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Fortune favours the bold.

Before heading to New Orleans in April, one of my friends suggested to me that I visit a fortune teller while I’m there. Apparently they go hand in hand.

So while I was there for the music of New Orleans Jazz Fest, I also aimed to visit a fortune teller.

I also intended to visit a strip club – a proper American strip club – only for the idea of comparing an American one to the idea of what I see in the movies.

Trying to do that back home turned out not so brilliantly the last (and first) time I went. Sydney’s strip clubs seem to be little more than overpriced cement boxes where uninspired women dance to even more uninspired music while you drink what barely passes as fermented sugar water grape juice from a plastic beer cup. Did I mention you had to pay twenty-five bucks for the privilege?

I digress.

While in New Orleans, I aimed to see a fortune teller. For the next few days, my mate and I wandered the streets as tourists, occasionally seeing psychics sitting under worn umbrellas on the side of the park at Jackson Square.

“There’s one,” my friend Ross said, but it just didn’t feel… right. Plus I was hesitating. I mean, what if they told me something horrible? What if they told me something absolutely disastrous? Should I really know that much?

It wasn’t until our second last day in New Orleans (technically the last day of exploring) that we found the “Bottom Of The Cup Tea Room” that I thought we’d found our place.

Plus, it was on the same block as Laura’s Chocolates and if that’s not a good omen, I’m not sure what is.

Just looking at this picture of one of Laura's truffles makes me hungry. Anyway.

Still skeptical over the entire process, I went and had a 15 minute reading done. The fortune teller was quite good, and to be honest, I didn’t expect it to be about who I was currently. I expected it would be able who I was going to become, and the two are quite different.

What I got was a combination of both, and you can hear some samples of the reading below. I’m obviously not going to put it all online for you as I’d like some of my reading to stay private. Ish.

It started with me finding out I had to cut something out of my life. I’m guessing this was my ex, which has more or less been cut out of my life. Ripped. Torn. Severed. Take your pick. It’s all relatively the same.

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At one point, she mentioned my friend Ross. Or at least I think it was Ross. I don’t have many friends-who-are-guys, so am only assuming it’s Ross.

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Apparently passion was a big part of my reading, too.

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I do consider myself a curious person. Hell, I found it rather surprising that I actually went through with the psychic reading in the first place. So when the fortune teller asked me if I had any questions, I was curious about something I’d faced in my life. People had told me that my overly sexual nature was a result of me being Scorpio, so I wondered if the whole starsign thing had anything to do with personality.

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You can claim that what I heard was guessing, looking for a tell, predicting what I was going to say based off of mannerisms and facial characteristics or a bunch of other things that would scientifically explain what happens, but all of that is mostly irrelevant.

Even me – the first one who would normally stand there next to you, with you, and tell me that – thinks that all of that is irrelevant.

You know why?

Because what I heard that day made me feel good. In a way, it made me think that the psychic reading was more an affirmation about one’s self than anything else. It might be someone just telling you how it is, how you are, the way you are, and if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I am addicted to books

I wish I didn’t have to say what I was addicted to, but I feel it may help you – the reader – understand me better.

And look, it’s either that or plug one end of a jumper cable into my brain and the other end to the base of your neck, something that I’m sure will probably result in pain and no mind transferrance.

Regardless, this is my first addiction post.

Here we go. Ahem.

Hi. My name is Leigh and despite being as random as my title slogan, I am addicted to books.

I am utterly, completely, ridiculously engrossed in the nature of what the printed word is. I cannot survive without text on paper, image on glossy. I fall in love with titles and subjects and footnotes and epilogues every time I see them because I am addicted to books.

I collect them so I can educate others with them. I read them. As of right now, I am 26 and have easily over 200 books. They’re in a shelf or in the homes of friends, in their hands being read or collecting beams of light as they grace the presence of my otherwise chaotic desk.

I’m in the process of writing them, too. Not for money or fame, but because there are stories in my head that I want to get out, that I need to get out because if I don’t, my sanity really is brought into question. And I’m more unsure of that than ever lately.

This evening I bought a book because the cover struck me. It’s called “The Insult”. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can. Sometimes the spine and the index and the page corners just speak out to you, a vertical yell that screams “BUY ME DAMNIT!” and then only a few minutes later, you’re several dollars shorter with yet another piece for your already sinking shelf.

I can fix that with another shelf. I can fix that with a box. I can fix that with a stack under my table staring at me and just waiting for me to accidentally kick it in my sleep so that it topples and spreads everywhere.

I could also fix it by lessening my addiction, removing it from the equation and making it so that I wasn’t addicted to books.

Or I couldn’t. And shouldn’t. Removing that part of me would be like removing my heart, and that is something I’m not likely to do.

I am addicted to books and I love it.  I really do.

Raw Orleans

The city is gloomy, hot, sweaty, alive. Raw and awake, energy surges on every corner.

It’s hard not to notice the life here. Perhaps it’s the surge before Jazz Fest really hits. Perhaps it’s the notion that everyone here can get drunk easily, will get wasted in ten minutes flat.

You can. You can do that here.

Alcohol is cheap. So cheap that you can wander into a pharmacy – I shit you not – and buy almost a litre of Corona or Vodka-hybrid-something for under three bucks.

Insanity.

And on Bourbon Street where all the action is, you can find yourself with a plastic alien filled with all manner of colour and alcohol while five bucks goes missing from your wallet.

Down several of these and provided you’re not me, you’ll think the alien is real.

And it might be. And then your attention, your lifeforce, and your energy will be a part of the throng that floats in this place.

Walk up and down that place, the red and blue and green and gold slushy in your hands and you’ll see people.

Crazy people, happy people, lost people, found people, we’re-going-to-shit-ourselves-if-we-don’t-find-something-to-screw people, and no one is sad. It’s the life here. It keeps you focused on nothing, alive and relaxed, provided you realise that New Orleans is that.

It is everything and nothing, and to be honest, it’s best not to think about what New Orleans is or isn’t.

It’s far easier to look at the strip clubs that line the roads, the beer sold on the side of the heavy traffic crowding Canal Street, the fluorescent red lights on a pharmacy that sells liquor, and the smells of a place that cannot be denied.

It’s far easier to take all of this in, to breathe it all in and realise that this is New Orleans. This is raw, uncut, and completely fucking brilliant.

So why the bloody hell aren’t you here?

The writer’s block is gone.

I am constantly confused. For the past few years, confusion has been my primary state.

I don't generally write fiction with any real understanding of anything. Hell, the only place I write where I understand anything is the technology journalism with which I work in.

But when I write randomly and the randomly written writings come out, they spew forth in almost a gibberish form. Loose sentences sticking to a page connected only by articles, particles, and segments of words that get meshed & melded to become paragraphs like this one.

I don't know how they got there and usually don't get. A fluke. A random bit of science.

Hey, it works.

But lately, I feel inspired… and today, my story-writing writer's block broke.

It was almost as if a giant adjective spawning block of ice that had been sitting on top of the squishy grey matter I call a brain got knocked off while I wasn't looking and fell on the floor. A loud explosion followed and the shards created little jingling sounds like a thousand pins falling from a deep jar into a stone cavern floor.

They echoed in my brain and with the echoes came words, ideas, and a connection that brought them into the front and said "hey Leigh, you're back motherfucker!"

And I have an orange poppyseed muffin & industrial grade disinfectant to thank.

Thank you tasty overpriced three dollar pastry & chemical that made eating it quite disgusting.

Now – as I sit with my stomach telling me just how much it appreciates both of you working together – I linger on a thought that keeps me writing, and it's not a gut busting one either.

My girlfriend keeps me writing. I know she inspires me and the good thoughts that push all those little inklings of paragraphs into the front of my brain come from the thought of her.

Thank you, dearest. I can breathe again.

The Mardi Gras Transport Stuff-Up of 2009

In a little place called Sydney, a bunch of people in costumes with bright faces, make-up, and a sense of fun are all getting ready to go out and show the world just what it means to be themselves.

They've made floats and dresses and attached feathers and glitter and joy to all parts of their bodies. There'll be music that pumps and breaks through the crowd and Mardi Gras will show everyone that gays and lesbians are out and proud.

With parties being the order of the weekend, the police are out in full-force. It's only Friday and men & women in blue stand outside a train station while they hold teenage twenty-something drug offenders to the ground. The labrador who did the grunt-work sits ready to receive his pat, stroke, belly rub reward.

People walk by, walk on, wait for a bus or taxi, but mostly move on. No one wants to be a suspect or a criminal and no one would dare comment on the irony of ten officers nailing one person to the ground.

All throughout this, this little place's transport system attempts to serve the population by providing enough buses and trains to support demand. Enough means to get the people around, from place to place and point A to points B,C,D and F.

No one wants to go to E. We're all sick of it.
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