I will be there for Mardi Gras again, but even during the rest of the year, there is a festive, jovial atmosphere (I'm talking about the tourist areas, not the poor areas, obviously...not a lot of smiles and bright beads in the 'Nolia projects). New Orleans is the place everyone goes to let loose, to shrug off all the social restraints and truly enjoy themselves with no inhibition. Now, that approach doesn't really work well when you're trying to run a city, but it sure is fun as a visitor. Even the police officers break free of the usual expectations of "upholders of the law" and do whatever the hell they want. It's absolute chaos...and I love it.
I haven't been since Katrina, so I'll be interested to see if there's any difference. However, I'll be in the French Quarter the whole time, with my mind (and eyes, and camera) on other, more bouncy, things, so I don't know if I'll get a good sense of the daily operations of the city. This will not be an educational trip, unless you consider comparing the size, shape, smoothness, firmness, jiggle-ocity, and length of exposure time of the female Mardi Gras-goer's chest-pillows "educational". So, yeah, I guess it is an educational trip.
Learning is fun!
I will not be starting a separate blog for this trip, as I believe the style, tone, and language of this blog fit perfectly with that of a trip to Mardi Gras with my boys. Of course, in order to document this trip, it means I will have to remain somewhat cognizant, at least long enough to write a few blog entries, or at the very least, take some notes for blog entries. Or, I can just watch all the video footage afterwards and make something up to fill in the blanks. Whatever happens, I can't wait.
This. This will happen.
Mardi Gras is meant to be a release, a Dionysian, id-fueled celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday when we repent for all our sins. Now, I've forgone the tenets and beliefs of Catholicism some time ago, but I appreciate symbolism, and the symbolism of this trip is spectacular. As I get older, I'm supposed to accept more responsibilities and overcome my youthful indiscretions. I don't know if I'm ready for all that, but I know that opportunities like this one will arise less and less the more days I spend on this planet. And the older I get, the less I need to party for 4 days straight, let alone 3 months straight. But on this trip, I will let it all out, and then reflect upon my actions (and my life in general) when the trip is done. Not because of Ash Wednesday, but I don't deny it's influence on my self-reflection. Then, when I return, I will prepare for a more noble adventure in Africa, and maybe even a more noble journey through life itself. Not that I'm never going to party again (and party hard for that matter); in fact, partying--and relaxing--are an important part of living a happy, successful life. But there needs to be a balance between partying and living responsibly, and as you get older, the balance (should) tip towards the side of responsibility and positive, productive actions.
Responsibility and productivity, as displayed here by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.
I am always looking to improve myself, and possibly the world around me, and I think both of my upcoming trips will help me on my road to self-improvement, if not quite global improvement. Human beings are complex, with characteristics that are often contradictory, and I think people would be better off if they accepted the contradictions within themselves. I feel that I have many different aspects of my identity (Professor and Thuggy being only two) and I have become a happier/better person by embracing and expressing the different parts of my identity. I love partying and living for myself, but I also enjoy working to help others. There's nothing wrong with doing both, as long as you find the right balance. I think I've balanced the two pretty well throughout my life, and I look forward to the challenge of maintaining the proper balance from now until the day of my jazz funeral procession.
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.