hit the Palm Court for Lucien Barbarin's last set.

Finally, with the prospect of Weight Watchers looming ahead, my WW buddy, Karen, and I decided to go out for a burger. A last meal, of sorts. Karen picked Finn McCool's, a Mid City Irish bar, for our outing. She couldn't have chosen better! The burger was fantastic! As were the fries and the little fried mac & cheese balls. (Yes, we overdid it.) I ate so much that I was in pain and had to go home and lay down.

So, I'm going to say that, over all, the year is off to a pleasant start. Because good can even come from the difficult situations. And let's face it, I get to live in a city where it's silly not to make the best of things and be happy. When you walk through New Orleans you notice that most people have smiles on their faces. There's a reason for that. In this city, joy can be just around the next corner.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bellyaching (With A Side Optimism)

Sometimes life is just plain overwhelming. We all know this and have felt it at some point.  It can feel extremely overwhelming when you've reached a "certain age" and you feel as if you aren't where you're supposed to be. Financially, jobwise, healthwise, happiness, socially, etc.. I've been feeling as if something is missing lately and yet can't really pinpoint exactly what (other than money). I know that I've been wanting another job because of the physical toll of doing massage, and I've done a few tour guiding gigs, but I'm realizing that I'm not going to be able to support myself solely doing that. It will be a pleasant supplement, at best. And, ironically, for the past few weeks I've been getting stellar reviews/feedback at the spa. Now, don't get me wrong (and not to toot my own horn), I've always gotten positive feedback on my massages, but lately people have been absolutely gushing. It's definitely good for the ol' ego and it keeps me going. I just wish doing massage didn't hurt me so much by the end of the week. I guess what bothers me the most is that I don't know what I want to do with myself and feel that, at my age, my choices are limited. Sad when you know that you'll probably be working until you die, because of poor financial planning. It makes me feel restless and unsettled. And it makes me play the "What if...?" game. It also makes me ask myself the cliched, "Where did the time go?". I've been dwelling on this stuff and thinking about my mortality a lot. It makes my life seem brain won't focus, my thoughts are scattered, and I'm not moving forward. My uneasiness about life is prohibiting me from curing my uneasiness. It has to stop. By letting regrets about decisions in the past, worries about what will be, and constant ruminations on death into my daily thinking, I'm crippling my own progress. And my health. Mistakes and loss and hardships are a part of life. And while, yes, my weight loss is at a standstill (after creeping up a few pounds), my relationship has ups and downs, my job situation could be better, and there's always the nuisance of BILLS and the feeling of forever treading water and never getting have to keep plugging away at it.

To that end......I started journaling my food again. Since my mom has been here I've been very lax with my eating habits. This is something that really started up back at the end of August and I haven't gotten ahold of it since. I'm not using my mom being here as my excuse. It's all on me to "police" myself. We've had a few great meals out (John Besh's Steakhouse, Santa Fe, Cafe Degas, Nonna Mia) but honestly, we've had more mediocre crap and take-out. I think my standout meal was lunch at Cafe Degas, the quirky little French restaurant with the tree through the middle of it. When you look up at the ceiling you feel as if you might be eating in someone's garage, but the food is lovely. I had perfect cheesy, sherry filled, french onion soup to start, and the hanger steak (cooked to order) with pomme frites and toasted garlic bordelaise as my entree. Divine. Even the broccoli served with it was delicious. Now, if all of the fat and calorie laden meals that I've eaten over the past 3 weeks were of that caliber, I wouldn't be as disappointed in myself. I could maybe even justify it to myself. But Domino's pizza just isn't worth the weight gain. So, I'm banning greezy take out from my food rotation and we will be cooking at home more often. In fact, I'm going to say that for the month of December all meals cooked at home will be from Cooking Light magazine. The magazine that I have a subscription to and have used only to look at the pictures and say, "Wow, they have some really good recipes in here." Time to get them going. I can't expect progress if I don't even make an effort. Thankfully, Thanksgiving and it's tribute to gluttony is behind us and the pumpkin cheesecake that I made is gone. (I seriously thought that I was going to have to be physically restrained from eating it. Yes, it was that good.) I'm ready to move on and not feel so sluggish again.

I know that the little steps toward improvement all add up. But sometimes it's easier said than done and you would rather just not get out of bed and dressed in the morning. That's ok once in a while, we wouldn't be human if we didn't feel that way. But humans are also resilient and can overcome any obstacle. Especially a little stress and frustration. I may not be where I'd like to be financially, jobwise, or healthwise, but I'm still here. And who knows? I still may find my niche. Maybe a few years down the road I'll open a bar (with live music, of course), a book store,  a tour guiding/trip planning business, or some such. There has to be something out there for me. For all of us. If not, there's always the lottery.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Embracing Change

I actually yelled at the scale this morning. And it felt pretty good. Until I was jolted into reality by a vision of the Ben & Jerry's I ate last night; followed by a kind of home movie montage in my mind of all of the crap I've been eating for the past 2 weeks. I then realized how misplaced my anger was. It is me that I should be yelling at. Only me. Since the end of August and the approach of hurricane Isaac I have been in a junk food free for all and I'm struggling to get out of it. That's the reality. It seems that during a hurricane you just eat junk. That's the rule. If you stay to ride it out you stock up on things that will "keep". These are usually canned foods, bread, peanut butter, crackers, cookies, get the idea. Very few things that require refrigeration, because the best you can hope for is to live out of a cooler for a few days but sometimes ice is hard to come by. If you evacuate and end up in a motel somewhere it's usually fast food, take out, or convenience store stuff, as there is no income coming in and you have to be conservative. As I stocked up at the picked over grocery store, my heart sank as I saw the kind of junk that was piling up in my cart. But another part of my brain was elated, thinking, "Yes, for the love of God, I have a few days where I don't have to feel guilty about not giving a fuck about WW points!!!!!" In any case, Isaac was the start of my downward spiral. Stacy has kept it going. I've made some effort to get back on track, but not enough. And it's hard. I've fallen off the wagon and now I need to detox again. It's never any fun to have to start at the beginning. But I will do what I have to do, knowing that I'm still ahead of the game despite a rough couple of weeks. I just have to face the fact that I've gained a few pounds, own it, get my head in the game, and change things up.

With that being said.....I've quit Weight Watchers. I know....I can hear some of you saying "Are you nuts? You just finished saying that you're struggling as it is!" And I can understand the confusion, but here's why:

I'm not really getting a lot out of the meetings (information-wise) and I haven't ever been following the program strictly; therefore, I can't justify laying out the cash for it every month. I know what I need to do and I need to do it on my own. I guess, for some reason, it would make me feel better to know I have the will to do this on my own. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but that is my decision. I'm at peace with it. It helps knowing that I have some supportive people in my life and I will be accountable to my group of girls on facebook. And if I find that I'm not succeeding, I can change my mind. Weight Watchers will still be there.

On the career front, not much has changed except that I can now say that I'm officially a Tour Guide. I picked up my permit last week. Now I just need to get a gig. I did have the good fortune to strike up a conversation at Royal Blend with a woman who is currently a guide. She was really cool and generous enough to provide me with some contacts and a reference. We'll see what pans out from that and I'll start to do some searching on my own. Last week I went into the spa and almost gave up my Wednesday nights, but then considered that it might be prudent to have something else lined up first.

Let's see, what else do I have to report about my activities in the past couple of months........

  • My buddy Mike and I met an old friend, who was in town with her brother, for dinner and Perfect Margaritas at Santa Fe. I so miss going out to dinner regularly, but being broke and trying to lose weight kind of prevent me from doing so. I had what I always get, the Rueda de Huevo. It is pulled pork and sweet potato puree between 2 fried tortillas, topped with some kind of sauce, cheeses, and a fried egg. Sounds strange but is, in reality, damn delicious. Went to Pal's Lounge afterward to continue the revelry.
  • Was very disappointed when I learned that there would be no Satchmo Club Strut to kick of the Satchmo Summer Fest this year. Always enjoyed this event on Frenchmen Street. Great for a night of club hopping and people watching. Hope they bring it back next year or come up with something to replace it. Enjoyed the Saturday of Satchmo Fest, Treme Brass Band turned out an incredible set in honor of Uncle Lionel.
  • Mike & I checked out Dreamy Weenies, the new hot dog place on Rampart Street. Awesome! Yes, awesome! I had a huge, beef hot dog with kraut on a fantasticly fresh roll. Delicious. The waffle fries were good, as were the sweet potato fries, and the portions were large. They get extra points in my book for playing brass band music on the stereo. Hot dog, fries, drink - 10 bucks. Get over there! After lunch we wandered over to The Golden Lantern. I've only been there a couple of times but a good place to duck in for a cheap strong drink. A primarily gay establishment but always welcoming and, of course, entertaining. It happend to be a regular patron's 81st birthday party and he was decked out in a white suit with red accessories, including a red hat sporting a rhinestone pin declaring "It's My Birthday". They had a spread of food that we were encouraged to eat and a second line that we were encouraged to participate in. And that's a rainy summer Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.
  • Stopped in at The Copper Monkey one afternoon. Hadn't been there in a long time and was craving their steak quesedilla. Figured that I'd fill the craving and have a couple of cocktails on the first day of my "stacation". There's not much to the Copper Monkey's steak quesedilla and that's how I like it. Just rib eye steak & melted cheese between tortillas. Sour cream, salsa, & jalapenos on the side. Strong drinks and music on the stereo in the Quarter. Perfect.
  • In the aftermath of hurricane Issac, suffering from a bit of "cabin fever" and being without power, I made my way down to the Quarter to charge my phone and look for a cheeseburger. Yes, I wanted a hot, comforting cheeseburger. I settled on Yo Mama's because of the proximity to The Royal Blend even though I haven't always been crazy about their burgers. Happy to say that it turned out to be a good choice. I had a bacon cheddar burger with a loaded baked potato and enjoyed every bit of it, guilt free. I had heard recent rumors of upheaval and instability over there but I have to say that this was the best burger I've ever had there. It was so good I got one to go to take to my buddy Mike at work.
Sadly, those are the few social highlights of my last few months. But I'm optimistic about changing that and the other things that need it in my life. The New Orleans heat will soon be easing up, football is back, my mom will be here in October. Lots of good things happening now and on the horizon. I'm looking forward to finding a new job and a new path, in general. I love change. It's exciting. It's positive. It's growth. And it's good for us. Change something small in your life today. You just might like it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Still Beautiful (Life)

I've let quite a bit of time pass since my last post. And it's not because I've been so busy leading a fun and fabulous life. In fact, I haven't written because there ain't been much of anything happenin'. Nothing worth writing about, anyway. I'm still plugging away at WW, and I go to work, doing a job that I almost hate, but sometimes enjoy. I've just been going through daily life and thinking that there has to be a better way. There has to be something else out there for me. Especially career-wise. Although I feel very fortunate to have a source of income when so many other people are struggling, the reason that I almost hate my job is that after 8 years of doing massage, it hurts. I'm developing tendonitis in my elbow. I sometimes have pain in my wrist and neck and shoulder....oh, and my low back. After a busy shift, when I arrive home and sit down, I am often unable to get back up without a struggle. It's unpleasant, it makes me not want to work, and I don't know how much longer I can do it as a full time job. On the flip side, there are those lovely moments when you have the right connection with your client and they love your work, making you feel very appreciated. Those times are what keep me going in the profession, but ideally I'd like to do it part time. So, I'm looking to start my next career phase. Whatever it may be. The only thing I'm sure of is that it will somehow involve promoting the City of New Orleans, because this city is my heart and my passion. I've accepted the fact that I will pretty much have to work until I die, so it might as well be doing something fun that I love. I don't know what that something is yet, but I am confident that it will be. To that end, I signed up for a tour guiding class at the community college. Not sure what I will do with the license yet, but it's a start. I AM sure that I love giving people suggestions on where to visit, music to hear, and food to eat in the city. I love planning itineraries. I love taking pictures. I love writing. I want to have a part in showing New Orleans to people and making them love my city as I do. Too many times I've seen or heard of people coming here, walking up and down Bourbon St. and leaving thinking that they've seen New Orleans. This is just sad and inaccurate. I want to remedy this. So, I'll research my options and see what I can make happen. We should all be able to enjoy what we spend a large portion of our life doing.

I mentioned WW.......all is well on this front. Still slow going and I definitely haven't been perfect but I'm down around 23 lbs. and that's better than where I started. I'm sure that if I added some exercise the weight would come off much faster, but the chances of that happening in the NOLA heat and humidity are slim. And I'm not joining a gym because I won't go and, to quote my cousin Wayne, "The only number that will go down is the one in my checkbook." But I will stick with the WW because it's making me start to feel good about myself again. This is the longest I've EVER stuck with WW or any type of diet modification and that gives me hope and confidence. The reality is that I'm not on a "diet" that I can go off of when I reach a weight that I'm comfortable with. This is for life. And that can be a bit overwhelming when you think about it. But the longer I stay with it, the more comfortable I am doing it. I also have a great support system in my "WW buddy", Karen; the gals in the support group I started on facebook; my mom and my aunt Renee who always cheer me on in my triumphs; and my boyfriend, who doesn't see me as fat (a bit of denial there) and has made an effort to learn healthier ways of cooking. Outside support is so very important and I'm grateful for all that I have.

Moving on.....I haven't been doing much socializing or participating in the ongoing revelry of N.O. Truthfully, since April I think I've had one cocktail (at Tujague's after a French Quarter tour for class). Cocktails usually put the kibosh on my weight loss efforts (high calories/low inhibitions). There were a couple of times that I really had to restrain myself from partaking but, overall, I'd say I'm doing pretty well. There's also the money factor. Just don't have extra for fun right now. But I do see a light at the end of the tunnel and an improved financial situation is ahead. Also ahead is the Satchmo Summer Fest, and I won't miss that. Always a nice time. And I've even been able to, through the generosity of my mom and my daddy up in heaven, book a room at the Lamothe House downtown for a little "staycation". (Spending money is another thing, but we'll do it on the cheap and figure something out.) It is amazing to me how having a few days in a hotel with a pool to look forward to can boost your spirits and motivate you through your day. I'm grateful for this also.

On a sad note, I have to report here that "Uncle" Lionel Batiste has passed on at the age of 81. Long time bass drummer for the Treme Brass Band, dapper gentleman, and all around New Orleans LEGEND. This man lived his life to the fullest with unmatched exuberance and is an example of doing what you love for a living. For Uncle Lionel, age was definitely just a number. He made his rounds every night. Singing, dancing, and charming many ladies of all ages while doing so. He is a role model and we should all take a page from his book and live every day like it's our last. Because even though I may be fat, not love my job, and money might be tight so I have to eat a few peanut butter & jelly sammiches for is still beautiful and there's always a silver lining.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Keeping My (Double) Chin Up

It's been said that the formula for weight loss is "Eat less, move more.". I've also heard "Just eat less.". Concise. Simple. And yet, it's never really that simple, is it? I have to think that the people dispensing these little nuggets of wisdom have never faced a weight problem. I'm in my 11th week of Weight Watchers and have lost 13.4 lbs so far, but the bulk of it was lost in the first 6 weeks. And I was feeling incredibly confident during those weeks, maybe even cocky. I was amazed at how easily the weight was falling off! The past 4 weeks? Not so much. My losses have pretty much come to a stand still. I keep telling myself to be happy because I've still lost over 13 lbs and haven't been slowly gaining the weight back. There's something to be said for that! But, truthfully, my parade has been rained on. My sails deprived of wind. And the worst part about it is that I'm the only one to blame. I can't blame it on the fact that April is a busy month here in New Orleans with French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. Or the fact that my mom has been in town for over a month. Or that I've had some vacation time. Because, ultimately, it's up to me to make the right choices. This is not to say that I haven't had some great times and awesome meals in the past month, because I did, and that's what life is all about. Even so, I can't help thinking that discipline and restraint would have felt even more awesome. But, c'est la vie....onward and upward....and all that other shit. Even though it's been a slow process I've still lost more that 13 lbs! I'll take it and be happy. What's the hurry, right? I've been fat for so long now that it almost feels normal to me. But not quite. Because there's always that feeling of being a second class citizen when you're fat. You know what certain people are thinking when they look at you. And then there are the people who look through you as if you aren't even there. It has always astounded me that the bigger you get, the more invisible you become. There's also the people who feel free to voice their hateful comments about your size to get a laugh from their friends. And if you're fat, you know that the first thing you do when you're in a crowded room is scan the room to find out if you're the fattest. And you're relieved when you're not. All of these things have happened to me. And they will never feel normal. I want to feel better about myself and better in general. But also because it bothers me that certain people in society presume that they are better than me because I have some weight on me. I know for damn sure that they are not, (The first reason being that I would never try to make someone feel unworthy for something as superficial as weight.) and it bothers me that I let them bother me. But let's be truthful.....we all want to look good and boost our self-esteem. And, hey, if I can extend my life as a result. it's a win-win. So, I will keep plugging away at the slooooooow process of WW because I know it's what I have to do. With all of that being said, New Orleans is known as not being the best place for getting healthy. We're a culture that thrives on good food, booze, music, and socializing. All of that can definitely put the kibosh on your efforts. But that's where the discipline comes in. You have to thwart all of that adult peer pressure and do your own thang. Plus NOLA can be helpful in many ways.....there are plenty of opportunities to dance, second lines to follow, an abundance of outdoor festivals where you can get out and shake it. There are healthy food options if you seek them out, farmers markets, and the horrendous parking situations in parts of the city encourage you to walk or use public transportation (drunkenness encourages that also). I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though I live in a city known for its debauchery and decadence, I know that I can lose weight and get healthy here. It's just going to take effort and that falls on me. So look out bitches, I'm keeping my (double) chin up, staying positive, and I'm gettin' healthy!

******Some highlights of my last month of activities.*******

~Filet mignon @ Manning's with the thin cripsy onion rings that I love.
~Easter Sunday afternoon @ Napoleon's Itch (gay bar)
~Always dinner @ Adolfo's
~The Brass-a-holics set at French Quarter Fest!!!!!
~The chocolate mousse in a "basket" dessert at Crescent City Brewhouse
~Sunday dinner with Mike, Dave, & my mom
~3great days at Jazz Fest - James Andrews killed his set!
~Finally seeing The Stooges Brass Band
~Meeting David Simon (creator of The Wire and Treme).
~The New Orleans Musicians For Obama event.
~Chicken Clemenceau & Leroy Jones @ The Palm Court (with my favorite waiter, Stanley)
~Trombone Shorty @ The Mahalia Jackson Theater

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need To Call A "Do Over"

I haven't had a french fry since February.

I gave up fried foods for the Lenten season, even though I'm not anywhere near to being Catholic, in order to jump start my weight loss efforts. And I've stuck with it. No cheating. Even though I smell fried chicken or onion rings on every breeze that blows through my neighborhood. I can't say I really miss it either, and honestly, the thought of eating fried chicken and french fries makes my stomach hurt. It makes me envision all of that grease clogging my arteries. I'm in my 6th week of Weight Watchers and down nearly 12 pounds. Don't want to toot my own horn but I'm feeling successful. And I want more. I don't feel as sluggish as I used to, I have some spring in my step, and I'm feelin' good. (Well, except for last night when, in celebration of my birthday, my buddy Mike cooked for me and I ate so much glorious food and drank so much white wine that I was in physical pain for the remainder of the night. I wasn't feelin' good then.) I'm also sleeping better and waking up earlier in the morning. Feeling and seeing the results of my efforts makes me want to keep doing what I'm doing. And to even improve on what I'm doing, because the extra spring in my step still hasn't made me want to exercise. I'm lazy and I hate it, but I'm going to have to do it. And soon. I can already see the weight loss slowing down and I don't want to lose my momentum. I'm hoping I didn't do too much damage over the past two days and sabotage this week's weigh in, but I'm not going to let it get me down too much because life happens, and there are going to be celebrations in which you are meant to indulge.

On the subject of indulging, as far as birthday celebrations go, mine was pretty sedate. On Saturday morning I went to breakfast with a friend at Ruby Slipper Cafe. First visit. It's a cute place and was pretty crowded on a Saturday morning. I ordered Eggs Cochon (a large homemade biscuit topped with pulled pork, poached eggs, hollandaise, and fresh chives.) and a double mimosa. Definitely not WW friendly. I was pretty happy with everything except that I would have liked more hollandaise (A dollop sitting on top of each egg just wasn't enough of this decadent sauce!) and I thought 10 bucks for a mimosa served in a wine glass was a bit steep. I would go back though. After breakfast it was off to Walmart to pick up some area rugs to appease the downstairs neighbor (WooHoo, rugs! Happy Birthday to me!) and then to go get some flowers for the empty pots on my balcony. That was it for my actual birthday. No day long bender. No all night partying on Frenchmen Street. I didn't feel like it. On Sunday I woke up early, re-potted my plants, and then Mike came over and we hung out for the afternoon. It may not have been exciting but it was a pleasant way to spend the weekend. I guess I'm saving my energy because my mom and Aunt Renee arrive this Sunday and next week is French Quarter Fest! Now this is the week that I'm worried about when it comes to WW because I know I will be eating out a lot. But we'll be walking and on the go also, so I'm hoping it will all balance out. I've already been perusing the FQF music schedule and club listings and wondering how to be everywhere at once. It will be a great week of family, friends, music, eating, drinking, and festivities in the sun. And above all else, the good times are what matter the most. I want to lose this weight, (and I have a ways to go before I'm where I want to be) but not at the expense of fun times and making memories. I have the rest of my life to do WW, so I'm not going to require perfection of myself. Just effort. Being fat is not fun, but neither is deprivation. So I will enjoy my loved ones while making sure I get some exercise in. And I will not beat myself up over my caloric intake. Because life is meant to be fun and tomorrow always offers a "do over".