This was Monday, the 26th. My 31st birthday. Unlike the majority of women in the US (and possibly the world), I have no problem telling someone my age. I have no problem with the gray hair that's popping up. I've earned every year, every strand, and I'm just as excited about turning 31 as I was about turning 30 or 18 or 10. As such, I decided that I didn't want to spend the entire day at the venue. I wanted to see a couple of the flicks, but also tourist up New Orleans once more before I had to board the plane home the next day.
I woke up and had my “usual” breakfast at Riverwalk's Cafe du Monde, facing the Mississippi. After that, because I didn't have all that much time before the first show of the day that I wanted to see, I hung around the warehouse district and walked the Riverwalk Marketplace. Lots of very small shops aimed toward the tourist who either didn't know about the flea market in the French Quarter or had forgotten something there, plus an EB Games and an extremely overpriced t-shirt store. A little disappointing, but at least I got to talk to mon homie Evy on the phone. She decided that I was, indeed, in New Orleans when she heard the brass band in the background, roaming the mall. :D
I had a little time to kill so I walked slowly to the bus stop...and missed the bus. I forgot that the schedule changed pretty drastically from the weekend / Sunday time table to the weekday schedule, but I didn't have to wait too long for the next one. They run every half an hour on the weekdays (if they're on time, which the return bus to downtown wasn't.) So I got the bus to uptown and the venue to watch Strigoi. I saw the trailer for it and it looked like it was going to be fun and used a vampire mythos unfamiliar to most westerners. I'd heard of "Strigoi" before, but wasn't that informed about them previously.
I wanted to like it, but it was mostly dialogue with a little bit of action here and there. The DVD errored in the last ten or fifteen minutes and we didn't get to see the ending. It was pretty easy to figure out based on what we had seen, but still! A big letdown on an already big letdown of a movie I left a little frustrated because that covered two and a half hours of my birthday, of prime daylight in a city where it's really, really not safe to walk around by oneself at night, and then the bus back to downtown was running late and then I got turned around when I got off the bus and wasted another 45 minutes trying to get back to my hotel. I had yet to see the cemeteries or get on a street car and discovered that sundown was in thirty minutes or so from when I'd finally gotten back to my hotel. Ah well...stuff to do on the next trip! So, at that point I just hung around the warehouse district.
I had a lot of time to kill and I did go back to the casino. I spent $25 with no return, which I think was actually very good for me. If I'd left without playing again after my very nice win, I would have kept wondering what would've happened if I HAD played again, blah blah blah. I guess it's a writer thing so I'm very pleased with the outcome.
Since I hadn't yet sampled the culinary prowess of the restaurant attached to my hotel, I decided to return and try it out. Their menu must be new every day because it was a xeroxed, one-sided piece of paper. They had no house salad, so I had some friend green tomatoes (I had better fried green tomatoes in Portland, OR) and this excruciatingly large fried chicken sandwich. I do mean excruciating; it was hard to take a bite! The sandwich was pretty good, though, and their fries were nice. I still had some time to kill before the last film of the festival so I popped up to my room and started to pack up. My flight was at 6 am, but the shuttle was picking me up at 3:55 and the last film of the festival was scheduled to start at 9:30 (moved from 9 to accommodate the vampire dance performance) with the closing night party at 11.
Nine o'clock rolls around and I grab a cab and head to Zeitgeist. The buses were still running, but again with the alone at night in New Orleans thing. Anyway, I walk in and discover that no one was there. I thought that was a bit strange since there was supposed to be a screening of the audience award winning film (Shadowland, as I predicted, and congratulations to Wyatt, Gayle, and Robert on the win!), but I didn't think much about it until Rene mentioned that some people who had shown up for the screening at 9 (and didn't know that the screening time had changed) left. I checked my phone and it was almost a quarter to 10! Eventually, of course, Asif and everyone showed up. At that point, I was zoning out; I'd had four hours of sleep the night before and I was thinking about various stories that I'm working on. Anyone who knows me knows that I get very focused and pretty intense when I'm thinking (which is a lot) so I hardly noticed when the crew came in. They probably all think I'm rude, and I suppose I am, but I'm a writer first and can't help it when I space out.
So we all settle down and start watching Asif's film after Larry Richman's very nice introduction. As far as the theme of the festival is concerned, it doesn't really fit in. And, I'm sorry Asif, but I have to say it: I saw the end coming within five minutes of the start, but that's how I would have ended it if I were writing it so I hope I didn't make you feel bad! The acting was great and it was great to see Patricia Richardson!
After the flick came the wrap party! I didn't want to stay too late just because of the earliness of the pick up and the flight, but I managed to stick around long enough for the group photos and some great conversation and to help them tear down some decorations. I called the cab, said my goodbyes, and went outside to wait for the ride...and felt like a goof as Asif and the crew brought stuff out to their cars and such. Ah well, such is the life of someone waiting for a cab. A couple of people came up to me to comment on my film which made me feel all warm and squishy. They really did like it!
Finally got back to the hotel a little after one in the morning, did a little more packing since I had to fit a surprise into the luggage (it's a present for Rick and in case he happens to read this, I don't want it to be spoiled for him), and managed to catch an hour's worth of sleep before getting up, finishing packing, triple checking the room, and checking out. From there, the return trip was a bit of a whirlwind. I slept through both flights, waking up only for touch down and landing, and was surprised to find that we arrived in Sarasota early considering the President had flown in half an hour previously.
Even though I knew he was going to be here, I was still surprised to see his plane and to see just how large Air Force One really is. I didn't get to take a plane comparison picture, but I think the SUV at the foot of the steps is good, too.
That was my trip to New Orleans. Reviews and a wrap up will be coming in the next few days as I catch up on my sleep and other assorted things.
All of the photos from the trip are in one very large collection on my Flickr, the direct link to the NOLA collection can be found here. All of the aquarium and parade photos are in that set and there are quite a bit.