[Author’s Note: After 11 days of trying, my blog finally worked along enough to let me fix the formatting on this post! Enjoy!]
So, I’m gradu-ma-ate-ed.
That means that if you’ve grown fond of me whining about law school (because some of us do love a good whine after all), that things might be getting a bit dry on that front (or not, more to come on that note). However, if you are expecting me to go a spiritual journey of feels and remembrance in this post then I’m sorry to let you down, that isn’t this post – it’s the next post. This post is mostly going to be a pictorial journey of what’s been happening since last time – which coincidentally was exactly one month ago. Like all my posts, the relevant text for a photo appears below it, not above it.
So, with that said, let’s get started on this image-laden (sorry 56k people, I know you still exist – but I do compress the photos at least) journey with a picture of beer.
Relevant? Well beer is always relevant, but mostly it’s just a good color-coordinated combo that I wanted to share.
For mother’s day the boys created some sorbet for SB. Side note: If you want ice cream but have none and you do have bananas, just slice them up then freeze the slices. Once frozen, process them for a bit and you’ll have banana ice cream. You can add other frozen fruits (as above) as well as things like honey, peanut butter, chocolate, etc. to the mix as well. It’s yummy.
The weather was nice leading up to graduation. Keywords “leading up to.” This photo was taken on my walk to school to pick up my regalia. I thought it would be one of the last times I walked the ole’ route, I was wrong, it’s amazing how many times the law school has sucked me back since then, but I digress.
Here’s the 200th Class Bicentennial Banners on the library.
And here are the commencement information books – little did I know that I’d end up with 150 variations of this book.
A nice shot near the law school, notice the uncut grass. They let it grow and seed prior to graduation.
Another shot of my commute – complete with the nice weather that didn’t last.
We had a bit of a heat wave of up to 95 degrees (prior to temperatures plummeting) and Quixote used the heat to start growing towards Bonsai Buddy Jr.
At one point he was actually getting so up in Bonsai Buddy Jr’s bidness’ that I had to move him.
Despite Quixote’s best efforts to keep us distracted, we did manage to do a bit of celebrating at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, which was part of our original “triangle idea” which was abandoned due to cost. However, Meem was kind enough to get us a gift card (for both the Tap & Trotter and the 3rd part of the triangle – Bergamot) so we celebrated thanks to her generosity.
They had a lot of beers (much more than seen here) including some familiar faces from my past life.
Dinner was super yummy, especially their hamburger which I guess is something the chef is known for.
Eventually the heat wave passed, and Quixote went back to his regularly scheduled exploits.
Valentino was pleased with the temperature drop (at one point 39.. in May), he always likes cold – as evidenced above by his creative use of part of SB’s coat.
Speaking of the boys, we all finally got to try mochi ice cream – it was a hit in the Taco household.
Back on the law school front, these cool signs popped up as graduation got closer. I kind of wished they’d leave them up normally as I think they are cute.
Despite the dreary, cold weather a lot of the flowers on campus decided to bloom just to give the ole’ feck you to the weather. I liked it.
All the family that came to visit also put up with the weather (which was really only bad on the most important day, lol) and we also had a lot of food, including our favorite waffle place: Zinneken’s.
Meem, Daryl 1 and Daryl 1’s fiancée… let’s call her… DBH (Daryl 1’s Better Half), and I traveled around a bit in Boston prior to graduation. I got to see a few areas I’d never been to, such as the Boston Marathon Finish Line (which was still there – as the year goes on it goes more and more faded and worn until they repaint it the following year).
We also visited a few places I’d already been to a few times, such as the Public Garden.
While there I got to see a Queen Squirrel. As an FYI – in Taco nomenclature White Squirrels are Queens and all Black Squirrels are Kings. This was my first Queen sighting, and I’ve only seen two Squirrel Kings (once in Indiana and once in New Mexico).
It was a pretty nice day, with alternating periods of hot sunshine and warm overcasts.
One thing I’d never done before in the Public Garden was ride the Swan Boats (which have been in operation since 1877).
Meem got all of us (sans SB, who unfortunately had to work) tickets and we got to ride around the pond.
Meem had her good camera and captured a duck and turtle buddy together, I really like the photo so I stole it.
Since we were in the Public Garden we had to stop by and say hi to the Make Way for Ducklings statue (I always like visiting it).
Cheers is also another natural stop.
From there we traveled to Acorn Street, which I had never been to before (and wasn’t even sure where it was at).
It was really cool, but the cobblestone road was CRAZY hard to walk on. I can only imagine what it was like when the entire city’s road system with either this or mud (i.e. horse shit).
We also passed by the Massachusetts State House.
And while we didn’t have time to do the Freedom Trail this time, we did briefly pass over a few parts of it.
One of the first big gatherings we all had was at Legal Seafood, which, as mentioned, is kind of our tradition.
SB’s parents had a later flight in that everyone else, so once dinner was over we went home for a bit before heading back out to meet them at their Air BnB.
Floppsy had traveled with MIL and FIL, so he came home and had a couple-day long sleepover with the boys (they were ecstatic).
The next day all the festivities started (Class Day followed by Graduation Day). Here is a squirrel from Class Day. There were open bars and squirrels, my kind of day.
Graduation Day itself was cold and raining, but the rain held off long enough for us to march over to Harvard Yard with our bagpipe escort, which was pretty cool.
Pigsten stowed himself away in one of the many hiding places of my doctoral regalia, and only revealed himself once he knew it was too late for me to send him home. 🙂
Pictured Above: Law School, Dental School, Medical School, Business School (e.g. a bunch of already or soon-to-be powerful people [and dinosaurs]).
Since this is mostly just a scrap-book-style post, I’m not going to go into all the nuances of Harvard’s nearly 400 year-long graduation traditions (a nutshell version can be found here) but things get started when the Sheriff of Middlesex County bangs a big stick on the ground (srsly).
That’s the Dean of the Law School, Martha Minow. Or rather, she was the Dean, she stepped down after this year to return full time to teaching. I really like her (as did most people I knew). So when she came onto the stage to present our class to the University President (Drew Faust) for conferral of J.D.s we all went kind of crazy. While there’s definitely a bias, I think we were the loudest school, even more-so than the undergraduates. We also had a cool slogan when our degrees were conferred, with President Faust reminding us to “aid in the shaping and application of those wise restraints that make us free.”
My gavel and Tristen’s gavel. While his might be smaller he will be quick to point out that his is real wood, unlike mine.
Graduation Day consists of the Morning University Exercises, then your school exercises (where you walk across the stage to get your physical diploma at your school), then Afternoon University Exercises. It rained during the morning, and then poured during the law school exercises. So while Meem, SB, and I had tickets to the afternoon exercises (main speaker: Mark Zuckerberg) I decided to go home and get dry and just watch it on television (local broadcast, FTW!). It was a good choice. Zuck’s speech was actually really good in my opinion.
That evening the whole family traveled up to Summer Shack to have my graduation dinner. Which is a fancy way of saying I had more beer, including some from Mighty Squirrel Brewing. I liked the glass so much that FIL ordered one for us (and they ended up sending two due to a delay).
I had a sampling of oysters from all over New England (the first of many oysters I’d be having in the coming weeks, though I didn’t know it at the time).
And my main course was a stuffed lobster, which was the first time I’d had a whole lobster in I think my entire life, or at least since I was a piddles on a Florida trip.
Babar the Elephant also joined our household over dinner (no not that Babar) – he was smart and came out during dessert (Floppsy was also in attendance). Babar was a present from Meem, and presently lives on one of our end-tables.
All the boys shared in our graduation. Tristen with his J.D. from HLS, Valentino with his Ph.D. in Forestry from Boston College, Pig with his Ph.D. in Agriculture from Boston College, and Pigsten with his 1st Year Diploma from Clifford School (SB and Clifford graduated from their respective programs, MSW and MBA, last year – as a reminder).
Before everyone left MIL, FIL, Meem, Daryl 1, DBH, and I had breakfast at Zoe’s – where I finally got the sweet potato pancakes, and they were just as good as I’d hoped they would be.
Once everyone had gone their separate ways I collected my regalia and took the robe back to the law school (otherwise they would have been happy to charge me something like $900 for it) – though I got to keep the tam (HLS was the only Harvard school with a tam [even other doctoral programs], and only then because it was our Bicentennial) and the doctoral hood (Meem bought it for me).
In less than 24 hours they had cleaned up the law school graduation area, quite impressive considering how many tables and tents there were – not to mention the fact that all of said objects were soaked, as was the ground.
After straightening things up Babar decided to live near the flowers Meem had gotten me (stylishly placed in my DOJ stein) – though as mentioned he has since moved to an end-table.
While putting some stuff in storage I noticed the beginning stages of the wireless network our building will be getting. It kind of figures, now that we are about to move out they are finally starting to upgrade the internet and other features (such as building security) which they said they would be doing for three years. Go figure, but hey at least the first summer they did facade repair which effectively removed our bedroom windows for 3 months! 😀
After about five days of mundane stuff (bar study for me, work for SB) we set off on our graduation adventure to New Orleans (as a reminder SB got to go all the way to the Arctic Circle for hers 😛 ). We were pretty excited as none of us had ever been there before. We were going to be joined by Aunt Train and her friend who lives in NOLA.. who despite not being a blood Aunt we shall call, Aunt Sommelier.
Our flight out left at 5:45 am, which meant that most of the boys slept in one of our backpacks (but not Tristen, he’s too manlies). I was dealing with a cold and had only gotten 2.5 hours of sleep, so I was kind of out of it, but I also have a really bad track record of sleeping on planes and thus got no more sleep until that night.
The upside to an early flight is getting to see the sunrise!
Since the first leg of our flight (Boston to Atlanta) only had like a whopping 40 people on it (the second leg was totally full, sadly), Tristen got his own seat (and his own coffee) and so he did what most people do and took a selfie.
In fact, one of the flight attendants was pretty enamored with Tristen (and told us how she travels with a bear of her own) and gave him his own items. You could literally see his head growing.
Once we met up with Aunt Train at the airport and Aunt Sommelier picked us up in her Green-bean one of the first things we did was go to a drive through daiquiri store. Yes, a drive-through daiquiri store. I didn’t know that man could create such wonders.
After a brief stop at Aunt Sommelier’s house we walked into the French Quarter.
After more obligatory drinks we transitioned into obligatory drinks + obligatory food (at Red Fish Grill).
We wondered around the quarter a bit, including through Jackson Square. The rain was getting heavier and SB and I were super tired (and I was sick), so we headed back a bit early on the first night.
The next day we did a really cool cemetery tour (#1).
It was my first time ever seeing such an extensively above ground cemetery.
Our guide was really informative and seemed to have a story about pretty much everything, from the potential tombs of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (one of three seen above)..
..to information about the communal tombs..
..to information about historical figures entombed there, such as a one Homer Plessy, of Plessy v. Ferguson fame (I was pretty excited about that one).
Insofar as cemetery weather goes it was pretty good. It wasn’t raining, and the sun wasn’t constantly out, which was a good thing because when the sun comes out in NOLA it’s like 347 degrees and the air is soup.
At the end of our tour he gave a brief talk in the visitor’s center about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, complete with interactive map. I learned more from his 10 minute talk and display than I did in a month’s worth of media coverage.
After our tour we walked over to Commander’s Palace which was really schmancy on the inside. They have a thing called the “high temperature lunch” where the high temperature of the day before yields the price of the lunch on the day following (for posterity ours was $8.80, or 88 degrees).
This was also the first time in my life I’d had real banana’s foster, and while Commander’s Palace didn’t invent the dish (that honor goes to Brennan’s – see below) it ended up being my favorite of the two times we had it.
I dare say if that doesn’t look appetizing to you then you are probably a terrorist.
After some rest back at Aunt Sommelier’s house, we headed back into the French Quarter, this time with a stowaway.
Then we headed into the Bombay Club for a happy hour and drinks. The Bombay Club was a super cool, old English style club that made you want to oppressively expand your own empire. There were even nudey paintings in the men’s restroom – per the female companions the women’s restroom had no such nudeys. We were lucky, because right after we got into the club it start pouring rain, and after it was done (we were still inside) that was the end of the heavy rain for the day. Seen above is SB and I’s attempt to drink a (very strong) Mint Julep, we were not prepared.
After emerging from 1890s England into the humidity we headed over for a Ghost Tour.
At one of the stops on tour I finally remembered to get a picture of one of the iconic Blue Dogs (which are everywhere, I just kept forgetting).
It was a little drizzly at the start of the tour, but nothing too major.
Eventually the light rain stopped and, thanks to the clouds and time of day it was a pretty decent evening – even for a humidity-wuss like me.
One of the more interesting things on the Ghost Tour was learning about the “Romeo Spikes” which adorn many buildings. Given the name I think you can figure out the details, and from there, figure out why they might have been mentioned on a Ghost Tour. 🙂
Another cool spot was Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which is supposedly haunted as heck, and which doesn’t use electric lighting.
Ghosts or no, I was really digging the ambiance.
Another stop on the tour was the infamous LaLaurie mansion – which I surmise probably finds its way into most NOLA tours, Ghost or not.
Like most Ghost Tour locations, the LaLaurie mansion’s nefarious history has been wildly exaggerated, though what did happen was still pretty screwed up, just not to the scale the Ghost books might suggest. 😉
Real hauntings or not, it was a great evening for some spookiness.
SB and I liked our little ghost stickers enough that we took a photo of them to memorialize them.
What’s even better than a Ghost Tour is a Ghost Tour with drinks afterward. NOLA seems to offer up booze every 10 feet, so that wasn’t much of a dilemma. We headed over to the courtyard of Pat O’Brien‘s for their patent “Hurricane” drink.
SB and I shared ours, and I’m glad we did. It was tasty (and went well with the popcorn they bring you), but also strong. 🙂
On our way home I got my first glimpse of “Touchdown Jesus,” which is technically-named but lesser known as “Sacred Heart of Jesus.” (closer photo below).
While waiting for a bus to pick us up Pigsten got pretty enamored with the lit-up entryway to Louis Armstrong Park.
The next morning Valentino made friends with Henry, Aunt Sommelier’s polar bear (who would have thought that two polar bears would meet in NOLA!).
We then took our street car ride of the trip!
While walking to lunch I spotted one of the “Not Haunted” signs they put on properties for sale in NOLA. I found out the night prior that these aren’t a joke – they are legit. As I guessed, the “Not Haunted” properties tend to be worth less than the haunted ones, supply and demand I suppose!
Lunch was a three-course special at Antoine’s Restaurant, which was seriously expansive (both the lunch and the venue) and also haunted.
Pigsten sampled all three of my courses, starting with the oysters.
Then a bit (or more than a bit, rather) of the crawfish etouffee.
And lastly some of the delicious chocolate mousse.
After we finished eating we wondered around the interior for a bit, including a peak into their massive wine cellar.
Antoine’s consists of tons of different dining rooms, each as unique as the last.
Once done with lunch we did some shopping, including a stop in Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, were we acquired a few voodoo objects, including a talisman for Pigsten (pictured below).
That evening we headed to the theater to see Wonder Woman, as well as to have food and drinks.
In this instance, those things all occurred at the same place. Yes, leave the popcorn behind, here you can get good food and good drinks, before and during your movie.
Actually don’t leave the popcorn behind either, they have truffle popcorn. So have popcorn and a fancy Wonder Woman-themed cocktail while you watch the movie.
The morning after our Wonder Woman evening (which was great by the way) we made our way to Cafe Du Monde to try some of their chicory coffee and famous beignets. They were awesome.
With coffee and beignets in our belly (and soon mimosas as well, remember 10′ between drinks – it’s the law) we headed into the French Market where SB wallet’s lost some weight (the only instance of weight-loss on this trip).
After the market we boarded another street car (just in time to escape the rain – continuing our streak!) and headed up into the fancy Garden District, home to very nice houses, rich people, universities (Tulane and Loyola), and beads hanging from rich people’s trees.
Once near the end of the street car line (in a neighborhood just outside of the Garden District with the awesome name of “Black Pearl“) we got off and headed into a college/sports bar called “Cooter Brown’s.” Yes, seriously. Cooter, muh’ fukin’ Brawhns. There was some sort of soccer match going on between Spain and Italy, so the noise varied between regular bar level and blown eardrums. However, I did get to try some Louisiana exclusive beer such as “The Boot” above, which made up for my newfound deafness.
That evening we had dinner at Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, an Italian restaurant. If you’re wondering why we went to an Italian place in New Orleans when have access to Little Italy in Boston, then you aren’t asking the right questions. When it comes to food the question is never “Why?” but instead “How Much?” to which the answer is always “More.” It was yummy. SB and I shared some tiramisu which was really, really good. Though when my tiramisu normally comes from a plastic box in a bodega my standards are probably not super high.
The next day was our last full day in town, and we started it off with Aunt Sommelier-made breakfast (delicious, which shouldn’t be surprising given her nickname on here), inclusive of some mimosas. Good start.
I was finally starting to feel a little better (on the last day, go figure) and in part I think that was due to my super comfy sleeps’ I’d been having on the futon. This was a real futon, not those crap ones the college kids buy at Wal-Mart for $80.
Once out in the quarter we finally got to hear Doreen Ketchens, a clarinetist who is freaking awesome. I mean, she has her own Wikipedia page, so she’s more famous than you and I ever will be. A cool “small world” side note: our Cemetery tour guide is her cousin.
The first destination of the day was the aforementioned Brennan’s, home of bananas foster and lots of savage sibling rivalry. As you can see above, we were in the mood for some treats, so we got alcoholic coffees to go with them (this should not come as a surprise this deep in the post).
We ended up splitting both the bananas foster and some strawberry crepes between the four of us – both made right at our table of course (that’s half the fun!).
While I liked the texture of Brennan’s bananas foster more, overall I preferred those of Commander’s Palace. Though I’d happily eat either of them multiple times a day.
As a cool legal-ish side note, Brennan’s is right across the street from the Supreme Court of Lousiana. Had I clerked there I would have ended up morbid-f*ckingly-obese (and broke).
The highlight of the evening was heading down to Mississippi River waterfront to Woldenberg Park for Oyster Fest! The fest of course had oysters and booze, but it also had music. The act we were there to see was Aunt Sommelier’s favorite band, “Bag of Donuts.”
Pigsten was a big fan of the tugboats.
Once we got settled near the stage area we got our first round of food and drinks (seen above: a BBQ oyster po’boy and a Pina Colada daiquiri).
Before the concert I’d never heard of Bag of Donuts, and knew nothing other than that they were a cover band. Well, like most live music, they turned out to be awesome (I mean they get halfway there just via the name) and displayed a lot of range and talent. The show was free (always good), but I’d definitely go to see them again if I ever have the chance. SB and Aunt Sommelier acquired some Bag of Donuts cups for us, which are probably a rarity in Cambridge.
After the daiquiri I moved back into beer territory, where I got to try Purple Haze (fitting) from Abita.
After the concert we headed over to the banks of the Mississippi. We even got to go right down to the water touch it (and didn’t mutate, sadly). I’d only seen the Mississippi once before and had never got to actually touch it. Given my love of history, it’s cool to finally get to see such an important river up close.
We also got to see Jackson Square at night, which looked a lot better without the rain.
And, as mentioned, we got a lot closer to Touchdown Jesus this time around.
During a potty-break at the hotel Aunt Sommelier works at I spotted a vampire hunting kit, which was pretty cool.
With the vascular in mind, we then proceeded to get “Hand Grenade” shots which come in giant syringes. I nom’d all of mine and part of Aunt Train’s – they were really good, and full of Everclear, so they were doubly magical.
The next morning we went to Melba’s before going to the airport (sign in Melba’s parking pot pictured above). I had some super yummy shrimp and grits and also a dirty banana daiquiri (which was amazing and also don’t judge me).
On the way out the door we found El Señor Crawdad who had escaped from the confines of Melba’s kitchen and was on his way to Lake Pontchartrain. I briefly considered taking him, but then I figured that his family would miss him and also the TSA probably wouldn’t understand El Señor’s desire to see the world.
The first part of our flight was smooth sailing. We left right on time and had nice views of the Mighty Mississip’.
We also got to briefly see some of the bayou. When I go back to Louisiana I’d like to see more of the countryside, in addition to drinking out of plastic cups in the middle of NOLA’s streets of course.
Our layover in St. Louis started pleasantly enough with a nice view of downtown and the Gateway Arch. We also got to see the Blue Angels taking off from the airport right after we landed, which was pretty cool.
However, weather and runway issues in Boston, coupled with some flight crew re-positioning resulted in us not leaving until we over 3 hours late. Fortunately we had Dunkin Donuts, snacks, and books to keep us occupied, though on the whole it was still pretty frustrating due to the lack of updates.
Once we finally got into the plane Tristen was ready to get home (he is a boy of schedules after all).
When it was all said and done we didn’t get home until almost midnight, but at least I got to try out my brand new Oyster Fest huggie! The next day it was back to work for SB and back to bar studying for me (between graduation and NOLA I was 6 days behind at that point). However, “normal” didn’t last for too long, at least not for SB because only two days after we got back we had to take her to hospital at 6am so she could have surgery on her foot. It wasn’t an emergency or anything, just a scheduled surgery for her left foot’s bunion (she has it on the right foot too, so that will be another surgery down the line). This photo is her prior to surgery, but showcasing her stylish boot. 🙂
The surgery is only a day-surgery, but it’s not super pleasant since they break your bones and put a screw in there. But SB did fine and the boys and I kept ourselves occupied for a few hours in the hospital with coffee and a book (and Tristen’s incessant questions about where they keep the dead people).
Once we were home Tristen immediately began plotting to eat SB’s foot (and probably all of SB), so in addition to caring for SB – she’s temporarily movement impaired – I also have to make sure the carnivores in the house (3 dinosaurs and a polar bear) don’t eat her.
As a reference, Tristen isn’t just trying to eat SB because she’s SB: he even tried to eat me when I had my toe surgery.
Aside from SB’s surgery, things have been mostly normal around the house. I say “mostly” because we still aren’t entirely sure what sorts of voodoo Pigsten has learned how to conjure up with his talisman (seen above).
Pigsten probably learned some dark magic from Thomas III prior to his departure from this realm. Thomas III had differed a bit from Thomas I and II in that he self-fossilized a good while ago and had just been chilling on the window sill for a few months now. Since things were finally calming down I decided to go ahead and bury him behind our building (which is where Thomas I and II also went before arising as pumpkin demi-gods to lead their world conquest). The last two summers I was gone and so SB had done the honors, but this time SB was recovering so I took Thomas III and sent him on his way to Pumpkin Valhalla.
His mortal coil lies between that bush and the small tree at the right of the photo. His ancestors smile upon him, can you say the same?
In slightly more boring news, because things have returned to normal that means that I am now in full-on bar study mode. Since I’m behind, that means I have no breaks on weekends and will studying straight until the end of July. It’s not really a glamorous summer, and to be honest it’s downright frustrating at times because they want you to do a ludicrous amount of work each day, but I’ll manage, I always do. Plus, unlike those earlier photos, the one above comes from what might be my last commute to the law school (had to pick something up and print some things – our printer at home is no longer a printer, it’s a giant plastic brick of uselessness [don’t buy Epson products]). I say might because in writing that I’ll have jinxed myself, but hey, at least it was a super nice day and since classes are out the air wasn’t heavy with crippling depression. 😀
Anyways, that’s that! In just one post we covered an entire month of life events, and big life events at that! I hope you enjoyed the pictures, since really this post was more of a picture-book than a text-story, but now that I look at the stats it’s still clocked in at over 5200 words, so maybe that isn’t a fair assessment after all!
As I mentioned at the start, next time around I’ll talk more about graduating law school at a more emotional level – complete with lots of waxing nostalgic and mentally waltzing matilda, as well as talk about what’s in the future pipeline, and other such things of that nature (and yeah I know I never made a post about Israel, but hey I took lots of pictures 😛 ). In the meantime, I’ll be studying away at the ole’ bar so don’t worry about missing anything super exciting in Taco’s life. 😉
Until next time,