Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ode to Humidity, or, Why I Loved NOLA

Okay, so I figured out why so much UF is set in or around New Orleans. Because it’s FREAKING AMAZING.

I was just there for the weekend and it was my first time visiting. I am now officially obsessed. The food, the people, the stench . . . I love me some stinky city and New Orleans smelled like a dock yard whore’s underthangs.

It’s the kind of city that makes me feel louche. I want to lounge on things, wearing too much make up that gets smudged in the heat. It’s so hot and sticky, and you just instantly feel dirty. So you have to embrace the dirt, rather than fight it.

New Orleans also looked exactly like it does in the movies. Have you ever been to a city and realized that it’s not the city in the films? That’s not only because “Chicago” or “New Jersey” was actually probably Toronto, but because oftentimes filmmakers find that one clean patch, or that one really interesting patch, of a given locale and make it even shinier and more interesting. But everyone wants NOLA dirty, disheveled, swelled with humidity. So it looked like I expected it to.

It also reminded me a lot of other places I’ve lived. The heat, and the section by the Plaza d’Armas, reminded me of Granada. And the tourist press reminded me of Edinburgh, as did the insane amounts of drunkenness and fried food. If it weren’t so hot and sunny, I coulda been back in Scotland.

But that’s not accurate as, at the end of the day, it was entirely Louisiana. I’ve only lived in this state since last August, but it’s growing on me, fast. There are a lot of problems and a lot of things I don’t appreciate very much. But then there’s all the amazing stuff. People here, for the most part, know how to live. They know what’s important: good food, getting outside and doing stuff, being active in the community and spending time with friends and family. I love the friendliness. I talk to everybody, and I’m finally living in a place where everybody talks back. I also love how everybody, even the super conservative people here, allow for quite a bit of weird in their lives. Partly, that’s because everyone I’ve met here is secretly fairly crazy, usually in a good way. So even my most conservative acquaintances will not bat an eyelash at the dude dressed like Wonder Woman for no obvious reason. Other places I’ve lived, the status quo definitely holds sway and brooks little or no insubordination. But here? There’s a strange tolerance that coexists alongside the conservatism, as if people know there’s a historical link between Louisiana and the bizarre that can’t be broken. This was best illustrated for me by my first Mardi Gras, where even in Shreveport every other big strapping Christian cowboy was sporting a wig and a stuffed bra. Subversiveness seems to be in the water, here, and that’s why I like it.

For a detailed guide of everything I shoved in my face, with pictures!, go here. In the meantime, do you guys have any NOLA memories? Or any particular places that you’ve visited that really resonate for you?


DianaRowland said...

You totally NAILED it, darlin'. I can't wait for you to come down here again!

Nicole Peeler said...

Thanks, lady! And I can't wait to come down! Yay for NOLA!

Jaye Wells said...

I love, love, love New Orleans. My dream is to rent a house in the Garden District for a few months and write my pants off. There's just an amazing, creative energy there.

Nicole Peeler said...

Jaye: Let's do it! I'm serious. Why not? I have summers off. . .

-Kelly Meding said...

New Orleans is on my list of places to visit. I have made tentative plans to kidnap my cousin and take her there after her 21st birthday for Mardi Gras. I must continue to be a bad influence.

Alas, that'll be another three years.

Nicole Peeler said...

Kelly: Just do it!

Heather B. said...

Went to NO when I was a teenager with my best friend and my family. Her and I were walking apart from them on Burbon street when a guy steps in front of my best friend and says "hey red, ever been kidnapped" my mom walked up about that time.

Barb P said...

Hi Nicole! I also made my first visit there last month, for the French Quarter Fest and I have to agree - IT WAS FREAKIN AWESOME! I can't wait to go back.

Nicole Peeler said...

Heather: Oh dear lord. That is super disturbing. But also AMAZING. I'm totally going to start saying that to men in bars.

Barb: Isn't it great? It's like a smelly, smelly heaven. ;-) And I here the French Quarter Fest is amazing. I'm jealous!

Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?

We're a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors who occasionally blog, make filthy jokes and prowl the halls of conferences and conventions with switchblades!

Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells