Isaac in the Big Easy

Yes, I was crazy enough to want to arrive in New Orleans the day before Hurricane Isaac hit - I had the tickets booked for weeks and had a friend to visit so I thought, hell, why not. It was my first stop before heading home after Santa Fe and I didn't want to miss it. Unfortunately I didn't get to breathe in the true life and energy that the city is famous for, but I got to see another side of it that most tourists probably never get to see. You're probably like "yeah, the inside of a local's living room with rain pounding on the windows", which is true, but there was so much more! The hustle of people boarding up their windows, the sense of community that formed around those that decided to stay, and the positive attitude that most people sustained in order to make the best of a bad situation. Only a day after it was over the bars and restaurants were opening their doors, sticking candles on the tables and taking advantage of bags of ice and BBQ grills on the streets. That would never fly in New York. I managed to get downtown a couple times, and what I did see I liked. It's like a piece of Europe chipped off, got lodged in Louisiana, then was spiced up by the subtropical southern Americans living down there. Big Easy, yes please...y?!

 all boarded up for the storm

 the night before the storm

my lovely host Kirche (and Molly!)

 beads were falling from the trees - this is a real thing

clean up crew 

my first beignets! 

getting ready for Decadence on Bourbon St.

the hurricane menu (fresh off the grill from the sidewalk!) 

The Land of Enchantment

The Land of Enchantment is absolutely an appropriate nickname for Santa Fe, New Mexico: sprawling mountains every way you turn, huge, beautiful, colorful skies, and clear, crisp air that takes your breath away (quite literally, actually, the high altitude makes it really hard to breath and you unfortunately feel like a floundering asthmatic). I had a brief stint in Santa Fe last summer (there's another post about it somewhere around here...) and fell in love, so living there for a whole summer was absolutely incredible. Granted, I spent a majority of my time working in the costume department at the Santa Fe Opera -- another story in itself as I practically lived there, but I can easily make the claim that it's the most beautiful place I've ever worked (check out their website here). This didn't stop me though! With the built up adrenaline and creative operatic juices flowing I managed to get out and see what else Santa Fe and the surrounding area has to offer... let me tell you, I still can't get enough. The food is great, the art is plenty, and the people are at that perfectly eccentric level of bizarre. So enjoy - and you probably should be looking at this with a margarita in your hand.

 Processional into St. Francis Cathedral Basilica

 yes, we had a 90's roller skating party...

 ...at a Roswell/ Alien themed skate rink.

 Miss Rodeo de Santa Fe

my view from the opera every day at sunset

 the cantina... essentially, our cafeteria complete with swimming pool

 wigs & makeup

the lovely Rachel Hall in one of my costumes for Britten's The Turn of the Screw

the Fab 15 (photo by Joanna Koefoed)

 Lake Abiquiu - it was kind of like being on Mars, being at a lake in the middle of the desert!

 the back deck of the opera

One Friday I go to a flea market in the middle of the desert and stumble upon this gorgeous shack that had been decorated head to toe with the most random objects in the most beautifully calculated way. I start taking pictures and this man walks up to me and asks if I want a card to go along with my pictures… so I follow him in and it’s Kelly, the artist who built and decorated the shack. When I step inside the smell of fresh oil paint nostalgically stings my nose and the ground starts to crunch under my feet (i look down to see that it’s completely covered with cardboard puzzle pieces). When I ask, he tells me it took him “five hundred million years” to make, and I tell him I want to make one too. Kelly tells me that I better get started now then since it took him so long, then he asks me if I want a present. I hesitate, then say yes. He walks over to a table and opens up a book, signs the back of it with sharpie, smears it, then hands it to me. It was filled with prints of his art, his poetry, his stories, and photographs taken by his friends. No catch, just kindness… I’m pretty sure it was the best present I ever got.