Brooke Goes to the City

All right, you guys. After 36 hours in New Orleans, here are the current stats:

Apartment- 1
Brooke- 0

Hair- 1
Brooke- 0

Heat- 1
Brooke- 0

Streetcar- 0
Brooke- 1

Navigating- 0
Brooke- 1

As you can see, the city is winning by about 1.

We arrived yesterday (Saturday) at 10:30 in the morning. When I first saw the skyline from I-10, I went back and forth between hyperventilation and something like optimism, only less optimistic. There might have been just a few seconds of excitement, but I was trying to regulate the breathing.

I checked into the apartment building, got my key, and ran (literally) around the entire third floor until I found my room. I smiled and clapped and jumped and then took a deep breath and tried to turn the key. The key wouldn’t turn.

I tried the next door and the next door, and then I made Sprinky try. We tried about 16 more times before I went back down and told the desk lady. Of course the desk lady had to come up and try herself. She did the same thing I did—put her ear against the surrounding doors and tried them all for good measure. Then she shrugged and said the manager was gone until Monday. She also said the on-call person, who has the master key, was off. I was wondering how an on-call person could be off, since that’s sort of the point of being on-call, but whatev. There was no key. She told me that someone would be back at 4 and could let me into a temporary apartment until they could get a locksmith out on Monday to open the right one.

If you know me, you know this sort of thing is always happening to me. You can be sure it gets worse.

Since my dad had to get back to Indy, we had no choice but to unload the cars—right there in the lobby. I was immediately extra self-conscious of every single personal belonging, like the little miniature lamp that I thought was so cute until I saw my dad carrying it through the reception area, also the magazine rack. And the crate of mismatched pots and pans. I didn’t see anyone else bringing in pots or pans. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see anyone with anything. Everyone I saw showed up with about 4 giant duffle bags. And here I am carrying in photo albums and little square wicker baskets and three tubs of hair products. Don’t even get me started on the 7-foot cardboard cut-out of Sarah Jessica Parker.

The desk lady opened a storage closet for us to “store our luggage”. I think she got mad when I started carrying in things like TVs and clothes. But what could we do? My first home in NOLA was a storage closet.

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Once everything was in, we killed 5 hours in the heat of midday with shrimp that set my mouth on fire and beer. We also saw the giant oil spill, walked up and down the river and Decatur street, went to the uptown campus and garden district. But it was about a thousand degrees by three o’clock and we couldn’t take it anymore. We went back to the dorm to sit against the wall in the reception area are stare at the lady so she wouldn’t forget to call for my temporary room. Our luck, the desk lady said the manager had come back with the real key.

Cleaning up the oil spill

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Firey cajun shrimps

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We brought two loads of stuff up to the 3rd floor. The manager unlocked the apartment, which turned out to be a teeny little studio, and found that the air conditioner had frozen and then melted and then molded all over the floor. She said they would have to clean it over the weekend and I could check back Monday. She said for $50 more I could have a one-bedroom, but she couldn’t guarantee a good view. I asked if I could have it right then. She told me to come to the office on Monday.

Cripes.

The manager eventually let us in to a two-bedroom apartment for the weekend. At this point, my dad was at the bottom floor with everything in the storage closet, Sprinky was on the third floor with the stuff sitting outside the bad apartment, and Kathy was with everything else in the new temporary apartment on the second floor. All of us were running back and forth between the three floors trying to move things and keep an eye on them at the same time.

My second home in NOLA

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In the chaos, my dad and Sprinky met a girl sitting in the lobby waiting for her room, and guess where she was from? No, really, guess. Just try. Okay I’ll tell you. Fort Wayne! When they came upstairs and told me, I went back down to meet her, and from the 30 seconds we talked, I decided she was everything I wanted in a first friend. But I was too shy to ask for her room number. Plus, she didn’t have a room yet. These types of things are so awkward. Next time.

My dad left around dinner time, and Sprinky and I, too tired to find food, shared a bag of kettle corn and granola bars and watched cable until we fell asleep.

Today we woke up early with a list of things to explore and find. On the top of the list was Target, Starbucks and Taco Bell. On the bottom of the list were just boring old things like the Social Work buildings and Finaincial Aid offices.

I also really wanted to figure out streetcars. You’d think it would be easy—just pick what direction you want to go and sit in the little hut till it gets there. But no. Three streetcars passed us by until a lady selling swamp tours across the street finally told me that when you see it coming, you have to go to the other side and stand next to these little white spray painted numbers, and then they’ll stop. What the? I spread the word all day and tourists thanked me like I was a local. I told them I just moved here yesterday. Turns out, streetcars have been declared moving national historic landmarks and have been running along St. Charles Avenue for over 165 years.

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Thank GOD everywhere else I went people were friendly. One lady at a tour guide hut told me everything I needed to know, and you better believe the next time I need to figure anything out I’m going straight back to her little hut.

Once she found out my situation and how city dumb I was, she opened a map with pride and told me where to go, what to see, where not to go, where the projects are, where the good jazz is, where to catch the street cars, where the routes ended, etc.

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She told us that Canal Street is the middle of city and that all the streets change names there because one side used to be a Creole neighborhood, and the other used to be a French neighborhood or something. So the street numbers all start at 0 and fan out on either side.

She also told us not to wait in line at Café du Monde, but to slip around to the other side and seat ourselves. She said most people don’t know there is a second entrance and that tables are first come, first serve. Sprinky and I walked past a line that would have take 30 minutes and sat right down. It was local-riffic.

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After the delicious beignets, we caught the St. Charles car to the uptown campus and found all the Social Work buildings and the bookstore (which is a Barnes and Nobles!) and, most importantly, the food court. We cooled off in the cafeteria louge, which had freestanding water walls and a marble bathroom. It was such a stark difference from Taylor, I took pictures. People laughed at me. And by people, I mean Sprinky.

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We walked forEVER around that campus and toured the rec center, the park and the pool, located a Starbucks, a future Borders and a Whole Foods, and then went up to Metiarie and discovered New Orleans’ little Castelton. There were two malls, bookstores, and all my favorite fast food joints. Plus—here’s the kicker—I did it all without my trusty Navigon. I left poor little Navi in my dad’s car, which, but the time I realized it, was already in Birmingham. This week was the sole reason I purchased Navi—to help navigate my way around the city. I was stuck using old-fashioned maps and internet. Obviously we found our way…

Right to Target! The biggest best Target ever, with 22 rows of clearance racks in the Women’s section alone. Did you hear me? Twenty-TWO clearance racks. Plus, wait for it…wait for it…an escalator with a cart rack in the middle! I felt like I was in my own children’s book called Brooke Goes to the City.

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Tomorrow I should (hopefully) get my real apartment and my ID.
Tuesday, who knows.
Wednesday, Sprinky leaves ☹.

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9 thoughts on “Brooke Goes to the City”

  1. I love your story. i miss you so much. i thought of you today because I bought an 80 dollar bejeweled purple floor lamp. did i need an 80 dollar bejeweled purple floor lamp? NO. i love this lamp so much that the quote ” i love lamp” doesn’t even do it justice. i am totally re-doing the office just because of this lamp. At any rate…the whole process made me think of something that you would do:) love you and send me that damn sprinky.

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  2. i got your text last night right when i pulled up at “our” target :(

    welcome to hurricane season, take care tomorrow from edouard

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  3. Brooke…love, love, love your stories. I am sitting at work reading them dying with laughter (well not literally dying). I will definitely want to come and visit sometime. Sounds like a lot of fun you are having. I love that your essentials included Taco Bell.

    Have a great time! Hope the apartment situation works out!

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  4. Hey Brooke! It has been SO LONG since I have seen you! It sounds like you are doing well. What an adventure! You make me laugh! Bless you! Kim

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  5. ah, the escalator in the target. our target has one too. but not 22 clearance racks!!! good luck, missy. i can’t wait to hear more. and you are a fabulous writer… how’s that novel coming along? (yeah, mine too.)

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