Nothing was what I expected/ January’s curator

I’d never have guessed it a year ago, as I chased a toddler around a lakeside house in Denver, dated a guy who thought putting my earrings in a ziploc bag and returning them to me was a “big step emotionally” for him, poured hours crafting what would be tens of unanswered cover letters to all sorts of writing and teaching related potential employers, that a year later I’d be surrounded by mint green walls I painted with Lost Boy, hurrying to finish a book review so I could scratch up six dollars for us to enjoy happy hour wine at our neighborhood wine bar, where we rub shoulders with an accountant-turned-playwright, marriage and family law practitioners, and Burt Reynold’s former personal assistant. I couldn’t have guessed that some evenings, I’d meet my mom there. I have friends who are still surprised that life’s serpentine path can’t be mowed straight with a little determination and focus, or beaten into symmetrical submission with good behavior, but–bless their hearts–they are fewer and farther in between. And if I’m perfectly truthful, I cling to my own mythologies of Grand Control, ignoring the fact I have very little.

Things not surprising:

I’ve started a new voice, called the Tipsy Librarian. She’s been there the whole time. I am really not sure what her second post will look like after her debut, a holiday book-buying guide. Maybe there will be a discussion of Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. And a conceptualist’s take on popular farmhouse ales.

I am still working on becoming employed, and somehow the second draft of the book will also get further underway.

But first it is time to crank up the gas heater, wash the sheets for the umpteenth time (because we can! we have a functional washer and dryer!) and pour a bottle of Trader Joe’s two buck in a saucepan with a dash of cinnamon and some satsuma peel.

I am taking a little breather and I’ve snagged a few writers to curate Nola Studiola in the meantime.

Here’s to coming home–whether it be a piece of real estate, a person, or a smidge of acceptance within yourself about yourself.

What part of today might your year-ago self be surprised about?


Julia Carey will be January’s curator to ring in the new year. To tell you the truth, I’ve been hoping this would happen for more than a year.

Nola Studiola rings in 2014–which all omens predict will be a good year–with January’s curator, Julia Carey. I met Julia in the hallways of LSU, and shared a pizza with her once before I left for Denver. I admire her honesty, I’m comforted by her charm, and I’m inspired by her focus. However, I do think you’ll find her words introduce her best; after I read them, I found I had little inspiration to add more exposition, but great interest in hanging up my blogger hat for a bit and embracing the role of reader.


Statement of Curatorial Intent

I’m approaching two decades of living in New Orleans, after coming from a remote little town in the southwest to study piano at Tulane.  Within two years, I was out of school and running four star restaurants for the Brennan family in the French Quarter and getting a far different, totally unexpected education.  Though I left restaurant management to pursue my MFA in creative writing at nearby LSU, I still haven’t been able to rip out the barbs of the industry, or those of this city.  I still bartend, and I only know how to make friends if food is involved.
Hooked is not the right word, and neither is trapped, as those barbs might imply, but rather I’m yanked against some invisible line which keeps me tethered to this very special, very troubled place, no matter how many times I have tried to leave, or been forced to, as with Katrina.  It is a confusing and cyclical masochism I invite, deny, and heal.  The pleasures here are so sweet and unique, matched by pains dark, deep, and frustrating.  A most unsettling place to settle.
With a draft of a New Orleans novel completed and oodles of short stories about my adopted hometown, I still question my ability, my right, and my author(ity) to write about this town full of carpetbaggers, staunch loyalists, new lovers, and fierce protectors of its “insider” secrets.  2014 will redefine, once again, my relationship to the Crescent City with my first mortgage payment, as I invest in more than the souls and stomachs of those with whom I share this town.  Home is a complicated place.
My stay here at Studiola I anticipate to be very similar — temporary in my stint as curator, permanent in my relationships with those I find here as we help each other explore new territory in our lives, our writing, and how we feed both.  Join me as we look at the shape of this town, and how it is shaping us.
Julia Carey’s work can be found in the journals Mason’s Road and Tiferet Journal, as well as the anthologies Louisiana in Words and New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost.  A winner of the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Prize in Poetry, she was also nominated to the AWP Intro Journals Project and a finalist in the Bellingham Review’s recent Tobias Wolfe Fiction prize.  Along with teaching in the English Department at Xavier University, she slings drinks at the Delachaise wine bar on St. Charles Ave and cultivates her toddler’s love of books.

One thought on “Nothing was what I expected/ January’s curator

  1. Dang, ladies! I was goofing off on LinkedIn, and I am just NOW getting to read this awesome blog post. Alison and Julia, we still need to get drinks. Julia, looking forward to your work of curation for the month of January!


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