It’s been awhile since my last post, and a lot has happened. Not only did I fall off the wagon — hard! — and completely profane my Lenten promise to abstain from sugar, but I’ve also shortened my post-Mardi Gras recovery and enjoyed every second of it. Well, not the sugary fall from grace part — just the general idea that I’m still living it up in the Big Easy and getting happier and healthier each day.

I’m not sure why it took so long to make the connection, but this weekend I was reminded that Louisiana is the happiest state in the country, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control in December 2009. Imagine if the CDC did another study today on the happiest city in the country: It’d surely be New Orleans. Sadly, though not surprisingly, my home state of New Jersey is the 47th happiest state. The horror! The horror! My heart’s not filled with darkness, though, over this stark comparison –– anything but. Instead, I’ve mulled over all the things I’ve done, eaten, seen and heard over the past two weeks and tried to imagine if such fun would have been remotely possible in the Jersey-metro area. Turns out there’s no need even to compare, especially given a roster of endorphin- and fatigue-inducing high jinks like this:

•    March 6: Some friends and I listened to the George French Band, featuring Wendall Brunious, at Dos Jefes Cigar Bar. We probably had traces of lung cancer as we exited the joint because of all the smoke, but the music and cozy environs were worth it, I think …

•    March 7: Spent a few hours at Frisco Fest, which is an annual festival held at the San Francisco Plantation in Garyville. It was the perfect way to usher in festival season: with spicy Cajun food, bands, contests and dozens of vendors selling everything from monogrammed hair bows to sketchy-looking jars of jam. Somehow I managed to walk away from the fest with a full belly, newly formed wrinkles from smiling so much and a handful of Zapp’s special edition New Orleans Plantation Country potato chips.

•    March 8: Swung over to d.b.a on Frenchman Street to check out Glen David Andrews. I’d seen him and his band perform in front of St. Louis Cathedral the week before, and he came up to me, put down his trumpet and asked me where I was from. “I’m from hee-ah,” I said, trying to inflect a Ninth Ward accent as much as possible. But he wasn’t convinced, so I told him I’d check him out at d.b.a to prove my residency.

•    March 11: Helped celebrate and honor the workers of the 9th Ward Field of Dreams organization during a fun shindig at Republic night club.

•    March 12: After a long day of work, I met up with some friends at Rio Mar for dinner — as a prelude to a friend’s party at LePhare. From there we bounced around until an entire group of us ended up at Fat Catz on Bourbon for the rest of the night. Needless to say, I’ve yet to recover.

•    March 13: Attended an hour of NOMA’s 30-hour closeout party of the “Dreams Come True” exhibit, saw snippets of the Uptown St. Patty’s Day parade and later that night heard Rebirth Brass Band at Tipitina’s. No need to elaborate on Rebirth; their music is otherworldly.

•    March 14: Yes, after Rebirth it was off to catch some indie rock at the Foburg Fest in the Marigny. Bad idea, because a bed was sorely needed at that point.

•    March 14: Missing the Superdome so much, I went back for the HBA Home & Garden Show. Fun times. Sort of. Afterward, I moseyed over to Crescent City Auction Gallery to peruse all the wonders at its bi-monthly auction. There are some serious hidden gems in that place.

•     March 14: Capped off the weekend with a stroll through Soul Fest at Audubon Zoo. What a wonderful way to bid adieu to a couple of weekends of music, food and little sleep.

It’s hard to think that the past two weeks are just a mild appetizer to even more sizzling weeks to come. There’s the Freret Street Music Festival, Earth Fest, Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, Mardi Gras Indians on Super Sunday, Soul Revival, French Quarter Fest and so much more.

Laissez les bon temps rouler clearly applies to the entire year around these parts, and I’ve only got three words to keep the dice rolling: Bring it on.