Category Archives: Advice

7 things to do and see in New Orleans (according to me, which makes it true)

So naturally I did not write while I was in New Orleans, but hey, I was busy having a blast so who has time for things like blogging when they’re having fun? I absolutely loved the city, and had a great time sightseeing with my favorite person. Although I won’t be back anytime soon, I would definitely love to go back again in my lifetime just to spend a little more time in such a cool place. Among all the greatness, here are a few things we did that I highly recommend to anyone visiting this historic (albeit falling down around you) city.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Never did figure out why all the graves were above ground.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Never did figure out why all the graves were above ground.

Check out the cemeteries. The notable ones are the St. Louis Cemeteries, of which there are several, but of which I’m sure people really only go to No. 1 (we went to No. 2 as well and it was deserted, clearly no one cares). We went on our own and just wandered the plots (which were surprisingly unorganized), and whenever we’d happen upon a tour group, we just sort of hung out near the back and caught whatever history lesson the guide was giving. It might be cheating, not paying for a tour, but I recommend it. Spend your money elsewhere, and just jump in on a group whenever you come upon them, they won’t even notice (and are probably used to it anyway).

Eat a lot of good food. Jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, po’ boys, the list of delicious food is endless. I highly recommend Jacques-Imo’s and Joey K’s.

Ride the streetcar. Talk about a time warp. That thing looks like it’s from the 50s, and probably is. It’s loud and usually crowded but it’s a fun way to travel around the city besides walking. It also feels like a piece of history, so you kind of have to, at least once.

My future home (the crappy one in the middle).

My future home (the crappy one in the middle).

Walk the French Quarter. This is obvious but worth naming anyway. Known mostly for its quaint, old homes and drunken adventures on Bourbon Street, there’s much more to do in this bustling neighborhood than just that. Wander the streets during the day and take in the scenery. You’ll encounter the traditional Nawlins architecture the city is known for, as well as one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. If you follow the streets down to the river, you can also take in a great view of the Mississippi and the city together. At night, as well as during the day, you’ll find an array of street performers and craft fairs to delight everyone’s tastes. And of course, with the city’s lax open container laws, you can get drunk and wander the streets with your beverages. Perfect for toting a 64 ounce fishbowl. Man, I miss that thing.

Book an airboat/swamp tour. If you’re at all interested in seeing how most people live and thrive, take a ride through the swamps. The airboats are a loud, but fun way to get out on the water and learn about “swamp people culture.” We booked with  Jean Lafitte Tours and were not disappointed. I was hoping to see alligators, but since it’s winter, they were hibernating. Our guide did let us hold a baby gator he brought along, though, so I was satisfied.

Drive through the 9th Ward. It’s definitely still rundown, but it is the best way to get a glimpse of what happened to the city during Katrina. Although it’s certainly eerie seeing the abandoned houses with the rescue codes still spray painted on the outsides, almost as if it just happened days ago. Don’t expect to feel happy traveling through, but I do recommend it to anyone passionate about the area’s history, as well as anyone interested in gaining an understanding of what the people there endured.

I wouldn't have minded owning slaves here. Just kidding. I'm from the North.

I wouldn’t have minded owning slaves here. Just kidding. I’m from the North.

Visit Oak Alley Plantation. While it is an hour’s drive outside of NOLA, this plantation is definitely worth the trip out. With beautiful grounds and main house, and absolutely stunning oak trees lining the entrance, you’ll feel like you just stepped back into pre-Civil War times (although sans slavery, that would just be weird now). There are also several other plantations nearby, so if you need more of a plantation fix, there are many others to tour as well.

With all this New Orleans talk, I miss it already. I’m going to go cry into a pillow now and long for the days when I could aimlessly walk the streets of the French Quarter with my fishbowl, without a care in the world. Excuse me.

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How to get past “not wanting” to write (if only I knew)

There’s nothing worse than being afraid of the thing you live to do, the thing you exist for. Writing may not (yet) be how I make my living, but it always has been, and probably always will be, who I am, an integral part of my existence. I couldn’t ever see myself not being a writer, unless someone paid me never to write again, and even that would probably never happen (c’mon, I’m not that easily bought. I hope).

But writing means sitting down with my thoughts, and that is pretty terrifying. I have several projects going at the moment (ADD at its finest), and while working on them (and one day completing them) is something I want to do, it’s also something I don’t want to do. Because writing means dredging up the past, and reliving the bad parts is just not something I’m eager to do. I know it’s a part of healing and letting go (and it’s definitely a necessary part of my writing process) but bringing up memories of the things you’ve done and had done to you, and the people you used to know isn’t always easy or fun.

I often wonder what would happen to me if I didn’t write. Would my thoughts just back up into my brain until they explode? Would I go on living my life exactly as I have all along, unchanged? I’m constantly in a battle with myself over what to do: to write or not to write. Obviously the answer is to write, so I guess the better question is to ask: how do I go about doing it in a way that isn’t going to completely destroy me? How do I write about the things that used to tear me apart inside without letting it tear me apart inside now? How do you keep the old you from seeping back in and taking over the new, much less stressed, much less anxious, much less neurotic you?

I’m hoping I find the answers to my questions. Because to not write is to not be who I really am. To not write is to deny myself the satisfaction of doing what I know and love. To not write is to deprive you, my devoted readers, of my hilarious and sarcastically-delivered stories of randomness and idiocy. And let’s face it, that would just be criminal.

Now it’s off to tackle the thing I love and hate more than anything in this world: writing.

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Proper concert etiquette

As someone who is obsessed with music, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good concert. I spend a good deal of my hard-earned dollars on concert tickets every year, so I want to make sure I get the most of my money’s worth when I go. Sometimes you can’t account for certain things, like whether a band is just going to be absolutely terrible live (there are truly some artists who simply can’t produce what can be considered music without the help of auto-tune), but as you take into consideration your fellow concert-goers, here are a few simple rules of concert etiquette to remember to make sure the show is enjoyable for all.

Smoke. There’s nothing people love more than the overwhelming smell of smoke while they’re trying to jam out with their favorite band. This is especially appreciated when you’re at an indoor venue, or if you exhale directly into the face of the person next to/behind you.

Don’t use manners. What’s the point in saying “excuse me”? If you’re trying to get by someone, just be obnoxious and inconsiderate about it. Extra points if you push and shove your way through when there is clearly no room for you. Besides, who wants to be polite, anyway?

Have a regular conversation with your friends at loud volumes. This is social hour, after all, right? It’s not like the people standing near you paid money to hear the music. I’m sure they would much rather listen to you talk about what an ass your ex was and how ugly his new girlfriend is.

Be “that drunk guy.” You know the one I’m talking about. The one that gets completely shitfaced and mean, and pisses off everyone around him because he’s ruining the show. Yeah, be that guy.

 

Hit the Rise Against concert two nights ago; awesome performance by the band, less-than-awesome audience interaction, mainly thanks to the guy in front of me blowing smoke all night.

Hit the Rise Against concert two nights ago; awesome performance by the band, less-than-awesome audience interaction, mainly thanks to the guy in front of me blowing smoke all night. Oh sorry, am I bitter much?

If you do any of these things at a show, you’re a huge wanker and you probably deserve to get punched in the face. Which I’m sure you will by the end of the night.

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The way black is black and blue is just blue

Over the weekend, I got to meet (and hang out for two days with) my boyfriend’s parents. For me, meeting a significant others’ parents was always kind of a big deal, especially because 1. I have had so few serious relationships, and (save for the boyfriends I had in my younger years, which don’t count, because they were still living at home and their parents were around all the time), I only really wanted to meet the parents if I felt the relationship was going somewhere long-term (which, luckily for me, they haven’t until now- hopefully; of course, now that I’ve said that, my boyfriend will probably read this, freak out and run away- or better yet, maybe he’ll propose tomorrow). And 2. parents usually live out of state, which makes meeting them more involved and take longer (although, considering his came all the way from Michigan to Florida to meet me after 4 months of dating, I must be doing something right). Reversely, I never felt like it was a big deal bringing mine around because they are so laid back and don’t make it into a big deal. Plus they live local and I have a blast hanging with them, so it’s kind of hard to avoid (my boyfriend ended up spending the day fishing with my mom, stepdad and me after only a week of dating; point proven).

It’s weird how not weird all of this has been up to this point. When I went away with my ex to meet his parents (after a year and a half of dating, no less), it felt like I had to be “on” the whole time I was there, like I could never really relax and just be myself, because I was too busy trying to impress them, and I still wasn’t even completely comfortable with him. But this just felt like I was already part of the family (which is great, because that’s kind of the whole point). It’s weird for me to feel so at ease in my relationship so early on. Like we’ve been together forever, and it just fits and is right.

It’s crazy how some people can come into your life and fit into it so effortlessly, like they were there all along. It’s foreign to me to feel like this person was always supposed to be in my life, like one of those cheesy “how did I survive without you until now” moments that are so cliched but couldn’t be more true. For someone who values their independence and alone time, it’s weird to want that one person around all the time, to just be in their presence, to miss them when they’re not there even though you just saw them.

The funny thing is, I don’t feel this overly dramatic, romantic feeling that you can only suspect happens in movies when the main character has fallen in love and declared it will last forever. This is better. It actually feels real this time. I’ve stopped trying to read into things, because I don’t feel like there’s anything to worry about anymore. I don’t feel like I need to validate my feelings to myself or anyone else because, for lack of better words, they simply just fit; I couldn’t imagine feeling any other way. And it’s actually not even overwhelming or a little scary to realize you want someone for the rest of your life. It’s just like, well duh, how could you want it any other way?

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Who am I?

So today I gave my first of (hopefully) many mentoring talks to the middle schoolers and, although most of them weren’t super excited about the idea of discussing harder-to-talk-about-topics (though I did have one class who were very engaged, go me, I know), I still think I got through to most of them (at least I can pretend that I did to sleep better at night). This week’s topic was personal identity; more specifically, asking yourself “Who am I?” and then trying to work through figuring it out.

It’s kind of an interesting and difficult topic to broach, especially given the age group, because it’s an awkward and weird time for most kids in middle school. But not only that, figuring out who you are can be a challenge no matter the age, because who really knows who they are? I certainly don’t know who the fuck I am. I know what kind of person I am, towards my friends and family and even people I don’t like all that much, and I know what kind of things I like, and the kind of labels you could put on me (if I ever let that happen, ‘cos ain’t no labels goin’ be holding me down, yo), but what does that really say about my core being? I know your identity is made up of many different parts all mashed together, so at least heading in this direction is a good start for me, but how do you ever really know who you are or who you are meant to be? I think the answer is you don’t.

Think about it, you aren’t the same person you were ten years ago. Maybe you still have some of the same qualities and traits, but if you met the younger version of yourself, you’d probably be like what the fuck is wrong with you.

What unfortunate-looking hair. I looked like a boy. Fail.

What unfortunate-looking hair. I looked like a boy. Fail. I still have that shirt.

No, really, what was I thinking?

But seriously, we are a complex creature, mankind, and we’re constantly adapting and evolving to suit our own needs as well as to adapt to our ever-changing environment. I think we just have to do the best with what we have and be good people and enjoy life along the way. And if that doesn’t work for someone else, they can bite me.

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