Not soon. A majority of Republicans have to believe it’s in their interest to get rid of him and we’re not there yet. Most Republicans in the country still like him, and Republicans in Congress aren’t going to cross their voters. After 2018, Democrats may control the House, so fewer Republicans would be needed, but it would still take significant defections, which there’s no sign of yet, unfortunately.
Whoops, two weeks without a peep from me on here. Let me catch you up with my daily blurbs.
April 1: Tonight I went for coffee with Niall Doherty, who used to live in New Orleans and for the past few years has been traveling around the world without flying. For a second I thought my own travels were too easy, but then I thought, that’s ok. We talked about habits; his suggestion: Set the bar really low. This month I will write one sentence every day.
April 2: Met some girlfriends for dinner in the Quarter. Possibly my last ride on the St. Charles streetcar, at least for awhile. I tried to tune in to all the sights and smells of the Avenue.
April 3: Word has gotten out that I’m awesome at writing other people’s online dating profiles. Maybe this is my calling.
April 4: Sold all my furniture today. My apartment feels echoey and dirty. Slept on the air mattress and woke up on the floor.
April 5: Everything I own is now in my car. Even if I am making a huge mistake leaving NOLA (I don’t think I am), it’s kind of too late to turn back now.
April 6: Hit the road and made it to Atlanta in time for dinner. I always think a solo road trip is going to be so exhilarating, but it’s usually just kind of exhausting and boring. I spend a lot of energy trying to resist gummy bears and diet Pepsi.
April 7: Drove to a generic office park in a generic suburb to meet a client. I guess this is how a lot of the world lives, but it makes me feel bad about the world. In the evening I did online focus groups for a carpenters’ union; one respondent threatened another and I had to kick him out. It’s a lot easier online than in person.
April 8: Visited my new client, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, in western NC. It’s my first time on a reservation. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. They seemed excited, but the chief has to approve my proposal before I can start work.
April 9: Meeting up with my three dearest friends. We met when we were all in the Peace Corps together 17 (!!!) years ago. My mom says we act like war buddies when we’re together. I hope we’re still friends when we’re a hundred.
April 10: Jenny, Diane, and Ellie are my moral compass. I’m so lucky to have found such upstanding, ethical people to be my friends. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
April 11: Hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and talking about our respective mid-life crises. Even when I’m with them I feel all alone, empty and unneeded.
April 12: Long drive today. I stopped for breakfast in a tiny town near the Tennessee border. Wonder how my life would be different if I could be content living in a place like this.
April 13: Back in the house where I grew up. I don’t mind. I ran around DC all day, meeting with clients and trying to drum up some new work. I love it when I’m doing it, but at the end of the day I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
April 14: Cold and rainy day. I don’t miss New Orleans but I do miss being warm. By 2:00 I was climbing the walls, so I went to my favorite coffee shop and worked there for a few hours.
April 15: My mom introduced me to a show called American Crime, and I binge-watched all 6 episodes. Motivation to work/ seek out new work is pretty low. Maybe I should think again about taking a sabbatical.
Oh New Orleans, you toy with my emotions. So many mornings I awake in a panic, feeling like I haven’t done enough here– hell, I haven’t done anything here. I might as well be in Duluth for the connection I feel here. I take advantage of exactly zero things this city has to offer me, and I offer exactly nothing back to it. I can’t wait to leave, to get to the next place, even while a voice in my head mumbles, “How will that be different?”
Then something happens, something shifts, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the breeze, the electromagnetic force in the universe…suddenly I’m feeling such love for the city and the people I’ve met here, excited for the things I’ve done and the things I could still do, thinking that OF COURSE I’ll come back here some day soon…
I tried with New Orleans. I really wanted to make it my home base. I crowed about the benefits: a warm, affordable place, where everyone’s a freak but nobody’s a freak. I can make New York rates and pay NOLA rent. I can always find someone on Air BnB who wants to rent my little place while I’m jetting off somewhere.
Turns out, there’s more to a home base than that. I haven’t spent more than 90 days straight in New Orleans in the past 2 and a half years. Every time I come back, I feel like I’m starting over. I’m always a little slow to settle into a place, and here I had to settle in over and over and over again.
Four more days and I’ll be on the road, nothing holding me here. Sad, sure. Relieved, sure. New Orleans is something to me, but I don’t think I treated her right.
Just walking into a bookstore makes me heave a huge sigh of relief. Even a generic Barnes and Noble offers the promise of hours and hours of delicious escape. I’ve made a few trips to my favorite bookstore in New Orleans (and maybe in the whole world), Blue Cypress Books, to sell some of my old books for traveling cash. The other day I noticed this in the store:
In 2009, I started a PhD program at the University of Michigan. I was colder, lonelier, and less certain of my academic abilities than ever before in my life, and I spent many hours daydreaming about just walking out in the middle of a statistics class, getting on a plane, and never coming back.
Being the responsible adult that I am, I made it to the end of the semester before I actually got on a plane. My then-beau, Louis, was an avid diver, and I wanted to be an avid diver (I had gotten certified in college, but never really took to it), so we went to the Caribbean for a few weeks.
When you read “Caribbean,” you probably picture blue water and wide white sand beaches, right? Wrong. We headed to Saba, which I like to think of as…the anti-Caribbean. The island is known for two things: 1) awesome diving and 2) the shortest airport runway in the world. The population is about 2,000 people, not counting the American medical students who live in The Bottom, which is the capital.
We dove every day– there’s really nothing else to do there. The food was terrible, the humidity was ridiculous, and Louis was constantly grumbling about missing the NBA finals. We spent most of our on-land time at various bars, hanging out with not only a motley crew of locals but also a few American ex-pats who lived there: a gypsy-looking woman who ran a dog rescue and a guy who said he was a carpenter but was usually drunk to the point of incoherence when we got to the bar around 3pm.
We heard a few versions of the history of Saba. The gist of the story was this: in the 1800s, pirates found Saba and used it as a hideout. Instead of staying put close to the ocean (there’s not really a beach– just a rocky coastline all around the island), they headed up to the top of the island and eventually settled the town of Windwardside.
Even though the island was kind of weird, I felt like being there was perfectly fitting for my life at the time. I had spent the past few months feeling so out of place and unhappy in Michigan (I wrote to a friend back in New York, “It’s like I have to spend the next four years with my shoes on the wrong feet.”), and it was a relief to know that, just like the pirates, I could always find somewhere to hide out.
I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been selling almost everything I own; now that I’ve had 7 different people traipse in and out of my house, I think I’m qualified as an expert to offer advice on how to meet two conflicting objectives: making as much money as possible while getting rid of as much stuff as possible. Here’s what’s worked for me:
1. Group like with like: If you come into my living room right now, it might initially look like chaos. But there’s a strategy. The yoga mats are in the corner– with the blocks, blanket, strap, and Lululemon bag nearby. Someone might think they just want a mat, but they’re walking out with all that stuff.
2. Buy more, pay less: I have great storage boxes that I’ve filled up with little junk: candles and magnets and a Koosh ball (remember those?) that I couldn’t sell for more than a quarter. Here’s my policy; I’ll empty out the box and you can have it for $10, or take everything in it and get it for $8. I managed to offload a half dozen extension cords and a box full of screws and nails this way.
3. Get to know your customer. I put my dresser on Craigslist, and the first person to contact me mentioned she was a teacher. I put the box of random office supplies on top of the dresser (teachers always need pencils!) and she couldn’t resist. Someone told me she liked to bake, and I dug up some cupcake tins that were languishing at the bottom of a pile– to her delight.
4. …and let them get to know you! In my Craigslist ads and emails to acquaintances, I mentioned that “I’m selling everything that won’t fit in my backpack!” People are excited to hear about my trip and I think it makes them less likely to haggle when they know there’s a reason I’m trying to make an extra 5 bucks.
5. Free booze with purchase. And finally, this. Every $10 purchase got a free bottle of wine– who can say no to that? One group of girls even opened it while they were still “shopping” in my living room. Thank you, New Orleans, for making that socially acceptable.
I’m back in New Orleans, where I have a little apartment that’s served as a home base for the past two years. I’ve finally decided to give it up AND to free myself of (almost) all the stuff that’s in it: books and papers and dishes and furniture and assorted flotsam and jetsam. This is harder than I thought, especially the flotsam and jetsam. Yesterday a girl offered me $5 for a bracelet I bought in India, but something about the look on my face made her double back and insist that I keep the bracelet. Here’s what I’ve done so far, though:
1. Brought three bags of clothes to Buffalo Exchange. You do better here exchanging clothes for store credit, but I managed to get $27 cash.
2. Sold my desk, dresser, and a bookshelf on Craigslist. I’m not too keen on having a million Craigslist strangers in my house, but the first guy who came to buy my dresser ended up walking out with $130 worth of stuff, including a Scrabble board and a box of random cards and gift wrap.
3. Sold some books at Blue Cyprus Books, my favorite used book store. I have to walk in with blinders on or else I will negate the whole “cleaning off the bookshelf” thing.
4. Offered a free bottle of wine with every $20 purchase. Someone I knew vaguely came over to buy some storage boxes, and I managed to offload all the red wine I can’t drink (migraines) that I had gotten as Christmas gifts. WIN.
5. Met a Nigerian nun in a parking lot. Mary runs an online business selling used textbooks, and she was happy to take Latent Variable Models and a few other best-sellers off my hands.
Net earnings so far: $387