It's 9am Monday morning and I'm finishing my first iced coffee of the day at Coffea, a new coffee shop that opened last month around the corner from my house in the Bywater neighborhood of the Ninth Ward. If you've never had New Orleans iced coffee, you should add that to your list of reasons to fly down here for your next vacation. It is made from a coffee concentrate created by brewing the coffee (with a little Mexican vanilla) in cold water for 24 hours. Add ice and milk. I'm not sure how much weight I've gained since this place opened, but I'm pretty sure Gwen (who owns the place with her hubby Andy) is responsible for an extra pound or two. The menu here includes crepes stuffed with homemade chorizo, pastries from Henry's up on St. Claude Avenue and, most remarkably, H & H bagels from New York City.
This isn't the only sign of recovery. Last night I discovered that our local Tower Records is now open as late as 8pm! For a while, they were only open two days a week and never later than 6pm, so this seven days a week thing seems like quite an extravagance. "Do you have thunderstorms?" I asked, feeling a little out of place. I knew that if they had thunderstorms on disc they would be found in the meditation section. But I didn't want to ask where the meditation section might be. Meditation in the midst of the French Quarter seemed a little too... something. My little pit bull Sula (featured on the cover of The Dogs Who Found Me) has been having some thunder issues lately, so I'm going to try desensitizing her with recorded storms. The problem, I suspect, will be that she is too smart to be fooled by recordings.
Usually, I keep the sound of storms and construction workers at bay by allowing my dogs to watch the soap opera channel (SoapNet) 24 hours a day. This came to an abrupt end last week when the construction crew next door threw a sheet of shingles that draped itself over my satellite dish. Next, in removing the shingle they also removed the three "eyes" that read the signal. When I walked outside, I found one member of the crew holding the bottom of the ladder while another balanced at the top, trying to piece the whole thing together. It didn't work.
But all of this coffee drinking and storm therapy is a nice break from my schedule of the past three months, which has involved driving up to Hattiesburg, Mississippi three days a week to finish off my coursework for a Ph.D. in creative writing. The highlight of my course schedule: two semesters of French translation crammed into ten weeks. And I haven't had French since elementary school. For my final project, I translated French news reports about pit bulls. The professor said she didn't expect perfect translations. One of my translated headlines reads something like this: "Children to scrape the neighborhood clean: in the absence of convincing the adults, the local government sensitizes the youngest to fight against the wild canine excretions."
That sounds about right, doesn't it?
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Ken Foster, a writer and teacher, is the author of the bestseller The Dogs Who Found Me; its sequel, Dogs I Have Met; and the new book I'm a Good Dog. His collection of short stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get, was a New York Times Notable Book. His work has been featured in Salon, Time Out New York, the New York Times Book Review, and other publications. He lives in New Orleans with his dogs Brando, Douglas, and Bananas.
Books mentioned in this post
Ken Foster is the author of I'm a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America's Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet