My mom is an avid birder and she’s spent the last few decades subjecting my siblings and I to her hobby, sometimes as a form of punishment. So, though I’m loathe to admit it to her, what started as an idea to create a zine about birders actually led me to birdwatch on my own. I live a few minutes away from “Bird Island” in Audubon Park and I try to go at least once a week to watch hundreds of snowy egrets, herons, and black-bellied whistling ducks gather and preen along the lagoon shore at dusk.
02 Object (old)
I acquired a stack of original Seaholm Power Plant blueprints from 1949 sometime during my last year in college, but never really had a proper space to display them. I unearthed them from storage when I moved into my new apartment and I can’t believe I ever kept them out of sight.
03 Object (new)
I had to trade in my old SUV before I made the move from Austin to New Orleans and I’m now the proud owner of a champagne Mercury Grand Marquis with a cavernous trunk and a boat of a backseat that somehow managed to hold almost everything I own. I dubbed her Blanche after packing up and heading east - partly as an homage to Blanche DuBois and partly because it looks like the type of car a sassy broad named Blanche might cruise exclusively to and from bi-weekly mahjong games and salon appointments.
I was lucky enough to reconnect with a wonderful friend and fellow writer/editor once I relocated to New Orleans - and even luckier that she referred me to an apartment right next door to her split rental Uptown. A few days after I moved in, we spotted a pile of off-brand nudie mags scattered around our streetside trash cans that someone must have hastily tried to throw out. One morning, about a week or so later, I opened my living room blinds to find a particularly filthy spread from one of the mags pressed against my window. It’s pretty hard to have a bad day after spit-taking your coffee at a XXX centerfold. We now have a standing order to keep the smutty rag in a constant rotation, surprising each other with it when we least expect it.
I took my first Megabus this month and steeled myself to expect a long-haul exercise in exasperation and isolated restraint. But before we even left the bus terminal, my seatmate and I struck up a conversation, and much to the chagrin of our fellow riders, we spent the next six hours finishing each other’s sentences and barely containing our violent fits of laughter. We went from complete strangers to what felt like long-lost childhood friends and we’ve kept in touch ever since.
06 Night Out
For the last seven years, my routine has included an evening or late-night neighborhood walk with my dog, Shug. It’s always been my favorite time to spend with her and it’s been the hardest void to fill since moving to New Orleans. I was lucky enough to soak up some midnight walks with her when I was in Austin a few weeks ago and it felt like I had been reunited with my own Peter Pan shadow-counterpart.
07 Day Out
My most memorable “days out” this month have been in transit - whether it’s driving back and forth between Texas and Louisiana or exploring different parts of New Orleans on foot, bit by bit. I haven’t really allowed myself much liminal space in recent years and now I feel like my daily life is liminal space.
08 Time Alone
I signed a lease for a one-bedroom apartment in New Orleans on April 1 and it’s the first time I’ve ever lived alone. I’m on my own a lot as it is, so I was a little nervous that I might be leaning too close toward becoming an “island.” But it’s been amazing so far. Despite the expanded amount of time I have to myself, it feels more precious than ever.
09 Time With A Friend
I’ve recently started shooting videos on my phone when I’m spending time with friends and family. No one likes it and the majority of the videos start (and end) with loved ones emphatically yelling at me to stop filming, but they tend to ebb and flow into moments that I love more than any posed portraits. I find myself going back and watching them when I’m traveling or just sitting at home alone, wanting to relive interactions that might not seem worth recording in the moment. Maybe it’s because I love my family’s old home videos or maybe it’s because I don’t feel like living in the moment is a current personal strength and I’m always hoping to capture lightning-in-a-bottle and savor it later.
010 Movie / TV / Book
Book: I decided to revisit my favorite novel, "Confederacy of Dunces," for the first time since moving to the city where the story is set. But I haven’t made much progress so far. I used to speed through chapters because the characters are so strange and engrossing and the situational comedy is so wild and hilarious, but now that I’m actually living in New Orleans I find it harder and harder to see it as a work of fiction and not a fairly reasonable expectation of what I might encounter here on any given day.
Movie: No movies this month but I’ve been making my way through the "Up" documentary series that chronicles the lives of 14 British schoolchildren from various socio-economic backgrounds in episodes filmed every seven years. (The first installment introduced the kids at age seven in 1964 and the latest aired in 2012, showing them at age 56.) I feel like it’s a universal facet of human memory to fluctuate between nostalgic slowness and hyper-speed, but I seem to be struggling with my own gauge of time in the long- and short-term more than ever in recent months. Things are happening so quickly and I don’t have as many benchmarks as I did in childhood to measure change, let alone progress. It’s comforting to watch the "Up" participants navigate the same doubts and questions and mysteries of life, even though we see unexpected twists and painful lows unfold in their individual lives. Whether good or bad, it’s fascinating to watch someone fast-forward into their future. There’s a pleasure in knowing what happens in the end - and that it’s never really the end.
011 Creative Act
Besides keeping a daily journal of city explorations and compiling entries for my Birding Birders zine, I’ve mainly focused on furnishing and decorating my new apartment. I sold, donated, or left most of my old furniture and decor back in Austin so I’ve had a clean slate to design and shape. I’ve been drafting mood boards and color palettes and seeking out thrift-store inspirations and help from my queenly neighbor/interior designer/Craigslist extraordinaire to define my first solitary home and work space.