Retracing the French Quarter

I found myself in the CBD (Central Business District) the other day without my bike, so I walked around the French Quarter, knowing I rarely go there. I stopped by a store that sold 1950s dresses and other rockabilly accessories. I browsed around, knowing I probably would not purchase anything. I even looked at the sales section so I wouldn’t feel guilty, but there was nothing worth buying. Everything appeared in drab colors except for a pair of baby blue, glittery cat sunglasses, but the pointy ending at the end stuck out too far.


moonshine nettle

I bought a dress from here a while ago, which had not seen the light of day in several months. The sales girl approached me, and asked if I was looking for anything in particular. Her orange hair was pushed back by a headband. Every once in a while, she would ask if I needed help or had any questions. I tried to disappear by the section of sunglasses. I felt pressured to buy something, but that was how the game went. Other people walked in so she flocked to them. I didn’t feel pressured to take any of the clothing pieces seriously. Eventually, I grew tired of pretending, and I thanked the girl and said bye. As I was leaving, I noticed a song playing; it was coming from the stereo just outside the store. Just as it appeared on my phone, the sales girl came out and rolled the stereo back inside. She was no longer smiling or happy as when she first approached me. The was “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” by Paul Anka.

I kept walking down Decatur St., and turned on Bienville St. I thought, if I had one of those colorful dresses stamped with ice cream cones, life would be so much better. I walked by the giant parking space near the river, then Jax, then the common stores: H&M, Urban Outfitter, etc. I quickly walked by, as I hated going to into those stores with countless of racks and customers, making never-ending lines. I kept walking past Jackson Square, wondering what other people saw when they visited the French Quarter. What did my friends and family see? I overheard a Spanish lady telling someone “Mira esa calle pequeña,” (look at that small street) and she pointed to a quiet narrow, empty street, where the houses were painted in hues of dark reds and soft pinks with decorative, lacy black balconies and vines falling on the side. Many of the images in front of me passed along, without giving me much thought. I walked by Molly’s, down to the thrift stores.




The thrift store where I had once bought a blanket was closed. A sign on the door said, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I never knew when any of these places closed. The messy thrift store across the street was open, so I crossed the street, and a guy who was sitting by the gates of the Old Mint building, started saying something in my direction. “You look young—way out of my league, but maybe my friend could talk to you.” I don’t know who he was referring to, as I saw no one else on that street. He was severely toasted, sweaty and drunk, almost as if he had been sitting out in the sun for too long.

I walked into the messiness, seeing as how it was the only one thrift store open. I browsed quickly. There wasn’t anything worthwhile, and everything seemed devoid of color or the whimsicality that I had come expect from this store. Perhaps it was me, but some sections were empty. Had they forgotten to replenish? I reminded myself that I came here for a top hat. Still, I tried on a shirt and a large skirt, clearly intended for a bigger person. I browsed through the costume section, knowing I would not be getting anything. I was senselessly killing time. I found a hair clip, a small bow adorned with a pattered fabric that resembled textiles I had seen from Mexico or Guatemala. I picked up different colored bows, eventually finding a small green one. I used the same mirror I had used when I tried on the articles of clothes. I picked up a bit of my hair, clipped it to the right side, and tilted my head slightly. I decided to take it with me.


girl on Royal St


Over at the store counter, I flicked through a stack of old photos, possibly from the 80s or 90s of yellow Mardi Gras Indians, little kids, parents, and some guys walking out of a theater. It felt odd browsing through the photos of strangers; they were private and distant memories. Black, white families from the old New Orleans: weddings, babies being carried, friends gathered in a living room. I found a set of small photos that had a rare cut of paper. They were small, maybe 4×3 and the edges were jagged. They depicted a castle and its surroundings. Each one had a different part of the entire scenery: a lake, a bridge, a view from afar towards the castle, and finally the castle up close, or perhaps I saw them in reverse. They were numbered on the bottom, but it was almost hard to see. I realized, I didn’t care much for castles, and put it down. I wondered if it was possible to re-create the look of the black & white hue, along with the soft, thick paper and its jagged edges.

Incoming Fall

Fall never arrives all at once, but suddenly you notice the trees swaying and leaves shivering. Still, it’s too hot to go out during the early afternoons. We’ll have to wait until October or November to actually call it Fall. The other day I went out around four, usually still peak time for sun’s trickery. But by the time I arrived to Washington Park, the sun had simmered down and there was the softest breeze to remind me of the first weeks when I moved to New Orleans. It was breezy and rainy then and I was wearing my raincoat everyday.

Last Beach Day

I swam around in the cool water, sometimes floating on my back and letting my arms lay there. The waves were ongoing, but they didn’t alarm me. We could simply move freely without worrying that the waves would push us out.

I glided the gopro camera along the extension of the beach, right to left then I placed the camera near the surface of the water so it would capture the surface and the deepness of the bottom.  He was swimming around like the other small blue and white fish, so I was able to capture the whole length of his body and his legs charming his way underneath. I turned it off and gave it back to him, since I didn’t want to get too distracted from the beach. We returned to the sand after a long while.




After a while I stood up from my blanket to take photos of the birds. I walked walk over to the sandpiper, who was startled and flew away a few feet away. Later on, we saw 7 or 8 pelicans above us. I observed them with my binoculars and I saw their curved white wings and their large beaks moving away. We walked towards the sandy area where the birds had been when we arrived. It was a small isolated corner where the waves came from the sides, almost like a riptide. He commented on a woman who was in the water carrying a bucket. Eventually, the woman walked near us.

“If you don’t mind me asking, was is it that you’re doing?”

She told us, she was gathering seashells for handmade gifts and decorations.

“I use them around the house. You can make so many things,” she said

“And look at them, they’re so pretty.”

She told us about the different shaped seashells she had found throughout her searches, and how some were not completely abandoned. On several occasions, she found a snail or another type of mollusk still inside. She didn’t want to kill them, so she left those alone. She also found half shells that she wished had not been broken. We peeked into her bucket and noticed it was more than half full. She eventually went on her way to look for more seashells, bending down to pick them up at first then swimming farther down. It didn’t take us too long to go back in the water. After I saw the woman’s bucket, I went on my own seashell exploration and swam farther down to find seashells.

Sometimes we swam down together like when I found what I thought was a shell in the bottom floor. But for some reason I couldn’t capture it. He swam down and picked up a large, slimy snail, who probably didn’t know what was going on. We stared at him for a short while. He didn’t have eyes. Then he put him back in the water.  I found several small seashells that I kept closer to the shore, even a large one that could work as a side hat. After resting for a while on the sand we decided to go find food, but before we could do that, we visited the small trails, which were behind the beach on a small mountain. After putting our stuff away in the car, he parked right by the sandy trail. There was a fort-like metal structure, semi-round sticking out of the mountain.

I saw some ladies kicking up sand as they walked down the steep path. It was so hot that I just wanted to sit in the car at this point. The sand was hotter here than at the beach, and even with my sandals I could feel it burning my feet. There was no way I was hiking up to the top. He went ahead of me. “Are you staying inside the car?” At first I said yea, then changed my mind, and decided to just deal with it and run up the hot sandy path. Eventually, I made it to a small rock where I rested my feet then I kept going. Near the top there were shady spots were the sand wasn’t overwhelmingly hot. The top part was filled with small shrubs and a messy array of foliage that were irregular to my eyes. There was more grass on the floor so that meant my feet were cool. We followed one of the paths that took us above that metal platform we saw before. The opening revealed the familiar coastline of Pensacola where we had been swimming just moments ago.

Hate on display in Charlottesville


There’s no moral equivalence between the anti-fascists and the alt-right. There are people who saw this event for what it was, and there are people who want to lie to themselves.

What happen in Charlottesville, Virginia last week is not so farfetched in today’s political reality, seeing as how 45 has opened the door for white nationalists, the alt-right and other racists who support him. These groups are inside a warm pot, and at some point it was going to boil over. Days after, it was comforting to see the backlash they received, not only from activists who were present in their opposition, but also with the tearing down of confederate statues that followed, and the business community not playing along with 45’s moral equivalence between anti-fascists and the alt-right.

It was shocking to watch these hate groups in full display, not afraid of any repercussions for their actions. On Friday night, they went out with tiki torches chanting awful slogans. I checked twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I was met with an onslaught of images: white men marching with torches, like it was the 1800s, except some were wearing white polo shirts and khaki pants. This was a poor attempt at conveying a clean, new look for the alt-right, neo-nazis of America, but they were clearly not fooling anyone with “their toned down” approach of “we’re fighting for our heritage.” The day brought out other hate groups that carried with them confederate and nazi flags, some sporting military outfits and guns. They went so far as to run over a group of protesters on the anti-fascist side, injuring many and killing a lady, who was white herself.

For anyone who was waiting for 45 to do the honorable thing and fully condemn these hate groups, has obviously not been awake for the last couples of months, or for the duration of the media’s obsession with 45. Stop waiting for a pivot. Sure, he can read teleprompters and pretend to be civil and cognizant of the facts, but those are not his words, as we saw the day he went off-script, and said there were some good people in the alt-right, neo-nazi side, and that they were there to oppose the removal of confederate statues. 45 has always been a racist; his actions and words reveal that. He’s too old and senile to change, so stop waiting.

The conversation needs to move to why young white men are adopting this radical ideology, some who are college-educated and seemingly well-off. People can try to use the economic argument, but there is a new crop of racists pretending they are fighting for white america and their “heritage,” since they believe they’re being replaced by minorities, but this stems from a belief that the white race is a superior one. I imagine these young men (I noticed from the photos many of them appeared to be in their 20s to 30s) gather in clandestine forums, posting hate speech and fake news, instilling a twisted reality on their consciousness. One that politicians are glad to use to their advantage, and ironically for the ruin of white-america. They are trying to take back America. I’m not sure from who? Since they have ancestors who immigrated to this country. They don’t own America. If anyone should claim ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

The online world has become the place for ego-driven fake news. hate speech, bots and trolls. For anyone willing to suspend their rationality to adopt a supremacist ideology, it’s not difficult to find people who will agree with you. Before fake news, there was, and still is, Fox news, which 45 watches religiously and often repeats verbatim. It’s like a cycle that keeps repeating itself. When your “president” is relaying back conspiracy filled statements, it’s no surprise people don’t believe trusted news sources.  He doesn’t hide his favoritism for these alt-right groups, since they’re part of his base. They want nothing more than to see him deport immigrants and undermine our civil rights.

Another point of confusion for me, is why anyone would want to claim the confederacy as part of their heritage, and defend it as if it was righteous and moral? Anyone espousing these beliefs clearly doesn’t have qualms about the fact that the confederates were fighting to keep slavery; they were willing to split up the country because they wanted an entire race to be enslaved.  Some of the descendants of confederate generals themselves have called for the statues to be taken down. The great-great grandson of Stonewall Jackson ( a man who believed god wanted slavery to continue) expressed their moral dilemma when it came to their heritage, as something that has evolved.  They acknowledge their ancestor and the history, knowing that his statues no longer have a place in today’s society.The great-great grandson called the statues “overt symbols of racism and white supremacy.” Many of the confederate statues were installed during reconstruction, as if to remind African-Americans, who were living in the south, of those who were against abolishing slavery. These symbols call out to an ideology that is offensive specially for black communities.

Though these statues are symbols of oppression, people should use the proper channels to bring them down. The communities involved should decide what happens to those statues and build consensus. As it occurred in New Orleans when the council members voted to take them down. The pressure should come from grassroots movements that influence elected officials to remove them from the community. It’s important for people to have a conversation as to why it should be removed.  Following those channels of actions will make people more likely to agree with the removal instead of doing it by force.

The hate groups made their presence known in Charlottesville, not just to express their anger over the removal of confederate statues, as 45 will have you know, but also because they wanted to show that all these groups are united. They’re not just some random group of people on reddit or 4chan, ranting about “white heritage” So for anyone saying that anti-fascists or others who are part of the resistance should not show up, in order to prevent a violent interaction, know that they were there to voice their opposition. It sends a message to fascist, racists that we have the numbers to back up the resistance, and that the majority of the country agrees with us when we say we want to protect minorities like Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jewish communities.

This is the time to speak out and protest against these hateful groups. But we can’t stoop to their level by committing violent acts ourselves, because then we are no better than they are, if we do not let out words and action come from a place of peace and conviction, and not force.



Solar Eclipse at the NWS

During the solar eclipse we all realized that the universe was bigger than our egos. It took a moon covering the sun for everyone to calm down, and actually listen to scientists. People won’t listen to them on matters regarding climate change, global warming or water pollution, but they will readily follow their advice on where and when to watch the solar eclipse, making sure to buy solar glasses so they don’t burn their eyes. The solar eclipse of 2017 gave people a chance to come together despite whatever else was going on in the world.

I waited until noon or so when the moon would begin covering the sun. “It’s going to be slow,” a friend said, adding that the clouds would obscure it. I was anxious for the eclipse to start and end already, so I ate candies and wrote to pass the time. It was like waiting out a long sentence in the National Weather Service, though it was interesting to see meteorologist in action. The room was filled with computers, three to four per desk, per person. Some displayed forecast maps, numbers others data that seemed hard to decipher. I also saw cool gifs of the solar eclipse’s path on a map of the U.S. I wondered how people kept focus staring at all those screens and images, but realistically they probably only ever used one or two. There were several phones on every desk, too many to count, each with it’s own purpose; they were not simply intended for calls. Eerily enough, there would be a change in temperature during the eclipse, but slightly.


My low-quality Iphone photo of the solar eclipse. The sun is 92.96 million miles from earth.


I kept checking a big digital clock with bold red numbers at the center of the back wall. It was next to a medium-size T.V., broadcasting CNN. As expected they had ongoing coverage of the eclipse. When we first went out, the moon had only begun covering the sun. It was merely a tiny spot on the right side of the sun, as if a bird had bitten it off. The clouds moved slowly in front, and I could feel myself becoming disappointed, so I went back inside. Later on, I went back outside a couple more times. Eventually, the moon reached the half point. Still sometimes the sun and the moon were visible and other times, the clouds fully covered them. “Go away clouds,” I found myself saying.

Finally around 1:30 p.m., everyone was outside waiting for what we expected would be 88 percent totality. I peered through the solar glasses, taking breaks when the sun became too intense. I tried to take a photo with my Iphone behind my solar glasses, and captured not the most ideal images, but I wasn’t about to point my nice camera at the sun without a filter. Not before long, the sun was finally in a crescent shape. I helped someone from the office take photos since at first, since she couldn’t figure it. Some people pointed at the strange umbrella shapes on the ground created by the shadows of the moon. It had seemed like an eternity, but it was finally over. The moon had obliterated the sun, but just for a short while.

In the parking lot, a random lady who was driving around in an uber car decided to stop and show me her photos and ask me what I thought. She then made a reference to a strange photo she had taken. “I wonder what that is,” she said, passing me her phone. “It’s probably a glare or reflection.” I told her. She had been staring at the eclipse through the tinted back window in her car, so that’s probably what caused the multiple diagonal shapes of the moon and sun. It did look like the solar eclipse of another planet, perhaps Jupiter. I let her borrow my solar glasses and helped her take a photo with the Iphone right behind it. I’m not sure how long we stood there, but I was ready to drive away. “I think you’ve got quiet a lot of photos,” I said.

An ode to pool days


…before the cloudy days of August, there was little reprieve from the sun. Swimming in a body of cool water seemed like a far away memory when biking outside underneath the trees with the hot road stretched out before me. When I arrived home, I usually ran to take a cold shower. I wanted the water icy cold. I thought about lounging in a pool, floating and looking up at the sky. Sometimes I went to a friend’s pool near Esplanade Ave. The pool was behind a small house surrounded by palm trees. There was a lime tree on the side, next to a table and some chairs. Over on the patio near the back door there were some couches. It seemed no one entered the house through the front door, but instead walked to the wooden door in the back and down the path leading to the yard. The pool had several steps to the bottom, and the interior of the pool was a soft sea green. That particular day it was three of us. We swam lazily and talked about what we did during the day, and what we actually wanted to do with our lives. I always felt odd saying I was a writer; it had become on and off, or maybe it was always like that, only now I recognized that my motivation disappeared more often. I swam from one side to the other or floated on my back. Sometimes we congregated near the edge to sip some wine, saying a few things here and there. I went back to floating, letting their voices travel. There were some hues of greens, purples and grays, possibly from the cement tiles. I don’t know where they came from, but there was a orderly wildness about the backyard from the plants in the outer edges, the lime trees, the yellow Dutch shoes left randomly on a table, but yet, purple flowers had fallen from the shrubs and were lazily floating along the pool.

Update: flood, solar eclipse..


Two weeks ago Sunday, New Orleans received 6 inches of rain during a period of 4 hours, which was too much for the pipes to handle. As a consequence many neighborhoods flooded, ranging from not so severe sidewalk coverings, to knee-deep water in Mid-city where people were paddling their kayaks. Some people biked through the flood like this one guy whose bike was covered half way as he tried to pedal his way out.

I had not been paying attention to the rain or thunder until I received an emergency warning text.It was hard to ignore it. There was a flash flood warning and it urged people to stay out of flooded areas  I watched the rain fall outside my window, hoping it wouldn’t about too much.  The rain had covered the sidewalks and most of the streets. As it’s common to find in New Orleans, the street are not always leveled so there tends to higher and low area that easily get flooded. Around my neighborhood the water did not get beyond covering our sidewalks. No one was outside at the time since it was raining hard and the streets were completely covered, but once it stopped, cars began passing by. There was still a large concentration of water, so that when cars passed, they pushed the water to the side. I don’t think it went into anyone’s house but it looked like a shallow river out there, as the water moved in waves.


Solar Eclipse

I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve seen a lunar eclipse before, but never a solar eclipse. I found about it several weeks ago, and quickly began searching for the solar glasses, but to no one’s surprise they were sold out on various sites. If you didn’t already have it, you were screwed since experts advise not to stare directly at the sun, because it will ruin your eyes, possibly causing blindness. Also I needed binoculars and camera filters, and those were also sold out. I watched some YouTube videos on how to make a DIY filter, but where would I get the Black polymer sheet? It seemed like a lost cause. Luckily, I knew someone who had the solar eclipse glasses, and so I wouldn’t be watching from home or only when the moon was fully covering the sun. Most people are driving to the line of totality ranging from Oregon to South carolina.

I ended up watching it in Mobile, Alabama, where we were expecting 85% totality. I tried out the solar glasses days before when the sun was out. At first I didn’t see anything because some clouds were in the way. I could only see my eyes, but then the clouds dispersed, and there it was. The SUN. It appeared small, slightly orange, and so benevolent that I didn’t recognize it. I could feel the heat, but my eyes were safe under the solar eclipse glasses.

I wondered how it would be the day of…

Opinion: Nola Floods

Luckily, around our way the water didn’t get beyond covering our sidewalks. I peered out outside—and not a soul wandering around. The water covered the streets then the sidewalks. Once the rain calmed down, some cars began passing. Since there was still a large concentration of water the cars pushed the water to the side making it likely to enter someone’s  house. I don’t think the water went into anyone’s house in my block, but it looked like a shallow river out there, as the water moved in waves. I’m not sure if any of these cars actually had a reason to be outside. In other neighborhoods, people complained about the water being knee-deep. Some kayaked and drank whiskey. Luckily, our place was unscathed, but I wonder if next time we’ll be so lucky. Had it kept raining for longer, how high would the water have risen? Several days after the flood, I biked to Circle Foods and saw it was open, but there was yellow tape around the entrance. A lady outside told me it was closed. “We will be open next week, give us some time,” she said. I told her, I was glad they were going to stay open. Inside a group of men dressed in button ups and suits huddle around the now empty produce aisle.

I went to another market on Esplanade where a lady told me that the water didn’t reach her store, but had it kept raining it probably would have. We talked about the drains, commenting how they were filled with garbage. “The government use to clean them before.” She said. I don’t know why they don’t anymore.”

I find it frustrating that the city doesn’t do enough when it comes to the cleaning and upkeep of the drainage system. As I see it, there are two problems here: the drains are filled with garbage so water can’t pass through and the pipe system needs to be updated, so the water can be moved off the streets quickly. Seeing as how the city government doesn’t clean the drains, a while back me and my partner cut the overgrown plants that covered the closest drain to my house. I also removed some of the garbage that was sitting there, mostly plastic bottles or bags. It wasn’t hard removing the garbage from the top, though arduous in the hot sun, but at some point you couldn’t clean anymore because most of the garbage was mixed in with the soil, and it was too deep to retrieve it.

For many people this was close to home. It reminded them of how the streets flooded during Katrina, especially with the photo below of Circle Foods. The pipes should be able to handle this much rain, even if it was concentrated for a span of four hours. Sadly, not enough is being done to secure New Orleans from another major flood event.


[photo credit]