Things in New Orleans That I Should Be Writing About Since I've Been Living Here for Six Weeks But Haven't Done So Yet
1. The Cat Riding on the Back of the Dog. Actually, I did not see this. A man I know who I talked to before I moved here saw this. I want to see it. I want to see a cat riding on the back of a dog, for no reason.
2. The Cab Driver Who Crossed Herself Every Time We Drove by a Church. What the hell? I grew up in Berkeley. I was born and raised to be an atheist. Who is this woman driving my cab and what is she doing? It is sort of romantic, I suppose. What it is designed to prevent or conjure, I have no idea whatsoever. There are churches everywhere in this city. Doesn't her hand ever get tired? I want to know this.
3. The Person Sleeping on My Doorstep. I felt no sympathy for this person, at the time of our encounter. I was drunk. I assumed the Sleeper was, too. I stepped angrily over the Sleeper's head to get in my door. I was not very careful. Every day, I try to find the time to feel bad about what happened. I have not been able to make the time yet.
4. The Mississippi River. This seems a necessary subject. Today, I may ride my bike out towards it. Maybe then, the muse will crawl up my ass as I bounce along the pavement running next to it. Or, I might get hit by a train on the way there. I can't make any promises. Last weekend, some anarchists with no deodorant gave me a sticker for my bike. It reads, "This Bike is a Pipe Bomb." Ol' Miss is not a pipe bomb.
5. The Things Men Call Me. Baby. Darling. Doll. Sweetie. Honey. Precious. Other names. Sometimes all these words in the course of one or two or three sentences. My favorite is Sweet Girl. I am, after all, not a Sweet Girl. I have a sour expression and a rotten attitude. They don't seem to care.
6. The Train. I love the fucking train. The wail of it. What do you call that? Its whistle. The sound is different here, I swear. More bleating, almost. The other day, I saw a big white bird with a giant wingspan and a long beak flying out across the traintracks. It hung out in the grass next to the train. I was on my bike. For a moment, I felt sad, looking at it.
7. The Mardi Gras Beads Hanging From the Trees. They are like a cliché wrapped inside the metaphor in which I now find myself living. They're like this city's answer to the outlying plantations' Spanish Moss. When I first moved to this place, I thought about living in what they call Slave Quarters. But, it didn't seem like a good idea. You know?
8. The Emporer of the World Ernie K-Doe Mother-in-Law Lounge. Writing about this bar would be pointless. No matter how many rocks I overturned in the corners of my head, I would never be able to find the right words. I could never come up with the correct number for all the paper stars hanging from the ceiling, or the proper adjective for the wooden figure of Poor Dead Ernie propped up in the corner, or the best phrase to guess at what the hell his widow is thinking when she hands me my fucking drink. To say it is an immortal shrine to a no-longer living legend would be like calling Bugs Bunny a rabbit. Or something.
9. The Paint. It's everywhere, chipping and flaking and peeling. If I were to become smaller, and eat some of it, maybe I would die. That has not happened at this time.
10. The Smell of Funk in My Bed in the Morning. God knows what the hell I dream about in this place. When I wake up, I feel so bad, I'm glad I don't remember. I get shitty coffee around the corner. When I come back, it reeks in my bedroom. My pillows are covered with whatever black primordial crap has oozed out of my ears while my brain was allowed to run off its leash. I don't know what it means. I don't want to.
About the author:
Susannah Breslin is the author of You're a Bad Man, Aren't You?, a short story collection from Future Tense Books. Currently, she is at work on a semi-autobiographical novel, If Only These Hands Could Talk, which is based in her experiences hanging around Porn Valley.