Sunday, January 25, 2009

the funnest people in new orleans

It's been since September that I gave an installment of the "The Most Important People In My Life." That's a LONG TIME. Eons. (Crosswords LOVE the "eons" clue. They LOVE it. I've noticed that since I started doing the crossword, I have also started speaking more frequently with words with a 90-percent-or-higher vowel composition. I digress).

And guess what? Ben Stevens, my best friend from home, IS VISITING! We are having a 100 percent FUN time. Except that I'm inexcusably sick. Why does sickness happen? It's such an inconvenience to everyone. The Common Cold should realize that it's not really all that powerful; it's not going to do much to help thin the human species; it's known far and wide (probably even among OTHER viruses) as a major annoyance; and it should just give up. Alas, alack.

Anyway, Ben is visiting (highlights so far: swamp walk, Bourbon Street, beignets, hipster coffee, hipster burritos, The Pixies on shuffle, relationship ranting, grocery adventure at Winn Dixie, Indian food, tourist hot spots, jazz jazz jazz jazz jazz, college parties, beer, more jazz, more beer, oldies singalongs, etcccccc.), and he said to me last night, "Wow Sophie, you really have a LOT of interesting and attractive friends in this here Greater New Orleans area." And I said, "You know Ben Stevens, I really do." And he said, "I think I shall move in with you and attempt to bone 8 out of 10 of your besties." And I said, "Okay Ben." (That whole transgression is true except for the last part).

So obviously: Important People in my New Orleans, Volume x+1:

The incomparable (clockwise from left) Nick, Jazzy, Avery, Lily, and Caitlin in the middle. These are the gentlemen and ladies whose numbers I obtained while drunk and at Penn. When I talk about the greatest people I have met in New Orleans, it doesn't seem like enough of a superlative for this group. They are more like the greatest people I have met in my LIFE. Avo is a freelance illustrator for a limited edition of "The Odyssey" to be released in the next year. Jazzy has some high-end government job and used to be Vince Levy's boss at that Penn paper. Nick works for the NOLA Green Project (which is about the most badass thing you could do here). Lily is right out of a comic book -- she knows everyone and everything and smokes her cigarettes from long ancient cigarette holders. And Caitlin... holy shit. Well, Caitlin works at Bennachin's, Caitlin works at the NOMA, Caitlin is thinking of opening a coffee shop. Caitlin got invited to go to The Eagles concert last night by the guitarist from The Eagles. Caitlin got offered 10 or 15 EVEN AWESOMER jobs while backstage at The Eagles concert. And for these reasons, among other reasons, I asked Caitlin to sign my boobs last night. And she did.

Leah Hope Fishbein. I will know Leah for the rest of my life. Here is how I met her: when I first got to New Orleans all those many moons ago, Teach for America gave us Teach for America LookBook pages with everyone's names and favorite this-and-thats, and Leah's favorite listed book was "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World." And that is how I knew that Leah would be my friend. We officially met in an elevator in Phoenix. I thought she was probably too cool for me. Then Leah started taking me to every cool vegan restaurant in Tempe in her Hybrid electric car. After that it was a downward spiral into utter infatuation. Leah organizes the Crunkical Mass; she has pages from children's books tattooed on her calves (actually, last Friday night some drunk guy cursed her out for having them, and called her a "fancy tattoo haver." That was funny. Drunk people are funny). What makes Leah the best is that for all her adventurousness and whimsy, she will ALSO stay at home with you and eat take-out and watch "Clueless." She is the only person in New Orleans who is currently in my speed dial. That's love. Also her cat is named Sal and is orange and is actually still a kitten (i.e. FREAKISHLY CUTE).

Hannahhhhhh. I have known and loved a lot of Hannahs. But never in my life have I been more completely in awe of a Hannah as I am of this Hannah. Hannah is the kind of person who is so unrealistically genuine and nice and kind-spirited that you are taken completely aback when you figure out that she's actually FUCKING EDGY AS FUCK. Like... if I were going to have an orgy, I would probably invite Hannah, and Hannah would probably say yes. If I were going to bike 100 miles in one day, I would probably invite Hannah, and Hannah would probably say yes. Hannah dreams about living in a real life tree house. She worked on a sustainable farm in Vermont for an enormous chunk of her life. This Christmas, she bought dozens and dozens of local Meyer lemons and invited us over to spend the entire afternoon canning jars upon jars upon jars of lemon curd. Hannah is what I would call the ideal Pocket Person: The kind of person who makes you so consistently happy -- indeed, the kind of person who MAKES YOU A BETTER VERSION OF YOURSELF -- that you wish you could pocket-size-ify her and carry her around in your purse so you would never ever ever have to be without her. In this picture she is eating her birthday brunch. That's because she's the kind of person who has a handful of wonderful friends who want nothing in the world but to bring incredible homemade foods over to her house to celebrate her birthday, brunchily.

Oh, Karaline. I think Karaline would make a very good wife. She is a wonderful cook and picks out the most beautiful foods when she goes food shopping; she wears really sexy around-the-house clothes; she has this amazing cooing voice for when you are miserable or surly. But Karaline would be wasted if she were only a wife. Beyond all these things, she's also up for any adventure, good at dancing late at night in sparkling outfits, and absolutely won Bananagrams today. I felt I was pretty close to winning. But Karaline won, fair and square. She is from Massachusetts, and she instantly makes everyone around her feel like they are her lifelong best friend. For this reason, she is possibly too popular for her own good. but I guess that's not really a problem. I should think of an ACTUAL Karaline problem. Hmm. Too good in bed?

James Hamilton (left). Obviously needs both names to identify him, right? It's just one of those names. We went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago and he told me that my name ("Sophie Johnson") was a strong name. I have never received a compliment on my name before -- at least, not the whole name -- and I didn't quite know what to do with it. But once the dust had settled, I recognized what was BEHIND that compliment: the fact that "James Hamilton" is FAR AND AWAY the strongest, most regal name that has ever been bestowed on any human being. This tells you nothing about James, except that he eats food and gives compliments. He does both those things (and the former he does as a vegetarian, which is a BFD here in New Orleans). James plays bookoo instruments. He can do that thing where you're talking to him and he's talking to you and AT THE SAME TIME he's making beautiful sounds come out of a ukelele. James is also a cat whisperer and can thus get cats to do tricks. It's becoming clear to me as I write this entry that a fondness for cats is listed as very important in my particular rating book. Last night James went with us to see "The Wrestler," then he drove us back to our car, and called to tell us interesting things we could do with our days tomorrow. He's CLASSY. That's the bottom line there. Also has GREAT taste in music. AND BASKETBALL!!! Well, I mean, his team in the Nuggets. But at least he HAS a team, and he loves them, and they are a really really good team. And we can have educated arguments about Western Conference. Blissful.

Ms. Ward and Ms. McGough. Jayda and Kristen are amazing, colorful people, and they have completely saved my life. They are some of the greatest teachers in the entire city, and they have really single-handedly transformed the entire Special Ed department at my school. Seriously, fellows: I don't know what I would do without them. I don't. I would probably have gouged out my eyes by now. With forks. Kristen has the BEST LAUGH OF ALL TIME. Whenever something is REALLY shitty at school, Kristen laughs at it and it all seems a little bit better. She's always pissed off at exactly the right times, and when I'm going through something, she's the one who drives all the way to my house to make sure I'm okay. Jayda, who is pregnant with twins, is sarcastic and funny in one of those ways you thought was plausible only in well-written Hollywood comedies. She also is AMAZING with her students, and somehow whips all the Sped. paperwork into place. These women are the main reason I wake up every morning and feel okay about what I'm doing.


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