Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 year in review and 2017 goals

 

Here are the 36 goals I set for myself last year. Let’s take a look back to see what I accomplished. (Photo: Louisville, KY)

 

  1. Take the GRE and apply to grad school for the fall 2017 semester– Took the test, sending in applications mid-January.
  2. Travel abroad at least once– I wish. We took a lot of road trips though. See below.
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon — Done. Sis got married so I cheated a bit on this.
  4. Learn Spanish– Nope
  5. Cook more– A little bit
  6. Spend less money on inexpensive meals (see #5)– See above
  7. Get tattooed– Got my first Pauly Lingerfelt (and my first black & white) on the back of my left arm
  8. Edit my wardrobe so it’s more cohesive– I did a big purge of my clothes after each season.
  9. Take a sewing class– Definitely did not do this.
  10. Take more photography classes– Tried to, class got cancelled because of low enrollment.
  11. Launch a zine– Done and done! Put out four issues, created a supplementary zine, and went to two zine fests, a bookfair, cobbled together an online shop and picked up some retailers too.
  12. Spend more time with my friends– Done
  13. Spend more time with my grandparents– Yup
  14. Maintain a weekly cleaning schedule– Ha
  15. Lose 20 pounds aka fit back into the Billy Reid jeans I bought when I was at my thinnest (and most confident self) six years ago.– I gained weight thanks to transitioning from being a student (walking all over campus) and waiting tables for a desk job. I did join a gym a few months ago though.
  16. Start saving money to put towards a new car– Bought a Vespa instead for when one of our circa late ’90s cars crap out. We paid cash for the scooter and the insurance is a lot less than a car. It was a fun, (kind of) practical purchase.
  17. Put a serious dent in my student loans– I’ve knocked out over three grand in student loans so far.
  18. Read and watch everything on my “to read/to watch” list– The list is ever growing, but it was nice to have more leisure time (after being in school for three years) to catch up on reading.
  19. Spend less time on social media– This is a constant struggle. I’ve been taking social media breaks here and there and sporadically delete and reinstall apps on my phone. I feel better when I’m not glued to Twitter, especially after the election.
  20. Blog once a week– Not even close, didn’t even try.
  21. Audition for the volunteer orchestra– Didn’t happen, but I played piccolo with Gris Gris Strut for a second year, so that kind of counts.
  22. Reestablish weekly date nights with my husband– I worked seven days a week for half the year, so this was a tough one. I quit my part-time waitress job in May and now just have a full-time writing position. Getting weekends back felt downright luxurious.
  23. Visit four new museums– Maybe. I haven’t been keeping track.
  24. Cook for Christmas this year– Lulz wtf was I thinking NO.
  25. Paint the bedroom and downstairs bathroom– Downstairs bathroom in progress, bedroom planned for next year. We painted our front porch bright purple, refinished the bedroom floor on our tenant’s side, painted the living room and master bedroom and put a new upstairs bathroom floor on our side. I’d say we did a pretty good job on small home renovations.
  26. Take more day trips– Heck yea. Went to Lafayette and Bay Saint Louis a lot.
  27. Go to the beach– Yup. We went to Galveston, TX for Thomas’ birthday and I took a fantastic road trip to Sarasota, FL with a friend.
  28. See more movies in a movie theater– I saw about as many as I normally do, which isn’t much.
  29. Watch more plays– Same.
  30. Write everyday– Definitely wrote everyday thanks to my job. Also attended a weekend writer’s retreat in the summer. I’m still working on wiggling in more creative writing in.
  31. Go out dancing more– Negative, although I did make it out to Fred’s Lounge. That counts, right?
  32. Buy another camera lens– Hello, wide angle.
  33. Plan my 100 mile hike for late 2016/early 2017– No, but Scotland is on the list for late 2017.
  34. Bike to work (almost) everyday– Quite the opposite. My week is split between working in Metairie and from home, so no biking for me. I did, however, bike to work most days when I worked at the restaurant.
  35. Love myself more– Ongoing
  36. Remember to floss– Ask my dentist about that one.

 

Let’s set some 2017 goals, shall we? I’m going with 37 this time since I’ll be 37 next year. Again, if I accomplish even half of these I will feel satisfied. (photo: Beignet at a cabin in St. Francisville)

 

  1. Travel abroad at least once (Scotland hiking trip)
  2. Take a sewing class
  3. Take more photography classes
  4. Put out four more issues of Catahoula (issue five is already at the printer)
  5. Participate in two or three zine fests
  6. Seek out more retailers for Catahoula
  7. Spend more time with my grandparents
  8. Go to the gym three times a week
  9. Read a book a week
  10. Polish up some short stories I wrote and submit them to literary magazines
  11. Complete a photography project
  12. Eat at restaurant/take out meal only twice a week
  13. Cook more and eat less processed crap
  14. Use our juicer and food dehydrater more
  15. Organize kitchen cabinets and outdoor closet
  16. Finish painting downstairs bathroom
  17. Visit grandparents once a month
  18. Find new day trips from New Orleans
  19. Take one long road trip
  20. Volunteer somewhere
  21. Take the dogs to the dog park once a week
  22. Actually brush Izzy’s teeth (vet’s orders)
  23. Go on at least two kayak trips
  24. Take Cajun dance lessons (last time I did this  I was in grade school)
  25. Only check social media twice a day
  26. Don’t fall asleep reading stuff on my phone
  27. Make at least one piece of clothing (that isn’t a costume)
  28. Practice flute once a week
  29. Create a weekly cleaning check list and stick to it
  30. Make a sleep schedule and stick to it
  31. Go camping with the dogs
  32. Go to more art gallery openings
  33. Reorganize my computer files
  34. Reorganize the linen closet (this is a monumental task) and the spaces above the bedroom closets
  35. Repaint and redecorate the bedroom
  36. Order photography prints for the stairway and actually frame them (we have two already, want two or three more)
  37. Go to City Park more often

The Houzenga mobile: my art gallery on wheels

Brent HouzengaBrent Houzenga IMG_1480

 

I’ve owned three cars in my lifetime: a hand-me-down Delta 88 Oldsmobile (age 18-19), a Honda Civic (age 19-23) that made me feel like a bad ass after driving a land yacht, and my Honda CRV, which I bought when I was 23, paid off when I was 27 and, to paraphrase Jay Z, If you’re having car problems I feel bad for you son, I’ve got a ’99 Honda and that bitch still runs. 

My ol’ gal wasn’t looking so good last year. Under the hood she was still a beauty, but her cherry red paint job didn’t have much pep left. Now, thanks to Brent Houzenga, she turns heads wherever she goes.

Brent and I met about four years ago and reconnected when we ran into each other at UNO.  He had just enrolled in the Master’s of Fine Arts program and I was chugging away at bachelor degrees in English and film and theatre. I knew Brent painted cars with his signature bold, stenciled artwork, but when he put out a call for cars for his Fossil Fueled project last year I couldn’t sign up fast enough. Neither could my husband; we now have his and hers Houzenga mobiles. Our neighbors must think we are nuts.

Driving an art car is really fun. The best part is catching a glimpse of joy in an innocent bystanders face, the occasional thumbs up at a red light, or the high school kids taking selfies with my car. I like to think I’m spreading a little happiness everywhere I go. There are, however, a few downsides to driving such a splashy vehicle. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to chat with strangers about my art gallery on wheels. My vehicle is also not that professional. Whenever I put my reporter pants on (or skirt, in most cases) I opt to park a block or two away so my interviewee won’t see me getting in or out my car. That said, I live in New Orleans, so the few times an interviewee has seen my car they thought it was cool. That said, I’m glad I tricked out my ol’ gal; she’s easy to find in a parking lot and hell, why not?

 

 

Mammoth Cave: Watch out for that dinosaur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and a Tyrannosaurus Rex the color of Cheetos is threatening to pluck our Honda CRV right off the highway and throw it over the fence that surrounds Dinosaur World. This is how we know we’ve reached Cave City, a town half way between Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee. We speed past the plastic brontosaurus and teradafcyls and safely make our way to Mammoth Cave which, we are informed, does not actually house live mammoths. We buy tickets anyway and descend into the dark, cool cave.

 

 

My brother moved to Louisville a few years ago after a post-Katrina stint at the Grand Canyon. He and his partner work at the best restaurant in Louisville; Chris is the kitchen manager, Ruben is the dining room manager. We started a tradition of Thanksgiving at their house (hello, professional chef) and now we make the drive up there every year. This year, after a deliciously languorous six course meal, hours spent watching The Goldbergs and RuPaul’s Drag Race and eight bottles of wine split between four people (don’t judge…okay judge), we opted for a little post-Turkey Day outdoor activity and made the hour and a half drive to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system with over 400 miles explored and counting. In its colorful history it was a salt mine, a tourist attraction with slave-guided tours, a short lived tuberculosis hospital and in the 1920s the locals incited a cave war for tourist dollars. Mammoth Cave was deemed a national park in 1941 and today there are a slew of tours ranging from a casual stroll to serious spelunking.

Since our underground escapades were spur of the moment, we were only able to book the self-guided tour, which took about 30 minutes. Interpretative rangers were stationed throughout the cave to answer questions and make sure visitors didn’t stray off the paved pathway. Aboveground, there are several miles of nature trails and a visitor center with an interactive cave museum that touches on both the natural and human history of Mammoth Cave. I wish we could have seen Frozen Niagra or the Ruins of Karnak but all of the tours were sold out.

Cave City itself is a curious place. There are lots of roadside attractions including kayaking, putt putt and other caves, however most of the amusement parks were shuttered when we went. Some looked closed for the season, others looked abandoned. Guntown Mountain is supposedly slated for a comeback, so hopefully it will be open next year; I’m particularly interested in the Haunted Hotel. Regardless, I’m looking forward to exploring this area more next Thanksgiving, with or without a hard hat.