Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Category

I don’t think anyone can go to New Orleans and not leave without out at least having her cards or palm read. Psychics and readers abound, with a few of the more daring souls having set up shop with their folding chairs in front of the venerable old St. Louis Cathedral. As prognostication is a black art and usually frowned on by the church, I thought I’d play it safe and have my cards read around the corner on Royal Street.  But not before stopping into the old Cathedral, lighting a candle, saying a prayer, and making the perfunctory “first time” wish – granted to all Catholics every time we visit a new church.

Talk about hedging my bets.  Hey, we’re talking cards here, right?

Play the hand you’re dealt

I took the cards and shuffled the deck and laid out my choices before Shelley the Seer.  As I turned a card over and saw the very scary face of what looked like the devil – I wondered if I could trade in a few cards for a better hand.  I asked Shelly, and she told me, “This isn’t poker you know. You play the hand you’re dealt.”  Okay, okay I thought.  This is why God doesn’t allow us to see around corners, and why shortcuts to the future are only for fun.

Shelley gave me a dream reading, one that all single women would love to hear. The scary card was actually my karma card – uh oh!   And the card that went with it – some sort of tree with lots of branches – foretold a new love … a love like no other with someone I would recognize the moment I finally met him.  It was someone from a past life and thus the connection to karma. But she warned me that I had to be open.

What me, not open?  Of course I’m open – you only have to look at my recent dating / relationship history to see that I was perhaps a bit too open.  Upon further reflection, however, it occurred to me that there is a big difference between being open and being available.  And now fate was presenting me with a good opportunity to learn the difference.

In this case, being open meant looking at all of the possibilities regardless of who they were.  And since I have been wandering in a non-dating desert for several months now, any karmic strangers appearing on the horizon now would be hard to miss.  All I had to do was meet him for the first time – again.

The reading made me think of the newly released song, by Michael Buble about not yet meeting the right person.  It’s a love song about being open to the possibilities despite previous set backs in love.  It’s a song about keeping the faith with yourself and with the whatever the universe, or God, has in store.

Who knows if it’s really the cards or the candle that dictates one’s fate?   In the end it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is the belief that secret hopes or silent prayers are always answered.  Perhaps it might not be in the way Shelley or I had imagined, but hey that’s the future for you; it’s always full of surprises.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/creatista

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I used to think my dance lessons were all about timing, steps, musicality, and technique.   Lately I have come to realize that that there’s more too it than that.  The more I dance, the more I learn about life.  According to my teachers – dance is life.

And nowhere was this more apparent than on my recent trip to New Orleans where I managed to squeeze in a two-hour tango lesson with the very elegant, “man in black” – Alberto Paz.   He was gracious and patient, and I immediately felt at ease with him despite the usual stage fright I feel whenever I dance with someone for the fist time.

“There is no test,” he said. “You’re here to learn.”

Lesson #1: “Dance is like life. You have to understand that it’s not about pass/fail; it’s about getting the most out of it.”

Alberto was surprisingly complimentary at what little technique I had managed to pick up in Buenos Aires.  (Ah, me of little faith.)  He liked working with beginners, he explained, because there were few bad habits to correct.

Doubting myself – as usual – I told him that it was his excellent lead and clear direction that enabled me to dance well

“Catherine,” he said. “It’s a compliment so take it and just say thank you,” he said.

Lesson #2: Dance is like life. You have to give yourself a little credit.”

I decided that the next time someone paid me a compliment, I would own it.

I would say: “It’s mine. I worked for it.  I deserve it.”

As the lesson progressed, the steps started to feel different – they started to feel “right.”  Alberto’s small tweaks were making a big difference to my comfort level.   But just to be certain, I asked, after a particular sequence of moves, “Is this right?”

He tossed the question back at me, “Does it feel right to you?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I can definitely feel a difference.”

“Then, it’s right,” he said, then added: “Never ask a man his opinion. He’ll never tell you the truth. If you ask him if something looks good, he will always say yes.”

As naive as it sounds, it came as such a revelation that I actually asked Alberto if I could write that piece of wisdom down before I forgot it.

He laughed, put his arm around my shoulders, and gave them an affectionate squeeze . “But you already knew that!” he said.

Lesson #3: “Dance is like life, It’s about how you feel and not how someone else makes you feel.

Probably the hardest lesson of all was just learning to slow down.  Tango, more so than any other dance, requires the dancer to be in the moment, wait, and savor each step. However, I sometimes I approach tango as something “to do” rather than something “to dance.”  I want to make sure I do all of the steps whether I enjoy them or not.

As Alberto so eloquently put it as I rushed through my steps of our last tango together, “Slow down, you always have time to make a step, but once it is made you can never take it back.”

Lesson #4: “Dance is like life. Make every step count!



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I don’t know if it’s generally a Southern thing or particular to Louisiana, but ever since I’ve arrived in New Orleans I have been addressed on several occasions as “baby” and/or “Miss Catherine.”

In most cases but not all, it’s an older African-American using the term baby.   I can’t explain it, but there is something very comforting about someone, even a stranger, calling me baby. It reminds me of my grandmother or my great Aunt Bea who used to fuss over me as a kid.  I haven’t been somebody’s baby for such a long time that I have forgotten how “secure” it makes me feel.

Thank you, baby – as I hold the door open.

It’s down the street and to your left, baby – as I ask for directions.

How are you today baby? – as a waitress pours me a cup of coffee.

Everything okay, baby? – as I stand on a street corner looking a little lost.

Of course, all babies grow up, and since I am attending a conference at a large hotel, I’m usually sporting a name badge with my first name in big print.  Most of the service staff call me Miss Catherine when they see me.

Me, a “Miss” – imagine?  I have been a Madame – or God forbid – a Ma’am for so long that I had forgotten was it was like to feel like a Miss.  But after being here for a few days I remember that it makes me feel positively coquettish.




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Outta this world…

My first real glimpse of life here in the Big Easy was Saturday night on Bourbon Street. Talk about sensory overload.  It’s a direct frontal assault of the five senses.  From the bling of beads and the flash of breasts to the glare of neon selling everything from sex to cigars, I didn’t know where to look first.  It was a kaleidoscope of color that changed from corner to corner as I made my way along the crowded street rubbing elbows (among other things) with all manner of people from t-shirt wearing tourists to conservatively clad businessmen.

Smells spilled out from the doorways; some were deliciously identifiable while others made my stomach lurch as I hurried past – exhaling all the way. Once inside Bourbon House, I was greeted by spicy scents that made my mouth water in anticipation of a gumbo so tasty there was only one word, newly invented, to describe it: gumbo-licious!

‘Round midnight, I went in search of a nightcap of a more musical nature, passing first one bar then the next.  From the open doorways and windows, a riff or a phrase, would reach out to pull me inside.   “Just two minutes,” I would promise myself – but then two became five minutes, and five became fifteen, before I forced myself to leave and search for my next musical fix.

Overall, the night belonged somewhere in the realm of the sixth sense, an otherworldly event that worked its magic – cast its spell over me. Ah, I thought to myself, so this is witchcraft (or maybe it was voodoo).  After all, it is New Orleans.

photo: © istockphoto.com/ChrisSchmidt

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Good morning

New Orleans and I operate on two different rhythms. The city is just going to sleep as I make my way to the French Quarter for early morning coffee and beignets at the Café du Monde.

On my first day in the Big Easy, as I passed by the deserted courtyard of the House of Blues, I was greeted by the familiar disco beat of Labelle’s, “Lady Marmalade”. For a moment I thought I was imagining it. So I stopped and listened and sure enough, there it was…

Patty Labelle and her sisters extending that unmistakable invitation in French — probably the best known French phrase in America. Voulez-vous?

It was the perfect a start for my first day in New Orleans — my own personal greeting. The quintessential anthem for a city that struts its stuff nightly on Bourbon Street.  You gotta love a city that comes with its own soundtrack!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/PattieS

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Otra Vez!

hats off 008What’s a business trip without a little pleasure?  So the first thing that’s  going into the suitcase this morning are the killer black and red stillettos purchased from Comme il Faut when I was in BsAs last month.

(Yes, yes, I’m also bringing the lap top  – the IT guys have got me up and running for this trip.)

Tango, Tango Nuevo and now Tango New Orleans.  My thanks to Arlene at Londontango for putting me in touch with Alberto and Valorie.  Lessons have been scheduled, and I am going to do my best to hit a practica  with Maria Elena and Enrique.


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Laissez le bon temps rouler!Coming soon posts from New Orleans to Tokyo and a few places in between.

PS if any one knows of any good places to dance  Salsa or Tango in either of these cities, I would love to hear from you!

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/kiskamedia

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