by Niall Doherty


It’s hard to believe I’ve been away for four years. There’s a concern when you return to a place you love, that it won’t live up to the memories. I guess the trick is to keep your expectations in check, knowing it won’t be the same. It can’t be. People change, places change. Perhaps most of all though, I’ve changed.


That said, walking down through the Quarter this morning, seeing all those old streets and balconies, hearing hints of jazz creeping around corners, you couldn’t keep the smile from my face. This town is simply beautiful, oozing character. Tennessee Williams once wrote that America really has only three cities worth talking about: New York, San Francisco, and this one right here.


Flat out with the work stuff, and no complaints about it, as I could do with bulking up the bank balance. My primary checking account is almost down to nothing, holding off on transfers as I’m trying to save a bit so I can hit the ground running come Amsterdam in June. Today was solid, juggled three projects and earned a good chunk.


Staying with friends here. They’ve got two young kids and three dogs. The kids are adorable, but man are they a lot of work. I really don’t know how they do it, both parents working full-time. They always have to be alert, keeping an eye on the kids, feeding them, cleaning them, moving them around. I’m exhausted just watching it all.


I would like the experience of being a dad at some point, but I have no strong urge for genetic offspring. Adoption would work just fine, give some orphaned kid a good home. I’m in no hurry though. Lots of crazy/selfish things I want to do before I embark on the parenting adventure. I’m almost 33 years old. Get back to me in another five and we’ll see how I’m fixed.

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans


Been inside all day, troubleshooting pesky web dev problems, fueled by peanut butter and cereal. I spent a good three hours at one point trying to break through a coding conundrum, finally cracked it. That’s a good week of work in the bag, about $1,500 earned. Outside the sky grows dark, brass music in the air, parade floats ready to roll.


This morning I bet a friend $1,000 that I would do something before the day was out. I needed some leverage, to help overcome the resistance. Now the choice is simple: do the thing, or lose $1,000. So you can bet your ass I’m going to do it. That said, it’s already well after dark as I walk down Magazine, all alone, and I’ve yet to make a move.


One of the dogs here is a rescue. His previous owners had him debarked. He’s a big dog and would have had a big bark. He still tries to bark now, but all that comes out is a hoarse whisper and bad breath. I don’t think he realizes that he’s lost that canine essence. I’m not sure he knows anything’s amiss. Easy to pity such a creature, but it’s not just dogs that get debarked.


Starting to dawn on me that it’s not the same. I remember my last night in New Orleans, fifty-one months ago. Friends from several circles came out to watch me perform improv and offer a fond goodbye. I was part of the community here, woven into the fabric of purple, green and gold. Now I’m just a visitor, passing through. A man with wings, envying men with roots.


I’m pretty bad at selling my coaching services. Had a free consultation call today, and I doubt anything more will come of it. I know why though. It’s a lack of preparation, no structure or system in place. I’d be making it up as I go. Which means I’m not super confident that I can deliver results, and that comes across. Glad I know this now. Realization is the first step to improvement.

Things haven't changed much down on Bourbon Street.

Things haven’t changed much down on Bourbon Street.


It’s a Wednesday evening in New Orleans, and St. Charles is buzzing. Families atop ladders, a pirate on a bicycle, an old man playing the saxophone. Masked men on horseback, masked women on giant floats. The air filled with beads, purses and flashing rubber balls. Fire truck rolls by and everyone fills the street, busting a few last moves to the lingering beats.


Internet down at the house so it’s a coffee shop work day. Like a cheap-ass I spend six hours in one spot and buy a single cup. Most of this week has been a struggle work-wise, but today it’s all green lights, checking off tasks like a man possessed by some mighty god of productivity.


Reminder to self:

  1. open all.
  2. minimize time between interactions.
  3. never judge yourself.
  4. find something funny in each interaction.
  5. short and sweet early; burn it to the ground late.
  6. lengthen interactions as you build momentum.


I leave Frenchmen at midnight, tired but happy, a man with no regrets, as well as ever having followed those six steps. I cruise a coconut bicycle up Coliseum, arms outstretched on a street deserted, passing the Button house and others like it in a state of bliss. This road, a mile of kingdom, I am king, of curbs and potholes and every blooming thing.


Men once known as Ron Hitley and Toney Blare, roaming streets named after dead heroes and daughters of Zeus. We park up under I-10 and hear a brass band roar, then skip into a fancy house party on the avenue with a balcony up above and a feast down below. Later it’s a dragon’s den, an Irish rose, and the old stomping ground of a handsome pimp.

Mardi Gras in full swing.

Mardi Gras in full swing.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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