5 Tips for a Memorable Mardi Gras

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One item on many Bucket Lists is to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Thanks to the hospitality of my lifelong friend, this year I had the chance to do exactly that.  What I’ve compiled here are my top tips for a first-time Mardi Gras attender to help you have a fun, memorable, and sane experience.

This is a lengthy post, so if you’d like to jump ahead use these links:

  1. Research
  2. Prioritize
  3. Be Strategic
  4. Be Considerate
  5. Take It Easy

Before we jump in, here’s some crucial lingo:

  • Krewe: A purposeful misspelling of “crewe” coined in the mid-1800s as an archaic affectation (fake old-sounding word).  Krewes lead parades throughout the Mardi Gras season.  Some parades consist of multiple small Sub-Krewes (Krewe Delusion, The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus) but most run their own independant parades.
  • Reveler: A person who has paid to gain membership to a Krewe and is therefore required to participate in the parade.  Revelers are all required to wear masks — some resemble those worn by French clergy and some are classic masquerade masks).
  • Royalty: Krewe members who have made particularly large contributions and therefore ride on individual floats at the beginning of the parade.  Some parades have only a King/Queen and some have Dukes, Duchesses, Paiges, Maids, and more.
  • Throw: Items thrown by revelers to parade goers.  Typical throws include classic Mardi Gras beads, Krewe-themed beads, medallions, doubloons, plastic cups, and special hand-decorated throws.
  • Ball: Krewes throw exclusive parties after their parades where attendees are able to see the floats go by in a special location and are sometimes treated to a concert by the parade’s celebrity marshall.  Tickets to these parties are hard to come by and can climb upwards of $500.

Continue reading “5 Tips for a Memorable Mardi Gras”

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New Year, New Orleans, New Goals

For many of us, January is a time when we reflect on the accomplishments and un-met goals of the previous year and prioritize new goals for the coming year.

In January of 2016, I set two goals for myself: to get in better shape and to travel more.  It’s possible to say I met both of those goals though perhaps not to the extent I hoped.  I lost roughly 45 pounds (5 pounds less than my original goal), I made it to the second-to-last week of Couch to 5k twice (but have yet to actually finish it), and I visited some favorite cities and old friends.  I moved from New York City back to my hometown in Western Mass, I traveled up to Quebec City for the first time in over a decade, and then I moved down to New Orleans.

This January I have found myself planning not only goals for things I want in 2017, but goals that will set up the things I want for 2018 as well.  I think it’s a sign that my 25-year-old brain finally has a fully developed frontal lobe.

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You’re Not Going to Canada

From the moment it became clear that Donald Trump’s run for presidency was no longer a joke, statements about fleeing the country if he won started popping up all around us.  From celebrities to friends in our newsfeeds, many were letting it be known that the idea of a Trump presidency was so unacceptable to them that they would abandon ship.

This is not new.  Every election cycle people break out the ultimatums and Canada is always the obvious choice for liberals.  But let’s face it — 99% of you are not going to Canada.

I say this as someone who was born and raised in America but whose family on both sides is only one generation removed from Canadian immigrants to the United States.  Every summer vacation I ever went on as a kid was to Canada.  I know all the words to O Canada and I can name all the provinces and territories and their capitals.  My mother proudly holds dual citizenship and God willing, so will I – but don’t think that desire is an election-based whim – it’s been a lifelong plan.

And that’s where my exasperation at those who declare “I’m moving to Canada” originates.  Moving to Canada is not like moving across state lines.  They have immigration laws, and obtaining a visa and later, citizenship, is a process that costs both years of your life and hundreds to thousands of dollars.  It is not something that can or should be done on a whim.

Yet, I do understand the impulse.  We are faced with a frightening consequence of our election — a president who has inspired the ugliest underbelly of our country to step into the light and make their hateful statements heard.  For anyone who is not a straight, white, cisgendered, Christian male, it’s a scary time.  And for anyone with a conscience, it’s just downright embarrassing to be associated with our new orange overlord.

The thing is, you can escape a Trump presidency without abandoning your country.  Living and working abroad does not require you to relinquish US citizenship and you can still vote absentee (and you should because in 2018 all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33/100 seats in the Senate will be contested).

Continue reading “You’re Not Going to Canada”