A friend asked me today about how things are "really" going down here in NOLA, and I've been meaning to write about this for a while but haven't taken the time to sit down and type it all out.
In short: it's great. I never blogged about this experience when we first found out about it, and it feels weird to go back and do all of the recap now, but we are so lucky - fortunate - blessed - pick a word - to have the opportunity to pack up and move somewhere for a year of adventure. We know this, and we are trying to make the most of the time we have in this amazing city.
Jason works in a lovely old building with the most beautiful stained glass windows across the street from a pinch-me-am-I-dreaming picturesque park with fountains and wood ducks and people walking their dogs along a street lined with dreamy live oaks and stunning old houses. It's like being in a movie. In fact, his building has been the site of a film shoot already. He's spending his days writing and thinking and philosophizing and not worrying about the humdrum responsibilities that come with professorship. I already said it, but it really is a dream.
As for me, I'm reveling in this year "abroad." I'm pretty extroverted, and I get energy from being with people and sharing ideas and stories with them, but I'm actually enjoying the solitude. I decided to make this year a "taking stock" time for myself - a chance to evaluate who I am, where I am, and where I'm headed. I have lots of projects I'm working on (probably far too many) and to-do lists I'm working through. I'm exercising every day, reading more than I have in a long time, and I'm watching much less TV than I have in years. A major goal of mine is to work on writing while I'm here - I'm trying to embrace this "Anne Rice sabbatical" (thanks for the name, Robyn) in so many ways (though without the vampires) and it's been nice to start returning to writing here to share stories and thoughts and ideas as they happen, without any need for an editorial calendar or weekly post series. Stepping back from my shop, too, has given me a chance to focus on making things I'm excited about, rather than feeling I have to create with an eye on the upcoming holiday season. It's quiet, and it's solitary, but it's not lonely. It's like being on some kind of personal retreat, and my only worry is that I'll waste it and come back home without anything to show for all of the time I had here.
The only challenging part of our move to New Orleans has been life with the girls. It was a tough adjustment for them, and there continue to be difficulties. Going to school every day takes its toll on Lorelei, and we still haven't found a great rhythm for making the most of our afternoons together. We cut out the "extra" classes that she would have taken back home - music, ballet, gymnastics - because she's in school so much already, and because Phoebe has to wait around for her enough as it is, and because life here is expensive, but she's pretty sad to be missing out on them. There seem to be far fewer avenues for enrichment for Phoebe during morning school hours, so I'm worried about her lack of socializing opportunities and the rough adjustment to preschool next fall.
We are lucky to have memberships to all the great museums here. Without my church choir commitments or our usual weekend morning obligations, we have two days each week to spend as a family exploring the city. We're in a vacation mode all the time, and it's been good for all of us to embrace a New Orleans state of mind.