A weekend in New Orleans

Travel

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Famous cemeteries, voodoo, and ghosts? Yep, I can get down with that!

I visited New Orleans the first weekend of October. It was the perfect way to kick off my favorite (haunted) season, but the spirits of NOLA live year-round.

My friend Kara was down for the trip, and we fit in a ton of stuff over a long weekend.

Day 1: French Quarter

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We ditched our suitcases at the hotel, Hilton Homewood Suites – Rampart St. and immediately started walking around the French Quarter. We meandered through the streets, admiring the architecture and wandering in and out of shops.

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Our first official stop was (seemingly appropriate) Pat O’Brien’s for a notoriously boozy hurricane. Be sure to check out the dueling piano bar inside. Feeling tipsy and confident, Bourbon Street was next.

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To be honest, I don’t even know the name of this karaoke bar on Bourbon Street. I just know we went inside, and made a beeline for the stairs to the balcony to look out to the people below.

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It was the middle of the afternoon, so Bourbon Street was still pretty tame. However, the general public’s sobriety visibly started to disappear with the setting sun. Take this twerking old man, for example.

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That’s when we strolled down to Jackson Square. It was filled with fortune tellers and local artists. Before I purchased a print, I was able to talk to the artist about the piece — her inspiration and my interpretation — which made the #supportlocal buy feel more special.

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Another staple: Cafe du Monde. Beignets and iced coffee. Sooooo good. As we were eating, the street in front of us shut down for a random parade, complete with colorful floats, jazz bands, and beads. It felt very quintessential NOLA.

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Dinner was at Napoleon House. The atmosphere inside the historic building (read more about it here!) is dark and feels quite European. It’s also pretty affordable. We kept it signature with Muffuletta sandwiches and Pimm’s cup cocktails.

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How could you not stop and pay tribute to the infamous voodoo priestess? Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is a requirement, out of principle. However, my favorite and seemingly most authentic shop was The Voodoo Bone Lady’s Voodoo Shop on Royal Street.

As far as psychic readings go, you can get one inside any mystic shop or on the street. We made a reservation at Earth Odyssey because of their variety of options.

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Day 2: Garden District (& more!)

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You could say Lafayette Cemetery #1 was my own strange and unusual version of heaven. Call me creepy, but I am totally fascinated by cemeteries, and there was something rather spellbinding about this famous, above-ground “City of the Dead.” Our walking tour of the Garden District included a stop here, along with a rundown of burial practices — and why going “six feet under” isn’t much of an option.

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A two-hour tour of the Garden District, put on by Two Chicks Walking Tours, might have been my favorite part of the trip. On top of the cemetery, we weaved through neighborhood streets, admired historic homes (Anne Rice’s former home pictured above!) and learned about the famous people who lived, currently live, and supposedly still haunt the neighborhood.

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Our tour guide, Loki, grew up in the Garden District. He was a compelling storyteller who incorporated the perfect balance of real history and folklore.

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Does this sidewalk mosaic look familiar?!

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It’s outside Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies! …Well, technically, it’s the beautiful and historic Buckner Mansion, but I also refer to it the AHS: Coven house. It was the final stop on our tour.

Just around the corner was District Donuts, which our Lyft driver suggested. It’s worth mentioning because of a Monte Cristo donut sandwich, topped with raspberry preserves and powdered sugar, that kind of changed my life. I didn’t take a picture, but trust me on this one.

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A photo can’t quite capture the vibes at Bacchanal’s, but it’s basically a big backyard party in the Ninth Ward. You pick out your own bottle of wine, meat, and cheese. The staff then creates a charcuterie board with complementary pairings, so you can snack and drink while watching live music in an outdoor courtyard.

We capped off the night on Frenchmen Street, several blocks dedicated to live music. (Again, I didn’t take pictures here. I was doing this weird thing called “trying to live in the moment.” ) We only went into bars that didn’t charge cover.

 

Near the end of Frenchmen Street was a small, open-air art market with local vendors, including a “poet for hire.” We told him what we were in town for; he asked a few questions and started typing away. For a $10 donation, it was a perfect, one-of-a-kind keepsake to commemorate the trip.

Day 3: Last Day

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We wanted to scope out the options before going crazy on impulse buys, so shopping was saved for the final day.

Souvenir shops in the city are literally everywhere, but I liked Voodoo Mart on Canal Street. It’s nothing special, but it did seem to have the widest selection of gifts priced a little cheaper than the same items in the French Quarter.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our last meal in New Orleans. Mother’s Restaurant is an old-school, no-frills diner in the Central Business district. And holy shit. I’m still thinking about the jambalaya.

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How I saved money: As far as getaways go, this mini vaca was very affordable. I used my Hilton Honors discount to book a hotel with free breakfast. We walked pretty much everywhere, and only took Lyfts when needed. I also packed snacks in my suitcase to keep in my purse while out exploring. Taking in the culture of New Orleans costs nothing, but the next time I go, I’ll mostly budget for more food!

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Use Your Illusion

Life, Style


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“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore, except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless and I know it’s not cheap. Probably not even real.”

I read that passage on one of my favorite art/poetry sites last week, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It resonates with this feeling I constantly carry; this unexplained instinct that always feels… kind of unsettled.

Because I do feel like I’m endlessly searching for something else, when “something else” is hard — maybe even impossible — to define.

Whether it’s a sense of excitement, adventure, happiness, love, passion, comfort, depth in another person, deeper meaning. A fleeting emotion, a feeling, a purpose.

Perhaps it’s a side effect of daydreams, when overt curiosity collides with too much introspection. Searching for the meaning of life, some would say.

I would love to know exactly what I’m looking for, and if or when I’ll know that I’ve found it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s like chasing a mirage.

There are times when it feels like it’s just out of reach. But maybe what I’m reaching for… just isn’t real.

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Dress: Cato, kinda similar here. Hat: Cato. Boots: Kohl’s. Velvet choker: for $6 here!

Trial By Fire

Life, Style, Travel

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There’s this universal piece of advice when it comes to personal growth. Do something that scares you.

Well, I find this to be absolutely terrifying: traveling alone.

I consider myself pretty independent. But as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’m sometimes too intimidated to be in public by myself. It’s something that’s kind of embarrassing to openly admit, but I typically need someone to motivate me to get ready and get out of the house.

Call it anxiety. Call it depression. Call it laziness. But I’ll shrink away from experiencing something cool if it means doing it solo. I’ve skipped out on meals, concerts, events, certain hikes — and vacations.

News alert: Fuck. That.

So I’m putting myself up to a massive personal challenge this year (and no, it is not joining a gym).

I will travel alone in 2018.

Because I am done with feeling like I’m missing out. And I’m especially done waiting on other people.

This applies to family members, partners, or friends. Reality check: Of course we all operate on limited time, money, and vacation days. (A perk of modern American living, isn’t it? Ugh.) But in some cases, I’ve suggested various excursions for years — only to be consistently shut down. So I guess I just won’t go.

But hold up. Why should someone else’s bullshit excuses suddenly become mine? What’s the point of sacrificing hurt feelings when I can just… do it myself?

As a woman, traveling alone can seem vulnerable, and scary, or maybe not so smart. But it can also be an exhilarating life experience that stretches one’s perceived capabilities. I’ll go with the latter.

So whether it’s a weekend or a week. Domestic or international. This year, I will travel somewhere alone. And it will likely scare me. But I will document it on this blog. Hopefully, you’ll hold me to it… but I’m already researching destinations.

Here’s to girls doing whatever the fuck they want in 2018. Either join or be left behind.

PS — To my adventurous friends, where do you want to travel this year? (Let’s plan something?!) To the solo travelers, shoot me a line with your advice!

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Sweater: Gifted (Thanks, Mom!), but this one looks super comfy. Jeans: Kohl’s. Boots: Kohl’s (major bonus: ortholite comfort insoles), similar here. Hat: Target. Bag: Thrifted, Goodwill.

2017: A Metamorphosis

Life, Style

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Welcome to the end of another year.

As if we’ve wandered through time and space — blissfully, or maybe miserably — unaware of the past 364 days, it’s suddenly society’s time to reflect.

Our accomplishments. The difficulties we endured. Famous people we loved and lost. (Still mourning Tom Petty and Chris Cornell.) The unhealthy habits we developed… or never dropped.

Much like we drift through space, oblivious that we’re actually moving 67,000 miles per hour, it seems like society meanders through time on autopilot — incognizant of the passing days — and collectively, what they meant.

What happened? What did I do? Shit, time to assign some meaning to my life!

However, I’ve thought this many times throughout 2017: What a transformative year.

I moved to a new city, started a new job, and channeled enough courage to create this blog. But when reflecting, I can’t help but incorporate the past several years to get a better picture of personal growth.

In 2014, some traumatic experiences changed me forever, followed by a very dark period of depression in 2015. I was encouraged to seek help in 2016, and made strategic moves to get back on track. Finally, 2017 felt like hitting a stride towards a happier and more fulfilling existence.

That seems like something to celebrate. But full disclosure, I plan to quietly ring in the new year at home with Saki. (In case you didn’t know, she’s my little sidekick in the pictures!)

It’s been years since I partied into oblivion and greeted January 1st with a lack of conscious awareness. But I do spend more time than I’d like to admit outside of the present moment. And that brings me to the point I want to make about the year ahead.

I want 2018 to be more mindful. Intentional. Less escapism through apps and technology. More deliberate, and less apologetic.

At 12:01, nothing will be strikingly different, except maybe our attitudes.

Happy New Year!

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Dress: Asos. (Intergalactic and extra AF! But you could wear this one anywhere.) Boots: Asos. Ring: Flea market. Dog: Shelter. #adoptdontshop

Tell Me Lies / You Can’t Disguise

Life, Style

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Sound familiar? This statement usually comes on the back end of someone caught in a lie.

Before I get any further, I realize this is kind of dark territory to delve into. But during the past week, my thoughts — and even some dreams — were invaded by themes of betrayal or breaches of trust, both past and present. So, here we are.

When you think of someone telling a lie, most of us think of the person who blurts out something that simply isn’t factual. It can be about something totally serious or completely irrelevant. This is called a “lie of commission.”

But there’s another way to achieve deception, and it can be even more manipulative and hurtful. It’s called a “lie of omission.” It leaves out (omits) pertinent facts to distort someone else’s perception and understanding of the truth. It is intentional and selfish.

In case your conscience didn’t tell you already, staying silent or purposely excluding damning details isn’t honest. It’s a very strategic form of deceit.

Simply put: This. Behavior. Kills. Trust.

When utilizing this kind of lie, you hurt the person you intended to protect (besides yourself), because you were too concerned with self-preservation to deliver the truth in an honest and tactful way.

What someone doesn’t know can’t hurt them, right? But what happens when they find out?

Let’s be real, of course we’ve all lied before. This is just a friendly reminder that lying to those you love or care about — is not cool. Lies slaughter friendships and relationships.

Sometimes forever.

When devastation lies on the other side of a half-truth… Was it worth it to tell?

Top: old, similar here. Skirt: old, thrifted Limited, Goodwill. Boots: Kohl’s, also seen here.

*Post title is an unapologetic reference to this Fleetwood Mac song.

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