I am officially past one month into the new year and 2012 has already proven to be a loud, uncompromising bastard of year; a ferocious bitch full of changes and surprises. There was a death, there was a birth, there was music, and there was a rebellious cat.
In the midst of all the crazy that’s been going on, I’m proud to write that I’ve been a very, very good girl when it comes to my resolutions.
One resolution was to keep pushing myself physically. On December 26, 2010 I became serious about getting in shape (in other words, I saw the number on the scale and freaked out). Since then, although it’s been up and down (as my friend Jess said, “Weight is fluid”), I’ve stuck to it.
I’m pretty active at the local JCC gym. A good week usually means five days of cardio and two days of weights. I was biking for a while, but then my bike was stolen. Womp Womp. I have moved up in weights at the gym and can last at cardio most days for up to an hour.
While I’ve been proud of my progress, I’ve always marveled at friends of mine who could participate in marathons- or in the case of my friend Lena, a triathlon, because she’s a monster. Even while I was getting stronger I still wrote off running as an exercise I just couldn’t do.
Then one day I stumbled on this running plan for beginners from Women’s Health Magazine.
And you won’t believe it.
Please, I want to tell you what happened, but you just won’t believe it.
I did it.
I’ve been running for the last three weeks, every other day. Last night, something miraculous happened. Something just clicked. I ran for over 20 minutes straight.
There were definitely Rocky air-punches thrown in the mix as I ran up and down Carrollton.
Another resolution of mine was to write more. My friend Sarah and I had been lamenting since we met almost two years ago that we needed a serious writing group. When we joined one this past summer, we realized that most writing groups are not going to give us what we need. I can only speak from my experience, but most writing groups I’ve come across are not for serious writers looking to be published. Most writing groups are an outlet for people who want to share the poems they write in their diary.
Now, I’m not knocking people who write in diaries. I write in a journal myself. But there is a significant difference between writers who want to share their work for the purpose of hearing it out loud and receiving praise, and writers who want other serious writers to read their work, rip it apart, make it bleed, and tell the writer to stop being sentimental and get to the f*ing point already. The hope is that real criticism will make the writer a, gasp, better writer. That’s what I need.
So, thanks to Sarah, this new writing group has been meeting quite often. It is exhilarating to have dedicated writers look over my work. It’s inspiring to read what the other writers have to offer as well.
With so much writing going on, I decided it was time to submit one of my memoir/fiction pieces I started with the 7th Ward Neighborhood Story Project.
And guess what?
It was rejected.
I’ll be fine. They told Elvis he had a terrible voice and should stick to being a truck driver. Boy, were those people pissed when they didn’t sign Elvis. Plus, if Elvis had listened to those naysayers, think of where we would be today? I mean, pop culture would think “Hound Dog” was written and performed by talented black singers.
Hey! Speaking of talented black musicians…
Another goal of mine was to see more live music in New Orleans. A recent highlight was last Thursday night at Le Bon Temps Roulé. Bon Temps is a great locals bar Uptown on Magazine street. Like most places in New Orleans, it’s bigger than it looks on the outside.
I had heard really great things about the music at Le Bon Temps Roule and had been wanting to go for some time. I met my friend Lindsey a few hours before the band was scheduled to perform (10 p.m. which means the band is playing at 11:30 p.m. in New Orleans). The bar was well lit and very welcoming. A few people were there, just relaxing, playing pool and drinking beer. Lindsey and I grabbed a seat by the window overlooking Magazine. There was a decent draft selection, so Lindsey and I had plenty of beer to choose from while we waited for the house band to start.
The house band, no cover, every Thursday night just happens to be one of the best brass bands in the city: The Soul Rebels.
Btw Bon Temps, you had me at the big alligator in the background.
Soul Rebels were stellar. It’s difficult to describe the energy inside a New Orleans bar when a brass band plays. It’s loud. Everyone is sweating. The band, at least at Bon Temps, is on the floor with everyone else, there is no raised stage. The horns blow inches from your face. Rough-looking regulars dance up close with hipster newcomers and everyone is throwing their arms up, punctuating the air with each beat. Brass band music is happy music. You just can’t help but feel grateful to be alive when you’re out dancing along.
So that’s what’s been going on down here in the Crescent City. Before I finish I just have one more “I live in a better city than you do moment”:
Down here, everyone is getting ready for Mardi Gras.
What does your city look like?
Because it doesn’t look like this:
Come on down, we love having new people to party with in the streets.
Meschiya Lake = Goddess
For a Catholic city, New Orleans is known for having its fingers in pleasure everyday. There is truly no shortage of music, food, costumes, liquor, or parades.
Speaking of costumes: After my visit home for Thanksgiving, I packed up several costume items from my childhood room. You never know when you’re going to need a crown of roses or a NJ Shore style trucker hat with your nickname spray-painted on the front.
I once was listening to a story on WWOZ (the local, independent Louisiana radio station) about a young woman who was thinking of moving from New Orleans. She said that while packing her belongings a friend asked her if he could have her trunk of costumes. She was shocked at the audacity of the question and told him, like any New Orleanian would, “No, of course you cannot have my costumes.” Her friend replied, “Do you think in any other city you will have use for all those costumes?” And when she thought about it, she realized that her friend had a valid point. Only in New Orleans does one need costume makeup, glitter and corsets all yearlong. The happy ending to this radio-story? The young lady decided to stay in New Orleans.
I’d like to think it was because there is no other place in the world where she could get her coffee on a Sunday morning in a tutu and wig without strange looks.
So I have to be honest. After moving here two summers ago, I have allowed myself to go from a constant state of newbie excitement to a state of complacency with early evenings and thoughts of, “Are all these people really going out after ten p.m. on a Tuesday night? Glee is on!”
It was easy to give up on begin social when I work most Saturday and Sunday mornings. Add to that the fact that I’m not single and my boyfriend lives three hours away, so in the words of my married friend Rachel, “Nothing good can happen to me after midnight when I go out.”
But, I’m 25. That means I have only 5 more years until I’m IN MY THIRTIES and that means that my body only has 5 more years to be abused before it locks down at the thought of going out on a Tuesday night. 5 years!!
So I’ve made a pact with myself. Starting today, December 1st 2011, I will see live music at least once every two weeks.
Above is just one of the many musicians I plan to see. And I’d like to share that journey with you all on this lovely little blog of mine.
Btw- this resolution is maybe only a teeny, tiny bit of a way to distract myself from the major goal of my 25th year...at least I’m honest!
You hate me don’t you? I post this incredible, awe-inspiring piece about Halloween-Birthday Weekend (which I realize now I should have been calling Birthday Halloweekend…stupid, stupid, stupid) and I write that I don’t want to ruin the surprise but I have a HUGE goal for my 25th year and…wait, wait for it, sorry I’ll tell you on November 1st since that’s when my 25th goes down.
And now it’s November 7 and you’re sitting there, pressing the refresh button over and over again wondering, “Has she really forgotten about us?”
Or maybe, “Is she dead?”
Well I’m happy to inform you, dear readers, that not only did I not forget about you but that I’m also not dead!
No. Sadly, the real reason you haven’t heard from me in 7 days is because your Janine Julia was playing a game of avoidance.
See if I posted on here what my big goal was, then I would have to face it – you know, like actually do something about it? And who the hell actually wants to realize their dreams? That’s hard work, people!
So I decided to hit snooze for 7 days.
But I’m back. And I am here to face reality. And my first step in that direction is to finally come clean.
In my post about 25 year old Janine I first mentioned that I had several goals to accomplish. I toyed with the idea of creating a list of 25 goals for my 25th year. I went through my brain thinking of all the cool things I wanted to see, all the places I wanted to go, all the ways I wanted to improve my mind, body and spirituality.
I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to ride an elephant. I want to get married (to someone in particular) and have little Janine Julias. I want to go back to school. I want to read all the books on my to-read list. I want to run a mile without throwing up afterwards.
Seriously, don't die
As I perused the possibilities of my life in the next year I kept coming down to one great thing that I’ve always wanted. One thing that I’ve talked about and written about for years. The one thing that would require the discipline of a public proclamation (and therefore public humiliation if I fail) in order to get there.
There is truly only one thing I have ever wanted that I know I was put on this Earth to do- and that thing is to write.
So this is the year. This is the year I grab life by the 25th year-old horns and say, “Let’s do this!”
Because over the past few years I’ve realized that talent is a very small part of the process of becoming a published, noted author. The largest part of realizing this goal is self-determination, relentless hard work and the tenacity of a fool.
And spell checker. Thank God for spell checker.
Luckily, for me, I am that tenacious fool with spell checker.
So can you blame me for taking 7 more days of pretending I wasn’t going to do this before signing my social life’s death sentence?
The time has come for the most sacred experience, revered and beloved by all of G0d’s children.
A celebration so great, it causes angels to weep and gangsters to pour out Dom Perignon libations onto shaggy emu carpets.
*I played with word combinations: Hallobirth weekend, Birthween weekend, Humpty-Dumpty Spooktacular Birthfest, but nothing could quite capture the immense power of
And this year is particularly epic because I turn 25. 25! That’s a quarter century! That’s like big time adult stuff.
Halloween-Birthday Weekend comes at a very important time of year. It’s not just a holiday, it’s a month long, 32 day festival culminating in the ultimate climax of Halloween night and my birthday on November 1st.
25 years ago people were watching Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote waiting, just waiting for a reason to celebrate the almost end of the 80’s. And then my mamma had me.
I was born on All Saint’s Day, which furthers my theory that I have always been a New Orleans baby. Did you know the Saint’s football team was established on All Saint’s Day as well? Twins separated by birth (and twenty years)? Possibly.
Anyway, I’m turning 25 this year and if you keep up with this bizarre blog you know that I promised myself this year was going to be big. Big on goals. Big on accomplishment. Big on cake. Lots and lots of cake. I started thinking about the 25th year plan around June and it’s been 5 months. I think 5 months is an adequate amount of time to consider what I want to do with the next 12 months of my life. Geese.
I’ve been wrestling with a few ideas and since I won’t spoil the surprise just yet, please settle for some happy Halloween-Birthday Weekend excitement:
It has become popular among my friends to create a “25 for 25” list; a list of 25 things to do during their 25th year in life.
My first thought was, “Shouldn’t we have a list for each year?” My second thought was, “Why limit it to 25?” My third thought was, “Oh Jesus, I’m going to be 25 in November.”
25. Quarter of a century. It seems like a small (read: meaningless) milestone to those who are middle-aged and older (ahem, mom and dad). But I can’t help but think back to 10 year old Janine and who she thought 25 year old Janine would be. I wish there was an actual list, but I imagine it would read something like this:
25 year old Janine will
I’m sure if you’re reading this you know that “24 year old Janine” can cross absolutely NONE of this items off the list, and I’m pretty positive that nothing will change in the next few months leading up to the big quarter of a century. But the miraculous part of all of this is that “24 year old Janine” doesn’t want most things that “10 year old Janine” wanted-or at least expected- for her 14 years ago.
It’s normal for a young child to think the world will come together and form a neat little suburban bubble by the age of 20. When I speak to my young students they constantly ask me how old I am, if I’m married, and then why not. I always laugh at this, because in my mind, it makes more sense for “24 year old Janine” to not be married and not have kids yet. But to a 7 year old, I’m looking like a huge loser.
Once you leave college, begin to work and live independently, time changes and expectations are altered. This isn’t a failure. It’s a mature realization that life is an unexpected journey. You learn that you won’t have the dream job just yet, especially since you won’t know what your dream job even is. You might not have meant the person who complements you best. And you more than likely accepted the fact that you and John Travolta will never be in a movie together.
It bothers me to no end when I hear friends say “I thought I’d be married by now” or “I have two more years before I want to be married” (please note: a few of my friends are married, engaged, or bridal obsessed). I would ask them, “How can you put a timeline on your life like that?” I can understand wanting to finish college by a certain point or having a full-time job by a certain age, but how can someone say “I plan to meet the person of my dreams who will love me as well and we will dedicate our lives (LIFETIME) to one another by next year”?
I gag at the thought of signing a two year contract.
“10 year old Janine” never anticipated where 24 year old Janine would end up (I didn’t know where Mississippi was), the adventures she would go on (Italy, the Deep South, living alone a thousand miles from family, New Orleans!), the challenges she overcame ( a childhood best friend dying, a boyfriend and “best friend” betraying me behind my back, surviving a job that sucked the soul out of me, moving to a new city alone), and how could she?
So let’s move on from “10 year old Janine” and focus on “25 year old Janine”. What do I want to experience? What do I want to accomplish? Who do I want to be when I turn into “26 year old Janine”?
I’m going to start compiling a list that will be ready in time for November 1st. It will be posted on here and together we can share the experience of being a quarter of a century old.
I encourage you to do the same, even if you are turning 12 or 79. It would be awesome to share that together.
Be inspired by your life and see where you can go.